Gypsy and Traveller Reduction

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Secretary of State published the final East of England Plan policy (H3) for Gypsy and Traveller pitch provision on 20 July 2009. Epping Forest District Council is required to provide an additional 34 pitches in the period 2006 to 2011. This would mean that the minimum number of authorised pitches in the district should total 128 by 2011. The policy expects pitch provision to be made through a combination of Development Plan Documents (DPD) and development control decisions and that opportunities should be taken to secure provision within major developments.

Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council said: “We argued long and hard that the overall number of extra gypsy and traveller pitches allocated to our district was unfair in comparison to other Council areas. I am pleased we had some success. From an original draft allocation of 49, it was no mean feat to get the Government to reduce the figure to 34. However, I think the vast majority of Epping Forest residents will agree with me that the allocation is still too high and should have been much lower.

“Having confirmed our allocation, I think it is now up to the Government to listen very carefully to the views of local people about where the extra pitches should go in the district. Those decisions should be taken locally in conjunction with the needs of all our residents and not imposed by Government-appointed Inspectors.

The District Council is continuing to analyse responses made to the consultation for additional pitch locations within the district, which ran from November 2008 to February 2009. Discussions with GO-East about a revised timetable for submitting a draft DPD continue. Beyond 2011 the East of England Plan policy requires additional provision based on an annual 3% compound increase and advises that DPDs should consider the need for rural exception sites and the alteration of Green Belt boundaries.

The County of Essex and the Unitary Authorities of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock are also required to make provision for 30 transit pitches by 2011.

Policy H4 deals with pitch provision for travelling show people and requires Essex, Southend and Thurrock to make provision for an additional 103 plots by 2011 with an annual 1.5% compound increase thereafter. Councils are again advised to consider rural exception sites and changes to Green Belt boundaries.

The implications of these two policies will be considered in the Autumn by the Council’s Local Development Framework Cabinet.

Council Cash to Support Homeless

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

A scheme that has helped over 200 families rent a home in the private sector is to be boosted with more money. Epping Forest District Council will pass the full benefit of a £7,500 Government grant to Epping Forest Housing Aid, enabling the local charity to guarantee more rent deposits on behalf of local people. The Council is also extending the value of underwriting Epping Forest Housing Aid`s guarantees from £40,000 to £60,000. Together, the measure will allow more local people to take the first steps to renting a new home. Twenty families are expected to benefit almost immediately.

In a separate move, the Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council also authorised the provision of £47,500 to provide small interest-free loans to residents who might otherwise be in danger of losing their homes due to the economic downturn. Loans of between £1,000 and £3,000 are envisaged although Government guidance allows for loans of up to £5,000 under the scheme.

Interactive Online Planning System Goes Live

Written on . Posted in Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Your council, Your environment

 

Residents in the Epping Forest District can now easily view online the progress of planning applications following the implementation of phase ii of the Council`s interactive Planning website iPlan and a new interactive online mapping system called ‘pinpoint’.

‘pinpoint’ gives residents fast and easy access to planning applications information showing current and historic applications, and enables users to search for applications in their area by postcode. It also allows residents to register for email notifications to keep customers up-to-date with the progress of any specific planning applications they are interested in this new and exciting development, for which Epping Forest District Council is one of the test sites, is the product of eGovToolkit.

iPlan, launched in 2006, saw the implementation of the Northgate Planning Explorer which opened up data relating to planning applications dating back to 1948. Phase ii develops this further by making information on Building Control applications available online. There have also been major improvements to the look and feel of the whole system.

The second major development in Phase ii is an improved system for making comments on applications. These can be submitted online and automatically added to the system. This new version also includes a link from the Planning system to our Committee Management System allowing users to automatically search the committee agendas and reports.

Another important improvement means that we are now able to make documents relating to planning applications, both current and historic, available online. The first batch of documents published online totals over 130,000 individual documents. These documents include decision notices, register pages, application forms, plans, supporting documents for applications and appeal decisions. With new documents being added daily, the amount of material available online will continue to grow.

The historic material will be useful to residents looking to research the planning history of their property before making a planning application, or for groups interested in the local area. The availability of information means that residents can view data from the comfort of their home and not have to travel to an office to view details of applications they wish to comment on.

    To use the new planning systems, click on the links below:

  • Epping Forest District Council pinpoint website (Sorry this system is no longer available)
  • iplan interactive planning website

Councillor Anne Grigg, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development said: This second stage of iPlan is the end product of a considerable effort on behalf of the Support team within the Planning Directorate, the Council`s ICT team and a number of our software suppliers. This new system will serve to make interacting with Planning simpler for residents and all involved in the planning process.

