We will listen and there will be changes

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Councillors had their first chance to debate future development policy following the publication of the draft Local Plan at Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 6 October.

EFDC Local Plan logos

Cabinet supported recommendations asking Full Council on 18 October to endorse the plan for public consultation.

Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Planning assured fellow councillors that the document before them was for full consultation. The Council would listen and he was sure that there would be changes. However, to be persuasive, Councillor Philip said that arguments for change to the Plan had to be backed up with clear evidence. For example, evidence could include information about issues such as;

  • Flooding
  • Access arrangements
  • Contamination
  • Utilities
  • Other infrastructure
  • Availability of the site

The Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked Councillor Philip, his predecessor Councillor Richard Bassett and council staff for all the hard work that had gone into the draft.

Subject to the approval of Full Council, public consultation on the draft Local Plan will take place between 31 October and 12 December.

Planning our future

To view all the latest Local Plan information go to the consultation website.

Get involved

Join in the conversation

First look of our draft Local Plan

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Residents and councillors have their first chance to view an advance version of the draft Local Plan before Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 6 October 2016.

Website launch infographic

The plan, available to view on the Cabinet agenda from 27 September, is subject to change at Cabinet and the meeting of Full Council on 18 October 2016. Only once agreed with any further amendments at Full Council will the draft be ready for public consultation from Monday 31 October 2016.

First chance to see

Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip said: “This is everyone’s first chance to see what the Plan for consultation will look like but it is important to remember that things could still change between now and the end of October. It won’t be finalised until all councillors have had their final say at Full Council.”

“However, by getting this early draft out a month before the official consultation starts, we are ensuring everyone has as much time as possible to consider the issues before the deadline for responses on 12 December 2016. We don’t want your views yet – not until the draft plan is finalised, but we are looking for as much feedback as we can possibly get once the consultation starts on 31 October 2016.”

Consultation website

A special consultation website has been created to support the Local Plan consultation process. It has been designed to make consultation feedback as simple and straightforward as possible.

Epping Forest District Council is also preparing a leaflet for district-wide delivery to households and businesses in the next few weeks to encourage feedback, as well as holding exhibitions, placing adverts in the local press, handing information cards out at railway stations and sending frequent reminders out on social media.

Local town and parish councils are helping the district council with articles in local magazines, posters on noticeboards and more social media.

Everyone’s Local Plan

John Philip said: “This is everyone’s Local Plan. It is the plan for our future, the future of our children and the future of our grandchildren. It will guide development across the district including where to build new homes and employment for a growing population right up to 2033.”

“It will also seek to protect all the most important things we love and cherish about our district including natural spaces and the Green Belt. Please get involved. Follow the process and give us your feedback.”

Local Plan infographics

View the infographics in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow


Hillhouse planning application submitted

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Democracy, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Older people, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

An outline planning application for a new development in the heart of Waltham Abbey has been submitted. The plans for a new leisure centre, health centre and sixty independent living properties for older people would see the development at Hillhouse, on the Ninefields Estate.

Plans developed in partnership

Drawn up in partnership by Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council and NHS England, the plans come following a community engagement weekend held earlier in the year involving local residents, businesses and other interested parties.

Milestone reached

Councillor Helen Kane, Epping Forest District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services said: “This is another milestone reached in bringing forward fantastic new facilities for Hillhouse and Waltham Abbey, as well as the Epping Forest District as a whole.”

She continued: ”We have listened carefully to what residents have been telling us and, at a recent meeting that local councillors and senior officers held with local residents, we heard loud and clear that there was only limited support for a new play area and outdoor gym trail, and that residents would prefer to keep at least one playing pitch in the area.  So we have changed some of our plans for the planning application as a result, and now intend to provide a mini soccer grass pitch for use by under 7/8 year olds instead.”

A plan that will truly benefit the community

Cllr John Spence CBE, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing added: “Land owned by the public sector – whichever part of the public sector – is owned by the taxpayers, so it is critical that all public agencies work together, either to dispose of such land or to ensure it is used to best effect, and this is a great example of partners working collaboratively towards a development that will truly benefit the community.”

“Within the Epping Forest area, as in other parts of the county, there is a real need for independent living properties designed to support older people, and with an ageing population in Essex we will see an emphasis by the County Council on this type of development in the future.”


Alison Cowie, Head of Commissioning, NHS England (Essex) said, “There is a long established need to find long term sustainable premises for the relocation of the Maynard Court Surgery. The current premises do not meet current standards and no longer provide the space required for the current list size of the practice, which has seen substantial growth over the last few years and is set to continue to grow with future development plans in the area.”

West Essex CCG said: “West Essex CCG supports the regeneration of the Ninefields site as an ideal opportunity for a new health centre without the need to move services from the current area. It will enable an increased number and type of services, while at the same time providing opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing  of local residents.”

Have your say

The plan will now go through the planning process with the opportunity for residents to comment, with a decision likely in November.  If approved, the three public sector partners will then seek detailed planning permission for their element of the overall development next year.

