Epping Forest Countrycare Volunteer Walk 2013

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Sports, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

As a thank-you to all our hardworking volunteers we organised a circular six mile guided walk last month. Led by Kevin Mason, an interesting and diverse route took the volunteers through woodlands, grasslands and green lanes.

 

Taking a break in Norton Heath

We were blessed with a fine sunny day, and set off from the Chipping Ongar heading east through the fields alongside Cripsey Brook. After crossing the River Roding we headed across the old landfill site at the former LECA works. The volunteers noticed the spread of the invasive plant Goats Rue (Galega officinalis) across the site, which they work hard to control on the EFDC’s nature reserve and former landfill site at Bobbingworth.  The walk next followed  St Peter’s Way besides arable fields and through overgrown field margins.

Volunteers identifying wildflowers found along the way

Several stops were made along the way to look at the flora and for anecdotes about the sites we were passing. The walk made its way to Norton Heath for lunch supplied by the Norton Heath Café.  The heath is formed on one of the smallest Essex outliers of gravel and in the early part of the 20th Century was heavily excavated to provide gravel for the Chelmsford to Ongar road A414.  Norton Heath was designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2010.

The return trip was made through the fields and along Norton Lane in a westerly direction to reach Norton Mandeville. A stop was made at All Saint’s church and Norton Hall to admire the church and learn a little of its history. After the church we followed the farm track down to High Ongar.

We crossed the River Roding again at the footbridge and made our way back to

Heading home

Chipping Ongar passing the castle on route.  Fortunately we were back at the start before the rain came.

Despite the nettles the walk was thoroughly enjoyed by all and everyone is looking forward to next year’s volunteer treat.

The volunteers said:

“Very many thanks for such a lovely day today.  The walk was varied and interesting.”

“It was very interesting to hear some of the local history and to appreciate the splendid views.”

Tree Wardens undertake OPAL Tree Health Survey.

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Council’s Tree Wardens have started undertaking the OPAL (OPen Air Laboratories)  survey into the health of the trees in the District.  The survey is being co-ordinated by Imperial College London together with Forest Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency.

Horse Chestnut Tree

With guidance from Tree Warden Co-ordinator Kevin Mason a member of the Countrycare team, nine Tree Wardens attended a training session on 12th June in Roughtalley’s Wood, North Weald.

By taking part in the national survey and submitting the results the Tree Wardens are helping to discover more about the general health of our trees and give vital information on some of the pests and diseases that affect Oak, Ash and Horse Chestnut trees. Instruction was also given on identifying other potential pests and diseases which whilst not present yet, or at least not widespread, could have a serious impact on our trees.  Tree Wardens are part of an important surveillance network of people across the country protecting our trees.

The recordings are used by Forest Research – the Forestry Commission’s research agency.  The results from the survey will show the condition and health of the trees in parks, streets and woodlands across the UK and provide important information about the possible presence of certain key tree pests and diseases.

A national survey like this has not been undertaken before and it is likely that the trees surveyed by the Tree Wardens will not have been surveyed before.

The survey covers the location and species of the tree, its characteristics in relation to the trees around it and its condition; this gives a general picture about the health of the tree. Also covered was up to date information of pests and diseases on three of the most recognisable tree species: Ash, Oak and Horse Chestnut.

Bleeding Canker

 

One of the Horse Chestnuts surveyed by the Tree Wardens was discovered to have Bleeding Canker.  This is a disease caused by a pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi, which infects and disfigures the tree.  If the disease is severe it can kill the tree so it needs to be regularly checked.  Fortunately none of the Ash trees in the wood were found to have.
The Tree Wardens were also shown an unusual Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum) which is growing in the wood and there is a fine display of Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)growing in the wet grassland area.

