Proposed dog control orders update

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Consultation, Crime and safety, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

Following public consultation, we are proposing to introduce 3 Dog Control Orders (DCO) using powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

If adopted it will be an offence for a person in charge of a dog to

  1. fail to remove dog faeces deposited on any public land within the district
  2. fail to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer, on any public land within the district
  3. fail to limit the number of dogs which a person may take onto public land within the district to 4 dogs

We consulted residents on the proposed orders for a 2 month period between 2 August and 2 October 2012. The findings will be reported to the council’s cabinet meeting on 3 December 2012, with the recommendation that the council adopts the 3 dog control orders as proposed.

Results of the survey

Comment on potential changes to planning permission for extensions

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Housing repairs, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a consultation document for 6 weeks seeking comments on possible temporary changes to permitted development rights on extensions.

Among its proposed course of action is to allow homeowners and businesses to make larger extensions to their homes and business premises without needing to submit a planning application. For example, this could allow a maximum 8 metre depth for a single storey rear extension to a detached house and 6 metre depth for any other type of house, without needing planning permission. If approved, this would be a temporary measure for 3 years.

You can comment on this consultation direct to the DCLG, which ends on 24 December 2012, on a downloadable response form by following the link below. This form also includes details of the proposals.

Comment on the DCLG consultation document

First reflections on the Local Plan consultation

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Consultation, Councillors, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Anyone who wants to know what local residents and stakeholders said during the recent ‘Community Choices’ public consultation can find out in our latest video update.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder has chosen Chipping Ongar as the location for his second Local Plan blog. He gives an initial assessment of the evidence submitted to Epping Forest District Council on the issues and options facing the district as it continues to prepare a Local Plan covering the next 20 years.

More than 5,500 responses were made in response to the Council’s appeal for evidence and opinions. It will be several months before detailed analysis is completed.

In addition to online consultation documents and a questionnaire, the Council organised a number of evening drop-in sessions throughout the district at which local people discussed the issues and options with councillors and staff face to face. Presentations were made to Town and Parish Councils, several of whom invited district council representatives to talk about the consultation at their public meetings. The district council received letters and emails as well as several petitions, all of which are being incorporated into the body of evidence.

Councillor Bassett said: “We received a great deal of interest and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the consultation. The new Local Plan will be our district’s best defence against inappropriate development as well as enabling us to provide homes and employment opportunities for our children. The evidence and opinions provided by our residents are vital in making it as strong and robust as possible.”

The next stage in the public consultation process will be the publication of a ‘preferred options’ document containing draft policies based on evidence from ‘Community Choices’ and forecasts of population growth and housing need. Eventually this will lead to a ‘submission’ Local Plan for further scrutiny by a government-appointed inspector at an ‘Examination in Public’. Only by successfully passing all these stages will the final Local Plan be adopted as the blueprint for appropriate development over the next 20 years.

Epping Forest Sports and Physical Activity Club Forum

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Health, Older people, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Young people, Your community

On 19 November Epping Forest District Council and Upper Clapton Football Club will be hosting the Epping Forest Club Forum.

The forum is an informal opportunity for you to hear about local projects, meet partners and gain vital information to help develop your club.

This meeting of the forum will see guest speakers from Active Essex discussing local funding opportunities and coaching bursary schemes. As well as representatives from the District Council’s Sports and Health Development Team talking about partnership working in order to grow sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. There will also be the opportunity to have your say in the future of the forum and a chance for you to network with other clubs and partners from across the district.

Attendance is free and a buffet and refreshments will be provided. To book a place, or for more information, please contact Fabrizio Ferrari on 01992 564567 or  Email fferrari@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Epping Forest Inclusion Forum (Sport and Leisure)

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Health, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Your community

The next meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Parents Forum (Sport and Leisure) will take place at Lambourne End Activity Centre on 6 November between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.  Parents, guardians, carers and supporters of disabled people are invited to attend.

The Forum, which is being co-ordinated by the Community Services department of Epping Forest District Council, will be the steering group for the Epping Forest Inclusion Project.  It will give people who know and understand the needs of disabled people the opportunity of having their say in the development of leisure opportunities for disabled people.

At this meeting, the key objectives of the project over the next two years will be discussed, as well as the short-term action plan. In addition, roles within the Forum will be assigned.

