St John’s sale opens way to redevelopment

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Leader, Local business, Media, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The £6.75 million sale of Essex County Council’s (ECC) land holdings in St John’s Road to Epping Forest District Council has signalled the start of a process that will see a major redevelopment in the town of Epping.

The sale means Epping Forest District Council and Frontier Estates can now deliver the development brief of new retail and leisure facilities Epping residents said they wanted.

Councillor Chris Whitbread with Councillor Anne Grigg at St John's Road

Sale stalled

The sale stalled after ECC received higher bids for part of its site, but an agreement to sell to Epping Forest District Council at a lower level means the scheme can now move forward.

Combination of retail and leisure

The amended development brief produced in 2012 incorporated many suggestions supported by local residents. The proposed combination of retail and leisure including a small cinema is a triumph of collaborative working and benefits for residents.

The scheme aims to benefit all residents of Epping and brings the derelict school site back into use. The brief allows for commercial development to boost the economy of Epping High Street, improve the town’s infrastructure, create a better mix of leisure and retail to meet local need and provide facilities of particular value to the town’s young people.

The plans include the retention of the Centre Point building as the new home of Epping Town Council. Epping Forest District Council’s Housing Depot will move potentially to North Weald.

Commercial development of the project is being undertaken by Frontier Estates in partnership with Epping Forest District Council and Epping Town Council.

Great news for Epping

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council is delighted that work can now progress.

Following the signing of the agreement to buy the land from Essex County Council, she said: “This is great news for Epping. An incredible amount of hard work has gone in from all sides to balance the interests of local residents and businesses with the financial reality.”

“We are incredibly fortunate that unlike most councils, Epping Forest District Council has the resources to balance the need for profit with the wider interests of the local community. Essex County Council has gone a long way to helping deliver the project and I am now looking forward to working in partnership with Epping Town Council and Frontier Estates to give Epping residents this exciting scheme.”

Work will now begin on preparing planning applications for outline planning permission and detailed planning permission. Meanwhile, Frontier Estates is seeking commercial partners.

Good value for money

Councillor David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council also welcomed the deal. He added: “As with any land development it is absolutely vital to balance the needs of the various parties, while ensuring council taxpayers get good value for money.”

“I am delighted we have been able to work closely with the district council to progress this deal which is really the first stage in kick starting what will be a fantastic redevelopment of this part of Epping.”

Better facilities for our town

Councillor Les Burrows, Chairman of Epping Town Council said: “Epping Town Council will be happy to join in the negotiations over the St John’s development proposals if it will mean better facilities for our town.”

 

New shopping park ahead of schedule

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Local business, Loughton, Media, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

A forest of steel frames is appearing as Epping Forest Shopping Park takes shape. Senior councillors were delighted when they inspected progress on Thursday 1 December 2016.

Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab, Assets Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg, Site Manager Alex McCalley and Council Chairman Jeane Lea

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a poster below and then click start slideshow

New structures

Where the old council depot stood beside derelict land, foundation piles are being driven up to 9 metres into the ground while metal structures stretch skywards. Remains of the old buildings are now compacted to form the base of new shoppers car parks.

McLaughlin and Harvey Project Manager Alex McCalley greeted the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Jeane Lea and the Assets Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Grigg for the second time to review progress. They were accompanied by Council Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab who is overseeing the project in his capacity as Director of Neighbourhoods.

Original buildings demolished and recycled

Since the last review at the end of September, all the original buildings have been demolished and recycled as hardcore for the new car parks. Attenuation tanks have been installed to manage surface water drainage. Foundation piles now dot the landscape.

Massive steel beams and columns are being bolted together in a delicate and carefully choreographed process supported by huge cranes and guided by skilled workmen. Drainage pipes are being laid. Retaining walls are being built where the landscape falls away towards the back of the site.

Ahead of schedule

Alex McCalley has built many retail parks. Loughton is ahead of schedule and he is enjoying it. He said: “This is one of the best sites we have worked on. It is nice and open. The ground is good and the weather has been really kind to us. The groundworks are well advanced with the surface water storage tanks installed.”

“The demolition of the old buildings and the piling went really well. It has allowed us to bring forward other parts of the project and get the steel work off to an excellent start. Kerb stones are going in and car parks should be tarmacked within the next 3 to 4 weeks.”