Cappadocian maple

 

 To help with the survey please go to http://www.opalexplorenature.org/TreeSurvey
for the full instructions or alternatively contact Kevin Mason at Epping Forest Countrycare on 01992 788203

Planning documents offline for upgrade works

Written on . Posted in Business, Consultation, Licensing, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Your council, Your environment

On Monday 8 July you will not be able to view planning or licensing application documents online due to essential upgrade works. We will start at 8am and hope to have the upgrade completed by 2pm. No other part of the Epping Forest District Council website will be affected.

You will be not be able to search for documents such as floorplans and application forms but details of applications will still be available.

The upgrade will

  • improve the usability of the page
  • remove issues experienced by some users with pop up blockers

We apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

Cabinet on 10 June 2013

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Business, Council tax, Councillors, Crime and safety, Democracy, Emergencies, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, North Weald Airfield, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Members of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet met on Monday 10 June 2013. The agenda was dominated by Planning issues with the first debate considering the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on local planning applications.

Watch the webcast

Leader of Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread spoke of the burst water pipe over the weekend and council services disruption and said: “This kind of event could hit any business or organisation and we have good business continuity plans in place. I would like to thank personally all the officers involved on Sunday and throughout today. They have really set a first class example for this local authority. It was so pleasing to be able to come in here at 9am and survey the damage and most importantly to see us up and running and serving the public once again.”

Councillors received presentations from the Council’s legal adviser Mark Beard and the Director of Planning and Economic Development John Preston discussing where current council planning policies complimented the NPPF until the new Local Plan supersedes them and where current policies might carry less weight.

Cabinet then went on to review the minutes of the latest North Weald Airfield and Asset Management Committee including the on-going consultation with airfield users and the local Parish and County councils.

Cabinet then moved on to consider responses to the Community Choices Local Plan consultation and the next steps forward.

The Council continues to improve the quality of its council housing. Reports on the award of contracts for new kitchens in council-owned properties and external wall insulation were approved. A tender sum of £612,933 was accepted as being the lowest received for the installation of new kitchens to council housing across the district. Successful application for grants to offset the cost of external wall cladding to older council properties is set to save the council £280,000 on energy efficiency works to 35 properties with considerable benefits to tenants.

New policies and procedures for using the Investigatory Powers Act were approved.    

Council services disrupted

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Building control, Business, Business rates, Council tax, Crime and safety, Emergencies, Environmental health, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Local land charges, Media, Meetings, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your money

The council headquarters in Epping High Street are working with reduced electrical power and some offices are unavailable to staff after a water pipe burst over the weekend.

Finance including, council tax, and housing benefits are among services affected.

The subsequent power shutdown also took the council website offline on Sunday. Some staff are making temporary arrangements to work in different parts of the building or at alternative locations while others have been asked to stay at home.

The Council activated its business continuity plan on Sunday morning. The supply to a water cooler in the planning area on the top floor of the 1960s part of the civic offices had burst. A large amount of water caused damage in the planning department and offices directly beneath it occupied by support services and finance. Damage to electrical cables temporarily cut the power supply to the whole building but supplies to the more recently constructed areas of the office were re-established on Sunday afternoon.

Temporary power supplies were installed to the telephone switchboard and cash office ensuring these essential services would be available on Monday morning. IT systems were brought back online during the course of Sunday afternoon and evening. The website was also back online by 9am on Monday.

Visitors to the civic offices are being warned of potential delays or disruption while further emergency repairs are carried out. Other services affected include legal, estates and valuation, land charges, accountancy, all areas of planning, building control and economic development, and the council’s internal printshop. However, services located in the newer part of the offices including housing, environmental health, safer communities, and the contact centre for refuse and recycling are largely unaffected.

Some staff usually based in the affected areas will be offering services from temporary accommodation in other parts of the building.

The meeting of the cabinet scheduled to take place in the council chamber at 7pm on Monday evening is expected to go ahead and will be webcast as normal.