For more information or to register with the Forum, please contact Fabrizio Luca Ferrari on 01992 564220, or email fferrari@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

 

Consultation on revised proposals goes live

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Elections, Your council

Boundary Commission for England logoThe Boundary Commission for England has launched an  8 week consultation on its revised proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England. Residents can view the proposed boundaries on the Commission website or at Epping Forest District Council’s Civic Offices in Epping until the consultation deadline of 10 December. The consultation is the last chance for people to have their say before the Commission prepares its final report.

The Commission has revised its initial proposals, which were published in September 2011, following earlier consultation where it received nearly 50,000 responses with people’s views. All the comments received have been considered and have contributed towards the reports and maps that were published on 16 October. People now have the opportunity to comment on the revised proposals before the final proposals are put to the Government next year.

Of particular interest to local residents will be the Commission’s preference for continuing with its proposal to transfer the Lambourne Ward to the Epping Forest Constituency from Brentwood and Ongar Constituency.

The Commission says that if they go back on their original idea and reinstate Lambourne as part of  Brentwood and Ongar, this would require several other ward moves between Epping Forest, Brentwood and Ongar, Harlow and Billericay and Great Dunmow constituencies in order to ensure each remained within five per cent of their electoral quotas. It says compelling evidence provided by the District Council has swayed its view, in particular the links identified between Lambourne and Theydon Bois, local transport infrastructure and simple proximity. This was in spite of representations from some quarters that this alteration should not be made.

The review of constituency boundaries is being carried out by the independent Boundary Commission for England after Parliament decided that there should be a reduction in the number of constituencies across the UK and that there should be similar numbers of electors in each constituency. The number of constituencies in England is being reduced from 533 to 502. Every constituency must have an electorate (as at the review date) that is no less than 95% and no more than 105% of the UK electoral quota of 76,641 electors.

The Commission has published a set of regional reports and maps, which are available on its website and at the Civic Offices Epping and Ongar Library and at other councils and libraries in the eastern region. Details of the Commission’s consultation process are also available on its website and everyone is encouraged to look at the proposals and send in their views on them. Simon James, Secretary to the Commission, says the Commission is open to feedback. He continues: “We were really encouraged by the response to the consultation on our initial proposal.  Now that we have published our revised proposals we continue to welcome people’s participation until the consultation closes on 10 December 2012.”

For more information go to the boundary commission website.

Council thanks community for choices

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Councillors, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Parking, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

We wish to thank all of the 5,255 residents and businesses who presented their views on future housing and development before the close of the Community Choices consultation on Monday 15 October.

Since the start of the consultation on 30 July, councillors and staff have been talking, and listening to the views of, residents and businesses across the district. Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor Richard Bassett concluded his part of the marathon consultation during the last week with public local council meetings in Sheering and Nazeing.

Planning our future - local planCouncillor Bassett said: “I would like to thank everyone who has taken a constructive part in the process. The more information we can gather from local people, the stronger the Local Plan will be and the better able we will be as a community to protect our district from inappropriate development. It’s a long process and there will be several more rounds of consultation before the final Plan can come into force.”

Over the course of the past 11 weeks, the Council has been doing everything in its power to engage with residents and businesses.

Councillor Bassett said: “We are pleased to report that more than three thousand people replied to the consultation. We are now starting to work through those submissions. They have been received in a variety of ways including an online questionnaire, email, exhibitions, petitions and public meetings.”

During the next phase, the Council staff will collate and sift through all the evidence working with District Councillors to produce a first draft of the Local Plan called ‘Preferred Options’. This will contain proposals for policies to meet future population, housing and development growth and it will again go out to public consultation. Many people chose to use handwritten paper forms to make their submissions. Extra time will be factored in for inputting these alongside the online submissions made via the website.

Councillor Bassett said: “This is the next part of the long process to create a formally accepted Local Plan for the District. The final version of the Local Plan has to be approved by the planning inspectorate and it is important that the widest ranges of options are considered during the total process. This ‘Issues and Options’ part of the consultation has gathered evidence that will help us reject unsuitable sites and concentrate on appropriate development opportunities.”

It will take the council many weeks to work through all the evidence submitted during Community Choices but several key themes are already clear.

