Against Homes Development Proposals in Rochford District

May 15, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Emma Thomas ( wrote a great double page spread in the Echo entitled “United Against Homes Proposal” which reported on the representations that were made by many residents’ groups across Rochford District to a Government Planning Inspector.

As an objector myself (district councillor John Mason) I came away feeling so proud that there were so many people in our community who were prepared to enter a public inquiry to make their views so well known.

But I have pondered on the question of was that enough for common sense to prevail?

As this is an inexorable legal process driven by the national planning system of the previous Government I came to the conclusion, having spoken to planning professionals, that nothing will stop this happening against the wishes of the people unless many more residents directly call for it to be stopped and a binding re-assessment conducted by local people.  

Now is the time for Rochford District to call for help. Delay and it will be too late quite soon.


An environmental catastophe will definitely hit the Rochford District in 2011 and the “development storm” will continue unabated for a decade or more unless you act now.

Everyone living in Rochford District has known about this for years and it is something that residents have been shouting out about at public meetings to try to get someone to listen for 3 years. 

The response from local politicians has been “Yes, OK, we know” but the Law stops anything from being done about it.

But now is our chance. A chance of a lifetime because, suddenly, the Law can be changed.  Who can change it and stop an Environmental disaster even at the eleventh hour?  Well you can because we have in the UK a Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government and David and Nick are up for change.

Still not sure what I am on about? Yes you do. 

Do we really need 1250 new dwellings to be built in our district from 2011 to 2015?  It is claimed that these are for people coming into our district to take up newly created jobs? Has this been realistically assessed as a true local need? Or is it a justification for just building houses to meet imposed targets?

And for each five years thereafter another 1250 and so on.

What are our real local needs?

Your local council has known for some time that the infrastructure cannot cope and this was admitted openly by many at a council meeting a year or so ago.  But the same council has put forward proposals that are not even properly assessed against the existing poor district wide infrastructure.

The Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government promises to put forward a national planning statement for ratification to Parliament.  But it is right at the bottom of the page !!   Does that imply a low priority and delays in change?  

Rochford District is already threatened with planning decisions for at least 1460 dwellings from proposals put forward by developers who are determined to force the hand of the new Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government with decisions on two Appeals which are due on 26 July and 5 August.

This will be before a decision on the Core Strategy due at the end of September.

So will The Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government abolish this whole process by making a new national planning policy in time to save Rochford District from the impending environmental disaster that we ALL forsee?

YES, eventually, but too late, probably, for Rochford District

You must bring this directly to the attention of David Cameron and Nick Clegg.  It will be too late unless you act now, right away.

Don’t leave this to your local council because councils tend to obediently await process to take its course rather than be proactive.  That is part of the problem.  A slavish desire to follow process because they dare not challenge that process does not deliver change when it is desperately needed. Rochford District Council got us into this mess and I can’t see them being able to deal with it unless you show them how.

If you are too busy to write a long letter yourself then you could  just copy and paste this article and write to David and Nick telling them that we in Rochford are desperate to avoid an environmental and democratic disaster and we need their help as our Government of Change.

Letters rather than emails have the greatest effect.  Details of who to write to below in order of influence. 

To ensure a reply to your postal correspondence please include your full name, address and postcode.

Write to Number 10

You can write SEPERATELY to the PM (David Cameron) and The Deputy PM (Nick Clegg) at the following address asking them to make sure that their Government takes urgent action to safeguard Rochford District; it’s an emergency !!

10 Downing Street,

Write to your MP, either Mark Francois or James Duddridge asking them to personally lobby Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps on behalf of their constituents.

House of Commons

Write to Eric Pickles who is The Secretary of State who is making decisions on two planning appeals (Coombes Farm and DWH Hawkwell) and the Core Strategy asking him to preserve the rights of Rochford District to benefit from the Change promised by Government.

Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS

Write to Grant Shapps who is The Minister of State who is responsible for the new National Planning framework asking him to take whatever action is necessary to preserve the rights of Rochford District to benefit from the Change promised by Government.

Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SWIE 5DU

Exposing the Rochford Core Strategy

July 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

As regular readers will know  I  have  been  helping  residents  and the Hawkwell Action Group fight against  the  imposition  of new houses on green belt in Hawkwell West because the majority said at three well attended public meetings that they don’t want it.

The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG) has asked me to explain comments that have been made on the local press about house building plans being put on hold.

Yes, informed sources [of the Southend Standard] have already suggested the delays on the more controversial schemes mean they may never happen.

This means, quoting from the Southend Standard, “Land  between  London  Road,  Rawreth  Lane  and  the  old  A130  was originally due to be developed as part of the East of England Plan between 2010 and 2015.” “However, councillors voted to put back the scheme, as well as plans for 985 homes in West Rochford, West Hockley, South Hawkwell, Hullbridge, Canewdon and East Ashingdon.”

