Cabinet accelerates council housebuilding

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The new council housebuilding programme is to be accelerated by Epping Forest District Council. Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan reported progress on a host of new schemes at various stages of planning and development to the meeting of Cabinet on 23 July 2015.

New council housing is being planned and developed across the district including Nazeing, High Ongar, Chipping Ongar, Theydon Bois, Matching Green, Roydon, Buckhurst Hill and Loughton.

Cllr David Stallan at cabinet

Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou continued the Housing theme with Councillor Stallan as they outlined measures to protect and retain housing related assets within the district.

Councillor Stavrou reported a 97.79 per cent Council Tax collection rate for 2014/15. Councillors then went on to approve the terms of consultation with residents for the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2016/17.

The special status of Copped Hall was noted when Portfolio Holder Councillor Gary Waller reported on the latest Character Appraisal for the Copped Hall Conservation Area. Councillor Waller referred to the rich history of Copped Hall as far back as the 13th century and its connections with William Shakespeare and the first performance of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. Cabinet approved the Appraisal and amendments to the Conservation Area boundary.

Safeguarding local people

Councillor Waller described the Council’s Safeguarding Strategy and Action Plan as a comprehensive piece of work produced with meticulous care and attention. Councillors and Staff of all councils are required to meet duties of care under Section 11 Children Act and Care Act 2014. Many different people may be considered vulnerable and both councillors and staff receive training in recognising and reporting their concerns.

Cabinet went on to confirm the adoption of the Prevent Policy and Action Plan as part of the Safeguarding agenda directed particularly against radicalisation and extremism. Epping Forest District Council has invested in ‘first-class’ individuals to support safeguarding. Cabinet approved a request by Councillor Waller to include a bid for future staff funding in the next budget.

CCTV

Continuing the theme of protecting local residents, Cabinet agreed a report proposing to review CCTV funding. Councillors heard that around 480 CCTV cameras at around 40 separate sites are currently monitored and maintained by the Council.

Cameras installed several years ago are reaching the age at which replacement will become necessary. Pressure for the installation of additional cameras continues. Cabinet authorised the Director of Communities to prepare a fully costed CCTV Strategy and Funding Plan for future consideration.

Local Plan

Cabinet approved the latest steps for introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Progress forms an important part of the development of Local Plan policies on which the Council will consider planning applications. Money paid by developers to CIL as part of planning permissions would help to meet the costs of providing smaller infrastructure items to meet local need.

Waste and recycling service improving

Cabinet welcomed recent improvements to the waste and recycling service since the problematic introduction of the four-day collection weeks in May. Portfolio Holder John Philip repeated the Council’s apology to residents. He said that people had suffered difficulties and not all problems had been resolved although the situation was much improved.

Cabinet approved a report that individual compensation to a small number of complainants was not suitable. Further reviews of progress would follow and once the service was working properly it would be more appropriate to look at the issue district-wide.

Broadway and Langston Road developments

Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg received Cabinet approval to allow Higgins Homes PLC to take responsibility for the construction of a new land-mark building on the site of the Winston Churchill pub in Loughton Broadway.

Cabinet went on to note progress on the Epping Forest Retail Park at Langston Road following the purchase of the T11 site adjoining the Council-owned depot, and a licence to enable temporary car parking on T11 pending development.

Discussions are at an advanced stage with a number of potential retail tenants while plans are progressing for highway improvement works.

 

New arrangements for pre-application planning advice

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Epping, Garages, Housing, Local business, Local land charges, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

New arrangements for pre-application planning advice on domestic extensions, adverts and other commercial alterations will be starting from 1 May 2015.

Planning

We are expanding our pre-application planning service in order to ensure prospective planning applications are well-prepared and have the appropriate information and drawings.

The fee for this service is £48 (including VAT) which is payable at the time of the enquiry. This fee can be paid by debit or credit card over the phone or by sending a cheque or banker’s draft to the planning office.

Find out more

 

Conservation volunteers thanked

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Health, Media, Older people, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Our Countrycare team was joined by 53 amazing volunteers on their Thursday project days during 2014. They helped with a wide variety of conservation tasks ranging from pond restoration to building paths and bridges. 5 volunteers attended over 40 times last year.

