Coronavirus (COVID-19)

See our dedicated coronavirus webpage for changes and updates to our services, how to get help in your community and support and advice for businesses.

All coronavirus information
Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Service changes and updates

Changes to the delivery of our services during the coronavirus pandemic

As a result of government instructions to stay at home, we have changed the way we deliver our services. We will be updating this page and our social media channels if there are any changes to our services as soon as possible.

As you can imagine we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. We know this is a hard time for our residents, businesses and communities, and we are working as quickly as we can to disseminate information as and when it is available.

Benefits

Struggling with paying your rent

You can apply for Universal Credit for income support. You can find out more information and how to apply via our website. Please note we only wish to receive information electronically.

You can also find more information from The Department for Work and Pensions about Coronavirus and claiming benefits on their website. 


Sharing information electronically

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) we only wish to receive information electronically. Therefore you will be unable to come to our offices to hand this information in person.


New benefit claimants

New benefit claimants for help with housing costs: if you want to make a new claim for Housing Benefit you will have to claim Universal Credit using GOV.UK Universal Credit services


Revised Local Housing Allowance Rates 2020-2021

The Local Housing Allowance determines the maximum amount of rent payable to private sector tenants through Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit. Enhanced financial support is being provided to claimants by increasing the maximum amount of weekly help they can receive towards their rent from 1st April 2020.

Find out more information on our benefits page.

Bins and Recycling

Our waste and recycling service has returned to its usual collections.

You can find out your collection dates by:

Please continue to disinfect bin handles and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time you put your bin out and bring it back in.

Remember, PPE such as face covering and gloves, should not be placed in your recycling sacks. Please put these in your general rubbish collection i.e. grey bin/black sack.

If you are self-isolating, either as a precaution or because you are confirmed to have Coronavirus (COVID-19), please read the guidance advice

Thank you for your continued messages of support and kindness you have shared with our staff and collection crews.


Clothing/textile recycling banks

All our textile banks will not be emptied until further notice.

We have received notice from LMB, our textile recycling bank contractor that they have closed their operations due to a decrease in market value, and textile banks will not be emptied. 

Please store your unwanted clothing and textiles at home. We will keep residents updated when the banks re-open. 

Please do not attempt to use the banks or leave any unwanted items next to them or bags on the floor as this is classed as illegal fly-tipping, meaning items will not be recycled or reused and adds further pressure to our waste teams.

We are still continuing to collect glass bottles and jars from recycling banks and have even increased our collections, but if you do notice the bin is full, please help us by not leaving them on the ground and take home until your next visit.


Recycling Sacks

To help us manage this service, please only request additional clear sacks if you do not have enough to last you until your next collection date. We have plenty of stock and will get deliveries out to households within 10 working days.

We have started our District-Wide deliveries of recycling sacks, however, if you need recycling sacks imminently, please request these via our online form.


Bulky Waste Collection Service – service will resume

We are pleased to announce that we are now in a position to reinstate the bulky waste collection service as from the week commencing Monday 1 June.

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we had to temporarily suspend the service in March, in order to follow the government guidance. Staff resources were redeployed to concentrate on the delivery of the critical waste services, being the collections of grey and food bins, recycling sacks, communal bins in flats and the local recycling bring bank sites. We now have more staff available and able to reinstate the service.

For more information, please visit our Bulky Waste Collection page.

To book a Bulky Waste Collection, please contact our Customer Service Team on 01376 552525.


Recycling centres

Recycling Centres for Household Waste

Braintree and Witham Recycling Centres for Household Waste are now open. Visiting these sites is only essential where there is no alternative available.

Please expect long queues and delays. For amended opening hours and site restrictions, please visit the Love Essex website.


How to dispose of waste if you are self-isolating or have Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you are self-isolating, either as a precaution or because you are confirmed to have Coronavirus (COVID-19), you should follow this advice:

  • Double bag all personal waste such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths, securely in plastic bags or bin liners
  • Store these bags separately to other waste for at least 72 hours before placing in your general rubbish collection
  • Regular household recycling and waste should be treated as normal. Please note that you cannot place tissues in your recycling.