Steve Bacon, Planning Business Manager at Epping Forest District Council continued: This new phase builds on our successful existing public access channel, and enhances that system by making documentation and more information available by creating links between our key systems. In addition, the innovative use of maps means that these systems are now easier to use than ever.

John Preston, Director of Planning and Economic Development said: This represents a massive change in the way that the Planning Directorate makes information available and in the amount of information available. Further enhancements are planned to the system soon to take advantage of the opportunities for electronic consultation.

Provisional Site Allocation Reduced

Written on . Posted in Community, Countryside and wildlife, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Older people, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Go East, the regional office of the Government says the provisional allocation of additional gypsy and traveller site pitches for Epping Forest district has been reduced by ten from 49 to 39. The announcement is contained in the Examination in Public (EiP) Report into the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England published on 18 December 2008. The EiP report now forms the basis of recommendations to the Government which will hold further consultation before issuing its final allocations next year.

Councillors and Planning Officers have consistently argued for a reduction in the number of pitches allocated to Epping Forest district. While Councillors feel the allocation remains unfairly high for Epping Forest in comparison to other districts, the reduction is a vindication of their stance. The Council will continue to press for further reductions.

The reduction for Epping Forest district is in marked contrast to most other parts of the region. Overall, the EiP has increased the regional allocation of extra traveller and gypsy pitches by a further 50 from 1,187 to 1,237.

The Government announcement comes as residents continue to respond to local consultation on the future provision of traveller and gypsy sites in the district.

Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: The announcement is a move in the right direction but I don`t think it goes far enough. Local residents are very concerned about the high number of extra traveller and gypsy pitches the district is being asked to accommodate. Epping Forest district already has more gypsy and traveller accommodation than most other areas. Even with the potential reduction from 49 to 39 extra pitches, we are still being asked to take substantially more than many other areas. We will continue to argue for further reductions.

The Secretary of State will consider the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England and the recommendations of the EiP before issuing any proposed changes in the Spring. There will then be a further period of consultation. Go East says that the Secretary of State will publish the finalised policy in the Summer of 2009.

Call for Sites Provisional List Published

Written on . Posted in Community, Local plan / planning our future, Older people, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Around 200 suggestions from local residents, landowners and developers have been received by Epping Forest District Council since it asked people to nominate potential sites for all types of future development including housing.

Residents can see the list below.

Call for sites provisional list pdf (349 KB)

The list will eventually help the Council formulate plans for accommodating around 3,500 new homes allocated by the Government to the district under the East of England Plan.

Information from the `Call for Sites` will inform the preparation of the Local Development Framework (LDF), a series of documents setting out future planning policies for the district. As a result of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the LDF is the new form of plan making in England and Wales and replaces the Local Plan. In Epping Forest district the priority for the LDF is to provide sufficient land allocations to meet the housing, employment and other targets in the East of England Plan and to meet the requirements for Gypsy and Traveller provision given by the Single Issue Review of the East of England Plan.

Sites identified and evaluated through the `Call for Sites` exercise will be particularly relevant to some of the documents that will make up the LDF. These include the Core Strategy and a Land Allocations Development Plan Document. The `Call for Sites` exercise assists the process of finding the most suitable and deliverable sites for the LDF.

The `Call for Sites` is the first step for the Council in identifying potential land for new development. While making the provisional list public, the Council stresses that being on the list does not indicate support by Councillors, or that the land will ultimately be found suitable for development purposes.

Some residents asked us if they could see the provisional list so we have made it available on the website. However, it is still incomplete and unevaluated. Some of the suggestions will not be viable. Others will need serious consideration but that process is not likely to take place for many months. We still need to add some of our own land holdings into the mix as well as other potential sites, says Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, Councillor Anne Grigg.

Councillor Grigg added: The official deadline for suggestions was 18 July but we are continuing to get occasional additions.

No action will be taken on considering whether the land that has been submitted is suitable for development in the long term, until preparation of the Core Strategy has been commenced. Any land that is promoted for development from the `Call for Sites` must be in accordance with the strategy of development distribution across the district. Public consultation on the Core Strategy including consideration of the development options available for the district is likely to occur during Summer 2009.

Call for Sites

Written on . Posted in Business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

As part of the new Local Development Framework (LDF) for the area, Epping Forest District Council is looking for potential sites for all types of development over the next 15 years. Landowners, Town and Parish Councils, developers, local agents and people who have submitted a local planning application in recent years are being encouraged to complete a land availability form for return to Epping Forest District Council by 18 July 2008.

The Council stresses that the call for potential development sites is not an invitation to wholesale development of the Green Belt.

The call for potential sites is part of the preparation of the Core Strategy, one of the most important documents of the Local Development Framework. It will set out the Council`s vision for housing and employment growth across the district over the next 15 to 20 years and will be in general conformity with the East of England Plan.

