Confident and bold decisions taken at Cabinet

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A series of far-reaching decisions were taken at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet, meeting at the Civic Offices on 10 December.

New home for Council

Councillors have agreed in principle to relocate staff to North Weald. While customer services, civic and democratic functions will remain at the Civic Offices in Epping, new purpose-built offices will provide space for up to 380 staff at Blenheim Way, North Weald within three years.

New partners will join remaining council staff in Epping, ensuring the northern end of the town retains a strong employment focus and economic footfall for High Street shops and businesses.

Demolition of the 1960s Conder Building attached to the Civic Offices will clear the way for a mix of new homes behind the Civic Offices.

St John’s Road Cinema, Homes and Leisure Centre

As the Civic Offices evolve, the Council will also be transforming the southern end of Epping with a new leisure centre, cinema, homes, businesses and parking. Subject to detailed negotiation and agreement, Epping Forest District Council proposes to work in partnership with Epping Town Council and leisure provider Places Leisure (also known as Places for People) to deliver the development.

The existing sports centre in Epping will be redeveloped for housing following completion of the new St John’s facility, allowing the Council Offices, St John’s Road and Hemnall Street to make a substantial contribution to housing demand identified in the emerging Local Plan.

Council staff working from the current housing depot off Epping High Street will move to new facilities already built at Oakwood Hill, Loughton.

Harlow and Gilston Vision and Design

Three strategic housing locations at Water Lane, Latton Priory and East of Harlow have been identified in the Local Plan for large housing developments on the boundaries of Harlow but within Epping Forest District. Councillors approved the vision and design guide – working documents developed by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Harlow and East Herts District Councils for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

£97 million Capital Programme

Ongoing development of new council houses form the major part of the five-year capital programme put before councillors at the start of the New Year budget setting process. Aside from approximately £8 million for the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre, completed in November 2018, around £80 million is identified for a combination of new council housing and improvements to the Council’s existing stock over five years.

Landmark Building

Councillors approved £140,000 to complete work necessary to let commercial units at the new Landmark Building in the Broadway, Loughton. Once let, rental income of around £250,000 a year will be used to support the Council’s public services.

A forward-thinking council fit for the future

After the meeting, Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “This is probably one of the most significant Cabinet meetings in years. The strategic development of council services based in Epping, North Weald and our new depot at Oakwood Hill, Loughton dovetail with our determination to build much need new homes sympathetically and boost economic activity across the district.”

“These are bold decisions. They demonstrate vision, confidence in our council, commitment to our residents and belief in the future of our district.”

Ambitious council unveils plans

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Ambitious plans coordinating developments in Epping and North Weald with modernisation of Epping Forest District Council are set out in reports coming to the next Cabinet meeting on 10 December.

St Johns Road redevelopment

Councillors are being asked to approve the next steps in the redevelopment of St Johns Road, to include a new leisure centre, cinema, shops and houses. A planning application to demolish the former primary school site has already been submitted. At the same time, councillors are being asked in principle to approve the relocation of many district council staff to new offices at Blenheim Way in North Weald.

Site of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall

Site of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall

Retaining the newer part of the Civic Offices in Epping for civic, democratic and customer service functions, the proposals involve the demolition of older buildings in preparation for a new residential development identified in the draft Local Plan.

Partnership opportunities

Epping Forest District Council is keen to explore partnership opportunities with Epping Town Council and North Weald Bassett Parish Council. Epping Town Council is already considering potential office sharing. The construction of a new leisure centre at St Johns Road would also pave the way for the redevelopment of the old site in Hemnall Street for housing.

Potentially only needing the ground floor of the Civic Offices in Epping, the district council is in the early stages of informal talks with other prospective partners to lease other parts of the Civic Offices. There will be further opportunities for commercial leases to small businesses on the top floor.

Protecting the High Street economy

Protecting the High Street economy is central to the council’s proposals.

Leader of Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “Epping Forest District Council is modernising to ensure we are fit for the future. The overall number of staff we employ is reducing. Along with agile home working, we are radically reducing our need for office space.”

“Moving all but our customer facing, civic and democratic staff to North Weald will significantly reduce our office costs but that must not come at an economic price to Epping High Street. Bringing new commercial businesses and long-standing partners such as Essex Police into Epping will help to ensure a healthy lunchtime cashflow for High Street businesses. Leasing out the Civic Offices also gives the district council more income to spend on local services.”

“There will also be major investment at the other end of Epping High Street as we deliver the proposals residents said they wanted, including the new cinema and leisure centre, further boosting High Street footfall.”

“The redevelopment of the old Hemnall Street sports centre for housing, along with the residential developments at the council offices and St Johns will also make a significant contribution to meeting our housing obligations in the draft Local Plan.”

