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Rochford District NEW Local Plan 2017 – 2037

December 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

IF YOU WISH TO HELP JUST CONTACT US here.

A NEW LOCAL PLAN FACEBOOK GROUP is here.

As many residents will already know Rochford District Council is about to launch a public consultation on a SECOND Local Plan for 2017 to 2037 focusing on a maximum of ANOTHER 7500 dwellings. With the FIRST local Plan 2011 to 2025 came committed approval for 2785 dwellings so together this makes over 10,000 !!

As you might expect the Council is required to ask Landowners and their Agents to formally notify the Council if they wish their land to be considered (for obvious reasons but some might not be so obvious and the Council assumes that each has a REAL intention to see development on their site.)

The information on the land available is publicly available on these maps (https://goo.gl/grJe3A). And there is even more information here (https://goo.gl/JNVBhv).

NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. YOUR VIEW IN THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION COMING SOON WILL COUNT.

So what will your District Councillors be doing? I can’t speak for other political groups on the Council but I can say what The Rochford District Residents and Green Group propose.

We will leaflet all homes our Wards drawing attention to the questions and options put forward by the Council and how residents can comment on the Evidence put forward.

I shall also be asking our Councillors to work with residents to create a sustainability profile for the sites that landowners have put forward in their Wards and submit these in the Public Consultation.

How? Our approach is attached.

sustainability analysis template 2017

We will welcome all other political groups, action groups and residents’ associations/community groups if they decide to join in this way.

 

Is Our Green Belt Safe under our Council?

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

"Safe Under Us?"

http://www.cprelondon.org.uk/resources/item/2339-safe-under-us

THIS IS ABOUT ROCHFORD DISTRICT and we provided a contribution to this report which will be “news” for everyone who is concerned about the further loss of Green Belt in our revised Local Plan where there is a Council public consultation running at this moment.

This is what the Council has not told you.

There are some scary numbers coming forward as evidence from consultants such as 392pa instead of 250pa over the district. That COULD mean another 4000 over the existing building target of 2785!

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.

“The government’s planning framework states that only ‘exceptional’ circumstances should allow building on Green Belt land. However, unclear national planning guidance and confusing government messages are causing councils to believe that in order to gain national approval of their Local Plans, they must meet higher targets. This is causing them to look at Green Belt land to meet housing growth figures.”

The Council is running a LIMITED public consultation right now. I say LIMITED because it does not comply with the recently approved NEW Council Policy on Community Involvement because the methods of engagement are not deep, wide or diverse enough for full engagement with residents. And the rate of response is not being monitored by channel for intervention if the response rate is low because of the lack of Council resources. This was specifically added to the Policy in just July. Needless to say I have complained to the Council.

 

NEW THREATS TO THE GREEN BELT OF ROCHFORD DISTRICT

July 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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

an important document on future housing numbers not been published

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Why has an important document on future housing numbers not been published even though the target date was December 2015? No explanation has been given to Members of the Rochford District Council who have asked via the Review Committee.

I think that you might know the answer…………Elections??

Basildon Council has been forced to do so because it is in a public consultation on its Core Strategy.

Castle Point is also in consultations but it has not been published (and CP is in charge of the project for all of our local councils).

Rochford District Council has not published this information even though it has formally commenced its long awaited Revision of the Core Strategy.

“The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is a technical study intended to help the local planning authorities understand how many homes will be needed in the period to 2031 and may be beyond. It also considers the housing needs of specific groups such as older people, minority groups and people with disabilities.

The housing figures included within the SHMA constitute an objective assessment of housing need in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.”

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

CPRE MAP SOUTH EASTThis new report from the CPRE has a map showing all the local authorities planning to release green belt.

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/green-belts/item/download/4485

A total of 275,000 homes are now planned for England’s green belt – an increase of nearly 200,000 since 2012, according to research by countryside campaigners.

This map alone says everything that residents have been concerned about ever since the Core Strategy was adopted in 2011.

And now we have the Revision of the Core Strategy for an unspecified extra number.

By entirely circling London and for good measure an extended strip across South Essex it supports either an exodus from London or London coming out to meet us to form a wider Greater London.

If you are concerned about this please share as widely as possible before Voting in the Local Elections on 5 May.

And from the PlanningResource Web Site

According to figures published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the number of homes planned for England’s green belt increased by 50,000 in the last year to hit 275,000.

It added that 11 local authorities finalised green belt boundary changes to accommodate development in the year to 2015.

According to CPRE, green belt policy is “gradually being weakened through loopholes in planning guidance”.

“Under pressure from government to set and meet high housing targets, councils are releasing green belt for new development through a misappropriated ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause,” it added.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at CPRE, said: “Councils are increasingly eroding the green belt to meet unrealistic and unsustainable housing targets. The government is proposing to encourage further development in the green belt.

“Our green belt is invaluable in preventing urban sprawl and providing the countryside next door for 30 million people. We need stronger protection for the green belt, not just supportive words and empty promises. To build the affordable homes young people and families need, the government should empower councils to prioritise the use of brownfield sites. Brownfield land is a self-renewing resource that can provide at least 1 million new homes.”

 

Why local elections could be influenced by housing hostility

April 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rdr

Rochford District Residents has been afforded a rare but very important interview with the national professional planning web site PlanningResource. Here are just the excerpts that apply to Rochford District. 

22 April 2016 by Joey Gardiner

Opponents of controversial housing developments are standing in next month’s local elections in order to fight what they see as the over-development of their areas.

With polling day for local and mayoral elections less than two weeks away, planning issues – particularly in the form of opposition to development – have the power to shake voters out of their traditional political allegiances.

“The job of a local politician is to try to buck the national trend,” said Martin Curtis, associate director at stakeholder engagement consultancy Curtin & Co and a former leader of Cambridgeshire County Council. “Development is one of those key issues where people will vote for a different party locally than nationally. Therefore some politicians looking to make an impact will always look in that direction.”

Assessing the impact planning will have on next month’s poll, in which four city mayors and councillors in 124 constituencies are up for election, is not easy. Received wisdom has it that local elections are primarily won and lost on national issues, but with public faith in the established Westminster political parties at a low ebb, some believe that could change this year.

Certainly there are a number of examples where planning issues seem to likely to affect the way people vote. In Conservative-run Rochford Council in south Essex, opposition to two controversial 500-home developments in Rayleigh, both of which have received outline consent, has been harnessed by vocal grassroots action groups. This anger is also feeding into the council’s current local plan review process, and contributing to support for a new independent party, Rochford District Residents, which, while not officially a single-issue party, is strongly campaigning to limit the number of homes allocated to the area.

