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Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 17 and Other Local Issues

October 18, 2013 by  

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Clements Gate Development

A brief summary of where we are now with this development and other local issues.

 

 

Signs and Advertising

No more progress or information on the simple request for a ‘residents only parking sign’.  However David Wilson Homes have applied for permission for some of the signage at the Thorpe Road Marketing suite and although our last information on a site visit was that the application did not reflect what was on the ground the RDC Planning Officer was attempting to resolve this so that the retrospective application can be heard by the Development Committee on the 24th October.   As far as we are aware there has been no application for the flagpoles and advertisements at Clements Hall Way although I believe this has been ‘requested’ by Officers.

The abundance of signs appearing on the Rectory Road site entrance gate are growing but as we have not received any complaints we have not raised this with Officers.

The many signs at the unmade end of Thorpe Road seem to have eventually registered on delivery drivers and we have had only one recent report of a vehicle trying to access the site that way.

Rodents

This situation seems to have been satisfactorily resolved and we have had no more reports of infestations.  Now that the site clearance has been completed this problem should hopefully not reoccur.  Seven householders who jointly employed a consultant had to contribute £10 per household over and above the ex-gratia payment from Rochford District Council.  David Wilson Homes were approached to pay this amount but declined.  Other residents have dealt with this problem in different ways with different degrees of success in obtaining financial assistance from the Developer.

Road Names

We have still have not heard who the winners of the David Wilson Homes and Barratts Competition are although the street names were announced in July, and the site is well under way, however we are pleased that our suggestion of Aaron Lewis Close was included in recognition of his service and the sacrifice of his life for our Country.

Road Closure

Our original understanding of this closure was that it would be for a six month period in an 18 month window and this was originally confirmed by ECC.

The closure is required for the safety of the public and workforce while construction works of the new roads and sewers are undertaken.

The alternative route will be via Thorpe Road – Main Road – Rectory Road and vice versa. 

Access for pedestrians will be maintained at all times during the closure, pedestrians will need to follow the diversion as signed on site. 

The Order will come into effect on 1 April 2013 and may continue in force for 18 months or until the works have been completed, whichever is the earlier.’

This road should be almost ready to open now as the reason given for closure was to facilitate the installation of drainage and make up the road.  To our knowledge this work does not appear to have been started and the closure appears to be mainly facilitating construction traffic moving from one part of the site to another.  Thankfully the footpath has remained open for pedestrians and we have only had one report of a pedestrian (school child returning home) being denied passage but this was granted when another pedestrian pointed out that access was permitted.  I suspect this was a one off error as it is the only report we have received of any difficulty.

I chased this situation with ECC and the response on the 18th September was as follows.

‘I also asked for clarification regarding the road closure and can confirm that it was indeed originally for 6 months.  However this has just been extended  because of the following 2 main points

•         To enable heavy plant to cross between sites safely for public safety

•         Shortly, drainage will be installed which will involve very deep excavations and therefore it is not safe for the general public. This has been subject to a delay as changes needed to be made in regard to the drainage system being installed.

 Once the drainage is in place I have been advised this road closure will be removed and the Development Management Team will chase this up with the site once the drainage system is in place.’

Wheel Cleaning/Mud on Roads

On the 25th September John and I were visiting a resident in Thorpe Road and the state of mud on the road caused us such concern that I made the following report to ECC.

John and I have been visiting various residents in Thorpe road this afternoon and were disturbed to notice a JKS lorry remove its net by number 8 Thorpe Road whilst travelling at speed towards the site at around 3.45.  This resulted in a cloud of dust and various small (I hope) bits of hardcore flying of the back of the wagon onto the surrounding road/pavement and possibly adjacent parked vehicles.

Concerned I immediately walked down to the site and to speak to the ‘gate’ attendant.  Whilst walking another JKS lorry passed me and removed its net before entering the site although on the small stretch of road between the marketing suite and No 37 Thorpe Road.  This vehicle was at least travelling slower than its predecessor. 

I understand that DWH have spoken to their contractor about this and it should not reoccur.

