Your Epping Forest
1. Introduction – our commitment to you
Councillor Chris Whitbread – Leader of Council
With its ancient forest, market towns and beautiful villages, Epping Forest is one of the most sought-after places in the UK. Close to London, linked by the Central Line and motorways, Epping Forest is the place to be for access to London and the southeast.
We have the forest and so much more. The royal history of Waltham Abbey stretches back over a thousand years. Chipping Ongar was the site of a medieval castle. Roman remains have been found in Chigwell. Loughton and Buckhurst Hill grew with the coming of the railways. Winston Churchill was our MP. Charles Dickens was inspired by our hospitality, and North Weald Airfield was our front-line in the Battle of Britain.
Steam trains run once again on the Epping and Ongar railway line. Families explore our industrial heritage at the Royal Gunpowder Mills. They walk, cycle, and relax beside the River Lea.
From the boutiques and cafes of Loughton and Buckhurst Hill to Epping Forest Shopping Park, and the markets of Epping and North Weald, we are a thriving commercial and retail destination.
Epping Forest is the place to raise your family and grow your business.
We are in demand, but the things that make our district special also bring challenges. The post-covid exodus from London has placed Epping Forest under pressure. As Bloomberg News reported, people are moving out of the city and Epping Forest is one of the most favoured destinations.
The war in Ukraine which has caused death and destruction to a proud nation by an aggressive invader, has also had a major impact on the global economy. The rise in the cost of living, interest rates and inflation is hitting everyone. Some much harder than others. The eventual length and depth of these challenges are unknown, but our future aspiration remain undiminished.
This Corporate Plan has been developed in the midst of those challenges.
Providing support, direction and guidance to the residents and businesses of our district is fundamental to what the Council does. We know we will have an important role in responding to the current crisis.
Despite this, there are some things that we know will always be important. These feature heavily in our plans. In our hearts is the strongly held belief that low taxation is best for our residents. It affords you the maximum choices over how you spend your income.
We will achieve this by continually striving to deliver an efficient, innovative, and well-run council that always puts the customer first. In doing so, we aim to ensure that the cost to deliver our services reduces whilst quality and value improves.
Employment and economic prosperity have always underpinned our district. Ensuring continued growth in jobs and creating career expanding opportunities are also central to our plans. By maximising the opportunities for existing employers, and at the same time attracting new and exciting investors and wealth creators to the district, we want to be seen as a place that is positively welcoming to businesses.
At its heart, our district is built from many distinct, strong, and diverse communities. These should be celebrated, nurtured, and supported so they are best able to help the people that live here. Working with community groups and partners, we aim to provide housing options and improved health outcomes that meet their needs. A sense of community and belonging is vital to a healthy and happy district. We will be there to help it grow.
The environment and the forest define much of the district. So, it is unsurprising that tackling the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change are a priority, feeding through into everything we do. Growth is inevitable, but we have an opportunity to harness the benefits and minimise the negative impacts on our district through our statutory and democratic roles.
For convenience and the ease of reporting, we have brought all our plans together under the three broad headings of Community, Place and Council but in reality, these are all inter-related.
As your local council, we are afforded a unique opportunity to oversee the wellbeing of the district and its residents. With this custodial role comes the responsibility of making sure that everything we do is for the benefit of our district and our residents. This plan sets out how we intend to do that over the next 4 years.
Councillor Chris Whitbread
Leader of Epping Forest District Council