Working with residents’ action groups and in formal coalition with the Green Party, it already has enough councillors to be considered the district’s official opposition, and is fielding eight more candidates this time. The maths are against it taking away the incumbent party’s majority, but party leader, councillor John Mason, maintains it is possible. “Residents want these issues raised,” he said. “On the doorstep people talk about flood risk and the lack of infrastructure. They don’t believe the council is representing them on these concerns at all.”

 

It may be no surprise that planning is the subject of heated election debate, but those who earn a living helping developers communicate their plans say these examples show how, in the age of social media, ward-level wrangles can become much bigger issues. In Rochford, for example, the Rayleigh Action Group now boasts a 5,000-strong Facebook group of supporters.

 

The Infrastructure Bill – What it means locally……….

June 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As we posted a shared link to the Infrastructure Bill on Facebook we felt that we should look into this new legislation further particularly as it did not feature in recent compulsory Member Training from Rochford District Council on Planning. (We had a repeat subject session on The Duty to C0-operate and the Community Infrastructure Levy.)

The Infrastructure Bill covers various areas including planning, housing, fracking, reforms to the Highways Agency and some worrying changes to the Land Registry.

The Headlines in the link were “The Government plans to order local authorities to make 90 per cent of its brownfield sites (a designation that apparently includes parks, allotments, gardens as well as former industrial sites) available to be transferred to the Government quango the Homes and Communities Agency, which was established in 2008. The HCA can then pass it on to developers without any of tiresome planning restrictions.”

But as local Members delving further there is even more of concern in the detail.

We oppose the proposals for deemed discharge of planning conditions.

Why?

Deemed discharge of planning conditions is treating planning conditions as approved where a planning authority has failed to discharge a planning condition on time and has held up a development. Joint working between councils and developers is the most effective way of dealing with any concerns about planning conditions.

Currently we seem to have a confusion with The Environment Agency about where a new surface water drainage ditch is to be located. As local Members trying to head off this worrying situation we have supplied The Environment Agency with documents indisputably referring to the eastern boundary in the planning permission condition. If it were a deemed discharge then could the surface water drainage ditch be put in the wrong place? Potential flooding affects all of us and surely great care needs to be taken by all concerned, not only in this respect but in many other aspects of development that affect the local community!

Clause 23 of the Bill, which transfers the responsibility for local land charges to Land Registry, should be deleted from the Bill. The land charges service to businesses and residents can be improved locally, instead of going through a national transformation that is likely to have a negative impact on the system.

The proposal will separate Local Land Charge searches from additional land searches (known as CON29 searches) which local authorities will continue to provide. Councils will still need to employ people to collate information locally to supply data to the Land Registry, but will lose the income they now have as the Land Charges Fees which will be nationalised. This means that there will not only be cost implications for transforming the service into a national one, but more importantly costs to councils in managing data co-ordination and inquiries locally. Therefore the proposals risk stripping our Councils of income, while leaving our Council with many of the current costs making an increase to Council Tax.

Allowing councils to set out permitted development rights locally.

New national rules were introduced in 2013 by the Government here.

Extensions more or less got carte blanch to the potential detriment of the locality.

But under the New Infrastructure Act Local permitted development rights would give councils the powers to improve their locality and attract investment whilst tackling local issues such as clustering of, charity, coffee and fast food shops. As this issue continuously arises with objections from residents to planning applications and there is little currently that Councillors can do about it this change will be welcomed and we look forward to receiving the appropriate training from RDC so that Members are appropriately briefed when it comes to making a decision on our new local framework.

However the concern over Clause 23 is a real one and we would urge you to write to your MP if you share our concerns.

It will be too late once the Bill is receives the final Royal Assent.

Residents of Thorpe Road Have Had Enough !!

April 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

shmaResidents of the “Unmade End” of Thorpe Road. Hawkwell have suffered so much damage to the road surface that they have issued an Open Letter of Complaint to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.

We hope that Barratts will now listen to the these residents and put things right immediately.

Street Light Re-location in Rectory Road

Rochford District Council has also issued the following by email.

“Dear Councillor
It was apparent that the lamp columns along Rectory Road, which were required to be repositioned off of the footpath, had been installed by the power utilities company in the wrong place. They have been instructed accordingly and will put right their error.”

“FYI…there is an officer meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the ‘correct’ position of the relocated lamp columns.”

Damage to the Verges in Rectory Road and Thorpe Road

Because of the above problem there will be a delay in seeing this damage put right as well !!

 Open Letter of Complaint from Residents to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.
Dear Sir

I write with regard to the unmade end of Thorpe Road opposite the four bungalows numbers 82,84,86, and 88 and along the side and front of the bungalow on the corner of Rectory Road number 400. The road has been dug up some four times now and left in the most appalling state by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints to your communications people nothing is being done to correct the damage, we are therefore asking you directly for the following:

The grass verge opposite the four bungalows has been dug up and just left as mud, as has the verge along the side of number 400 Rectory Road. We ask that the grass verge is reinstated.

The entrance to Thorpe Road either side is churned up with deep tyre tracks by YOUR contractors lorries and diggers and has been left in that state. We ask that the entrance to the road is cleaned up.

The unmade road fronting onto numbers 82,84,86 and 88 Thorpe Road was repaired last summer by the residents with hardcore provided by yourselves. This was extremely hard work and we do not see why we should have to do it all over again when the damage has been done by YOUR contractors lorries and heavy plant. Contributing to this is the number of lorries, big ones, that ignore the ‘No Access’ signs at the entrance to the road every single day. We have asked for a yellow ‘Construction Traffic’ sign with an arrow pointing up Rectory Road as this might help, but this has been refused!! We ask that potholes are repaired and the road reinstated to how it was last summer.

The grass verge and the driveway across the outside of number 400 Rectory Road has been left in a mess by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints nothing has been done to tidy it up. We ask that this work is done.

A line of Lavatera bushes along the right hand side of the entrance to the road, planted by residents, has been trashed and left. These need tidying up or replanting.

Every time we complain we get the answer ‘nothing to do with us’. These are YOUR contractors and YOU are responsible. WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MONEY, WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR COMPENSATION, WE ARE SIMPLY ASKING THAT THE AREA IS PUT BACK THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE YOU DUG IT ALL UP.

