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Is Our Green Belt Safe under our Council?

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

"Safe Under Us?"

http://www.cprelondon.org.uk/resources/item/2339-safe-under-us

THIS IS ABOUT ROCHFORD DISTRICT and we provided a contribution to this report which will be “news” for everyone who is concerned about the further loss of Green Belt in our revised Local Plan where there is a Council public consultation running at this moment.

This is what the Council has not told you.

There are some scary numbers coming forward as evidence from consultants such as 392pa instead of 250pa over the district. That COULD mean another 4000 over the existing building target of 2785!

At the Council’s policy rate of a minimum of 30 houses per hectare this implies the release of another 135.2 hectares of green belt.

“The government’s planning framework states that only ‘exceptional’ circumstances should allow building on Green Belt land. However, unclear national planning guidance and confusing government messages are causing councils to believe that in order to gain national approval of their Local Plans, they must meet higher targets. This is causing them to look at Green Belt land to meet housing growth figures.”

The Council is running a LIMITED public consultation right now. I say LIMITED because it does not comply with the recently approved NEW Council Policy on Community Involvement because the methods of engagement are not deep, wide or diverse enough for full engagement with residents. And the rate of response is not being monitored by channel for intervention if the response rate is low because of the lack of Council resources. This was specifically added to the Policy in just July. Needless to say I have complained to the Council.

 

NEW THREATS TO THE GREEN BELT OF ROCHFORD DISTRICT

July 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW THREATS TO THE GREEN BELT OF ROCHFORD DISTRICT

Rochford District Council is holding a number of community engagement workshops this summer to give local people a say on planning matters. These will be interactive events and a chance for residents, businesses and the local parish council to feed information into the Local Plan process. The new Local Plan is a document which will set the strategy for future development of the District beyond 2025 (which is when the current plan finishes).The workshops will include a ‘walkabout’ in the villages in order to identify the needs of the community, local issues and opportunities for growth and development.

The Canewdon and Rochford workshops have already been held but parish councils in Hockley, Hawkwell and Hullbridge are already in discussion with RDC on dates. I believe that Rayleigh Town Council is also likely to participate.

Just a few days after the Local Elections, 5 May 2016, a very influential document (SHMA – Strategic Housing Market Assessment) was published by consultants on 10 May concerning the number of houses which were needed in our District based on Government assessment rules looking at trends and forecasts on such issues as affordable housing need, population demographics, the housing market and local economics. The housing needs forecasts do not take into account availability of brown field sites, loss of green belt and infrastructure/environment.

I have carried out this review personally with no additional input from Rochford District Council and I think that residents need to be given information now (transparency) notwithstanding the fact that there is still a long way to go.

The Core Strategy approved in December 2011 required Rochford District Council to deliver 250 houses per annum up to 2025.  Because it ended earlier than the Government required, which was 2031,  The Government Planning Inspector required there to be an early Revision of the Core Strategy.  The Council has just started to assemble evidence of which the SHMA is part.

So a new housing target?

Yes.

312 pa min and 392 pa max but consultants recommend the upper end.

Many residents have observed that Rochford District Council has been very good at meeting Government targets and its requirements for house building taking very little notice of the views and concerns of residents from consultations. (Rayleigh and Hullbridge have been prominent in the Echo, social media and blogs but other areas in the District as well have had Action Groups) and unlike Castle Point,  RDC seems to have very little regard so far for the constraint of green belt.  Equally Essex County Council has not raised any systematic issues of the impact of this level of house building on highway constraints but have been content to tinker with junction improvements on a piece meal basis application by application post  the Allocations DPD.

So if constraints on this figure are not forthcoming what COULD this mean?

The 392 is to start retrospectively in 2014. So there is an addition of 142 in the number of houses required for the plan period 2014 to 2025 from the agreed 250 over 12 years.

So that is 1704 more to add to the planned 2785.

The Council needs to extend the 2011 Plan from 2025 to 2031.  That means 6 years at 392 which is an additional 2352.

Over 2011 to 2031 that is an additional 4056 over the planned 2785 in the Plan to 2025.

That makes a total of 6841 over 2011 to 2031 which is an increase of 4056 by this new housing target (1704 plus 2352 as calculated above).

At the Council’s policy rate of a minimum of 30 houses per hectare this implies the release of another 135.2 hectares of green belt.

