Council house buildings, Stonards Hill recreation improvements and more discussed at Cabinet meeting on Monday 9 September 2013.
Council house building strategy
Another major step was taken towards construction of 120 new council houses when councillors approved a development strategy. The homes will be delivered over a six-year period. East Thames Housing has already been appointed as the Council’s development agent. The development strategy sets out key processes including standards, consultation methods, procurement methods for the construction works and performance targets to measure the eventual success of the project.
Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder said: ‘I am very proud to be involved in the start of new council house building in the district after many years’. The 120 homes are a part of a wider mix of developments including social housing provided under section 106 agreements by private developers agreed with the Council as part of planning permission for commercial developments.
High satisfaction levels for existing council tenants were also noted by Cabinet as councillors approved the renewal of the innovative repairs contract with Mears Ltd. The contract is one of the first of its type for any council and involves the employment of a private company to manage the Council’s own in-house housing repairs service.
Epping sports and leisure feasibility
The consultant’s feasibility study into different options for a new sports facility as part of the St John’s Road development in Epping was received by Cabinet. Councillors agreed to keep various options opened while the ‘expressions of interest’ exercise designed to identify potential developers continues.
Hall comes in under budget
Councillors received news that the final costs of Limes Farm Hall had come in ‘under budget’. Councillor John Knapman led the congratulations to Cabinet and Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Liz Webster for the delivery of the new community facilities at the Limes Farm Centre in Chigwell for £1,101,000 against a capital provision of £1,102,000. Councillor Knapman felt that the new hall was an excellent facility and encouraged local people to use it.
Assessing housing need
An objective assessment of the district’s housing need is essential to the production of the new Local Plan. Planning portfolio holder Councillor Richard Bassett, updated Cabinet on best practice, potential implications and the broad methodology for determining Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN). Councillor Bassett reminded councillors of the importance of this process in satisfying the government appointed inspector at the examination in public of the Local Plan.
Stonards Hill leisure improvements
We received £225,000 from Essex County Council as part of the planning agreement for the new St John’s School, will be used to resurface public tennis courts, to provide outdoor gym equipment, increase and improve the skate park facilities and upgrade changing rooms and toilets.
The new secondary school at St John’s for Epping officially opens on Tuesday 10 September. Councillor Jon Whitehouse welcomed the money for improvements at Stonards Hill, especially as the skate park improvements had been adopted following recommendations by the Epping Forest District Youth Council.
New wheelie bins
Eight years after they were introduced to the district, the Council has approved an annual budget of £30,000 to replace damaged wheelie bins. Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Environment portfolio holder reported that in keeping with the philosophy of recycling, the only bins to be replaced would be those broken beyond repair.
Councillors also emphasised the need to encourage residents to recycle more of their kitchen waste, too much of which is still going to landfill.