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Rochford Square Plans

February 15, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Comment from the Rochford Independent on the article in the Echo

So the shop keepers of Rochford Square don’t want it pedestrianised and they have been supported by 500 customers.  That should be enough for the RDC Chief to withdraw this idea.  The benefit of parking in the Square is not so much that it is free but it is convenient for the shops.  Even free parking elsewhere would kill off the idea of just popping out to local shops and the Somerfield close by.  Might as well go to the super centre supermarket then….perhaps.  And if Rochford is going to have free parking somewhere then the traders of other places will want free parking as well?

Banning all cars won’t work here

TRADERS  are  worried                  By JOHN GEOGHEGAN

for   their   livelihoods   if                        john.geoqhegan@nqe.com

plans   to   pedestrianise            owner of Home Plus hard-

Rochford’s historic mar-            ware shop, in West Street,

ket square go ahead.                 and   a   member   of   the

About 500 shop owners     Rochford Chamber of Trade

and customers have signed                            committee,

a petition opposing the idea,         He said: “Lots of people

which was announced by           who have signed the peti-

Rochford District Council           tion say the plan is stupid

last week.                                 and, if they can’t park in

They are concerned the       the square, they won’t both-

move could result in no                  er to stop in Rochford.

more free parking in the               “Pedestrianisation won’t

town centre, which could          attract people. Rochford is

drive shoppers away. At the     not the place for pavement

moment, people can park in          cafes and art and  craft

Market Square free for one                                 shops.”

hour.                                      Rochford District Council

The petition was organ-           has been asking residents

ised by Mike Lucas,  64,            what  improvements they


 

would    like    to    see    in        wanted to pedestrianise th

Rochford and Hockley town    famous square in the hop

centres. The deadline for          it would boost tourist num

the consultation is today.                     bers in the town.

Ken Massow, 62, who runs       Mr Cutthore said: “The

R J Yeo jewellers, in West         concerns are really about

Street, said: “Every time          the taking away of the fre

the square’s been closed to             parking in the square,

parking, business has dete-         “Some traders have said

riorated.”                            to me if we find somewhere

However, Ian Dane, 47,        else with free parking nee

landlord of the Kings Head     the town centre, it will take

pub, in West Street, has          away some of those fears,

backed the plan.                         “We want to bring moi

He said: “I think it will do       business    to    a    revive

a lot of good for the town       Rochford town centre area

and local businesses. Ped-           want to take the traders

estrianisation   seems    to       with us as much as we can

work well in other market           An exhibition of the ear

towns.”                                  consultation results will 1

Council   leader    Terry       held in March before more

Cutmore said the council          final plans are drawn up.

No more homes for Hawkwell – The Rochford Independent’s Letter in the Echo

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

As a District Councillor for Hawkwell West I have a duty to represent my Ward as well as the District.  I am not doing this to preserve my re-election chances. I promised residents that I would protect green belt and I will do my best.

No more homes for Hawkwell

I am campaigning against the housing allocation for Hawkwell.

If an additional 365 homes were to be built in the village the road infrastructure in would have to be improved to cope.

In addition there are many more homes to be built in Rochford district where car movements could cause those people to travel through Hawkwell.

If the road infrastructure were improved in Hawkwell I can foresee additional roads being built to bypass existing bottlenecks, causing the loss of green space together with the cost of road-widening schemes.

That would make Hawkwell a place I would not like to see. It would be unacceptable.

My proposal is to say no to the additional 365 homes and no to any enabling infrastructure.
John Mason
Independent Councillor, Hawkwell West
Englefield Close, Hawkwell

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. 

Would Rochford Square Pedestrianisation Close Shops?

February 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Echo Story – Rochford Market Square pedestrianisation hope

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/rayleigh/display.var.2024476.0.rochford_market_square_pedestrianisation_hope.php

Council leader Terry Cutmore said: “In Rochford, many people would like to see a central area free from traffic and we are looking to pedestrianise Market Square.

The Rochford Independent Comment

I think that the Council Chief has either made a mistake with this one or he is simply trying to get a front page story. I think that its the latter because he surely can’t have forgotten that just about 5 years ago now, that as an independent councillor, I put the idea forward at a town centre sub committee that not only could it be pedestrianised but also it could be made as attractive as a town square in France. I wished that I hadn’t by the time of the next meeting when the shop owners had come forward to protest because they benefit from the “free parking trade” and many felt that they would have to close without it. This sort of publicity will give the Council Chief a higher profile and stimulate unproductive protest rather than constructive debate. He will regret saying this when it is remembered at the May elections.

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.

It’s Half Time on The NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council

October 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

We looked at the NEW Political Structure at Rochford District Council about six months ago.

http://www.rochfordessex.com/rol/a-politico-blog-on-the-rdc-new-structure/

Here is the evidence that it does not work

At the Cabinet Meetings no one else can speak, not even the Ordinary Councillors that you elected to represent YOU, and you can’t even hear what was agreed.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=867 Grange Community Centre : Liberal Democrats : Uh Oh, Looks Like Chris Misunderstood.

Heaven forbid if the nine super councillors in the Cabinet get executive powers over budget and personal decision making in 2009 !!

The gang of 5 Liberal Democrats have now been reduced to having to table written questions in order that Ward Councillors are consulted.

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=873 Liberal Democrats: Our Questions To Council.

And there will only be “potted” answers from Cabinet Members – but no debate of course.

