Langston Road retail park plans approved

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Commercial properties, Community, Local business, Loughton, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your environment

Proposals for a multi-million pound fashion-led retail park in Loughton have taken a significant step forward.
Councillors have approved an outline planning application for a retail park at Langston Road in Loughton. The application came before councillors at a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s District Development Control Committee on Monday 27 February 2012. As a departure from the Council’s Local Plan, the decision to approve the application must be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit.

The proposal for the 16,000 square metre retail park submitted by Polofind, proposed the redevelopment of its own land and an adjacent depot belonging to Epping Forest District Council. The application included proposals for extensive alterations to cater for future traffic growth through Chigwell Lane and Rectory Lane, including the junction of Langston Road.

Attached to the report for members were proposals for extensive Section 106 conditions. Central to the conditions should be that any retail park should not adversely affect The Broadway shopping centre. In addition to the highway improvements for cars, other Section 106 requirements included improvements for pedestrians and street lighting. Limitations on the types of retail to protect The Broadway include restrictions on food retail and the exclusion of a pharmacy and post office counter. Compensatory tree planting would balance the loss of three mature trees to be removed as part of the highway works.

Retail employment for up to 200 people would follow construction. 

The case for the development was put by Polofind following objections voiced by Loughton Town Council and a local resident. Councillors debated the scheme in depth, seeking clarification on issues including on-site parking for customers and staff as well as the impact on the Oakwood Hill side of Chigwell Lane. Councillors challenged issues around pedestrian and public transport access, seeking better access for shoppers by bus.

A sum of £40,000 would be supplied by the developers towards the cost of the forthcoming Debden Parking Review.

After more than two and half hours of debate, the committee voted by eleven to three in favour of the application.
View details of the Langston Road retail park planning application EPF/2580/10.


Extraordinary District Development Control Meeting

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Out and about, Planning, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Extraordinary District Development Control Meeting – Council Depot site and Adjacent Land off Langston Road.

The Chairman of the District Development Control Committee has agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting of that Committee on Monday 27 February 2012 at 7.30pm.

The meeting will be held in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices in Epping. It has been convened to consider Planning Application EPF/2580/10 – Council Depot site and Adjacent Land off Langston Road, Loughton IG10 3UE – Outline application for the redevelopment of site for 16.435 square metres (GIA) of predominately A1 retail floor space, (including up to 1000 square metres (GIA) of A3 Floorspace), landscaping, car parking, ground remodelling works, retaining wall structures and two accesses off Langston Road.

The Chairman has permitted variation in the normal arrangements for speakers given the importance of the site. He will allow the applicant a slightly longer time at the end of the meeting to address any issues. Anyone wishing to speak should contact Democratic Services no later than 4.00pm on the day before the meeting.

Members will also make a site visit prior to the meeting taking place.

The meeting will be webcast and so anyone interested in this application can watch it from the comfort of their own home if they do not wish to come to the Civic Offices.

District Development Control webcast

Olympic traders and advertisers get extra time

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Olympics, Out and about, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area

White Water CanoeBusinesses wanting to trade or advertise near London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues have been given an extra month in which they can apply for permission.

Traders who require authorisation must apply by the end of March for permission to operate at 27 special ‘Event Zones’. These usually stretch no more than 200 metres from stadiums and sports facilities.

The deadline for advertisers who require approval to advertise in these areas has also been extended to 31 March 2012.

There are a number of exceptions where certain forms of trading and advertising do not require authorisation. Examples include food and newspaper deliveries, advertising on buses and taxis carrying passengers through an Event Zone, advertising inside a building, and most existing shop signage.

With now fewer than six months to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, businesses in Epping Forest District are being urged to ensure they have got their paperwork in order and got permission, where it is required.

The rules can be found on London 2012’s website:

London 2012 advertising and trading regulations website
The rules will ensure that spectators and those taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games can access venues easily and safely and that the Games have a consistent look, without unauthorised marketing close to venues.

