Epping Society committee members visited the Qualis exhibition at St Johns Church and have a number of concerns as follows:
We were told that the goal of EFDC is to keep parking at the level it is now notwithstanding the increase in number of homes, or the increase in users due to the sports centre, cinema etc. The opening of both facilities will make a complete mockery of residents parking zones around them as they end at 5pm just when the new facilities are at peak capacity.
- New Homes
We were told that Qualis intends to build the vast majority of new homes in the 5 town centre sites as flats. We foresee the 2 following built in problems. a) parking quoted at a ratio of 0.5 per flat and b) the vast majority of these flats will go to the private rental sector managed by Qualis as the council’s goal appears to be to raise funds for rather than actually solve the long term housing problems for homeowners in Epping.
- Access to the St Johns development
The residential site will be accessed via St Johns Road to the left of Epping Hall. We asked how this made any sense since it was gridlock to get out of St. Johns Road at rush hour already and were told that there would be some adjustments to the junction between the High Road and St. Johns Road. When we asked if they intend to knock down the church or cut down the trees the Qualis representatives gave blank looks.
We asked a consultant working for Qualis if there was a traffic management plan that embraced wider development proposals contained in the local plan as well as the implications from suggestions that the (London) Mayor was examining the potential to build on station car parks such as Epping but no clear answer was given.
- Sports centre
No sports hall and no squash courts despite what the council promised the existing users of Epping Sports Centre. We were told that it is impossible to fit both these facilities and a swimming pool into the available space which EFDC/Qualis have allocated so they have decided one will have to go. There seems to have been no consideration of putting the swimming pool elsewhere such as at St. Johns school which was intended when the school was first planned.
- Local Plan
We could not a straight answer as to whether the exhibition and online consultation will form part of the local plan evidence. We were told no it didn’t and then yes it did – clear as mud.
- Vision For Epping
The man we met who was supposedly in charge of the Qualis “vision for Epping” was not familiar with the inspectors letter about the reduction in housing need numbers by 50%. We told him to find it.
The proposals are in a number of places simply not realistic such a) as adding a “park” to the front of the combined new multi storey cark park, cinema, restaurant, café area in the car park, behind M&S, b) adding mature trees in the walkway between M&S and the garden leading to the car park and EFDC councillors are already distancing themselves from these aspirations.
- Consultation Graphics
The images on show are in a large number of cases either out of date already or just pretty pictures not of the actual area so in reality only the text should be taken into account.
- Advertising the exhibition
There was no indication whatsoever from outside of the church as to what was going on inside so no real effort to interact with residents.