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Featured News
Demolition of Loughton Library

Support LRA14 January 2021
New Essex Libraries Strategy – give your views

There's still time to give your views (until January 21st) on the County Council’s draft strategy. More

As always, there’s not enough detail for us to be sure of how what is being proposed will affect Loughton and Debden Libraries.

Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) have reviewed the strategy and their comments are here.

28 September 2021Loughton Library

Recently Essex County Council held an online session on the future of Essex Libraries; you can find a report on it here. It appears that “sustainability” was among the objectives mentioned.

However, there was no justification for about the most unsustainable thing the Council plans to do, which is to demolish and rebuild the Loughton Library building - how many decades will it take to reclaim the waste of resources and carbon bill for this?

10 September 2021
County Council plans for our Libraries

Two online sessions are taking place on Monday September 20th for residents to discuss their views and ideas on the library service. The Council will outline ideas for key principles to help guide the service and its future development - residents will be able to discuss these, as well as make suggestions and offer feedback. The Council say that their ambition is to enhance and upgrade the library service and ensure it reflects the needs of local communities. All libraries in Essex will remain open and opportunities for training and upskilling libraries staff will be a key priority.

Morning session: 11:30am to 12:30pm. Book here
Evening session: 6-7pm. Book here

LRA comment: the County Council are well underway with their appalling plan to replace Loughton Library with a five-storey block; if you’re unhappy with this, we suggest you join one of these sessions and let them know your views.

13 August 2021

The County Council’s public consultation ended on August 1st. We hope an alternative plan for the Library, including retention of the existing building instead of its demolition, will be worked up in the next week or so. There is of course no guarantee that the County Council will be interested.

20 July 2021

There is now a public consultation. You can find this, and the detailed plans here. There are also exhibition events at the Library on Thursday July 22nd and Saturday July 24th. More

The design of the new Library brings it all onto the ground floor (on two floors at present) and preserves the current level of stock (books, CDs, etc) in 80% of the current space, plus a new outdoor area which can be used in connection with the Library by schools etc in fine weather. However, this still represents a very significant reduction in book stock held locally compared with that of, say, ten years ago.

The County Council wants to put 38 flats on four floors on top of the ground-floor library in order to raise the money to pay for the development. Five storeys seems to LRA’s Plans Group (LRAPG) to be wholly out-of-character with its surroundings (the Traps Hill car park, the cricket field and the bowls club ground, an area which used be designated as “Urban Open Space”). There would be no encroachment onto the public car park, but the parking area for library staff and visitors would be lost, without replacement.

The new building would be close to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC), and the extra basement parking for residents would in LRAPG’s view be in breach of the legal requirements on air quality for the EFSAC. The Town Council and the National Jazz Archive would have the same amount of space in the new building as they have now. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) would not return to the new building as they changed over to giving advice over the phone during Covid (they have found that this works well and means that their advisers can work from home. Anyone needing face-to-face advice will have to go to their Epping office).

The County Council own the site. The development would be done by Essex Homes Ltd, a company owned by the County Council. The Council would finance the construction of the building with a cheap loan from the Public Works Loan Board. It would then get income from leasehold sales of the flats and then ground rents from them.

There will be a formal planning application in the autumn. This will be considered by the County Council’s planning committee. At that stage, LRA Plans Group will strongly oppose the development on its design, loss of library facilities and threat to the air quality in the EFSAC.
All this has nothing to do with the District Council, except they have aided and abetted it by putting it into the draft Local Plan as a development site (with a capacity of about 20 homes). There is now a public consultation on the 'Main Modifications' to the Plan (more in our next regular news email), and the LRA Plans Group will press the Inspector either to remove the site and/or reduce its capacity.

In the meantime we will be looking for other ways of stopping the proposal. There’s more background below on the Library and here on the draft Local Plan and we’ll be keeping residents informed on this page, with our news emails to members, and on Twitter and Facebook.

What you can do
Please let the County Council know what you think of the proposal. The consulation ends August 1st.

On the consultation website there is a feedback form for your comments. If you agree with all or any of the LRA Plans Group comments include them in your feedback. You can also email your comments to loughtonlibrary@secnewgate.co.uk or by free post (scroll down the page).

Please copy your comments to us (applications@LoughtonResidents.co.uk) and to the Town Council (contact@loughton-tc.gov.uk) and the District Council (appcomment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk).