I have copied in our local Councillors Christine and John Mason and give them permission to publish this email on their website and to forward it on to anyone they think might be able to assist us. If nothing is done our next step is to go directly to Mr David Eardley who I am told is the Managing Director of Barratt Homes.

I look forward to hearing from someone in authority or perhaps it might be a good idea to send someone along to actually look at the mess!

Yours sincerely

Carol Dutton

84 Thorpe Road
Hawkwell

UPDATE FROM DWH/Barratts

In respect to the grass verge, this is the responsibility of one of our statutory service providers, Power On Connections. These works are still to be finished in this area and they are due to return and conclude works on the 17th and 18th April. They have a contractual obligation to reinstate the area of their works to its original state and this usually occurs within a month of work being completed.

In regards to the disturbances on the unmade section of Thorpe Road, I believe Nikki has explained that we are unable to repair these ourselves as not all of the residents want it repaired, out of a wish to deter non-residents from using the road as a thoroughfare. Therefore, we are happy to provide material for individuals to carry out the works on their own initiative. We can get you this material fairly quickly but believe it is best to wait until Power On Connections have finished their works.

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 20

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0680

GB_Rochford District Residents_254Development Committee was busy this week particularly for your Hawkwell West Councillors, John and Christine Mason, as two applications that affect our Ward were up for consideration. These were both for alterations to Conditions for the Housing Estate that is currently being built. Despite the developer receiving full, detailed approval in Dec 2012 our Officers seem to be constantly having to work on proposed alterations.

This time the first Application heard was for an alteration to the Flood Risk Assessment. Since last August John and I have been researching and studying the complex terminology and criteria that affect this issue, with help from local residents who have expertise in this field. We now feel we have an adequate understanding to ask the right questions of the appropriate authorities. In view of this and with the support of the Development Committee we have asked for a couple of important aspects of the revised proposal to be clarified and the Development Committee also determined that we, as Ward Members, should be involved before final approval to the revised scheme is given by our Head of Planning and Transportation. Flood prevention and surface water drainage are subjects that create considerable concern and whilst we are by no means experts we can at least communicate these concerns together with our intimate and extensive knowledge of the local area.

The second was another request for an alteration to a Condition that requires the alteration to the mini roundabout at Hall Road/Rectory Road to be complete before first occupation of any house on the new estate. The Developer wanted to be able to have 22 properties occupied before this was completed. However the mood of the Committee was unanimous in support of Refusal. Councillors felt that Conditions, which Members and Officers alike spend considerable time on agreeing to, should be adhered to. We also pointed out that there were other Pre-occupation Conditions that had not been fulfilled and that the work on the roundabout commenced on the 3rd February with, we understand, a very generous time scale of six weeks. Maybe this is due to the fact that there would appear to be a cessation of activity, certainly no work has been noted this last week despite equipment being left on the verge.

Let us hope that this work will be completed in a speedy manner, likewise the supposedly temporary closure to pedestrian access in Thorpe Road.

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 19

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417eccA Brief Update

As ever your Ward Councillors, John and Christine Mason, have been busy dealing with issues and complaints and following a really helpful meeting with two of ECC engineers we are able to report the following;

  • Two badly damaged areas in Thorpe Road pavement are to receive a temporary a repair today, 30 January, and discussions will be taking place next week regarding more permanent remedial works.
  • The fence erected blocking a neighbour’s driveway is to be moved.
  • The damaged section of Thorpe Road carriageway is to be inspected with a view to a satisfactory reinstatement of the road surface.
  • Work is due to start on the mini roundabout at Nursery Corner/Hall Road junction on Monday the February 3rd and should take about 3 – 4 weeks.
  •  Despite promises the footpath access through Thorpe Road has yet to be reinstated but we are hopeful that this will be done before the end of March.

David Wilson Homes “hopes” to reopen a temporary path through Thorpe Road by Christmas – Quote – Unquote

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417Reported in the Echo 6 December 2013

Update on our Article, Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

A FOOTPATH which was closed,leaving residents with a half-mile detour to reach village amenities looks set to be reopened by Christmas.

The path at the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hockley, was shut unexpectedly in October, as part of a development for 175 homes in the village.

The closure meant residents had to walk half-a-mile along narrow pavements on Main Road or Rectory Road to reach shops, a doctor’s surgery and Greensward and Westerings schools. At the time, the move left residents angry at the lack of communication from developers David Wilson Homes, who had told residents the path wouldn’t be shut and access would be maintained at all times.

Now, after intervention from County Hall, the path looks set to reopen.

Following a meeting with developers,a spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The developer was understanding and supportive of the council’s desire to have access through Thorpe Road fully restored for pedestrians as soon as possible. “An alternative diversion within the site is being considered by the developer, which will direct pedestrians from the north of Thorpe Road, and to the east of the site to join with the southern part of Thorpe Road.”

“A spokeswoman for David Wilson Homes confirmed that it hoped to reopen a temporary path by Christmas.”

Comment from District Councillors John and Christine Mason

“Let us hope that the promise made by Barratts is fulfilled because this has caused problems for residents for over a month now and by Christmas  is another month”  

“Whilst welcoming the position negotiated by Essex County Council Officers this has only been achieved after protest by Councillors and Residents.” 

“Essex County Council should never have allowed the agreement that it would not be closed to pedestrians, agreed with District Councillors by ECC and Barratts, to be reneged upon in the first place.” 

“People Power” or How Residents Can Carry Out DIY Flood Prevention

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2013-11-30 10.27.21_DCEHawkwell Brook Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December

As featured in the ECHO DIY Flood Plan

No one told us how physically hard flood prevention would be.  John and I ache in muscles that “we did not know that we had and probably have not got”!  (Christine was heard saying “Charlie Dimmock I am not.  (Certainly John is not!))  That said it is a lot cheaper and more rewarding than the gym.

Saturday dawned cold, bright and above all dry.  Nearly 40 people turned up over the course of the session, it was impossible to keep track of everyone but all set to with a will.  Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Family and friends from age 8 to 80 every one did what they could and more.

2013-11-30 13.39.04_DCE

 

As someone said the camaraderie was fantastic and they got to know their neighbours better.  The community support has been staggering from Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members to school children, young and old, fit and less physically able, residents and ‘outsiders’ side by side.  Some residents who could not help provided tea, coffee and biscuits for the volunteers, one lady brought round a tray of cakes.  Everyone has contributed. As tired limbs were failing we were further encouraged by the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members who came along after their commitments and finished of the stretch we were all working on.  A massive improvement but better was yet to come.  Sunday saw more members of the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and their strength and abilities saw the task finished.    With the support of yet more tea and cakes!

