Top

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

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from the PlanningResource Web Site

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Strategic Planning at Castle Point in a Spin

September 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

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

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

What do outsiders think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can these new houses be for our kids?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Part Closure of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell

February 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

It will only be part of the unmade part.

The currently made up part will not be affected by any closure and residents with homes on the unmade part at the Rectory Road end will also be unaffected.

As your District Councillors we were aware that there may well be difficulties and concerns for our community and asked DWH to meet with us.

John and I have met today, 19 February, with Terry Armstrong (DWH) and Rob Ruffy (DWH) to explain the concerns and issues that have been put to us by residents over the past few days in respect of Thorpe Road and the other matters raised since the start on 7 January.

We have been very concerned that the Thorpe Road Closure proposals were not included in the planning application. We only learnt about this last Thursday and immediately protested in the strongest possible terms to the Managing Director.

But we are pleased to be able to advise you that DWH have taken the problems and concerns that their construction is causing seriously and DWH have put forward certain arrangements that will hopefully ease the disruption and perceived potential problems as far as possible.

Whilst DWH have applied to Essex County Council Highways (not Rochford District Council) to ‘stop up’ close the road for six months this is a worse case scenario and DWH do not anticipate needing all that time.  DWH intends to start work on the Thorpe Road access road in April and anticipate this will be closed to vehicle traffic for three months between April and June.  However they have taken on board the problems pedestrians, wheelchair and mobility users, cyclists and horse-riders face with no feasible alternative to Thorpe Road for many.

DWH will ensure that a pedestrian and non vehicle usage passage remains open at all times allowing residents to access from one end of the road to the other.  This route may be varied over other parts of the site for Health and Safety reasons but we have been assured that every attempt will be made for a pedestrian and other non vehicle access to be kept open.  Should they need to close it for a day or two DWH will put an advance notice out to minimize disruption.  Cyclists may also use this route but are likely to be requested to dismount and they are looking for a way to accommodate horse riders as well, perhaps with passing points.

DWH are also going to make Essex County Council aware of their intentions so that if possible the retention of the pedestrian and other usage passage can be incorporated into the Decision Notice.  Once the Road surface and drainage is completed, the road will be open to all as before, hopefully by the end on June 2013.

We have also discussed the time span and other aspects that may impact on residents during the building of this large development and made a plea for local labour and trades to be used as much as possible.  Also they are recruiting two apprentices for this site so if you know of any local teenager who may be interested please make sure they are aware of this possibility.

We are unable to give much further detail here but we have requested that DWH confirm their intentions in a Newsletter and DWH has agreed to do this shortly.

If you have any further specific worries or enquiries please let either John or I know so that we can take them forward for you as we are going to have regular meetings to represent local concerns.

 

Christine Mason, District Councillor for Hawkwell West

Hawkwell Neighbourhood Plan – Better Late Than Never?

January 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Casino Chips with houses on top

Christine and I went to a Hawkwell Parish Council Meeting in August 2011 to explain that the findings of the Hawkwell Parish Plan could be taken forward by Hawkwell Parish Council in the form of a Neighbourhood Plan (“NP”).

All of this is about more houses for Hawkwell and the views residents made clear in the Survey ” residents do not want to see any further development and loss of green belt”.

We saw this as an urgent matter because we foresaw that the Core Strategy (“CS”) would have to be revised or reviewed by the District Council because it was going to be late in providing the target required by Government and that it did not comply with the NPPF (” National Planning Policy Framework”) or the Government Policy “Planning for Growth” (means more houses).

We wrote to Hawkwell Parish Council again in March 2012 urging that they got involved in a Neighbourhood Plan quickly because RDC (“Rochford District Council “) had already a Committee Meeting which decided on how the Revised Core Strategy would be taken forward.

We told Hawkwell Parish Council;

“It seems to us that every Option, regardless of which might be chosen, has the risk of additional housing being required in the Core Strategy Location of South Hawkwell which is actually Hawkwell West Ward. Or indeed a new additional Location in Hawkwell Parish?

It occurs to us that your Council, on behalf of the Parish whose views are expressed in the Hawkwell Parish Plan which your Council has adopted, may wish to now formally consider whether there is any significant requirement/need/capacity in sustainability/opportunity for additional housing by producing a Neighbourhood Plan.

Whilst it is known and accepted that a Neighbourhood Plan, as provided for by Law in the Localism Bill, could not change the position on the 175 dwellings already in the Core Strategy we believe that with careful thought a Neighbourhood Plan produced now might prevent significant addition.

This could allow any future decision to be directly influenced and formed by the residents of Hawkwell rather than by any other means or other bodies, which would appear to have been the case, in my opinion, to the Core Strategy adopted on 13 December 2011.”

But it was only at Full Council for Hawkwell Parish in January 2013, almost another year later and eighteen months after we had personally been to talk to them, that the Appointment of Councillors to a Neighbourhood Plan Working Group took place.

The Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council writes “Full Council didn’t initially specify a report back date to the Working Group as the Chairman indicated that the matter is incredibly complex with numerous issues to be taken into consideration. At the Full Council meeting it was reported that a NP can take anything from eighteen months to two years to complete……….”

Is it too late?

Probably because in our view  Rochford District Council will have already decided well within eighteen months to 2 years time.

How do we know?

In July 2012 RDC published a revision of the SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) which identified further sites for potential development in Hawkwell. (See our Article)

The SHLAA report was linked to Options to proceed the Inspector’s requirement of initial approval of the CS for a Revision of the Core Strategy to plan, inter alia, for a shortfall of 402 from 2006 to 2011 and to extend the CS from 2025 to 2031 at a probable minimum of 250 per year.

This potentially adds up to an additional 2000 dwellings for the district as a whole if windfalls do not extinguish at least the shortfall of 402 houses.

My question is what effect does the revised SHLAA have on any intention of Hawkwell Parish Council to put in place a Neighbourhood Plan and secondly what is the effect of a Revision of the CS which is already underway by RDC on the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan.

Here is a comment that we obtained from a professional planner;

“A Neighbourhood Plan can allocate sites for development as it wishes, with the SHLAA being a key evidence document to inform that process.”

“In respect of the revision of the CS, the Neighbourhood Plan must seek to be “in general conformity” with the CS.

So the NP cannot be seen as a tool to try and undermine what the adopted CS is trying to do, or what the revised CS is seeking to achieve either.

So with Rochford DC seeking to take forward a revised CS and Hawkwell potentially looking at an NP, it will be important to ensure that the two try – as far as is possible or necessary – to push in the same direction.”

BUT………………….

It is important to recognise that Hawkwell Parish Council has NOT YET DECIDED to produce a Neighbourhood Plan .

The Hawkwell Parish Council says “The Working Group has been set up to consider a Neighbourhood Plan taking into account potential costs, resource requirements, support within the community and outcomes of other Councils who have gone down the NP route, etc.,”

Unfortunately it might now be too late for a Neighbourhood Plan to have the desired benefit for residents.

