The first four-year Business Plan of Qualis – the Council’s wholly owned property company – is published in a report to Overview and Scrutiny Committee, today.
It is the first step towards adoption of the plan by Epping Forest District Council and sets the agenda for Qualis for the next four years.
In its first two years Qualis successfully took over the Council’s Housing Maintenance Team and is now seeking permission for important development sites in Epping and Waltham Abbey, bringing forward much needed housing and leisure and retail to the district.
The success of this transfer led the two organisations to explore other functions that could bring benefits in terms of reducing duplication across the Council and Qualis. Grounds Maintenance and Residential Asset Management and Facilities are highlighted in the four-year plan as suitable contenders.
If the plan is approved, the Council and Qualis will work together over the next few months to consider options for future management of these functions, designed to deliver clear benefits for both employees and Council Taxpayers.
Once options have been developed, they will be presented to the Council for Scrutiny and a decision on the way forward.
A continued priority for Qualis is acquiring and progressing key regeneration sites across the district promoting new opportunities for housing, leisure, retail and jobs.
The Council owns nearly £150 million of commercial assets and Qualis plans to continue to grow its own portfolio. Aligning the two in key areas would bring new regeneration opportunities and better returns for both the Council and its Taxpayers.
Because of the size and complexity of the Council’s asset portfolio, if the plan is approved, the Asset Management Team will be temporary seconded to Qualis to help with the preparation of an options paper for consideration later next year.
Keeping council tax low
Qualis is already generating nearly £2 million a year for the Council. The Business Plan forecasts this income will more than double in the coming four years, going a long way towards solving some of the predicted financial challenges the Council faces.
The financial success of Qualis is key in enabling Epping Forest District Council to protect valuable core services to residents and keep Council Tax low.
As the only shareholder, the Council benefits from the performance of Qualis in a variety of ways.
The structure gives the Council choices it doesn’t usually have when working with private sector developers, such as balancing financial returns with community needs including affordable housing, leisure and other amenities and green spaces.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1 July will be asked to consider what it thinks the priorities should be.
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