7 July 2021

Details of information events are on the consultation website and in the leaflet that was delivered to residents (surprisingly, the leaflet doesn’t say that you can find the details of the scheme on the website). In due course the exhibition materials will be loaded onto the website.

The development is actually five storeys - four storeys plus a penthouse.

2 July 2021

Essex County Council is about to consult residents about their plans to demolish the Traps Hill library and replace it with a four-storey block with lots of flats on the upper floors over a smaller library. Starting next week, they’re arranging for leaflets to be delivered to local households, with a structured questionnaire.  This application will not be decided by the District Council, but by a Conservative-dominated development committee in Chelmsford, but the Town and District Councils are able to comment on the proposals.

On Monday July 12th there will be an online public meeting with Essex County Cllrs, architects and the Essex Housing Team. There will be face to face public exhibition events on Thursday July 22nd (afternoon and evening) and on the morning of Saturday July 24th. Details should be in the leaflet.

LRA Plans Group comment: the council say that one reason for the redevelopment is the poor state of the current building’s roof; this appears to be the result of the Council’s past neglect. However, these plans would produce a smaller and poorer library in a building wholly out of character in its surroundings, and the residents’ vehicles would contribute to air pollution in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation, which would be in breach of the relevant legislation.

What you can do: please consider your views on this carefully, and reply to the County Council. If you agree with all or any of the LRA Plans Group comments include them in your reply (if the Council’s questionnaire doesn’t allow you to express your views in full, please reply by email or free post). Please copy your comments to us at applications@LoughtonResidents.co.uk and to the Town Council (contact@loughton-tc.gov.uk) and the District Council (appcomment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk).

Loughton Library11 June 2021

We understand the much-delayed consultation on this project to demolish Loughton Library and provide a smaller library under a block of flats will take place in July.

Please be ready to give your views!

21 May 2021

Loughton Library is planned to be demolished and replaced by a much smaller library and no doubt a very big block of flats. How big, the County Council won't say. From what we heard on the doorsteps, there will be a huge outcry on this, and they are intending to do a postal questionnaire.

11 April 2021
LRA Cllr Chris Pond has been asking the County Council some searching questions about their proposals [LRA comments in brackets]:

The Council have now announced that they are putting back their planned public consultation on the redevelopment until after the election.

LRA comment: we think the whole proposal is misguided and we will continue to press for proper answers to these questions.

13 March 2021

Essex County Council is proposing to demolish the existing library building on Traps Hill and to replace it with flats and a smaller library. The site is in the draft District Local Plan for redevelopment to give a smaller library, with (at the moment) 20 flats above. However, LRA Cllr Chris Pond suspects that the County Council wants to build higher than the expected three storeys, with a garage floor below, as their rebuilding budget of almost 12.4m would otherwise imply a cost per flat of at least 600,000. The County Council is refusing to reveal its plans.

The site is only four minutes’ walk from the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC), and LRA believes that any development here would adversely affect the EFSAC. In addition, anything over 3 storeys would be wholly out-of-character with its surroundings, at a time when the Government is emphasising the need for new developments to reflect “the character of each place and local design preferences”.

If the scheme goes ahead, Chris says that a larger vacant High Road retail unit, such as the former Clinton Cards and New Look stores, would be a "good possibility for a decamp" while any building work was taking place at Traps Hill for about a year. Chris thinks that these District Council owned units could also provide enough temporary space for the library and the Citizens Advice Bureau. The National Jazz Archive will also need relocating.

30 August 2019

Loughton LibraryLoughton Library is under threat of demolition and replacement by a smaller library under a block of flats. 

The County Council plans to spend almost 800,000 to demolish the library and replace it with 27 new apartments for either sale or rent, along with a new library.

As reported in the Epping Forest Guardian, LRA Cllr Chris Pond said that the development, just a short walk from the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC), will add extra pressure on the wildlife that exists there.

He added a European Court of Justice judgement protecting special areas of conservation against development needed to be taken into account, and that replacing the library with homes would harm Epping Forest wildlife.

Cllr Pond called in the plan at a recent County Council Committee Meeting (read the details - item 7), however this was rejected on party lines by the Conservative controlled council. Much will now depend on the inspector's report on the Local Plan on safeguarding the SAC (read the latest here), as this would be 27 extra dwellings, each with people, dogs and cycles etc within a four minute walk of the SAC.

Separately, the Town Council Planning & Licensing Committee agreed to register Loughton Library and Town Hall as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ with the District Council, and will let Essex County Council know they're doing so.