But could it still be ” better late than never” ? Hawkwell Parish Council has a difficult decision to make.

Our view is that once again any opposition will have to be mounted by your District Councillors and any residents action group that decides to wade in with energy to hold public meetings and leaflet (1800 for just every house in Hawkwell West or over 5000 for the whole of Hawkwell. We do not know whether the existing HAG or CTFDAG will perform this role or whether residents need to set up a new Action Group.

According to the HPPG (Hawkwell Parish Plan Group) residents do not want to see any further development and loss of green belt.

We believe that no further encroachment on existing Green Belt boundaries should take place. Existing boundaries should be retained and, in determining the number of new houses that are needed in Hawkwell, to take account of the views of the residents of Hawkwell. Residents must not be dictated to by other authorities in isolation and without taking full account of the effects on the local environment, heritage and infrastructure for existing residents.

Please feel free to contact Christine or I if you wish any further clarification. 

 

Problems at Christmas Tree Farm Site?

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

On Christmas Tree Farm

Residents have asked us who they should contact if there are problems or breaches of planning conditions during the build/construction phase of the new estate.

We hope that there are none because we took a great deal of trouble to discuss all of the potential big problems we could all forsee and make enforceable conditions with DWH before planning permission was finalised.

Having said that the build will take several years.  DWH say that there will be a Help Line provided to residents.  We have not been informed of the phone number yet.

If you encounter problems then we think that the Council ought to know and take action.  The Planning Case Officer is Mike Stranks and he can be contacted at RDC on 546366 or email mike.stranks@rochford.gov.uk

If you email the Council or Essex County Council or even DWH themselves please copy us in at Cllr John Mason <CllrJohn.Mason@rochford.gov.uk> and Cllr Christine Mason <CllrChristine.Mason@rochford.gov.uk>, although living close to the site ourselves hopefully we might have also already taken action.

 

 

 

 

 

Revision of the Rochford Core Strategy – How many more in Hawkwell?

January 3, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Targets - 2

So how many more for the Rochford District and our Ward, Hawkwell West?

In Hawkwell West we already have 176 approved which is an increase of over 10% of our housing stock in a relatively small area.

Read on………………..we will explain.

Background

The Core Strategy (CS) was adopted in December 2011 for delivery of 250 new dwellings per year over the years to 2025.

The Government Planning Inspector required Rochford District Council to undertake a revision or review of the Core Strategy to take into account a shorthfall in target numbers and years together with compliance with Government policy called the The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the housing building policy “Planning for Growth”.

The Core Strategy is the main policy document that provides a future new housing development framework for our area; generally the release of Green Belt for new housing. Rochford District Council had hoped that promises to change Government Policy following the General Election would permit only 190 per year. This did not happen and the total number remained unchanged in the CS with the end date stretched to 2025. I believe that this means that the total number allocated to sites runs out in 2025 against a required extension to 2031. ( 190 x years now 250 x years end 2025 not 2031 as required by Government)

This implies to us the need for additional sites for 6 times 250 or 1500 new dwellings to be planned for in our area at some point.

In July Rochford District Council published a document of around 400 or more pages called the SHLAA. This is the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2012 – SHLAA Review.

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) forms part of the Council’s evidence base that informs the new Local Development Framework or Core Strategy.

The Core Strategy really means “Government House Building Targets” which have not been withdrawn as promised by the new Conservative Government (whoops sorry, The Coalition Government of Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats).

So how many more for the Rochford District and our Ward, Hawkwell West? 

Read on……….we will explain some more

There is also a shortfall of 402 dwellings across the District is mainly due to the recession which resulted in a significant drop in housing completions, and the delay in the adoption of the Core Strategy.

Option A is to address housing shortfall up to 2011 by allowing a nominally higher quantum of development within the general locations identified in the Core Strategy, above that which has been assumed in the SHLAA Review. In other words instead of say 500 on a particular site increase the density to say 550. It is therefore necessary to consider whether there is potential for the quantum of development necessary to meet housing shortfall backlog to be developed within the general locations identified in the Core Strategy.

This would appear to be 5% in the sites put forward in the Allocations Submission Document which is subject to Public Consultation until 25 January 2013.

When I asked questions I obtained the following statement from a The Portfolio Holder ??? Council Member “The sites that are not preferred [in the Allocations Submission Document] will not come forward for further consideration.”

Do we think that that is likely to be true? Otherwise how is the shortfall of 400 plus 1500 making nearly 2000 to be met?

Option B, which we consider the more likely option, is that as the SHLAA simply suggests that any housing shortfall could be addressed through the Review of the Core Strategy, i.e. at point of the review, if the shortfall is X number of dwellings, the Core Strategy review could set out how X number of additional dwellings are to be provided in the District in the future. Would there be further public consultation on this aspect? Yes, hopefully.

So how many more for the Rochford District and our Ward, Hawkwell West? 

Read on…………here are the numbers and the possible new sites

In “South Hawkwell” as Rochford District Council repeatedly and confusingly insist on calling Hawkwell West, there are six proposed future sites in the SHLAA.

One of the sites, Potash Garden Centre, does not give the number of homes but it consists of 1.17 hectacres.

The other five sites propose a maximum of 124 new homes.

Four of these sites are in Ironwell Lane with 78 new homes proposed the fifth being land adjacent to The Old Rectory on Rectory Road with 46 new homes proposed.

Ironwell Lane (with 600 houses adjoining it in West Rochford already and given planning permission) seems part of a hidden agenda as on the “West Rochford” page calls for future sites Meadowbrook Farm at the bottom of Ironwell Lane proposes 31 new homes.

And to add to good measure 29-35 are proposed for the AutoPlas site on Main Road, Hawkwell.

Our concerns for unsustainable development in Hawkwell West with permanent loss of Green Belt and lack of identity by coalition are far from over.

It seems very short sighted not to provide a substainable infrastructure framework before allocating any proposed building sites and a further policy for more that just increases the already difficult conditions that we experience.

The loss of Green belt for homes should be a last resort and take account of OUR local housing needs, not national ones to rescue the Economy or those required by our Neighouring Councils in Southend, Castle Point, Basildon, Chelmsford and even Maldon.

The present core strategy has 250 new homes per year up to 2025.

Could we assume the number of new homes in the next core strategy of 2026-2040 will also be 250 per year?

The years up to 2040, “27 years”, are a mere blink in time before it is here along with the new homes/cars.

And will there still be no adequate Highways and other infrastructure?

When you get the chance to make comment on any of The Core Strategy by Public Consultation please say what your concerns are.

Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP)

December 30, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

HÅP

We are formally objecting to the Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP) which is published at the link below.

http://www.rochford.gov.uk/planning/policy/local_development_framework/hockley_area_action_plan/hockley-area-action-plan-haap

As District Councillors we believe that this plan will have adverse effects on the residents of our Ward, Hawkwell West Ward which adjoins The Hockley Village centre.

UPDATE – HERE IS A SYNOPSIS OF WHAT Councillor John Mason told the Planning Inspector at THE HEARING ON 17 SEPTEMBER 2013

I suggested yesterday at the Hockley Hearing that if the “up to” 3000sqm Supermarket/Retail scheme was not viable then a Retirement Village might be ideal instead and meet the rising needs of the over 60’s who have no smaller housing unit provision in the Core Strategy. More on this at http://rochfordessex.com/ in the article on the Census 2011. The Council suggested that 3 bed “lifelong” properties would remove the need to downsize……………nope !!

 

When I said that there were no new properties being built at one and two bedrooms that older folk could buy to downsize to the Council representative at the Hearing on Hockley yesterday said that older people were also eligible for rentable affordable housing if they wished to downsize. Don’t think the Social Landlords would agree.

 

The B1013 was running at 73% when I asked Essex County Council in 2008. Apparently the free flowing practical % only runs to 85% so I wonder where we are now? No answer from Highways at the Hearing on Hockley yesterday because they have decided not to do a Traffic Assessment. So is the Hockley Village Centre scheme viable?

 We are supporting the Hockley Residents’ Association whose Chair, Brian Guyett has had input into this article.

We would encourage you to read the HAAP and consider whether you personally or your organisation will also object. You might like to think about the concerns we have.

Anyone who either shops or drives in Hockley should be concerned with the District Council’s recently published proposals for regenerating the centre of Hockley which is called the HAAP.

There is the likelihood of a new “medium” sized supermarket of up to 3,000 sq metres (that nearly six times the size of the existing Co-op). There are concerns that a supermarket this large will overwhelm the existing shops and result in less competition and, in turn, higher prices. It is also contrary to the Council’s own experts, who recommended that Hockley should be redeveloped along small, “boutique” lines.

There are also plans for a public square, with an evening culture of bars and cafes, and around 100 new homes. Clearly this will all change the character of the ‘village’ against the wishes of residents.

This makes 150 new dwellings in Hockley made up of 50 recently given planning permission in West Hockley and the 100 in the Centre. (We thought there would only be 50 according to an election leaflet circulated in Hockley in 2010.)  So with the 976 dwellings already given planning permission in the Central part of the District the additional 100 takes the total well over 1000 (1026). There are 326 new dwellings just for Hockley and Hawkwell.

We cannot see how the overall highways infrastructure can cope without major improvements and from what Councillor Chris Black has said in Council there are the same concerns in the West of the District.

Christine and I pledge to continue to campaign for highways infrastructure improvements.

However, the main concern on the HAAP is the impact on traffic and parking. The Council has repeatedly promised that highway considerations would be included in the Hockley Area Action Plan (HAAP) but, in a the last minute U-turn, did not do so arguing that it could save money leaving it to a planning application to pay for this.

But

Essex County Council, advises that “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

The Council “considers” that the Spa Roundabout could be improved through the provision of 3 slip lanes and a wider pavement beside the Spa pub. There is no evidence to support this view or whether it is even physically viable. The Council has only allowed £2-300K for the cost of this work, which looks optimistic given that they allowed up to £2M for the same work in the Council’s costings for the Core Strategy.

The Council also proposes to move the Hockley Station car park in to Eldon Way, and build more houses on the existing car park. Whilst this has some attractions, it would reverse much of the traffic flows under the railway bridge and, again, the Council say they have not modelled the impact. So it is not known how this will change traffic flows through Hockley, including extra volumes from all the new housing in the West of the District.

Parking also looks very tight with just 211 places proposed for shopping and 72 for the Hockley Rail Station. The Rail Station Car Park is often almost full with 159 places so how is just 72 sustainable?

The Council states that to be Sound the plan (HAAP) should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development.

As stated earlier Essex County Council, advises “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

As the HAAP is a proposal for strategic development then according to ECC this must be accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.

The Planning Inspector is being asked by us to reject the HAAP and return this to Council with the requirement to await the formal and reported assessment of the strategic effect of such proposed strategic development on Highways infrastructure in Rochford District by ECC.

If you also wish to object then please submit your own by 25 January 2013.

http://www.rochford.gov.uk/planning/policy/local_development_framework/hockley_area_action_plan/hockley-area-action-plan-haap

John and Christine Mason

Another View – What Could Really Happen to Our Green Belt?

November 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Houses
Photo by bangli 1

The Liberal Democrat Group in Rochford has published an interesting article called “What Could Really Happen In Our Green Belt” at http://onlinefocus.org/?p=11420  “OnlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District”.

OnlineFOCUS said that the latest new housing allocation document says these are only minimum figures, the Council may allow more housing if required to meet our Five Year Housing Supply.  The five year supply is a rolling figure (5 X 250 houses per year) that is assessed and the result published annually each December.  OnlineFOCUS concluded that if houses don’t get built in one Preferred Location they may get built in another!

The new ‘maximums’ are substantially higher and create uncertainty and concern for residents.

What we hope will become clear in our Article is that the RDC policy on housing development is multi layered and not as transparent as we would expect to be presented to residents.

But the Lib Dems helpfully published a list of Preferred General Locations and the extra numbers of houses each could get based on the published Maximums.

 – North of London Road: maximum of 1019 compared with the policy figure of   550

– West Rochford: maximum of 748 compared with the policy figure of 600

– South Hawkwell: maximum of 252 compared with the policy figure of 175

– East Ashingdon: maximum of 144 compared with the policy figure of 100

– South West Hullbridge: maximum of 614 compared with the policy figure of 500

– South East Ashingdon: maximum of 617 compared with the policy figure of 500

– West Great Wakering: maximum of 341 compared with the policy figure of 250

The total increase which could be allowed is 1060 which would have alarmed many residents. The percentage increases range in each Preferred Location varies from 122% to 185%.

But I understand from one of our Planning Officers that restrictions were recommended at the LDF Sub Committee.

“The Allocations of Sites document recommends exactly where the Minimum houses will be built. Whilst a higher maximum was proposed for each General Location Members of the LDF Sub-Committee on 30 October recommended to the Council that the Allocations DPD restrict the quantum of development within each of the new residential allocations that are on land currently allocated as Green Belt to the figure specified in the Core Strategy as a maximum, but that this figure could be increased by up to 5% subject to the following criteria:”

 ·         “The additional number of dwellings are required to maintain a five year-land supply;”

 ·         “The additional number of dwellings to be provided on the site is required to compensate for a shortfall of dwellings that had been projected to be delivered within the settlement.” 

This would appear to be good news as the Maximum is not to be used.

However the question remains then why was there a Maximum in each Preferred General Location?

