Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread opened the first meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet since the local elections by welcoming his new portfolio holders, Councillors Holly Whitbread, Aniket Patel and Nigel Bedford.
Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip reported the completion of the Local Plan examination hearings. The independent planning inspector will now consider her findings before publishing the outcome later in the year. Councillor Whitbread echoed Councillor Philip’s words of appreciation for all the council staff who contributed towards the process.
Councillor Philip also reported on the updated Statement of Community Involvement, a series of principles and commitments to consult and engage with residents and stakeholders in planning matters including the Local Plan, planning applications, masterplans, neighbourhood plans and other processes.
Asset Management Portfolio Holder presented the new Asset Management Strategy for adoption by the Council. The Council has a large property portfolio including commercial lettings generating significant income to support public services. Among the new options explored in the strategy is the potential for a new council-owned Local Housing Company and Local Trading Company to maximise the benefits of future development and income generation opportunities. Councillors also took note of enabling money including substantial grants to local volunteer and charitable groups supported by the Council.
Having noted the latest quarterly Corporate Plan report, Cabinet received a Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) report from Projects Portfolio Holder Councillor Alan Lion. Epping Forest District Council is leading the development of the Essex and Herts Digital Innovation Zone. The initiative aims to place Epping Forest District at the forefront of digital infrastructure investment benefitting local homes, businesses and public services. Councillor Lion noted that the best practice being developed locally was being used as a potential blueprint for national implementation.