Councillor Chris Whitbread Leader of Epping Forest District Council said:

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council

“This is the kind of event that can hit any organisation. We have good business continuity plans in place and actually practised for a similar scenario only a year or two ago. It meant we had anticipated many of the potential issues and were able to respond very quickly despite the significant disruption.

We will have the insurance assessors in and there will no doubt be quite a few repairs but I am confident we will be back to normal very soon.

In the meantime, I would like to thank all those members of staff who worked throughout Sunday to make sure we could open on Monday, apologise for any inconvenience to our residents and ask everyone to bear with us while we do everything necessary to get all our services back up to speed.”

 

Report out on M25 Managed Motorways J23 to J27

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Media, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area, Your community

Read the first report on the Highways Agency progress to convert the M25 to a managed motorway between junctions 23 to 27.

M25 managed motorways

The Highways Agency newsletter tells you

  • why we need the Managed Motorway Scheme
  • about community relations
  • about design features
  • about vehicle recovery service
  • about the progress to date
  • considerate constructors
  • about environmental work
  • how to contact the Highways Agency

Read it

Managed Motorways M25 J23 to J27 (pdf 4.9MB) 

Keep up to date

Find the latest information on the Highways Agency M25 Junctions 23 to 27 Managed Motorways website.

 

Proposed changes to the planning rules – new permitted development rights

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As from 30 May 2013, new changes have come into force in respect of further permitted development rights for certain building works and changes of use without the need to apply for planning permission. Despite most Council’s, including ourselves, having raised objections to these planned changes, this has nationally been brought in to encourage development to take place and speed up its delivery by removing local authority control in an attempt to revive the economy. There are a number of changes, which are as follows:

Single storey rear extension to houses:

At present, it is possible to build a 4 metre deep single storey rear extension onto the original rear wall of a detached house and a 3 metre deep single storey rear extension onto an attached house as permitted development, i.e. without the need for planning permission. This right remains, but a new procedure (called “prior approval”) is to be introduced which may allow extensions up to double this size without planning permission (up to 8 metres deep for a detached house and 6 metres deep for an attached house). This does not apply in conservation areas, though.

The process for all other extension works under Part 1 of the GPDO will remain the same (i.e. no more than half the garden area around the house etc), but anyone proposing a 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension must write and provide a plan and written description of the proposal. There is no planning application fee.

The Council is required to consult the immediately adjoining premises only, with a minimum consultation period of 21 days. If no objections are received from the consulted adjoining neighbours, the development can go ahead. If an adjoining neighbour objects, then the prior approval of the local planning authority is required. Planning Officers will then need to consider the impact of the development only on the amenity of the immediate neighbours. Other factors, such as green belt, design and appearance cannot be considered under this prior approval procedure. Only where there is clearly excessive harm to neighbouring amenity will Officers be in a position to refuse prior approval.

This whole process has to be done within a total of 42 days from first receipt of the information submitted, otherwise, no matter whether there is an objection from an immediate neighbour or from the Council, the development can proceed. There is a right of appeal against a refusal.

The legislation requires that any 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension “shall be completed on or before 30th May 2016″.  It is therefore a temporary additional permitted development right for 3 years only.

The legislation also requires that “the developer shall notify the local planning authority of the completion of the development as soon as reasonably practicable after completion”.

Download the application form – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Download the guidance notes – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Change of Use

(please note that none of the below changes of use are relevant to listed buildings, but they can be carried out in conservation areas).

•  Premises in Class B1(a) office use will be able to change to Class C3 residential use so long as the C3 use starts on or before 30 May 2016. This is only subject to a prior approval process whereby the developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required only in respect of flooding, highway and transport issues and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days and in this case, a fee, believed at this stage to be £80.00, is required. There was an opportunity to be exempt from this permitted change of use and we as a Council made a strong case in order to protect our local town centre and employment areas. However, we, along with many others, were unsuccessful and only 17 authorities across England (including 11 inner London boroughs) have been given change of use exemption. Again, this is a temporary additional permitted development right in that no change of use can take place after 30 May 2016, but if the use has started before then, it can continue.