I will try to explain where we Independents think the Maxima will come into play.  We said earlier that the RDC Policy on housing development was complex and multi layered.

Read on………….This is obviously a sensitive political issue which might upset the peoples’ voting intentions if the implications were to be told in one place at one time.

I will have a go………………….I estimate that I am attempting to summarise the 2000 pages Councillors are expected to read and understand in just 3 ½ pages of A4.

So let us look beyond all that “smoke and mirrors”.

The Core Strategy (CS) was adopted in December 2011 for delivery of 250 new dwellings per year over the years to 2025. This is the main policy document that provides a future new housing development framework for our area; generally the release of Green Belt for new housing. The Council had hoped that promises to change Government Policy following the General Election would permit only 190 per year. This did not happen and the total number remained unchanged in the CS but only stretched to 2025.  I believe that this means that the total number allocated to sites runs out in 2025 against a required extension to 2031.

This implies to me the need for additional sites for 6 times 250 or 1500 new dwellings to be planned for at some point.

In July the Council published a document of around 400 or more pages called the SHLAA. This is the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2012 – SHLAA Review.

Did anyone else read this?

What was it for?

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in March 2012 by the Government requires each local planning authority to carry out a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) to assess their full housing needs and to establish realistic assumptions about the viability of land to meet the identified need for housing over the plan period. It also provides some key changes to housing policy, differing from the previous Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3).”

“A comprehensive review on the SHLAA is therefore necessary to provide more up-to-date information on the sites previously included in the SHLAA and any new sites that have emerged since the previous assessment. The findings will be used to inform the preparation of Local Development Framework documents.”

Two Options were recommended in order to proceed to identify where any additional houses need could potentially be built.

At the time of adoption of the Core Strategy in December 2011, the shortfall carried forward from 2006-2011 was already 402.

Option A is to allow a greater quantum of development through the ALL of the Preferred General Locations identified in the Core Strategy.

See the OnlineFOCUS list above for where the Preferred General Locations are in our District.

Option B is to make up the historic shortfall of 402 through the review of the Core Strategy. This will be dependent on the nature of the Core Strategy review.  One way to make up this shortfall of 402 – as discussed at the LDF Sub-committee in March – would be through the review of Core Strategy policies for housing 2021-2031 – a review which the Government Inspector’s required as a condition of adoption, given the delays.  The shortfall could then be made up over this period. However, in the March LDF sub-committee Members expressed a preference for a review of the Core Strategy which focussed on Policy H3 – only the Preferred General Locations for Housing post-2021.

In other words rather than look at the area as a whole again the Council will most likely only look at those sites that land owners have already put forward for development and have been assessed already.

It could be, of course, that the 402 shortfall might be cancelled out by small building developments over the period to 2025 or even 2021.

But spare a thought for the following areas which are scheduled for development post 2021.

If this shortfall is not made up these areas that follow will have to take the 402.

 – South West Hullbridge: maximum of 614 compared with the policy figure of 500

– South East Ashingdon: maximum of 617 compared with the policy figure of 500

– West Great Wakering: maximum of 341 compared with the policy figure of 250

But if we ONLY needed 1500 more houses from 2025 to 2031 this would still give only 322!!

So Option A would be to allow a greater number of dwellings through the ALL of the Preferred General Locations identified in the Core Strategy.

So expect the other Maxima to be used perhaps;

– North of London Road: maximum of 1019 compared with the policy figure of 550

– West Rochford: maximum of 748 compared with the policy figure of 600

– South Hawkwell: maximum of 252 compared with the policy figure of 175

– East Ashingdon: maximum of 144 compared with the policy figure of 100

Another 738! Now making only 1060!! 1500 needed. (plus 402?) Oh Dear. But there could well be additional sites in the SHLAA 2012 which could provide additional dwellings.

Where could the1060 actually be built?  I believe that the additional alternative sites not already chosen in the Allocation of Sites or those in the SHLAA would come into play.

Take a good look at these now because if you do not object at the outset there will be NO CHANCE of changing things.

 You might like to think about this when the Public Consultation on the Allocation of Sites takes place.

The sites currently rejected might well come back later, if the scenario of Option A  above comes into play, which we believe it might.  If you object to any of them say so now before it is too late.

The dates for the Public Consultation are yet to be agreed by the Council but it will be finalised at a Council Meeting on 27 November.  It is likely to be for 6/8 weeks from mid December.  Watch this web site for details later. 

Other looming pressures on the District might mean that new Laws could compel Rochford District to take on house targets from Southend, Castle Point, Basildon or even Maldon!!

The SHMAA was last reviewed in 2010.  Expect a new one early in 2012.

What is it?

The Thames Gateway South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment

The study is likely to tell us how many Affordable Houses we need to provide in our District and being a standard 35% of each new development this might mean we need many more houses just to meet this target for the homeless and population growth and migration to our District.

As Independents we try to tell residents about what is happening about Green Belt and New Housing, warn and suggest what you can do before it might be too late.

Our message is to have your say in the upcoming Public Consultation on the Allocation of Sites. 

Comment on all of them not just the one chosen to meet the Minimum in your area but also the Maximum for that site or Preferred General Location which we believe will inevitably be coming later. 

Update on the Christmas Tree Farm/Rectory Road/Thorpe Road Hawkwell Development

June 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

 Thanks to the technicians at our web host this site has been recovered. We have tested the functionality we are pleased to be able to resume publication.  
 
This is a long article which is designed to bring residents up to date with development in Hawkwell.
 
 The story in the Echo dated 6 May 2012 by Emma Thomas entitled “Developer ramps up plan for homes on green belt in Rochford” sums up the present situation quite well and being in the public domain enables us to comply fully with the Code of Conduct  which determines what we can say legally as your Ward Members.

You might have missed the article because it was filed under Southend and Hawkwell was missed from the headline.  So we are going to repeat most of it here so that you can be informed.

A DEVELOPER has made another bid to build 175 homes on green belt land.

Rochford District Council vetoed proposals for an estate on Christmas Tree Farm, between Main Road, Rectory Road and Clements Hall Way, Hawkwell, in December last year.

Councillors agreed the houses could be built there, but said the plans were not of a high enough standard. They asked David Wilson Homes to go back to the drawing board and come up with new designs.

[The Minutes said “Mindful of officers’ recommendation to approve the application, Members nevertheless considered that the application should be refused on the grounds that the appearance, design and layout of the proposed scheme was out of keeping with guidance contained within the Essex Design Guide.”]

The developer has put in an Appeal, which will be heard on June 26, but a second application is also being prepared which addresses the councillors’ concerns.

[Mr Richard Hill, Chairman of The Christmas Tree Farm Development Action Group] had met with David Wilson Homes to discuss the new plans.

The Hawkwell Action Group, [Hawkwell] Residents’ Association and [Hawkwell] Parish Council has also met the developers to share their views.

