Epping Forest District Council wins Local Plan challenge

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The High Court has dismissed the legal challenge to the Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan Submission Version 2017 paving the way for the Council to submit the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Independent Examination. The Court rejected all four grounds of challenge brought by property development company CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Ltd, endorsing the lawfulness of the Council decision to approve the Local Plan for 11,400 new homes over the Plan period up to 2033.

EFDC local plan logos

The Council’s Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip described the Court’s decision as “good news” and the positive outcome is also seen as vindication of the Council’s approach by its Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread.

John Philip expressed his gratitude to the Court saying: “The production of the Local Plan is possibly the most difficult thing the Council has ever had to do. The issues involved in planning for growth in the District are very sensitive and, inevitably, emotions often run high, but the Court has endorsed the Council’s approach having scrutinised the decision-making process.”

Chris Whitbread was also pleased. He said: “As Councillors we take a balanced view between the protection of the character of the District we love and the need to provide decent homes for local people. We burnt a great deal of ‘midnight oil’ to understand and balance complex issues while collectively studying and guiding the evolution of the Plan through workshops, meetings and engagement before making some really difficult decisions.”

Councillor Philip continued: “I hope CK Properties will see the sense of the Court’s judgment, and pursue their arguments through the Local Plan Examination process, which has always been the proper place to air their concerns, and spare Council Tax payers any additional expense by resorting to the legal appeal process.”

Be part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Vision

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Harlow Council, Epping Forest District Council and East Herts Council will be hosting events throughout July to unveil the first look of the vision for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

Harlow and gilston web banner

The Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Vision sets out the commitment from all involved councils, including Hertfordshire and Essex County Councils, to deliver a high quality Garden Town with a strong sense of community, a mix of housing in villages and neighbourhoods to suit all budgets and a wide range of facilities and jobs for new and existing residents.

To give everyone an opportunity to provide their input and feedback before it is finalised, events are being held in Harlow, Epping and Gilston to welcome as many people as possible.

Come to our First Look events

Harlow

Epping

Gilston

We want your feedback

Or download and save the Spatial Vision feedback form to your computer or tablet

Once completed you can either post your response

  • Garden Town Team
    Epping Forest District Council
    Civic Offices
    323 High Street
    Epping
    Essex
    CM16 4BZ

Or email

All feedback must be completed and returned by 5pm Friday 27 July.

Community at its heart

Claire Hamilton, Director, Harlow and Gilston Garden Town said:“We are really excited to share our Vision for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town with you. This Vision demonstrates our commitment to deliver a successful Garden Town with existing and new communities at its heart.

“We do hope you can join us at one of these events to share with us your thoughts on this Vision. This is your opportunity to start shaping the future of the Garden Town.”

Comments wanted for Chigwell Neighbourhood Plan

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The Council is publicising the submission version of the Chigwell Neighbourhood Plan and are are seeking comments from residents, business and other interest stakeholders on the Plan and supporting documents.

The publication period is from 12 noon on Tuesday 15 May to 4pm on Tuesday 26 June 2018.

Representations

All representations received regarding the plan proposal will be forwarded to an appointed examiner, who will assess the plan proposal and supporting documents against the basic conditions set out in national policy.

The 7 basic conditions that a neighbourhood plan / neighbourhood development order must meet are

  1. having regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State it is appropriate to make the order (or neighbourhood plan)
  2. having special regard to the desirability of preserving any listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest that it possesses, it is appropriate to make the order. This applies only to Orders
  3. having special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area, it is appropriate to make the order. This applies only to Orders
  4. the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) contributes to the achievement of sustainable development.
  5. the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area of the authority (or any part of that area)
  6. the making of the order (or neighbourhood plan) does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with EU obligations
  7. prescribed conditions are met in relation to the Order (or plan) and prescribed matters have been complied with in connection with the proposal for the order (or neighbourhood plan)

How to make a representation

For more details and how to make a representation please visit the Chigwell Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 16 publication and examination page on the Council’s website at

Panel appointed to advise on Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

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Eighteen planning and design experts have been appointed to advise on the development of Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town is an ambitious and exciting project being planned and delivered in partnership between Harlow Council, East Hertfordshire District Council and Epping Forest District Council, with support from Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council.

The Garden Town provides the opportunity to create fantastic new communities, delivering 16,000 new homes by 2033, with a further 7,000 new homes planned to be built beyond that.

