Confident and bold decisions taken at Cabinet

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A series of far-reaching decisions were taken at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet, meeting at the Civic Offices on 10 December.

New home for Council

Councillors have agreed in principle to relocate staff to North Weald. While customer services, civic and democratic functions will remain at the Civic Offices in Epping, new purpose-built offices will provide space for up to 380 staff at Blenheim Way, North Weald within three years.

New partners will join remaining council staff in Epping, ensuring the northern end of the town retains a strong employment focus and economic footfall for High Street shops and businesses.

Demolition of the 1960s Conder Building attached to the Civic Offices will clear the way for a mix of new homes behind the Civic Offices.

St John’s Road Cinema, Homes and Leisure Centre

As the Civic Offices evolve, the Council will also be transforming the southern end of Epping with a new leisure centre, cinema, homes, businesses and parking. Subject to detailed negotiation and agreement, Epping Forest District Council proposes to work in partnership with Epping Town Council and leisure provider Places Leisure (also known as Places for People) to deliver the development.

The existing sports centre in Epping will be redeveloped for housing following completion of the new St John’s facility, allowing the Council Offices, St John’s Road and Hemnall Street to make a substantial contribution to housing demand identified in the emerging Local Plan.

Council staff working from the current housing depot off Epping High Street will move to new facilities already built at Oakwood Hill, Loughton.

Harlow and Gilston Vision and Design

Three strategic housing locations at Water Lane, Latton Priory and East of Harlow have been identified in the Local Plan for large housing developments on the boundaries of Harlow but within Epping Forest District. Councillors approved the vision and design guide – working documents developed by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Harlow and East Herts District Councils for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

£97 million Capital Programme

Ongoing development of new council houses form the major part of the five-year capital programme put before councillors at the start of the New Year budget setting process. Aside from approximately £8 million for the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre, completed in November 2018, around £80 million is identified for a combination of new council housing and improvements to the Council’s existing stock over five years.

Landmark Building

Councillors approved £140,000 to complete work necessary to let commercial units at the new Landmark Building in the Broadway, Loughton. Once let, rental income of around £250,000 a year will be used to support the Council’s public services.

A forward-thinking council fit for the future

After the meeting, Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “This is probably one of the most significant Cabinet meetings in years. The strategic development of council services based in Epping, North Weald and our new depot at Oakwood Hill, Loughton dovetail with our determination to build much need new homes sympathetically and boost economic activity across the district.”

“These are bold decisions. They demonstrate vision, confidence in our council, commitment to our residents and belief in the future of our district.”

Decisions from DDMC on 28 November 2018

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Planning application decisions from the District Development Management Committee Wednesday 28 November 2018.

Decisions

  • EPF/1583/18 – 1 Buttercross Lane, Epping
    Permission refused
  • EPF/1325 – 37 Hanson Drive, Loughton
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1213/18 – Tower Nursery, Netherhall Road, Roydon
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2515/18 – Land at Lippitts Hill, Waltham Abbey
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Ambitious council unveils plans

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Ambitious plans coordinating developments in Epping and North Weald with modernisation of Epping Forest District Council are set out in reports coming to the next Cabinet meeting on 10 December.

St Johns Road redevelopment

Councillors are being asked to approve the next steps in the redevelopment of St Johns Road, to include a new leisure centre, cinema, shops and houses. A planning application to demolish the former primary school site has already been submitted. At the same time, councillors are being asked in principle to approve the relocation of many district council staff to new offices at Blenheim Way in North Weald.

Site of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall

Site of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall

Retaining the newer part of the Civic Offices in Epping for civic, democratic and customer service functions, the proposals involve the demolition of older buildings in preparation for a new residential development identified in the draft Local Plan.

Partnership opportunities

Epping Forest District Council is keen to explore partnership opportunities with Epping Town Council and North Weald Bassett Parish Council. Epping Town Council is already considering potential office sharing. The construction of a new leisure centre at St Johns Road would also pave the way for the redevelopment of the old site in Hemnall Street for housing.