Mr Hill, 58, said residents were resigned to the houses being built, but wanted to get the best design possible.

He said: “I am pleased they have listened and taken notice. The only caveat to that is if they win the Appeal and don’t do anything, it is all a waste of time.

“Generally, we are against the development, but we accept it is going to happen and we are pleased David Wilson Homes has listened and taken notice of our concerns. It is the best we are going to get, I think.” If the Government Inspector finds in the developer’s favour, then the decision could be overturned and the houses would be built according to the first set of plans.

Keith Hudson, Tory councillor in charge of planning at Rochford Council, said he wanted a new plan.

He said: “I would much prefer the developer to put in a new application and take into account all the things members were concerned about.

“We will end up with a better development that we can all be proud of.”

Nikki Davies, spokeswoman for David Wilson Homes, said it would wait for both decisions and then decide which design to build.

She added: “We are focusing a lot of effort on the revised application. We are still pursuing both lines of action.”

What is not mentioned in the Echo is that there have been three Pre-Application Advice meetings which have directly involved both of your Ward Members, John and Christine Mason.

One of these meetings has been subject to a fee being paid by the developer to RDC where the charges came into force only on 1 April 2012.

Here is the “official line” direct from the Council’s Web Site explaining how these meetings fit in. 

Planning Pre-Application Advice

Rochford District Council welcomes and encourages discussions before a planning application is submitted. Such discussions can assist in better quality applications, which stand a better chance of a successful outcome. Nevertheless, it is necessary for the Council to apply a charge for this service.

Meetings with Members

“In accordance with the Council’s protocol, pre-application meetings can involve Council Members. The charges for meetings that also involve Members will be as per the charging schedule. Feedback from such meetings will be in the form of a written note of the meeting plus together with any additional information requests agreed at the meeting.”

Disclaimer

“You should be aware that any advice given by the Council in relation to pre-application enquiries will be based on the case officer’s professional judgement and will not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council with regard to any future planning applications. Any views or opinions expressed, are given without prejudice to the consideration by the Council of any formal planning application, which will be subject to wider consultation and publicity. Although the case officer may indicate the likely outcome of a formal planning application, no guarantees can or will be given about the decision that will be made on any such application.”

In addition John sucessfully moved in December that the Council would be expecting the developer to put its hand into it’s own pocket and fund a series of community based improvements called a Section 106 Agreement.

From the Minutes of Development Committee dated 15 December.

“During debate, concern was expressed about the future management of the proposed open space. Members emphasised that this should be properly reviewed with a view to robust arrangements being developed for the future management and maintenance of such open space, with a preference being expressed for the open space to be transferred to a public body with appropriate financial support for long-term management and maintenance.”

“The importance of re-siting street furniture and seeking from the developer the provision of a bus subsidy of around £100k was also highlighted.”

The Hawkwell Action Group and The Christmas Tree Farm Development Action Group are encouraging the developer to make formal proposals for management of the proposed Open Space with Hawkwell Parish Council who already manage the public open space at Magnolia Road, Spencers and Glencroft. The Council has its own groundsman and appropriate equipment that has been purchased from Council Tax already.
 
From the Hawkwell Parish Council Newsletter of February 2012 the Council said “By examining each line of our budget your Parish Council has managed to hold it’s precept (our share of your Council Tax) at the same level as last year, £30.30 for a Band ‘D’ property, without the subsidy offered to District and Borough Councils by central government.”
 
 
Hawkwell Parish Council writes “For less than 60p a week we can continue maintaining nearly 100 acres of parkland on three sites, Magnolia, Spencers and Glencroft, to the standard that’s come to be expected, all of the bus shelters in the Parish and almost 200 street lights.”
 
Hopefully the developer and Hawkwell Parish Council can agree on a scheme hich will protect the land from future development and maintain it for use by the whole community.
 
As District Ward Members for Hawkwell we are also encouraging Hawkwell Parish Council to produce a Neighbourhood Plan which will help protect the rest of Hawkwell from inappropriate housing developments but although we raised this with HPC in August 2011 they will not meet to discuss this until September 2012 !! 
 
If you have any questions please contact us.

The Rochford Core Strategy in a Nutshell – Is it time to move out of the area?

October 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Core Strategy in a Nutshell can be seen in two documents; the first a table of numbers which was produced by The Hockley Residents’ Association (Chair, Brian Guyett) and the second a graphical representation of the district showing the same thing as produced by Rochford District Council.

If you don’t like what you see for your immediate locale then think of moving out fast !!

There was a very poor turnout of Members for the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 14 October to discuss amendments to the Core Strategy. One assumes seasonal maladies for most of the large number of absences. Even then I think that there were only 5 speakers; Councillors Hudson, Cutmore and Glynn for the Conservatives, Chris Black for the Lib Dems, Michael Hoy for the Greens and me, John Mason as an independent for Hawkwell West. 

Background

When the new Coalition Government gave local councils the power to re-state their own house building targets Rochford District Council had the opportunity to make a strategy and plans to meet local needs and respond to what local residents wanted. David Cameron keeps telling us that local views will be followed and he urges us all to get involved in his new idea, The Big Society.

The residents of Rochford District have embraced involvement in local issues for decades and long before David Cameron thought that his new Government would give power and choices back to local residents as something new.  I think that he thought that this would be new because Conservative run local councils have in the process of creating a Core Strategy said that this is nothing to do with us; we have to do it by Law because of the Government; if only we were in power then things would be different.

The only problem is they are now in power and nothing has changed.  In fact the Cabinet Member who was solely responsible for using the new local power stated at the Extraordinary Council Meeting held on 14 October that the Council had to follow  the housing needs study that has been put forward by the Thames Gateway by Law instead of a new local housing needs study for Rochford District as proposed by The Green Councillor for Hullbridge and myself.

Well there has been an amendment to the Core Strategy. Rochford District Council did not want a Public Consultation on this but has been forced by Ms Laura Graham, the Government Planning Inspector, to conduct a consultation between 18 October 2010 and 30 November.

What has changed? 

Not much which is disappointing given that residents wanted less development in the centre of the district, Rochford, Hawkwell, Ashingdon and Hockley because of the difficult systemic bottlenecks and the limited capacity of local roads for increased traffic. Residents wanted more development on brownfield sites and where possible these brought forward in preference to green field development.

What we get is the same number of houses across the whole district , 3,800 but spread over a longer period, another 5 years, to 2031 which results under Government rules for less affordable homes, 50% less, being delivered each year at a time when mortgages are not available to the most demanding group, the 34’s which is said to drop off in later years.

The only residents that have been listened to it seems are those in Rayleigh where their protests have been ably represented by the 5 Liberal Democrat Councillors for Rayleigh who won at the outset a reduction from 1800 houses to the mid 700’s with 150 being deferred until the last 5 years by which time that need will probably have been extinguished by windfall developments over the first 15 years.

