EFSAC protocol for releasing planning decisions
9 September 2021
Following our last update in June, the council is pleased to advise that it is continuing to make good progress in issuing decisions. Equally positive, we are also able to confirm that the process of reviewing all cases (approximately 263 cases in total) has been completed and more than half of those have been advised of the next steps to be taken. In those remaining cases that are awaiting to be advised further, you will hear from us within the next 4-6 weeks, if not sooner.
Officers appreciate the frustrations with the perceived slow progress being made. It is for that reason that we have begun to reallocate some of the EFSAC backlog to individual officers to process reports. Where possible, managers will continue to consider all options available to it in order to ensure good progress is being made.
In respect to those cases that will require a committee resolution, senior managers have identified an initial schedule for the agreement of each area committee. Once an agreement has been secured, officers will advise all relevant applications with a prospective date for formal determination and any associated requirements. All time extensions that are required prior to decisions being released will now be arranged at the most appropriate time and on a case-by-case basis.
On a final note, we thank all those agents and applicants for their continued patience and understanding during this time. Notwithstanding, it remains imperative that agents and applicants refrain from making unnecessary contact and revert (in the first instance) to the advice that has been provided on the EFDC planning webpages in connection to all EFSAC related matters. In circumstances where your query cannot be resolved by information contained on the EFDC website, a response will be provided in accordance with the published timescales in the Development Management Service Charter.
17 June 2021
EFAC update on releasing decisions
Officers are pleased to announce that the release of SAC (held-in-abeyance) cases has now commenced. Whilst it was hoped that the majority of decisions would be issued on or before the 31st May 2021, given the unprecedented nature and scale of the task remaining there is now a requirement to extend the deadline for another 3 months from the date of this message.
To enable this, the SAC officer will be in touch with applicants/agents in due course with further advice of what is required. In the meantime, we would be grateful if applicants and/or their agents continue to refrain from making frequent contact with the SAC officer to ensure that their progress is not unnecessarily disrupted.
Further information relating to the EFSAC, i.e. “what it means” and “what is required” for all new planning applications can be found on the main planning pages. We respectfully request that agents and their applicant’s make use of this resource in the first instance before making contact with officers.
The Extraordinary General Meeting of Full Council on the 8 February 2021 has now confirmed its decision to adopt the ‘Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy’ (APMS December 2020), and alongside the interim strategy for managing recreational pressures (adopted October 2018), will form the combined approach for mitigating the effects of new development on air quality and recreational pressure impacts on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC).
As a result of this decision, these documents are material planning considerations in the determination of planning applications. Officers have prepared the following additional information and guidance for both applicants and agents that clarify the process for dealing with affected planning applications in the most timely and effective way possible.
The working protocol
Given the number of planning decisions that have been held in abeyance to date, it has been necessary for officers to establish a working protocol that prioritises how each planning application is going to be dealt with and the additional information you will need to provide to facilitate their release.
The protocol for issuing planning decisions will therefore be in the following order of priority:
- Applications that have a committee resolution to grant planning permission
- Applications that are either allocated or designated sites which comply with the ambitions of the emerging Epping Forest Local Plan Submission Version 2017 (as amended)
- All other applications in date order of validation (oldest first)
Please note that officers will be unable to make any exceptions for individual cases although seek to reassure that every application will be given the required priority as stated above.
Information you will need to provide
In the majority of the cases concerned, applicants and agents should be aware of the nature of planning obligations that will need to be secured in order to mitigate the effects of their development proposals.
However, in certain circumstances there may be a requirement for you to provide further information before officers can determine the precise nature and/or level of S106 planning obligations that will need to be secured. In all instances, officers will be making contact with you to advise further in accordance with the working protocol above. Please do not provide any completed legal agreements or further submissions until requested to do so.
For cases where the planning obligations relate exclusively to securing financial contributions towards mitigating the impacts of new development on air quality and recreational pressures on the EFSAC, the Council has prepared two different versions of a S106 Unilateral Undertaking (UU) proforma (see below) which gives applicants the choice of whether to pay the requisite planning obligations upon completion of the S106 Agreement or alternatively upon commencement of the development. You may wish to obtain your own independent legal advice before completing and returning the S106 pro-forma. The ‘Explanatory Notes’ attached below have been prepared to guide you and/or your legal representative in completing the S106 UU correctly. Only one S106 UU is required to be completed and returned to officers.
S106 UU proforma A and explanatory note
To be used where applicant agrees to paying contributions upon completion of the agreement.
- S106 UU proforma A (docx 62KB)
- How to complete the unilateral undertaking for use with S106 proforma A only (pdf 113KB)
S106 UU proforma B and explanatory note
To be used where an applicant agrees to paying contributions upon commencement of development.
When you have completed the S106 Agreement (as applicable) email SAC@eppingforestdc.gov.uk in the first instance.
Where cases involve bilateral / multilateral planning obligations, e.g. requirement to secure onsite provision for Affordable Housing or S.278 Highway Works obligations, you will be contacted by officers to advise further on how these will be progressed.
The requisite fee for processing the abovementioned S106 UU’s is £225 (no VAT) and will need to be paid with the return of the completed and signed S106 Agreement. In the event that significant redrafting is required to your S106 UU, the Council’s legal services section will seek an undertaking to cover any additional costs above the standard £225 legal fee before commencing further work. Unfortunately due to the impact of coronavirus the council is unable to accept cheque payments.
All legal fees and financial contributions (as applicable) should be made by electronic transfer (BACS or CHAPS) to the following bank account details:
- Account name Epping Forest District Council
- Account number 56340001
- Sort code 60 07 39
- Bank Name National Westminster Bank Plc, Epping Branch, 279 High Street CM16 4BT
All payments must quote your unique planning case reference with the pre-fix SAC, e.g. SAC/EPF/XXXX/XX. Legal fees, or financial contributions to be paid upon signing of the S106 Agreement, that are not paid as agreed will result in a delay to the issuing of your decision.
Relevant EFSAC interim mitigation strategies
Full details of the adopted ‘interim strategies’ for mitigating recreational pressure and air pollution on the EFSAC, which also includes the relevant planning tariffs to be applied, are attached below.
- Interim Epping Forest Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy (pdf 2MB)
- Interim Mitigation Strategy for Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (pdf 734KB)
- Cabinet Portfolio Report Oct 2018 (pdf 246KB)
Officers will be writing to every applicant to clarify what additional information (if any) will be required. Subject to receiving the additional and correctly completed information (as applicable), officers anticipate that the majority of decisions can be released by the end of May 2021. To ensure this process can work successfully we would be grateful if you could refrain from contacting individual officers until you have heard from us.
In the meantime, officers would again like to extend our appreciation for your continued patience in this matter and look forward to working with you to resolve this matter as efficiently and effectively as possible.