Volunteers on the annual summer walk at Moreton

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture and click start slideshow.

Conservation work was carried out on 19 sites with both Chigwell Row Wood and Linders Field in Buckhurst Hill having the most visits with 6 each. The team worked closely with Essex Wildlife Trust and 6 local Town and Parish councils. They have taken on new work to manage a copse to the north of Sheering.

Their generosity equates to 670 volunteer days in 2014, this was slightly down on 2013 due to the unusually high rainfall in early 2014.

Well done and thank you

Councillor Gary Waller said: “Last year you gave us an incredible 670 days of your time and hard work. This is a fabulous achievement, which we greatly appreciate. You have helped make big improvements to our sites for the benefit of both wildlife and the public. Well done and thank you!”

The Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder ended: “If you have a few hours to spare on a Thursday, why not come and join our Countrycare team and volunteers to help make it easier for people to enjoy our beautiful countryside – it’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and have fun!”

Get involved

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Countrycare, find out how you can get involved.

 

One Shops Local champions local business

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Epping, Grants, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Support local business in Epping Forest – add your business to or join the One Shops Local mailing list.

As the world around us changes, so must we and the world of business is no exception. One Shops Local was created to support local independent businesses within Epping Forest, and help them to survive and thrive in today’s tough market.

The campaign was created nearly 3 years ago by the One Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership, in the belief that independently owned businesses play a vital role in ensuring we have a vibrant, resilient economy.

One Shops Local logo

How can shopping locally benefit me?

Many people may be concerned that shopping locally is more expensive and less convenient, however this is not necessarily the case. In fact shopping locally can benefit the community, not just the business owner.

When you spend money in locally run, independent businesses, more of your money is returned to the local economy than if you were to spend the same amount in a national chain. Putting money into the local economy, rather than displacing it elsewhere creates jobs for local people, and helps fund many things from the maintenance of the local infrastructure to the emergency services.

Despite all this, you may still be asking how can shopping locally directly benefit me? The answer is that local shops can tailor their business to suit the specific needs of local people, create  unique, bespoke items to suit you, and often give you a great deal to boot. After all, they want you to come back again, and what better incentive than VIP treatment?

Get involved

So how can you get involved? Whether you are a business owner or a resident or visitor, you can help your local economy to thrive by being part of the One Shops Local campaign.

If you own your own independent business within Epping Forest you can sign up for free and have free advertising to over 1,250 subscribers and 2,000 monthly website visitors. If you’re a resident or visitor, your support is still greatly needed. You can do this by

You will get access to many great deals and offers as well as unique shops and businesses that you may not yet have discovered.

Visit www.oneshopslocal.com, add your business or join our mailing list, support local business in Epping Forest.

 

Neighbourhood Development Plan for Chigwell

Written on . Posted in Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Local shopping at Chigwell ParadeChigwell residents are being offered the opportunity to shape the future of their area. Chigwell Parish Council has taken the first steps towards preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan covering the whole parish by submitting an application to Epping Forest District Council.

Any Parish or Town Council can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. The Plans give communities an opportunity to shape the way in which their local area develops over the coming years. Neighbourhood Plans must take account of the District Council’s Local Plan and can be used to develop a shared vision for the local area by:

• Suggesting where new homes, community facilities and other forms of development should be built;
• Identifying and helping protect important local green spaces; and
• Influencing what new buildings should look like.

Epping Forest District Council has a duty to publicise the proposal for at least six weeks but the consultation period has been extended to eight weeks to allow for Christmas. A copy of the application, along with further information on neighbourhood planning, can be viewed here.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder for the District Council said: “Neighbourhood Plans can be a very useful tool in planning future development and I hope as many Chigwell residents will comment on the proposals as possible. This is a consultation on the identification of the potential plan area, not a formal consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan itself, which will come later. The consultation commenced on 16 December 2013 and, in order to allow for the Christmas period, will run for 8 weeks until 5.00pm on 10 February 2014.”

Comments can be sent by email to ldfconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or by post to:

Forward Planning, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ.

Councillor Bassett added: “Please be aware that all comments received will be publicly available and may be included on our website. Personal details such as the respondents address, telephone number and signature will not be published.”