Also in the last 5 years, 2026/2031 are the 500 for Hullbridge and 250 for Great Wakering.

What are the chances of the Council listening to you?  Very little.  But your representations get looked at by Ms Laura Graham, The Government Planning Inspector, again at Hearings starting on 17 January 2011 which, if you do participate in the Council’s Consultation, might give you the right to speak.

If she hears enough from many residents then she might order some changes.

The Central Area of the District, Rochford, Hawkwell, Ashingdon and Hockley has in the plan around 1000 new dwellings to be built in just 10 years with no prospect of any systematic improvement to the road capacity being made by such developments.

So why are Hullbridge and Great Wakering deferred for almost 20 years leaving the poor infrastructure in the central part of the district to take all of the early development?

Here is what I had to say at the Extraordinary Council Meeting;

1. Green Belt

a) para 4.23 of the published Core Strategy states that the Council will prioritise the redevelopment of brownfield sites to minimise green belt release. This is still not the case in the amended proposals under consultation.

b) Windfall sites will be too late to save green belt which has already been built on.

c) There is now no proposed development proposed for Rayleigh over first 15 years yet according to the published Core Strategy (para 2.38 page 30) dealing with housing need states that based on the housing waiting list the greatest demand for housing was in Rayleigh at 44.4% of the District’s total. There is something wrong here.

d) The older component of our population is said in the Council Paper to be a block on the release of “previously owned homes” and yet the Council has no proposals to release the blockage by requiring the provision of smaller homes in developments like Coachman’s Court (Rochford, Sheltered/wardened Flats for over 55’s). If this were part of the Core Strategy then much less green belt would need to be released.

e) Noting that there is a high demand from the 34’s and noting that the paucity of mortgage funding it is surprising that the Affordable Housing quantum is being reduced from 131 per annum to just 60 which is more than a 50% reduction 

2. Highways and infrastructure

Development proposals for the first phase are concentrated in the centre of the district- the infrastructure cannot cope with existing traffic – there are a number of bottlenecks across this part of the District and being systemic in nature will not be improved by the relatively small improvements provided by the developments proposed.

Is it time to cut and run from the area?  Perhaps………..you have been warned and hopefully you have a choice !! 

Christmas Tree Farm and Coombes Farm Appeals Turned Down

July 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Congratulations to all those in Hawkwell and Rochford who campaigned so well over such a long period of time to promote local views.

More later !!

Latest News – Hawkwell Planning Appeal

January 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I have to tell you that it was pointed out to me in a legal opinion that because the Council was NOT contesting Highway matters in the Appeal then if I
had done so, and continued to have the legal status (Rule 6) of a full participant in the Appeal, then I personally ran the risk of an application for
award of costs being made against me !!

I did not feel that could just drop the highway concerns that residents have raised with me and I could not face the risk of costs being made
against me either.  So instead of being a special participant I will now have to just act as your Councillor who CAN raise highway issues.

So I have submitted my case for dismissal of the Appeal by the deadline last Wednesday and you can read it at the following link if you wish.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1063718/hawkwellappeal.pdf

Caroline Spelman MP in replies to Hawkwell residents, as well as speaking to the ECHO, promises that the regional housing targets would go.

Politically speaking Coombes Farm stands more chance of being dropped because it is not put forward in the Council’s Core Strategy because remember that,
despite the protest from Hawkwell in the Public Consultation about the the Core Strategy, the Council has now submitted 175 houses for Hawkwell anyway.

Unless all of the housing targets are removed by a Conservative Government AND there is a real political miracle with the Conservative run Council removing
THEIR requirement for 175 houses then Hawkwell WILL LOSE OUT.

And that is even if the Appeal for 330 is dismissed because the 175 in policy MUST be removed as well.

I suspect that the only commitment which will be given will be one that the housing requirements will be “reviewed”.  Reviews have the habit of changing nothing, especially once developers have had their say after an election and I would be wary of stopping any campaign until there is new ink with new numbers which are committed to !!

Proposed Large Housing Development in Hawkwell – Update

April 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

What is going on with the proposal to build 330 houses in Hawkwell?   Something that hundreds of residents of Hawkwell wrote to Rochford District Council about last November and to say “No”.  As it happens The Hawkwell Action Group and I are just about ready to deliver a new “Newsletter”.  Well here it is !!  It’s a bit long but we think that residents of Hawkwell will want to know the full story and be able to decide themselves what they want to say in the next consultation.

My name is John Mason and I am one of two people who have been elected to represent you on Rochford District Council.  I am an independent because I have never stood for election for a major political party and I represent you, the residents without any political interest.

I have been one of your district councillors for 9 years and my position is up for re-election next year in 2010 because there are no district council elections in 2009. I have pledged at each election to protect green belt and with the help of many residents I have successfully campaigned against the threat of loss of green belt in Hawkwell West over this period.

I have made myself directly available to you at two public meetings to tell you about the proposal to build 330 new dwellings in our Ward, Hawkwell West.  I have told you in public that I am against that proposal and I have been working with the Hawkwell Action Group (HAG), a pressure group which was brought into being by public assent, at the first public meeting. 

Through leaflets distributed by HAG, residents were encouraged to attend a public council meeting in Hawkwell.  Many of you attended and the vast majority continued to object.  And many wrote to the Council in the public consultation to object.  So the Council knows how you feel about the proposal. 

But will it change its mind?

The simple answer is NO and I wanted you to know this and why there will most likely be a large housing development in Hawkwell West whatever you have said so far. 

I have an email from the Cabinet Member responsible for planning which says the following;

Councillor Keith Hudson wrote “It is my intention, and always has been, that each conurbation supports the needs of its own community, as far is practically possible given the not inconsiderable natural constraints of our district.”

“Geographically Hockley and Hawkwell are the same conurbation. It is the responsibility of the planning sub committee to identify the most appropriate location/s for new homes within or adjacent to any given conurbation. It would not be my intention to trade between conurbations, that would undermine the basis of my assessment, unless of course a particular conurbation requested more than was deemed absolutely necessary.”

Clearly the Council has decided not to continue to recognise the individual legal Parishes of Hockley and Hawkwell as separate geographical areas for strategic planning purposes. But the Government expected that Hawkwell and Hockley would have separate, and certainly not joint or coordinated, Village Plans that would be recognised as planning documents. This RDC action sounds wrong to me.

But Rochford District Council has also “shot itself in the foot” because if it insists that Hockley/Hawkwell is a combined “conurbation” as a result of this strategic development plan then it will exacerbate the coalescence which it is supposed to resist and certainly not create.

The 330 houses proposed in the consultation in November/December 2008 represented, apparently, a quota increase of around 8% for the Hockley/Hawkwell conurbation taken as a whole.

But as I say Hawkwell and Hockley are seperate settlements and certainly not a CONURBATION which actually means places like Greater London, Glasgow etc., ……… so the use of the term “conurbation” is a nonsense.