Potentially only needing the ground floor of the Civic Offices in Epping, the district council is in the early stages of informal talks with other prospective partners to lease other parts of the Civic Offices. There will be further opportunities for commercial leases to small businesses on the top floor.

Protecting the High Street economy

Protecting the High Street economy is central to the council’s proposals.

Leader of Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “Epping Forest District Council is modernising to ensure we are fit for the future. The overall number of staff we employ is reducing. Along with agile home working, we are radically reducing our need for office space.”

“Moving all but our customer facing, civic and democratic staff to North Weald will significantly reduce our office costs but that must not come at an economic price to Epping High Street. Bringing new commercial businesses and long-standing partners such as Essex Police into Epping will help to ensure a healthy lunchtime cashflow for High Street businesses. Leasing out the Civic Offices also gives the district council more income to spend on local services.”

“There will also be major investment at the other end of Epping High Street as we deliver the proposals residents said they wanted, including the new cinema and leisure centre, further boosting High Street footfall.”

“The redevelopment of the old Hemnall Street sports centre for housing, along with the residential developments at the council offices and St Johns will also make a significant contribution to meeting our housing obligations in the draft Local Plan.”

The Civic Offices in Epping

The Civic Offices in Epping

North Weald offices

On North Weald, Councillor Whitbread said: “This is also very good news for North Weald. Building offices on land we already own next to the airfield will bring new business and employment opportunities to the village. Rationalising our office needs also presents opportunities to talk to North Weald Bassett Parish Council.”

“We are already discussing office sharing possibilities with Epping Town Council at the Civic Offices that will cut everyone’s costs, particularly good news for our Council Tax payers. We will be keen to explore similar opportunities at North Weald.”

Exciting times

Councillor Whitbread continued: “It is rare for a district council to have the capacity and the ambition to deliver on proposals of this scale. Epping Forest District Council is different. Against the backdrop of falling central government spending, we have invested where it counts. We are funding additional police officers.”

“The Epping Forest Shopping Park, our brand-new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey, new council housing and new partners such as the National Police Air Service arrival at North Weald Airfield show what we can do.”

“Quietly, efficiently and effectively, we are delivering the projects and services our residents, businesses and customers want. This is an exciting time and I am very proud of the leading role Epping Forest District Council is taking in the delivery of a better future.”

Further information

Epping Forest District Council is in discussion with Epping Town Council regarding their involvement in the scheme.

As a precursor to development, a planning application has been registered on behalf of Epping Forest District Council for demolition of the former Epping Junior School and Epping Hall including adjacent ancillary buildings, fences and walls.

The locally listed former Cookery School Building and Centre Point building to be retained. Epping Town Council owns Epping Hall and they will decide whether Epping Hall will be involved in any development plans.

Negotiations are in the early stages and no decisions have been made by Epping Town Council at this stage.

Comment on the application

Residents have until 15 December to comment on the application:

Free weekend parking in December

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Park in an Epping Forest District Council owned car park on weekends from Saturday 1 December until Sunday 30 December 2018 and park for FREE!

So many reasons to shop local

Contract and Technical Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Nigel Avey said: ”We hope that by relaxing the car parking charges over the weekends in the lead up to Christmas, we will encourage our residents to shop locally. Supporting our local retailers and town centres throughout the Christmas period.

”We want to give our residents easier access to our shops throughout the festive season, hopefully reducing the need to visit out of town shopping centres and taking valued trade outside of the district.

“There are so many reasons to shop locally, we hope we’re providing our residents with another!”

Further information

Decisions from Plans South on 21 November

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Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee South meeting Wednesday 21 November 2018.