Images of Chigwell

What next

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by Government through the Localism Act in 2011.

Once they have successfully completed the preparation process, Neighbourhood Plans will legally have policy status and will be used to help decide planning applications. Within the parameters set by the district-wide local plan, a neighbourhood plan must be used to positively encourage sustainable development.

Following the end of the eight week period, the District Council must decide whether to designate the proposed neighbourhood area. If agreed, the Parish Council may commence work on preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. A draft Plan must be subject to a formal 6 week public consultation before being submitted to the District Council for examination by an independent Examiner. If the Plan is approved, a referendum is held within the Parish to decide whether the Plan should be used by the District Council to decide upon planning applications within the neighbourhood area.

Within Epping Forest District, Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Parish Council are already working on a Neighbourhood Plan for their area.

Planning application validation requirements checklist consultation

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Epping, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

The Department for Communities and Local Government recommend that Local Planning Authorities regularly review their own validation requirements. Our current validation checklist now needs to be updated to make sure our requirements remain relevant and appropriate to current policies and legislation. Therefore, we are reviewing our checklists and would appreciate your feedback.

A draft validation requirements list has been produced for consultation. The draft validation requirements have been simplified from our previous requirements so that it provides more explanation as to the instances when we should require information from you to support your planning applications. The format has also been converted into an easy to read table to make it user friendly. Some changes have also been made to bring the list up to date where changes have been made to planning legislation, policy and guidance upon which the requirements are based.

Epping Forest District Council is undertaking a 21 day consultation period commencing on 18 September 2013 so that the deadline for comments is 5pm on 9 October 2013.

View the consultation and comment upon it here

Or email us at contactdc@eppingforestdc.gov.uk for more details.

 

Nature reserve work wins awards

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Media, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Bobbingworth Nature Reserve has won 2 awards, the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge Award and the Essex Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Award. A commemorative plaque was unveiled celebrating the awards on Wednesday 11 September 2013.

Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Councillor Mary Sartin, Chairman of the Council revealed the plaque to local residents, staff and contractors who worked on the former landfill site.

In recognition of the hard work and determination of local Parish Councillor Colin Thompson, a naming ceremony took place to change the name of the viewing mound to ‘Colin’s View’.

Photos

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

Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: “I am delighted that Bobbingworth Nature Reserve has been officially recognised in this way. So many people have worked so hard to make it what it is today, which is a beautiful site entirely unrecognisable from what it was. It is truly an asset to the whole district. Many congratulations to everyone who has contributed to the Nature Reserve’s success.”

Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge Award

The Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge Award was received in 2012 during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year. The award demonstrates a clear commitment to protect public access to outdoor space and to safeguard opportunities for outdoor recreation, now and forever. It also serves to raise awareness of the importance of public open spaces for the quality of life, health, the environment and amenity.

Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) Living Landscapes Award

The EWT award is given to sites which enhance wildlife and create a landscape that enables species and people to move through. The criteria are whether the project is good for wildlife, good for people, and good for the local economy. The award was presented to Epping Forest District Councils Countrycare team.

 

Problems with Online Planning Applications through the Planning Portal 29 July 2013

Written on . Posted in Building control, Conservation and listed buildings, Planning, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Your council, Your environment

The Planning Portal has experienced a critical infrastructure failure today and as a result the Planning Portal website, which is used for the submission of electronic planning applications is currently unavailable since this morning.

The Department for Communities & Local Government who administer the Planning Portal have apologised for the inconvenience that this is causing and advised they are working resolve the issue as a priority to restore service as soon as possible.

Councillors support North Weald homes and aviation option

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, North Weald Airfield, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Your community

The control tower built in the Cold War eraCouncillors are to consult residents on a mixture of development and continued general aviation at North Weald Airfield. The decision to continue with aviation and explore additional uses was taken at the cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Monday (22 July). Epping Forest District Council has owned North Weald Airfield since 1980. Residents will be able to have their say as part of ‘Preferred Options’, the next round of Local Plan consultation scheduled for next year. Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management and Economic Development portfolio holder introduced a report to cabinet prepared by Deloittes, which provided a detailed assessment of the Council’s three options:

1. An intensification of aviation
2. A non aviation solution based on residential or commercial development; and
3. A mixed aviation/development based option.