What is definitely not fair is that all of the houses would be built in Hawkwell, and just one Ward at that, representing a 20% increase.

This is just not acceptable and I will continue to lobby the Council to formally in public session assign at least 150 of this quota in the Town Centre Plan to Hockley to be built on a the Eldon Way Industrial Site, a brown field site, in the submission of the local development plan which will go before the Council in July 2009.

This approach will continue to allow Hockley and Hawkwell to be recognised separately for all purposes as is the wish of all residents of both.

But this would mean that the Hockley Industrial site would have transfer to a new industrial site at the expanded Airport if it is given the go ahead, which does seem to me very likely despite the traffic problems it could create for Hawkwell. My call is that if it does go ahead then Essex County Council MUST improve the road infrastructure to take it away from the B1013 and keep it away !!

But this still leaves 180 houses in Hawkwell as a “fair shares for all” quota and nearer 11% than 8% perhaps?

Do you think that a “fair shares for all” approach is the right way to approach a strategic plan?  It is certainly not a strategic approach.  More like a political solution.  But you may favour it too. What concerns me is that this “scatter gun” development approach across the whole of Rochford District has not, so far, taken an overall view of the cumulative effects on roads, especially the B1013. Will they cope?  When will we hear from Essex County Council as Highway Authority?  I am taking steps to make sure that this is not missed or glossed over.

The Hawkwell Action Group has steadfastly represented the view of the majority of residents which is to have no more houses in Hawkwell.  I will continue to do all that I can to enable them to sustain their opposition on your behalf.

That will mean proving that every potential site in Hawkwell is unsustainable in respect of material planning reasons which will be recognised and supported by a Government Planning Inspector at a Public Inquiry.

At the same time Rochford District Council must make a convincing planning case to the Inspector to allow hundreds of additional vehicle movements to access Rectory Road between the two bottlenecks of the single lane traffic controlled junction at the Railway Bridge near St. Mary’s Church and the problems at the mini roundabout near Foxhunters which is also known as Nursery Corner.

The alternative, of course, is to make sure that access is only direct from Main Road Hawkwell, known as the B1013, and not to and from Rectory Road. But that too might have adverse planning implications.

We won’t know what approach the Council might take and on what site in public for some time, perhaps October 2009, and what material planning objections might be available to us to object with.

My concern is that, having had 9 years experience on the Planning Committee at the Council, I have seen many planning applications across the district where developers have used tried and tested engineering solutions that have been “just” acceptable to Council Planning Officers, Essex County Council (Highway Authority), The Environment Agency (Flooding) and Natural England (Wildlife & Nature).

As one of your District Councillors I will keep faith with the majority of residents who do not wish to see any further development on our green belt and continue to work with residents on the Hawkwell Action Group.

I would like to think that as the Council and Essex County Council decided a few years ago, on two planning applications for “Change of Use”, that the junction of Windsor Gardens with Rectory Road was suitable for a volume of commercial traffic, including juggernauts, then they might also consider the Magee’s site suitable for residential development if it became available because it has been put forward as a site for consideration.  There is also the flood risk but civil engineering might be able to deal with this issue.  The traffic is already running to and from the site through the Rectory Road bottlenecks and at least it is a brown field site and not green belt.

I would be interested in hearing your views on traffic access points and volumes and anything else that you would like to say about these issues.

But please don’t forget to write in the public consultations that will be coming up again in the Summer and late Autumn.

330 reasons to object to new houses in Hawkwell

November 14, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

160 residents from Hockley and Hawkwell went to the Rochford District Council Meeting held at the Hawkwell Village Hall to protest against the proposal from the Council to build 330 new houses between Thorpe Road and Clements Hall Way.

Independent District Councillor John Mason for Hawkwell West spoke at the end of the Meeting at the request of a resident to explain whether he was against the proposal.

Councillor Mason confirmed that he remained steadfastly against the proposal, indeed as he had said at two public meetings arranged by the Hawkwell Action Group.  He took time to say that he had been conducting his own technical appraisal of the location described as South Hawkwell under the Government Policy on sustainable development PPS12 and that he had concluded that it was NOT a sustainable development and should be dropped by the Council.

Download “330 reasons to object to new houses in Hawkwell”

 

 

John said that he would make his findings available on the web and that he hoped that residents would consult this and write their own letters of protest to the Council, by letter, email or by direct input into the Council’s Database.

Councillor Hudson, on behalf of the Council, said that he welcomed the input that would be provided by Councillor Mason and residents because the Council did want residents views in writing not just as expressed at the meeting.

John Mason’s hugely detailed letter of protest on behalf of residents can be downloaded here.  He urges all concerned residents to write to the Council by 17 December which is the closing date of the consultation.

Hawkwell Residents Meeting

July 25, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

The Hawkwell Residents Association AGM is to be held in the annex of the Hawkwell Village Hall 6th August at 20.00 hrs.

Is Rochford Brickworks a site for 200 houses?

June 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Coastline near Southend-on-Sea:  approaching London City AirportAt the Public Meeting in Hawkwell a resident asked me to explain why this has not been considered in the planning for the strategic housing development plan for Rochford District whereas it was include in the London Southend Airport Report (JAAP)?  The Brickworks Site could support 200 new houses.

The detailed position is as follows.

The formal consultation period on London Southend Airport Report (JAAP) started on the 24 June.  If you look at the four possible development scenarios you will see that a mixed development scheme is suggested for the old brickworks site under Scenario 3.

This is simply a consultation on issues and options and no decisions whatsoever have been taken about the development that might ultimately be agreed in the area of the Action Plan.
 
The JAAP stands on its own as a development plan document, though Rochford District Council will be referring to it, as you might expect, in the revised version of the Local Development Plan Core Strategy.

The Brickworks site is about 1.9 hectares (4.7 acres).  However, you may recall there is a company pushing for the development of a retirement village on the site together with surrounding scrubland – if included, this would make the site about 4 hectares (10 acres).  The boundary shown on the issues and options document is the larger area. This would support 200 houses.

Hawkwell says it does not want 365 houses on green belt

June 14, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Residents at the Public Meeting arranged by the Hawkwell Action Group said “No !”

[tab:click here for photos]

[tab:click here for aerial photos]
Here are the Aerial Photos, to view the maps please click here.

For a map of all the individually owned plots in the Thorpe Road Site – Click Here 

Here is a list of the sites offered by land owners to Rochford District Council – Click Here 
[tab:END]

Please protest about this here

Hawkwell Parish Council is sitting on the fence on green belt housing development

February 19, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

This has been published by the parish council in its Spring 2008 Newsletter. Every dwelling in the Parish will have received a copy so I will not repeat it here (there is a Hawkwell Parish Council Web Site). 

It is a very comprehensive policy on what the parish council thinks about any future housing development in Hawkwell.