I am telling you this so that residents and residents action groups who attend the local workshops have an informed view and afterwards can prepare to form or recall local Action Groups to raise material planning considerations as to why the loss of green belt and infrastructure are constraints and the unconstrained new target is not supportable.

 

John Mason

Rochford District Residents

Election Results – for Rochford District Residents

May 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

emblem1We now have six Councillors for Rochford District Residents.

Sweyne Park and Grange – Toby Mountain
Hockley – Irena Cassar and Adrian Eves
Hawkwell East – Elliot Mason
Hawkwell West – Christine Mason and John Mason

And forming our continued Alliance with the Green Party that makes 9 working together in Council.

Hullbridge – Michael Hoy and Diane Hoy with Stuart Stuart Dave Wilson

RDC is made up of 21 Conservatives and 18 Non Conservatives.

Full Results here.

The Battle for Rochford District is on 5 May !!

May 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

5 mayThe Battle for Rochford District is on 5 May !!
 
There is a battle on 5 May when 53 hopeful “non conservative candidates” take on 39 Conservative Candidates at the Local Election Polls.
 
There are 8 Independent Candidates (Residents BEFORE Politics) representing Rochford District Residents.
 
rdr vote2Please Vote for them………………
 
happy 5 MayBut What is Cinco de Mayo?
 
Literally “the Fifth of May,” Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862.
 
The results of the Rochord Battle will not be announced until 6 May.

an important document on future housing numbers not been published

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Why has an important document on future housing numbers not been published even though the target date was December 2015? No explanation has been given to Members of the Rochford District Council who have asked via the Review Committee.

I think that you might know the answer…………Elections??

Basildon Council has been forced to do so because it is in a public consultation on its Core Strategy.

Castle Point is also in consultations but it has not been published (and CP is in charge of the project for all of our local councils).

Rochford District Council has not published this information even though it has formally commenced its long awaited Revision of the Core Strategy.

“The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is a technical study intended to help the local planning authorities understand how many homes will be needed in the period to 2031 and may be beyond. It also considers the housing needs of specific groups such as older people, minority groups and people with disabilities.

The housing figures included within the SHMA constitute an objective assessment of housing need in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.”

this is what we will do if elected…………

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

emblem1In less than 250 words this is what we will do if elected…………

This is the “common ground” between all of our independent candidates.

Rochford District Residents is a voice of 8 candidates calling for open, transparent, representative local government.

The Cabinet System which has cost over £500,000 will be abolished.

We have a long-term commitment to a sustainable community with necessary infrastructure improvements put in place before construction developments. Rochford District needs an Infrastructure Champion.

With the Re-Cycling Service that we are all proud of costing £440,000 a year this needs a full review so that it also the best value for money as well as top of the league. We do not think that an extra £40 a year charge for the Green Bins is the answer.

Public Toilets – Rochford District Residents believe that public toilets are a basic necessity and will do all we can to ensure that they are NOT closed.

Council Tax Support – Rochford District Residents will make sure that there is a further review at a local level to re-dress the recent reductions in support for the disabled.

Rochford District Residents will press for changes in the housing building policy with a consultation on retirement villages, a balance between both starter homes and those for rent and a reduction in the house annual house building quota for 2025 to 2031.

Instead of homeless families, including children, being sent to temporary accommodation in the notorious York Road, Southend we want the re-purposing of surplus council buildings to provide emergency accommodation right here in our District.

emblem1

Rochford District Residents Candidates 2016

April 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rdrOur Rochford District Residents Candidates are standing in the following Wards;

Downhall and Rawreth – John Chaffin
Sweyne Park and Grange – Toby Mountain
Lodge – Richard Lambourne
Hockley – Adrian Eves and Irena Cassar
Hawkwell East – Elliot Mason
Hawkwell West – Christine Mason and John Mason

Please Vote for them on 5 May !!

Results may not be in until mid morning 6 May.

THE LOCAL ELECTION BATTLEGROUND IN ROCHFORD DISTRICT

April 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rdrThere are 39 Conservative Candidates for the District Local Elections on 5 May. This is an ALL OUT Election and the Conservatives could lose control of Rochford District Council.

But this is not news for our local papers who have failed to tell readers that there even IS an Election.

How could control be lost? With just 20 non Conservatives being elected.