The Civic Offices in Epping

The Civic Offices in Epping

North Weald offices

On North Weald, Councillor Whitbread said: “This is also very good news for North Weald. Building offices on land we already own next to the airfield will bring new business and employment opportunities to the village. Rationalising our office needs also presents opportunities to talk to North Weald Bassett Parish Council.”

“We are already discussing office sharing possibilities with Epping Town Council at the Civic Offices that will cut everyone’s costs, particularly good news for our Council Tax payers. We will be keen to explore similar opportunities at North Weald.”

Exciting times

Councillor Whitbread continued: “It is rare for a district council to have the capacity and the ambition to deliver on proposals of this scale. Epping Forest District Council is different. Against the backdrop of falling central government spending, we have invested where it counts. We are funding additional police officers.”

“The Epping Forest Shopping Park, our brand-new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey, new council housing and new partners such as the National Police Air Service arrival at North Weald Airfield show what we can do.”

“Quietly, efficiently and effectively, we are delivering the projects and services our residents, businesses and customers want. This is an exciting time and I am very proud of the leading role Epping Forest District Council is taking in the delivery of a better future.”

Further information

Epping Forest District Council is in discussion with Epping Town Council regarding their involvement in the scheme.

As a precursor to development, a planning application has been registered on behalf of Epping Forest District Council for demolition of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall including adjacent ancillary buildings, fences and walls.

The locally listed former Cookery School Building and Centre Point building to be retained. Epping Town Council owns Epping Hall and they will decide whether Epping Hall will be involved in any development plans.

Negotiations are in the early stages and no decisions have been made by Epping Town Council at this stage.

Comment on the application

Residents have until 15 December to comment on the application:

Council 25 September 2018

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The Burton Road fire, proposals for the St Johns Road development, the Epping Forest Shopping Park and the Epping Forest District Local Plan submission were amongst the topics of discussion at Full Council on 25 September 2018.


Burton Road fire

Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread set the record straight in response to questions asked by Councillor Steven Neville relating to the fire at Burton Road on 17 August 2018.

Councillor Whitbread said: “Having read the comparisons with the Grenfell disaster on the front page of the local paper recently, we are concerned that sensational headlines will cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety for potential tenants. Links with the Grenfell Tower do a disservice to the people involved in that disaster as well as families currently waiting for a new home on our waiting list.

He urged: “Burton Road is a completely different building and it is not yet finished. The fire was caused by a construction related accident, not the materials used. Unlike Grenfell, Burton Road only has four floors. The interior was practically untouched by the fire. Even if it had been possible for such a fire to start once the building was finished and occupied, all the evidence suggests people would have been able to escape unharmed. The building stood up remarkably well to the blaze.”


St Johns Road proposals

Options for a new leisure centre at the St Johns Road development site in Epping are being explored. Proposals are being discussed with the District Council’s current leisure provider Places for People and Epping Town Council.

The new leisure centre could form part of the larger St Johns development and could potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing.


Local Plan progress

Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip announced that Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within the district up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Local Plan’s submission was delayed following a Judicial Review brought by CK Properties in March 2018.


New leisure hub for Waltham Abbey

Council was given an update on the new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey by Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Communities, Councillor Helen Kane. She informed Council that the new health and wellbeing hub is now in the final stages of construction and is on target to achieve its scheduled opening on 17 November 2018.


It’s a ‘Crime Not To Care’

In a bid to combat fly-tipping and increase awareness throughout the district, the Cleaner Essex Group will be ‘recycling’ the Crime not to Care campaign this year to highlight issues caused by fly tipping and how residents can help.

The campaign, due to launch in October, will ask residents and businesses to ‘Check, Challenge and Record’ when handing their waste over for disposal – ensuring waste is kept out of the hands of the rogue traders that fly-tip for profit.


New brands at Shopping Park

Home Bargains and Boots Plc are the last two brands to join the group retailers at the Epping Forest Shopping Park in Loughton.

Home Bargains opened its doors on 1 September 2018 and the lease on the final retail unit has now been agreed with Boots Plc, with completion imminent pending approval of the shop fit out.


Funding granted for inclusion project

Councillors noted a report which referred to the grant of extra funding from Action for Children, for the Epping Forest Inclusion Project. The project provides an important resource, offering a wide range of sport and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities and their families.

Epping Forest District Council Local Plan submitted

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The Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within Epping Forest District up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate by Epping Forest District Council. The news was announced by Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip at the meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 25 September 2019.

EFDC local plan logos

Submission followed the end of a legal challenge by property developer CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Ltd after its application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was refused. CK Properties had already lost its case following a High Court hearing.

Although the Council was successful on all four grounds in the judgment given by Mr Justice Supperstone on 29 June 2018, an injunction continued to prevent the Council from submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for examination until the conclusion of the legal proceedings – this included the subsequent applications for leave to appeal made by the claimants.

