Retail Park Plans in Broadway Display

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your environment

Local residents and businesses can find out more about a proposed new retail park when initial plans go on display in Debden Broadway this month.

Langston Road Retail Park will hopefully soon become a welcome addition to Debden’s retail line-up; offering more choice for local shoppers and the wider catchments. Part of the site in Langston Road is currently occupied by a Council depot servicing refuse freighters and maintenance teams who would be relocated to other sites. No existing jobs would be lost as a result of this proposal. Combined with the adjoining land belonging to property developer Polofind, the enlarged site would form a retail development bringing jobs and shoppers.

Should the Council gain planning consent, Langston Road Retail Park is envisaged to become a home of fashion retailers complementing other high street businesses in the Broadway.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Epping Forest District Council will launch a public information exercise at 23 The Broadway, Debden with displays of the proposed project, visuals and information.

23 The Broadway Debden will be open on:

Tuesday 23 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Wednesday 24 November 2010 from 1pm to 5pm

Thursday 25 November 2010 from 5pm to 8pm

Saturday 27 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Consultants and Council officers will be in attendance to answer questions and discuss the proposed development.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Potential Benefits of Langston Road Retail Park:

¢ 10,000 sq m of ground floor retail space, with additional mezzanine space.

¢ Fashion led retail, home to high street names.

¢ Encouraging the retention of local shopping.

¢ Targeting 80+% of expenditure that currently goes outside the area to return and experience shopping on their doorstep.

¢ Give the local and wider community the retail it wants.

¢ Make Debden a more vibrant Centre.

¢ Bring in additional shoppers who will therefore spend more money in Debden.

¢ Enhance perception of the area and encourage additional retail interest in the locality.

¢ Encourage local shopping as part of a green sustainable attitude.

¢ Accessible by sustainable modes of transport; being within easy reach of Debden Station and the bus services which serve Chigwell Lane and The Broadway.

¢ Backing of Epping Forest District Council who will ensure that the retail is what the locals require, supporting the investment that the Council has already undertaken.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is an environmentally aware and business oriented district looking after its residents and traders.

¢ Will provide part and full time employment, both during the construction period and in the long-term once the Retail Park is open.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is looking at ways in which to support The Broadway and encourage the synergy between them.

¢ The majority of trips to and from the Retail Park will be made outside of the current weekday peak hours on the local highway network, underground and bus services; this will enable the Retail Park to complement the existing developments in Debden by attracting visitors to the area at times when the transport networks are less busy.

¢ A major highway improvement scheme for the A1168 Chigwell Lane is being developed to support the development in conjunction with Essex County Council. The scheme will be implemented as part of the development to ensure that trips to the Retail Park can be safely accommodated at all times, and will deliver benefits to all travellers using the route by smoothing traffic flow and improving the pedestrian environment.

¢ The proposed scheme will comprise 2 two storey terraced blocks with provision for first floor mezzanine.

¢ The building elevations are to be finished with a mixture of recyclable building materials.

To ensure this opportunity is given the greatest support the Council is looking at ways to encourage a better relationship between the site and The Broadway. Epping Forest would remain the Landlord to The Broadway and would not do anything to undermine it. The developers are considering a programme of enhancement which would include signage; an improved link walkway between Debden Station and The Broadway to encourage access; and a potential marketing programme to assist in creating awareness of The Broadway. This would be part of the continuing programme of enhancement and investment in the immediate area for the benefit of local people and traders.

The Council are very aware of the local residents’ concerns regarding highways issues affecting the area, and to this end they have been in a dialogue with Essex County Council to undertake traffic improvements. The intention is that a highways improvement scheme will be developed which not only addresses the demand created by the retail park, but which also seeks to tackle where possible the root causes of the traffic issues which are currently observed. When implemented, the results would improve access and traffic flow through the area, lessening the impacts of traffic congestion and delays which are felt locally. Epping Forest District Council is optimistic that the scheme can be delivered; if these improvements do not go ahead now, the opportunity for financial assistance will be lost; and there will not be an allocated time in the near future for them to re-commence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder, said: The Council are very supportive of the potential benefits of the scheme. Reflecting current interest, it is hoped it will bring in new fashion retailers to the area; encouraging those who shop in other destinations to return and shop locally. Langston Road Retail Park would, alongside The Broadway, combine to offer a greater shopping choice for Debden. Collectively it would become a thriving centre and its ability to compete with areas outside the district would improve. It could mean up to £70 million a year to the area from shopping that would otherwise go outside the district. In addition to the new shopping, it would create the opportunity for over 200 new local jobs for Debden.