Construction going really well

Assets Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg updated council colleagues at the Cabinet meeting later that day. Afterwards she said: “Construction is going really well. We are obviously entering the worst of the winter months. We had some extremely cold temperatures at the end of November but so far McLaughlin and Harvey seem to have managed very well.”

“The site is clean and well organised. Installation of the steel frames is very fast. There is still a long way to go but at this rate we should have our first shops moving in by the end of the summer with a potential official opening in time for next Christmas.”

Councillor Grigg added: “We have a great line up of businesses preparing to move in and I know many local residents can’t wait for the park to open. However, this is more than just a flagship retail development. Epping Forest Shopping Park will bring much needed jobs and investment to the district. It will encourage residents to spend more money locally, boosting the local economy. Rental income to Epping Forest District Council will help to pay for local services and keep Council Tax down.”

Congratulate everyone involved

Council Chairman Jeane Lea was also very happy with the visit. She said: “It is a great privilege to be involved. I was very pleased to hear all the steel is British-made. I can only say how well the works are going and congratulate everyone involved. I can’t wait to see the first units open.”

 

Job centres help domestic abuse victims

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Epping, Jobs, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Job centres across Essex are part of the J9 initiative, providing safe and discreet contact points for victims of domestic abuse to access support and advice across the County.

J9 at Loughton Jobcentre

J9 trained staff at Loughton Jobcentre with Community Safety Manager, Caroline Wiggins and Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller 

Trained to help

The council have trained Jobcentre staff to look out for the signs of domestic abuse and to help victims access the support they need when approached by those in need of help. They have a range of leaflets and information about local and national organisations and hold information packs for people to access when the Jobcentre is open to the public.

Pink heart logo

The pink heart logo signals that the location is a place where any domestic abuse issues can be discussed with staff in a safe environment.

Loughton Jobcentre

Mike King, Operations Manager for Harlow and Loughton Jobcentre said: ‘’We are really pleased at Loughton Jobcentre to get the help we need from Epping District Council to turn us into a safe place where people can come and disclose domestic abuse get the support they need, from our J9 trained team. We offer lots of help and advice for those looking for work and the J9 project pulls it all together’’.

Increased awareness

Epping Forest District Council’s Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller said: ”Our Community Safety team have worked hard to get as many organisations on the J9 training as possible and to their credit, they have now reached over 400 trained personnel across Essex, which is outstanding.”

He continued: ”Working in partnership with our Jobcentres has not only helped increase awareness for the J9 initiative, but has also increased opportunities for victims to obtain help and support. The important thing is that people feel they are not alone and we that there are places they can go to look for advice and help’’.

J9, In memory of Janine Mundy

J9 was named in memory of Janine Mundy, a victim of domestic abuse that was killed by her husband. The initiative aims to provide a wide variety of places for victims to report domestic abuse and access information in a safe place.

Grants for community groups

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Grants, Local business, Loughton, Media, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Could your community group use £5,000 to help the social and physical wellbeing of the districts residents?

If yes, apply now for a grant for your one-off project, initiative or even the further development of an existing scheme.

Money

Grants up to £5,000

These are available to

  • Local voluntary and community groups
  • Sports clubs
  • Arts and culture groups
  • Trusts
  • Friendly societies
  • Social enterprises
  • Community interest groups

Who can apply?

Groups that apply must

  • Operate on a charitable or non-profit making basis
  • Be based, or are active, in the Epping Forest district
  • Demonstrate true local independence
  • Offer services and facilities to all eligible local residents
  • Have no unfair restrictions on membership or participation
  • Be able to show a clear need for financial support
  • Have a bank or building account under the name of the applicant organisation

Making a difference

Our grants have helped groups like the Haven House Children’s Hospice, Waltham Abbey Church and Coopersale Social Institute, among many others.

  • Haven House Children’s Hospice received £500 for their Toy Home Loan service in May 2016, helping families access specialist toys for children with complex medical needs and life-limiting conditions
  • Waltham Abbey Church received £1,480 in February 2016 for the purchase of a defibrillator
  • Coopersale Social Institute received £5,000 in August 2015 for the purchase of new windows and doors for the community hall

Make your application now

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said: ”We really appreciate the work the voluntary and community sector does in the district. In tough economic times the need for groups to receive funding and support from the council goes up and I look forward to seeing how our grants are spent to help the lives of those in our community.”

