Green space, leisure centre and pool, cinema and new homes are some of the improvements councillors scruitnised at a workshop held by Qualis on 13 August.
Residents are being urged to take part in consultation on the future of Epping. Proposals have been published online. Councillors reviewed the recently published proposals for the future of Epping at the first of 3 workshops held by Qualis yesterday.
New leisure centre, cinema, green space and homes
Qualis – the private company set up and wholly owned by the council to deliver major investment and service improvements across the District set out more of the thinking behind the ambitious plans for Epping.
Integration and promotion of Epping’s High Street economy
The plans published for public consultation last week include some major changes from previous proposals. While all the key elements remain in the plan, Qualis has rethought the location and layout. The commercial and leisure elements of the project have been relocated to Bakers Lane and Cottis Lane for better access to other High Street businesses. The residential developments are now focused more on St Johns, Hemnall Street and the Conder Building next to the Civic Offices.
The Epping Town Council site is no longer included, meaning all the proposed developments are now on land owned by Epping Forest District Council.
Carparking remains an essential part of the plans.
Residents can visit the working together for Epping website to explore the options and post feedback in a safe and anonymous environment. In September, a Covid-safe face-to-face exhibition will allow residents to put questions directly to the Qualis team. Formal consultation on the first planning applications could begin in late December through to May.
Minimise disruption to residents
Councillors are keeping an open mind at this stage but gave a positive initial reaction to the proposed relocation of housing from Bakers Lane and Cottis Lane car parks to St Johns. As a predominately residential area already, councillors could see the argument for maintaining St Johns as a focus for homes, while Bakers and Lane and Cottis Lane could be better for leisure and business.
By early phasing of a new multi-level carpark on Cottis Lane and maintaining as much parking throughout the project as possible, Qualis plans to minimise disruption to residents during construction. The new leisure centre would also be part of the early phasing. Epping Sports Centre would continue to operate in Hemnall Street until the new Leisure Centre opened in Bakers Lane.
The cinema, hotel, retail and office space on Cottis Lane would complete the project. Qualis also offered other options including pocket parks and green corridors connecting the new developments with each other and the High Street.
Revitalising and investing in the heart of Epping
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked the design team. Speaking after the workshop, he said:
Despite the challenges of the post-Covid situation, I am really pleased that we have been able to press ahead with our plans for revitalising and investing in the heart of Epping. We are absolutely committed to delivering on our promises to the people of Epping, especially the new leisure centre so many people told us they want. Epping has a very bright future.
I really want to thank Qualis for the work done so far. As residents know, we’ve waited a long time for this. The world has changed since we embarked on St Johns but the Council now has control of the sites and our only partners are you the residents in delivering on your priorities of improved leisure facilities, boosting the future of our High Street and delivering homes on brownfield sites. We are now almost there. This is a tremendously exciting project for Epping but it’s right that we take one last long hard look to make sure we’ve got it right before the building work begins.
Get Involved, get the facts, get this right
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread continued:
This is the stage where we need everyone to get involved. The plans we approve now could define the character of Epping for the next 100 years. I therefore can’t stress strongly enough how important it is for as many people as possible to engage in the consultation over the next few months to help us get this right. Go online to the consultation. Come to the exhibitions. Read the leaflets and talk to Qualis. Don’t just rely on the opinions of others. Get the facts yourself and tell us your views. We want to hear from you now.
Councillors heard that with potential planning permission obtained in May next year, construction work could start in Cottis Lane and St Johns as early as June. Final phases of the project could be completed within 5 years.
Working together for Epping
This site is for residents, stakeholders and businesses to make comments and leave feedback on the 5 identified sites in Epping for redevelopment which are being regenerated by Qualis Group.
Epping Forest District Council has launched a separate consultation site to allow people to identify areas that need support to provide safer spaces post Covid-19.
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