For more information on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on recycling and waste visit the Love Essex website.

Bonfires and the burning of garden waste

Please do not burn your garden waste

Updated Tuesday 26th May 2020

The Essex County Council’s Recycling Centres have reopened and our garden waste collection service has resumed on a four-weekly cycle, so there is no real need for garden bonfires.

In view of the health implications linked to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (respiratory condition), we are asking residents NOT TO BURN their garden waste, or any other waste.

Smoke from bonfires is anti-social and can cause problems for neighbours and we will continue to investigate any complaints we receive and will take formal action where appropriate. The surrounding local air quality can be affected by increased burning and problems may arise for people such as those with asthma, other breathing-related illnesses and children (who are particularly vulnerable to air pollutants).

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are also requesting that you do not burn waste as there has been a 100% increase in call-outs mostly caused by fires which have got out of control.

Please home compost your waste or store it in your garden until collections are resumed. Visit the Love Essex website to find out how to make great compost and for other useful tips. Please do not fly-tip any waste as this is an offence and offenders will be prosecuted.

For bonfire help and advice, visit our bonfires webpage.

Car parks

Free parking for NHS and key workers

In the face of this global pandemic, it’s essential that NHS staff and critical key workers are able to carry out their vital work without worrying about paying for car parking.

Working in partnership with the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP), a digital permit will allow NHS and key workers to park in Braintree District Council’s Pay & Display car parks free of charge. Permits will be valid until 30 September 2020 and will be reviewed regularly taking into consideration any national guidance.

Applying for a free permit

Any NHS staff and critical key workers may apply for this permit. For more details and to find out how to apply, please visit the North Essex Parking Partnership website.

Whilst many councils are suspending parking charges for key workers as part of the national effort to tackle coronavirus, please note that we will continue to carry out crucial parking enforcement locally to ensure the public are kept safe and that the roads remain clear for emergency vehicles and essential services.

For more information about car parking, applying for permits and how NEPP is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit: http://www1.parkingpartnership.org/north/

George Yard Multi Storey Car Park

All floors are open. However, please note that access to the upper floors is by the staircases only, as the lifts will remain closed in the interest of social distancing.

Council buildings re-opening

Following Government advice we have started to re-open Braintree District Council public buildings to the public with guidance in place to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Braintree District Council - Causeway House is now open to visitors by appointment only.

If you are unable to find the information you need on our website, or cannot complete a transaction online, please call our Customer Service Centre on 01376 552525 and an Advisor will be able to help, or transfer you through to the service you need to speak to, who may in turn, arrange an appointment for you if they are unable to resolve your query.

On arrival at Causeway House, the front doors will be locked and you will need to use the intercom system to provide the details of your appointment. You will be granted access to the building when the officer you are visiting comes to reception to greet you.

Please ensure you are wearing a mask and we will ask you to use the hand santiser upon entering the building.

Please note that due to the ‘by appointment only’ arrangement, recycling sacks will no longer be available to collect from Causeway House. The annual sack delivery is currently in progress across the district and in the meantime, if you have not already received a doorstep delivery, you can order recycling sacks:

Online:www.braintree.gov.uk/clearsacks
Email:[email protected]
They are also available for collection at local libraries across the Braintree District

Causeway House is a COVID-19 secure safe work place. Please follow the guidance when attending your appointment to ensure everyone’s safety.

Alternative arrangements are in place for usual drop in visitors to Causeway House who need assistance with services:

  • As usual, anyone who does not have access to the internet or would like assistance with filling in housing applications online, can contact our Housing team by emailing [email protected] or for those that do not have internet access, they can call 01376 552525
  • For those customers who are already receiving Housing Benefit, if you have had a change in your financial circumstances, please contact the Benefits team via email [email protected] or telephone 01376 557852, or send in your evidence via email or post.
     
  • For licensing applications, most can be submitted electronically at www.braintree.gov.uk/licensing. Where this is not possible applicants should contact the Licensing team on 01376 557790 to make specific arrangements.
     