“We want to support voluntary groups who carry out great work in our district, as they know first-hand some of the problems and unmet need of our community.”

“If your group is eligible and the grant will help the social and physical wellbeing of our residents, don’t delay, apply now.”

Make an application

  • Download an application form
  • Fill in an application
  • Attach your most recent balance sheet and set of accounts
  • Submit the application to grantaid@eppingforestdc.gov.uk
  • Or by hard copy to Community, Policy and Grants Manager, Epping Forest District Council, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping, CM16 4LU.

More information

For further information on Grant Aid

12 December deadline for Local Plan

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Consultation, Councillors, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Older people, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

You have only a few days left to get your draft Local Plan comments back to us. The 6-week consultation deadline ends at 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016.

Next stop for the Epping Forest1

It’s great to see so many people engaged in the process 

Planning portfolio holder Councillor John Philip has been delighted with the response. He said: “We already have over a thousand replies and more come in each day. Most people are responding online via the website. We have also received many replies by email but no one is excluded.”

“We are receiving paper questionnaires and letters through the post. People are responding individually and as part of groups. Our local town and parish councils have also played a big role in getting people involved as well as submitting their own replies.”

“I would like to thank everyone who has taken time and trouble to respond. It is great to see so many people engaged in the process.”

Online has proved most popular

As of 9am on Monday 5 December 2016 we had received 999 replies

  • 601 online website replies (60%)
  • 261 emails (26%)
  • 41 paper questionnaires (4%)
  • 96 letters (10%)

More replies have been received hourly as people make sure their views are taken into account before the deadline.

The online option at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture has proved most popular but people can also send their replies

Help us produce the best Local Plan we can

Councillor Philip added: “This is a genuine consultation. I really want to hear your views. I can’t promise I can give everyone exactly what they want but your information can change the Plan.”

“Give me good sound planning reasons why you like or dislike things in the Plan. With your help, we will have the evidence we need to defend the Plan when it is submitted for examination by a government-appointed inspector next year.”

“Please don’t miss out. Send you comments by 12 December and help us produce the best Local Plan we can.”

 

New development to revitalise Waltham Abbey

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Equalities, Housing, Media, Meetings, Older people, Our performance, Planning, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

An approved new development at Hillhouse in Ninefields will revitalise heart of Waltham Abbey.

Plans for a new leisure centre, health centre and independent living scheme for older people in the heart of Waltham Abbey, in Hillhouse, have been given the go ahead at a meeting on 30 November 2016.

Hillhouse masterplan

The plans gained outline planning permission for a new development at Hillhouse on the Ninefields Estate, were brought forward through a partnership between

  • Epping Forest District Council
  • Essex County Council
  • NHS England

New community facilities

Councillor Helen Kane Epping Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and community services said: ”I am very pleased that planning approval has now been given for Waltham Abbey to receive these 3 fantastic new community facilities on the Ninefields Estate.”

“I know that some local residents were concerned about the reduction in recreation land, but the 3 development partners have worked hard to minimise the effects and to ensure that a significant amount of usable recreation land will still continue to be provided at Hillhouse, including a mini soccer grass pitch. A commitment has also been given by all 3 partners to fund the provision of alternative sports facilities in Waltham Abbey.”

”The district council will now be concentrating on working with its new leisure management contractor, when appointed early in the new year, to build a first-class modern swimming pool and leisure centre to replace the existing Waltham Abbey swimming pool in Roundhills, which is reaching the end of its life.”

”It is planned that detailed planning permission for the new facility will be submitted in Spring 2017, with construction commencing later in the year and completed around October 2018.”

Working together for the community

Councillor John Spence CBE Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for housing added: “Land owned by the public sector is ultimately owned by taxpayers, and it is absolutely imperative that agencies where possible work together to the betterment of our community.”

”This development will not only provide well designed supported accommodation letting older people live independently for longer whilst reducing costs for the state, but will also give residents new and improved sporting and health facilities, something for all ages.”

Benefit local patients and residents

Welcoming the provision of new Health Facilities Alison Cowie Head of Commissioning at NHS England (Essex) said: ”There is a long established need to find sustainable premises for the relocation of the Maynard Court Surgery.”

”The approval of the outline planning application provides an exciting opportunity for us to work with the practice, local authority partners and the community to take the next steps to develop and deliver a new facility for the benefit of local patients and residents.”