The website explains where rules on advertising and outdoor trading near venues will be implemented (with a postcode checker), how they will be enforced and when they will apply – on competition days, often the day before and, in the case of the Olympic Park, a few days earlier. The website spells out the application process and authorisation criteria, includes a detailed guide and shows examples of practices that do not require authorisation, or can only be carried out if authorisation has been obtained.

Restrictions on advertising and outdoor trading are a requirement of the contracts that host cities sign with the International Olympic Committee. They are now common practice at major international sporting events.

The Advertising and Trading Regulations cover all trading in open public places within ‘Event Zones’ during the periods in question – including roads and any land that the public has access to and all forms of advertising.

Authorisation has to be obtained for all open air trading activities including selling from temporary buildings like marquees, busking and collecting for charity. It will also have to be obtained for advertising, though on billboards and poster sites, for example, authorisation will be reserved primarily for sponsors of the Games.

Advertising that is not expected to be permitted includes advertising by non-sponsors which aim to engage in ‘ambush marketing’, such as temporary advertising, distributing direct advertising literature and arranging for advertising ‘giveaways’ in an Event Zone.

The public application process for advertising is now open until the end of March 2012 and applications can be made to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) by email or by post.

Applications for permission to trade outdoors need to be made to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) by the same date – this can also be done online. There is a right to ask for a review of the two organisations’ decisions by the ODA, which is a public body.

The ODA is responsible for enforcement of the Regulations and is working with 36 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, reflecting the Olympic events in Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Essex and Hertfordshire, cycling in Surrey, football in Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle, as well as at the Olympic and Paralympic venues in London.

The ODA will designate around 250 trading standards officers and other enforcement officers who will be fully trained in the detail of the Regulations and better regulation objectives.

ODA Chief Executive Dennis Hone said: “We want to give businesses every opportunity to understand the rules and apply for permission, where this is needed. That is why we have extended the closing date. Advertising and trading regulations are temporary measures in place for only a few weeks near Olympic and Paralympic venues. Our aim is to make sure that spectators can get to watch the sport they have paid for – without delay or risk.”


Letter to the editor – One Shops Local

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Local business, Out and about, Supporting business, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest Guardian
8 Simon Campion Court
High Street
Dear Sir

Can it really be that none of the customers visiting the shops of Debden Traders Tony Woodham, Arnold Burnham, Angela Whiston and Beryl Sullivan have heard of the One Shops Local campaign?

Since 8 December, the Guardian has carried no fewer than six articles and letters, several of which have featured the four traders mentioned above plus even more coverage on the Guardian website. The Guardian may well have given the scheme even more publicity I have missed. Surely some of their customers read the local newspaper? Residents in other parts of the district can read about One Shops Local through the coverage of the Mercury and the Gazette plus community websites such as everythingeppingforest and EN9 About My Area. All 50,000 district households also received a double page spread about One Shops Local in the Forester magazine delivered by Epping Forest District Council before Christmas.

Many local traders have embraced the scheme. They are positive and are doing all they can to promote the website to their customers who are encouraged to spread the word.

On a final point, while Epping Forest District councillors are proud to be associated with One Shops Local, we helped with meeting start-up costs and are doing all we can to promote it, the insistence of the Guardian in labelling it a ‘Council’ scheme is misguided. One Shops Local is a fantastic initiative run by local business people organised through the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce (all volunteering their time) and the Essex Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses. Now is the time for all of us to throw our weight fully behind the scheme. More than 100 local businesses have already signed up. Perhaps the Guardian itself might be the next? Then we may all really start to see the benefits of residents rediscovering the delights of shopping local.

Councillor Gagan Mohindra
Business Champion
Epping Forest District Council

Free parking in pay and display car parks for Christmas

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest District Council is offering free parking on Saturdays and Bank Holidays in all its Pay and Display Car Parks in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year.

