This story about Epping Forest was making our headlines five years ago this week.

Almost 140 years after the Epping Forest Act was passed, big changes could be made to how the forest is run.

The City of London Corporation (CoL) will enter a bill of proposed changes to Parliament next month ahead of a debate in January or February next year.

It is hoped the bill will “clarify and expand the management powers available to the corporation… increase opportunities to generate revenue… and to strengthen enforcement powers.”

Proposals include allowing events such as wedding receptions and exhibitions in the forest and creating licenses for people who make money on CoL land, such as dog-walkers and fitness instructors.

The Epping Forest Act was passed in 1878 to put an end to deforestation and protect the land for public use.

A CoL report says: “While this legislation has served its basic purpose of preserving the open spaces as valuable places of public recreation and enjoyment, there are a number of respects in which it is unclear or out of date.”

The report proposes allowing the corporation to make deals with councils about roads and traffic management, including controlling traffic and managing road safety schemes.

Maximum leases for cafes and similar businesses could be extended from three to 21 years, and fines for those who break by-laws could be increased dramatically.

A meeting will be held on Saturday, October 24, giving people the chance to quiz the forest’s superintendent Paul Thomson about what the proposed changes could mean.

Epping Forest Forum organiser Paul Morris said the meeting was essential to represent local views.

He said: “The small changes can have a big impact later, and it is definitely something that needs looking at.

“There is a distinct lack of local representation.”

The meeting runs from 2pm to 4pm at Lopping Hall in Loughton.