  • For people who may wish to drop off documents or payments i.e. planning applications or council tax payments by cheque to the Council offices, there is still the opportunity to post these through our letterbox which will be regularly collected.

How to contact us

If you need to contact us, you can access our services online or email our Customer Service Centre at [email protected].

Braintree Town Hall

The Town Hall is taking bookings for room hire, weddings and civil partnerships. There are a number of COVID-19 measures in place to help keep everyone safe, these do include a restriction on the number of people allowed in each room.

Please contact the Town Hall to discuss a booking and for the latest information [email protected] or telephone 01376 557776

Cemetery Chapels

To re-introduce the use of the chapels since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have introduced the following guidance and restrictions.

Please note the following restrictions are relevant to the following buildings:

  • Braintree Cemetery Chapel
  • Bocking Cemetery Chapel
  • Witham Cemetery Chapel

Limiting number of mourners

To ensure the government guidance of 2m is being met, a restricted number of mourners will be allowed into the chapel at any one time. Please note that the number stated is the number of mourners able to be present at each service. We have taken into account 1 Minister and 1 Conductor in the chapel during this time.

  • Braintree Chapel – 8 Mourners (sitting in pairs)
  • Bocking Chapel – 10 Mourners (sitting in pairs)
  • Witham Chapel – 12 Mourners (sitting in pairs)

Additional Cleaning within Chapels

We will also be introducing additional cleaning measures within the chapels, before and after services are due to take place. There will also be hand sanitiser available on entry and egress of the chapel for all parties present. Handwashing facilities are also available in the onsite W/Cs.

Face Coverings

All mourners attending a service in the chapels must wear an appropriate face covering whilst in the chapel. Please note we will keep a small amount of disposable coverings in the chapel but we ask that mourners bring their own.

NHS Test & Trace

There are QR codes at each cemetery to check in upon arrival via a smartphone.

Braintree Enterprise Centre

The conference centre is open for bookings and is fully compliant to the COVID-19 secure safe work place government guidance. Please visit the website for further information on the facilities available and guidance measures in place.

Committee and panel meetings

Braintree District Council will hold its first virtual public meeting on Tuesday, 12th May.

The government has temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person during the coronavirus pandemic, and have brought in regulations that allow local authorities to hold public meetings virtually by using video or telephone conferencing technology.

Virtual meetings will enable councils to make effective and transparent decisions to ensure that local democracy can continue during the pandemic. Virtual meetings will ensure that councillors, staff and the wider public are able to follow government advice by staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus to protect the NHS and save lives while being able to participate in the meetings.

The first virtual meeting will be a meeting of the Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th May at 7:15 pm.

If the public wish to participate in any meetings, guidance can be found online.

Members of the public will be able to view and listen to the virtual meetings live via YouTube.

Other meetings of the council will take place virtually and more information will be available shortly. If you have any enquires, please contact our Governance and Members Team by emailing [email protected]

Council Tax

We understand the unprecedented situation we are in is a worrying time for residents and businesses. We are committed to doing everything we can to support you all through this period. Like everyone else the council itself is facing an impact on its finances meaning we cannot currently provide reductions or so-called holiday from the council tax. If we receive additional Government funding to do so we will pass this on.

We collect Council Tax on behalf of Essex County Council, Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue Service, along with all of the parish councils across the district. These organisations are all providing a vital role in keeping critical services running, keeping you safe and looking after our most vulnerable people. Only 10p in every pound comes to Braintree District Council.

If you are experiencing financial problems as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) there are some options open to you:

  • If your household is on a low income, your Council Tax bill could be reduced through the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). You can see if you are eligible for this and get more information on the range of support available on our apply for council tax webpage (Please do not apply if you have savings of over £16,000)

  • If you are eligible for Local Council Tax Support, you may also be entitled to further assistance under the recently announced Hardship Fund set up by Central Government. We are awaiting further details on this so please bear with us.

  • To help reduce your monthly payments you might prefer to pay your bill over 12 months as opposed to over 10 months. If you would like to do this please call 01376 557755

  • Universal Credit can help you with your living costs if you’re on low income or out of work. Find out if you can apply on the GOV.UK website.

