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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.

Garden Grabbing,Housing Density,PPS3 and The David Wilson Homes Appeal Hawkwell

June 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Lib Dem web site “OnlineFOCUS” has published an interesting article here .

Summary of the Article:

Recent changes have been made by the Coalition Government to Planning Policy PPS3 where the previous requirement  that new housing was supposed to be built at a minimum density of 30 units per hectare has now been dropped. Gardens are no longer classified as ‘brownfield’ sites and that will reduce any incentive for councils to rely on garden land for development sites. Our local planners at Rochford District Council have been asked  by how much the rules have changed. The answer is : not very much, so far.

Conclusion of the Article:

If you have a big garden and want to build a couple of houses in it you will still be able to apply for planning permission. And if your proposal is properly designed, with adequate garden sizes, suitable parking places, no overlooking etc, you will probably still get permission.

The Rochford Independent found this very interesting because a number of acres of “garden” had, on the face of things, been included in the land that had been put forward in the David Wilson Homes Planning Application.

So What is Garden Grabbing?  

Garden grabbing refers to the practice of building homes on open land attached to existing urban or suburban houses, which increases population density and, campaigners say, damages the character of an area.

In the run up to the General Election the Conservatives said the problem had arisen because of changes to planning policy drawn up by former deputy prime minister John Prescott in 2000, classifying gardens as brownfield, rather than greenfield, land.

Leafy gardens across the country are being dug up, and replaced with blocks of flats and high-density buildings that spell disaster for the local environment and local infrastructure.

The definition of brownfield land had not changed since the 1980s, what had changed were the targets for developing brownfield sites.

So what can residents do to get this issue looked at again now that the DWH Appeal has closed and The Planning Inspector had on, 8 June, submitted his Recommendation to Secretary of State, Eric Pickles who has the ultimate decision.

Well it looks as if the Announcement on the removal of the minimum housing density and the changes to garden grabbing were made on the same day so this might not have been considered by The Planning Inspector.

If you wish to help stop the 330 David Wilson Homes in Hawkwell please consider writing another letter to Mr. Pickles and his Planning Casework Team at email address PCC@communities.gsi.gov.uk
 
The Planning Casework team at Communities and Local Government will be issuing the Decision Letter.

Suggested Letter

Dear Mr Pickles

PINS Reference APP/B1550/A/09/2118700/NWF

I understand that your Government has very recently made changes to PPS3 in
respect of a minimum housing density and garden grabbing.

I further understand from The Planning Inspectorate that The Planning
Inspector’s Recommendation was forwarded to you on 8 June on the very day that
your Government was making changes to PPS3 and that The Planning Inspector
might not have taken this into account as material changes in planning
considerations that affect this Appeal.

A number of acres of “garden” have, on the face of things, been included in the
land that had been put forward in the David Wilson Homes Planning Application
and at, it could be, a density greater than 30 dwellings per hectare. One of
these gardens is in Thorpe Road  and the other is at the Chalet in Rectory
Road.

In view of the change in Government Policy the implications are that the Appeal
should now be Dismissed for these reasons and further to the fact that the
proposed development at 330 is way in excess of the 175 recommended by Rochford
District Council in its Core Strategy which lower figure was not even based on
local needs but the RSS which you intend to abolish.

Thank you for your attention to this letter and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

END OF LETTER

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

January 24, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting challenge I think.

Rochford Housing Policy – What happens next?

March 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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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