 

2013-11-30 10.27.27_DCE

As a Community, Hawkwell West owes a great deal to these willing volunteers for their assistance with this project, but we can also congratulate ourselves.   Let us hope that those residents that were so adversely affected by the floods can now approach winter with a greater sense of peace and that this effort will achieve its aim of helping to prevent a repetition of the August floods.  Everyone has contributed.  Our Hawkwell West Community has proved that the spirit of community is alive and well.

2013-12-01 10.25.14_DCE

 

 

2013-11-30 10.27.48_DCE

Thanks to Rochford District Council for the Gloves and Rubbish collection, DWH for the loan of two wheelbarrows and forks, Southend Hospital for the Hand Cleanser, Everyone who helped and…………………

Special Thanks to Rochford Hundred Rugby Club Members.

2013-12-01 11.15.34_DCE

2013-12-01 11.54.35_DCE

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 18 – HGV Access to Thorpe Road

November 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

GB_Rochford District Residents_254  We returned home from our annual family holiday to find that David Wilson Homes (Barratts) had not ceased to use Thorpe Road for access of HGV Construction Traffic from the end of October.

Complaint to the Managing Director, David Wilson Homes (Barratts)

Dear Mr. Eardley

Several weeks ago Mr. Ruffy advised me personally, face to face, that HGV Construction Traffic would cease to use Thorpe Road from the end of October.

On the strength of this, and in response to a large number of complaints, Christine and I knocked on every door on Thorpe Road to pass on this assurance from Barratts. This was in good faith and an attempt to assuage the growing deterioration in the relationship between residents and Barratts.

It is evident from a complaint today that this promise has not been fulfilled.

I am advised that a large amount of clay has been deposited on the highway and all that has been done is turn this into a dangerous slurry.

The resident is as I write telephoning County Councillor Cutmore to complain and ask ECC Highways to send an Inspector immediately.

If the resident is unsuccessful then I shall contact the Chief Executive of Essex County Council personally.

I expect to receive a number of further complaints that HGV Construction Traffic has not ceased to use Thorpe Road from the end of October as promised.

I have copied in Mr. Amar Dave, Chief Executive of Rochford District Council because I believe that a resident of Thorpe Road has met with him recently.

Sincerely
Councillor John Mason
Hawkwell West Ward
Rochford District Council

Reply from David Wilson Homes

Dear Mr Mason

I am in receipt of your mail to David Eardley regarding concerns about the mud to Thorpe Road, caused by construction movements and he has asked me to respond as he is away from the office.

Recently we have experienced extremely heavy rainfall and this has made our processes to keep Thorpe Road mud free more challenging. We are making every effort to improve the situation and will continue to do so on a daily basis. We have had a number of discussions with residents locally and we continue to address their concerns.

We are moving the wheel wash over to the bottom half of the development next week and will be using the Clements Hall access exclusively for Construction traffic from Monday the 25th November, which is later than we had originally targeted and we apologise for the inconvenience this delay may have caused, but we can assure you that we are giving the matter our utmost attention.

Best regards

Peter Creighton
Construction Director
David Wilson Homes

Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

October 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

road-closedThis was permitted by Essex County Council with less than 24 hours Notice against promises that footpath access would never be closed for more than a few days at a time.

Closure of the footpath along the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell.

“I am writing on behalf of Barratt Developments to let you know that due to safety reasons, Thorpe Road will be closed to pedestrians as from 10:00am tomorrow (23/10) until further notice.

It is already of our concern that there is currently no segregation between members of the public walking through our construction site and the construction plant, as well as delivery vehicles at the site entrance. We have decided that with this concern, and whilst the current stage of deep drainage, services and road construction is carried out, the safest way forward is to close Thorpe Road at our site entrance down to plot 57. This is in line with our current stopping up order for Thorpe Road which expires at the end of February, however we will of course re-open the road for pedestrians when we feel it is safe to do so.”

We have written to Joanna Killian, Chief Executive of Essex County Council.

“I have been trying to get an understanding of how ECC will be dealing with the fact that the Road Closure will cease on 1 November 2013 from Sarah Alcock. We have had no reply. This is unacceptable.  I shall be obliged if you would arrange for an Officer to call on the affected neighbours and explain why ECC has reneged.”

Residents have also written to County Councillor Terry Cutmore.

“As you will be aware by now, David Wilson Homes (DWH) have given local residents just 24 hours notice of the closure of the footpath along the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell. Although I recognise that the path runs through the building site, I am astonished by the lack of consideration for local residents, this is a right of way and without it residents will have to make a half mile detour in either direction. My concern is mainly for the elderly and school children that use this cut through every day. When we asked ECC to pedestrianise the unmade end of the road to prevent it becoming a rat run (which it will), we were firmly told that right of way cannot be rescinded, so how come DWH can do it? I would ask why this was not considered within the plans when the Hawkwell Action Group and our two local Councillors were in consultation with the developers on behalf of local residents? “

“Make no mistake, closure of this path is devastating to local people, it is used constantly and closing it will affect many people’s lives. I have copied in both of our local Councillors for their information and also my three neighbours at this end of Thorpe Road who are all affected by the closure.”

“I hope you can step in and help us.”

 

 

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 17 and Other Local Issues

October 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0680

Clements Gate Development

A brief summary of where we are now with this development and other local issues.

 

 

Signs and Advertising

No more progress or information on the simple request for a ‘residents only parking sign’.  However David Wilson Homes have applied for permission for some of the signage at the Thorpe Road Marketing suite and although our last information on a site visit was that the application did not reflect what was on the ground the RDC Planning Officer was attempting to resolve this so that the retrospective application can be heard by the Development Committee on the 24th October.   As far as we are aware there has been no application for the flagpoles and advertisements at Clements Hall Way although I believe this has been ‘requested’ by Officers.

The abundance of signs appearing on the Rectory Road site entrance gate are growing but as we have not received any complaints we have not raised this with Officers.

The many signs at the unmade end of Thorpe Road seem to have eventually registered on delivery drivers and we have had only one recent report of a vehicle trying to access the site that way.

