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Council Officers Recommend Refusal of 330 houses in Hawkwell

November 29, 2009 by  

Rochford District Council Officers are recommending that The Development Control Committee refuse a Planning Application from David Wilson Homes for 330 new houses in Hawkwell on the site known as the Christmas Tree Farm, Rectory Road and Thorpe Road.

The Hawkwell Action Group has advised residents by leaflet this weekend that Mr. John Dagg QC will also be speaking on behalf of residents who have campaigned over several years against a proposal from either the Council in the form of its Core Strategy or this specific planning application.

The decision will be made by Councillors at the Civic Suite in Rayleigh commencing at 19.30 hours.  For residents unable to get into the Council Chamber the debate will be broadcast outside in the front of the building.

Here is the Recommendation for Refusal. (The full 60 page Report is here.)

RECOMMENDATION

It is proposed that this committee RESOLVES to REFUSE the application
for the following reasons:

1 The proposed development of up to 330 residential dwellings and associated
infrastructure would not accord with the adopted development plan – the
Rochford District Replacement Local Plan (2006)- and would also not accord
with the emerging Core Strategy submission which is currently at an advanced
stage with submission to the government scheduled to occur before the end of
2009. There are no material planning considerations which indicate that this
proposal should be determined favourably and not in accordance with the
adopted development plan.

2 The Rochford District Replacement Local Plan (2006) shows the site to be
within the Metropolitan Green Belt .Within the Green Belt as defined in
Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts, planning permission will not be
given for inappropriate development, except in very special circumstances. The
proposal by way of the excessive number of dwellings over and above that
advocated in the emerging Rochford Core Strategy would result in
inappropriate development leading to the unnecessary urbanisation and over
development of the site to the detriment of the open character and appearance
of the location.

3 Notwithstanding the indicative nature of the submitted layout, it is considered
the development would result in an overall form of development
uncharacteristic and poorly related to the surrounding development pattern.
The lack of integration by design and lack of sensitivity to the semi rural
character of the site locality would fail to become part of the greater area of
which it would adjoin to the detriment of the visual appearance and local
distinctiveness of the area.

4 The proposal by way of the introduction of three storey built form in prominent
positions in the locality would provide a sharp contrast to the notable single
storey character of the Rectory Road and Thorpe Road areas, that would, if
allowed, prove over dominant and ill-fitting alongside established dwellings
failing to respect local distinctiveness to the detriment of the character and
appearance of the site locality.

5 As far as can be determined from the submitted plans the proposal includes
the upgrade to adoptable standards of a section of Thorpe Road. This would
encourage the inappropriate use of Thorpe Road by vehicles wishing to bypass
the B1013/Rectory Road junction. The movement of vehicles associated with
this use would lead to conflict and interference with the passage of vehicles to
the detriment of that principle function and introduce a further point of possible
conflict, being detrimental to road safety.

6 It has not been demonstrated that there are no reasonably available alternative
sites in areas with lower probability of flooding that would be appropriate for the
type of development proposed and therefore the application in relation to that
part of the site within Flood Zones 2 and 3 fails the sequential test as required
by paragraph D5 to PPS25.

7 The Flood Risk Assessment is considered inadequate in that it has indicated
that the surface water system shall be split into two systems. It has been
demonstrated that surface water shall be attenuated on site for the 1 in 30 year
storm event with an oversized pipe system which may be adopted; and the 1 in
100 year storm event contained within the private systems on site. This would
be acceptable in the outline stage of planning however confirmation should be
offered by the Authority as to who shall adopt the 1 in 30 year storm event
system. If this information is not obtained then confirmation relating to the
responsibility of future maintenance should be included.

8 The surface water drainage system being split into two areas has been stated
as having a run off rate for one area of 58 l /s while the other has 53 l/s rate. It
is indicated in paragraph 6.14 within the Flood Risk Assessment that the flow
shall be matching the 1 in 100 year rate. The Flood Risk Assessment is
inadequate in that the site should in fact mimic present rates. This means these
rates should be no higher than the current 1 in 1 year rate during 1 in 1 year
storm event and the development would if allowed result in surface water
flooding.

As a Ward Councillor for Hawkwell West I will be speaking at the Development Control Committee on Thursday evening, 3 December.
 
As you know I have by the Code of Conduct still to remain impartial until I have received the benefit of the Presentation by Officers on 3 December and listened to the Public Speakers registered with the Council.  I understand that Mr. John Dagg QC will be speaking on behalf of residents and that most likely he will be addressing the concerns of objectors.
 
I know that it must be very frustrating for everyone to see an elected Ward Member still not being able to comment especially when The Council has published an Officer recommendation for Refusal.

So What Do Councillors do when they cannot comment?

Firstly they listen to both objectors and supporters.
 
And  I hope that everyone can appreciate that I have read the whole application very carefully over many hours and asked many questions and received answers and advice direct from Shaun Scrutton who I have exchanged emails with and engaged in detailed and lengthy telephone conversations. I have also undertaken my own detailed review of the planning application against Government Planning Policy Statement 3, Housing,
PPS3.

I can assure everyone that I have prepared very fully in order to participate in the debate and the vote to determine the decision. But as the HAG leaflet says that you read to me the position is that despite the recommendation the decision is determined by a majority vote of Members present and able to vote.
 
You also may not know that I have a personal interest in ecology by virtue of my first degree and election as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.  In my private capacity as a Fellow I have had a conversation with another Fellow who is an expert in Bats. Because Shaun Scrutton advised me that I could not pass the thoughts from this initiative to the Applicant via the Council, because only the EWT and Natural England have the status of Official Consultee to determine or negotiate ecological actions, I engaged directly with the Applicant’s Consultants in my private capacity. As well as the Bats I also raised concerns about the deer present on the development site.
 
You might like to see, the reply and proposals made by the Applicant in response to my initiative. It is
here.

I have also spent time during my enforced interregnum answering many questions from The Hawkwell Action Group and residents about planning procedures which I hope has been helpful.

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