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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.

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

What does the Census 2011 tell us about our future housing needs?

September 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Essex Coastal Scene

The recently published Census 2011 data suggests to us that we did not need 175 new houses in Hawkwell for our children and grandchildren as the Council suggested to residents when they protested.

Nor perhaps the housing estate developments proposed in the rest of Rochford District.

With the age group 0 to 18 having increased across the whole District by only 186 over 10 years we leave it to you to decide about that.

Even if the birth rate in Rochford District shoots up from 2012 onwards as predicted these youngest children will not need new houses until earliest 2031 which is almost outside of the house building plan period.

With 0-18’s remaining around 17,000 over 10 years it is evident that the 1,828 new dwellings built in the District over 2001 – 2011 contributed adequately to their housing needs and other age groups. That is on average 183 new houses per year against the 250 per year which has been forced on our District by the last Labour Government and the new Coalition Government.

So if new estates numbering thousands in the District are to be built then many of these new homes must be for new residents to the District.

We are promised new jobs. When will the new jobs be created?

As the majority of the 6% population increase for Rochford District in the Census was in the over 60’s then instead surely we will need retirement villages to release “secondhand” family homes instead of new housing estates for a phantom birth rate or incomers to the area.

We adopted this policy as Independents several years ago.

On 9 April 2011 we wrote to Miss Laura Graham who was the Goverrnment Planning Inspector responsible for making a Decision on the Rochford Core Strategy.

“You should be recommending that the LPA should, therefore, take the existing CS away and press ahead without delay in preparing up dated development plans to respond to Planning for Growth and the LPA should use that opportunity to be proactive in identifying, driving and supporting the type of housing growth that this district really needs.

Instead of building new homes for families the housing strategy should focus on releasing smaller parcels of green belt in appropriately strategic locations to accommodate the needs of our aging population in terms of retirement villages which use a smaller footprint of green belt and release over housed family properties for re-use on sale.

Indeed Planning for Growth says “LPA’s should make every effort to identify and meet the housing, business and other development needs of their areas, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth, taking full account of relevant economic signals such as land prices. Authorities should work together to ensure that needs and opportunities that extend beyond (or cannot be met within) their own boundaries are identified and accommodated in a sustainable way, such as housing market requirements that cover a number of areas, and the strategic infrastructure necessary to support growth.  I do not believe that the CS meets these requirements.”

We were interviewed by Rochford Life;

“Interestingly enough, when I mention retirement villages, I was quite heartened that in this Thames Gateway draft that the consultant have been putting together, that issue seems to be coming back, so maybe the noise we made, and the noise we made to the Inspector on the Core Strategy, has been read by someone and maybe this is the way our ideas come back and come into fruition.

I don’t honestly understand why the Inspector, when looking at the Core Strategy and looking at the potentials, didn’t turn round under the subject heading of housing and housing types, didn’t actually introduce that into the debate. If she had brought that idea forward with the developers, we may have found that many of them would have put their hands up and said, what a great idea, we can do that and it’s highly profitable and it’s socially sensible, it’s entirely engaging because it releases less Green Belt, so why don’t we do that. It’s a mystery to me.”

But today the Telegraph publishes that there is now support for this policy from a respected think tank report.

Pensioners stuck in family homes

A report from Demos has claimed that millions of pensioners face growing old in social isolation because they are trapped in family homes which they cannot leave. Pensioners who would like to downsize are sitting on a stockpile of properties with an estimated value of £400bn, the reports says. However, a shortage of smaller homes suitable for retirement means that more than three million over-60s are unable to move, it adds.

About Demos

Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank. We have spent 20 years at the centre of the policy debate, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people.

The Government’s response to the housing crisis is a focus on increasing home ownership among first-time buyers. Our latest report argues that building retirement properties for older people keen to move could free up over 3 million family homes.

The District of Rochford is part of the Thames Gateway Housing Market which comprises Rochford, Castlepoint, Southend, Basildon and Thurrock. This is a “Strategic Housing Market” and we are part of that “SHMA” (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) which will be published again by the end of 2013.

As with the Labour legacy of the Regional Spatial Strategies, it would appear that the number of new houses required to be delivered in Rochford District will not be decided solely by Rochford District but by consultants partly paid for by the Council and possibly by adjoining Councils under the “duty to co-operate” who would like us to take part of their quotas.

Will the new SHMA increase the yearly requirement from 250 per year in RDC?

According to the experience of the last 10 years according to the Census 2011 perhaps that figure should have been reduced already to the original 190 per year?

To justify 250 per year or more we need explanations and furthermore justification why we cannot have less.

[Notes: Rochford District Council provided the metrics referred to above and as such were verified and validated by the Council. The base information has since been requested and provided by the Council although Councillor John Mason has simplified the spreadsheet to allow the comparison between 2001 and 2011 to be seen at a glance here.]

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.

 

Love thy Neighbour

August 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Despite our concerns about the new Barratts/David Wilson Homes development when an invitation to their new Show Homes launch arrived in the post unexpectedly we decided to be open minded and as a family member is house hunting for such a property Saturday morning saw us at the Sales Office (still no permission for the copious advertising and lighting but that is another story).

It was pouring with rain but the car park was full, including of all things an ice cream trolley and some tables, indeed the only umbrella on site appeared to be the one protecting the ice cream container!

Nevertheless we persisted and parked in Thorpe Road – sorry residents – braved the torrential rain and darted along the path to the sales office.  Had we an appointment?  No!  Alas I had failed to turn the card over and see that we were invited to call and make an appointment………..Nevertheless we were advised we could look around the Show Homes and told to follow the path.  We did.

The first house was a three bedded one (nice, neat and well presented) but the rain appeared to make a weird glugging sound emit from the plug hole in the kitchen which caused some confusion and hilarity.

By now we were so wet that we decided we may as well drip over the other house as well.  Four bedded and again well presented although a bit unnerving that the electrics kept switching on and off on their own accord, however teething problems that I am sure will be corrected.

Back to the Sales Office where tea and cup cakes seemed to be the order of the day; but not for us.

hmm, some sort of raspberry cupcakes

Perhaps you needed to have an appointment to be offered those!

Soaking wet we had to run back to the car and return home for dry clothes.  Note to Barratts: perhaps a few brolly’s for use of customers  might be a good investment if you are expecting potential buyers to undertake unconducted viewing in wet weather.

Our day meandered as most Saturdays do via food and shops but when we returned home we were concerned to see that the Brook behind our house was over the bank and up to the fence and our neighbours had potential issues as part of Rectory Road is very low and the torrential rain plus high tide (the Brook eventually runs into the sea and is consequently affected by the tides).

Several properties were affected and some flooded.

John could not get through on the Council’s emergency number  and the emergency services were inundated and only concerned if there was risk to life.  Although the Police agreed we could ask drivers to turn back due to the problems the wash was causing although they did imply people might be difficult.  Surley not thought I, homes at risk, potential untold distress and misery, no one would be that callous.  Wrong.

Rectory Road was flooded at the junction with Windsor Gardens and for some considerable length and the water levels rising.  Unfortunately motorists driving through the flood waters aggravated the problem sending the flood waters back towards the properties in a strong surge.  Some properties had air bricks covered and were literally an inch away from flooding.  Some have flooded.  My heart goes out to those residents affected.

Local residents were doing all that they could to support each other but the motorists seemed to be in their own protective bubble, more concerned with their own journey and some obviously relishing the mess and mayhem that they were creating.  One (local) tractor came tearing along and when asked to slow down speeded up creating a wave of over 6 inches (I know my wellies got flooded).  After that we discovered another property under water.  Generally though most motorists understood and were helpful, a big thank you to those drivers who offered to park up and walk or turned around.   After a while the water started to recede and we merely had to ask traffic to drive slowly.  A big thank you to all those neighbours who tried to help each other and themselves and for those who thought it did not matter remember it could be you needing help another time………..