Rodents

This situation seems to have been satisfactorily resolved and we have had no more reports of infestations.  Now that the site clearance has been completed this problem should hopefully not reoccur.  Seven householders who jointly employed a consultant had to contribute £10 per household over and above the ex-gratia payment from Rochford District Council.  David Wilson Homes were approached to pay this amount but declined.  Other residents have dealt with this problem in different ways with different degrees of success in obtaining financial assistance from the Developer.

Road Names

We have still have not heard who the winners of the David Wilson Homes and Barratts Competition are although the street names were announced in July, and the site is well under way, however we are pleased that our suggestion of Aaron Lewis Close was included in recognition of his service and the sacrifice of his life for our Country.

Road Closure

Our original understanding of this closure was that it would be for a six month period in an 18 month window and this was originally confirmed by ECC.

The closure is required for the safety of the public and workforce while construction works of the new roads and sewers are undertaken.

The alternative route will be via Thorpe Road – Main Road – Rectory Road and vice versa. 

Access for pedestrians will be maintained at all times during the closure, pedestrians will need to follow the diversion as signed on site. 

The Order will come into effect on 1 April 2013 and may continue in force for 18 months or until the works have been completed, whichever is the earlier.’

This road should be almost ready to open now as the reason given for closure was to facilitate the installation of drainage and make up the road.  To our knowledge this work does not appear to have been started and the closure appears to be mainly facilitating construction traffic moving from one part of the site to another.  Thankfully the footpath has remained open for pedestrians and we have only had one report of a pedestrian (school child returning home) being denied passage but this was granted when another pedestrian pointed out that access was permitted.  I suspect this was a one off error as it is the only report we have received of any difficulty.

I chased this situation with ECC and the response on the 18th September was as follows.

‘I also asked for clarification regarding the road closure and can confirm that it was indeed originally for 6 months.  However this has just been extended  because of the following 2 main points

•         To enable heavy plant to cross between sites safely for public safety

•         Shortly, drainage will be installed which will involve very deep excavations and therefore it is not safe for the general public. This has been subject to a delay as changes needed to be made in regard to the drainage system being installed.

 Once the drainage is in place I have been advised this road closure will be removed and the Development Management Team will chase this up with the site once the drainage system is in place.’

Wheel Cleaning/Mud on Roads

On the 25th September John and I were visiting a resident in Thorpe Road and the state of mud on the road caused us such concern that I made the following report to ECC.

John and I have been visiting various residents in Thorpe road this afternoon and were disturbed to notice a JKS lorry remove its net by number 8 Thorpe Road whilst travelling at speed towards the site at around 3.45.  This resulted in a cloud of dust and various small (I hope) bits of hardcore flying of the back of the wagon onto the surrounding road/pavement and possibly adjacent parked vehicles.

Concerned I immediately walked down to the site and to speak to the ‘gate’ attendant.  Whilst walking another JKS lorry passed me and removed its net before entering the site although on the small stretch of road between the marketing suite and No 37 Thorpe Road.  This vehicle was at least travelling slower than its predecessor. 

I understand that DWH have spoken to their contractor about this and it should not reoccur.

At the same time I raised this problem:  Whilst visiting residents the most common concern was the state of the footway and road as a result of the heavy traffic.  Indeed we have witnessed lorries mounting the pavement on almost every occasion we have visited the site.  Residents do not want to wait for months or years to have this repaired and wish for the surfaces to be repaired before the icy weather.  The other common concern was that this was not done at a cost to the public purse as they feel strongly (or at least the ones we spoke to) that this damage was caused by DWH and they should be responsible for the repairs.

We have been advised that photographs were taken prior to construction and that the surfaces should be reinstated however we have asked that this is done sooner rather than later due to the obvious dangers to residents.  On the 8th Oct ECC advised they were undertaking a site visit…………………we are waiting to hear the outcome.

Construction Access

We have been advised that DWH will be moving the construction access to Clements Hall Way at the end of October which should alleviate some of the distress that has occurred.  If this has not stopped by the 10th November please advise us.

We are however concerned that the wheel washing facility is at the Thorpe Road end and although our Officer advised that there should be another one at Clements Hall Way end of the site we have never had confirmation that this is so.  Also we asked for an updated ecological report before the construction traffic was permitted to cross the Public Open Space as this disturbance to wildlife was not originally envisaged or assessed.  Whilst the Officer advised that he agreed with us we have not yet heard if that has been done.  As ever we are reliant on the efficiency of our Planners.

Site Road Construction

John has checked the Conditions that were made prior to construction starting and apparently the site roads should be made up to base level before house building in each Phase commences.  We do not think that this has been done. This has been checked by a Planning Officer at our request because we felt that this might partially explain the problem with mud on the road.  No Action will be taken!!

“Condition 17 of the consent does require the estate roads to be constructed up to base level prior to the commencement of any dwelling to gain access from that road.

 The purpose is so that any dwelling when occupied has a sensible means of access. The final wearing courses must be provided within 12 months of occupation.

 At our recent site visit a small number of houses had been constructed with the roof on. It was not clear to me as to whether the road construction was up to the requirements of the condition but it did not have visible inspection chambers and kerbing. That being said, the site manager anticipates selling the first few houses around Christmas. It may be that the road construction is not yet to road base level but as there are no houses to be soon occupied, it would not be expedient to take enforcement action at this early stage. The condition is worded the way it is so that there would be an opportunity and a measureable point in time. Clearly, it is in the applicants interests to make access provision in time for the first occupiers. With the extent of heavy plant on the site and the outstanding work still required on those first houses. It would not be expedient to pursue action at this early stage.”

 Site Visit

John and I had asked to visit the David Wilson Homes/Barratts site so that small issues could be raised, clarified and hopefully resolved either by fuller communication, better understanding or action.

However that appointment has been cancelled and no alternative offered.  Ever felt unwelcome!

Flooding

We are in the process of arranging a ‘volunteers’ group to help residents prevent future problems.  More information when the details are firmed up.

Application for 177 Main Road

Whilst this planning application was refused the nearby residents have taken the view that a new application would probably be made and wanted to discuss this with the developer so that their point of view could be incorporated, if possible, in any new application.  Resident’s wished for John and I to be present with them to assist an even and constructive discussion.  Unfortunately our Planning Department has not allowed an Officer to accompany us as the Standards and Planning Protocol that MUST be complied with by Councillors would indicate that we cannot get involved without an Officer present.  Both the residents and ourselves have contacted Mark Francois MP as we believe that the NPPF (Government Policy on Planning) encourages this dialogue but so far there appears to be an impasse with conflicting decisions between the Council’s Legal Officers (No) and Planning (Yes).  We have asked our Officers to determine this but are still waiting for a decision.  It seems a shame that such a simple, constructive approach is not officially supported in the dos’ and don’ts documentation.

