Cabinet 5 November

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Councillors discussed many issues at the cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 5 November 2015.

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Breaches of standing orders

Councillor Chris Whitbread set out details of breaches to standing orders in response to a public question by Mr Blanks. Responding to a supplementary question by Mr Blanks, Councillor Whitbread confirmed that the breaches of standing orders relating to cumulative orders placed with contract suppliers had been identified by council officers.

Councillor Whitbread undertook to provide further details in due course. Returning to the item later on the agenda, cabinet actions now require assistant directors to avoid similar occurrences in the future. Standing Orders are also to be reviewed.

Gracelands

Gracelands, a local company has been awarded a new 5-year contract to provide gas and heating services to council housing tenants. Gracelands came in the with the lowest bid of just under £400,000 per year. Previous work by Gracelands has provided some of the highest levels of tenant satisfaction for Epping Forest District Council.

Civil penalties

Councillors supported the introduction of civil penalties for people giving false information when making Council Tax and Housing Benefit claims. The penalties of £70 for Council Tax and £50 for Housing Benefit cheats can also be applied to people who deliberately withhold information when their circumstances change. Anyone providing false information would also have to pay back any overpayment of Benefits.

Bus shelters

The cleaning and refurbishment of 60 local bus shelters has been awarded to Clear Channel for a further 4 years. The contract was awarded at no cost to the council. Maintenance costs to Clear Channel will be met from revenue raised through advertising.

Payment kiosks

Payment kiosks are to replace the staffed Epping cashier office. Residents increasingly make payments to the council by direct debit, phone and online with a consequent decline in cash payments. The council successfully implemented a payment kiosk alternative in Waltham Abbey several years ago with significant ongoing savings. Implementation of a similar plan in Epping is expected to save more than £20,000 a year.

Epping Forest College redevelopment

Councillors agreed to release restrictive covenants on land owned by Epping Forest College. Redevelopment of the land for housing will provide a proportion of new affordable housing within Loughton. Profits from the development will be used by the College to develop new educational facilities.

Epping Forest Shopping Park

The Epping Forest Shopping Park project remains on schedule. Asset Management Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg updated cabinet with latest progress on retail tenants, highway works and relocation of council services to Oakwood Hill.

 

Essex County Council flooding grants

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Essex County Council (ECC) have recently launched funding for residents, landowners, and organisations such as parish councils etc, who are looking to address issues relating to flooding.

Property level protection (PLP)

This is for residents who have been affected by flooding to apply for up to £5k to purchase and install physical measures to protect their homes. Typically these measures can include

  • flood barriers across external doors
  • air vent covers
  • non-return valves

The scheme is being administered by a private company on behalf of ECC and is on a first come, first served basis. The overall budget available is £100k hence residents are being encouraged to register their interest promptly.

Flood programme grant

This totals £400k and is intended to contribute towards the delivery of bespoke flood prevention schemes that have protection to residential properties as their primary aim. Sources of flooding can include

  • ordinary watercourses
  • ground water flooding
  • surface water flooding

Flooding from rivers is excluded as this rests principally with the Environment Agency to address.

Want advice

You can find out more on the flood and water management section on Essex County Council’s website.

The Engineering Drainage & Water Team at Epping Forest District Council are happy to discuss and advise potential applicants and look for synergies with Epping Forest’s own flood risk reduction proposals and aspirations.

Contact them

 

New arrangements for pre-application planning advice

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New arrangements for pre-application planning advice on domestic extensions, adverts and other commercial alterations will be starting from 1 May 2015.

Planning

We are expanding our pre-application planning service in order to ensure prospective planning applications are well-prepared and have the appropriate information and drawings.

The fee for this service is £48 (including VAT) which is payable at the time of the enquiry. This fee can be paid by debit or credit card over the phone or by sending a cheque or banker’s draft to the planning office.

Find out more

 

Buckhurst Hill housing application withdrawn

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An application for the construction of 65 new apartments on land at Powell Road in Buckhurst Hill has been withdrawn by the applicant.

EPF/2925/14 was item 5 on the agenda at Area Plans South Committee on Wednesday 1 April 2015, but has now been withdrawn by the applicant.

Find out more

Area Plans South Committee on Wednesday 1 April 2015

 

No increase in Council Tax

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Another freeze in Council Tax is being recommended by the Epping Forest District Council Cabinet on 2 February 2015.

The council has not increased its Council Tax charge of £148.77 for an average Band D property for 5 years. The zero increase in Council Tax has been achieved despite central government funding reduction of approximately 60% over the last 5 years.

Read the agenda

Central government funding

Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou also provided details of the significant income from investments. As central government funding continues to decline, councillors are looking long-term towards making Epping Forest District Council less dependent on grant.

Councillor Stavrou expressed delight that among the financial achievements was an investment budget of £33 million for new council housing, while stressing the duty to continue searching for savings on council budgets wherever possible.