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Advertising Flags, Posters, Hoardings at the Barratts/David Wilson Homes Sales Office, Thorpe Road

July 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By John Mason

A resident and I were talking in the street yesterday morning and during the conversation they expressed their shock and surprise at the amount of advertising material that had been allowed at Clements Gate.

Advertising in Thorpe Road, 25 July 2013

Advertising in Thorpe Road, 25 July 2013

I explained that this did not actually have permission because the planning application had been withdrawn by the applicant on the day that the planning application was to be determined at Development Committee the previous day, Thursday 25th July.

Earlier in the day, prior to the Development Committee Meeting that evening, Members were advised that revised plans had been received that day, reducing the amount of advertising material and reducing the size of the site hoardings and that Officers would be presenting those changes for Members to consider at the Development Committee that evening.

The original planning application had actually had been recommended for refusal as follows;

8 RECOMMENDATION

8.1 It is proposed that the Committee RESOLVES to REFUSE the application for the following reasons:-

1. The proposed signage would be extensive throughout that part of the site of four plots given over to the selling of the approved housing. The use of two hoardings, eleven free standing signs, five flags and graphics to fencing would be excessive resulting in a proliferation of advertising material on the site contrary to Policy SAT11 to the saved Rochford District Council Replacement Local Plan (2006). If allowed, the extent of advertising material proposed would detract from the character and appearance of the street to the detriment of the visual amenity nearby residents ought reasonably expect to enjoy.

As Ward Councillor’s Christine and I were concerned that adequate time was not being allowed to consider any changed proposals and their impact. We were also concerned that Statutory Consultees did not have the opportunity to see or comment on the revised plans and made appropriate representation to our Officers to consider these points.

At the Development committee meeting Members were advised that the Application had been withdrawn.

We understand that there will be a new Application !!

Clements Gate Street Names – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 15

July 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fir trees sprouting

We are pleased to advise you that as Ward Members we have been involved in a process of sifting and approving Street Names for the Christmas Tree Farm Development.

The Developer has been informed on the decisions made.

We put forward  Aaron Lewis Close to mark the life and sacrifice of Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, from Rectory Avenue in Hawkwell Parish who died while serving with the 29 Commando Regiment of the Royal Artillery, in the Gereshk area of Helmand Province, in December 2008.

His family approved the suggestion made by Ward Members, Christine and John Mason.

Street Description Plot numbers Street Name
Right Hand cul-de-sac off Main Loop Road 160, 161, 170, 172, 173 Fir Tree Drive
Main Loop Road 106, 111 to 113, 116 to 159, 162 to 165, 168,  169 Christmas Tree Crescent
Left Hand cul-de-sac off Main Loop Road 103 to 105, 107 to 110 Spruce Drive
Clements Hall Way (existing) 166, 167, 171, 174, 175 Clements Hall Way
Right Side off Thorpe Road cul-de-sac 62, 73 to 77, 82 to 102 Beehive Lane
Thorpe Road (existing) 43 to 46, 55 to 61, 78 to 81 Thorpe Road
Cul-de-sac off Right Side Thorpe Road cul-de-sac 63 to 72 Primrose Place
Left Side off Thorpe Road Top cul-de-sac 1 to 12 Aaron Lewis Close
Left Side off Thorpe Road Bottom cul-de-sac 13, 14, 36, 37 to 42, 47 to 54 Nursery Drive
Cul-de-sac off Bottom cul-de-sac 15 to 35 Badgers Walk

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Positives or Planning Negatives?

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Choices



Despite our recent experiences with Planning Conditions on the David Wilson Homes/Barratts planning permission not all the results of our negotiations are negative.

With the David Wilson Homes/Barratts development there was even the potential of Community benefits through a Public Open Space if Rochford District Council, Hawkwell Parish Council, and The Hawkwell Residents Association had the same vision as ourselves, HAG and CTFDAG. A Private Open Space isolated from the Spencers Park Open Space, which is owned by Hawkwell Parish Council, is not a Community benefit. We negotiated for the provision of a bridge to join the two spaces, to be paid for by the developer but as permission by Hawkwell Parish Council was refused this cannot go ahead. So there are no benefits there which seems hardly reasonable given the loss of greenbelt.

But there are the benefits required by a Planning Inspector and embodied in the Section 106 Legal Agreement. In this case the retention of the ‘Paddocks’ as a green buffer zone.

Okay part of the Paddocks, The Christmas Tree Farm, is being used as a builders yard/ compound, contrary in our opinion to the Legal Agreement, but we have asked our Head of Planning to see if something can be done bearing in mind the estimated 5 year build/sales time and the adverse effect on the scene from the road which was not expected by the Planning Inspector. No response as yet from Shaun Scrutton.

It is argued that there is tangible benefit to the Community by provision of 60 new homes as affordable housing stock. We will let you decide if that is a positive or a negative.

The New Homes Bonus (£200,0000 from the Government to compensate the Community), which we had hoped would be used primarily for the benefit of those adversely affected residents could have been another plus but no benefit for Hawkwell. Unfortunately this money is expected to go into the general Rochford District Council “pot” to enable the Council Tax for the whole District to be kept lower. Again we will let you decide if that is a positive or a negative.

It was a regrettable decision, in our opinion, of Rochford District Council (we voted against) to allow two David Wilson Homes/Barratts commercial sales and marketing offices in a residential area but it should bring in additional business rates as Non-Domestic Rates, or business rates, are collected by local authorities. This is how businesses using non-domestic property contribute.

Under the business rates retention arrangements introduced from 1 April 2013, local authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. We have alerted our Head of Finance at Rochford District Council and she is going to take the necessary action to bring these Offices into the business rating list. This would not have been captured as a positive if your Ward Members had not raised this opportunity with the Council.

On a smaller but equally important scale when as Ward Councillors when we are made aware of potential problems with Planning Applications we can ask for Conditions to be put in place that protect the affected parties as far as possible.

Conditions are only of use in this way if they are known about and communicated so we do try and ensure that those potentially involved know about the restrictions.

On one property recently, with an issue of overlooking where windows not shown on the original plan had been incorporated, a simple condition requiring the retention of the dividing fence to prevent potential future overlooking resolved the issue and ensuring the affected neighbour was aware of the Condition will hopefully prevent any future disputes.

On a similar small but important build the neighbour concerns about bulk and potential ungainly effects of a fence on what had been an attractive green vista was overcome by the simple addition of a condition requiring a small fence wall with evergreen planting to soften the impact.

Neither of these interventions would have occurred without action  by your Ward Councillors.

Our main concern is that the Planning Officers do ensure that the Planning Conditions are kept and whilst we are busy looking at the DWH/Barratts site more than others at the moment we do keep our eye on the small developments as well.

Sighs over Signs !! – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update 14

June 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Whatever Way You Want
Photo by clappstar
When is a street sign not a street sign? When it is an advert apparently!

The residents of the unmade part of Thorpe Road asked Essex County Council in 2012 for permission for a “residents only parking” sign. ECC agreed that residents could do this.

In January when DWH/Barratts commenced the residents decided to ask DWH/Barratts to pay for the sign as the need was caused by their development. DWH/Barratts agreed but Rochford District Council decided they needed to consider giving permission because it was an advert.

A few months later RDC decided that it was not an advert.

So it would be erected by DWH/Barratts? No because RDC decided it had to go back to ECC.