11,400 homes by 2033

Councillor John Philip reminded fellow councillors of the key aims of the Plan which includes the delivery of 11,400 new homes over the plan period up to 2033. He congratulated the Council’s planning policy officers.

Councillor Philip said: “I am sorry for the uncertainty this unnecessary delay brought by a property developer has caused to our residents. From the very outset, this Council followed the best legal and technical advice. We were always completely confident of our case. Our approach was vindicated on all grounds at the High Court and again by the Court of Appeal last week.

“Now, at last, we can let the Planning Inspectorate do its job. The Plan will be properly scrutinised in the right forum of an independent examination, where the Planning Inspector will listen to all opinions and come to a proper objective assessment. The District can move forward with a Plan that acknowledges the need for change and growth while protecting the most precious things we love about our district and makes it the place in which we wish to live.”

Modifications expected

Councillor Philip expects modifications to the Plan following its Independent Examination. He said: “The Local Plan is without doubt the most complex project we have ever undertaken. Even with the years of care, consultation and diligent hard work put in by so many people including councillors, staff and residents, there are likely to be small amendments required following examination to take account of changing circumstances.

“I will keep an open mind and I urge fellow councillors and residents to do likewise. We can all welcome that process and look forward to engaging with the inspectorate in the most positive and constructive way. We have taken a major step forward and it is long overdue but the end is now in sight and I look forward to it with relish.”

Background

Planning applications for development are considered within the context of policies and regulations. Overall, councillors must have due regard to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which has a presumption in favour of granting planning applications unless there is good reason to do otherwise.

Councils can supplement this national guidance with a set of local policies tailored to the unique local circumstances of each town, district and borough. These policies are enshrined within a Local Plan.

The production of Local Plans must take account of national as well as local priorities for such things as the provision of new housing, employment, health care and leisure for a growing and changing population. Local Plans must show how infrastructure including roads, public transport and utilities including gas, water and electricity are to be provided.

Before a Local Plan can be adopted and used as a basis for making decisions on planning applications, it must be scrutinised and approved by an independently appointed planning inspector working on behalf of the Government. The Inspector will be looking to ensure the Plan is legally sound and meets all the requirements for national and local policies in a fair and consistent way.

This process is conducted in a transparent manner through Independent Examination. The Planning Inspector will scrutinise all the policies and supporting documents before hearing submissions and taking further evidence from interested people.

Inspectors rarely approve a Local Plan without any modifications. This is usually achieved in consultation with the authority to produce a final version for adoption by the Council.

Once adopted, the Local Plan becomes one of the most important means by which councillors can regulate and ensure appropriate development.

The Planning Inspectorate will schedule the Independent Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s Plan among ongoing examinations of other councils’ local plans. Once submitted, councils may have to wait several months before an examination takes place.

More information can be found at http://www.efdclocalplan.org/

Local Councils Liaison 10 September 2018

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Local matters including an update on the Local Plan and the Council’s search Community Champions were topics for discussion at the meeting of the Local Councils Liaison Committee on Monday 10 September 2018.


Community Champions

District Council officers appealed to local representatives to help their search for Epping Forest Community Champion recruits. Champions are volunteers that help promote Health and Wellbeing events and information within their local communities.

The Council is looking for individuals that are:

  • over 18
  • passionate about where they live
  • connected with their local community
  • able to support events and fun days
  • able to promote community health and wellbeing team information

Contact Patrick Arnold for further information.

Planning delegations

Councillors discussed changes to planning delegations. The changes now require local Councils to send a representative to Planning Committee meetings if an objection to a planning application has been made by the local Council. These new rules will be reviewed after one year.

Appointment of Vice Chairman

Loughton Residents Association Councillor Chris Pond was appointed as Vice Chairman for the Local Councils Liaison Committee for 2018 – 2019.

Local Plan progress

Councillors received a verbal report on the current position of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.

Despite the Council’s success at Judicial Review in June 2018, an injunction remains in place that prohibits Epping Forest District Council from submitting the Submission Version of the Local Plan.

The claimants (CK Properties Ltd) made an application for permission to appeal to the High Court which was refused in July, they have now submitted an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. The Council are now waiting for the application to be determined.

Further information

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.

Updated 22 August 2018

However the Council cannot currently submit the plan for examination due to an injunction placed by Mrs Justice Lang in the High Court on 21 March 2018 restraining the Council from submitting the Local Plan until final determination of the legal proceedings.  The claimants made an application for permission to appeal to the High Court which was refused on 13 July 2018.  The order made by Mr Justice Supperstone accepted that final determination of the legal proceedings included any application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.  The claimants have now submitted an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal.  We are currently waiting for that application to be determined by the Court of Appeal.  We understand it is being expedited but we do not currently have a timeline for the decision.

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.