Free parking will be available on the following days:

Saturday 10 December
Saturday 17 December
Saturday 24 December
Monday 26 December (Bank Holiday)
Tuesday 27 December (Bank Holiday)
Saturday 31 December
Monday 2 January 2012 (Bank Holiday)
It should be noted that all other conditions in respect of the car parks will remain in force and Civil Enforcement Officers will be patrolling as usual.

Councillor Penny Smith Safer, Cleaner and Highways Portfolio Holder said: “I hope that this relaxation of charges on these particular days will make it easier for those who have any last-minute Christmas shopping to do. I am delighted that the Council has agreed to assist retailers and residents in this way. May I, on behalf of the Officers and Members of the Council, take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and a healthy New Year?”

Those who use car parks in the district on a regular basis are reminded that Season Parking Permits are available for all the Council’s car parks.  They can be obtained from the parking office at The Parking Office PO Box 256, Loughton, Essex, IG10 3YB.


Car park charges and new housing on cabinet agenda

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area, Your community, Your council

Car park charge freeze re-affirmed, possible new council housing programme and museum deal were among the agenda items discussed by cabinet on Monday 5 December 2011.

Car park charges freeze re-affirmed
Watch the finance and performance management cabinet committee item

Council pay and display car park charges are to be frozen for another year. Members of the cabinet meeting on 5 December re-affirmed the views of cabinet committee in rejecting proposals by a consultant to use increased parking charges as a means of raising extra money for council services. Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder also confirmed plans to continue with free parking in Council car parks on Saturdays in the-run up to Christmas.

Responding to newspaper coverage of the report to the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee, Councillor Lesley Wagland, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is to issue an open invitation to traders to view the debate with her. Councillor Wagland is to make the invitation through the editor of the local newspaper responsible for the original media coverage and in an open letter published here on the district council website.

New housing building programme moves forward
Watch the council house building programme item

20 new council houses a year could be built over 6 years. Members of the cabinet received a detailed report setting out proposals to engage a partner to assist in the development process.

Following changes in Government finance rules, Epping Forest District Council has begun a serious examination into the viability of commencing a new council house building programme. The council is looking at a range of funding options aimed at raising around £2.5 million per year. New houses would be built on sites already owned by the council. Future cash receipts from right to buy, other asset sales, section 106 contributions by developers, contributions from the HRA and grants from the Homes and Communities Agency could all help to fund the programme. Rent levels would be set according to the Government’s ‘affordable rents’ framework.

The council expects to see around 100 affordable homes developed in partnerships with housing associations this year. A number of developers have also approached the council with a view to further affordable housing provision in the future. Assuming ‘trigger points’ are reached, developers stand to provide £1.1 million in section 106 funding to the council in the near future. Further funding of up to £800,000 could become available through section 106 arrangements if pending planning applications are approved.

One-off payment to replace annual housing subsidy and protecting tenants and leaseholders
Watch the HRA 30 year financial plan item

Under the current national housing subsidy rules, Epping Forest District Council makes an annual payment of around £11 million to the Government each year. Changes to the subsidy system will see an end to these annual payments in exchange for a one-off subsidy payment to the Government of £186 million.

Members of the council’s cabinet considered the impact of the changes when looking at the housing revenue account plan over the next 30 years. Councillor Margaret McEwen took councillors through the options for short and longer repayment options on the loans necessary to meet the Government bill.

While paying the debt off over a shorter time might appeal to the instincts of some councillors, Councillor McEwen suggested a longer pay back time might be more advantageous to council tenants. For example, extending the payback could allow a lower rent increase (6 per cent instead of 7.9 per cent) from next April, higher standards of maintenance (to the ‘modern homes’ standard) for existing properties and support for the new house building programme.

Under the plan, an additional £1.1 million could be made available towards the costs of maintaining and improving the council’s housing stock. Decisions on how to spend the extra money are to be taken in consultation with the tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Federation and housing scrutiny panel.

