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.”

Read more

 

Green light for draft Local Plan consultation

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Epping Forest District’s Full Council met on Tuesday 18 October 2016 and approved the draft Local Plan for public consultation.

Consultation with residents

The Council will now run a consultation on the draft Local Plan for six weeks from 31 October to 12 December 2016 to gain feedback from the Epping Forest district community.

A dedicated website (www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture) has been available since 15 September, and acts as a one stop shop for information on the draft Local Plan and the consultation process. A questionnaire will also be available on the website for people to feedback to the Planning Policy team.

Visit an exhibition in your area

The Council is organising public exhibitions in Epping, Chigwell, Waltham Abbey, Loughton, Ongar and North Weald in early November, with a number of static information points available throughout the consultation period across the district so people can find out more. More information about these events will be published on the website and through a district wide newsletter.

The draft Local Plan sets out the proposed strategy to meet the economic and housing growth in the district up until 2033, identifying potential sites for development and regeneration and sets out proposed draft development management policies. It also outlines the necessary infrastructure to support the development.

Influence how the district grows

Councillor John Philip, Epping Forest District Council Planning Policy Portfolio Holder, explained: ”A Local Plan is your best opportunity to guide how the district grows and to protect ourselves from inappropriate development. Without a Local Plan we are vulnerable to developers taking the opportunity to submit applications for sites that we do not consider appropriate or sustainable.

“This Plan has been progressed with over 130 pieces of evidence and technical work, and has been shaped through thousands of pieces of feedback we received from residents through consultations in 2010/2011 and 2012.

“The draft Local Plan represents a balance between the requirement from Government to deliver the identified and evidenced need for economic and housing growth, and the need to protect the greenness of our district. We are trying to do this by ensuring it is delivered in as sensitive, sustainable and fair a way as possible across the whole district.

“With 92% of Epping Forest district designated as Metropolitan Green Belt, we have been clear all along we will do our best to follow what you told us and so it seeks to ensure that, as far as possible, the Green Belt is protected for future generations, whilst providing for our housing needs.”

Working with neighbouring councils

Epping Forest District Council has been working with neighbouring authorities in Harlow, East Hertfordshire and Uttlesford in order to achieve a cross border understanding of the level of growth needed up until 2033.

With a growing and ageing population, current evidence shows that Epping Forest district needs to deliver approximately 11,400 new homes over the draft Local Plan period. However, with around 2,500 new homes already built or in the pipeline with planning permission, the main aim of the Plan is focused on where the remaining 8,900 or so properties and infrastructure should go.

The draft Local Plan proposes the allocation of approximately 3,900 new homes on strategic sites within Epping Forest district on the edge of Harlow and the remaining number distributed across the district.

Get involved

Epping Forest District Council is urging as many people to get involved as possible in the next stage of the consultation for the draft Local Plan.

Councillor John Philip commented: ”This will be your Local Plan and the consultation is our opportunity as a community to ensure development in Epping Forest district takes place how and where we want it to.”

Find out more

You can find out more information at the consultation events across the district and by visiting the website www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture before providing your feedback. The council can only accept feedback on the draft Local Plan until 12 December 2016.’

We will listen and there will be changes

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Councillors had their first chance to debate future development policy following the publication of the draft Local Plan at Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 6 October.

EFDC Local Plan logos

Cabinet supported recommendations asking Full Council on 18 October to endorse the plan for public consultation.

Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Planning assured fellow councillors that the document before them was for full consultation. The Council would listen and he was sure that there would be changes. However, to be persuasive, Councillor Philip said that arguments for change to the Plan had to be backed up with clear evidence. For example, evidence could include information about issues such as;

  • Flooding
  • Access arrangements
  • Contamination
  • Utilities
  • Other infrastructure
  • Availability of the site

The Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked Councillor Philip, his predecessor Councillor Richard Bassett and council staff for all the hard work that had gone into the draft.

Subject to the approval of Full Council, public consultation on the draft Local Plan will take place between 31 October and 12 December.

Planning our future

To view all the latest Local Plan information go to the consultation website.

Get involved

Join in the conversation

Car parks essential says councillor

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We need car parks” says Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Phillip. “Including London Underground and council-owned car parks in the list of potential Local Plan development sites does not mean getting rid of the current parking provision” he added.

Epping Forest district Local Plan

Developing local car parks

Councillor Philip said: “References in the draft Local Plan to developing local car parks have caught people’s attention. There is an assumption that you can’t have public car parks and residential development together.”

“In fact some of the district’s London Underground and council-owned car parks could be redeveloped with public parking beneath or beside residential housing.”

“None of our proposals suggest any net loss of car parking spaces. As sustainable brownfield sites in town centre locations, car parks could be one of the most suitable locations for new housing.”