•  Parts of buildings under 150 metres within Class A1 – A5, B1, D1 and D2 will be permitted to change to a flexible use falling within Class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants) or B1 (business). For a one off period of up to 2 years, the developer only needs to notify (and therefore there is no prior approval considerations) the Council beforehand and in this time period, it can move between other uses in this flexible use. After 2 years, the use reverts back. This applies even in the Local Plan key retail frontages. 

•  Agricultural buildings (cumulatively)|under 500 square metres in floor space used solely in agriculture before 3 July 2012 or for 10 years after that date, can change to a flexible use falling within Class A1-A3, B1 (business), B8 (storage and distribution), C1 (hotel) or D2 (assembly and leisure). This flexible use will then be classed as “sui generis” such that any further changes of use outside the flexible uses require planning permission. In the case where the floor space does not exceed 150 metres, the developer merely has to notify the Council of the change. If it exceeds 150 metres, the developer has to apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required and we can only take account of flooding, highway and transport issues, noise and contamination can be considered through consultation with statutory undertakers. Therefore there are no other considerations. The determination has to be made by the Council within 56 days.  

•  Buildings within Class B1, C1, C2, C2a, D1 and D2 will be able to change to a state funded school. The developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval but we can only consider against  highway and transport issues, noise and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days.

•   The use of any building as a state-funded school for a single academic year will be permitted. It then reverts back to its previous use at the end of the academic year. The site must however, be approved for such purpose by the relevant Minister.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Offices

 Increases Permitted Development threshold to erect, extend or alter office premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Shops, Catering, Professional or Financial Services 

Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter a shop, catering, professional or financial services establishment from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016.
 The exclusion of development within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage is removed during the same period except in relation to premises which adjoin land or buildings in residential use. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Industrial and Warehouse Use Classes 

 Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter industrial and warehouse premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. Developers must notify us of completion.

Telecoms Installations

The construction, installation or replacement of telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services will not require prior approval in Conservation Areas for a 5 year period. Development must be completed before 30th May 2018.

Extensions permitted to temporary schools

Buildings which qualify for the right to change temporarily to school use are also given the benefit of existing permitted development rights which allow schools to carry out building works (including the erection, extension or alteration of buildings and the provision of hard surfaces) subject to various conditions and limitations.
 This will apply from the date we are notified by the relevant Minister that the site has been approved for school use.

 

Find out more about the planning process and planning applications

 

Local Plan confusion – option D

Written on . Posted in Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Theydon Bois councillors are reassuring local residents that a leaflet putting forward proposals for development on the edge of the village do not come from Epping Forest District Council.

Option D leaflet coverThe leaflet entitled ‘A better option for Theydon Bois’ has been circulated to households with a reply paid slip urging residents to support the development of land next to the M11.

District Councillor John Philip said: “This looks like a high quality official publication which makes many references to the Local Plan consultation carried out by the council last year. It does not say who it comes from, leaving several local people with the impression it was issued by the council. In fact, I understand it has been produced and distributed by the owner of the land being put forward as a development option.”

Residents can view the official our Local Plan consultation online. 

 

Home Energy Conservation Act Further Report 2013

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Energy efficiency, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

As part of the amended Home Energy Conservation Act, Local Authorities are required to submit a further report on planned energy efficiency measures in their area.

Read the Epping Forest District Council HECA further report 2013

Find out more about energy efficiency

 

Countrycare Easter Scavenger Hunt

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Sports, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Looking for something fun to do with the  kids Wednesday 3rd April? Why not Join Epping Forest Countrycare for an Easter Scavenger hunt!

10am until 12pm. No need to book just turn up. £4 per child. Starting point Reserve Entrance at the end of Pike Way, North Weald, CM16 6BL.

For more Countrycare events download our Coutnrycare Events List 2013