  • If you still need have a question which isn’t answered above please contact our council tax team by email at [email protected]. Our council tax team is receiving a high number of calls as a result of COVID-19 so please bear with us. We deal with emails in date order and we will contact you as soon as we can.

Environmental Health

Allotments

Our allotments have remained open for tenants to visit as part of their daily exercise however, we would ask you to visit for as shorter time as possible and observe the following:

You should:

  • follow government guidelines for handwashing, social distancing and avoid any non-essential travel.
  • use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
  • keep hand sanitiser in your shed and clean your hands regularly

You should not:

  • use water troughs for washing hands
  • share tools or produce
  • offer each other cups of tea or coffee
  • use allotments for social gatherings
  • do not light bonfires

Enforcement of business closures

The government has announced new regulations that certain businesses and premises must now close until further notice.

These closures are now enforceable by law due to the threat to public health. Any business operating in contravention of the new regulations will be committing an offence.

You can report incidents of businesses breaching the regulations in our district by calling 01376 552525 during normal office hours, report via email or complete our online form.

There is also an out of hours service on Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm–2am which will deal with calls relating to businesses operating against the coronavirus regulations, but will also respond to noise complaints.


Food Hygiene and Health & Safety

Following Government advice we have restricted our food hygiene visits at the current time. Anyone wishing to start up a food business at this time must register and contact the department to discuss how they intend to operate and what they wish to sell. Please contact the Food Safety Team at [email protected] or call 01376 557790.

For the latest Coronavirus information for food businesses, please visit our dedicated webpage.


Pest control

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we have made some changes to our pest control service. We are still operating external treatments within your property boundary, however, we have suspended all pest control visits that involve entering a resident’s home.

Contract work is continuing where social distancing, suitable protective clothing and equipment, and good hygiene is being practised in order to carry out the treatment as safely as possible. Where treatment is still in progress, we will re-schedule visits to your home as soon as we are able.

You can still book an appointment for external pest issues in the same way via our Customer Services on 01376 552525.

If you would like some advice on any pest matter, you can contact the team directly at [email protected]

Handyman service

This service has been suspended for 3 months to maintain social distancing with elderly and vulnerable residents following Government guidance. Existing appointments will still take place.

Housing

Housing Enquiries

The Housing Team is responding to housing enquiries as usual but we are very busy and it may take us longer than normal to respond: please bear with us.

Risk of Homelessness

If you think you are at risk of homelessness, please contact the Housing Options Team as soon as possible. It would help us if you could complete this form:- Housing Enquiry/Referral Form 

If your enquiry is urgent or you are unable to complete the form please phone:- 01376 552525 and ask for the Housing Options Team.

Rough Sleeping - If you are concerned that someone may be rough sleeping please report it via Streetlink as soon as possible.

The Housing Register - If you want to apply for housing please refer to the Gateway to Homechoice website where you can complete an application online

If you need help completing the application please phone 01376 552525 and ask to speak with a member of staff in the Housing Assessment Team.

Leisure centres

All Braintree District Leisure Centres are now open 8am – 8pm

Some activities and services will remain unavailable while the centres continue a phased opening under the governments and Sports National Governing Body Guidance.

All queries can be directed to fusion.

Licensing

Following Government guidance to ensure social distancing, we have stopped our proactive licensing visits until further notice.

Special Treatments (tattooing, ear piercing, body piercing, micro pigmentation, acupuncture, electrolysis, semi-permanent skin colouring) should not be carried out at this time and no new applications will be accepted until further notice.

We will be responding to any enquiries by phone or email. You can contact Licensing by emailing [email protected] or call 01376 557790.

Whilst our offices are shut, special arrangements are in place for driver and vehicle renewals. Please contact a member of the licensing team for further information.


Vehicle and driver licences

We are increasing the term of all vehicle and driver licences that are due to expire between 1st April 2020 and 30th June 2020 by a period of 6 months.

