Agenda item

Public Questions and Requests to Address the Cabinet

To receive any questions submitted by members of the public and any requests to address the Cabinet.


(a)        Public Questions


To answer questions asked by members of the public after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within Part 4 of the Constitution (Council Rules, Rule Q3) on any matter in relation to which the Cabinet has powers or duties or which affects the District.



(b)       Requests to Address the Cabinet


Any member of the public or a representative of another organisation may address the Cabinet on any agenda item (except those dealt with in private session as exempt or confidential business) due to be considered at the meeting, in accordance with the provisions contained within Article 7 of the Constitution (The Executive, Paragraphs 27 and 28).



Public Questions


1.            Mr R Morreale sent in the following question for the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder. Mr Morreale was unable to attend the meeting so his question was read out by the Portfolio Holder.




“Part of The Local Plan of Epping Forest DC is designed to form the plan to create The Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.


The Planning Inspector looking at Harlow Distrct Council’s Local Plan was advised in the spring of 2019 that if it’s Plan was implemented in full, in excess of 1600 (14%) more homes would be built than what was required of the Council. Within weeks the council received more Planning Applications from developers looking to build on brownfield sites, taking this figure to over 2000 homes.


Since the beginning of 2020 Harlow Council have continued to receive new Planning Applications to build homes on Brownfield sites taking the number of homes in excess of those required to over 3000. In addition a number of Permitted Developments have seen former offices converted to flats, taking this number even higher.


The recent publication from the Office of National Statistics of projected new households should throw doubt on the need to build so many houses in the area.


My question is:


In view of the above,  can you explain why Epping Forest DC has not taken the opportunity to advise the Planning Inspector that it will amend its proposed Local Plan by removing a number of sites, particularly those to the south and south west of Harlow, thus saving the Green Belt from being built on?”


The Portfolio Holders response was:


“As members will be aware the planning Inspector wrote to the Council  following the publication of the ONS household projections 2018 on 16 July 2020 seeking clarification as to whether the Plan’s housing requirement remained sound and whether a meaningful change in the housing situation had occurred.


In order to respond to this the Council together with the Strategic Housing Market Area partners: Harlow, East Herts and Uttlesford District Councils commissioned ORS to prepare some additional evidence.  On 4 September 2020 the Council wrote back to the Inspector to advise that while the 2018 based projections demonstrate some variation from the 2014-based population projections, it does not represent a meaningful change in the housing situation from the one which informed the emerging Local Plan. The Inspector has now consulted on this matter and the responses are available on the Council’s website .  She will be considering this information before determining whether or not any modifications to the housing requirement or the Plan are required. Once agreed with the Inspector the Main Modifications to the emerging Local Plan will be the subject of a 6 week statutory consultation.


By way of background the Inspector considered the appropriateness of the housing number through the examination hearings. The Plan was examined under the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework and used 2014-based projections.  In her advice note of 2 August 2019 (EB98) the Inspector agreed that the requirement for the District should be as set out in the Local Plan Submission Version 2017.”




2.            A second questioner, Mr G Mitchell sent in the following questions for the Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder. Mr Mitchell was unable to attend the meeting so his question was read out by the Portfolio Holder.


Question 1:


“With the proposed move of North Weald airfield (and other council owned assets) from district council ownership to a wholly public owned limited company, what are the benefits to people of the district in moving the asset(s) from the council’s direct ownership to that of a limited company?”


The Portfolio Holders response was:


“There are no proposals to move North Weald airfield to Qualis, the Council’s wholly owned company, at this time.  There is only an intention to look at the options.  We would expect the benefits to be explored as part of that exercise, but until this exercise has been undertaken this question is premature.”


Question 2:


“Is this committee aware of or is the council in any of its plans considering selling a stake in Qualis to private shareholders? I ask this in relation to how the proposed redevelopment of Epping town centre will be funded?”


The Portfolio Holders response was:


“There are no proposals or plans to sell any shares in Qualis to anyone else. The Council has the first option on providing the finance required to complete the regeneration of these sites, but Qualis has the right to raise finance in the commercial markets if the Council chooses not to exercise this right.  The Council will choose whether to provide the finance based upon an analysis of the risk profile.”