Each of the three options had been assessed in terms of:

• Technical feasibility – including planning and infrastructure
• Financial feasibility
• Market attractiveness
• Risk; and
• Community value

A panel of Deloitte representatives presented more detail to councillors. Consultation with residents and tenants recognised the council could not continue to manage the airfield indefinitely in the current way. Without non aviation activities, the cost of the airfield to the council and its residents could be as much as £900,000 a year. Viable long term sustainability means some form of change at North Weald is therefore essential.  

Deloitte presented an overview of the potential risks and rate of investment return required from aviation intensification to make it sustainable. There are significant barriers to intensification such as the proximity of Stansted Airport, the overall commercial outlook and considerable capital investment is required. Councillors also considered the community benefits of this option including protection of the heritage of the airfield which was founded in 1916 before coming to prominence in the Battle of Britain, and the local support for aviation.

Option two looked at residential development of up to 3,400 homes and associated facilities or alternatively a focus on commerce and employment, with less housing and community facilities. These approaches would see the end of aviation, the biggest investment costs in terms of the necessary infrastructure, but also the biggest return and lower levels of financial risk. Improvements to surrounding road networks would require significant investments. In particular, attention would need to be given to the A414 and M11 access.

Finally, Deloitte presented a mixed aviation and residential option with some employment, open space and community facilities. Mixed use offers many of the advantages of the earlier options but on a lower scale. Ensuring compatibility between residential development and retaining existing aviation is perhaps the biggest challenge. Careful management of the airfield would still be necessary to ensure aviation moved to a sound financial footing and did not continue to require ongoing levels of subsidy. More work will be needed to investigate the feasibility of this option.

Webcasting was suspended and members of the public were asked to leave the meeting while councillors listened to confidential commercial information including potential costs and income from each option.

North Weald from the air

North Weald from the air

Cabinet voted on each option in turn before agreeing to take forward option three for a mixed aviation and development approach for integration into the next round of public consultation on the Local Plan Preferred Options in May 2014. The decision should also be good news for the Saturday Market and many of the other non aviation businesses at North Weald which would continue to have a secure base of operations. A spokesperson for the Council said: “Employment and services for local people are two of the Council’s priorities. The option to retain aviation in combination with limited development of new homes at  the airfield should also allow plenty of capacity for other businesses including the Saturday market to remain and prosper at North Weald.”

Epping Forest Countrycare Volunteer Walk 2013

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Sports, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

As a thank-you to all our hardworking volunteers we organised a circular six mile guided walk last month. Led by Kevin Mason, an interesting and diverse route took the volunteers through woodlands, grasslands and green lanes.

 

Taking a break in Norton Heath

We were blessed with a fine sunny day, and set off from the Chipping Ongar heading east through the fields alongside Cripsey Brook. After crossing the River Roding we headed across the old landfill site at the former LECA works. The volunteers noticed the spread of the invasive plant Goats Rue (Galega officinalis) across the site, which they work hard to control on the EFDC’s nature reserve and former landfill site at Bobbingworth.  The walk next followed  St Peter’s Way besides arable fields and through overgrown field margins.

Volunteers identifying wildflowers found along the way

Several stops were made along the way to look at the flora and for anecdotes about the sites we were passing. The walk made its way to Norton Heath for lunch supplied by the Norton Heath Café.  The heath is formed on one of the smallest Essex outliers of gravel and in the early part of the 20th Century was heavily excavated to provide gravel for the Chelmsford to Ongar road A414.  Norton Heath was designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2010.

The return trip was made through the fields and along Norton Lane in a westerly direction to reach Norton Mandeville. A stop was made at All Saint’s church and Norton Hall to admire the church and learn a little of its history. After the church we followed the farm track down to High Ongar.

We crossed the River Roding again at the footbridge and made our way back to

Heading home

Chipping Ongar passing the castle on route.  Fortunately we were back at the start before the rain came.

Despite the nettles the walk was thoroughly enjoyed by all and everyone is looking forward to next year’s volunteer treat.

The volunteers said:

“Very many thanks for such a lovely day today.  The walk was varied and interesting.”

“It was very interesting to hear some of the local history and to appreciate the splendid views.”