But what does it mean?

The District Council says that Hawkwell will get 365 new houses.  Where? We have already been notified a four options.

Magees Nursery,The land behind Rectory Road running to Windsor Gardens and in the other direction to Clements Hall
LC, The land running behind the factories in Main Road to the CHLC and the Rankin field adjoining Mount Bovers Lane.

The parish council policy says ” HPC further expects any new development within the Parish boundaries …………..not to increase the village footprint……………….”

I wrote to the parish council asking what this actually meant in relation to the four sites. Is the parish council against housing development in these 4 sites or not? We need to know in simple language not policy speak.

Stuart Mennell, Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council, said to me over the telephone following the Hawkwell Parish Council Meeting on 3 March 2008 “The Parish Council has declined to define the footprint”.

So is your Parish Council really against housing development in your Green Belt? What is the point of making a policy if nobody knows what it means? The policy looks like a bad case of “smoke and mirrors”. Was the published policy intended to give an impression of being against the developments?  Worse still the Council doesn’t seem to know what it’s own policy means even when it is asked a straight question.  Or perhaps the Parish Council does know what it means and doesn’t want to tell us?  

Why couldn’t experienced parish councillors Myra and David Weir who campaign against the loss of green belt make the Parish Council come off the fence one way or another?

And what is the position of the Parish Councillors representing the Hawkwell Residents’ Association? I thought that this body was against development of green belt? 

An Example of Planning In Action in Rochford District

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Echo Story – At last we can build a home for our boy

By JOHN GEOGHEGAN
A COUPLE have won their battle to build a special home for their disabled teenaged son.

Objections from neighbours and district and parish councillors had threatened plans to build a new bungalow for 17-year-old Jake Mann and his family behind their Hawkwell home.

Rochford District Council has now granted planning permission to the Manns, ending their six-year struggle to create a better home for wheelchair-user, Jake, who has muscular dystrophy
.
After the decision, his builder dad, Robert, spoke of his relief – and the family’s disappointment others had tried to block their plans for the plot, off Main Road, Hawkwell.

Mr Mann said : “I was really surprised anyone could feel that way

“Jake’s like a local character. Everyone here has seen him grow up and he’s got a great following of friends.

“That’s why we wanted to stay here and go to all this trouble, rather than move elsewhere.

“It’s taken me six years to accumulate all the ground and it’s something we feel very strongly about.”

The family wants to build a three-bedroomed bungalow with a garage in a quarter-acre plot behind three houses owned by the family, including their current home.

The proposal was approved at a recent planning meeting which saw Hawkwell Tory councillor, Heather Glynn, join two other local members in opposing it.

Ms Glynn expressed concerns about the loss of neighbours’ views and problems with access to the site.

Hawkwell Parish Council and the Royal British Legion, which has a club nearby, both also objected.

However, independent ward councillor John Mason spoke up for the family, saying: “I found it very surprising three Hawkwell councillors opposed it. No one has approached me to say they were against it.”

Mr Mann, wife, Karen and Jake will live in the bungalow, which will be fully adapted to cope with his wheelchair. They hope to have it built and to be moved in for Christmas. The Manns’ present home will then be sold.

The Rochford Independent Comment

Tory Councillors seem to making a habit of opposing planning applications with concern the disabled.  Remember the opposition raised against Disability Essex ?  On both occaisons I have had to lead the debate for Approval.  And it was won both times against stiff opposition.

In the case of Robert Mann, my Co-Ward Hawkwell West Councillor, Tory Derek Stansby was also against and perhaps I should have guessed that when he called a Members Site Meeting before the application was considered.

The other objector with Tory Heather Glynn who led the debate for Refusal was Tory, Michael Starke.

I really don’t understand these people.  I am glad to be around to stop these things happening. And if there were more independents so much the better. 

Rayleigh Homes – No Change Says Tory Leader

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

From the Echo – 8 February

Rayleigh homes row

LIB Dems on Rochford District Council have been accused of scaremongering by suggesting 1,800 new homes could still be forced on Rayleigh.

The Lib Dem Focus website, run by group leader Chris Black, is claiming ruling Tories may revise the current suggested figure for the number of homes the town must take to meet Government housing demands.

The website says: “It’s possible officers might suggest a variation of the 740 figure for Rayleigh. “The Conservative group could backtrack. After all, there’s been no council vote on their figures, just a publicly stated proposal. “Once the elections are over, the Tories will have some new members, replacing old ones. They might well have a new leader.”

However, council leader Terry Cutmore said: “As far as I am concerned, the figures for Rayleigh and the rest of the district were decided by the Conservative group after public consultation, when it became clear the original idea was not acceptable.

“Obviously, there is still a long way to go and there is going to be more consultation starting after the elections, after all the representations have been studied and sites identified.

“Without being specific in any way, what we are finally proposing will go a long way to alleviate the concerns among local people.” 

The Rochford Independent Comments:

There are some intriguing  political positions emerging in the public debate over new homes in Rochford District and where they should be built.

Hawkwell Parish Council contacts the Echo and suggests 2,200 new homes should be built in a new town in West Rayleigh. The announcement was made by former Lib Dem District Councillor, Vic Leach supported by former Labour District Councillor Myra Weir.

Just before Christmas I had a private conversation with an Executive Member of Rochford District Council whose view was very similar to that put forward by Hawkwell Parish Council.

But the Tory Leader, coming up for personal re-election in May, now accuses the Lib Dems of scaremongering but makes some reassuring noises to Rayleigh.

But some of the things he has said have either been misreported or, if they are pukker, then I am afraid they are too cryptic  for me.

What does the construction around “finally” mean in “Without being specific in any way, what we are finally proposing will go a long way to alleviate the concerns among local people.”?

And the words “As far as I am concerned” could mean that the party whip is in because whatever he says the rest must follow or that it is purely a personal view?

In the full context the quote reads “As far as I am concerned the figures for Rayleigh and the rest of the district were decided by theConservative group after public consultation, when it became clear the original idea was not acceptable.”

One thing I do know is that neither of the two main political parties on Rochford District Council have come up with a thought out and formally presented strategic plan for the District. The Tories have the responsibility as majority party to come up with a proper plan; Fair Shares for All is a political fudge and it does not do any justice to the accountability for proper planning.The Lib Dems have no strategic plan for the District either but with the party only having seats in Rayleigh you can at least understand their policy of just seeing reductions in Rayleigh and the expedience of a plan that is Fair Shares for All. It is going to be a complete mess with blotches of houses here and there based on a piecemeal assessment of the individual sites that have already been put forward with no joined up thinking or rhyme or reason for the future.

In the forthcoming consultations in June the public should demand to see what the strategic planners do recommend (even though the Councillors may reject the proposals) because whatever the professionals say it will make much more sense than Fair Shares for All which is no strategy just a political expedient.

Next Page »

Bottom