Thanks to the robust and prudent management of the council’s finances, Councillor Stavrou received support to create a new ‘invest to save’ budget of £500,000. This will be used specifically to put money into projects designed to make long term savings. Epping Forest District Council remains a low-tax council.

Council Leader Chris Whitbread welcomed the budget report. He described it as a really good budget, protecting front line services while never forgetting that it is residents’ money. Every pound should be spent as carefully possible.

Council house building programme

Earlier in the meeting, Councillor David Stallan Housing portfolio holder updated Cabinet on the new council house building programme including progress at Faversham Hall and Marden Close, and ground-breaking for the first completely new properties in Waltham Abbey. Further consideration is being given to plans for the development of council housing at Burton Road in Loughton.

Councillor Whitbread invited Councillor Stallan and Assistant Director Paul Pledger to elaborate on the design standards being applied to new council housing. Councillor Whitbread went on to emphasise the importance of delivering high-quality homes in the shortest possible timeframe to meet the needs of local people.

Work continues to provide off-street parking on council housing estates. Councillor Stallan reported on the completion of 182 spaces at an average cost of £3,340 per bay. Councillors received an updated list of schemes to come including two new sites in Waltham Abbey.

The next 8 schemes subject to consultation with residents and planning applications are

  1. Roundhills (Red Cross site), Waltham Abbey
  2. Etheridge Green, Loughton
  3. Watermans Way, North Weald
  4. Alderwood Close, Abridge
  5. Tillingham Court, Waltham Abbey
  6. Sycamore House, Buckhurst Hill
  7. Roundhills (Site 4), Waltham Abbey
  8. Rochford Green, Loughton

Councillor Stallan stressed that schemes can only go forward with the support of local residents. Councillors are also to look carefully at the potential impact of new council house building projects on off-street parking schemes.

Car parking strategy

The revised pay and display car parking strategy was presented by Portfolio Holder Gary Waller. The strategy sees some modest increases in income from council-run car park tariffs. Parking charges will be kept lower in Waltham Abbey and Ongar which do not benefit from ready access to London Underground stations. The new structure seeks to protect local town centre businesses and shoppers while also investing in maintaining and improving the car parking services.

Weekend shoppers will continue to enjoy free parking for the first 2 hours of their stay where car parks were previously free, but will have to pay £1 after that. The half hour 10p weekday charge will increase to 20p. New ‘smart meters’ and additional CCTV are among the improvements to convenience and security.

Ongar Academy

There is good news for the district’s children. Cabinet provided support for the new Ongar Academy secondary school by agreeing the principle of selling 8.98 hectares of land next to Ongar Leisure Centre. The value of the site to be used by the new school is yet to be assessed.

 

Housing application withdrawn

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An application for the construction of 10 new dwellings on land off Hoe Lane in Nazeing has been withdrawn by planning officers following further advice from consultants.

EPF/0204/14 was item 1 on the agenda at Area Plans West Committee on Wednesday 28 January 2015. We have written to neighbours to let them know.

Find out more

Area Plans West Committee on Wednesday 28 January 2015

 

Nazeing housing application withdrawn

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An application for the construction of 45 new dwellings on land off  St Leonards Road in Nazeing has been withdrawn by the applicant.

EPF/0202/14 was item 1 on the agenda at Area Plans West Committee on Wednesday 17 December 2014, but has now been withdrawn by the applicant. We have written to neighbours to let them know.

Find out more

Area Plans West Committee on Wednesday 17 December 2014

 

Plans East applications adjourned

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Half of the planning applications due to be discussed at Area Planning Sub-Committee East on Wednesday 10 December 2014 have been adjourned to Monday 5 January 2015 due to the unusually large agenda.

Agenda items 1 to 10 will still be discussed on 10 December but items 11 to 19 will now be discussed on 5 January.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

  1. EPF/1975/14 Blake Hall, Stoney Lane, Ongar, Essex CM5 0DG
  2. EPF/1976/14 Blake Hall, Stoney Lane, Ongar, Essex CM5 0DG
  3. EPF/2056/14 Broadbanks, Ivy Chimneys, Epping, Essex CM16 4EL
  4. EPF/2124/14 Allotment Ground to rear of 1-7 Rodney Road, 2-22 Fairfield Road and 2-6 Glebe Road, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9HJ
  5. EPF/1875/14 Brook House Farm Barn, Epping Lane, Stapleford Tawney, Romford, Essex RM4 1ST
  6. EPF/1910/14 Dame Annys Farm, Norwood End, Fyfield, Essex CM5 0RW
  7. EPF/2006/14 The Retreat, Market Place, Abridge, Romford, Essex RM4 1UA
  8. EPF/2040/14 Sixteen String Jack, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois, Essex CM16 7DS
  9. EPF/2103/14 3 London Road, Lambourne, Romford, Essex RM4 1UT
  10. EPF/2223/14 20 St. Peters Avenue, Ongar, Essex CM5 0BT

