To consider the attached report.
(a) St John’s Road Development
Progress was ongoing and a number of meetings had been held since the last update. This was mainly around the alignment of the project brief with the Submission Version of the Local Plan and with the project management consultants, White, Young and Green. A planning meeting had also been held yesterday. Negotiations had taken place with Epping Town Council and their portion of the site. A soft market testing exercise by property consultants Derek Wade Walters had been undertaken to validate the requirement of the development brief to incorporate a retail element.
To align with the Local Plan Submission Version, a survey of vehicle parking had been undertaken. There would be a reduction in parking provision as there was an excess of parking available within the vicinity of this site. On the advice of the project manager, a building condition survey was to be carried out on some of the existing buildings including the main school building.
A Cabinet member workshop for the St John’s Road Development would be hosted by White Young and Green on 24 September 2019. Public consultation and key partner engagement sessions would follow to enable the development project to be reviewed by the Quality Review Panel on 4 October 2019. A report on the key decisions could then go to Cabinet on 5 December 2019.
Councillor R Brookes explained that some Epping residents had contacted her regarding Epping Sports Centre. Since the Council had published the Local Plan Submission Version in December 2017, the Sports Consultancy had been commissioned and produced a report that had included approximately 120 car spaces. However, there now seemed to be a contradiction with the parking provision. J Nolan replied there were requirements to reduce parking spaces under the Submission Version of the Local Plan. Other changes had also been made as originally there was going to be a supermarket on the site but that had fallen through with the company. Therefore, a balance between the Local Plan Submission Version requirement to reduce parking spaces and the St John’s Road development was trying to be achieved so there was no net gain of spaces, and the ‘step‘ capacity was being assessed.
Councillor J Philip remarked about the mitigating impact on Epping Forest air quality in relation to the number of vehicle movements. An agreement had not been reached yet with Natural England on that mitigation. The Council was trying to keep an equivalent number of parking spaces and, with the use of the existing car parks, be creative so that there was a balancing effect because the more spaces there were, would lead to more car journeys and thus more air pollution. He would like to see more use of public transport and people walking to the sports centre as it was in a sustainable, central location in the town.
Councillor C McCredie asked about the main school building, whether it would be demolished or was sustainable, and where the negotiations were currently between the Council and Epping Town Council regarding Epping Hall. J Nolan replied that regarding conversion of the buildings, a building condition survey had been commissioned to look at building structures and an asbestos survey. Meetings with the Town Council were arranged as and when they were needed. The Town Council was seeking another meeting but he could not reveal further information about the current negotiations underway.
(b) North Weald Airfield Masterplan
The masterplan consultants, Turner and Townsend, had been appointed by the Chief Executive after a tender exercise had been completed. These consultants had carried out a runway survey of the North Weald Airfield around 2011. The first meeting would take place on 25 September. A further progress report would be made to the Stronger Place Select Committee in December 2019.
That the report providing an update on progress with the Str John’s Road Development and the North Weald Airfield Masterplan was noted.