Decisions

  • EPF/2019/18 – 229 Fencepiece Road, Chigwell, IG7 5EB

         Permission granted

  • EPF/1950/18 – Woodberrie, Kings Hill, Loughton, IG10 1JE

          Referred to District Development Management Committee

  • EPF/2040/18 – 69 Church Hill, Loughton, IG10 1QP

         Deferred pending site visit

  • EPF/2114/18 – 89 Princes Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5DZ

         Referred back to officers (Parish Council did not attend)

  • EPF/2624/18 12 Albion Park, Loughton, IG10 4RB

         Permission granted

Planning application search

Museum discount for National Lottery players

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From 3 – 8 December 2018, Epping Forest District Museum and Lowewood Museum are offering 10% discount in their gift shops to National Lottery players.

UK attractions say thank you

The museums are joining hundreds of other participating National Lottery funded visitor attractions across the UK saying thanks to people, who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket.

Present a ticket to get a discount

The idea is simple: any visitor who presents a National Lottery ticket or scratch card between Monday 3 and Saturday 8 December gets a 10% discount in the museum’s gift shop.

Epping Forest District Museum has received £1,821,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money paid for the recent redevelopment of the museum as well as a range of projects, enabling community engagement and collections acquisition.

Lowewood Museum has received £183,700 for exhibition and engagement projects including two First World War Projects commemorating the centenary of the Armistice.

Fantastic museum offer

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “December is a wonderful time to experience the UK’s rich, diverse and exciting heritage, which has been transformed by more than £7.8bn National Lottery funding since 1994. This is a small gesture of thanks and a way of giving something back to the people who buy tickets.”

Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Helen Kane said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we’ve been able to provide a fantastic new museum offer in the Epping Forest District and the opportunities for our community to explore the heritage has been massively enriched.”

Terms and Conditions

  • One National Lottery ticket provides 10% off in the museum gift shop (and refreshment area at Lowewood Museum).
  • All National Lottery games qualify for the offer, including tickets from any National Lottery draw based game or National Lottery Scratchcard. Proof of ticket can be paper or digital.
  • The offer is valid on the days the museum is open between Monday 3 and Saturday 8 December. Epping Forest District Museum is open 10am to 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays.
  • Only one ticket can be used per transaction.

For more information, visit: www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum

Community gathered to celebrate opening of Waltham Abbey leisure centre

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Local children created a splash in the pool at the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre when it opened to the public on Saturday.

On time and on budget

The £10m centre – which has been delivered on time and within budget – was formally opened by Councillor Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, and Dave Jolliffe, Area Manager, from Places Leisure which operates the Council’s four leisure centres.

The day was one of celebration for the centre which has been built from scratch on a new site at Hillhouse, Waltham Abbey. Staff showed visitors around the new facilities and there were free taster sessions including public swimming, indoor cycling classes and junior activities.

Great for the area

Councillor Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services at Epping Forest District Council said: “It was such a pleasure to be at the opening of the new centre. It will be a great asset for the area and will help improve the health and wellbeing of our community.”

Active places for healthy people

Dave Jolliffe from Places Leisure said: “It was a fantastic day and we were delighted to welcome so many members of our community to their new leisure home on our first official day of opening! As a social enterprise it’s our mission to create active places and healthy people and we hope that the new venue and facilities will inspire even more of our community to come along and try a new sport or activity or just pop in to socialise with their friends and family. There really is something for everyone from parent and baby classes to indoor cycling, aqua aerobics and mindfulness sessions.”

Decisions from Plans West on 14 November

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Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee West meeting Wednesday 14 November 2018.

Decisions 

  • EPF/3359/17 Land to the rear of 54 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EJ
    Deferred to next meeting
  • EPF/0530/18 38 Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3BS
    Refused
  • EPF/1169/18 Pipers Farm, Lippitts Hill, Waltham Abbey, IG10 4AL
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2227/18 ‘Tomworld’, Shottentons Farm, Pecks Hill, Nazeing, EN9 2NY
    Permission refused
  • EPF/Curtilage of Yew Tree Cottage, High Road, Epping, CM16 4DJ
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Council 1 November 2018

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Reports to Council on 1 November 2018 included updates on the newly completed Leisure Centre in Waltham Abbey, an Essex-wide fly-tipping campaign, additional Council homes built and an announcement about free weekend parking in Council run car parks in December.

