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.”

Proposed changes to the planning rules – new permitted development rights

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As from 30 May 2013, new changes have come into force in respect of further permitted development rights for certain building works and changes of use without the need to apply for planning permission. Despite most Council’s, including ourselves, having raised objections to these planned changes, this has nationally been brought in to encourage development to take place and speed up its delivery by removing local authority control in an attempt to revive the economy. There are a number of changes, which are as follows:

Single storey rear extension to houses:

At present, it is possible to build a 4 metre deep single storey rear extension onto the original rear wall of a detached house and a 3 metre deep single storey rear extension onto an attached house as permitted development, i.e. without the need for planning permission. This right remains, but a new procedure (called “prior approval”) is to be introduced which may allow extensions up to double this size without planning permission (up to 8 metres deep for a detached house and 6 metres deep for an attached house). This does not apply in conservation areas, though.

The process for all other extension works under Part 1 of the GPDO will remain the same (i.e. no more than half the garden area around the house etc), but anyone proposing a 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension must write and provide a plan and written description of the proposal. There is no planning application fee.

The Council is required to consult the immediately adjoining premises only, with a minimum consultation period of 21 days. If no objections are received from the consulted adjoining neighbours, the development can go ahead. If an adjoining neighbour objects, then the prior approval of the local planning authority is required. Planning Officers will then need to consider the impact of the development only on the amenity of the immediate neighbours. Other factors, such as green belt, design and appearance cannot be considered under this prior approval procedure. Only where there is clearly excessive harm to neighbouring amenity will Officers be in a position to refuse prior approval.

This whole process has to be done within a total of 42 days from first receipt of the information submitted, otherwise, no matter whether there is an objection from an immediate neighbour or from the Council, the development can proceed. There is a right of appeal against a refusal.

The legislation requires that any 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension “shall be completed on or before 30th May 2016″.  It is therefore a temporary additional permitted development right for 3 years only.

The legislation also requires that “the developer shall notify the local planning authority of the completion of the development as soon as reasonably practicable after completion”.

Download the application form – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Download the guidance notes – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Change of Use

(please note that none of the below changes of use are relevant to listed buildings, but they can be carried out in conservation areas).

•  Premises in Class B1(a) office use will be able to change to Class C3 residential use so long as the C3 use starts on or before 30 May 2016. This is only subject to a prior approval process whereby the developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required only in respect of flooding, highway and transport issues and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days and in this case, a fee, believed at this stage to be £80.00, is required. There was an opportunity to be exempt from this permitted change of use and we as a Council made a strong case in order to protect our local town centre and employment areas. However, we, along with many others, were unsuccessful and only 17 authorities across England (including 11 inner London boroughs) have been given change of use exemption. Again, this is a temporary additional permitted development right in that no change of use can take place after 30 May 2016, but if the use has started before then, it can continue.

•  Parts of buildings under 150 metres within Class A1 – A5, B1, D1 and D2 will be permitted to change to a flexible use falling within Class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants) or B1 (business). For a one off period of up to 2 years, the developer only needs to notify (and therefore there is no prior approval considerations) the Council beforehand and in this time period, it can move between other uses in this flexible use. After 2 years, the use reverts back. This applies even in the Local Plan key retail frontages. 

•  Agricultural buildings (cumulatively)|under 500 square metres in floor space used solely in agriculture before 3 July 2012 or for 10 years after that date, can change to a flexible use falling within Class A1-A3, B1 (business), B8 (storage and distribution), C1 (hotel) or D2 (assembly and leisure). This flexible use will then be classed as “sui generis” such that any further changes of use outside the flexible uses require planning permission. In the case where the floor space does not exceed 150 metres, the developer merely has to notify the Council of the change. If it exceeds 150 metres, the developer has to apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required and we can only take account of flooding, highway and transport issues, noise and contamination can be considered through consultation with statutory undertakers. Therefore there are no other considerations. The determination has to be made by the Council within 56 days.  

•  Buildings within Class B1, C1, C2, C2a, D1 and D2 will be able to change to a state funded school. The developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval but we can only consider against  highway and transport issues, noise and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days.

•   The use of any building as a state-funded school for a single academic year will be permitted. It then reverts back to its previous use at the end of the academic year. The site must however, be approved for such purpose by the relevant Minister.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Offices

 Increases Permitted Development threshold to erect, extend or alter office premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Shops, Catering, Professional or Financial Services 

Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter a shop, catering, professional or financial services establishment from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016.
 The exclusion of development within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage is removed during the same period except in relation to premises which adjoin land or buildings in residential use. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Industrial and Warehouse Use Classes 

 Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter industrial and warehouse premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. Developers must notify us of completion.