Land Banking in Theydon Bois

Written on . Posted in Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Your area, Your environment

These commonly advertise small plots of agricultural land for sale, on the internet, by phone or through the use of leaflets / brochures or newspaper articles. These parcels of land are advertised as potential investment opportunities. The premise is that planning permission for a new housing development can be sought and if approved, the value of the land should increase at which point it could be sold on to a developer for a substantial profit, or the purchasers could build their own homes. The sales information often gives the impression that planning permission is shortly to be granted, or the use of the land is to be changed via the Development Plan process.

There are examples all over the UK of such schemes, where unsuspecting buyers have purchased plots of land believing that the value will increase significantly. There is no example to date where planning permission has been granted for all or part of an area of land that has been divided into plots in this way. Purchasers are left with a piece of land with agricultural land value, and very little prospect of being able to sell it on or develop it.

Investigations into these types of schemes have been carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Trading Standards and several national newspapers. Some that have claimed to be able to seek planning permission for a “collective” of plot owners have been closed down. Such “collective investment schemes” need to be authorised by the FSA to be legal.

    Castra Land is currently advertising plots of land for sale on land within the Blunts Farm area in Theydon Bois. However, the planning policy position has not changed:

  • The land is entirely within the Green Belt, and therefore the normal restrictions on development apply;
  • The areas of land are isolated from the existing built area of Theydon Bois, and the services it provides
  • No means of access has been shown to the parcels of land. Policy CP3 would require this is addressed before any planning application could be made;
  • The land has been submitted to the District Council under the “Call for Sites” exercise, but this does not mean that there is any certainty that this land will be allocated for development purposes.
  • The allocation of 3,500 new homes for Theydon Bois claimed by the vendors refers to the requirement previously contained in the East of England Plan for the whole District over the period 2001-2021. On 6 July 2010, Regional Spatial Strategies were revoked, and it is now for local planning authorities to determine the appropriate number of new houses for their area. The Council will take this forward via the Local Development Framework.

Castra Land does not offer to seek planning permission for plot owners, nor does it give any guarantee that planning permission will be forthcoming. However, Planning Officers have received a number of calls about the land available, and feel it is important that people should be advised of the true planning policy situation.

Mobile Home Parks Decision Reviewed

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your home

After long and comprehensive debate, district councillors have referred proposed changes to the licensing conditions for mobile home parks in the District back to the Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council for another look.

More than two hundred residents came to the Civic Offices to listen to the debate. Councillor Liz Webster called on the Council`s Cabinet to reconsider its approach at the meeting of the Council`s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 12 July 2010. Many residents packed the public gallery of the council chamber. Others watched via video screens in other parts of the Civic Offices as Councillors discussed the issue.

Councillor Morgan chaired the live webcast debate

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder explained the purpose in bringing forward the proposals to change licence conditions, primarily for health and safety reasons. He was supported by Assistant Divisional Officer Stuart Macmillan of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, who also attended the meeting.

Representatives of Residents` Associations for each of the district`s main mobile home parks set out their concerns about the proposals. They argued that the benefits of tighter fire safety rules were outweighed by the interests of residents with respect to their quality of life. They suggested that the proposed new licensing conditions should not be applied to existing park homes that have been in existence over many years.

Councillor Stallan acknowledged that there were wider issues affecting residents than the scope of the call-in of the Cabinet`s original decision, which only covered the consultation process and the proposed introduction of a maximum height for dividing fences and hedges of 1 metre. He suggested to members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that, in view of the representations received since the Cabinet`s decision was made, a special meeting of the Housing Scrutiny Panel should be convened to look at the matter in greater detail. Residents applauded after Overview and Scrutiny Committee Councillors unanimously agreed not to support the original decision and recommended that the matter be referred back to the Cabinet, after the Housing Scrutiny Panel had had the opportunity to consider the issue in detail, and make its views known to the Cabinet.

Deadline Extended For Residents’ Planning Consultation

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Residents, business people and community groups have an extra three weeks to respond to the latest phase of Epping Forest District Council`s consultation on future planning policies. Anyone wishing to comment now has until 9 July 2010 to get their replies back to the council online, by e-mail or post to the Civic Offices in Epping.

