EPPING FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL
Ongar Park & Blunts Farm Golf
Courses - Ad Hoc Special
8 October 2003
Committee Room 2, Civic Offices,
High Street, Epping
3.00 p.m. - 4.20 p.m.
Councillors D Stallan (Chairman), Mrs J Davis, L Martin, R Morgan,
R Newland, Mrs C Pond, Mrs P Smith, M Woollard
C Embling, C Neilan (Planning Services), C Robinson (Environmental
Services), G J Woodhall (Policy Unit)
That the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 13 August 2003 be taken
as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
20. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
No declarations of interest were made in accordance with the Council's Code of
Conduct for Councillors.
21. GOLF COURSE - ONGAR PARK (Minute 15 - 13.8.03)
The Head of Planning Services informed the Committee that a number of visits had
been made to the site since the last meeting, and presented a sketch plan of
the site that included an update of the construction work. The southeast
quadrant had been shaped and prepared for seeding, with only an irrigation
lake to be completed.
Construction had been completed in the northeast quadrant, with 60% of the
seeding carried out. In the northwest quadrant, 85% of the construction work
had been completed with only the top soiling and fine shaping outstanding.
The quadrant had been re-soiled and the drainage works were in progress. It
was reported that a large tee had been constructed near to the main road,
which would need to be made smaller to comply with the planning conditions.
In the southwest quadrant, the greens and tees had been almost finished, but
the practice ground was still below ground level and needed infilling.
A letter had been received from the developer stating that as the shaping had
been completed, any further materials brought onto the site would only be used
for infilling the practice ground area. Members were advised that the Land
Drainage Engineers had been satisfied with the arrangements made on-site, and
that the brook running through the course would not get blocked with silt.
The meeting noted that despite assurances that construction would be completed
by the end of September, work was still continuing at the site, although the
lorry movements were decreasing. The only work on the Clubhouse completed was
the laying of the foundations, and it was estimated that the course would not
open for at least another year. Members were advised that the imposition of
penalty clauses on future developments of this nature following failure to
meet timescales, would be impractical due to the number of factors beyond the
direct control of the developer.
A letter from Essex County Council had been sent to the developer regarding the
permanent access to the site. There had been no response as yet from the
developer and as the Golf Club could not open without the access in place. It
was not clear why the information had not been forthcoming.
(1) That further information be obtained from UK Golf and Leisure
regarding the timescale of the development; and
(2) That a strong letter be sent to the developers expressing deep
dissatisfaction over the fact that work is still continuing at the site.
22. GOLF COURSE - BLUNTS FARM (Minute 16 - 13.8.03)
The Head of Planning Services reported a letter from the agents regarding the
outstanding planning conditions and wheel washing. No objections had been
received from the Highways Agency. The original location of holes 12 and 13
made them vulnerable to the motorway, and the developer would have to relocate
them a safe distance away. The Highways Agency would need to agree to the new
The Committee was advised that Planning Services had received details from the
developer regarding the imported materials and land levels for the site.
However, there had been no time to consider the proposals before the meeting.
Further meetings with the Architects Harold Swan would be required and it
might be some weeks before a final decision could be taken on the proposals.
There had been no conditions stipulated over the lorry routes, although access
to the site would have to be improved. Environmental Services hoped to get a
voluntary agreement with the developer over lorry routes and signage,
hopefully avoiding the need for lorries to come through Theydon Bois itself.
The Head of Planning Services informed the Committee that the developers were
expected to import substantial amounts of material for the inter-fairway
The developers had refused to modify their requirements from the stipulated
levels of imported materials in the planning permission, thus the plans
received would have to be checked against the planning permission. If the
developers made more extensive use of 'cut and fill' then the course would
look less intrusive, but the level changes should not be as dramatic as
occurred at Ongar Park.
(1) That the Head of Planning Services submit a Sketch Plan of the site to
the next meeting showing the proposed earth movements and level changes;
(2) That more detailed analysis of the proposed plans at Blunts Farm be
deferred until the officers have been able to consider them carefully.
23. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION - PRO FORMA (Minute 17 - 13.08.03)
The Committee was advised that work on the Pro Forma had not been completed,
due to time pressures within Planning Services. A number of amendments were
being made to the draft Pro Forma. Some of the questions would still involve
'Yes/No' answers, whilst others would be changed to require descriptive
details of the changes. Members considered whether the developer should
produce a full statement giving the required answers, using the Pro Forma as a
checklist not a questionnaire.
The Committee expressed concern about the accuracy of the answers that would be
received from developers. It was felt that final, definitive figures might
not be available so early in the process. It was also felt that for future
golf course construction within the District, developers should expect the
District Council to exert complete control over landfill issues.
(1) That the notes for answering the questions on the Pro Forma be
positioned initially at the beginning of the document, with further notes
integrated throughout the document;
(2) That the relevant drawing numbers be detailed at the end of each
question on the Pro Forma;
(3) That the Pro Forma contain separate questions about Planning
issues, Environmental issues and Land Drainage issues;
(4) That the submitted Pro Forma be copied to the relevant departments
for analysis once it has been received; and
(5) That a revised version of the Pro Forma be submitted to the next
meeting for further consideration.
24. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
That the next meeting be held on Wednesday 19 November 2003 at
Ongar Park and Blunts Farm Golf Courses - 8 October 2003
Ad Hoc Special Committee