Planning Our Future video

Blueprint for development

The Local Plan is the blueprint for the development of future housing and employment in Epping Forest district. It will protect the district from unsuitable development. However, before the new Local Plan can be adopted, the draft is set to go through a major public consultation from 31 October to 12 December 2016.

Councillor Philip is encouraging people to respond from 31 October 2016. Comments by local residents will be gathered by the council as a vital part of the process of persuading a Government inspector it has met requirements for additional population growth, housing and employment up to 2033.

Based on careful analysis

  • 11,400 additional homes are necessary between 2011 and 2033
  • 1,173 homes are already built
  • 1,194 have been granted planning permission up to March 2016
  • 595 windfall developments allowance

Almost 3,000 new homes are already accounted for

  • 3,900 new homes are proposed at strategic sites on the edge of Harlow

Leaving a balance of approximately 4,550 homes to be developed across the rest of the district

Residents have as much opportunity to have their say as possible.

The Local Plan is our plan

Councillor Philip said: “The Local Plan is our plan. It belongs to everyone who lives and works in our district. I want as many comments and contributions as possible.”

“Online consultation is at the core of our strategy. Our website makes it easy to find all the information and respond to us. We are raising awareness through email and social media too, but we also recognise not everyone is online.”

The conversation has already started

“We are mailing a leaflet district-wide, holding public information events and exhibitions, handing postcards to commuters at local tube stations, giving interviews and briefings to reporters and putting adverts in the local press. The conversation has already started. We are well underway.”

 

First look of our draft Local Plan

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Residents and councillors have their first chance to view an advance version of the draft Local Plan before Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 6 October 2016.

Website launch infographic

The plan, available to view on the Cabinet agenda from 27 September, is subject to change at Cabinet and the meeting of Full Council on 18 October 2016. Only once agreed with any further amendments at Full Council will the draft be ready for public consultation from Monday 31 October 2016.

First chance to see

Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip said: “This is everyone’s first chance to see what the Plan for consultation will look like but it is important to remember that things could still change between now and the end of October. It won’t be finalised until all councillors have had their final say at Full Council.”

“However, by getting this early draft out a month before the official consultation starts, we are ensuring everyone has as much time as possible to consider the issues before the deadline for responses on 12 December 2016. We don’t want your views yet – not until the draft plan is finalised, but we are looking for as much feedback as we can possibly get once the consultation starts on 31 October 2016.”

Consultation website

A special consultation website has been created to support the Local Plan consultation process. It has been designed to make consultation feedback as simple and straightforward as possible.

Epping Forest District Council is also preparing a leaflet for district-wide delivery to households and businesses in the next few weeks to encourage feedback, as well as holding exhibitions, placing adverts in the local press, handing information cards out at railway stations and sending frequent reminders out on social media.

Local town and parish councils are helping the district council with articles in local magazines, posters on noticeboards and more social media.

Everyone’s Local Plan

John Philip said: “This is everyone’s Local Plan. It is the plan for our future, the future of our children and the future of our grandchildren. It will guide development across the district including where to build new homes and employment for a growing population right up to 2033.”

“It will also seek to protect all the most important things we love and cherish about our district including natural spaces and the Green Belt. Please get involved. Follow the process and give us your feedback.”

Local Plan infographics

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

 

Local Plan Planning our Future – website launched

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Epping Forest District Council has launched a new Planning Our Future website, so that residents in the District can find out how to get involved in the upcoming consultation for the next stage in the Local Plan process.

Website launch infographic

Planning our future 

Every district is required to have an up-to-date Local Plan, and with a renewed emphasis from Central Government on the need for a Local Plan to be in place in early 2017, Epping Forest District Council will be consulting on its Draft Plan during November and December 2016.

The new Planning Our Future website, will be a one stop shop for all the information about the Local Plan and what it means for Epping Forest District, registering for updates, as well as a quick and easy way to provide feedback.

Give us your feedback

Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy at Epping Forest District Council,stated: “This is your Local Plan. Get involved and give us your feedback. Our new Planning Our Future website has been launched two months before the start of the consultation, so that everyone who wants to can get involved in the different events we are holding across the District in November and December.”

Epping Forest District’s Full Council will meet on 18 October to agree whether the Draft Local Plan can go out to consultation for six weeks. If approved, the consultation on the Draft Plan is expected to run between 31st October and 12th December.

This will be a chance to have a say over the direction of the Local Plan document before it is submitted to the Government. The document will be a blueprint for all development in the District up until 2033.

The Local Plan is not simply about how many homes are needed, but guides where the new homes are most sustainably and suitably located in Epping Forest District. It also supports the success of local businesses. It sets out the retail and leisure requirements. It will ensure the right facilities and infrastructure are delivered by developers. It will protect and enhance the District’s natural environment.

Keep updated 

In addition to the new Planning Our Future website, regular updates about the Local Plan will be available via;

Use the #EFDCLocalPlan to join in the conversation.