Plans to redevelop Epping Civic Offices have been given the green light.

At last night’s (June 1) virtual meeting, Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) voted to approve plans to refurbish the civic offices, making way for new housing on the adjacent council-owned Condor building.

A £5.6 million contract was awarded to ISG Fit Out – a move which Epping Conservative group claim will trigger a return of £23m over five years.

The Conservative group say rent from the new homes built in the Condor building – which EFDC currently spends £200,000 annually on maintaining – will be put back into protecting public services and keeping taxes down.

“This isn’t a vanity project”, Cllr Holly Whitbread said at the council meeting. “This is going to be really good for the future of the district.

“I think this is a really exciting for the local community… And of course, it makes financial sense. Yes, we are investing in the short term, but it is going to be very beneficial financially in the long term.”

Independent Loughton councillor Stephen Murray, a long-term opponent of the plan, questioned why the contract had not been ‘properly tested on the open market’

He said: “Six companies registered an interest. I am really not happy in accepting a tender where we have only had one tender actually formally submitted.

“The cabinet looks as if they are accepting this tender on the basis of a single tender which of course isn’t good practice.”

A council officer explained several companies had dropped out of the tender process before EFDC cabinet members unanimously voted to approve the plans.

Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing welcomed the news saying it signalled a "very bright and hopeful future for the town".

She said: "I am delighted that Epping Forest District Council has taken this decision and I know how hard the council leader, Chris Whitbread, has worked for many, many years to bring together this visionary plan for Epping.

"It will launch a very bright and hopeful future for the town. It is also economically brilliant and will create enormous opportunities for business, for investment, and for leisure for the whole community."

The Conservative MP added: "This investment will benefit not only the town of Epping but the whole of the Epping Forest district."

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