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.
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.”