Submitted sites will be included in the public consultation process for the development of the LDF. Assessment of the sites will take into account social, economic and environmental issues.

Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development said: The call for sites should ensure early discussion of potential development options and flag up any potential areas the Council may not previously have known of, for example, where a landowner is at the early stages of thinking about redeveloping a residential or brownfield site.

Councillor Mrs Grigg concluded: This call for potential development sites is not an invitation to developers to concrete over large swathes of Epping Forest District Green Belt. Protecting and enhancing our green space is one of the Council`s top priorities. We hope that by making this invitation, we will get sensible proposals to help us meet the long-term housing and employment needs of the district without seriously compromising our environment.

Promoters of potential development land are being asked to return forms to the Council with a site map and land ownership details.

    Completed forms should be sent to:

  • Forward Planning
    Epping Forest District Council
    Civic Offices
    High Street
    Epping
    Essex CM16 4BZ
  • Or by email to contactfp@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Ongar Town Plan 2006

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Local plan / planning our future, Ongar, Your area, Your council

Councillor Brian Sandler, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council congratulated Ongar Town Councillor Jill Coward and John Wimslow on the Ongar Town Plan. He said: A great deal of time, energy and imagination has been put into the production of the Ongar Town Plan. It has clearly been thoughtfully and professionally produced and I would like to congratulate not only Ongar Town Council but all the local agencies and individual people involved in its production. I believe this is the first such Town Plan produced within Epping Forest District and sets a very high standard for other local councils to follow.

 

Councillor Brian Sandler, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council being presented with the Ongar Town Plan by Ongar Town Councillors Jill Coward and John Wimslow

Picture shows Councillor Brian Sandler, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council being presented with the Ongar Town Plan by Ongar Town Councillors Jill Coward and John Wimslow.

For more information on the Ongar Town Plan please contact Mrs J Abel, Ongar Town Council clerk by email at ongar.parishcouncil@virgin.net or by telephone on 01277 365348.

 

Council Objects to East of England Plan

Written on . Posted in Business, Conservation and listed buildings, Countryside and wildlife, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Development of North Weald on the scale proposed in the East of England Plan is not only excessive but could also undermine the regeneration of Harlow according to Epping Forest District Council. Councillors met at the Civic Offices in Epping on Tuesday (8 March) and Thursday (10 March) to agree their response to the East of England Plan consultation.

If the Government goes ahead with proposals to develop North Weald Airfield and surrounding land at the same time as developments in Harlow, Councillors believe the effect would be for people and businesses to gravitate towards North Weald. Harlow would struggle to attract the same people and businesses the Government believes the town needs for effective regeneration.

Councillor Robert Glozier, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder said that undermining the regeneration of Harlow was one of many reasons why the number of new houses and businesses proposed for North Weald and other parts of the district should be reduced.

He said: Aside from the potential damage to Harlow, development at North Weald and to the South West of Harlow does not look sustainable. The impact on the environment from so much development in the Green Belt would be immense. There are fundamental issues ranging from basic health, welfare and education service provision through to concerns about the supply of water. Even if promises of huge investment in infrastructure such as public transport and roads can be afforded, many other questions remain unanswered.

Councillor Glozier continued: There is an enormous amount of concern among local people. They range from those who believe the great historic significance of the Airfield should prevent development to those who fear the scale of development overall would destroy the fundamentally rural character of our local environment.

Councillors voted to tell the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and the Office of John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister that the overall proposals of 11,000 extra households plus employment developments were too much for Epping Forest district. They specifically rejected the proposal for 6,000 houses at North Weald and 2,700 to the South West of Harlow. District Councillors also believe that whatever the final number of houses allocated to the district, planning control should be retained by the Council and not transferred to a non-elected organisation such as an Urban Development Corporation.

Councillor Glozier said: We are not saying no to any development in the district. By our own assessment we know we need to find capacity for something like  3,000 new houses over the next 16 or so years. We are particularly concerned about the cost of housing and the need to provide affordable homes for young families and key workers such as nurses and teachers. We want to provide homes for these people.

He concluded: We are saying to the Government that we believe their assumptions about the needs and capacity of our district are wrong. They need to stop and rethink their whole strategy.

Residents demonstrated their opposition to the East of England Plan before listening to the debate in the Council meeting. Epping Forest District Council`s objections to the Plan were sent to the Regional Assembly before the deadline for submission of comments on 16 March.

The next main stage in the process will be an Examination in Public (EiP) starting on 13 September. A Panel of Inspectors will identify topics for consideration and may call local people and organisations to give evidence. The Government will expect to receive the recommendations of the Panel in early 2006.