The leader of the regional Liberal Democrats has expressed concerns new council offices could become another "controversial vanity project".

Cllr Jon Whitehouse has raised doubts about Epping Forest District Council's proposals to move the majority of its operation to North Weald Airfield.

He said: "Despite its architectural award and listed building status, the Civic Offices have never been fit for purpose.

"When built, it was a controversial vanity project driven through by the Conservative administration of the time.

"Now the Conservatives again want new council offices, at an estimated cost of £8.5m.

"The original project went way over budget and created a building with many flaws – one reason taxpayers now face a multi-million pound bill for refurbishment whether the council stays in the building or rents it out.

"If the Conservatives go ahead with their latest project we have to hope history does not repeat itself."

Cllr Whitehouse also questioned a lack of detail in the plans, which will be seen by the council's cabinet on December 10.

He added: "The information released is largely silent about the impact on Epping's parking and congestion problems.

"How many spaces will be provided for the 50 new dwellings, office users and visitors?

If being a listed building makes it more difficult for the council to operate from its purpose-built offices, why won't the same be true for other organisations?

"Has the impact on Epping High Street been fully considered? There is little mention of the staff: what will be the impact on them?

"Councillors have a duty to consider the impact on Epping, the wider district and the cost to the public purse. The Liberal Democrats will not wave through this project without proper scrutiny."