In the interim DWH and/or ECC have managed to erect at least three directions signs to Clements Gate, many ‘construction traffic only’ notices, a ‘Road Ahead Closed’ sign, seven flag poles (planning consent is required for more than three and has been retrospectively applied for four of them), a large advertising hoarding at the junction of Thorpe Road/ Thorpe Close, another two at the site entrance from Clements Hall Way again all without formal permission.

The same goes for the hardcore that needs to be put in by DWH because of their vehicles accessing the unmade part without permission. They have had meetings apparently and it now has to be ‘costed’.

Will either be done?  Could there be one rule for DWH/Barratts and another for residents? Let’s wait and see.

There is now an application by DWH/Barratts for about 23 various hoardings and signs to be erected around two show homes and the Sales and Marketing suite in Thorpe Road which was approved by Development Committee (we voted against this commercial use in a residential area but the remaining Members passed this usage quoting precedent. When we asked to see the planning permissions for the precedents these could not be produced. The modification of a “garage” and bespoke internal modelling for commercial use seems to be new and the so called precedents only related to the usual use of show homes.)

If you wish to comment on the current application for the advertisements please do so quoting ref 13/00299/ADV to RDC as soon as possible and we would appreciate a copy of your comments.

Another concern is that the application for a second Sales and Marketing Office by DWH off the Clements Hall Way access was passed without what Ward Councillors saw as adequate protection for the new nearby residents in relation to parking.

Hawkwell Parish Council was concerned that DWH/Barratts would use both at the same time. So were we!!

Whilst DWH/Barratts confirmed that they do not intend to have two sales offices open simultaneously’ despite a motion from John Mason asking for a condition to this effect this was not deemed necessary by the majority present. We voted against the application.

We have also raised the issue of two estate agents sales boards outside No 352 Rectory Road which is another DWH property which they have modernised for sale.

Residents are only allowed one for sale sign when attempting to sell their home and if more than one agent is used they have to use back to back signs of standard sizes.

Whilst one of the signs is of standard size the other is not and yet again when RDC were notified of this very little obvious action is taken. The offending large hoarding for the sale of a single house remains. Residents could not have one of these.

The comment from an Officer was ‘well they have spent a lot of money on it’……………………………are we missing something?

Meeting Place Communications (MPC) – Barratts and David Wilson Homes Update Number 13

May 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

13Meeting Place Communications has been described by RDC as a “complaints service for residents” and our local police as “mediators”.We have found this article from Meeting Place Communications on the internet and we felt that we should share this with you together with our feedback on the contents.
Case Studies – “Shifting the balance from opposition to support in Essex”

http://www.meetingplacecommunications.com/case-studies/shifting-the-balance-from-opposition-to-support-in-essex.aspx

MPC was appointed by a leading national housebuilder to assist in the promotion of 175 new homes in a village in Rochford District, Essex. Previously, two similar applications for the site by the developer had received strong opposition from the ward councillors and three local residents groups and were refused by the district council.

The key focus of the consultation strategy was stakeholder engagement. MPC held regular meetings with the local residents groups and the local ward councillors. Views expressed by these groups were taken on board where possible and reflected in the final proposals. MPC also forged a strong relationship with the local journalist; a relationship that was key to communicating with the local community.

At committee, the residents groups offered their support calling the scheme “a showpiece site which could be used as an example of how co-operation between the developer, Council and local residents can improve the final development” and the local newspaper ran a story about the scheme with the headline “Housing developers do have a caring side”. Rochford District Council voted resoundingly to approve the application.

Feedback from Ward Councillors John and Christine Mason on the statements made above.

  • No residents group spoke at Development Committee on 17 September to offer their support or make any other comment.

 

  • Both John and Christine Mason voted AGAINST approval and this is recorded in the Minutes.

As Independent Councillors we believe that any complaints should go through us in order that we can keep a full log which might be important later and the fact that we will use whatever channel we think fit including direct communication to the Managing Director of Barratts and David Wilson Homes.

David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update No 12

May 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Gosh!  We have never been so busy!  This afternoon, when returning home from a Planning Training Session lead by Shaun Scrutton at Rochford District Council we noticed a large advertising hoarding accompanied by four flag poles with site advertising banners at the end of Thorpe Road.

Only 3 Flagpoles are permitted on the whole site according to RDC. There are two already in Clements Hall Way.  This makes 6.

Only 3 Flagpoles are permitted on the whole site according to RDC. There are two already in Clements Hall Way. This makes 6.

Driving round to check that our eyes were not seeing mirages we were unable to drive through Thorpe Road as a ‘tipper truck/lorry’ was being loaded with top soil over the temporary fence whilst parked in Thorpe Road. The Planning Officer at RDC considered this unacceptable.

Loading like this is not permitted according to RDC. No Wheel Washing either !!

Loading like this is not permitted according to RDC. No Wheel Washing either !!

When it eventually moved, without undertaking the agreed wheel cleaning, it was noticed that the road cleaning tanker used to clean the road was seemingly attached a fire hydrant.

As we were not sure of the permissions required for these new apparitions we contacted RDC Planning who confirmed that the flag poles need planning permission (they do not have it nor have applied for it) as there are already two on site at the Clements Way entrance and developers are, we are informed, only allowed three on site without planning permission.   We understand that RDC will be asking for a retrospective planning application.  In the meantime we think that these will remain in place of course.  We have asked for them to be removed.

Also the Planning Officer we spoke to was of the opinion that the advertising hoarding should also be subject to planning permission but he is going to check on this.

There are two more today, 10/5 in Clements Hall Way

Advertising in Clements Hall Way.  Does this need permission?

Advertising in Clements Hall Way. Does this need permission?

He is also going to enquire – again – why David Wilson Homes & Barratts are not cleaning wheels as agreed.

The water is another issue and we do not know if this is correct or not.  Essex and Suffolk Water are investigating.  They did ask if anyone in the locality had issues with discolouration or pressure.  If you have can you please let us know so we can inform them accordingly.

There have also been more recent incidents of parking on the footways, construction traffic exiting the unmade section of Thorpe Road into Rectory Road, vehicles waiting outside the Vega Nurseries Gate at 7.30 am and we found out that the residents parking only sign residents would like in the unmade end of Thorpe Road is being given the run around between RDC and ECC.  It is now at Essex County Council once again!!

No advance notice was given about the traffic lights in Rectory Road on 9/5 and 10/5. There was no work going on when we passed at around 11 am 10/5.  No we do not know how long there will be this disruption.

David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update Number 11

May 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rodents – “a short update”

Demon Squirrel

Since the issue of rodent infestation in some properties surrounding the David Wilson Homes & Barratts site, alleged by residents to be following the start the clearance work, there has been a lot of anxiety and uncertainty experienced by residents.  Initially affected residents were told by David Wilson Homes & Barratts site operatives that it would be dealt with by David Wilson Homes & Barratts but when this failed to be effective the residents turned to us as Ward Councillors for assistance.

In March, in response to our representations, and those also made by our Environmental Officers at our request (this is after all a Public Health issue) we received the following reassurance from David Wilson Homes & Barratts representative, Meeting Place Communications (MPC).

‘residents are invited to arrange treatment and send DWH a bill for the works which they can then consider. Please invite residents to send the bill to me (c/o DWH) which I can then ensure gets to the right people within the organisation.’

So far so good!

However not everyone has the resources to outlay for treatment so with this in mind we re-approached MPC who advised…….

“DWH has had further discussions about this and has instructed Rentokil to visit the following properties – (addresses deleted) – They will be checking to see whether the bait boxes on the DWH side of the boundary are sufficient, or if they need moving or adding too in order to help rid these properties of rats. I am not sure what time they will be coming round however if no-one is at home can they will leave a contact card so they can get in touch.”

