The new chair of one of the council's planning committees is confident his career as a letting agent presents no conflicts of interest.

On Wednesday (May 16) councillor Darshan Sunger was chosen as the new chair of Epping Forest District Council's planning south committee, taking over from cllr Gavin Chambers.

When not serving his constituents in Chigwell Village, the Conservative cllr is managing director and chief executive of Three Oaks Estate.

Based in Fencepiece Road in Chigwell, the company lets properties across the area.

Part of cllr Sunger's profile on the company's website reads: "Darshan has dedicated the last 18 years of his professional career within the private rented sector. His continued success in the market is due to his passion for property, both in residential lettings and management.

"Commitment, honesty, transparency and his wealth of knowledge and experience has allowed him to gain respect amongst his competitors and peers within the industry.

"Over that time he has developed an extensive knowledge of the market across East London and Essex, and his extensive network of contacts along with expert negotiating skills make Darshan a great person to know when you are looking to rent your property."

When asked how he would juggle the responsibilities, cllr Sunger said: "I shall be adhering to members protocol and like any other member, where any personal or prejudicial interests exist I shall be prior to the planning South committee meetings taking advice and guidance from our officers and like others member declare my interest and follow the correct procedure and leave the chamber.

"I look forward to the new position."

Cllr Sunger will be in good company.

Leader of the council and fellow Conservative member Chris Whitbread is managing director of Millers Portfolio Homes in Epping.

Ross Macnab, the son of acting chief executive Derek Macnab, also works at Millers as a property consultant.

When asked about the councillors' close connections to the private property market, a council spokesperson said: "In so far as Councillor Whitbread is an estate agent by profession – that is common knowledge and part of the information contained on his declaration of interests form.

"It is a routine matter for all councillors dealing with development control issues at some point or other in their personal or profession capacity to declare interests.

"Depending on the nature of the business, members involved in the decision-making process at planning committee meetings may, having regard to their interests, decide to take part in the debate when considering a particular planning application, or choose to leave the meeting prior to an application being dealt with on the committee agenda."