The Core Strategy is the key new planning policy document which will look ahead to 2031. It eventually replaces the Local Plan and will set the local planning policies of the district. The Core Strategy is important because it will guide the council`s decisions on planning applications for development including housing, businesses and high streets. With other documents it will form the Local Development Framework, helping to balance development with the protection of the green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings and other features that make the district unique.

Part of the preparation involves the assessment of economic, environmental and social issues facing the district. This is called a Sustainability Appraisal. However, before the Sustainability Appraisal can be carried out, the council needs local residents to consider what issues they think should be included in the assessment. This is set out in the `Scoping Report` that residents are being asked to comment on at the moment.

We hit some teething problems when the consultation was launched last month so we have decided to give residents more time to respond, said Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council. This is a very complicated process. We produced a Plain English guide but our accompanying letters were confusing to residents. I hope we have now learned from our mistake and the information is being presented in a much more understandable way.

The Council is writing to and e-mailing several thousand residents who participated in earlier consultation exercises and indicated they would like to be kept involved. However, anyone can take part.

Councillor Collins said: I would encourage everyone to look at the information on the website or ask for a copy from the Council. Recent remarks by Eric Pickles MP, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government seem to suggest that councils will have much more control over local development than previously. It is therefore all the more important that local people have their say.

Residents can complete a survey form by contacting the Forward Planning team by telephone on 01992 564517 or by email.

New Decision on Gypsy and Traveller Provision

Written on . Posted in Community, Gypsy and traveller, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your environment

 

Councillors have welcomed with delight, news that the new Government intends to allow local people more control over local planning decisions.

In particular, councillors have interpreted this as a clear indication that the Government Direction on Traveller and Gypsy site provision will be lifted.

Local MP for Brentwood and Ongar, Eric Pickles is the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. In a letter sent to Epping Forest District Council on 27 May he said: I am writing to you today to highlight our commitment in the coalition agreements where we very clearly set out our intention to rapidly abolish Regional Strategies and return decision making-powers on housing and planning to local councils. Consequently, decisions on housing supply (including the provision for Traveller sites) will rest with Local Planning Authorities without the framework of regional numbers and plans.

This is great news, said Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council. This is the decision this council made right from the beginning of the process and we are delighted that the new Government is supporting us. It means the end for the deeply unpopular Government Directive that effectively forced the Council and our residents into one of the most prolonged, expensive and bureaucratic consultations our residents have ever had to endure. It was disliked by everyone, including our local Gypsy and Travelling community and it will be a great relief for everyone to know we will now see the back of it. I applaud Eric Pickles for his swift action.

Epping Forest District Council was one of a small number of Districts forced by Government Directive to carry out special consultations to identify potential sites for Gypsies and Travellers. The Council said that the time and resources it was forced to devote to the Directive hampered its ability to meet other responsibilities and that the process was an unnecessary concern to residents.

Councillor Collins added: Eric Pickles is lifting a huge shadow of worry and concern from the shoulders of our residents. I deeply regret that the previous Government could not take the same decision sooner. It has cost everyone huge amounts of time, money and stress when we need to focus more on the economic woes of the recession. However, today is a day for the whole district to celebrate.


Letter from Councillor Di Collins to the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP

Dated 4 June 2010

At the outset, may I extend our warmest congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State. I know you are aware of the previous Government`s Direction which required the Council to amend its Local Development Scheme to include the preparation and adoption of a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document to make further provision for gypsy and traveller sites within the area (“the Direction”).  You may also be aware that we wrote to your predecessor on 25 January 2010 requesting he withdraw the Direction.

Whilst recognising the progress that the Council has made to increase site provision in recent years, the former Government was not prepared to consider removing the Direction until the 34 net additional permanent pitches identified as a requirement in the RSS Single Issue Review (SIR) have been provided. As we have demonstrated, this was an aim that the Council is on target to achieve.

