Hawkwell and Coombes Farm – Possible Tests of a A New Government?

January 24, 2010 by  

I have had several conversations with local residents this weekend asking what they can do about the Planning Appeals in Hawkwell, Christmas Tree Farm/Thorpe Road and Coombes Farm,Rochford/Stambridge.

Public Comments close on both Appeals on Wednesday, 27 January 2010.

Both Appeals will be heard by Public Inquiry in April following which the Secretary of State makes a decision based on the Planning Inspector’s report.

You could contact Caroline Spelman, Conservative MP because she could decide the fate of Coombes Farm if the Conservatives win the election as the future Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.

It looks to me as if  Hawkwell and Coombes Farm will effectively be Test Cases for a new Government.

Could Caroline Spelman dismiss the Appeals?  Yes, but it depends if Government Guidance on Planning Policy or the regional housing quotas are going to be changed by the new Secretary of State within 16 weeks of the conclusion of the two Public Inquiries.  Coombes Farm commences on 13 April and Hawkwell on 27 April.  Both are not likely to take longer than 4 days.

With the General Election most likely to the held on 6 May, or latest 3 June, there certainly appears to be time for a new Secretary of State to make the decision but there might not be enough time to make changes. 

It is entirely possible that the “old” Secretary of State could make the decision if General Election was held on 3 June and The Planning Inspector had submitted the report very quickly !!

Hopefully Caroline Spelman will be kind enough to look at the position and let us know.  It would be helpful if people write to copy in Mark Francois MP for Hawkwell and James Duddridge MP for Coombes Farm so that they can lobby Caroline Spelman to do the best she can for us if the Conservatives win the election and she is the future Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.

It might be that there would not be enough time for the new Secretary of State to make the changes necessary changes to save the green belt at Coombes Farm and in Hawkwell which would be a dreadful shame.

What residents do deserve is a clear answer; Will she change Government Guidance on Planning Policy Yes? or No? Will there be time to dismiss these Appeals.  Yes? or No?

We can’t ask if Ms Spelman will dismiss the Appeals because she cannot pre-determine this……………..but she could indicate whether it could be possible or out of the question?   

That seems perfectly reasonable for residents to ask for before they vote in the General Election of course !! And remarkably local with a direct immediate effect on peoples lives for a change given how remote national politics can appear to be.

Interesting challenge I think.



2 Responses to “Hawkwell and Coombes Farm – Possible Tests of a A New Government?”
  1. Editor says:

    Tory: We’ll Scrap Housing Targets Echo: 27 January 2010

    A TORY shadow minister visited Canvey and promised to scrap government housing targets and stop hundreds of new homes being built on the Island.

    Yesterday Caroline Spelman, shadow local government minister, spoke out while meeting campaigners opposed to Castle Point Council’s plans for 600 homes in the green belt.

    However Julian Ware-Lane prospective parliamentary candidate for the borough warned scrapping targets would cause a shortage of affordable homes.

    Mrs Spelman said : “Local councils are being forced to allow development on green belt, to keep up with unreasonable housing targets set by the Government. That would go out of the window if we were elected”.

    I am running a campaign on my web site asking Hawkwell residents to write to Caroline Spelman to lobby her to change planning policy if she becomes Secretary of State and then dismiss the planning Appeal for The Christmas Tree Farm/Thorpe Road.

    “RACE” is running the campaign on the Coombes Farm Appeal and they have also included this suggestion for residents on its latest newsletter.

    Despite what Caroline Spelman said to the Echo on Monday her Office has been far more coy saying in an email to me “I can confirm that we are planning to launch a planning green paper next month which will contain all current planning policy. This will be available on the Conservative Party website when it is published.”

    In the meantime some national house builders are reported to be lobbying Ms Spelman as well.

    It will be interesting to see how the NEW 2010 Green Paper balances the industry lobbying against the promises of the last Conservative Green Paper in April 2009 which were about scrapping regional housing targets and promoting localism to meet actual local housing needs.

    I smell fudge brewing somewhere which will disappoint many voters if promises already made are watered down or not delivered. The Hawkwell and Coombes Farm Appeals might turn into an early test in the life of a new government but first we have to get the pledges stated clearly.

  2. Editor says:

    Help save green belt by lobbying shadow minister

    Echo 20 January 2010

    CAMPAIGNERS have been urged to lobby a shadow minister over two big planning applications which could result in hundreds of new homes being built on green belt land in the Rochford district.

    Public inquiries are being held in April over plans to build 326 new homes at Coombes Farm, near Rochford, and 330 more at Christmas Tree Farm, in Rectory Road, Hawkwell.

    Independent councillor for Hawkwell, John Mason, said residents should write to Caroline Spelman, a Tory shadow cabinet member who could be the next Secretary of State, if the Conservatives win the general election.

    Mr Mason, who will speak at the Hawkwell inquiry, also wants people to contact their MPs over the plans, James Duddridge for Rochford, and Mark Francois for Hawkwell, urging them to lobby Mrs Spelman.

    The Coombes Farm inquiry is on April 13, before the focus turns to Hawkwell on April 27. Public comments for both appeals closed on Wednesday.

    Mr Mason said: “I have had several conversations with local residents, who have asked what they can do about the planning appeals for Christmas Tree Farm and Coombes Farm.

    “Both appeals will be heard by a public inquiry in April, following which the Secretary of State makes a decision based on the planning inspector’s report.”

    The Conservatives have pledged to scrap regional housing targets if they win the next election.

    While Mrs Spelman cannot pre-defemine the outcome of the appeals, Mr Mason said residents should know whether she would change the current Government planning policy and whether there would be time for her to dismiss the two appeals.

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