 

21 Labour candidates
9 Liberal Democrats candidates
8 UKIP candidates
8 Rochford District Residents candidates
4 Green Party candidates
2 Independent candidates

There are 52 non Conservative Candidates.

If only 20 were to be elected then RDC would be in No Overall Control leaving the road clear for a Rainbow Administration.

If only 50% were elected, 26, then there could be a comfortable majority for a Rainbow Administration.

This is NEWS. But not something that the Echo wishes to run even in the public interest.

Or do residents wish to see the Conservatives to continue to be in Overall Control or even have a LANDSLIDE VICTORY?

 

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

CPRE MAP SOUTH EASTThis new report from the CPRE has a map showing all the local authorities planning to release green belt.

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/green-belts/item/download/4485

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt – an increase of nearly 200,000 since 2012, according to research by countryside campaigners.

This map alone says everything that residents have been concerned about ever since the Core Strategy was adopted in 2011.

And now we have the Revision of the Core Strategy for an unspecified extra number.

By entirely circling London and for good measure an extended strip across South Essex it supports either an exodus from London or London coming out to meet us to form a wider Greater London.

If you are concerned about this please share as widely as possible before Voting in the Local Elections on 5 May.

And from the PlanningResource Web Site

According to figures published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the number of homes planned for England’s green belt increased by 50,000 in the last year to hit 275,000.

It added that 11 local authorities finalised green belt boundary changes to accommodate development in the year to 2015.

According to CPRE, green belt policy is “gradually being weakened through loopholes in planning guidance”.

“Under pressure from government to set and meet high housing targets, councils are releasing green belt for new development through a misappropriated ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause,” it added.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at CPRE, said: “Councils are increasingly eroding the green belt to meet unrealistic and unsustainable housing targets. The government is proposing to encourage further development in the green belt.

“Our green belt is invaluable in preventing urban sprawl and providing the countryside next door for 30 million people. We need stronger protection for the green belt, not just supportive words and empty promises. To build the affordable homes young people and families need, the government should empower councils to prioritise the use of brownfield sites. Brownfield land is a self-renewing resource that can provide at least 1 million new homes.”

 

Why local elections could be influenced by housing hostility

April 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rdr

Rochford District Residents has been afforded a rare but very important interview with the national professional planning web site PlanningResource. Here are just the excerpts that apply to Rochford District. 

22 April 2016 by Joey Gardiner

Opponents of controversial housing developments are standing in next month’s local elections in order to fight what they see as the over-development of their areas.

With polling day for local and mayoral elections less than two weeks away, planning issues – particularly in the form of opposition to development – have the power to shake voters out of their traditional political allegiances.

“The job of a local politician is to try to buck the national trend,” said Martin Curtis, associate director at stakeholder engagement consultancy Curtin & Co and a former leader of Cambridgeshire County Council. “Development is one of those key issues where people will vote for a different party locally than nationally. Therefore some politicians looking to make an impact will always look in that direction.”

Assessing the impact planning will have on next month’s poll, in which four city mayors and councillors in 124 constituencies are up for election, is not easy. Received wisdom has it that local elections are primarily won and lost on national issues, but with public faith in the established Westminster political parties at a low ebb, some believe that could change this year.

Certainly there are a number of examples where planning issues seem to likely to affect the way people vote. In Conservative-run Rochford Council in south Essex, opposition to two controversial 500-home developments in Rayleigh, both of which have received outline consent, has been harnessed by vocal grassroots action groups. This anger is also feeding into the council’s current local plan review process, and contributing to support for a new independent party, Rochford District Residents, which, while not officially a single-issue party, is strongly campaigning to limit the number of homes allocated to the area.

Working with residents’ action groups and in formal coalition with the Green Party, it already has enough councillors to be considered the district’s official opposition, and is fielding eight more candidates this time. The maths are against it taking away the incumbent party’s majority, but party leader, councillor John Mason, maintains it is possible. “Residents want these issues raised,” he said. “On the doorstep people talk about flood risk and the lack of infrastructure. They don’t believe the council is representing them on these concerns at all.”

 

It may be no surprise that planning is the subject of heated election debate, but those who earn a living helping developers communicate their plans say these examples show how, in the age of social media, ward-level wrangles can become much bigger issues. In Rochford, for example, the Rayleigh Action Group now boasts a 5,000-strong Facebook group of supporters.

 

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