Dementia awareness session success

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Do you want to increase your awareness and get to know more about dementia? We are hosting Dementia Friends Awareness Sessions for local groups, in partnership with Epping Forest District Museum, in their new community area called ‘the space’.

The sessions are being lead by the Community and Wellbeing Team in conjunction with  Epping Forest District Dementia Action Alliance. The alliance are part of an initiative to make the district of Epping Forest a ‘Dementia Friendly Community’.

Successful sessions

The first Dementia Friends awareness sessions have already been held for the council’s apprentices, housing team, the Limes Farm Community Group and for many of those involved with the council’s walking for health scheme, Lifewalks.

Lifewalks leader, Erika Needham said: “The session helped me see how challenging it can be for those living with dementia and how we can help to alleviate this. Bringing dementia to the attention of the public can help us all to make small changes in our behaviour towards those living with dementia, which in turn will make life easier for them and their carers”.

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

Focus on increasing awareness

Epping Forest District Council’s Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Helen Kane said: ”The information sessions focus on increasing people’s knowledge and awareness of dementia. We hope that this new knowledge and understanding will have a positive effect on the local area – for local people living with dementia and their carers”.

Get involved

She continued: ”Anyone of any age can come to a Dementia Friends Information Session. Help us to ensure local people with dementia are appreciated and feel valued members of their community. If you or your local group would benefit from attending a session or would like some further information,  please contact Karen Murray the council’s Engagement Officer on the details below, alternatively you can find your nearest session on the Alzheimer’s society website.”

Hillhouse masterplan to be submitted

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A planning application for a new development in the heart of Waltham Abbey is to be submitted next month.

The masterplan for a new leisure and community development at Hillhouse, on the Ninefields Estate, has been drawn up by landowners Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council working alongside NHS England.

Hillhouse masterplan

Hillhouse masterplan

The plan follows community planning events held earlier in the year and will see

  • A new NHS health centre providing modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation to replace the current Maynard Court Surgery
  • An ‘Independent Living’  scheme adjacent to the proposed health centre, providing housing to help people over 55 years old who may need care and support and whose current home no longer meets their needs
  • A new Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre to replace the existing Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool at Roundhills. It is envisaged that this will include a 25m pool with 6 lanes, plus a learner pool, studio for movement/dance activities, fitness suite and a space for community use.

The masterplan will now go through the planning process with the opportunity for residents to comment, with a decision likely in January 2017

Read the masterplan

Re-vitalise this part of Waltham Abbey

Councillor Helen Kane, Epping Forest District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services, said: “This is really exciting – for Ninefields, Waltham Abbey and the Epping Forest district.”

“The current Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool is coming to the end of its life, and the proposed new swimming pool will provide a sports and recreational facility for the next generation, whilst ensuring that there will be no loss in continuity of provision.”

“Together with the new Independent Living Scheme and the Health Centre, the new development will re-vitalise this part of Waltham Abbey and provide fantastic new facilities for local people. I am particularly pleased that we took the time to consult local residents and businesses on what they would like to see, and have been able to incorporate many of their suggestions in the masterplan.”

Work alongside the local community

Councillor John Spence CBE, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing added: “Land owned by the public sector – whichever part of the public sector – is owned by the taxpayers, so it is critical that all public agencies work together, either to dispose of such land or to ensure it is used to best effect in terms of impact and values.”

“This is an excellent example of what can be done when organisations come together and work alongside the local community.”

Real benefits for the community

Kelvin Rowland-Jones, Head of Commissioning for South and West Essex at NHS England said: “The new Health Centre will provide a much needed up-to-date purpose built GP surgery for the residents of Ninefields. This is a result of close co-operation between NHS England, councils and other partners to deliver real benefits for the community.”


Youth councillors shine at O&S

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Presentations from Epping Forest Youth Councillors and Essex County Council were given to the Overview and Scrutiny panel on 19 April 2016.

Democracy live

Successful year for Epping Forest Youth Council

Epping Forest youth councillors confidently and eloquently updated the panel on their achievements over the past year.

Youth conference

The youth council’s highest profile event this year was their youth conference. This involved 90 young people from local secondary schools and was attended by guest speaker Eleanor Laing MP. Their aim was to promote Local Democracy Week, raise the profile of the youth council and involve other young people in the debate about the current issues.

Promoting mental health awareness

The young councillors explained their plans to develop mental health workshops for young people at schools within the district, promoting mental health awareness amongst young people and addressing the lack of support services for young people across the country.

The Epping Forest Youth Council have been involved in many other projects this year, including promoting youth volunteering and assisting with 14 consultations including a national consultation on the living wage for young people, racism and emotional wellbeing and mental health.

They have been representatives on various strategy groups and have organised Youth Volunteering days in partnership with the City of London. The Youth Council informed councillors that they got external funding of £6,750, enabling them to deliver high quality projects.

