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NEW THREATS TO THE GREEN BELT OF ROCHFORD DISTRICT

July 8, 2016 by  

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

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