To help to deliver the Garden Town, the councils have established a Quality Review Panel to help ensure that the Garden City principles are embedded in the development and guarantee the delivery of a high quality development.

Independent expert advice

Eighteen experts have been appointed, with a wide range of backgrounds and experience, to provide independent expert advice on the planning and design of Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. The Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Quality Review Panel will provide ‘critical friend’ advice to the planning authorities to support the delivery of high quality new places to live and work, in order to meet the needs of existing and future communities.

The panel will be chaired by Peter Maxwell, the Director of Design, London Legacy Development Corporation. Peter is an architect, town planner and urban designer with over 15 years’ senior level experience. He has led implementation of major projects in the UK, Middle East and New Zealand. He currently leads on masterplanning, architecture and public realm for redevelopment of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. He will be joined by 17 other planning and design experts from around the country

A great opportunity to deliver the highest quality of development

Claire Hamilton Garden Town Director said: “We are delighted to have such an exceptionally high calibre of panel members who are all excited to be part of the process of planning and designing Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. This provides us with a great opportunity to deliver the highest quality of development that will provide fantastic places for people to live, work and socialize now and in the future.”

She continued “The first Quality Review Panel session will take place in May this year and I would like to wish each member of the panel a very warm welcome to the project. The panel’s wide ranging knowledge and experience will be instrumental in embedding the Garden City principles into the Garden Town and achieving the ambitious vision that the authorities have for it. This is a very exciting stage in the project and I look forward to working with the panel over the coming months and years.”

Quality Review Panel

The Quality Review Panel will begin its work in the spring of 2018 by reviewing the Spatial Vision and Design Charter for the Garden Town – and will then continue to advise the councils as they take forward their vision for Garden Town.

Review meetings, drawing on the expertise of the Quality Review Panel members, will also be available to advise the councils on strategy, masterplan and major schemes within their areas. As part of its commitment to high quality design, Epping Forest District Council has invited the Quality Review Panel to review schemes within its district and the first review will take place this month. While East Herts Council will be working with the Quality Review Panel for the Gilston Area, other schemes across its district will be reviewed by the Hertfordshire Design Review Panel.

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Housing and Infrastructure Fund approved

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East Herts Council, Harlow Council and Epping Forest Council are pleased that their Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid has been approved by the Government to proceed to the next stage.

Landscape

The Councils have bid for funding to improve the existing River Stort crossing and provide a new river crossing in the Gilston area and also to deliver some of the sustainable transport corridor for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Project.

The next stage will be for us, along with Hertfordshire County Council and Essex County Council, to develop a detailed business case for this funding. This is a competitive process but we hope to be successful in bidding for HIF funding to accelerate infrastructure delivery for the Garden Town Project.

Delay in submission of the Local Plan for Independent Examination

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Submission of Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan has been delayed following a Planning Court ruling on 20 March 2018.

The Court granted CK Properties Theydon Bois Limited (“CK Properties”) permission to apply for judicial review of the Council’s decision on 14 December 2017 to approve the Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017 (“LPSV”) for publication and submission to the Secretary of State for independent examination.

CK Properties complains that its land to the east of Theydon Bois was not allocated for residential development in the LPSV and contends that it has been prejudiced by the unavailability of Appendix B to the Site Selection Report (Arup December 2017), during the Regulation 19 publication period.

The Court ordered that the Council be restrained from submitting the LPSV for independent examination until the final determination of the judicial review claim, or further order. The Court also ordered that the judicial review hearing can be expedited and it is listed for hearing on 23 and 24 May 2018 with a time estimate of 1½ days.

The Council will be contesting all the claims made and to be heard at the full hearing but the ruling means the Council cannot meet the agreed submission date of 31 March 2018.

Councillor John Philip, Planning Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council was disappointed by the Court decision but confident of the final outcome. He said; “It is frustrating but it is not the end of the road. We are ready to submit the Plan but circumstances outside our control have created this delay.”

Councillor Philip continued: “Fortunately, the Government’s deadline  extension means the case can be heard without compromising our position. When all the evidence is placed before the judge, we fully expect to win the review. We are still on target to agree 11,400 homes during the Local Plan period up to 2033.”

Local Plan Council 14 December 2017

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District councillors approved publication of the submission version of the Local Plan at a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 14 December. The decision paves the way for the start of Regulation 19, a six week period during which residents and other interested parties can comment on the legal soundness of the plan before submission to the government at the end of March.