We welcome your letter dated 27 May 2010 and note your intention to make a formal statement concerning housing supply (including the provision of traveller sites) soon. Without intending to appear impatient, we ask you to urgently consider withdrawing the Direction for the reasons explained in our letter to your predecessor (copy attached). We would still be happy to meet with you, provide updated information and share the Council’s recent experience relating to the preparation of a gypsy and traveller DPD. We believe our engagement with stakeholders is a valuable source of information that may assist the new Government in the formulation of planning policy in this area. In addition, it does seem the Direction was founded upon an unsound and inequitable approach. Indeed, we understand that a similar Direction to Brentwood Borough Council has subsequently been withdrawn, without the requirement to meet particular numbers in the RSS SIR. The Direction continues to consume a disproportionate amount of scarce resources, has caused significant delays to other planning priorities and is deeply unpopular with local residents, including the gypsy and traveller community. Only the withdrawal of the Direction can remove the uncertainty for those sites which have been identified during this process but, for sound planning reasons, are clearly not suitable. Additionally the Council would not then need to conduct further expensive and time consuming assessments of those sites.

We remain content to process prospective planning applications from those with a genuine local need, using our existing policies. We remain committed to include policies in our Core Strategy that deal with all housing needs, including the provision of gypsy and traveller sites. As such, there can be no doubt that Epping Forest District Council has met its responsibilities and is committed to doing so in a manner that positively reflects the new Government’s ‘localism’ agenda.

I look forward to receiving a positive response from you,

Yours sincerely

Councillor Diana Collins
Leader of the Council


Council in ‘Yes Minister’ Lampoon Admits ‘We slipped up’

Written on . Posted in Business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Embarrassed council managers have apologised, admitting `we made a mistake ` after the wrong covering letter was sent to residents as part of planning consultation on future development. The Daily Mail reported on `Sir Humphrey ` being alive and well at Epping Forest District Council after the letter was sent to local residents.

“I am sorry. We slipped up. The letter, full of technical planning jargon should not have been sent to local residents, said John Preston, Director of the Council`s Planning Service.”

He continued: We did try to write the attached guide in `Plain English` but we dropped our guard on the covering letter that went with it. We are very keen to engage local residents fully in the preparation of planning policies, which will continue to help to control development and protect the Green Belt. The planning system is increasingly complex and involves new processes and terms which remain unfamiliar or frankly quite baffling to the wider community.

The council will contact residents again shortly. John Preston said: It is very embarrassing but some people at least will see a funny side to it. Every profession has its `Sir Humphrey ` language and planners are no different but we understand that you have to alter your words according to your audience. This consultation could have far reaching consequences for the future of our district, setting policies on where to build new homes and businesses as well as protecting the countryside. It is the start of a quite lengthy process with more consultation to follow. Hopefully, the extra publicity provided by the Daily Mail will give the consultation a boost in responses.

Full details of the consultation and questionnaire are available from the Planning Area of the Council’s Website.


Text of the correct letter that was circulated as an e-mail to local residents is reproduced below:

“The Forward Planning team at Epping Forest District Council is in the initial stages of preparing a Core Strategy for the district. This is the key new planning policy document which will look ahead to 2031, and eventually replace the Local Plan.

“All new planning policy documents need to be subject to Sustainability Appraisal. This is an assessment of the likely economic, environmental and social effects of the new policies. The Sustainability Appraisal provides information to help judge whether the new policies are the most appropriate for the district, and whether changes should be made.

“In preparing the Sustainability Appraisal, its scope and level of detail need to be agreed before it is used to assess issues, options and policies.  It is a statutory requirement to hold a period of consultation on the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal, the purpose of which is to ensure that all the relevant issues and concerns have been included.

“The consultation period is from 17 May to 18 June 2010.  The consultation document, a short guide and the online response form is available from http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/Council_Services/planning/forward_planning/LDF.asp

“If you have any queries about this consultation, please contact the Forward Planning team on 01992 564517 or at LDFconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk .”

 

Yours faithfully


Land Banking Scheme

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment

These commonly advertise small plots of agricultural land for sale, on the internet, by phone or through the use of leaflets and brochures or newspaper articles. These parcels of land are advertised as potential investment opportunities. The premise is that planning permission for a new housing development can be sought and if approved, the value of the land should increase at which point it could be sold on to a developer for a substantial profit, or the purchasers could build their own homes. The sales information often gives the impression that planning permission is shortly to be granted, or the use of the land is to be changed via the Development Plan process.