Tree Preservation Orders

Whilst these Orders are put in place to protect trees and indeed some new ones have recently been put in place in our ward, we remain concerned that if a tree with a TPO is illegally felled that it should be, wherever possible ,with a similar sized and species tree.  If not the legal consequences should follow.  Are we out of touch here?

Contact

Please note our preferred contact details are our personal e mail addresses: Christine.mason@rochfordessex.net and john.mason@bigfoot.com

New Hawkwell Homes “Out of our Reach” is quite true

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

echo hawkwell 300913

The Echo published an Article today headed “Hawkwell homes “out of our reach”.

You can read it here.

 We have approximately 600 registrations on the Council’s Housing Register in a hierarchy of bands that are eligible for housing in our District.

 We hoped that the 35% Affordable Homes, presumably sold at rock bottom prices to Registered Social Landlords (RSL), would enable some of those residents that are on the Rochford District Council Housing Register to be housed at last.

 Councillor Keith Hudson, in charge of planning at Rochford, said to the Echo that he expected first time buyers would look to buy at the site, but would encourage people to use the shared ownership options available as a way of getting on the housing ladder. He added: “It’s an excellent way to get on the ladder. You share the burden with the housing association.“You can have a shared equity situation where you can buy a percentage of the property, and then pay a smaller amount of rent.”

 HERE IS THE WHOLE STORY.

 What Councillor Hudson did not say was how few of the Affordable Houses were available to be sold with “shared ownership”.

 It is only 20%. …………………….  Only 20% of the 35% Affordable Housing 

 Putting this into perspective this means for Hawkwell 20% of 62 Affordable Houses making just 12 available for Shared Ownership.

 Of the 35% Affordable Housing the rest, 50, are for rent only.

 According to Council Officers the Shared Ownership will be 50:50.  So, on a property of £300,000 a first time buyer of an Affordable Home would have to raise a Mortgage of £120,000 (80% of £150,000) and provide a cash deposit of £30,000 as the Government Help to Buy Scheme for 5% will not apply, plus continue to pay rent on the other 50%.

 “Out of our reach” is quite true.

 Buying a new home direct from a developer under the Government “Help to Buy Scheme” you look at, even with the 5% cash and the remaining deposit of 15% Guaranteed by Mr. Cameron announced today, you still need an 80% Mortgage.  Even with a property costing £300,000 you still need a Mortgage of £240,000.  Plus £45,000 provided by the Government on the 15% Deposit making a 95% Loan of £285,000. Can young adults with or without  University Debts of £ 20,000 – £40,000 EACH afford a Loan of £285,000 on top?

 How can these new houses be for our kids?

 “Out of our reach” is quite true.

Strategic Planning at Castle Point in a Spin

September 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Council fears for a concrete jungle futureCouncillors are saying “We do not want Castle Point to be turned into a concrete jungle, but don’t know how to stop it !!”

“The Government wants to see more development in South Essex and has got us over a barrel.”

What do outsiders think?

It seems surprising that Castle Point Councillors have chosen to question the Conservative led Government especially when the Council has a Conservative Administration.

One wonders what they expect to achieve because most District Councils are managing to avoid a clash with Government by putting house building plans in place to avoid planning powers being effectively taken away from the Council.

But as Castle Point Council is so against the new house building targets as a resident you would have to agree that the Council is doing the right thing.

If Castle Point truly do not know what the heck to do then perhaps the Leader of The Council should be making an urgent appointment in Westminster to tell David Cameron and Eric Pickles that Conservative Government Policy is not for Castle Point.

It is all a bit of a mystery why all the Conservative run Councils in South Essex have not got together and challenged Pickles and Osborne because they all must know that saying to residents that they had no choice but to follow Conservative Government Policy will not rub on the doorstep.

Perhaps with Campaigning for the 2015 General Election already underway there might be change in Government Policy to let Castle Point off the hook?

As regards the Rochford Core Strategy speaking to residents of Hawkwell recently identified to us some significant flaws in what is happening.  They want to know that if their children, as young adults, wished to stay in the area then they could find housing to rent or buy.  They do not understand the term Affordable Housing.  Residents think that this means that there will be one and two bedroom houses to buy at prices they can afford.  Not so. Affordable Houses means that these houses are made available for rent from a Registered Social Landlord.  Unfortunately, there are more than enough people on the Housing Register to take these up already.

Whatever Government “Help to Buy Scheme” you look at, even with the 5% cash and the remaining deposit of 15% Guaranteed by Mr. Cameron announced today, you still need an 80% Mortgage.  Even with a property costing £300,000 you still need a Mortgage of £240,000.  Plus £45,000 provided by the Government on the 15% Deposit making a 95% Loan of £285,000. Can young adults with University Loans of 20,000 – £40,000 EACH afford a Loan of £285,000 on top? 

How can these new houses be for our kids?

If the houses for sale are too big and too expensive then young adults will have to leave the area which is what the Rochford District Census 2011 suggests has happened and will no doubt continue. Perhaps this explains why the Rochford District Census 2011 also shows that there has been no increase in 0-18 year olds over 10 years.

As regards our aging population Council Officers told us at a Hearing that if older people wished to downsize then they could also apply to rent Affordable Homes from Registered Social Landlords.  But why would they want to rent 3 bedroom homes even if the Registered Social Landlords could ignore the waiting list on the Housing Register?

There is something fundamentally wrong here if residents think that the young (children) and old (parents) are not properly catered for in Council Housing Strategies for the local communities that they serve.

The housing in Rochford District has increased at average of 183 per year (2001 – 2011 by Council figures) and apart from the housing stock for rent by Registered Social Landlords this has met the needs of all age groups.

Perhaps Castle Point has more to concern itself with before it decides whether to buck Government Policy or not.

And Rochford District needs to consider these facts and trends in its Revision of the Core Strategy which starts again in January 2014.

If you want to read the Echo Article (27 September 2013) entitled “Council fears for a concrete jungle future” then it is below;

CONCERNS have been raised that the future development of thousands of homes in Castle Point could be left in the hands of the Government.

Castle Point Council is in the process of creating a new Local Plan which will act as a blue-print for where new homes could be built in the borough over the next 15 years.