Development within Epping Forest District up to 2033

The Local Plan contains policies for development within Epping Forest District up to 2033. It includes the designation of areas for housing, employment and the Metropolitan Green Belt.

Publication of the submission version of the Local Plan was accelerated after the Secretary of State Sajid Javid warned councils to expect government intervention and significant additional housing allocations where Local Plans are not in place. Epping Forest District could see the number of new homes almost doubled if it did not submit its plan for inspection by a government-appointed inspector by the end of March 2018.

Invitation of submissions

Councillors agreed the Plan and the invitation of submissions on legality, soundness and the duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils for a six week period commencing 18 December.

The Plan and a special form designed to assist residents make submissions will be available to complete from 12pm Monday on the Epping Forest District Council website. A printable pdf version of the form will also be available to download. Reference copies of the Local Plan and associated documents will also be available to view at the following locations:

  • Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping
  • Epping Forest District Council, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping
  • Epping Forest District Council Loughton Broadway Housing Office
  • Epping Forest District Council Limes Centre Chigwell
  • Epping Sports Centre
  • Loughton Leisure Centre
  • Ongar Leisure Centre
  • Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool
  • Buckhurst Hill Library
  • Chigwell Library
  • Chipping Ongar Library
  • Epping Library
  • Loughton Library
  • North Weald Library
  • Waltham Abbey Library

Final representations must be received no later than 5pm on Monday 29 January 2018.

Cabinet 7 December 2017

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Savings, efficiencies and income generation are bridging the gap as reductions in government funding of approximately £700,000 over the next 4 years are being addressed in the Medium Term Financial Strategy. Reports to the Cabinet meeting held on 7 December 2017 included cabinet committee minutes noting the phasing out of the Revenue Support Grant.

Other items on the agenda included consultation on the Local Council Tax Support scheme, additional resources for homelessness prevention and investment in Loughton Leisure Centre. The Council’s staffing structure, the Capital Review, Local Plan, additional police, support for Epping Forest District Youth Council and a ‘Behavioural Insights’ project to help residents interact with the Council also featured on a packed agenda.

No extra crèche money but investment in changing facilities confirmed

Councillors agreed not to subsidise crèche facilities at Loughton Leisure Centre. Facilities at Loughton supporting the crèche are to be redeveloped as part of wider improvements to the Leisure Centre. However, councillors were able to support improvements to changing facilities at a cost of £324,000. Epping Forest District Council is better placed than many other councils to invest in leisure facilities.

Recognising the discretionary nature of the service and the competing demands for funding, councillors regretted being unable to support the crèche. However, in addition to other improvements to Loughton, the Council is building a new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey.

Welfare

Councillors backed amendments to the Local Council Tax Support scheme. Following consultation earlier in the year the scheme is being adapted to take account of Universal Credit and working practices of the Department of Work and Pensions. Councillors also welcomed government recognition of the growing demand with grant funding of an additional post within the homelessness prevention team.

Staff structures and service improvements

Councillors also approved provisional budget allocations to support long term staff realignment and service delivery. The Common Operating Model set out within the Council’s People Strategy is aiming to streamline and refocus management processes and staff. Councillors approved provisional funding for next year to meet redundancy and pension costs with commensurate salary budget savings leading to break even in a year or so and ongoing savings thereafter.

The Corporate Plan set out plans for the provision of future services based on the needs of local residents. Approval for regular satisfaction level surveys and research into ‘behavioural’ insights are set to track and accelerate improvements to services.

Working with Essex Police, councillors welcomed proposals for local funding to boost the number of police officers or uniformed presence patrolling the district. £25,000 is to be allocated for employment of Parkguard staff over the next 3 months with aspirations for more permanent recruitment of police officers to follow.

Councillors also approved a project funding budget of £8,000 for Epping Forest District Youth Council.

Strong financial performance continues to be reflected in the Council’s Capital Programme Review despite challenging circumstances. The Council is continuing to deliver commercial projects with community benefits such as Epping Forest Shopping Park and its associated highway improvement works, the new leisure centre for Waltham Abbey and the ongoing new council-house building programme.

Local Plan resourcing

Demand on the Council’s planning services is expected to increase as the new Local Plan moves forward. Councillors approved funding for the establishment of a new Strategic Sites Implementation Team with a bid for £278,000 per year over 2 years to assist the implementation of the Local Plan.

