Councils Can Surely Halt Housing Development Decisions – if they really try !!

June 13, 2010 by  

Sarah Calkin’s article on “Housing targets are to be scrapped” published on the Echo Online on 5 June carried some fairly luke warm comments from Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member for Planning on Rochford District Council.

I have heard Councillor Hudson say in public many times that he did not wish to see so many houses built in Rochford District but that he had no choice but to put forward such proposals because the Government required this by Law.

Here is what he has published.

“The Conservative administration of Rochford District Council has no choice but to comply with the law. If we had not grasped this nettle then some grey suited bureaucrat from Whitehall, who would have no local knowledge
whatsoever, would have taken on the task and we would have to live with whatever his tender mercies bestowed upon us.
You have heard these words from me before, I do not apologise for repeating them now, for it is well that we and our Residents never forget which political party, which out going socialist government, instigated this fiasco.”

He has also said that everything will change if there is a Conservative Government.


Echo Online, 5 June 2010 

“”Meanwhile, Rochford’s planning councillor has urged the new coalition Government to change the law as soon as possible.

Keith Hudson said he welcomed the Government’s intention, but wanted it to act straight away, otherwise the district was still vulnerable to large-scale developments.

Rochford District Council has to built 5,500 new homes before 2025 as part of its core strategy plan, which has just been the subject of a public planning inquiry.

Mr Hudson said: “It’s something we’ve been banking on ever since we embarked on the core strategy.

“We need it to happen now, otherwise we are obliged to continue on the route we have.

“We have a lot of residents who are unhappy and need some certainty.”

Mr Hudson said he was aware of major planning applications being drawn up by developers to take advantage of the current housing targets.

Other councils have reportedly already taken steps to abolish their regional targets, such as South Oxfordshire District Council, which has withdrawn plans showing where 5,000 new homes would be built across the district.”” (End of quote from Echo)

A Government Inspector called a halt to the Hearings on the Core Strategy relating to Housing at neighbour Castle Point on Friday following the publication of Advice from The Planning Inspectorate.

I think that we can all see that all new legislation takes time to pass.  It is unlikely that the full Decentralisation and Localism Bill will be passed in 2010 and most likely it will be 2011.  It is possible for a Minister to make an Interim Statement in the House.  But even that might not be possible before the Summer Recess.

But The Planning Inspectorate has thrown a life line

Rochford District Council can now surely lobby the Planning Inspectors who are considering two Appeals and The Rochford Core Strategy to also call a halt under the same provisions.

The Council as a principal party can do even better and make legal representations to the Planning Inspectors. 

Here is a Letter that I sent to Councillor Hudson today.

Dear Keith
I am sure that as Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation  you are already well aware of the subject of my email.
The full advice letter from PINS is here (
Having read this very carefully I am of the opinion that in respect of the Coombes Farm Appeal, The Christmas Tree Farm Appeal and The Rochford Core Strategy which are all still in the consideration of Planning Inspectors that Rochford District Council can use the options available to it as a Party to each to make representations for either deferment or postponement of Recommendations to The Secretary of State until, at the very least, clarification has been made by Ministerial Statement.
Can I have your written assurance that Rochford District Council will  now diligently consider the options available and make such representations in each instance as to follow and reflect the views of the majority of residents which have been expressed to you and the Council on a consistent basis in each of the instances referred to above.
Could I also ask you to arrange for a Briefing Note to be sent to all Members as soon as possible stating the actions that the Council will now be taking to reflect  the interests of the residents of Rochford District in each of the proceedings referred to above.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest.
With my regards,
Councillor John Mason
Hawkwell West Ward



One Response to “Councils Can Surely Halt Housing Development Decisions – if they really try !!”
  1. A letter has been received by email from Miss Laura Graham who is the Government Planning Inspector responsible for the Public Examination of the Rochford Core Strategy.

    She has already presided over the Hearings on Housing but she is now required by the Planning Inspectorate to seek further input from the Council and those who participated in the last consultation conducted by the Council last October.

    This time it is about the Government’s intention to abolish the RSS and the amendments to PPS3 regarding garden grabbing and removal of the minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare.

    Let us hope that the Council participation reflects the views of the majority of residents who wish to see new house building at the minimum to meet local needs. This should require the Council to conduct an assessment of local housing needs and a re-write of the preferred Locations and the Sites put forward in the Allocation of Sites DPD.

    With regard to the Hawkwell Appeal I was notified today that there will be no further consultation because the Planning Inspector, Mr. John Head submitted his Recommendation to Eric Pickles on 8 June.

    The only thing that concerned residents of Hawkwell can do is write to Mr. Pickles.

    Suggested letter:
    Dear Mr Pickles

    PINS Reference APP/B1550/A/09/2118700/NWF

    I have been campaigning with many other residents to save our green belt in my home village of Hawkwell, Essex, in an area known as The Christmas Tree Farm, Thorpe Road/Rectory Road from development proposals for 330 homes. Mark Francois, our local MP, has supported the campaign.

    Following a four day Government Inquiry in April, we now await the Inspector’s recommendation and your decision.

    My reason for contacting you is in respect of your letter to Chief Planners of 27 May, where you advise of the Government’s intention to legislate to return decision making powers in respect of planning applications to local Councils and, in the process, abolish Regional Strategies. You request that the letter is treated as material planning consideration. Therefore, I would be grateful for your response to two questions:

    1. As the Secretary of State with the final say on this planning application, can you ensure that your Government’s intentions are reflected in your decision on this planning appeal?

    2. Consequently, can the residents of Hawkwell, who have overwhelmingly supported this campaign, look forward to receiving confirmation that this planning appeal will be dismissed?

    I also remain concerned that Rochford District Council says that it can do nothing about the Core Strategy until legislation is passed. The Rochford Core Strategy is well advanced and I certainly do not wish to see this adopted by default because legislation has not been passed in time. Can you, as Secretary of State, issue an appropriate Order under your executive powers or make an Interim Statement in the House which has the force of law to abolish the Regional Strategy targets?

    Thank you for your attention to this letter and I look forward to your reply.

    Yours sincerely
    Email address for Mr Eric Pickles:
    Email address for Mark Francois MP:

    Postal address for Mr Eric Pickles: Department of Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU

    Postal address for Mark Francois MP: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

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