It is the authority’s third attempt at putting together the housing strategy, as the original proposals were rejected by a Government inspector in 2010 and again in September 2011, following opposition from residents and backbench councillors.

Now, councillors are claiming the new draft document, which is yet to be completed, might not get voted through as it bears too much resemblance to previous plans.

If the new plan is rejected at full council, councillors fear the Government’s Planning Inspectorate would intervene and take the decision-making powers away from the local authority.

Alf Partridge, Conservative councillor for St Mary’s ward, said: “When I last saw the latest scheme I was not happy with it because it would still mean seeing the demise of green belt. I cannot see any difference between this plan and the last one.

“Council officers are making a valiant effort to try to rescue us from a ridiculous situation and find new ideas of where to put these homes, but what the heck can we do?

“The Government wants to see more development in south Essex and has got us over a barrel. It was talking about 200 homes a year and now its 250 homes. I am not happy to commit to such high numbers of new houses.

“But if we do not come up with a practical plan to allow a certain number of homes to be and members at the moment as we try to agree something. There is a good chance of the Government coming in and taking over. ”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “The council has found itself in a difficult position. If everyone doesn’t agree this time round, the Government could come in and decide things for us.

“I don’t think the Tories will vote it through because they are looking at a lot of development on the mainland which could lose them voters. But they have to make tough decisions.”

However, Tory councillor Bill Sharp said a new committee of six councillors has been put together to scrutinise all the potential development sites in the next few weeks.

He also said new sites have come to light, such as the Blinking Owl site off the A127, which could help relieve the pressure on the major green belt sites.

Mr Sharp said: “The Blinking Owl site has been left out in the past, but already has around six or seven entrances from the A127 and could be a suitable site. While I am concerned, I am not as concerned as I was a few weeks ago.

“I am confident we can come to a decision that will not see us lost our virgin green belt sites.”

 

 

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 16 and Other Local Issues

September 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Putty Road

Clements Gate Development

A brief summary of where we are now with this development and other local issues; Flooding, Noise & Pollution, Highways and Parking

Signs and Advertising

Residents in the unmade section of Thorpe Road have still not achieved success in the simple request for a ‘residents only parking sign’ yet David Wilson Homes appear to be able to erect as many signs as they want without Highways permission from Essex County Council or compliance with advertising regulations.  David Wilson Homes and Barratts have now applied again for retrospective planning for the signs around the Show Homes and the greater number of flagpoles than normally allowed around the whole site.  On the day the original application was to be heard, (Officers had recommended Refusal) the application was withdrawn. The new retrospective planning application should be heard in October and we hope to visit residents for your views once we have reviewed the position with Officers.

No 352 Rectory Road has been sold which resolved the issue of the enormous ‘For Sale’ board, which should have had permission and did not.

Rodents

David Wilson Homes and Barratts help did not materialise in an effective way so in extremis we approached Rochford District Council who have agreed to provide £50 towards the cost per affected household.  The residents are now requesting David Wilson Homes and Barratts to cover the additional £10 per household and await their response.  There is much appreciation for the assistance that RDC provided residents in this difficult situation.

Official Opening

The Show Homes are open and maybe the resulting traffic has created a problem so please advise us if you have experienced any problems. The Official Launch of Clements Gate is on the 23rd September at 11.00 am in the Sales and Marketing Suite (by invitation of course!).

Road Names

We still have not heard who the winners of the David Wilson Homes and Barratts Competition are although the street names were announced in July.

Noise and Air Pollution Concerns – Clements Gate and Clements Gardens

Prior to planning approval we raised concerns regarding potential high and invasive noise and hours of working with the Head of Planning.

Although hours and days of working are in the formal documentation we now gather that decisions on enforcement could be made by RDC Officers on a subjective basis leaning towards leniency.

The Head of Planning did inform us that any issues could be more effectively controlled by Environmental Health Statutes which provide adequate powers to deal with environmental issues.

However when issues of noise from the construction were raised it transpired that these powers do not provide the expected protection. The noise from construction is not covered.

Issues of ‘dust’ from building materials blowing onto adjacent properties and across Rectory Road from the compounding on the Vega Nurseries Site (Christmas Tree Farm), was another environmental concern, but it was, however, investigated and dealt with by RDC.  We were given to understand that the material should have been dampened to prevent this issue.

We had understood at the pre-planning stage that the storage compound would be to the right hand side of the new Clements Hall Way access and not on the Christmas Tree Farm accessed direct from Rectory Road. Indeed there is, apparently, provision for the Christmas Tree Farm to still sell trees this year. Because Officers had apparently not noticed, and certainly did not point out to Members, the possibility of the use of this entrance by the Developer, it was not covered in any agreements.  Unfortunately the Christmas Tree Farm access from Rectory Road is now yet another construction access despite intentions to the contrary.  Apparently our Officers are powerless to prevent this despite the amount of time and money spent on this application.

On the issue of pollution we were notified of an issue at Clements Gardens (not David Wilson Homes and Barratts) this Saturday, 14th September.  After visiting the site we realised that apart from the clearing of vegetation and trees it appeared that tyres were being burnt on the site.  An environmental “No No!”  Although we and residents contacted the Council’s Out of Hours Service, the Police and, we believe, the Fire Service was called, little happened.

An RDC Officer attended and asked the people responsible to stop but was apparently ignored.

What is the point of rules, regulations (laws?) if they cannot be enforced and do not protect the public?  We live some way from the burning but could smell it outside our house and inside where windows were open.  We wait with interest to see what action, if any RDC will take.

Wheel Cleaning/Mud on Roads

We have not had any recent complaints regarding this activity but with autumn approaching the difficulties originally experienced at the beginning of the year may resurface (no pun intended).  Mud on the road is potentially dangerous so if you do see any please photograph it and telephone Rochford District Council on 546366 or contact us straight away.  Prevention is always better than an accident!

Planning/Highways/parking

Recently we have been busy looking at two local planning applications that have caused distress and concern.  One at 177 Main Road was Refused but we are puzzled that although the County Council Highway Authority is the statutory expert on accident blackspots and what it says carries full weight in planning decisions the information they gave was different to that given by the Police and residents.

It would appear that only accidents which cause certain injuries are recorded by Essex County Council Highways.  Surely the number of collisions is more appropriate?  It is for schools. If you think this is wrong please ask your County Councillor to investigate.