Councillor John Knapman, Environment Portfolio Holder congratulated Councillor McEwen in her determination to maintain the council’s housing stock to higher standards.

Investment cuts costs and improves energy efficiency
Watch the planned preventative maintenance programme item

Over £77,000 has been saved on annual gas and electricity costs at the civic offices in Epping over the last 2 years. Cabinet members received the good news as part of the report on planned maintenance on council property over the next 5 years.

The reduction of 552,751 kilowatt hours of gas and electricity represents a 43 per cent reduction in consumption at the council’s main office building. Investment in a combination of better energy management of lighting, heating, comfort cooling (air-conditioning) and improved insulation has lifted the energy efficiency rating from E to D.

Biological Records In Essex (BRIE)
Watch the BRIE item

A new biodiversity records service is to be supported with a £4,000 contribution per annum for 6 years by Epping Forest District Council. Cabinet supported proposals to join other councils in a service level agreement with Essex Wildlife Trust to provide comprehensive data on species and habitat. Information will assist councils in deciding planning applications and protecting the local environment.

PCSO funding ends
Watch the funding of PCSOs item

The direct funding of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for Epping Forest District is to end. The Cabinet decision follows changes in Government funding for Essex Police and consequential restructuring of the police service. Essex Police is no longer able to match fund the district council in the provision of PCSOs exclusive to Epping Forest. Continued PCSO funding by the council would have been fed into Essex-wide services rather than local deployments. The decision will generate a saving of £62,750 on Council budgets.

Museum deal
Watch the Lowewood Museum item

Lowewood Museum in Broxbourne is to be managed by Epping Forest District Council. Cabinet approved the proposals following an approach by Broxbourne Borough Council. Staff from the council’s museum in Sun Street, Waltham Abbey will manage Lowewood in Hoddesdon. The deal is expected to reduce costs and save money for both councils.

Epping Forest takes one big step to support local trading

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business, Your council

Epping Forest College in Loughton hosted the business launch of a new initiative to support local independent traders.The One Shops Local website has been developed by One Epping Forest, the local strategic partnership to support local traders in challenging economic times.

Visit the One Shops Local website
The site’s development has been led by a small team, including Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) and Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce. It provides information on the wealth of shops and other traders operating locally and provides a means of offering discounts to local shoppers. The site has been built by the partnership with financial support from Epping Forest District Council and will be administered by Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce.

 This initiative follows a similar successful scheme operated in Rochford and the first tranche of local businesses has already signed up to the free scheme, which allows them to make offers available to potential customers to attract them to their business. As part of the scheme, posters and small cards will be produced advertising the scheme.

Councillor Gagan Mohindra the One Epping Forest Business Champion said: “A strong local economy is vital to the health of our district. It creates the jobs and opportunities that make Epping Forest a great place to live. Right now we have a big problem. People living in our district spend most of their money outside it. The Shop Local campaign supported by local business and council leaders aims to reverse that trend. We have already taken positive action to encourage local business and wealth creation. The Shop Local website is the next key step towards developing a bigger, better local economy.”

 Launch of the One Shops Local website celebrated by Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens (Chairman) and Councillor Lesley Wagland (Leader) of Epping Forest District Council. The council was instrumental in funding, developing and promoting the project in partnership with Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and Essex Federation of Small Businesses.

John Price Chairman of the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce said: “We asked the LSP (Local Strategic Partnership) for support and they listened, One Shops Local is a real collaboration. This initiative is about everyone doing their bit. The council and the other partners cannot and should not be solely responsible for making Epping Forest a great place to trade and shop, traders themselves must take responsibility. The new initiative is based on this ethos. The site is built in consultation with business and it looks great and works well but now we have to step up to the plate, support the initiative by joining, offering discounts and publicising it. The Chamber is very happy to show its commitment by being the body which will take the lead in administering it with the support of our partners.”