Improving residents health and wellbeing

Tracy Manzi from West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: ”We support the proposed relocation of Maynard Court Surgery. The approval of an outline planning application for the development at Hillhouse, on the Ninefields Estate will allow us to work with the practice to deliver an increased number and type of services.”

“This new facility will enable the practice to develop and provides opportunities to work closely with our community partners, improving the health and wellbeing of local residents.”

“The next steps are for the 3 partners to progress details of the three separate elements of development for detailed planning permission during 2017.”

 

Cabinet 1 December 2016

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Epping, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Parking, Performance, Planning, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The draft Local Plan, changes to the district’s off-street parking and the Council Tax Support Scheme were all subjects for discussion at Cabinet on 1 December 2016.

Changes to draft Local Plan will be public

Responding to a public question at Cabinet on 1 December, Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip gave assurances that all changes to the draft Local Plan would be made public. Councillor Philips said that the council had factored in comments from previous consultation as well as new evidence in formulating the draft Local Plan. He expected further changes to the draft Plan following analysis of the latest consultation. Separately Councillor Philip provided a financial update on the production of the Local Plan.

Partnership savings

Governance Portfolio Holder Councillor Richard Bassett received Cabinet approval to extend the shared Internal Audit arrangements between Epping Forest District Council, Harlow and Broxbourne. Thanks to the partnership, savings of more than £58,000 a year for 2016/17 and 2017/18 have been achieved.

Amendments to Council Tax Support Scheme

Review and amendment to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme and capital budget were presented by Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra. Major capital projects within the £124 million budget include Loughton Shopping Park, St John’s Road and improvements to council housing and new-build housing projects. Many of the Council’s capital projects are aimed towards long term revenue generation, helping Epping Forest District Council become financially self-supporting.

Councillor Mohindra also assured Cabinet colleagues of his determination to achieve value for money with a £100,000 fund to support joint working with other organisations.

Update on Biffa collection costs

Councillor Gary Waller presented a report on domestic waste collection and recycling on behalf of Environment Portfolio Holder Will Breare-Hall. Collection costs have gone up since the introduction of the new Biffa contract. Provision of more recycling sacks combined with cross-contamination reducing income and additional collections due to the building of new houses has led to an increase of £343,000 in the contract.

Changes to off-street parking ahead

“Car parks are essential to our town centres” said Council Leader Chris Whitbread as he welcomed changes to off-street Pay and Display parking. Councillor Waller reported a saving of £58,600 a year from 2017/18 after moving off-street Pay and Display parking enforcement, cash collection and machine maintenance from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL Ltd.

Later on the agenda, Councillor Waller received Cabinet approval to manage Waltham Abbey car parks owned by the Lee Valley Regional Park. He also received approval to demolish and replace garages in Vere Road with 20 new parking spaces. A further 11 spaces are to be created behind shops 49 and 41 in The Broadway.

Planning wait times improved

Residents can expect to see planning decision times improved by up to five days. Councillor Richard Bassett secured Cabinet approval for a new officer and further computerisation to speed up the planning application and validation process.

Town and Village Centres Fund

The Town and Village Centres Opportunities Fund has been renamed the Epping Forest District Economic Opportunities Fund. The rebranding reflects widening the availability criteria beyond town and village centres.

Empty homes week

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Housing, Housing repairs, Local business, Media, Out and about, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Empty homes week runs from 28 November to 2 December 2016. During this week we will highlight the incentives to bring empty homes back into use.

In the Epping Forest district there are 410 properties which have been empty for more than 6 months.

Empty homes week

Why are properties left empty?

Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons but they can be the source of much misery to neighbours who have to live nearby. It is estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10%. There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax premiums, property fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.

Financial help

We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties on the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. It is recognised that a stumbling block can be that the empty property is in disrepair and cannot be lived in, let or easily sold in its condition.

We can therefore offer the following schemes

  • The Empty Homes Repayable Assistance offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property that you intend to live in yourself, but is in poor condition. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property
  • The PLACE Loan offers up to £25,000 if you have a property that you would like to have renovated in order that you can sell or rent it out. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within 2 years in the case of a loan to sell, or 5 years in the case of the loan to let

We always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way. We have certain enforcement powers that we may use to ensure an empty property is brought back to use, particularly if it has been empty a long time and is problematic to the local community.