“This will hopefully prevent the need for residents to have the work done and paid for by themselves and send the invoice to DWH as I had previously mentioned.”

In the light of the potential health risks, anxiety and uncertainty, after all the Managing Director, Mr. David Eardley, of DWH did state in response to request for a solution on the 17th April………

‘We are very aware of the urgency of the rodent issue and we are dealing with this matter with up most importance.”

Our understanding from affected residents is that no one has inspected their homes or back gardens and the one resident who did have the work carried out at their own expense and submitted an invoice via MPC has had any contribution to the cost declined by David Wilson Homes & Barratts.

As Ward Councillors we met with Richard Evans, The Head of Environmental Services at Rochford District Council urgently this week to see if some resolution could be untaken for those residents who have suffered this period of uncertainty. We are pleased to say that The Head of Environmental Services at Rochford District Council has agreed to assist these residents with a proposed resolution. He will be in touch with all of those residents who have contacted us.

Many thanks to Richard Evans and his Team and let us hope this is an end to this sorry saga.

Barratts and David Wilson Homes – Clements Gate – Hawkwell – Update Number 10

May 4, 2013 by · 1 Comment 


Advertising
Barratts, Clements Gate, Hawkwell 

Editorial

So what revelations do we have to report to residents this week?

You would expect that major developers would put forward a proposal for planning permission a scheme that was pretty much “on the ball” in terms of significant needs such as road closures, construction access, building compounds, change of haul route and new marketing suites etc.,

But according to RDC Officers the people that put planning applications together are then superseded by the operational people who open the site who then see that major changes need to be made hence the problems we are now trying to deal with.  The apparent lack of contact between these two groups of professionals seems astonishing.

As we have said before Members of the Council are excluded from many of these decisions which are taken by Officers of Rochford District Council AFTER planning permission is granted.

We know that The Conservative and Lib Dem Government wish to build, build, build to save the economy with another round of consumer driven boom and bust from the housing market now that everything has been done to remove the so called “red tape” protecting the interests of residents.

We have heard The Chief Executive of Rochford District Council at the Business Breakfast tell businessmen and women in his update that RDC is encouraging house building in the District.

Further another RDC Officer has written when discussing Planning Conditions and Non Enforcement with me “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.

Perhaps this explains the apparent disregard some builders, small and large, seem to have for planning requirements.

Given what we are seeing in our Ward we wonder why they even bother with planning applications at all and we have a legal agreement on “The Paddocks” that you could pour water through like a sieve!!

This is a warning to all other residents across the District who will be getting housing estates soon.  

Can you trust the written word? 

Update

Rodents

No update as promised by Barratts and David Wilson Homes on 29th April.

Marketing Suite in Thorpe Road

Just days ago Barratts and David Wilson Homes were granted planning permission for a temporary period of 2 years. The Officer’s Report said “In this case the applicant is requesting a period of two years. It may be that if sales are slower than expected, that period could be increased ”. Barratts and David Wilson Homes now want three years just a short time after asking for 2 years. Are sales expected to be that slow already?

Clements Hall Way Access

The Vega Nursery Gate in Rectory Gate will still be used although it would seem that some traffic is now going through the new access.

Two advertising flags were erected a few days ago. We do not know if these were on the approved plans.

But there are plenty of ways round this.

Barratts and David Wilson Homes can have 3 flag poles on the whole site without specific permission.

So one to go………………

……….but how many do they want in Thorpe Road?

Seven!?

Residents Only Parking Signs in Thorpe Road

Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed to a request for this signage but have to put this through RDC for permission.  Several months later it has still not been looked at.  We understand officers have other priorities. (Planning Applications are dealt with in 8 weeks.)

Complaints please to Councillor Keith Hudson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation  CllrKeith.Hudson@rochford.gov.uk.

Perhaps residents should have just put up a flag pole?  Oh dear, No.  The rules are different for us.

Use of Open Space as Construction Haul Route

In order that heavy Construction Traffic access via Thorpe Road can be stopped as soon as possible Barratts and David Wilson Homes wish to run heavy heavy Construction Traffic across the Open Space. According to Barratts and David Wilson Homes there will be issues which need to be solved first with travelling over the GAS MAIN. We also have concerns about the risk to wildlife in the Open Space and we have insisted that Barratts and David Wilson Homes undertake an Ecological Assessment. Surprisingly both Officers and Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed.

Management of the Open Space

As we told you last week Rochford District Council knows nothing about Trinity Estates as stated in the Barratts and David Wilson Homes publicity and advertising circulated to residents.

An Officer writes  “The S106 requires agreement before first occupation – certainly there is a requirement for RDC to agree the arrangements, but it may be some while before we’re asked to do so; we’ve seen nothing as yet.”

County Council Election Update

Councillor Keith Hudson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected in Hockley and Hullbridge for Essex County Council. The seat was won by Green Party Councillor Michael Hoy.

Highways

Newly Elected County Councillor Terry Cutmore (CllrTerry.Cutmore@rochford.gov.uk) is now responsible for dealing with all of the Highway Authority complaints that you might have against Essex County Council.  Indeed any Essex County Council problems you may have. If things are not dealt with to your satisfaction let us know and we will help you take your complaint to the Chief Executive of ECC and the Local Government Ombudsman.

Councillor Terry Cutmore is also the person who controls Rochford District Council and is Leader of Rochford District Council.

What Residents Are NOT Told by Barratts and David Wilson Homes – Update Number 9

April 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Route141-October2010-80
Photo by modot_stl_photos
Summary of Clements Gate, Hawkwell Update

Many residents will now have received the misnamed Hawkwell “Focus” from Barratts-David Wilson Homes.

As your Independent District Ward Councillors, John and Christine Mason, we will now give you much more information of what is going on with the issues that Barratts and David Wilson Homes left out of their glossy, expensive, news pamphlet and report on other issues covered by Barratts and David Wilson Homes but without “spin”.   We are going to cover progress with the Clements Hall Way Access, the continued use of the Rectory Road Access (not in planning approval), the so called “public “Open Space, The Rat Problem, Street Naming, the continual use of the permanent open space of the “Paddocks” for a Builders Yard contrary to the intention of a legal agreement, the inadequate width of the Rectory Road Footway and the “Estate Agents” Office.

If you do not have the Hawkwell “Focus” from Barratts and David Wilson Homes you can download it.

(https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1063718/Hawkwell%20Focus%2C%20April%202013.pdf)

Before you start thinking that we can take this pain and it will be all over in a little while please do read about the future we foresee.

The Future for Even More House Building

You will remember that at the General Election that you were promised that the house building required by the Labour Government would be stopped or reduced. That quickly gave way to “we can’t” for legal reasons and discarded completely with economic recovery would be assured with the Conservative Government policy of “Build Houses for Growth”.

We heard The CEO of RDC at the Business Breakfast on Thursday tell businessmen and women in his update that RDC was encouraging house building in the District.

Further another RDC Officer has written when discussing Planning Conditions and Non Enforcement with me “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.

Both of these evidence that this promotion seems to be going much further than the binding requirements of the new NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework).

We have a Local Plan which currently requires over 3000 to be built with an embedded automatic increase of more than another 1000+.  There is documentation in public that suggests that Hawkwell West will get even more in new developments in Ironwell Lane. Worse than that perhaps there is a bunch of consultants currently telling us that we need many more thousands of houses in the Rochford District.   With real immigration figures into the District being very, very low you can forget the scaremongering by UKIP and the English Democrat Political Parties. As Independents we joined with the Greens to put forward long ago that we should only meet our local housing needs but this was savagely rejected by the Rochford District Conservatives.