Yes,  it  says so quite clearly that development in South Hawkwell was put back. But I can tell you that Councillors have NOT voted to put back 985 homes in West Rochford, West Hockley, South Hawkwell, Hullbridge, Canewdon and East Ashingdon.

On 9th September the the Core Strategy Submission Document, June 2009, will be presented to Full Council with the recommendation that it is accepted and passes to the Secretary of State following a six week consultation period to obtain Residents’, Partners and Stakeholder’s views. There is, I understand, no intention to change something as fundamental as housing quantum or location or implementation.

Confused?  You are entitled to be.  But this is politics and the run up of spin to a General Election which must take place before June, 2010.

The Southend Standard also says “If the Conservative Party wins the next general election, it is committed to scrapping the East of England Plan and the linked housing targets.”

But does that mean that no houses will ever be built?  No, many houses will still be built.

The Conservative Party promises to give you greater local decision making and do away with the present regional housing target based system.

But there will be different rules. But they do not say what they are going to be which has given respected bodies such as the Planning Officers Society and The PPS Group grounds for some concerns.


One rule which seems destined to remain in my view is the “5 Year Rule”. This is the rule which local councillors quote when they explain that if they decide not to produce a policy, because they disagree with the Government, this will kick in and work to the complete disadvantage of all residents of Rochford District.

If only the Conservative Green Paper Number 9 had said that this would be repealed if they came to Government then there would be no need to go through the farce of producing costly policies which they are going to scrap. But are they really going to do this?  Read on.

Because the Green Paper does not scrap this rule  we have to assume that the “5 Year Rule” will remain under a Conservative Government.  So what does it say and what does it mean if the Rochford Core Strategy goes forward?

If Rochford District Council does not put forward a Core Strategy then the Council will not be in a position to deliver even existing rates of housing until a new land supply is established through the Local Development Framework. Consequently, in the period where there is no Core Strategy, the Council could challenged by developers pursuing development on unallocated sites on the basis of the lack of a five-year supply. Basically they could build anywhere they wanted.

So that is why local councilors say that the locations of housing targets MUST still go ahead. And the “5 Year Rule” is unlikely to be repealed in 2010 by the new Conservative Government because there simply isn’t time after the General Election to do so and they have already justified why these must be built anyway in the Core Strategy put forward.

So those land allocations in the LDF for 2010 to 2015 will go ahead anyway because they are justified on the needs for new housing to match the new jobs at the expanded Southend Airport and affordable housing needs.  This includes Hawkwell West, 175 houses.

The only ones which could be stopped are post 2015 like Rayleigh.

So HAG needs to keep asking you to maintain your objection even though the local papers through their informed sources have got it very wrong. Cynically it is the worst possible political spin just to get your vote.

Existing rates of housing growth for Rochford District under the “5 Year Rule” are as follows;

PPS3 states that LPAs should identify sufficient specific deliverable sites to deliver housing in the first five years.  In the latest Annual Monitoring Report published in December 2008 RDC included a table (Table 4.10) that lists the expected dwelling completions in the district over the five years 2008-2014 (assuming the adoption of the Core Strategy).  This indicates that 1376 units should be provided in five years and set against the annual target of 250 units (1250 in five years) indicates there is a five year supply.

Please Protest about no Bus

June 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

000_0130The campaign to get our evening bus back for Hawkwell has hit an iceberg in the form of the Review Committee for Rochford District Council.

This committee is headed up by Rayleigh Lib Dem, June Lumley and it was asked by Transport Councillor Boss, Keith Hudson to examine all the bus issues that were being raised by the public about cuts in services in Hockley, Hawkwell and Ashingdon.

At the same time I raised the issue of the lack of an evening bus in Hawkwell whilst giving evidence to the committee.  At a subsequent meeting with the residents associations in Hockley and Hawkwell it was raised again for reconsideration by Essex County Council.

Essex County Council has refused to switch one of the evening half hour subsidised services through Ashingdon and Hockley to Hawkwell because it would deprive a very small number of residents of Hockley, Ashingdon and East Hawkwell of a half hourly bus and Arriva says that it would place the viability of the whole service in jeopardy.

Hawkwell Parish Council has backed a switch but it is understood, not surprisingly, that Ashingdon is not agreeable and nor are Hockley again because a very small number of residents in the Greensward Lane to Ashingdon Schools stretch would not have a half hourly service.

So the Review Committee at RDC are just going to give up and do nothing. There is no bus at all in the evening in Hawkwell.

If it is not right to cancel someone else’s service, and I agree with that, then Hawkwell deserves its own subsidised service just like Hockley and Ashingdon.

I suggest that residents who feel strongly about this should email Rochford District Council to protest ( and also phone and contact the Evening Echo (