Parking on pavements is seen more and more these days.  We can understand the temptation to ‘remove’ your vehicle from the highway and potential danger but parking on the verges causes other, sometimes hidden, problems.  Apart from the unsightly aspect of killed grass, mud can be slippery for pedestrians.  Pedestrians with mobility issues or pushchairs and prams can be caused difficulty, damage is often caused to underground services and the sight splay for drivers coming out of nearby driveways may be compromised.  So please think twice before parking inconsiderately.

Flooding

Our hearts go out to all those residents affected by the recent storms.  Please consider checking all your storm drains and nearby water courses for blockages to try and prevent future trauma.  We will be writing more on this at a later date.

Contact

We have been told that RDC is, as required by the Government, adopting the utmost security of emails sent to Members by The Council.  The small Ipads that the Conservatives have decided will be supplied to Councillors, for Council email use only, are not satisfactory in operation for either of us due to certain personal issues. Unfortunately rather than accepting our word The Council is now insisting that we will be required to obtain a medical report at our cost before alternative arrangements can be made. We have refused because we see no reason to have to pay personally for medical reports or to waste the time of our GP.  Our personal email addresses are Christine.mason@rochfordessex.net and john.mason@bigfoot.com

Tree Preservation Orders – Do they work?

September 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Written and edited by Christine and John Mason

4989 Stoke Lodge Lucombe Oak T1 - Quercus x hispanicus

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an Order made by a Council in respect of a tree(s) because the tree is considered to bring amenity value to the surrounding area. The Order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, lop or damage the tree in question without first obtaining the Council’s consent. A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees or woodland.

Often such Orders are stimulated by planning applications when local concern is focused on an area under threat of change.

If a protected tree is removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of a TPO it is the duty of the landowner to plant another tree of an appropriate size and species, at the same place, as soon as he/she reasonably can.

But who ‘polices’ these actions and what penalties can occur? The Local Planning Authority is responsible for issuing a TPO, initially a provisional one that is then either confirmed to provide long term protection, not confirmed or modified. The penalties for contravention, on conviction in a Magistrate’s Court, is a fine of up to £20,000, and could be unlimited if taken to a higher Court.

This would indicate that TPO’s are seen as an important piece of legislation that should be taken seriously. Whilst the public seem to rely on TPO’s do the Council’s that are charged with carrying out the administration of such Orders actions actually match up to these expectations?

There have been four local occasions in my memory where a TPO has been the cause of controversy locally. One 20/30 years ago in Hockley, where if memory serves me correctly, the builder removed trees with TPO’s to facilitate a planning application and was served a hefty fine. Another more recently in Hawkwell where the land owner correctly applied for permission to cut the canopy but the work was allegedly unsupervised and resulted in a visual damage that will not be corrected by nature for many years. The resultant diminished canopy helped permit a planning application for buildings to be agreed.

Again in Hawkwell, this time on the David Wilson Homes/Barratts Site a protected tree was cut down in January. Despite our requests to Council Officers to arrange for a replacement tree of appropriate size and species to be planted in the same place nothing has yet been done. The TPO legislation states that the replacement should be planted as soon as it reasonably can. Our understanding is that this has not been undertaken nor has any penalty been applied for.

More recently a provisional TPO has been placed on an Oak Tree on the boundary of 169/177 Main Road due to concerns of neighbours who feel that a planning application may threaten the tree in question. John and I are concerned that should work be undertaken on the travelling canopy, with permission, that the Council’s own tree specialist is present to ensure the work is performed to a suitable standard and so that errors of the past are not repeated. You can’t stick branches back on! Whilst the owner is always responsible for looking after a protected tree the local authority should be able to offer help and advice on how the tree/s are managed.

Generally speaking permission is always needed from the local planning authority to work on a tree covered by a TPO order unless it comes under the one of the special exceptions.

However John and I both remain concerned that although “the words” of TPO’s would seem to protect these special trees this does not always happen in the way it should.

If you think a tree needs to be protected or a tree with a TPO is being worked on please call us or Brian Clary at Rochford District Council.

 

Rochford Core Strategy Costs Already at £2.1 Million

August 11, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

George Osborne in Beijing

£2.1 million of Public money has been poured into R&D costs of Developers which they do not pay for.

You did !!

Surely the Coalition Government should have found some sort of mechanism for this public money to be recouped from the profits made by each developer?

Rochford District Council has spent £2.1m plus over the past 7 years to April 2013 on the Core Strategy.

Within that £350,000 to Consultants.

£1 million came from Council Tax and £1.1 million from Government Grants making £2.1 million overall.

All money paid by you in Taxes.

How do I know? Because as Members of Rochford District Council (independents) Christine and I asked the question on behalf of residents.

If you want to see the full information supplied to us go here.

How do we see things?

  • The Conservative Party promised to reduce the extent or even stop unwelcome development in their manifesto for the 2010 General Election.
  • The National House Building Federation lobbied the new Government over many months and The Chancellor of the Exchequer reversed the manifesto promises by creating a policy for economic recovery based on house building; boom and bust repeated.
  • Localism was promised in 2010 with local communities having a say in development was promised but all it meant was that Conservative controlled Councils would decide instead.
  • The views of local communities calling for a stop were ignored.
  • The reductions proposed by the Conservative Administration of Rochford District Council in mid 2012 were rejected and RDC now has yearly targets based on the Labour Regional Spatial Strategy coupled with a legally obligated Review for more years and more houses to meet the shortfall for adopting the Plan too late and finishing the build profile in the Plan years too early.
  • The Conservative Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, failed to dismantle the Regional Housing Policies (RSS) of the previous Labour Government until January 2013. Too late to matter as the Rochford Core Strategy was Approved by a Government Inspector and Adopted in December 2011 at 250 new houses p.a. rather than the preferred RDC number of 190 p.a.
  • So why has RDC not used the change in the law to revert to 190 p.a.?
  • Surely residents would have expected the Council to have reduced the number of houses in the Allocation of Sites which is in Public Inquiry in September?
  • The Hawkwell West development at The Christmas Tree Farm (Clements Gate) went ahead despite the fact that there has been no formal decision on the site at the Public Inquiry. So the Allocation of Sites could have been pulled until the numbers could have been reduced without opening the District up to the promised free for all from developers building even more houses.
  • Too late for Hall Road (600), Brays Lane (100) and Hawkwell (175) where plans are already passed but a benefit of reduction in Hullbridge and Rayleigh.

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