Clements Gate Update

Rodent Infestations

Promises from Barratts and David Wilson Homes are not being met and the update actually appears in the Echo.  The problem appears to be spreading.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/10379891.Rat_problem_still_not_solved/

Clements Hall Way Access

pano4 (2)

Barratts and David Wilson Homes advised that this will open on 3 May 2013.

You would think that the use of the Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road would stop then?

No.

Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road

Whilst we understand that Officers of Rochford District Council acknowledge that continued use of the Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road, and that is what Barratts and David Wilson Homes intend, should be subject to a planning application there is no certainty that this formality will be fulfilled. Even if it is not we understand that there will be no enforcement action taken because RDC and ECC apparently do not see that any harm is caused.

An ECC Officer actually wrote I understand RDC want to progress this development and this would facilitate the process…”

You can see what we are up against “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.  No planning permission would be clearly OK with the Conservative Party nationally and locally.

As Ward Councillors we would at the very least want to see a temporary permission with an end date agreed with all of the all the relevant protocols in place; but in the absence of a planning application this will obviously not be possible.

We had one success with the help of information provided by residents.  Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed in writing to us that there will be no construction traffic waiting in Rectory Road or parking on the inadequate footway.

Widening of the Footway in Rectory Road

Whilst Barratts and David Wilson Homes refer to this in their Hawkwell “Focus”, Officers at RDC advise as follows;

The footway is not to be widened; this is misinformation in the newsletter. The planning statement we considered with the application agreed to “relocate telegraph poles and lamp posts from the footway into the site”.

Open Space

This was stated in the Planning Application to be a PUBLIC Open Space in return of course as a benefit to the whole community for the loss of Green Belt.

Councillor Cutmore reneged on his promise for RDC to form a PUBLIC Open Space.

As Independent Councillors we fought for the right for Hawkwell Parish Council to be able to own and manage this as a PUBLIC Open Space.  Hawkwell Parish Council refused to even talk to Barratts and David Wilson Homes.  This was backed up in a public statement by The Hawkwell Residents Association which agreed with this decision.

Hawkwell Parish Council also refused to participate in allowing a link to Spencers Park (owned by HPC) by a bridge to facilitate access to the PUBLIC open space from Spencers Park PUBLIC open space.  We understand that HPC was concerned about youths moving to Spencers Park. Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed to provide £10,000 funding for this facility but if not built the money will be retained by the developer.

Instead of a PUBLIC Open Space we ended up with a PRIVATE Open Space just for the residents of the new estate.

HAG and the CTFDAG disagreed and Richard Hill, Christine and John wished to meet with Barratts and David Wilson Homes to discuss alternatives. This was never taken up by Barratts.  When we chased all we got was “Thank you for your patience.”

With Barratts and David Wilson Homes stating in their Hawkwell “Focus” that this will be managed by Trinity Estates this will be a PRIVATE Open Space.  Rochford District Council are required to approve the plan but with no reply from Officers of RDC we assume that this remains a mystery.

You might want to read this link. It has nothing to do with us. We found it on Google.

http://www.blagger.com/db4/company_id/9845/companyname/Trinity-Estates.html

We believe that the decision of Hawkwell Parish Council to refuse to talk to Barratts and David Wilson Homes could be seen eventually as a grave mistake.  If you wish this to be altered even at this eleventh hour please make representation to Hawkwell Parish Council as soon as possible.  They are now the only authority that can ensure that the loss of green belt is offset by a PUBLIC open space.  Without their agreement to the Bridge the Open Space will certainly become and stay private.

Street Naming

We wrote about this here; http://bit.ly/Y1qfGg

Here are the recommendations we put forward to RDC.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1063718/Ward%20Members%20Final%20List%20Clements%20Gate%20%281%29.doc

This is why we chose Lewis Close/Avenue and objected to ALL of the other personalised names.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/10252842.Naming_road_after_Rochford_soldier_would_keep_his_memory_alive__dad_says/

We hope that you agree.

The Paddocks

We have  been concerned that the “green strip” known in the planning application as “The Paddocks” which adjoins Rectory Road is being used not only for access but also for parking and storage of building materials.

The Agreement states “The Owner shall only use the Paddocks for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, grazing or as open land so as to ensure that they remain un-built upon except for any buildings ancillary to such permitted use and provide open space which mitigates the visual impact of the Development on the area in which the Site is situated.”

Despite our objections Officers of the Council have decided “As these areas are within the application site and this use is permitted by the General Permitted Development Order 1995, it is lawful to use the areas for these purposes during the construction works.”

All we can say is that Officers did not advise Members that this current use could be permitted when the idea of a Legal Agreement was put forward in the planning application.

We have always feared that a Legal Agreement between the Council and the developer might not protect the interests of residents and our request for this to remain green belt was turned down by Deputy Council Leader, Keith Hudson.

Here is what Councillor Keith Hudson stated to Councillor John Mason “I am of the opinion that we require a legal agreement with the Developer and the landowners and RDC within the Section 106 agreement associated with the application to ensure that these parcels of land remain areas of permanent open space; such an agreement would be far stronger and defensible in law than a general green belt designation and have far more meaning. Such a legal agreement would be binding on all parties concerned unless there was agreement by all parties to nullify or amend the agreement.

Do you agree that this current use as a compound/builders yard provides open space which mitigates the visual impact of the Development and ensures that these parcels of land remain areas of permanent open space?

pano2 (2)

pano3 (2)

And finally the…………….

“Estate Agents” Office Approved in Established Residential Area

As we stated here, http://bit.ly/15Wro6D, we voted against this.

In his opposing speech (supporting Christine’s initial speech) John stated that he had not seen this particular arrangement put up for planning permission in his 13 years on the District Council or previously when he was on Hockley Parish Council and he was concerned about precedent.

A Tory Member pointedly suggested that he go and look at the EON Development and remember the Etheldore Avenue Development.

We followed up on this statement with Shaun Scrutton in writing and he agreed that neither of the examples referred to by the Tory required planning permission because they were unmodified and extended Show Houses.

The application approved in Hawkwell was different because it was an extended garage which had an internally modified layout for a commercial office and it does create a precedent as John stated.

Information Please

Please give us some feedback on these issues and let us know if you agree/disagree with the stances we are taking.  As your Ward Councillors we try to represent the view that we see as a local consensus and also to provide a voice for our community.  We can only do this successfully if you let us know what your opinions are.

David Wilson Homes/Barratts, Clements Gate – Update No 8 – Street Naming

April 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Name stamp

Have you ever wondered how and why streets get called what they do?

Some are very obvious, Main Road, London Road, Esplanade, Wood End etc.

Some more obscure.

When a new road is formed certain criteria for the names are considered.  One consideration is easy spelling so that a name is unlikely to be misspelt.  Another consideration is easy pronunciation in case of Emergency.

Names that reflect subjects that can be identified with the area such as Nursery Corner are encouraged.  One big “NO, NO” are names that relate to a person who is either living or those who have been alive during living memory.

Only under exceptional circumstances will this be given consideration and justification will be required, as well as consent from the person or family.

The main exception to this is where our War Heroes are killed in action and local Councils can use the Road/Street Naming process to commemorate their sacrifice if the families are agreeable.

Because one of the criteria for names is that there should be no confusion between neighbouring areas and districts it is probably preferable that each Council commemorates its own heroes.

David Wilson Homes or Barratts at Clements Gate, Hawkwell is an opportunity for this policy to be exercised without favour and in accordance with policy.

Unfortunately confusion has been caused as Barratts have produced two different lists of suggestions.

However it would appear from an examination of the Section 106 Agreement that many names that were put forward by Barratts belonged to the past and present landowners comprising the area now known as Clements Gate.