In the event where a vehicle licence has been surrendered or not re-licenced since the introduction of the government’s current lockdown measures and the 30th June 2020, we will relax the requirement that places an age limit on vehicles as follows:

  • Private hire vehicles and hackney carriages to be no more than 5 years old at first registration
  • Wheelchair accessible vehicles of any type to be no more than 8 years old at first registration

This relaxation will only apply to vehicles that were already licensed by us before the lockdown procedures were introduced.


Safety guidance for taxis and passengers 

Our taxi drivers are taking steps to keep you safe during this time and are ready whenever you need them.

We have outlined some actions you can take to help protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Taxi drivers 

1) Be alert and assess the risks

  • Think about your vehicle and your customers and how you can reduce the risks 
  • Consider installing a screen as these may be beneficial (check with your insurance provider and the licensing team before installation) 

2) Maintain hygiene 

  • Regularly apply hand sanitiser or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Keep your vehicle clean and your driving area regularly including your steering wheel
  • Clean surfaces you or others touch on a regular after every fare
  • Consider wearing face coverings as a precautionary measure where possible. It may protect others.

3) Waiting for fares 

  • Remain in your car wherever possible. 
  • (Out of your vehicle) keep your distance from people outside your household.

4) Get Tested

5) Stay healthy

  • Your health matters
  • Follow these five steps to mental wellbeing

Passengers 

1) Follow the driver’s advice

  • You may be asked you to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone
  • Face away from the other passengers where possible

2) Keep your distance 

  • When waiting for a taxi, keep your distance from people outside of your household

3) Maintain Hygiene 

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or apply hand sanitiser 
  • As a precautionary measure wear a face-covering where able. It may protect others
  • If your driver asks you to wear a face-covering please do so

4) Avoid physical contact

  • Be aware of the surfaces you touch
  • Keep at least two metres (six feet) apart from others while waiting for a taxi

5) Make contactless payments

  • Pay in advance or use a contactless card where you can
  • If you can only use cash ‘do not place it in the driver’s hand’ - wash or wipe your hands before and after you’ve handled it

Temporary Events Notices

Where an event has been cancelled due to COVID-19, we will accept a Temporary Events Notice for a future date without further charge.

We are sending letters out to those affected.

If you have any questions relating to the above, please get in touch with our Licensing team by emailing [email protected]

Markets

Traditional Market

The weekly markets will reopen to traders in a phased approach, following the recent government announcement about re-opening outdoor markets.

  • Witham from Saturday 6th June
  • Braintree from Wednesday 10th June

We are working with traders on the preparations needed to work safely and measures they need to follow to keep customers safe. This includes making changes to the stalls layout, hygiene facilities and signage to remind customers how to stay safe when waiting to be served, including:

  • Keeping 2m apart when queuing and shopping
  • Washing hands regularly and thoroughly once home
  • Browse but please do not touch items on the stalls until you are purchasing
  •  

    Traders will be invited back to the market in a phased approach, to ensure adequate space for customers and the traders to shop and browse safely.

    We are doing what we can to make the town centre safe for people to visit, however it is still people’s responsibility to be sensible and safe and keep following the government guidance.


    Street markets

    The street markets scheduled for Braintree and Witham are still cancelled until further notice, due to difficulties ensuring that social distancing guidelines are maintained to protect shoppers and traders.

    We are keeping this under review and will update residents and traders updated when we are able to re-introduce them.

Planning

Due to the ongoing situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures announced by the government on 23rd March, we have had to make a number of changes to our planning service:


Pre-Application advice

The Planning team will continue to offer a pre-application service. We have had to make some changes to the methods and range of advice we are able to offer at the current time.  Full details of the changes can be found on our Planning advice webpage


Applications

We are unable to commence public consultation on certain applications received from 24th March 2020 i.e. send notification letters to neighbouring properties, display a site notice(s) or advertising in the press (if applicable). This is also relevant to a small number of applications received prior to this date. We will be keeping this situation under regular review  however, due to the above, there will likely be a delay in determining certain applications. The Planning Officer will keep applicants and agents updated.

People will be given the full statutory time period to consider applications and submit any representations or comments. Applications will be held in abeyance until such time as the public consultation on the application can commence.