Highly Commended

Councillors were deeply impressed by the quality of their presentation and highly commended their many excellent achievements throughout the year.

Redesign of Children’s Centre Services

Essex County Council plans to redevelop and improve Children’s Centre services across the County, following their public consultation which ended on 10 April 2016.

Coordinated approach to support services

Chris Martin, (Integrated Commissioning Director) and Gill Holland (Lead on Children’s Centre Performance in West Essex) explained to Councillors that the changes made will improve the accessibility of children’s services across the County. They will do this by making services flexible, increasing the age range, targeting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and by providing a more coordinated approach to support services.

Accessible ‘Family Hubs’ for each district

One ‘Family Hub’ will be introduced into each authority area across Essex. The hubs will provide children’s support services and will be open for 50 hours per week. Their opening hours will be staggered, to enhance accessibility for families that are unable to visit during normal working hours.


Council pioneers drone use

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

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

DJI Phantom 3 aerial camera system

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

Cabinet agreed purchase

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

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

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

Saving money

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

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

Generate  income

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

A valuable tool

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

Innovative use of new technology

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


Council tax frozen for sixth year running

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Epping Forest District Council bucks national and local trends by freezing its portion of council tax for the sixth year running.

The Council achieved this despite most other government services increasing Council Tax costs for Epping Forest district residents. The freeze was confirmed at the meeting of full council on 18 February 2016.

Frontline services protected

Leader of the Council Chris Whitbread said: ‘This is the sixth District Council Tax freeze that we have had and it doesn’t come easily. At a time when other Councils are making drastic savings and putting their Council Tax up, we have maintained a nil-increase for our residents whilst protecting our frontline services. We have successfully budgeted and made prudent investments and continue to make Epping Forest a better place to live and work – a place to be proud of.’

Supporting the economy and residents

Councillor Whitbread discussed the Council’s continued investments to the Town Centre Fund; which supports special events for our town centres. He explained that resources have been put into CCTV monitoring, tourism and into the renovation and reopening of Waltham Abbey District Museum, all of which support the District’s economy and benefit residents.

Lowest District Council Tax in Essex

Councillor Whitbread updated others on the plans for transformation, he said that he has ‘ambitious visions for this Council’s future’ and stated that the Council are going to maintain themselves as a ‘low Council tax authority’ and his ‘aspiration is to have the lowest District Council Tax in Essex one day.’

Waste and recycling contract reviewed

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The Neighbourhoods and Communities Select Committee met on Thursday 17 December to review the changes made to the district’s waste and recycling service in May of this year.

New dustcarts

Introducing the main item, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Neighbourhoods Derek Macnab confirmed that, despite extensive local publicity, few public questions had been received, with only two members of the public in the Council Chamber. Major improvements to the service were believed to account for this.

Highlighting issues 

Waste and Recycling Consultant Len Attrill offered the first evidence to members of the committee for review, taking councillors through the thinking behind the use of Competitive Dialogue and the selection of the most economically advantageous contract during procurement.

Senior managers Roger Edwards, Peter Dickson, Les Smith and Simon Crook for the Council’s contractor Biffa Municipal attended the committee to explain what went wrong during the implementation of new arrangements during the summer months. The Council’s cabinet portfolio holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall was also available to answer questions.

Councillors cross-examined the witnesses in depth, asking about issues as diverse as the HR policies of Biffa during the contract handover, the advantages of the four day collection week, the move to a new depot, the size of the new vehicles, the composition of the rounds and the software problems. Councillor Will Breare-Hall said that with hindsight more lead-in time should have been allowed for the introduction of the change to the four day week. He would also have introduced other changes more gradually rather than all in one go.

Waste Manager David Marsh identified the lack of understanding and local knowledge transferred from old crews to new crews. Roger Edwards said that although it could be difficult to transfer knowledge, with hindsight more could be done in the future to achieve it.

Contact Centre Manager Julie Barnard said that the main problem for her staff was the number of missed collections and the repeated failure to collect missed collections once reported. Major improvements in communications between Biffa and the Council since the introduction of the new service have been achieved.

Committee Chairman, Councillor Mary Sartin focused on comments about the failure of assisted collections for residents with special requirements. Simon Crook for Biffa said that a lot of work had since been done to improve this process on behalf of the district’s more vulnerable residents.

Biffa manager Les Smith promised to look personally into problems around contamination of recycling identified by members of the public present at the meeting. Derek Macnab also summarised a list of written questions submitted by members of the public relating to the manner in which Biffa returned emptied bins to households, side-waste and waste separation.

Looking to the future

In summing up, Assistant Director Kim Durrani said that the Council had been in a difficult place but was in a much better position now. Looking to the future he said that the Council was striving with Biffa to improve recycling targets. Simon Crook for Biffa said that he was confident the service was now moving quickly towards the levels everyone would expect. Les Smith of Biffa assured Councillor Heather Brady that Biffa was well prepared for the next few weeks – Christmas – the busiest period of the year.