There are examples all over the UK of such schemes, where unsuspecting buyers have purchased plots of land believing that the value will increase significantly. There is no example to date where planning permission has been granted for all or part of an area of land that has been divided into plots in this way. Purchasers are left with a piece of land with agricultural land value, and very little prospect of being able to sell it on or develop it.

Investigations into these types of schemes have been carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Trading Standards and several national newspapers. Some that have claimed to be able to seek planning permission for a collective of plot owners have been closed down. Such collective investment schemes need to be authorised by the FSA to be legal.

Emerging Property Partnership (EPP) is currently advertising plots of land for sale on land within the Blunts Farm area in Theydon Bois.

    However, the planning policy position has not changed:

  • The land is entirely within the Green Belt, and therefore the normal restrictions on development apply
  • The areas of land are isolated from the existing built area of Theydon Bois, and the services it provides
  • No means of access has been shown to the parcels of land. Policy CP3 would require this is addressed before any planning application could be made
  • The land has been submitted to the District Council under the Call for Sites exercise, but this does not mean that there is any certainty that this land will be allocated for development purposes
  • The allocation of 3,500 new homes claimed by the vendors refers to the requirement in the East of England Plan for the whole District over the period 2001 to 2021

EPP does not offer to seek planning permission for plot owners, nor does it give any guarantee that planning permission will be forthcoming. However, Planning Officers have received a number of calls about the land available, and feel it is important that people should be advised of the true planning policy situation.

Council Cash to Support Homeless

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

A scheme that has helped over 200 families rent a home in the private sector is to be boosted with more money. Epping Forest District Council will pass the full benefit of a £7,500 Government grant to Epping Forest Housing Aid, enabling the local charity to guarantee more rent deposits on behalf of local people. The Council is also extending the value of underwriting Epping Forest Housing Aid`s guarantees from £40,000 to £60,000. Together, the measure will allow more local people to take the first steps to renting a new home. Twenty families are expected to benefit almost immediately.

In a separate move, the Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council also authorised the provision of £47,500 to provide small interest-free loans to residents who might otherwise be in danger of losing their homes due to the economic downturn. Loans of between £1,000 and £3,000 are envisaged although Government guidance allows for loans of up to £5,000 under the scheme.

Epping Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Consultation, Planning, Residents, Travel, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Epping Parking Review

A three week consultation period ending on 3 July 2009 has been undertaken as part of a review into the Epping Parking Scheme which was implemented in August 2007.

Essex County Council issued a consultation letter to residents and businesses in the Epping Forest District on behalf on Epping Forest District Council to review the Scheme.

    Full details can be found on the Essex County Council website.

Gypsy and Traveller Pitch Provision Reduced

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Countrycare, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Epping Forest District has bucked the regional trend with another reduction in the number of Gypsy and Traveller pitches allocated to the area. The number of proposed new pitches has been reduced by a further five to 34 by 2011 in the latest consultation issued by the Secretary of State on 27 March. The reduction follows an earlier recommendation to cut the number from 49 to 39.

The latest figures are published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Overall the Secretary of State proposes to increase the number of new pitches in the East of England from 1,187 to 1,237. Epping Forest is one of two Councils in Essex to argue successfully for further reductions. Basildon has had its provisional allocation cut by 19 to 62.

Both Councils remain top of the list for Gypsy and Traveller provision, Epping Forest forecast to accommodate 128 and Basildon 174 by 2011. Thurrock is next with 124. At the other end of the scale, Southend and Castle Point have been asked to provide 15 each.

The Secretary of State was commenting on the latest stage in the review of the Regional Spatial Strategy, a planning document that looks at the need for development, including housing. Residents have eight weeks to comment and respond to the Secretary of State. Submissions must be received by 5.00pm on Friday 22 May 2009.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council welcomed the latest reduction but felt there was still scope for further reductions. She said: This is a very sensitive issue. The Gypsy and Traveller communities have rights to adequate site provision but this needs to be balanced against the equally important needs of the settled community. Slowly but surely, our arguments for a fairer allocation of pitches across the region is gaining some success. There is still some way to go but we have clearly made progress. Everyone now has the chance to tell the Secretary of Sate directly what they think.

Links to the Government Office and online Government consultation can be found via Epping Forest District Council`s website www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk. Alternatively, write to:

Regional Planning Team
Go-East
Eastbrook
Shaftesbury Road
Cambridge
CB2 8DF

or e-mail gtproposedchanges@goeast.gsi.gov.uk