People are able to comment on applications prior to public consultation. Any comments should be made online via our website. In order to comment, you will need to complete a short registration process. Once registered you will be able to make your comments as well as tracking the application until this has been determined. Download our Public access user guide for further guidance.

Where public consultation has already been undertaken on an application, we will continue to issue decisions on applications where possible. 

Post

People can post us through our Causeway House letterbox, which will be regularly collected. However, you can also e-mail any correspondence to [email protected] or if you are submitting representations on a planning application please use our public access website.

Street Naming & Numbering applications

We are currently unable to complete site visits and display site notices at this time. Once the nationwide shielding and social distancing restrictions have been lifted, the display of site notices will start as soon as possible. All other work that can be completed remotely will continue, including the processing of card payments. Royal Mail have not indicated any delay to issuing postcodes at this time but this is subject to change. Please contact the Street Naming & Numbering department for further information ([email protected])


Duty Planning Officer arrangements

The Planning team will continue to offer a duty planner service. A planning officer is available to deal with telephone enquiries from 09:30 am - 11:30 am every Tuesday and Thursday. Please note: During busy periods, you may be diverted straight to voicemail as the officer may be on another call, please continue to redial during the times mentioned.

See our Duty planning officer page for more information about this service.


Virtual Planning Committee Meetings

The government has temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person during the coronavirus pandemic, and have brought in regulations that allow local authorities to hold public meetings virtually by using video or telephone conferencing technology.

Virtual meetings will enable councils to make effective and transparent decisions to ensure that local democracy can continue during the pandemic. Virtual meetings will ensure that councillors, staff and the wider public are able to follow government advice by staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus to protect the NHS and save lives while being able to participate in the meetings.

Braintree District Council held its first virtual public meeting on Tuesday, 12th May. This was a meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee.

If the public wish to participate in any meetings, guidance can be found online.

Members of the public will be able to view and listen to the virtual meetings live via YouTube.

Other meetings of the council will take place virtually and more information will be available shortly. If you have any enquires, please contact our Governance and Members Team by emailing [email protected]

Temporary Changes to Construction Working Hours

On 13th May 2020, the government published a written Ministerial Statement on planning and construction working hours. This statement expects local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to ensure safe working in line with social distancing guidelines until 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are very compelling reasons against this.

Currently, the standard hours restrictions imposed by planning condition by Braintree District Council are:

  • 08:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs Monday to Friday
  • 08:00 hrs to 13:00 hrs Saturday; and
  • No working on Sundays or Bank Holidays

In line with the Government announcement on 13th May 2020 and the further guidance published by the Government on 22nd July 2020, the Local Planning Authority will support reasonable requests from developers across the District to implement modest or short-term changes to the standard planning conditions limiting the hours of operation at construction sites.

How to Apply

Where construction working hours restrictions have been imposed on a planning decision, prior to implementing any changes, developers will be required to apply to the Local Planning Authority.

In accordance with the Government Guidance published on 22nd July 2020, applicants will need to provide details of:

  • the planning permission to which the application relates
  • the existing agreed construction working hours
  • details to identify the condition or approved document such as construction management plan which details the working hours
  • the proposed revised construction working hours
  • the date the revised construction working hours should take effect
  • the date on which the application is sent
  • the date on which the revised construction working hours should cease to have effect (no later than 1st April 2021)

To aid swift decision making, applicants should also provide:

  • a short justification on why extended hours are necessary to enable safe working practices on site
  • a list of the primary construction activities, expected to take place during the extended working hours, including plant and equipment to be used
  • a proportionate assessment (where relevant) of the likely impact of noise upon sensitive uses near to the site (e.g. dwellings, hospitals and, care homes)
  • details of their mitigation plan.

Please note that the Government Guidance published on 22nd July 2020, makes it clear that applications can only be made online. Applicants/Agents will need to e-mail their application submission to [email protected]

The government has indicated that relaxation of working hours conditions granted by Local Planning Authorities should not extend beyond 1st April 2021. The Local Planning Authority will therefore only consider requests up until 1st April 2021, unless this is subsequently extended by the Government.

