Planned website maintenance on 4 March 2018

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Updated information posted 22 February 2018

The scheduled maintenance to our website and payment system will now take place on Sunday 4 March 2018.

We are sorry for any inconvenience that this maintenance work might cause you. If you experience problems please try again on Monday 5 March 2018.

Planned website maintenance

Information posted on 19 February 2018

Due to essential maintenance our website and online services, including reporting services, will be unavailable from 12pm to 11pm on Sunday 25 February 2018.

If you experience any problems accessing our online services, please try again on Monday 26 February 2018.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this maintenance work might cause you.

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.

Cabinet 9 March 2017

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The Local Plan, better use of council assets, housing for homeless people, pay and display car parks and the investment of additional fees in the planning service dominated debate at Cabinet on 9 March.

Draft Local Plan consultation

Preliminary findings from the draft Local Plan consultation were presented by Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 9 March.

Councillor Philip outlined some clear themes coming through for more work on infrastructure and employment sites including the wider area of East Herts and Harlow. New potential sites and changes to previously identified sites are also being reviewed and will be fed into the revisions of the draft plan. A new transport assessment is also being done in conjunction with Essex County Council.

Councillor Philip emphasised that publication of the next draft depended on full analysis and assessment of the additional work programmed in over the next year or so. Councillors noted the initial findings of the consultation, agreed progression of the Local Plan to the next stage and approved the publication of the Council’s updated Local Development Scheme online.

Better use of council buildings

The interests of residents and customers must remain at the heart of council services. Council Leader Chris Whitbread received Cabinet support for proposals to reduce the need for office space at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Reports show flexible working by staff including home and remote working, and use of other council buildings could allow the Council to move out of the older part of the Civic Offices known as the Conder Building. Councillor Whitbread described the proposals as part of the wider transformation programme to improve services.

Pay and Display set to save £58,000

Final preparations have been agreed for the transfer of the council’s off-street parking management from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL.

Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reminded fellow councillors of the improvements the change of contract will bring to residents and the Council. The Council will save £58,600 under the new arrangements even though Councillor Waller said that NSL did not submit the cheapest bid. They did submit the best quality bid. Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) rates remain the same.

Housing for Homeless People

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou received approval to progress plans for a small pilot scheme of three ‘Pods’ to accommodate people at Norway House in North Weald. The pods containing individual living accommodation and shared kitchens are manufactured by a North Weald based company. Subject to planning approval, the Council plans to help homeless people who would otherwise find themselves in Bed and Breakfast.

Increased planning application fees

Cabinet accepted an offer by the Department of Communities and Local Government to increase planning fees. Governance Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett confirmed that any extra income would be reinvested in planning services.

12 December deadline for Local Plan

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You have only a few days left to get your draft Local Plan comments back to us. The 6-week consultation deadline ends at 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016.

Next stop for the Epping Forest1

It’s great to see so many people engaged in the process 

Planning portfolio holder Councillor John Philip has been delighted with the response. He said: “We already have over a thousand replies and more come in each day. Most people are responding online via the website. We have also received many replies by email but no one is excluded.”

“We are receiving paper questionnaires and letters through the post. People are responding individually and as part of groups. Our local town and parish councils have also played a big role in getting people involved as well as submitting their own replies.”

“I would like to thank everyone who has taken time and trouble to respond. It is great to see so many people engaged in the process.”

Online has proved most popular

As of 9am on Monday 5 December 2016 we had received 999 replies

  • 601 online website replies (60%)
  • 261 emails (26%)
  • 41 paper questionnaires (4%)
  • 96 letters (10%)

More replies have been received hourly as people make sure their views are taken into account before the deadline.

The online option at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture has proved most popular but people can also send their replies

Help us produce the best Local Plan we can

Councillor Philip added: “This is a genuine consultation. I really want to hear your views. I can’t promise I can give everyone exactly what they want but your information can change the Plan.”

“Give me good sound planning reasons why you like or dislike things in the Plan. With your help, we will have the evidence we need to defend the Plan when it is submitted for examination by a government-appointed inspector next year.”

“Please don’t miss out. Send you comments by 12 December and help us produce the best Local Plan we can.”

 

Keep them coming, says planning councillor

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Residents are being encouraged to keep the responses coming in as the Local Plan consultation period reaches the half way stage.

Viewing the document

We have already received more than 450 replies. 3 weeks into the formal 6 week consultation period we had received 238 online replies, 150 emails and 65 paper questionnaires and letters.

Approximately 1,233 people visited the staffed exhibitions held in early November and the special website has been visited 7,634 times, including 3,854 visits since the consultation started on 31 October 2016.

