What local people told us

Written on . Posted in Business, Consultation, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

We asked local people to explain what they thought was important in the district, and what the priorities should be for the future of the area, i.e. their Community Vision. The key results are to be included as part of the evidence base in the forthcoming preparation of the Core Planning Strategy.

The priorities for the District over the next 20 years are:

  • To protect and enhance green spaces whilst encouraging the growth of local jobs and business.
  • The most important planning issues facing local areas are:
  • Better protection for green spaces, reducing traffic congestion and providing more local job opportunities.

The favoured approaches to the location of new houses and jobs are:

To locate growth close to public transport links and around/within existing towns whilst considering a combination of options throughout the District where appropriate.

Question 1 – What do you think the priorities are for the District over the next 20 years?

The most popular option was ‘Protecting and enhancing green spaces’ which almost a third of respondents chose, followed closely by ‘Encouraging the growth of local jobs and businesses’. ’Providing facilities for the community’ was the third most popular option.

‘Providing housing to meet local need’, and ‘Reducing the impacts of climate change’, were seen as less important by people who responded to the consultation. A small proportion of people wrote their own individual option under the ‘Other’ choice.

PDF1
Protect and enhance green spaces 32.4%, Encouraging local jobs and businesses 25.4%, Community facilities 17.2%, Local housing 11%, Climate change 10.3%, Other 3.7%.

Question 2 – What planning issues do you think most need to be addressed in your local area?

Opinion was split on this question. Again the most popular option was ‘Better protection for green spaces’. Of the other options available, ‘Reduced traffic congestion’, ‘More local job opportunities’, ‘Right balance of shops and restaurants’, and ‘Improved community facilities’ were preferred.

The options for ‘Better access to public transport’, ‘More affordable housing’ and ‘Provision of a greater variety of housing types’ were chosen less frequently in the response. A small proportion of people gave their own individual suggestions of planning issues which needed to be addressed, under the ‘Other’ choice.

PDF2

Protect green spaces 20.6%, Reduce congestion 13.9%, Local job opportunities 13.2%, Balance of shops and restaurants 12.3%, Community facilities 11.7%, Public transport 10.6%, Affordable housing 6.9%, Housing variety 6.7%, Other 4.1%.

Question 3 – Where do you think new houses and jobs should be located?

We asked local people where they thought new housing and jobs should go in the district. The most popular options were ‘Close to public transport links’ and ‘Around or within existing towns’. Slightly less popular choices were ‘A combination of all the options spread throughout the district’, ‘Near the edge of Harlow’, and ‘Close to the motorway network’.

The remaining three options were unpopular. A small proportion of people wrote their own individual option under the ‘Other’ choice.

Close to public transport links 23.6%, Around or within existing towns 21.1%, Combination of all the options across district 14.8%, Near the edge of Harlow 12.9%, Near motorway 9.4%, Spread throughout existing rural settlements 6.8%, Concentrated in one existing settlement 4.6%, Other 4.4%, New settlements in the countryside 2.4%

If you would like to find out more detail about what local people told us:

Planning permission for front gardens

Written on . Posted in Planning, Residents, Your home

Epping Forest District Council is reminding residents that should they wish to hard-surface their front garden, planning permission may be required.

DrivewayThe removal of front gardens and their replacement with flat, hard surfaces increases water run-off when it rains. This water flows onto neighbouring land, particularly onto roads and then goes into a drain system not designed to cope with extra water and so flooding is made worse. These hard surfaces also soak up heat during the day and then release it into the environment at night. This contributes to the overall warming of the environment which is thought to be at least partly responsible for the increase in cloud cover in the UK and potential for heavy storms.

In addition, paving over of front gardens impacts on wildlife and biodiversity. Insects and other small organisms lose their environment so there is less food for mammals and birds. Spillages of petrol, diesel and other contaminants go straight into the drains and end up poisoning streams and rivers.

Planning permission

Planning permission is needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways (such as concrete) greater than five square metres in area that does not provide for the water to run to a permeable area within your property. Scaled drawings and fee (currently £150) must be submitted to the Council. If acceptable, you must await the grant of planning permission decision notice before starting work, otherwise the Council might prosecute should planning permission be retrospectively refused. This can take up to eight weeks and unless there is adequate provision to allow for drainage, planning permission is likely to be refused.

In most cases, you will not need planning permission if you use permeable (or porous) surfacing, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border within your property to drain naturally.

Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens (pdf 710 KB)

Dropped kerbs

You will require planning permission should you wish to create a new, or extend the width of an existing, dropped kerb to your property if the driveway will go onto a classified road (‘A’ and ‘B’ roads, main routes and often country lanes). Essex County Council must separately agree to the crossing, even if you do not need planning permission.