Essex FSB Development Manager Keith Brown said: “It’s hard out there for small businesses and independent traders but Epping Forest has a great story to tell in terms of the wealth of high-quality local stores and services on offer. “We want to keep all of our shopping centres, including Debden, Buckhurst Hill, Waltham Abbey, Epping, Loughton, North Weald, Ongar and Theydon Bois, vibrant and diverse by stepping up to meet those new challenges, the site gives local traders the tools to do the job. With the support of all of us it will hopefully grow and grow and become a cornerstone of commerce in our district in years to come.”

Car park ‘fury’ traders’ invitation

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your community

An open invitation has been issued to ‘Furious’ traders featured in a local newspaper to watch a recording of the car park debate with the Leader of Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Lesley Wagland has asked the Epping Forest Guardian to forward the invitation to Loughton traders interviewed by the newspaper about council car park charges.

“I want the traders to see and hear what we actually said before reaching their own conclusions,” said Councillor Wagland.

The unusual step has been taken by concerned councillors trying to build support for high streets and local traders. Councillor Wagland said: “We have no intention of putting up car parking charges whatever the headlines might say. I think anyone at the Cabinet Committee meeting would have understood that. We looked at an independently-produced set of suggestions including car parking, solar panels and advertising to see if any were worth pursuing. In the current economic climate, councillors soon made their opposition to raising parking charges crystal clear.

“Councillors do not live in a bubble. Whatever our political parties, we all live and work in our community and care deeply about it. I would like the traders of Loughton and across the district to see that by sitting and watching the actual debate with me. If they remain ‘furious’ afterwards, I will gladly listen to their concerns.”

Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee held on Monday 21 November was open to the public and press. It was held three days before the newspaper was published. The meeting was webcast live and uploaded to the council website for subsequent viewing by residents, business people and reporters. The report, funded by the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund (not the Council), contains a detailed financial analysis prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers looking at ways to save money and increase income – something all councils are doing as they deal with cuts in Central Government funding. The full report is also available online.

Watch the webcast on revenue income optimisation

Epping Forest District Council is currently working closely with the Federation of Small Businesses, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and other business organisations to support the local economy. The One Shops Local website is a campaign to encourage local residents to use local shops and services.


6 December 2011

Dominic Yeatman
Assistant Editor – Epping Forest Guardian
8 Simon Campion Court

Dear Mr Yeatman,

I was dismayed by the reports in your newspaper that traders in Loughton are furious at council plans for car parking charges. However, rather than argue the details of the proposals as presented in your article and editorial comment on 24 November, I would like to present the full webcast of the meeting to the traders at a personal meeting. Having enjoyed the benefits of reading the full report prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers and watched the unedited webcast of the debate, I will then offer each trader the opportunity to explain their concerns personally to me.

I would therefore be grateful if you would forward the invitation as set out below without delay:

Suvhash Shah – Tony’s Hardware, The Broadway, Loughton
Neil Tohen – Tuscany Restaurant – High Road, Loughton (NB I understand this may actually be Mr Cohen)
Nataleah Brandy – Hob Hairdressers – High Road, Loughton
Nigel Skinner – (Former Taxi Service Operator) – Waltham Abbey
Becky Elliott – Loughton High Road
Jo Alexandrou – Loughton High Road
Amy Leggett – Loughton High Road

Dear Loughton Traders,

I was dismayed to read the impression attributed to yourselves in the Epping Forest Guardian (24 November) of Epping Forest District Council’s apparent interest in increasing Pay and Display Council Car Park Charges. ‘Fury’ is a powerful emotion. Given the somewhat different impression of the Council’s position shared between myself and other councillors, I believe a misunderstanding may have arisen.

Epping Forest District Council in common with other councils is looking at ways to reduce costs and increase income to balance the cuts in public sector funding announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. An opportunity to examine some possibilities arose thanks to funding from the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) was engaged to give us a dispassionate view. Epping Forest District Council is already well-managed financially. PWC looked at a range of options but eventually agreed that only three were potentially viable – increased car parking charges, advertising sales and solar panels.