In response to any application, the Local Planning Authority will respond in writing within 14 calendar days to

  • Confirm agreement to the request; or
  • Decline the request, where there are compelling reasons to do so.

Responsible Construction Management / Safeguarding Residents

While the Local Planning Authority wish to support the construction industry during this time, it is also essential that adequate safeguards remain in place to protect neighbouring residential amenity. If an application is approved, the Local Planning Authority requests the applicant to undertake the following:

  • Provide a contact name, telephone number, e-mail address for the site manager who can be contacted by the Planning Enforcement team and/or Environmental Health team in response to any complaints;
  • Ensure the construction site is managed in a responsible and sympathetic manner having regard to the fact that some residents may be confined to their homes during Covid-19;
  • Be considerate to neighbouring residential properties and restrict noisy and disruptive working practices to standard construction working hours and ensure staff are considerate when arriving and leaving the site;
  • Notify neighbouring residential properties in writing and provide them with contact details of the site manager so residents are able to raise any concerns directly.

Please note that noise nuisance enforcement powers remain unchanged, and where a noise nuisance is found, the Council’s Environmental Health team will continue to take appropriate action.

Play areas and public spaces

All our play areas and outdoor gyms will re-opening on Saturday 4 July following government advice.

Before visiting, please read the guidance below so you can protect yourself, children and others when using the equipment and help limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Bring your own sanitiser for you and children to use before, during and after using the equipment
  • You may wish to bring wipes to clean equipment beforehand, paying particular attention to touchpoints such as swing rockers, see-saws, machine handles or exercise bars
  • Follow social distancing guidelines and encourage children to do the same
  • Limit the amount of time children use the equipment
  • Adults may consider wearing a face covering, although this is not mandatory
  • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds as soon as you can, or when you return home
  • Please dispose of wipes, disposable gloves, face coverings and any other litter responsibly as general rubbish. If the public bins are full, please take the items home with you
  • Accompanying adults are responsible for children at all times
  • Anyone using the equipment does so at their own risk

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not attempt to use the equipment.

Signage will be up at all outdoor play and gym areas to make people aware of these guidelines.

Please continue to follow all current central government advice in addition to the above

Thank you for your co-operation and we hope you enjoy your time outdoors.


Dog walking and owner’s advice

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day and you should combine this with walking your dog.

Please use the following guidelines in order to stay safe:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • when you are walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should keep your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely remain 2 metres away from anyone outside of your household, in keeping with the social distancing measures
  • In doing so, it is important that you minimise the time spent outside of the home.

You can find further guidance for pet owners via the GOV.UK website.

There’s also guidance on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others.

Public toilets

Page updated 29th May 2020

As of Monday 1st June, the single cubical public conveniences in Witham located in Lockram Lane and Maldon Road will be re-opening with arrangements in place to undertake extra cleaning throughout each day. Please note that the urinals at Lockram Lane will remain closed due to not being able to introduce social distancing measures.

Schools and libraries

We are not responsible for schools or education, as this comes under the remit of Essex County Council. They have announced a phased re-opening of libraries across Essex from Monday 6 July 2020, including Braintree and Witham.. Keep updated with the latest information via their website. 

Town Centres

Following the government announcement on the re-opening of shops and businesses from 15th June, we are working with businesses and market traders to assist as much as we can to ensure a safe re-opening of shops and stalls in our town centres.

Over the next couple of weeks, people visiting town centres will start to see a number of physical changes to remind people how to shop safely and responsibly, including floor markings and signage.

Some shops may also implement their own measures to ensure safe queueing, so please respect these measures that are put in place.

We are reminding those who visit the town centre to:

  • Keep a safe distance apart while queueing and shopping
  • Do not touch anything that you are not purchasing
  • Please wait your turn to keep everyone safe
  • Avoid cash and pay contactless where possible
  • Wash or sanitise hands regularly, and thoroughly once home
  • Where social distancing is not possible, consider wearing a face covering. Advice on how to wear and make face coverings is available on the government website.

Stay updated

To be kept updated with the latest information, please keep an eye on these webpages. If your enquiry isn’t already covered, we would encourage you to contact us using our online forms or email us at [email protected].