Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed a key strategic council document at their meeting on 21 November.
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Place Delivery Strategy
The Place Delivery Strategy covers and pulls together 6 other strategies and plans.
- Your Epping Forest: The Corporate Plan for 2023 -2027
- Epping Forest District Local Plan 2011-2033
- Epping Forest Health and Well-being Strategy 2022-2026
- Climate Change Action Plan
- Housing Strategy 2023 – 2027
- Nurturing Growth 2020-2025
Epping Forest District Council owns and administers substantial land and property assets, making it an influential partner in shaping the district in years ahead. Directly and through Qualis, the Place strategy goes further in working with other private and public sector partners. The strategy also incorporates social and economic impacts ranging from long covid and the cost of living, to broader health and wellbeing factors.
Portfolio holders were on hand to listen to the debate and receive suggestions for improvement of the draft strategy before it comes to cabinet on 18 December.
Qualis Quarter 4 Monitoring and 4 Year Plan
Overview and Scrutiny Committee received the quarter 4 performance report and new 4-Year plan for Qualis, the property investment, management and maintenance company wholly-owned by Epping Forest District Council.
Despite difficult trading conditions, the position still includes £3.348 million of interest payments made by Qualis to the Council, on which the Council gains approximately £2 million from the lending. This directly supports the Council’s continued provision of valued services.
Qualis is approaching a key milestone. Although the accumulated deficit of £760,000 is higher than hoped due to delays, Cottis Yard carpark is now open. The former Conder site is also nearing completion. This is an important point in time as Qualis will soon start to realise sales from developments that generate more income with debt expected to peak and then begin to reduce.
Despite the heightened national and local economic uncertainty, Qualis remains an important asset that is helping the Council deliver its strategic and place shaping ambitions.
Scrutiny Committee was asked to consider and reflect on the new 4-Year Business Plan and make comments or recommendations to the cabinet.
The Business Plan sets out 6 key drivers:
- Enable Qualis to work towards clearing the historic deficit.
- Enable Qualis to generate its own cash that can be used on new projects for the Council.
- Eliminate the need to borrow further funds from EFDC thereby minimising the Council’s debt profile.
- Continue to pay interest on EFDC loans providing the Council with over £2m of margin benefit per year.
- Deliver more homes and regenerate the district.
- Improved quality of the council services delivered through Qualis.
Plans and achievements
Among the plans and achievements in the business plan:
- Housing repairs and grounds maintenance for EFDC.
- Employed over 100 people, with a further 15 new jobs in next 12 months.
- 40% of staff live in the district and 55% live in Essex or nearby neighbouring areas.
- 93% of customers happy with the service in 2022/23.
- 10% of the fleet are electric vehicles, increasing to 25% by 2025.
- Cottis Yard carpark, allowing work to begin on the new Epping Leisure Centre.
- 45 new homes at Springwood Grove (Conder site) completing Spring 2024.
- Industrial development at Cartersfield, Waltham Abbey.
- Planning permissions
- 184 new homes in St John’s Road,
- 40 new homes Hemnall Street
- 28 new homes Roundhills
- Planning permission is being sought for a further 43 new homes in Pyrles Lane, Loughton
- Investment properties
- Birchwood Building, Leatherhead
- Wickes, Maldon
- Greenfields House, Coventry.
- Management of the Council’s commercial property portfolio and Cottis Yard carpark.
- A pipeline of new opportunities for housing, retail, and industrial development.
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