It was not for PWC to take a political decision regarding the viability of each proposal. That was a matter for councillors elected to represent the interests of the community. That is what we did, recommending the dismissal of the notion to increase charges three days before the publication of the newspaper.

I am a passionate advocate of the local business community. I want to see a thriving local economy with busy high streets and high quality services provided at affordable prices to our residents. I believe in competition but I also believe the Council has a key role to play in providing the right environment in which the local economy can flourish.

However, I understand that in these cynical times, it can be hard to take the words of a politician at face value. I therefore want to offer you the opportunity to study the evidence for yourselves. I would like to invite you to meet with me at the Civic Offices in Epping. I would like to provide you with copies of all the reports and I would like to watch a recording of the full debate held at Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee with you. Having watched the unedited debate, I then want to give you the opportunity to tell me if you are still furious as reported and discuss what you would do in my place, had you been elected Leader of Epping Forest District Council.

Since your views were reported in the pages of the local newspaper and in fairness to the Epping Forest Guardian, I am issuing this invitation via the assistant editor, Dominic Yeatman. I have asked him to forward the invitation without delay.  I am also extending the invitation to him to attend our meeting where he may be able to explain the angle taken by his newspaper in presenting the story as written. I would be particularly interested to explore ways in which the Guardian might work with the Council, business community and partners such as the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses to encourage local residents back into our high streets.

Please reply to me at your earliest convenience via Mr Yeatman so that we can all find a mutually satisfactory date.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Lesley Wagland
Leader – Epping Forest District Council

Speed meeting for Youth Councillors

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Out and about, Supporting business, Young people, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest Youth Councillors accepted Harlow Youth Councillors’ invitation to visit the Harlow Civic Centre and to get to know each other by holding a speed meeting evening. Epping Youth Councillors ran through the rules for the evening, the main one being to have fun!

 Youth Councillor Daisy Morecroft said: “It was a great way to get to know each other as we only had five minutes per pair to talk about anything and everything. It was surprising to find Epping and Harlow had similar issues, such as poor transport, safety and the lack of activities for young people in the evening.”

To make it more exciting they scored each other on their listening skills, friendliness and how aware they were of young people’s issues. Ellis Spicer from Epping Forest Youth Council and Suliman Ahmad from Harlow Youth Council scored the highest points and each received a box of chocolates.

“It was a lovely evening and great opportunity to exchange ideas for projects and to meet people in the district. I enjoyed the whole evening,” said Daisy Morecroft.

Harlow Youth Council provided the wonderful fruit smoothie cocktails on the night and Epping Youth Council provided the cakes and biscuits.

Donation station for St Clare Hospice

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Civic events, Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your council

Voluntary Action Epping Forest’s volunteer centre co-ordinator Christine Eyles organised a ‘Donation Station’ within the Civic Office in Epping for staff to donate unwanted items. These items were collected, cleaned and pressed ready to be sold in St Clare Hospice shops in Epping or Harlow.

Staff were asked to donate goods and drop them off at the ‘Donation Station’. To entice staff to take part all donations were ‘Gift Aided’ and each person donating items was entered into a prize draw.

The Chairman of Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens said: “In this throw-away age I think the idea of ‘Donation Stations’ are a great way to recycle and re-use goods that would otherwise end up in landfill and it is also a very easy way to boost stock levels for the St Clare Hospice shops. What a fantastic way to make a difference.”

Louise Hamilton Retail Sales Manager for St Clare said: “We could not run our shops without the generosity of the local community. We are really grateful to Christine for organising the donation station and all the Council staff who took part. In total the scheme generated approximately 50 bags of goods in just one week and Christine’s team of volunteers even helped us sort the stock to send to our shops in Buckhurst Hill, Epping and Harlow.”