Council pioneers drone use

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Stories in both the national and local media published over the last week have reported us buying 2 aerial camera systems also known as drones.

This is true but some of the stories have contained inaccuracies which we would like to put right.

DJI Phantom 3 aerial camera system

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

Cabinet agreed purchase

At a meeting of Epping Forest District Councils cabinet on 11 January 2016 it was agreed to purchase 2 drones for £5,000. This includes Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved training for staff. Watch the decision at cabinet.

This money came out of our ‘invest to save scheme’.

The drones purchased are DJI Phantom 3 and will be operated by our GIS team once trained. (GIS = Geographic Information System).

Saving money

We have been buying commercial photographs and videos for site surveys for over 50 years. This has included the hire of drones. Purchasing drones has many benefits that will save the council money and time. These include

  • Real-time surveys for planning purposes saving us having to purchase aerial photography for new planning developments and landscaping enforcement
  • Surveying roofs and guttering on council owned estates saving money and time on scaffolding and surveys
  • Identifying illegal waste transfer sites and previously unidentified unauthorised caravan encampments
  • Find out more on the cabinet report dated 11 January 2016

Generate  income

We are hoping the drones could generate the council income. We will be exploring the opportunities of shared use with other local authorities and public bodies. This will help to ensure we remain a low council tax authority (we have frozen our portion of council tax for the last 6 years).

A valuable tool

We would like to reassure residents that the drones will not be used for snooping on our residents but used as a valuable tool in the fight against environmental and planning abuses. We will not be looking into peoples back gardens.

Innovative use of new technology

This innovative use of new technology helps to save the taxpayer money and helps us to look after the environment in the Epping Forest district, in which we are proud to live, work and enjoy.

 

Council 15 December 2015

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Tributes to a recently deceased former councillor, an update on the refuse and recycling service, voting registration, councillors allowances and more were discussed at Council on 15 December 2015.

Watch our council meetings online

Former councillor Daphne Borton

Councillors remembered former councillor Daphne Borton at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 15 December 2015. Chairman of Council, Councillor Liz Webster invited fellow councillors to observe a minutes silence in memory of Daphne Borton who sat on the Council from 2002 to 2007.

Councillor Richard Bassett who succeeded Mrs Borton as ward councillor for Nazeing led tributes. Mrs Borton served the residents of Nazeing for more than 22 years on the Parish and District Councils. Councillors Richard Morgan, Caroline Pond, John Knapman and Brian Surtees gave further praise and offered sympathy for her husband Ed. Councillors also sent the good wishes to fellow councillor Stephen Murray who recent suffered a broken leg in a car accident.

Investment strategy

A series of questions by Councillors Chris Pond and Steven Neville provided Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou with the opportunity to update fellow councillors on the council’s investment strategy and training opportunities available to all councillors in the New Year. Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council updated fellow councillors about the potential devolution of services from central to local government and meetings with neighbouring councils. He assured colleagues of his intention to protect the best interests of Epping Forest District Council residents.

Refuse and recycling

Difficult decisions and timely responses back in the summer have led to a stabilised refuse and recycling contract with no further additional expenditure about £13,000 allocated at the time. Environment Portfolio Holder congratulated council staff on the successful turn-around in fortunes for the refuse and recycling service.

Planning

Planning Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett reported on recent Central Government guidance on future planning for starter homes and affordable housing as well as possible relaxation of Green Belt policy and use of Brown-Field sites.

Voting

The number of people registered to vote in Epping Forest has increased. Portfolio Holder for electoral registration Councillor Jon Philip said that the Council has achieved returns of its Household Enquiry Forms of 98.1% at 1 December 2015.

23,641 (43%) of households used online technology to confirm their registration. A further 2,800 people used the system to confirm personal changes online. This saved taxpayers money on postage and time for staff in back office processing. As a result of the canvass, the electorate will grow from 99,575 to 100,862 for this year, a gain of 1,287 people. Less than 200 non-responders from last year’s canvass will be removed from the register.

Councillors allowances

5 reports by the Cabinet covering the Housing Repairs and Maintenance Hub, Local Plan budget, Calendar of Council meetings, Capital Review and Local Council Tax Support Scheme were all agreed by Full Council.

Councillors voted to agree the report of the independent remuneration panel which sets the level of councillors allowances. Historically councillors have only given themselves 80% of the recommended allowance. This equates to a payment of £3,435 per year.

The report of the panel was presented by Mr Stephen Lye. Comparisons with other councils showed the levels of remuneration to be far lower at Epping Forest. Councillors decided the reduction of 20% on the basic allowance had become unsustainable and agreed a bid for full implementation of £4,300 subject to final approval at the setting of the council budget in February.

Councillors also agreed that responsibility for setting the level of special responsibility allowance paid to the Vice-Chairman and Chairman should be transferred to the Remuneration Panel.

 

Cabinet accelerates council housebuilding

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Crime and safety, Democracy, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

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.