Telecoms Installations

The construction, installation or replacement of telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services will not require prior approval in Conservation Areas for a 5 year period. Development must be completed before 30th May 2018.

Extensions permitted to temporary schools

Buildings which qualify for the right to change temporarily to school use are also given the benefit of existing permitted development rights which allow schools to carry out building works (including the erection, extension or alteration of buildings and the provision of hard surfaces) subject to various conditions and limitations.
 This will apply from the date we are notified by the relevant Minister that the site has been approved for school use.

 

Find out more about the planning process and planning applications

 

Museum wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Grants, Local business, Media, Museum, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey has secured a £1.65 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for a major development project, ‘The Museum at the Core’. The scheme, which will total £2.5 million, will extend and develop the museum on its existing site, making both the building and the collections more accessible to all.

The project brings together the majority of the museum’s collections on one site, together with the creation of a community/education room, a new temporary exhibition gallery and an ‘Explore’ gallery providing access to the reserve collections. The additional space above the library in 37 Sun Street will create a wonderful cultural centre for local people and visitors in the heart of Waltham Abbey.

Tip – to view all the photos in a slideshow, click on a picture then click start slideshow (in the bottom right of the frame).

Developed jointly by the museum team with design company Outside Studios and architects Hawkins\ Brown, the project will see the existing museum buildings remodelled, the installation of a lift to provide step-free access throughout the entire building and improved visitor facilities. The oldest part of the museum, an historic Grade II* listed Tudor timber framed house dating to 1520, will be interpreted and displayed as a significant historical structure in its own right. The existing permanent exhibition galleries will be redisplayed, with a new selection of themes and objects.

Securing the additional space in 37 Sun Street over the Waltham Abbey library has been made possible by a capital funding commitment of £250,000 by Epping Forest District Council. The acquisition of the space has been assisted by Howard Green, of the property management agency Duncan Phillips Ltd, who acting on behalf of the vendors, made the original approach to the museum.

For the museum team this is the culmination of 3 years of work behind the scenes developing the scheme’s proposals, which have won wide backing from councillors, community groups, professional bodies and funding organisations as well as our existing audiences.

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council said: “This grant award is a fantastic reflection on how our Museum Service is recognised by major funders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our users have been telling us how much they value the services we offer but would love for us to make the museum bigger. The fact that access to the upstairs galleries has only been by the central staircase has always been a real problem for our ability to provide a fully- accessible service and this scheme now allows us to deal with this in the most satisfying manner.”

The museum also runs a popular programme of family activities and events but has long been hampered by the lack of a designated room in which these can take place leading to events having to be held in gallery areas and weather permitting in the museum garden. The creation of a new room will allow this programme to develop and support the work the museum undertakes with schools and other educational and community groups allowing the museum to become even more of a community facility.

‘The Museum at the Core’ project is also designed to increase opportunities for volunteer involvement in the running of the museum. The HLF funding will allow for two new posts focused on audience development and supporting volunteer engagement, to be created and the acquisition of a new collections management system, which will enable the museum to make more information about the collections available to the public on line and through gallery terminals.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England said: “We are delighted to award this grant to Epping Forest District Museum, which will allow for a enhanced visitor experience for everyone. With full access to the museum’s collections and a new community learning space the museum’s track record of excellent exhibitions and events will only get better. We look forward to the completed project.”

It is also anticipated that the larger museum will act as a significant tourism attraction in the heart of Waltham Abbey along with the range of other attractions in and around the town.

Proposals are for the museum to close in the autumn of 2013 to allow for clearance of the current displays and the main building works with the new museum re-opening to the public for Easter 2015.

During the closed period the museum will continue to provide services through other buildings in the district and through the Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon, which has been operated by the Epping Forest District Museum team since February 2012.

North Weald Airfield Control Tower is now officially ‘historic’

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Residents, Your area, Your community

It is now a Grade II Listed Building

Last year an English Heritage Assessment Team visited North Weald Airfield. They took a close look at the Control Tower, which is a Type 5223a/51 tower dating from 1952. On the basis of their recommendations, it is now a Grade II Listed Building:

  • Architectural interest: one of only seven of this type of post-war control tower to be constructed, the tower, which is larger than its predecessors, has an imposing presence and is illustrative of the development of the design of control towers in the face of increased reliance on electronic navigational aids in the post-war period;
  • Degree of survival: an intact plan, with sympathetic replacement windows, it is the best surviving example of its type on a fighter station, and amongst the best surviving overall;
  • Historic interest: a rare physical reminder of the role of RAF Fighter Command in the early years of the Cold War and its re-equipment with jet interceptors;
  • Group value: sited on a fighter station with an illustrious record during World War II, it has group value with the Grade II listed former Officers’ Mess.