Whilst John and I initially decided not to comment or suggest names we did previously advise Barratts informally and verbally that we felt it inappropriate that personal names should be used in view of the lack of support locally for the development.

This has been a highly controversial, lengthy, series of planning applications in view of the strength of opposition by the local community.

Some of the names put forward such as Nursery Drive and Badgers Walk reflect the previous use of the land and would not continue to cause objection from the community.

Once a developer like Barratts submits names they are subjected to a simple process checking that they comply with policy and are acceptable to the local Post Office/Royal Mail before being put to Ward Councillors for consideration.

We do hope that suitable names are eventually going to be chosen by your District Council Officers in conjunction with Barratts and that the objections that we have put forward on behalf of residents will be accepted by Barratts.

We cannot be sure of that because this is development that your District Council has imposed on us and we hope that the street names adopted by Barratts and RDC do not perpetuate unnecessary controversy into the future.

If you want to have your say write to Sarah Fowler at RDC; sarah.fowler@rochford.gov.uk as soon as possible please.

“Estate Agents” Office Approved in Established Residential Area

April 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

...

Summary extracted from Council Officers Report

The sales building would occupy that part of the site shown in the re-development scheme for a pair of three-bedroomed semi- detached houses to plots 78 and 79 in Thorpe Road. The proposed sales building can be compared with an estate agency office. Whilst this type of office use to visiting members of the public is normally located within town centres, it is, however, common practice for larger housing developments to include a sales presence often making use of the show homes or other buildings forming the development.The sales building will give rise to visiting customers looking to view the show homes and often outside the working hours of the site in the evening and at weekends. No hours restrictions are therefore put forward in this application as the sales activity would not fit with the construction activity on the site and it would be expected that sales would open at weekends and bank holidays when buyers are able to view.In this case the applicant is requesting a period of two years. It may be that if sales are slower than expected, that period could be increased.

There was NO objection from Hawkwell Parish Council. There were NO objections from any resident of Thorpe Road on any adjoining Road. There was no objection from Hawkwell Residents Association, The Christmas Tree Farm Development Action Group and Hawkwell Action Group.

As Ward Members we had concerns on behalf of residents and we objected as follows in a speech at Committee.

A Show House is one thing but the plot is zoned residential and this is a proposal for commercial use in a well established residential area and not on the new estate.

I intend to vote against The Recommendation for Approval.

I would like to explain why.

  • In my opinion the more common arrangement is for a Show House on the new estate to be used.
  • However the phasing from the Developer already shows a proposed build rate of over 3 years and 3 years is not a temporary situation in my view.
  • As a commercial building this would be visually intrusive per se to the street scene as will the commercial hustle and bustle that it creates
  • The proposed advertising and sign boarding on and around the building is unacceptable in a residential area
  • If a resident were to apply for such use then such application would very likely be refused. So what is the very special case here?
  • A commercial use in a residential area will be detrimental and damaging to residential amenity
  • The restrictions put forward by the applicant in the approved planning application was for No Sunday Working which implied that the additional traffic down Thorpe Road would be almost none relating to the development on Sundays.
  • This proposed commercial use will increase the traffic and diminish the benefit of an amenity of quiet enjoyment.
  • Residents already have disruption from the building which will continue for years rather than months and the proposed Sales Office will eliminate the small respite they are expecting in the evenings and Sundays.
  • Of major concern is that there are no proposed restrictions on days and hours of use each day will be 10 till 6; this is unacceptable.

IT WAS APPROVED BY A MAJORITY OF COUNCILLORS PRESENT.

 

Stop Press……………..Extensions without Planning Permission

Home extension plans amended

Government plans to ease planning rules in England for three years have been amended to give neighbours the right to be consulted on building work. It comes after 26 coalition MPs voted against the Government on Tuesday. The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has written to MPs setting out a “light-touch neighbours’ consultation scheme”. He said he wants to tackle concerns about the effects the plans would have on “neighbours’ amenity” head on. Under the revised scheme homeowners wishing to build extensions under the new powers would notify their council with the details and the local authority would then inform the adjoining neighbours. If the neighbours do not object, the development can proceed, but if they do raise concerns the council will have to consider whether it had an “unacceptable impact on neighbours’ amenity”. The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith – a leading critic of the Government’s proposed changes – welcomed the watering down of the plans, calling it a “sensible approach”. He added: “The red line for me was maintaining a neighbour’s right to object. The Government has taken on board what we said, they’ve definitely listened.” Meanwhile, Tim Harford writes in the FT that perhaps we should scrap planning permission altogether. He says another more reasonable solution, would be to allow councils to reap the financial benefits of granting planning permission.

Financial Times, Page: 4    Financial Times, Page: 12     The Times, Page: 4    The Daily Telegraph, Page: 12   Daily Mail, Page: 6    Independent I, Page: 9    The Sun, Page: 2   BBC News

 

 

Update Number 7 – DWH Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

April 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Last Week we delivered our Newsletter to ALL residents houses in the affected area.

This Week the update is from Barratt Eastern Counties, Barratt House, 7 Springfield Lyons Approach, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 5EY

We have received a copy of Hawkwell Focus. We received our copy by email and we are not sure how many residents receive these.

If you wish to see it you can download it below.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1063718/Hawkwell%20Focus%2C%20April%202013.pdf

However please note that we may not necessarily agree with the comments made by the Developer.

We will welcome your comments on the Hawkwell Focus from David Wilson Homes, they are very important to us.

If you have any comments or future complaints please pass these to us rather than to the email address for the PR Company on the DWH Newsletter.

We can assure you that ALL complaints will be pursued by us vigorously with Barratts/DWH, Rochford District Council, Essex County Council or Essex Police. We will involve the appropriate authority to ensure that urgent action is taken and that it does not happen again and there is a clear log of problems and issues.

Did you know that “Focus” is the name attached to many Lib Dem Newsletters across the UK and there is a Rochford Lib Dem Group that coins “Focus” for its Newsletters.  There is a Lib Dem standing for Rochford North in May.  Confusing?

Update Number 6 – DWH Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

April 11, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Adolescent Trees

The David Wilson Homes/Barratts development, which was opposed by residents and us, your Independent Ward Councillors, commenced in January 2013.

Since then we have received numerous complaints from residents that have ranged from using the unadopted part of Thorpe Road from Rectory Road as a construction access, mud on roads, road closure and rodent infestations. These problems have kept us very busy working for ALL residents. With regard to rodent infestations we have helped arrange for affected residents to have access to a prevention scheme funded by the developer. 

Proposals from the developer to close the unmade part of Thorpe Road for through traffic and pedestrian access for 6 months was opposed by your Ward Members at Essex County Council and we are pleased to say that we were successful in demanding that pedestrians must have through access at all times.  

On construction access residents of the adopted part of Thorpe Road thought that all construction access would be via Clements Hall Way (off Rectory Road) but that too has changed. The adopted part of Thorpe Road will take construction traffic initially.  But instead of Clements Hall Way Officers of Rochford District Council have agreed to the use of the direct access to The Christmas Tree Farm from Rectory Road despite our formal objections. We have also been concerned that the “green strip” known in the planning application as “The Paddocks” which adjoins Rectory Road is being used not only for access but also for parking and storage of building materials.  The Agreement states “The Owner shall only use the Paddocks for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, grazing or as open land so as to ensure that they remain un-built upon except for any buildings ancillary to such permitted use and provide open space which mitigates the visual impact of the Development on the area in which the Site is situated.” Despite our objections Officers of the Council have decided “As these areas are within the application site and this use is permitted by the General Permitted Development Order 1995, it is lawful to use the areas for these purposes during the construction works.”