We sent out approximately 500 tweets and posts on social media.

Local Plan website

Exhibition attendance

Approximate attendance figures at the exhibitions.

  • North Weald – 259
  • Loughton – 207
  • Chigwell – 107
  • Chipping Ongar – 258
  • Epping – 277
  • Waltham Abbey – 125

Local stations leafleted

Thousands of leaflets have also been handed to commuters at local London Underground and mainline railway stations.

  • 31 October – Loughton am / Epping pm
  • 1 November – Chigwell am / Buckhurst Hill pm
  • 2 November – Roydon am / Grange Hill pm
  • 3 November – Roding Valley am / Debden pm
  • 4 November – Theydon Bois am
  • 7 November – Sawbridgeworth am
  • 8 November – Waltham Cross am

Delighted with the response

Councillor John Philip, Cabinet portfolio holder responsible for the Local Plan is delighted with the response so far. He said: “I want to say thank you to everyone who is engaging with us. The draft Local Plan is a big and complicated document. We have tried to break it down into manageable bite-size chunks but getting into the detail still takes a lot of time and effort.”

“People have busy lives but there is still plenty of time. We don’t expect most people to respond until the last week or 2 of the consultation so having 450 already is fantastic.”

Pleased with the number of online responses

Councillor Philip is also pleased with the number of online responses. He said: “Last time we tried to do this we only got a handful of online responses. It took months and months wading through the tonnes of paper replies, analysing and summarising the responses manually. This time, the online responses are much more efficient. The analysis will be so much quicker and cost-effective.”

In addition to the formal consultation events and materials organised by the Council, a number of community meetings have been organised by local residents. Councillor Philip and Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council have been among those attending events, listening first hand to local people.

It’s good to talk

Councillor Philip added: “I would like to thank everyone for getting involved. This really is one of those times when it is good to talk. I know the draft Local Plan is a very sensitive document. We all have concerns and we all want to get it right.”

“I appreciate how almost everyone I have met has been so constructive. We said from the start that we are listening. The draft Local Plan is not set in stone. This is everyone’s best chance to make it the Plan we all want.”

“Tell me what you like and what you don’t like. Most importantly, back up your views with good solid reasons. The website is the most simple and convenient way to respond but if you don’t like the online option, paper questionnaires are available.”

We need more homes

Councillor Philip concluded: “Almost everyone agrees we need more homes for the future. We also need places to work and all kinds of infrastructure. The Local Plan will be a shield against inappropriate development. It will help us protect all the things we love most about our district while also giving us the policies we need for sensible and measured development for years to come.”

All replies must reach the Council by the deadline of 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016.

Static exhibitions

There are 13 Local Plan static exhibitions in the district.

  1. Buckhurst Hill Library, 165 Queens Rd, Buckhurst Hill IG9 5AZ
  2. Bumbles Green Leisure Centre, Bumbles Green, Nazeing EN9 2SF
  3. Chigwell Library, Hainault Rd, Chigwell, IG7 6QX
  4. Epping Civic Offices, High Street, Epping CM16 4BZ
  5. Epping Library, St John’s Rd, Epping CM16 5DN
  6. Harlow Latton Bush Centre, Southern Way, Harlow CM18 7BL
  7. Loughton Library, Traps Hill, Loughton IG10 1HD
  8. North Weald Library, 138 High Road, North Weald CM16 6BZ
  9. Ongar Library, The Pleasance, High Street, Chipping Ongar CM5 9AB
  10. Roydon Village Hall, Harlow Rd, Roydon CM19 5HH
  11. Sheering Village Hall, The Street, Sheering CM22 7LX
  12. Theydon Bois Village Hall, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois CM16 7ER
  13. Waltham Abbey Library, 37 Sun St, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL

 

Local Plan myth busting

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Don’t be misled – check all the draft Local Plan facts for yourself on the official Local Plan website” says Councillor John Philip after hearing reports that Epping Forest District Council wants to build all over the Green Belt.

North Weald Local Plan exhibition

Worried by false claims

Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Portfolio Holder responsible for Planning was shocked to find some residents are being unnecessarily worried by false claims about the draft Local Plan.

He continued: “The draft Local Plan is a complex and detailed document. It identifies potential areas for development. Nowhere does it say we are building all over the Green Belt or taking away all our open spaces. Anyone suggesting we are must have fundamentally misunderstood the Plan.”

Residents can find the answers to many questions on the FAQ section of the website. Council staff have been meeting residents to talk about the draft Local Plan at a series of public exhibitions around the district.

Misconceptions

Among the misconceptions some residents have are

  • New council housing

Epping Forest District Council plans to build all the new housing itself –  not true.

