(Service Director – Commercial & Regulatory) To consider the attached report (AMED-003-2019/20).
The Service Director for Commercial & Regulatory Services presented a progress report on a number of major projects that the Council was managing which involved its property assets.
The Service Director highlighted the following points:
(i) The Epping Forest Shopping Park was now fully let and open for trading, however roof leaks were continuing; the additional Section 278 Highways works had been completed and were awaiting inspection by Essex County Council.
(ii) Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate was now fully let again, but a structural issue had arisen which was being investigated.
(iii) Pyrles Lane Nursery was under offer to be sold and an indemnity insurance policy to protect the position over the access road had been procured; the existing Nursery was due to complete its relocation to the Town Mead depot by the end of 2019.
(iv) Work was progressing with the masterplanning for the St John’s Road development in Epping; an Officer Project Group meeting had been held earlier in the day and the scheme was progressing well.
(v) For North Weald Airfield: the lease with the Government for a potential freight customs area had been completed; the Essex & East Herts Air Ambulance Trust was currently searching for alternative locations due to the ongoing issue of Natural England not determining any planning applications in the District which might impact upon air quality; masterplanning for various parts of the Airfield had commenced in line with the submission version of the Local Plan dated December 2017; and Saunders were due to make a proposal for the Market at the Airfield.
(vi) For the Landmark Building at The Broadway in Loughton, the leases for 4 of the units had been completed, terms for one of the leases had now been agreed, interest had been shown in another of the leases and little or no interest in the final lease.
In respect of the Epping Forest Shopping Park, the Service Director informed the Cabinet Committee that the full retention was being retained to investigate the roof leaks. The Council wanted an independent, certified Engineer to examine the roof, and it was intended to undertake the repair works on a phased basis in the next few weeks with the aim to cause the minimum disruption to the tenants. There would be a commission to examine the traffic flows for the site, and investigate whether an additional entrance for the site was required. It was a difficult site and some of the problems were caused by the junction at the top of Langston Road. There would be additional Traffic Marshalls on site to manage the traffic flow in the run-up to Christmas, as this had been successful last year. The Council would also lobby Essex County Council to provide public transport links to and from the Shopping Park by way of a new bus route.
The Cabinet Committee was disappointed to learn that the Essex & East Herts Ambulance Trust was looking to move from its current location at North Weald Airfield. The Service Director explained that this was due to the Habitat Regulations in the draft Local Plan and that Natural England were not determining planning applications within the District which might impact upon Air Quality. Officers were frustrated at this situation as well, because it was delaying a number of planning applications and some businesses within the District were starting to suffer. The Cabinet Committee felt that the Council needed to do whatever was necessary to keep the Air Ambulance stationed at North Weald Airfield.
The Leader of Council reassured the Cabinet Committee that the St John’s Road development in Epping was making good progress. The recent workshop had been enlightening, and a report on this matter would be considered by the Cabinet at its meeting in November.
(1) That the progress made to date with the Council’s Asset Management & Development projects be noted.
Reasons for Decision:
To comply with the Cabinet Committee’s previous request to monitor the development of the Council’s property assets on a regular basis.
Other Options Considered and Rejected:
None, as the report is for information only.