All we can say is that Officers did not advise Members that this current use could be permitted when the idea of a Legal Agreement was put forward in the planning application. We have always feared that a Legal Agreement between the Council and the developer might not protect the interests of residents and our request for this to remain green belt was turned down by Deputy Council Leader, Keith Hudson.  The Council is under the control of the Council Leader, Terry Cutmore.

In line with our election pledge as your Independent District Councillors we will continue to speak out against decisions by the Conservative Administration which are not in the best interests of our residents. Web Site http://rochfordessex.com

IF YOU HAVE NEIGHBOURS WHO ARE NOT ON THE INTERNET PLEASE PRINT THIS SHORT UPDATE FOR THEM

 

Update Number 5 – DWH Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

April 7, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

DSCF0417David Wilson Homes/Barratts  Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell) UPDATE No 5

Could we start by putting what has been said in a leaflet which has put through our doors this weekend into a local perspective?

Rochford District Council attempted to reduce the overall number of houses to be built in our District but it failed because the Conservative Government failed to be able to do away with the house building targets of the previous Labour Government.

In numerous articles on our web site we have warned and proved that there are many more developments to come in Hawkwell in Green Belt over and above the 176.

As regards Hawkwell, Rochford District Council put forward in its own plan (not from a developer at that time) a requirement for 300++ new houses for Hawkwell West in 2008.  Councillor John Mason responded with a 17 page analysis which took over 360 hours of work to produce which showed that such a number was unsustainable. It was only after this and protest from residents that RDC reduced the requirement to 175.

There were three Planning Applications by Barratts/David Wilson Homes two of which were Refused as put forward by Councillor John Mason and then with Councillor Christine Mason. Both of your Ward Members have spent time representing residents at the two Appeals.  The final Barratts planning application was passed in September 2012 but your two Ward Councillors voted against this.

According to residents there has been some misleading material published at past District Council elections and more importantly at the General Election about reducing development and Localism.  None of these promises have been fulfilled.

We had contemplated standing in the County Council Elections but to be honest we are too busy sorting out this mess rather than further our own political careers.  We are only representing you as Independents at the District Council because we are local residents who care about our local surroundings and environment and we will continue to speak out for you despite the attacks we frequently get in the Council Chamber from  a national political party.

So even if you had elected a Conservative to represent Hawkwell West then we think that they would not have had any say against the “Under my control” syndrome which has been published so widely and publicly over this weekend.  So much for Democracy and Localism!

Update Number 5

As District Councillors we expected that the detailed work with large scale planning applications would be carried out prior to Approval of the Planning Application.

Certainly our formal Pre-Application discussions with Officers and the developers indicated that.

Legal Agreements, formal traffic management agreements, hours of work, delivery routes, building materials etc., were all discussed before the Application was put to the Development Committee for a vote.

If an application is passed, as this one eventually was, then the Officers flesh out the Agreements and Conditions many of which should be in place before commencement of work.

We were concerned and perturbed to find that work commenced before these Agreements and Conditions were finalised and we are having to constantly re-negotiate these on behalf of residents with our Officers.  In our view this should not have happened.

Here is another quick update on specific issues.

Thorpe Road Closure – Planned Road Closure for 6 months – unmade part

Although the closure notice states 1st April this has still not been implemented as we understand discussions over signage with ECC are still taking place. However we expect this to be implemented sooner rather than later with the pedestrian access remaining open at all times.

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Hours of Working – would the hours read out before voting at Development Committee be kept to? 

We have finally had assurance that no deliveries should take place outside the hours of working other than by formal prior notice and certainly not on Sundays and Bank Holidays. There are alleged instances reported to us where this has occurred so we hope that these were just initial mistakes.

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Christmas Tree Farm “Vega Nurseries Gate” Access in Rectory Road

Despite the RDC Planning Department asking residents for Breaches of this Condition to be logged it would appear that RDC Officers are going to authorise the actions that the developer is taking.

Rochford District Council Officers have the power to alter and override Conditions and Restrictions agreed at Development Committee and in The Section 106 Legal Agreement. Once Planning Permission has been granted Members are excluded from future decision making.

We now understand that officers are minded to approve this access for a temporary period.  We have asked for clarification of ‘temporary’ which we are informed is 12 weeks.  As we are aware that the developer is using this access already we have asked for an end date to be put in place by Officers.  We await a response.

We think that this is fundamentally wrong and that when planning applications are passed by the Development Committee with proposals by the developer attached that these proposals should be honoured by all parties unless there is a supervening reason why they should not be met.

In response to the decision of a Planning Inspector at the first Appeal a strip of land called the “Paddocks” was established along Rectory Road where all development was to be prohibited bar the addition of one house and the retention of 352 Rectory Road because it houses a bat roost.

Our initial approach was to have this protected as Green Belt but this was rejected by Councillor Keith Hudson and Officers under the leadership of Terry Cutmore.  As Members we have spent many hours in meetings ensuring that this prohibition was delivered by an alternative means and this was incorporated into a legal agreement called a Section 106 Agreement.

‘3.2.3 The Owner shall only use the Paddocks for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, grazing or as open land so as to ensure that they remain un-built upon except for any buildings ancillary to such permitted use and provide open space which mitigates the visual impact of the Development on the area in which the Site is situated.’

 We have objected to the Paddocks being used for parking and compounding for the storage of materials, plant and machinery which was not declared on the plans approved at Development Committee.

Shaun Scrutton has written to us as follows when we objected to the use of the Paddocks.

‘Plant, machinery, moveable structures, etc., – Planning permission granted for operational development of land conveys permission for carrying out all necessary operations.  That being the case, there a compound is permitted development (Sch2, Part 4, Class A of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995).’

We have formally objected to this in writing to Albert Bugeja, who is the Head of Legal Services at RDC.  He will make a decision early this week.

Depending on how strongly you feel about this as a resident you also have the option of complaining to:

 The Chief Executive of RDC, paul.warren@rochford.gov.uk  Or: Terry Cutmore, Conservative Leader of Rochford District Council,  CllrTerry.Cutmore@rochford.gov.uk  or Keith Hudson  CllrKeith.Hudson@rochford.gov.uk, Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council who both lead the Administration.

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Rodent infestations in adjacent residential premises due to site disturbance

RESULT!

Despite the PR Company employed by Barratts/David Wilson Homes stating that residents could send DWH a bill for the work for them to consider we felt that this was not good enough when we have vulnerable residents in hardship situation facing a situation outside their control.

Christine wrote to our Health and Safety Officers because of the Public Health issues.

‘The rodent infestation resulting from the disturbance to the DWH site will I fear be an ongoing issue as the site is in the middle of a predominately residential area and even baiting the perimeter, whilst helpful is a bit like shutting the gate after the horse, or in this case rodents, have bolted. 

One of the affected residents has commented that bait boxes maybe a more effective way of dealing with this but I leave the detail up to you and other experts to deal with.  However it would, as you suggest, be helpful to know where they are treating as this may help us reassure those affected.

The concern here of course is not just the immediate one of the residents around the perimeter being affected but that there is a risk this problem could persist into the new properties once built if not adequately dealt with and amongst those we do have affordable homes whose tenants may not have the resources to deal with this situation.  That said this is a potential problem and we need to have the existing one dealt with as a matter of urgency from both a public health perspective and to alleviate unnecessary distress.

Whilst  Nikki Davies has agreed on behalf of DWH that residents in affected properties may send the invoice for treatment to them ‘to consider’, which is not as clear cut as I would have liked but at least shows an intention of accepting responsibility, this will not be achievable for those in a hardship situation. 

I recall from our budget meetings that RDC has a small contingency fund to assist in cases of hardship when infestation is present.  However I do not think that the District as a whole should pay for the results of a Developers’ actions.