‘Submission’ version of Local Plan published

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The Epping Forest District Local Plan – Submission Version 2017 is available to view ahead of a special Council meeting to be webcast on 14 December.

Local plan time line

Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017

Councillors will be asked to approve formal publication of the ‘Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017’. If agreed, residents will be invited to make representations on the legality and soundness of the Plan during a six week period between 18 December and 29 January. Representations will then be submitted with the Local Plan for examination by a government-appointed planning inspector.

Consideration of the Local Plan has been brought forward following Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement that councils failing to submit a Local Plan for examination before 31 March 2018 could see housing allocations significantly increased. If Epping Forest District’s Plan is not submitted in time, the 11,400 new housing requirement allocated for the District could increase to 20,000 over the Local Plan period up to 2033.

Subject to Council approval, the Plan and all supporting documents will be published to its website from 18 December with a special form for residents, developers and any other interested stakeholders to complete.

The Council hopes people will use the online form specially created for the purpose.

The next stage in the process

Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip said: “We held extensive consultation on the Local Plan last year. The next stage in the process restricts representations to legal compliance and soundness of the Plan. The online form is designed to help everyone follow the guidelines and submit comments in the right format for the planning inspector who will ultimately hold the public examination and approve or reject the Plan. Using the form will give you the best chance of ensuring the inspector takes your views into account.”

However, Councillor Philip added: “We know online forms are not for everyone. We will also provide a printable version if you prefer paper as well as accepting email submissions on behalf of the inspector.”

Watch the meeting online

The ‘Submission Version 2017’ of the Local Plan has been published online as part of the Council agenda.

Due to the nature and complexity of the Plan, the meeting is scheduled to start earlier than usual at 6pm. Limited public viewing is available in the Council chamber and the Council will also provide access via breakout TV screens in the atrium of the Civic offices.

The meeting will also be webcast and residents will be able to watch live and recorded online from the comfort of their own homes.

Councillor Philip added: “Publication over the Christmas period is not ideal but the government consultation leaves little choice if we are to hit the 31 March deadline. However, by sharing the Plan through the Council agenda as early as possible, we can effectively give people an extra two weeks to think about any comments and submissions before the formal representations period starts.”

The Council is also writing to everyone who previously expressed interest in the Local Plan.

Council reacts to Government consultation on housing requirements

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The Epping Forest District Local Plan is moving closer to completion as the Council acts to finalise the Plan before new changes are introduced by the Government.

Local plan time line

Last month the Government published proposals to change the way in which housing requirements are calculated for Local Plans. Such proposals would result in major changes being required to the Epping Forest District Local Plan to significantly increase the amount of new housing for the District from 11,400 homes identified in the Draft Local Plan to 20,306 if the Plan has not been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination before the end of March 2018.

As a result the Council is aiming to publish the Plan towards the end of December for a period of six weeks, at which stage it will be possible to make representations in relation to the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan before the Council submits it for Examination. Any representations received will then be made available to the Planning Inspector appointed to undertake the Examination.

By submitting the Plan for Examination before the end of March 2018, the Council is seeking to ensure that the District will be covered by an up to date Plan to meet future development and infrastructure needs at the earliest possible opportunity. The Plan will require high quality development to be accompanied by required infrastructure in the most sustainable locations, enabling the Council to resist development proposals which are deemed to be inappropriate.

Latest update sent to stakeholders

Cabinet Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip is writing to update relevant partner organisations and stakeholders.

Councillor Philip said: “We received more than 3,000 representations to last year’s consultation as well as suggestions for new sites. The sites we identify need to be practical and sustainable. Protecting the character of the district remains one of our top priorities while recognising we must have new housing if we are to meet local need. With housing we also need infrastructure, everything from, roads, public transport and electricity supply to schools, health facilities and leisure centres.”

Councillor Philip continued: “There is a severe housing shortage in the South East and a great deal of external pressure on our district. If we don’t finalise and submit our Local Plan before the end of March, new government proposals could require us to go back to the drawing board and that would leave us without an up to date Plan to guide and manage future growth. Therefore, it is now more important than ever that we get the Plan to the Inspectorate without delay.”

Town and Parish councils, residents associations, environmental groups and individuals are among those receiving the latest update on Local Plan progress.