Other similar towers were at heavy bomber bases: Upper Heyford, Brize Norton, Fairford, Mildenhall, and Greenham Common, plus Biggin Hill, which was a fighter base. Upper Heyford and Greenham Common are also listed. Mildenhall was demolished in 2004.

The Tower and Gate Guardian

We are delighted that our Tower has received this recognition as a historically significant building. Only last week we hosted a visit by 48 members of the Thornwood Seniors, a local community group, who spent time in the Tower before their tour of the Airfield and hangars.

The two large rooms are frequently used by the Air Ambulance and other organisations for meetings, training courses and functions. They are available for hire. Our Tower Facilities Hire leaflet can be downloaded from the Information for Event Organisers section of the Airfield website at www.northwealdairfield.info.

The Thornwood Seniors recently visited the Tower during their tour of the Airfield

Home Energy Conservation Act Further Report 2013

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Energy efficiency, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

As part of the amended Home Energy Conservation Act, Local Authorities are required to submit a further report on planned energy efficiency measures in their area.

Read the Epping Forest District Council HECA further report 2013

Find out more about energy efficiency

 

Proposed changes to charging for pre-planning application advice

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As from 1 April 2013, the Council’s charges on pre-planning application advice will be changing to include a greater scope of development types. Please see the attached document which sets out these new charges and the procedure for seeking advice.

View the new pre-planning application advice fees April 2013

 

Find out more about the planning process and pre-application advice

Learning with Countrycare

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Doing business with the council, Epping, Health, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Playschemes, Procurement, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Countrycare launches environmental education service to show young people the value of the green spaces and wildlife around them.

The Countrycare team is offering an environmental education service to schools that can work with their curriculum, in both science and arts, to help engage young people with the environment. Environmental education sessions can be run on Local Nature Reserves, in classrooms or in school grounds, and we cater for all ages.

We want young people to grow up not just enjoying the countryside but respecting it as well.

Learning with Countrycare

We offer a range of projects including

  • Creating wildlife sanctuaries in school grounds
  • Building bird boxes
  • Practical projects on Local Nature Reserves
  • Tree ecology
  • Tree planting
  • Invertebrate identification
  • Guided walks

If none of these activities fit in with your syllabus we can mould lessons to fit your needs.

Find out more

Download the brochure Learning with Countrycare (pdf 1MB)

For more information about the environmental education service at Countrycare and the competitive costs call 01992 788203 or email contactcountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Find out what other work Countrycare does the website at http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/

You can also follow Countrycare on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EFcountrycare/

Countrycare volunteer day Tuesday 22 January cancelled

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Due to the adverse weather the Countrycare volunteer day on Tuesday 22 January 2013 has been cancelled.

Countrycare is sorry to disappoint those of you who were intending to jump in a pond and clear some reeds tomorrow in North Weald, but the task has been cancelled due to weather conditions. We apologise to anyone who had been looking forward to an ice cold dip. Thursday’s volunteer task is still expected to go ahead.

Countrycare restores parish boundary hedgerow at Bobbingworth Nature Reserve

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Health, Local plan / planning our future, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Last Thursday, 10 January 2013,  21 volunteers and Countrycare staff planted 600 trees on the Bobbingworth Nature Reserve (former landfill site) to mark the parish boundary between Moreton and Bobbingworth. A study of old maps confirms that the area of the reserve that lies in Moreton used to be a wood, Moreton Wood. The wood disappeared sometime between 1886 and 1912 but the parish boundary remains the same.

Moreton parish boundary 1843 to 1893

Moreton parish boundary 1843 to 1893

Moreton parish boundary 1891 to 1912

Moreton parish boundary 1891 to 1912

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This addition of 600 trees makes the total of trees planted on the nature reserve close to 6,000 since 2008. Native species were locally sourced and dominated by hawthorn with a scattering of hazel, dogwood, dogrose, spindle and guilder rose.  Shallow rooting species were used as the planting was mainly on the “cap”, the membrane that covers the former landfill area.

In time the hedge will provide shelter and food for birds and also a natural corridor across the site for movement of wildlife.

Volunteers worked tirelessly in very cold and muddy conditions. An enormous “thank you” to them all from Countrycare staff.

If you would like to volunteer with Countrycare call 01992 788203 for more information or email contactcountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.