Planning Reception Hours Changing

Written on . Posted in Conservation and listed buildings, Planning, Residents, Your council

From 1 May 2011 Epping Forest District Council’s Planning and Economic Development reception will be changing its hours. The new hours will be 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.

Services that may be affected include:

  • Planning and Building Control
  • Licensing (including Taxi Licences)
  • Environment and Street Scene
  • Land Charges

Contact via telephone on 01992 564000 between 9am and 5pm and 24 hour access for Planning and Building Control Information via this website will remain unchanged.

North Weald Airfield – Cabinet Committee

Written on . Posted in Business, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Planning, Your environment

There could be `considerable` commercial interest if Epping Forest District Council opted to develop aviation opportunities at North Weald Airfield. Councillors are recommending further investigation of options for `active` aviation growth at the Airfield to the next Cabinet meeting on 18 April. Full public consultation would precede any final decision.

The former Battle of Britain Airfield currently handles around 20,000 aircraft movements each year. Under new proposals that could increase by 18,000 extra movements a year.

Leader Di Collins and Deputy Leader Chris Whitbread would like a full consultation and engagement with local residents and tenants of the airfield

An executive summary of a report on potential aviation expansion at North Weald Airfield can be read here (pdf 262KB). The report outlines various options from doing little or nothing, through `organic growth` to `active development`, significantly developing aviation with a commercial partner.

Aviation development consultant Nick Kaberry presented the Halcrow report to members of the council`s North Weald Airfield Cabinet Committee at the Civic Offices in Epping on Tuesday (22 March).

Aviation operations at North Weald currently run at a loss to the council. This is offset by income from other airfield activities allowing the council to break even but the council wants aviation to pay for itself.

Losses will continue if the council does nothing. According to the Halcrow report, organic growth could reduce the losses but not eliminate them. Active growth is the only way to stop losses and generate a profit if the council wants flying to continue.

Active development would focus on business users including small executive jet and turboprop aircraft. Business passenger services can only operate from airfields licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Minimum investment for active development would include bringing 1,400m of the runway up to a CAA licensable standard. Runway and taxi pavements would need strengthening. Lighting and instrument approach capability would be necessary for take off and landing in poor weather. Combined with other improvements, the council would face substantial capital investment. This might be achieved directly or in partnership with a fixed based operating company.

Councillors want any future development proposals to go ahead only after full consultation and engagement with local residents and tenants of the airfield. Councillor Di Collins said: It is still early days. This is one option. There may be others. Residents over many years have made it clear that they want North Weald to remain an operational airfield. The airfield is steeped in heritage and history, and should make a valuable contribution to the local economy and employment.

“For that to continue we need to consolidate the airfield’s long term future with a business plan and strategy that stops the losses and turns airfield into a financial as well as a social and community asset.

“We are custodians of North Weald. We must be sensitive to the requirements of local people and ensure the airfield continues to support the community for future generations.

Draft Corporate Plan 2011 – 2015 Consultation

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Our performance, Planning, Supporting business, Your council, Your environment

The Corporate Plan (formerly known as the Council Plan) is the Council`s key strategic planning document. The Corporate Plan sets out service priorities over a four-year period, and translates the vision for the district set out by the Community Strategy recently published by the Local Strategic Partnership, One Epping Forest, into the Council’s strategic direction, priorities and the most important outcomes that it wants to achieve.

The Corporate Plan helps prioritise resources to provide quality services and value for money, but does not cover everything that the authority does, focusing instead on those issues that matter most to local people, national priorities set by the government and local challenges arising from the social, economic and environmental context of the district.

The Corporate Plan complements the Community Strategy and reflects those issues and priorities where the Council can have maximum impact. The Corporate Plan includes specific actions to address priorities that are financed, resourced and have a timescale for completion. The Corporate Plan is closely linked to the Council`s medium-term financial strategy, and sets out how the Council will deliver its vision and priorities over the next four years, to ensure improved outcomes for local people. The Corporate Plan includes a section reflecting the Council`s key objectives for 2011/12, which will be updated each year.

The Council is interested to know what you think of the Corporate Plan. Comments on the content and the aims and objectives for 2011/12 and the four-year period, can be made using either the online feedback form, or by submitting written comments to performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or Performance Improvement Unit, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ.

Responses received will be used to inform the content of the final version of the Corporate Plan, which will be published in April 2011.

Copies of the Draft Corporate Plan can be obtained from the Performance Improvement Unit by emailing performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

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