Councillor Bassett said: “Very few people support the idea of development in the Green Belt. Councillors share that view but recognise that our children will need somewhere to live. We must accept that a small proportion of the Green Belt will be required to provide enough land for the population growth forecasts over the next twenty years.”

He continued: “Most people would prefer to see any new development take place on previously developed or derelict Brownfield sites. The council has worked hard to try to identify such Brownfield opportunities through the ‘Call for Sites’ exercise. However we may not have been able to identify enough of this type of land and we are appealing to anyone who thinks they may know of any Brownfield site, not included in Community Choices, to let the council know.”

Councillor Bassett concluded: “Everyone wants to protect the environment and special character of the district which makes it such a popular area in which to live. Councillors feel strongly that the district needs to be protected as much as possible. Without a Local Plan, developers would only have to satisfy the general guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework, which comes into effect in April 2013 and this may not pay regard to local concerns.”

For more information go to Planning our Future or email ldfconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or call 01992 564517.

2012 Tenant Satisfaction Survey – the results

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Housing, Housing repairs, Our performance, Performance, Your council, Your home

High levels of satisfaction are reported following a survey of Epping Forest’s council tenants

The level of overall satisfaction amongst council tenants has increased by 3% since the last full tenant satisfaction survey conducted by the council – according to an independent market research company, Feedback Services.  Over 1,000 tenants responded to the 2012 survey, with 88% of respondents saying they are satisfied overall with the housing services provided by Epping Forest District Council.

In March this year the council conducted a tenant satisfaction survey using a standardised questionnaire called ‘STAR’. This was developed for social landlords, including councils and housing associations, by an organisation called Housemark. The postal survey was sent to a random sample of general needs and sheltered housing tenants. Over 1,000 people responded, giving views on the council’s overall service as landlord, and on various aspects of the service.

Feedback Services gave a report on their findings, and high satisfaction ratings were given in all the following areas:

  • overall satisfaction with landlord services (88% of tenants that responded were very or fairly satisfied)
  • overall quality of repair work (90% satisfied)
  • quality of the home (89% satisfied)
  • their neighbourhood as a place to live (88% satisfied)
  • condition of their home (85% satisfied)
  • value for money, for the level of rent charged (84% satisfied)
  • ability of staff to deal with queries (83% satisfied)
  • being kept informed of things that might affect tenants (83% satisfied)

Individual aspects of the Housing Repairs Service were also highly rated, such as the attitude of workers and the speed of completion of works.

“We are pleased to see that satisfaction has increased once again, compared to previous levels that were already high” said Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder. “I would like to thank staff for their hard work and commitment in providing such a high quality housing service. We must not be complacent however. Respondents were slightly less satisfied in certain areas, and the council will need to consider if any improvement actions are needed.”

Until 2008 councils were expected to carry out a tenant satisfaction survey every two years and the results were compared nationally, using Government guidelines. The last full survey (general needs and sheltered housing tenants) was conducted in 2006, while in 2008 the Government asked councils to survey general needs tenants only. Tenant satisfaction surveys are no longer required by the Government – but with 6,500 tenants paying rent for housing services, the Council thinks it is important to continue seeking its tenants’ views. By using the ‘Housemark STAR’ questionnaire, Epping Forest’s results can be compared with the findings of other housing organisations.

Telephone 01992 564292 to request a copy or email housinginfo@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Full Council 27 September

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Commercial properties, Consultation, Councillors, Epping, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our performance, Performance, Planning, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your council, Your money

Members of the Epping Forest Youth Council attended the Full Council meeting on 27 September 2012. On the agenda to be  discussed were Council Tax, the Local Plan consultation, annual accounts, the St Johns Road development and North Weald Airfield.

Watch the webcast in full

Chairman’s announcements

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council began his announcements with a special welcome to Glen Chipp. Mr Chipp is due to take up his new duties as Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council on 1 October 2012. North Weald Airfield featured prominently in the Chairman’s report of his activities during September.

The close ties of friendship between the district and the people of Norway was reinforced by a recent visit of Norwegian RAF veterans and serving members of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The Chairman also formed part of the welcome to serving and veteran members of No 56 Squadron RAF on Battle of Britain Sunday. 56 Squadron served with distinction, flying from North Weald during the Battle of Britain. Battle honours of 56 Squadron are displayed on its old Standard which was dedicated to St Andrew’s Church in North Weald.