Help owners in every way we can

Councillor Syd Stavrou Deputy Leader and Housing Portfolio Holder said: “As a council we are fully committed to bringing empty properties back into use and are looking to help owners in every way we can. However where all other measures have failed, we are prepared to take enforcement action as a last resort.”

Report an empty property

If you are aware of an empty property let us know. We will need the address and any other information. We will do our best to contact the owner, work with them to bring the property back to use. All calls are treated in confidence.

Report an empty property to the Empty Property Officer

 

Don’t get conned this Christmas

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Licensing, Local business, Media, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, have produced 10 top tips for a safe festive season online.

Don't get conned out of Christmas

10 top tips for a safe festive season online

  1. Online shopping
    If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality or doesn’t even exist. Always check payment pages are secure, and log out when you’ve finished shopping online.
  2. Auction fraud
    When making a purchase from an auction website, use insured payment methods like PayPal and never do a bank transfer to people you don’t know. Do all you can to check the seller or buyer are authentic. And look out for fake goods: they’re illegal and cost livelihoods.
  3. Ticket fraud
    Buying gig or event tickets as a gift, or for yourself? To avoid fraud, buy only from official sources, and never pay by direct transfer.
  4. Holiday fraud
    Whether you’re planning a break at Christmas or next year, make sure the holiday or flight is genuine by researching it thoroughly, and check travel agents for an ABTA / ATOL number.
  5. Scam emails
    Scam emails, calls, texts and posts are getting cleverer and you’re bound to get some over Christmas. Think twice before you get talked into anything, however busy you are.
  6. Passwords
    Passwords that are easy to guess, that you use for more than one account or that you share with others, are a no-no!
  7. Cyber crime
    Secure Wi-Fi is vital for your privacy. At home, check your router security settings. Out and about, never use free Wi-Fi hotspots when what you’re doing is private.
  8. Subscription fraud
    Don’t sign up for ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trial goods without thoroughly reading the small print. You could be signing up for massive direct debits.
  9. Malware
    Don’t open attachments or click on links in festive (or any other) emails you’re not expecting, as they could be scams. And be careful with ecards as they can be fraudulent too.
  10. Anti-virus software
    And we don’t mean coughs and colds! Always have internet security (antivirus) software and apps switched on and updated.

Posters

View posters in a slideshow by clicking on a poster below and then click start slideshow

A favourite time of year for criminals

Councillor Gary Waller Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder said: “Christmas should be a happy time, but sadly this is a favourite time of year for criminals. We all need to think about our online activity, especially when buying goods over the internet.”

“Action Fraud has put together a top 10 list of tips to keep you safe this Christmas. They cover everything from buying goods online, booking tickets for a show, as well as online holiday fraud and subscription fraud when signing-up for free or low cost trial goods.”

Stop online crime coming to town

Councillor Gary Waller ended: “I urge you to take a look for yourself, the advice is unbiased and easy to follow. By working together we can hopefully stop online crime coming to town this Christmas.”

Report fraud to Action Fraud

 

J9 trained staff tops 400 across Essex

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Since the launch of the J9 domestic abuse awareness programme in Epping Forest back in 2012, the Community Safety Partnership have now trained over 400 public sector and voluntary staff across Essex and progress continues with increasing momentum.

J9 trainees

Raising awareness

The J9 initiative aims to raise awareness about domestic abuse and training provided by the Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership gives valuable guidance to staff that are often the first point of contact for people that are victims of domestic abuse.

Providing support

The initiative provides a network of resources, support and advice for victims that are in desperate need of assistance. The distinctive pink heart logo identifies a place where victims and concerned relations can access information and guidance safely and discretely.

Growing influence across Essex

Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Councillor Gary Waller said: ‘’Following the successful launch of J9 across all 14 of the Job Centres in Essex last year, we are delighted to see the project gain even further influence across Essex this year too.’’

‘’We are working closely with Chelmsford, Tendring, Castlepoint and Basildon Community Safety Partnerships to provide more training opportunities for staff across Essex. We have also been working closely with Essex County Council to promote the initiative and raise awareness during Domestic Abuse Awareness Week 2016.’’

He concluded: ‘’It is vital that we work with as many organisations as we can, to ensure that we can help as many victims as possible across Essex. We need to make it clear to victims that they are not alone and that there are places that they can go to get the advice and support they need to thrive, especially in times of great difficulty.’’

Find out more

Contact us if you are an organisation interested in training