An outline planning application for a new development in the heart of Waltham Abbey has been submitted.
The plans for a new leisure centre, health centre and sixty Independent Living properties for older people would see the development at Hillhouse, on the Ninefields Estate.
Drawn up in partnership by Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council and NHS England, the plans come following a community engagement weekend held earlier in the year involving local residents, businesses and other interested parties.
Councillor Helen Kane, Epping Forest District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services, said: “This is another milestone reached in bringing forward fantastic new facilities for Hillhouse and Waltham Abbey, as well as the Epping Forest District as a whole.
"We have listened carefully to what residents have been telling us and, at a recent meeting that local councillors and senior officers held with local residents, we heard loud and clear that there was only limited support for a new play area and outdoor gym trail, and that residents would prefer to keep at least one playing pitch in the area. So we have changed some of our plans for the planning application as a result, and now intend to provide a mini soccer grass pitch for use by under 7/8 year olds instead.”
Cllr John Spence CBE, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing, added: “Land owned by the public sector – whichever part of the public sector – is owned by the taxpayers, so it is critical that all public agencies work together, either to dispose of such land or to ensure it is used to best effect, and this is a great example of partners working collaboratively towards a development that will truly benefit the community.
“Within the Epping Forest area, as in other parts of the county, there is a real need for independent living properties designed to support older people, and with an ageing population in Essex we will see an emphasis by the County Council on this type of development in the future.”
Alison Cowie, Head of Commissioning, NHS England (Essex), said, “There is a long established need to find long term sustainable premises for the relocation of the Maynard Court Surgery. The current premises do not meet current standards and no longer provide the space required for the current list size of the practice, which has seen substantial growth over the last few years and is set to continue to grow with future development plans in the area.”
A spokesperson for the West Essex CCG said, “West Essex CCG supports the regeneration of the Ninefields site as an ideal opportunity for a new health centre without the need to move services from the current area. It will enable an increased number and type of services, while at the same time providing opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents."
The plan will now go through the planning process with the opportunity for residents to comment, with a decision likely in November. If approved, the three public sector partners will then seek detailed planning permission for their element of the overall development next year.
All of the documents and plans can be viewed, and comments on the application made, by going to eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planning and accessing the Council’s iPlan facility, inserting planning application number EPF/2207/16/.