Monday 5 January 2015

  1. EPF/2270/14 The Old Rectory, Mount Road, Theydon Mount, Epping, Essex CM16 7PW
  2. EPF/2285/14 Wind Hill Cottage, Wind Hill, Magdalen Laver, Ongar, Essex CM5 0EX
  3. EPF/2358/14 Ground Floor Unit, 134 High Street, Ongar, Essex CM5 9JH
  4. EPF/2386/14 Red House Farm, Little Laver Road, Little Laver, Harlow, Essex CM5 0JH
  5. EPF/2400/14 Red House Farm, Little Laver Road, Little Laver, Harlow, Essex CM5 0JH
  6. EPF/2456/14 134 – 136 High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4AG
  7. EPF/2514/14 Tilegate Lodge, High Laver, Ongar, Essex CM5 0EA
  8. EPF/2527/14 Misterton, Kendal Avenue, Epping, Essex CM16 4PN
  9. EPF/2528/14 10 Lower Swaines, Epping, Essex CM16 5ER

Both meetings will be webcast live from the civic offices in Epping, starting at 7:30pm.

 

Cabinet supports homes for local people

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Proposals for 15 affordable rented housing units on the site of hard to let garages in Vere Road, Loughton received the backing of councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 3 November.

  • Due to technical issues there is no sound in the first few minutes of the webcast.

Affordable homes plan for brownfield site

The proposals to lease the land to Moat Housing Association were presented by Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan. Subject to planning permission Moat Housing would develop 1 and 2 bedroom flats with associated parking on the site. Epping Forest District Council would receive £425,000 in exchange for a 999 year lease of the land to be used to fund the council’s own house building programme and other regeneration schemes.

Moat and the council would also aim to provide 14 additional car parking spaces for lease to residents of the new development being built next to the site on land formerly occupied by the Sir Winston Churchill public house.

Councillor Stallan assured councillors that full consultation on the proposed development would be carried out with local residents through the planning application process.

Leisure strategy and business loans

Other items debated at cabinet included the council’s leisure and cultural strategy, Council Tax and Local Council Tax Support Scheme, Non Domestic Rates and the Essex voluntary and community sector framework.

The Council is to support a scheme by start-up loans, a Government backed agency that offers loans of up to £10,000 to new businesses in the start up phase or first year of trading. Meetings are being held with the aim of taking the project forward in the next few months. Start-up is one of a series of initiatives to be publicised to local businesses at the Council’s Access to Funding Roadshow to be held at the Civic Offices on 17 November.

 

First steps towards a Neighbourhood Plan for North Weald Bassett Parish Council

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North Weald Bassett Parish Council has taken the first steps towards preparing a Neighbourhood Plan by informing Epping Forest District Council of their intentions and submitting an application for the designation of their parish as a Neighbourhood Area.

Any Parish or Town Council can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan if they wish. The Plans give communities an opportunity to shape the way in which their local area develops over the coming years. Neighbourhood Development Plans, which must be prepared in accordance with the District Councils Local Plan, can be used to

  • Develop a shared vision for the local area
  • Choose where new homes, community facilities and other forms of development should be built
  • Identify and protect important local green spaces
  • Influence what new buildings should look like

North Weald Bassett Parish Council

North Weald Bassett Parish Council has identified the area to be covered by the plan as the whole parish. Epping Forest District Council, as the local planning authority, is required to publicise this proposed area for a period of at least 6 weeks so that people can comment on it.

A copy of the application, along with further information on neighbourhood planning, can be viewed at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/neighbourhoodplanning

This is a consultation on the identification of the potential plan area, not a formal consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan itself, which will come later as the Plan progresses.

The consultation will run for 6 weeks from 22 September 5pm on 31 October 2014.

Comments

Please be aware that all comments received will be publicly available and may be included on our website. Personal details such as the respondents address, telephone number and signature will not be published.

About Neighbourhood Plans

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by Government through the Localism Act in 2011.

Once they have successfully completed the preparation process, Neighbourhood Plans will legally have policy status and will be used to help decide planning applications. Within the parameters set by the district-wide local plan, a neighbourhood plan must be used to positively encourage sustainable development.

Following the end of this 6 week period, the District Council must decide whether to designate the proposed neighbourhood area. It should be noted that once a designation is made no other organisation or body may be designated for that neighbourhood area until that designation expires or is withdrawn. One designated, the Parish Council may commence work on preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.

A draft Plan must be subject to a formal 6 week public consultation before being submitted to the District Council for examination by an independent Examiner. If the Plan is approved, a referendum is held within the Parish to decide whether the Plan should be used by the District Council to decide upon planning applications within the neighbourhood area.

Within Epping Forest District, Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Parish Council, Chigwell Parish Council, Theydon Bois Parish Council are already working on a Neighbourhood Plan for their area.