St John’s sale opens way to redevelopment

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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.”