New shopping park ahead of schedule

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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

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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.”