Leisure Centre open ahead of schedule

It’s good news for Waltham Abbey, with the new Leisure Centre set to open ahead of schedule on Saturday 17 November 2018.

The new health and wellbeing hub boasts a six lane 25m pool along with a 15m learner pool with floor that is adjustable between 0m and 1.2m, virtual cycling classes and state of the art equipment.

Leisure partners Places for People are offering memberships with no joining fee until 14 November 2018.

Crime not to Care

The Council has been promoting the Essex-wide fly-tipping campaign, ‘Crime not to Care’.

Designed to educate residents about their duty of care when disposing of their waste, the campaign informs residents that they can be fined and prosecuted if their waste is fly-tipped by rogue traders.

In his report, Councillor Nigel Avey, Environment Portfolio Holder, informed members of the Councils most recent prosecution. The case of Loughton resident, Mr Tjoluskins, was heard by Magistrates on 13 September. He handed his waste to a scammer who fly-tipped in a bin store in Oakley Court in Loughton. The resident was fined £600 and ordered to pay the Councils prosecution costs of £900.

The campaigns message is simple – before handing over your waste to somebody else, always check, consider and record to protect yourself and reduce fly-tipping by rogue traders.

Universal Credit

In his report to members, Councillor Mohindra, Finance Portfolio Holder, presented an update about Universal Credit.

From 5 December, the Job Centre Plus in Loughton will roll out Universal Credit. Meaning that anyone of working age that needs help with their rent and is not already receiving Housing Benefit, will need to apply for Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit.

Visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit for further information.

Council house-building programme

Councillor Syd Stavrou’s report informed members of the handover of four new Council homes in Coopersale, Epping on Wednesday 10 October. The two new 2 bedroom houses and two 1 bedroom flats will be let to applicants on the Councils housing register. A further seven new Council homes will be ready to handover in early November.

The Council has committed around £58 million for new housing since it restarted its council house building programme in 2014. So far, new homes have been built in Waltham Abbey, North Weald and Epping, with more in the pipeline.

Free parking in December

Councillor Sam Kane announced the Councils plan to relax parking fees in Council owned car parks on weekends throughout December 2018 ‘to help local traders’ and support our high streets this Christmas.

Parking will be free on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December in all of the Council owned car parks.

Airport Bosses talk to Council

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Stansted is the UK’s fastest growing airport. A £600 million expansion programme to build a brand new terminal building, more efficient aircraft and plans to increase passenger numbers from around 28 million to 43 million per year were discussed with councillors at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Monday 29 October.

Image credit: Steve Bates Photography

Around 12,000 people work at Stansted, making it the region’s largest employer. There are many career opportunities with 377 current vacancies. The airport has links with local schools and colleges.

Senior managers for Manchester Airport Group Alistair Andrew (Planning Manager), Marcella M’Raberty (Corporate Social Responsibility Manager) and Jonathan Oates (Director of Corporate Affairs) sought to reassure councillors about the impact of extra passengers on the local environment including noise levels, air pollution and traffic congestion.

The number of aircraft movements is expected to stay about the same. More passengers per plane and better engines (the next generation of engines are significantly more fuel efficient and cleaner than current engines) are expected to reduce emissions. After a temporary noise increase, lower average noise levels are expected to drop as older aircraft are replaced by new models, although the Stansted executives did confirm that older cargo planes with longer lease arrangements do contribute to higher noise pollution levels.

Around half of all passengers travelling to Stansted arrive by public transport, reducing stress and congestion on the local road network. However, car access is also important. Stansted supports the development of the M11 Junction 8 with plans to increase car parking and bus stations.

Delays Border Force and Baggage

Frustration with the speed and performance of Border Force is not confined to Stansted. Long delays are a feature of many UK entry points. Stansted bosses confirmed they are in regular discussions with Border Force but are not able to insist on improvements. Baggage handling problems over the summer were also acknowledged as well as delays due to staff shortages at the National Air Traffic Control Centre and highly publicised difficulties for people with disabilities.