Epping Forest District Council lost the Annual Petanque match with Epping Town Council. Councillor Rolfe and Councillor David Stallan represented the District Council. ‘Dubious tactics’ were alleged before congratulations were offered to the Town Council represented by dual-hatted councillors Jon Whitehouse and Will Breare-Hall.

No increase for Council Tax

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder, briefed councillors on future financial settlements. She left councillors in no doubt of her belief in the desirability of a zero per cent council tax increase next year.

Local Plan consultation

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder updated councillors on Community Choices. 224 formal responses have been received in response to the Local Plan consultation so far. Council staff have been meeting residents. Almost 1,000 people have attended the Community Choices meetings held across the district over the last six weeks or so.

Annual statement of accounts

The annual statement of accounts for 2011/12 was presented by the Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee, Councillor Antony Watts. Councillor Watts recommended interested councillors watch the webcast of Audit and Governance committee on 24 September where Finance Director Bob Palmer gave a comprehensive presentation.

Councillor Watts drew attention to a number of changes in production of the latest statement including assessments of depreciation on council assets and the pension fund. He also highlighted the major financial commitment of £185 million stemming from changes to the Housing Subsidy system. He concluded by thanking the Auditors and the Council’s own finance officers before recommending the report. Councillor Syd Stavrou responded to Councillor Watts. She assured councillors of the long term benefits to the Council by making a single one-off payment of £185 million instead of on-going annual payments to central government of £11 million.

The Council’s financial position is better than anticipated despite cuts in central government funding. Councillor Stavrou also recommended acceptance of the annual statement of accounts which met with the approval of the Council. 

St John’s Road design and development brief

Asset Management Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg recommended approval of the St John’s Road Design and Development brief to Full Council. Fellow cabinet member and Epping Councillor, Will Breare-Hall welcomed the brief as amended following consultation earlier in the summer. In particular he drew attention to the shift in emphasis from retail to leisure provision in line with the views expressed by local residents.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council looked forward to discussion based on the brief with other landowners. Ward Councillor Tony Church sought reassurance on the issue of a supermarket. Councillor Grigg responded by drawing a distinction between a supermarket which drew wide-spread public opposition and other forms of retail such as a department store which found favour with some local residents. Councillor Janet Whitehouse asserted that she would have preferred a stronger plan and abstained when councillors voted in favour of the adoption of the Brief.

North Weald Airfield

A budget of £150,000 was agreed to enable Epping Forest District Council to commission further work on the future of North Weald Airfield. Referring to recommendations by Ernst and Young, Asset Management Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg encouraged councillors to approve the two-stage process looking at aviation and non-aviation options.

Proposals for new Parliamentary Constituency boundaries

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Democracy, Elections, Your area, Your council

Epping Forest District and its Parliamentary constituencies are under review, with the final consultation period between Tuesday 16 October and Monday 10 December 2012.

Boundary Commission for England logoThe final stage involves increasing the number of eligible voters in the Epping Forest constituency, to equalise it with the surrounding constituencies. The review has resulted in the Lambourne Ward within Epping Forest District Council being moved from the Brentwood and Ongar constituency and re-drawn into the Epping Forest constituency, in order to increase the electorate.

The boundary directly affects the residents of Epping Forest District and this is the last stage of consultation on the draft proposals. This would therefore be the final opportunity for the public to make suggestions and amendments to the draft. Epping Forest residents should also note the Government is currently in the process of writing a piece of legislation which will enforce a fixed term for MPs.

Returning Officer Ian Willett said: “After this consultation period the public will have no further say in the matter, so make sure to express your views and suggestions before the closing date.”

The 8 week consultation period will be between Tuesday 16 October and Monday 10 December and will be reviewed by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE). The BCE is an independent and impartial, non-departmental public body contracted by Parliament to review constituency boundaries in England, proposing any recommendations and amendments back to them.

Have your final say by picking up summaries of the revised proposals and any further information about the commission. These will be available to the general public from Tuesday 16 October at the Civic Offices, Epping, Ongar library and on the BCE commission website  up until the deadline of Monday 10 December 2012.