There was a packed agenda for the first Cabinet meeting of 2020.
Business started with thanks to staff by Councillor Nigel Avey, Environment Portfolio Holder for their efforts during the recent flooding.
Following public statements, and a report by Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman Mary Sartin, councillors took the opportunity to congratulate Councillor Richard Morgan on receipt of the MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Health and environment
All councillors were encouraged to attend a forthcoming briefing by Whips Cross Hospital on local hospital services.
Councillor Nigel Bedford provided an update on climate change actions carried out by the council. Responding to Councillor Wixley, Councillor Bedford and Councillor Philip elaborated on the type and number of tree plantings including 1,261 planted by the council’s countryside management service – Countrycare.
Councillors approved a £103,000 contract extension for the planned installation of gas and renewable energy heating in council housing with Gracelands Complete Maintenance services Ltd.
In 1945, Loughton opened its hearts and homes to survivors of the holocaust at Holmehurst Hostel. Cabinet agreed to lend the support of the council to a special memorial by providing land at Traps Hill to the Epping Forest Holocaust Educational Trust.
In conjunction with exhibitions at Loughton Library and projects supported by Epping Forest District Museum, councillors agreed the importance to keeping knowledge of the holocaust alive particularly through education of young people.
The council continues to negotiate with Natural England over a suitable solution to the current Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation restrictions on planning applications.
St John’s progress
Councillors endorsed plans to take forward 5 key development sites with St John’s Road, Epping forming the focal point as a single project plus an additional development of new housing at Roundhills in Waltham Abbey.
Proposals are still indicative, but cabinet supported proposals to bring forward business cases, planning applications and transferal of land ownership to Qualis, the council’s wholly-owned local development company.
The project could include
St John’s site
- Leisure centre – proposals would include a 4-6 lane 25m swimming pool, gym,
sports hall and studio, treatment rooms and spa facilities
- Cinema – proposals could house 3 screens and a bar area
- Retail – c2500sq metres of retail and bar / restaurant floorspace
- Residential – up to 70 apartments
- Public realm – a well-designed public realm that links the scheme to the High
Bakers Lane car park
- The proposal for the redevelopment of the Bakers Lane site would provide equivalent car parking spaces to replace the car parking lost at Cottis Lane and to also service the new leisure centre and wider development at St John’s
Cottis Lane car park
- The site would provide up to 200 residential apartments in a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed units and is intended to be operated as a Private Rented Scheme (PRS) with associated facilities
- This would support the commercial viability of the site and the sustainability of parking in relation to the High Street and the St John’s development. Car parking would not be provided on site for residents except for pool cars and visitors
Epping Sports Centre – Hemnall Street
- The proposal for the redevelopment of the Hemnall Street site would provide 40 to 50 apartments in a mix of 1 and 2 bed apartments and proposed to be 100% affordable on a discounted market rental basis
- This development will enable the relocation of a new modern leisure centre for Epping onto the St John’s site
Civic Offices – Condor building
- The proposal for the redevelopment of the Civic Offices site would provide 70 to 80 apartments in a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed units and is intended to operate as a PRS scheme
The Roundhills site – Waltham Abbey
- The proposal for the redevelopment of the Roundhills site would provide a mix of townhouses and apartments totalling 35 units and providing a range of family dwellings. It has been assumed that these units would be retained by the council and then made available for rental
- This development would provide an early priority for Qualis and would enable it to demonstrate successful implementation
Councillor Holly Whitbread received assurances that Epping Sports Centre would remain open until the new Epping Leisure Centre has been completed.
The report to Cabinet also set out the council’s commitment to community engagement. Before the planning applications are submitted in the form of Development Management Forums, Quality Review Panels, public exhibitions and presentations to Councillors. This is at both district and local level as set out in the recently approved Statement of Community Involvement. This would take place at pre-planning application stages so that the public understand what is proposed and timelines.
Cabinet received the latest financial updates for the Council. Budget planning for 2020/21 is progressing towards the setting of a Council Tax increase of just 1.5 percent, half the predicted rate of inflation.
Councillors also noted the acquisition of shops and flats focused on and around Centric Parade in Loughton to the council’s commercial property portfolio. Estimated annual return of over £700,000 is expected and will be used to support the delivery of public services.