The possibility of a new retail park at Loughton, cessation of the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan, Parking Reviews, O2 Mast in Honey Lane, the Olympic White Water Canoe Centre and heating charges at Ninefields were among the many topics discussed at Cabinet on Monday 19 July 2010.
Watch the meeting:
Subsidised Heating costs for Ninefields Tenants
Tenants of Epping Forest District Council will have the increased costs of heating paid temporarily until new boilers are fitted in their homes. The Cabinet has agreed a budget of £57,000 for tenants living on the Ninefields estate in Waltham Abbey which will see their heating bills fall back from £22.19 per week to the 2009/10 level of £16.69.
The tenants involved are due to have replacement boilers fitted over the next two years. The new efficient boilers will allow individual energy usage costs to be apportioned to each tenant and should also cut the total amount of energy used by tenants. Long term costs to tenants and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will also mean significant financial and environmental benefits.
Lifting of Gypsy and Traveller Direction
Councillors took the opportunity to thank local residents who played their part in the lifting the Gypsy and Traveller Direction. Councillor Di Collins, Leader of the Council welcomed the news from Government that the Direction was removed. Subject to final Council approval on 27 July, the Cabinet agreed to notify residents and travellers immediately of the decision, to cease all further work on the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document, to update the council website and to reassure all affected residents that land identified within the consultation now returned to their pre-direction status (unless changed by normal planning applications in the meantime).
Councillor Syd Stavrou reported that Essex County Council was exploring cheaper ways of advertising the three parking reviews for Epping, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill. She asked for authorisation (with the Leader of Council and Finance Portfolio Holder) to recommence the schemes if affordable and acceptable advertising costs could be established by ECC. Councillor Stavrou also asked for flexibility to adapt or scale back the schemes should other savings still be necessary. Councillors heard that ECC hoped to be able to provide details in the next week to ten days.
Investment in Sports Equipment and Leisure Centre but new Sports Facility Postponed
In the current financial climate, councillors agreed to postpone proposals to develop additional sports facilities at Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool. Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Brian Rolfe put forward the proposal to delay with great reluctance but noted that sports facilities continued to be provided at the sports centre in Broomstick Hall Road. Cabinet also agreed a range of measures to fund capital investment in other council-owned sports facilities in exchange for reduced management costs from centre manager SLM Ltd.
Extending the management contract with SLM, the Council will invest almost £800,000 in improved health and fitness facilities for Loughton Leisure Centre with annual management cost savings of £100,000. £192,000 will be invested in new fitness equipment at Epping and Ongar in exchange for reduced managements costs of £53,000 per year. Finance Portfolio Holder Chris Whitbread noted the annual return for the council of 12 per cent on the deal, far better than any conventional investment the council could make at the current time.
White Water Canoe Centre Olympic Partnership
Epping Forest District Council hopes to join Broxbourne Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council in partnership to maximise the benefits of the Olympic White Water Canoe Centre under construction between Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross. Each Council would help to fund a new shared post. Epping Forest District Council would provide £10,000 per year while Broxbourne and Hertfordshire County Council will provide £20,000 each per annum to market and promote environmental improvements and the opportunities offered to local residents and businesses. The position would last for two years but is still subject to further detailed negotiation. Up to 70,000 people are expected to visit the centre each year, potentially providing major economic benefits to the adjoining towns. Lea Valley Regional Park owns the Centre and will reassume management from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) after the 2012 Games.
Retail Park Negotiations for Loughton
A retail development to complement existing shop keepers in Loughton Broadway could come to Langston Road. Epping Forest District Council and Polofind Ltd, owners of neighbouring sites are exploring the possibility.
Councillor Lesley Wagland, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder said that only 14 per cent of retail spend in this type of development is retained in the district. Most people go outside the district for their out of town retail park spending. This could be a real opportunity to encourage residents to spend more money locally, creating new jobs as well as supporting existing businesses.
In any such development, councillors were keen to see easy pedestrian access between the Broadway and a retail park as well as good links with the local underground station. Councillors also wished to ensure full consultation with residents and local businesses. The current layout of Chigwell Lane could prove a stumbling block. Progress on proposals is partly dependent on satisfactory highway improvements.
Councillor Wagland also assured Cabinet that controls are usually placed on out of town retail parks to ensure that they complement rather than compete with local town centres for trade. In response to a question, Councillor Wagland did not completely rule out the possibility of some form of cinema.