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Rochford Housing Policy – What happens next?

March 16, 2009 by  

So the public consultation on the Rochford Core Strategy – Preferred Options closed at 5.00 pm on 17 December 2008.

So what happens next?

Rochford District Council has shared with the public the outcome of the consultation.

But they have yet to say what they intend to do about the objections.

In the meantime the Councillors responsible for planning policy strategy have embarked on yet another tour of potential sites.  John asked the Portfolio Holder in public if these members would read all the objections before they visit a location.  He said that he would so let’s hope that all the others do and get up to speed with the problems that they did not forsee because of the lack of ward specific knowledge. 

Could 200 of the properties to be forced on Hawkwell be placed in the centre of Hockley?  Yes, if that option in the Hockley Town Centre Plan which was too late for the Core Strategy Consultation is chosen.  But only IF !! 
 
But the timetable for the production of the Local Development Framework has not yet been finalised.  The last John was advised in December was that RDC was still waiting for advice from GO East.  It is now 3 months on and it still has not been formalised which is a matter of concern.  Let’s hope that the latest dates for compliance have been chosen because Conservative Party policy promises to cancel the requirement for the houses and a General Election could be salvation for our green belt.

But there is concern that the RDC Core Strategy might have to be pushed along and into law on fears that there is no longer 5 years developable land in the District and that developers could force through unwelcome developments because the core policy is not already in place.  If that is the case then the Conservative leadership at the Council will be responsible for failing to spot the vulnerability and plan ahead because being able to delay progress and success of their own party at a General Election just could have saved the loss of so much green belt.

So what is the likely timetable?  It is likely, however, that the formal round of consultation on the Allocations DPD and Development Control Policies DPD will take place in June 2009, with pre-submission consultation on the Core Strategy in July 2009.

There will only be one formal consultation before the preparation of the submission document, and then formal consultation on “soundness” prior to submission.
 
“Soundness” is a particular procedure set down by the Government in a document called “Development Plans Examination – A guide to the process of assessing the soundness of Development Plan Documents.”  You can read it here. http://www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/pins/appeals/local_dev/develop_plan_docs.pdf
 
The Allocations DPD is when RDC will finally reveal the individual sites that it wishes to see developed for new housing.

Consultation on the Allocations DPD will be carried out in accordance with the Council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement.  The precise community involvement activities to be used and arrangements have yet to be determined, but it is likely they will be broadly similar to those used for consultation on the Core Strategy Preferred Options.
 
The consultation on the Allocations DPD will not simply be a referendum and we will be looking at the contents of any representations.  If a member of public wished to object to one of the options being put forward in the Allocations consultation, I would advise them to outline their reasons for objection and exactly what they are objecting to, rather than to simply state that they objected in principle. 
 
The Council is not obliged to withdraw a proposal in response to public consultation, but we are required to show how representations have been taken into account.
 
Hawkwell should be looking for the long list of sustainability and infrastructure objections that I raised on behalf of residents to be fully satisfied if “South” Hawkwell  or rather Hawkwell West remains a proposal for 330 houses.
 
If not then the final and ultimate test of soundness will be an appeal before the final Public Inquiry.

And if the total number of houses in Hawkwell can be reduced to 130 then perhaps they could be built on the industrial site in Windsor Gardens, Hawkwell.  Magees is on the Call for Sites.  But has it been looked at seriously in the latest Tour by the Councillors reponsible for planning policy and strategy?

Residents of Hawkwell should write to each of them and ask.

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