The how and when of a major move of the council out of town have been divulged by the leader.

Speaking in the days after plans to take all but 40 of Epping Forest District Council's staff to new offices in North Weald were revealed, Cllr Chris Whitbread gave details of the project's rough timeline.

He said: "Overall – we would aim to build the new North Weald offices within three years.

"Internal changes to the Civic Offices will probably take about 12 months but the timing of that may depend on other issues.

"Redevelopment of the Conder Building and rear car parks depends to a large extent on how we choose to redevelop."

While construction times have been mapped out already, the order of development was yet to be decided.

Whether the Condor Building - the council's civic offices based on the High Street - is cleared of most of its staff before houses are built behind it, or the other way round, is yet to be decided.

"We are still working on this," Cllr Whitbread added.

"It may depend on the phasing requirements of partners as well as our own aims. There are various options.

"For example, we may find a partner who needs office space urgently. On that scenario we might delay the redevelopment of the Conder Building and use it until the new North Weald Offices are operational.

"Alternatively, we might find a partner who needs to move quickly on redevelopment of the Conder Building and rear car parks.

"We might then make temporary arrangements for some of our staff to free up the Conder Building, meaning houses are built before the new offices are complete."

As for whether the council is planning to sell off land by the civic offices or simply build on it and then sell the houses would be determined by "the best combination of new housing and return on investment".

Cllr Whitbread said: "For example, we could develop the site entirely on our own.

"We could set up an arms-length development company to develop the site on our behalf.

"We could invite various housing associations or other organisations to come in as partners or we might sell the site lock, stock and barrel to a private developer with planning consent requiring 40 per cent of affordable housing."

As well as giving assurences that Historic England had been consulted when development plans for the grade II listed offices were being drawn up, Cllr Whitbread confirmed Epping would remain the centre for customer contact, councillors and council meetings.

No constituent will be required to travel to North Weald Airfield for any service, he said.