May I suggest that where residents have a hardship situation that RDC initially funds the treatment on the understanding that the resident will approach DWH for reimbursement and once received, reimburse the Council.  Or an alternative administrative method that assists those in need at the same time as ensuring that the final cost is recovered from DWH.

It is important that this area is clearly addressed to avoid financial hardship as well as the other difficulties these people are facing, through no fault of their own.

I would like a response to the way forward on this by the 3rd April, so that, where necessary, we can inform residents of their options.

I cannot stress strongly enough how upsetting this is for those affected and I do fear that some incidents are not being reported due to the fear of costs of rectification.  I do know that a property in Rectory Road had been affected but it has not been formally reported.  I doubt that this is the only unreported incident.

We are pleased to say that our Public Health Department and its Officers have negotiated successfully and DWH will instruct and pay for these infestations to be treated.  Please do let us and/or our Officers know if you have a problem because this needs to be resolved sooner rather than later for everyone’s sake.

CllrJohn.Mason@Rochford.gov.uk and/or CllrChristine.Mason@Rochford.gov.uk or Martin.Howlett@Rochford.gov.uk

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Complaint as to whether or not the tree felling plan was being adhered to and query over correct removal of hedgerow.

We have received an acknowledgement from Mr Scrutton that an oak tree has been incorrectly felled after previous assurances from the expert Officers involved– surprising what happens when Ward Councillors state they will check once the site is open!

However the reply from Mr Scrutton does not fill us with confidence of an equitable outcome.

‘With regard to tree works, it’s now been possible to check on the situation and it does appear that an Oak tree identified for retention has been removed.  We’re in contact with DWH for an explanation and I’ll let you have an update when we receive a reply’.

Whilst we have not seen a reply from the Developer we have continued to object to the way that this has been handled.  Shaun Scrutton replies as follows;

“You’ll understand that I want to hear from DWH before determining a way forward on this issue, and if a replacement tree is required, as seems likely, we’ll want to see that planted with the landscaping scheme for the site later on rather than insisting on a tree being planted that will need to be maintained during construction.  Leaving the timing aside, the advice from our arb. officer is that we can ask for a 12-14cm girth or 16-18cm girth (or even larger) tree if we think the replacement should have more instant impact; I’m guessing that would be your preference.  These larger trees are containerised so in theory they can be planted most times of the year, though the best time to plant is during the dormant season.” 

Thank you everyone who is keeping us informed, much appreciated.

Please keep us advised of any developments and copy us in if possible.  On behalf of all those affected residents, thank you for your continued help.   Regards John and Christine

Update Number 4 – DWH Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

March 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DWH Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell) No4

 

We were hoping things would quieten down and the disruption would be contained within the areas agreed by Development Committee.  Unfortunately they have not.

On Christmas Tree Farm

However it is not all bad news we do have some, most importantly –

Thorpe Road Closure – Planned Road Closure for 6 months – unmade part

With the support of our County Councillor Tracey Chapman and the MP we have been successful in getting the pedestrian access included in the Decision Notice which is posted in Thorpe Road.

No traffic lights or gates were included to keep traffic flowing through although it should be noted that very few vehicles travelled through to Rectory Road whilst the “track”, for that is how it appears on the Ordnance Survey, was deeply rutted, muddy and overgrown!

We are, however, concerned that the 6 months seems to have been extended to 18 months and that no effective action was taken by RDC or ECC to prevent the road being blocked prior to the Closure Notice taking effect on the 1st April.

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Hours of Working – would the hours read out before voting at Development Committee be kept to? 

Still no response to our enquiry of Mr Scrutton (restricting there to be NO Deliveries on Sundays and Bank Holidays) since the 8th March and he is now out of office again till the 2nd April !!

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Christmas Tree Farm “Vega Nurseries Gate” Access in Rectory Road

Despite the RDC Planning Department asking residents for Breaches of this Condition to be logged it would appear that RDC Officers are minded to authorise the actions that the developer is taking.

Rochford District Council Officers have the power to alter and override Conditions and Restrictions agreed at Development Committee and in The Section 106 Legal Agreement at their discretion. Once Planning Permission has been granted Members are excluded from future decision making.

We think that this is fundamentally wrong and that when planning applications are passed by the Development Committee with proposals by the developer attached that these proposals should be honoured by all parties unless there is a really important, unavoidable supervening reason why they should not be met.

 We have called for RDC to be very clear now which restrictions and conditions as approved by Development Committee will be either completely waived or temporarily waived by Officers?

 We have demanded a definitive statement from RDC Officers in order that residents of our Ward may be advised very quickly of the decisions that have been taken on their behalf by Officers (not Members).

Surely a developer of this size and experience should know what to put forward in a planning application the first time round with regard to what accesses to the site are required?

 You might be interested in seeing an email sent to RDC by ECC. We think it says it all!!  (The spelling mistakes were made by ECC not us and the bold emphasis is OURS.)

“Then developer is reusing a formed access which I assume meets the highway requirements onto rectory road.”

 “The decision with enforcement lies with yourselves however, I understand RDC want to progress this development and this would facilitate the process for what would only be a temporary arrangement construction arrangmetn with all the relevant protocols in place until such time as the new access from clements hall road is formed.”

Depending on how strongly you feel about this as a resident you do have the option of complaining to:

 The Chief Executive of RDC, paul.warren@rochford.gov.uk  Or: Terry Cutmore, Conservative Leader of the Council, CllrTerry.Cutmore@rochford.gov.uk  or Keith Hudson  CllrKeith.Hudson@rochford.gov.uk, Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council who both lead the Administration.

Please continue to keep us in the’ loop’.

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Rodent infestations in adjacent residential premises due to site disturbance

We have received even more reports of properties being affected and the original affected properties ones are still not free of infestation.  Rodents are burrowing under gardens and into their houses Thank you all for keeping us updated on this.  Today Christine wrote to Barratts/DWH as follows;

I would ask DWH to treat these properties as a matter of urgency because of the distress and health risks that DWH’s neighbours have been exposed to.  My understanding is that the worst affected properties are those in the unmade part of Thorpe Road where the rodents are burrowing under lawns into sheds and houses and similarly in Royer Close following the work at that end of the site.

We are concerned that it would appear that DWH have already been asked to undertake this work and do not appear to have responded.

I am sure you will appreciate the urgency of this situation and I would appreciate a reply today so that we can put a positive response in our weekly update.  If DWH are prepared to meet the costs we need details of how and when as some of these residents are on very limited budgets and need reassurance on more than one front.

We have been successful because the reply received is as follows;

’ residents are invited to arrange treatment and send DWH a bill for the works which they can then consider. Please invite residents to send the bill to me (c/o DWH) which I can then ensure gets to the right people within the organisation. ‘

The Address is: Nikki Davies, Associate Director, Meeting Place Communications , Lyttleton House, 64 Broomfield Road, Chelmsford CM1 1SW Tel: 01245 218160 / 07883 504 644

Please continue to keep us in the’ loop’.

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Complaint as to whether or not the tree felling plan was being adhered to and query over correct removal of hedgerow.

We have received an acknowledgement from Mr Scrutton that an oak tree has been incorrectly felled after previous assurances from the expert Officers involved– surprising what happens when Ward Councillors state they will check once the site is open!

However the reply from Mr Scrutton does not fill us with confidence of an equitable outcome.

‘With regard to tree works, it’s now been possible to check on the situation and it does appear that an Oak tree identified for retention has been removed.  We’re in contact with DWH for an explanation and I’ll let you have an update when we receive a reply’.

Thank you everyone who is keeping us informed, much appreciated.

Please keep us advised of any developments and copy us in if possible.  On behalf of all those affected residents thank you for your continued help.

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