At the same time I raised this problem:  Whilst visiting residents the most common concern was the state of the footway and road as a result of the heavy traffic.  Indeed we have witnessed lorries mounting the pavement on almost every occasion we have visited the site.  Residents do not want to wait for months or years to have this repaired and wish for the surfaces to be repaired before the icy weather.  The other common concern was that this was not done at a cost to the public purse as they feel strongly (or at least the ones we spoke to) that this damage was caused by DWH and they should be responsible for the repairs.

We have been advised that photographs were taken prior to construction and that the surfaces should be reinstated however we have asked that this is done sooner rather than later due to the obvious dangers to residents.  On the 8th Oct ECC advised they were undertaking a site visit…………………we are waiting to hear the outcome.

Construction Access

We have been advised that DWH will be moving the construction access to Clements Hall Way at the end of October which should alleviate some of the distress that has occurred.  If this has not stopped by the 10th November please advise us.

We are however concerned that the wheel washing facility is at the Thorpe Road end and although our Officer advised that there should be another one at Clements Hall Way end of the site we have never had confirmation that this is so.  Also we asked for an updated ecological report before the construction traffic was permitted to cross the Public Open Space as this disturbance to wildlife was not originally envisaged or assessed.  Whilst the Officer advised that he agreed with us we have not yet heard if that has been done.  As ever we are reliant on the efficiency of our Planners.

Site Road Construction

John has checked the Conditions that were made prior to construction starting and apparently the site roads should be made up to base level before house building in each Phase commences.  We do not think that this has been done. This has been checked by a Planning Officer at our request because we felt that this might partially explain the problem with mud on the road.  No Action will be taken!!

“Condition 17 of the consent does require the estate roads to be constructed up to base level prior to the commencement of any dwelling to gain access from that road.

 The purpose is so that any dwelling when occupied has a sensible means of access. The final wearing courses must be provided within 12 months of occupation.

 At our recent site visit a small number of houses had been constructed with the roof on. It was not clear to me as to whether the road construction was up to the requirements of the condition but it did not have visible inspection chambers and kerbing. That being said, the site manager anticipates selling the first few houses around Christmas. It may be that the road construction is not yet to road base level but as there are no houses to be soon occupied, it would not be expedient to take enforcement action at this early stage. The condition is worded the way it is so that there would be an opportunity and a measureable point in time. Clearly, it is in the applicants interests to make access provision in time for the first occupiers. With the extent of heavy plant on the site and the outstanding work still required on those first houses. It would not be expedient to pursue action at this early stage.”

 Site Visit

John and I had asked to visit the David Wilson Homes/Barratts site so that small issues could be raised, clarified and hopefully resolved either by fuller communication, better understanding or action.

However that appointment has been cancelled and no alternative offered.  Ever felt unwelcome!

Flooding

We are in the process of arranging a ‘volunteers’ group to help residents prevent future problems.  More information when the details are firmed up.

Application for 177 Main Road

Whilst this planning application was refused the nearby residents have taken the view that a new application would probably be made and wanted to discuss this with the developer so that their point of view could be incorporated, if possible, in any new application.  Resident’s wished for John and I to be present with them to assist an even and constructive discussion.  Unfortunately our Planning Department has not allowed an Officer to accompany us as the Standards and Planning Protocol that MUST be complied with by Councillors would indicate that we cannot get involved without an Officer present.  Both the residents and ourselves have contacted Mark Francois MP as we believe that the NPPF (Government Policy on Planning) encourages this dialogue but so far there appears to be an impasse with conflicting decisions between the Council’s Legal Officers (No) and Planning (Yes).  We have asked our Officers to determine this but are still waiting for a decision.  It seems a shame that such a simple, constructive approach is not officially supported in the dos’ and don’ts documentation.

Tree Preservation Orders

Whilst these Orders are put in place to protect trees and indeed some new ones have recently been put in place in our ward, we remain concerned that if a tree with a TPO is illegally felled that it should be, wherever possible ,with a similar sized and species tree.  If not the legal consequences should follow.  Are we out of touch here?

Contact

Please note our preferred contact details are our personal e mail addresses: Christine.mason [at] rochfordessex [dot] net and john.mason [at] bigfoot [dot] com

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