Epping Forest District Council is the Planning Authority. It does have a modest council house building programme but the vast majority of new homes will be built by private developers. The Local Plan would help the Council encourage private developers to submit planning applications for the most suitable locations.

  • Build tower blocks

Epping Forest District Council wants to build tower blocks – not true.

It is true that higher density developments take less land to build upon and a balance needs to be struck between how much land is used and the amount of new homes built on it but tower blocks are not on the table.

  • Car parks

Epping Forest District Council wants to take away car parks – not true.

The draft Local Plan identifies local car parks as potential areas for development. Car parks outside the district have managed to make use of the land for new homes while keeping all the car parking spaces.

The Council has confirmed no parking spaces would be lost if car parks were developed for housing with other types of parking such as multi-storey or under-croft.

  • Infrastructure

There is no plan for infrastructure – not true.

Chapter six of the draft Local Plan is devoted to infrastructure and there is a Draft Infrastructure Plan which identifies where there is a need for provision to be made.

Further work on detailed proposals to make this provision will be undertaken between now and the next stage of plan making which is the publication of the Pre-submission Plan next year. This is the normal process for developing infrastructure plans.

  • Green Belt and open spaces

Epping Forest District Council wants to do away with the Green Belt and open spaces – not true.

The Draft Local Plan seeks to identify potential sites for meeting the District’s identified housing need of 11,400 homes over the Plan period. Wherever possible, the Council has sought to propose allocations within existing settlements and to make best use of Brown Field (previously developed) land.

Unfortunately, there is not enough such land available within the district and the council has therefore identified some managed open space and Green Belt land.

But the Local Plan is still a draft. The consultation is an opportunity for local people to agree or disagree with the proposals and to provide evidence to support their views. The Council will consider all comments made before revising the Plan, publishing it and then submitting it for examination by a Government Inspector.

  • Essex County Council

Essex County Council must approve the Epping Forest District Local Plan – not true.

Essex County Council and many other organisations are consulted on the Draft Local Plan. Approval or rejection of the draft Local Plan is made by central-government appointed planning inspectors following an Examination in Public or EiP.

The inspectors will reject the Plan if they do not think the Council has made provision in the plan to meet the housing and jobs requirements which have been identified in the evidence.

  • Brown Field land

Green Belt agricultural land becomes Brown Field when it is ploughed – not true.

It may look brown but in planning terms it is still part of the Green Belt.

  • Minds made up

You have made up your minds. It won’t change – not true.

A look at the previous Issues and Options consultation shows the council does listen. The new draft Local Plan relies heavily on feedback from such previous studies. The Draft Local Plan is the Council’s best attempt at identifying the preferred sites for growth and draft planning policies based on the evidence it has now.

If the council gets new evidence or information through the consultation, this can be used to update and amend the Plan. Opinions are not enough. We need facts and evidence.

  • Deadline

The deadline for responses is 1 December – not true.

The deadline for responses is 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016.

Exhibition photos

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow

It’s a two-way conversation and we are listening

John Phillip added: “These are just a few of the things we have heard. It is therefore all the more important that people fact check on the official website. This is a real consultation. It’s a two-way conversation and we are listening.”

He concluded: “Some people have told me I’ve already made up my mind and the draft Plan is set in stone. It is not.”

“I know many people hold different and valid points of view. The most important thing is to stick to the facts and make your voice heard. The best way you can do that is online.”

“If online consultation is not for you, you can complete a paper questionnaire for return to Freepost EFDC LOCAL PLAN RESPONSE or you can email LDFconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.”

 

Local Plan consultation opens

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The public consultation for Epping Forest’s draft Local Plan is live.

We will be taking your views on the draft Local Plan from 31 October through to 12 December 2016.

Planning Our Future

The Local Plan will guide the future growth of the Epping Forest district to 2033.

The Planning Our Future website is a one stop shop for you to find all the information about the draft Local Plan and what it means for Epping Forest district, as well as a quick and easy way for you to provide us with your feedback.

I want your views

Councillor John Philip Planning Policy Portfolio Holder said: “The draft Local Plan will be the blueprint for the development and conservation within this area. It will guide the location of new housing, employment and infrastructure all the way up to 2033.”

“I need to hear from you. Public consultation on this draft runs from 31 October through to 12 December. You can find all the information you need online.”

A great place to live

Councillor Philip ended: “Tell me what you think and more importantly tell me why you think it. I need good solid reasons that we can use when we go before the planning inspector for our approval.”

“Epping Forest is a great place to live. With your help we can keep it that way.”

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