But

http://onlinefocus.org/?p=874 Grange Community Centre Liberal Democrats Call In DEcision made at the Cabinet last week.

Proposals for new housing, which were only consulted upon in May and June 2007, are subjected to material change in Conservative Party Meetings held in Private and then announced to the public by a letter to the Echo.  No explanations for the changes, except to respond to political pressure from the Lib Dems in Rayleigh, and when the public come to the new Community Forums, they are denied answers and discussion.

Verdict from the Public

Residents in Hawkwell, who got no answers at the RDC Area Committee, call their own public meeting to find out about the proposals about 365 new houses proposed for their area. They decide to form an Action Group to fight the Conservative Council.

Residents in Hullbridge who wanted the same answers at the next RDC Area Committee decide to walk out in disgust having told the Chairman that no one will turn up next time !!

The Council’s Review Committee, who are reporting on the NEW Political Structure, need to talk to the public not other Tory Councillors who have done nothing to date to stop this farce.

 

 

Is the Mount Bovers Land Safe from Development or not?

October 18, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

We have been asked to say whether the Mount Bovers land is completely safe from development or not.  Let’s look at the evidence we have. 

Well bearing in mind that either the owners, or an agent for the owners, put the land forward for consideration then perhaps they have an argument that suggests that it could be developed for housing.  That is a concern.

And the Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton would not agree that RDC had said that the Mount Bovers Land could be described as “sacrosanct” or “common land” as claimed by a resident at the public meeting at Belchamps.

The Mount Bovers Land is currently protected only by a District Council Policy.  We all know that Council Policies can change. So our view is that it should be OK provided that Council Policy does not change.

That doesn’t sound so certain.  It is not.

We continue to have concern.

And if you have any doubts that this is not a real concern then read here http://onlinefocus.org/?p=863
 

Local Residents in Hawkwell Meet to Oppose New Housing

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The meeting was so well attended that the organisers, Jamie Popplewell and his neighbours in Mount Bovers Lane, asked Belchamps if they could move the meeting to the larger upper hall.  Luckily, Belchamps were happy to do this otherwise about 90 people would not have been able to get in because the small hall only held 60.

Over 150 concerned residents attended mainly because of the possible threat of new housing being allocated to the Mount Bovers field but also the threats to land at Thorpe Road and behind Rectory Road adjoining Windsor Gardens and Clements Hall.

Some residents had attended the RDC Central Area Committee which was held on 24 October to ask questions about housing allocations to Hawkwell but the Chair and Councillor Hudson really didn’t want to discuss the subject pushing this out to the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.  But he said that they would listen and would consult again and again if residents felt that they had got it wrong. 

Councillor John Mason gave a presentation of what was happening at the District Council and how the proposal for 365 new Houses in Hawkwell and only 36 in Hockley had come about.  That upset a number of staunch Conservative supporters in the audience but it was quite true.  That proposal was made by the Conservative Party in a private political meeting following which the Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the District Council (and Member for Hockley), wrote an open letter to the Residents of Rochford District containing these figures which was published in the Echo. 

Not too difficult to find the smoking gun !! It is a pity that this meeting coincided with the Executive Board of the District Council meeting on the same night because a representative was not there to explain why they thought 365 houses in Hawkwell was justified and how they arrived at this proposal. 

Nevertheless to ensure that there was political balance, John invited local resident and Labour Parish Councillor, Myra Weir to speak and for the Conservatives there was a heckler and former Tory District Councillor John Sheaf. 

Concern was expressed by many residents that the infrastructure of roads,sewerage, water, refuse, dentists, doctors, schools was not up to supporting 400 new houses in Hawkwell.  John advised that sustainability consultants were looking at these issues before the next public consultation in the Spring of 2008.

The Government has forced the District Council to consult again because the first without likely sites and justification was unacceptable.

Residents did not seem to know about the original consultation in June anyway and it came as a relief that there would be another !!  Residents decided that they wanted an Action Group to oppose all the potential sites in Hawkwell and 365 new houses anywhere. 

Volunteers came forward to run a campaign from now and until the proposal was withdrawn. They were encouraged that Rayleigh had won a reduction of 1800 to 740 by strong opposition and the fact that the Conservatives have said publicly at the Central Area Committee on 24 October, held in Hawkwell Village Hall, that they would listen and if the public said that they had got it wrong then proposals would be changed and there would be new consultations.

One resident said that he had telephoned RDC that day and been advised that “in relation to the LDF Core Strategy and the allocation of new housing, that the land already notified to RDC at Mount Bovers Hawkwell, was in a conservation zone, that it could never be built upon, that it was designated Common Land, and was SACROSANCT from any development.”

NOT TRUE SEE BELOW.

John Mason has contacted The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton, and the reply is in the Comment below:

John,

The land referred to is shown on the ‘call for sites’ map, stretching from Main Road in the east and bounded by Mount Bovers Lane to the north and Gusted Hall Lane to the south.

This area of land is within the upper Roach Valley and is identified within the adopted Local Plan (policy NR1) as a special landscape area.

The Council has indicated that it does not want to see any development in the upper Roach Valley and certainly there has been no proposal presented to me to suggest the site proposed is one that is justified to be considered as being suitable for housing.

Therefore, the response to questions about the possibility of this land being developed in the future is to the effect that it is likely protection will remain as per the preferred approach set out in the Local Plan and reflected in the draft Core Strategy.

I should say, that having spoken to the policy team, I am told that words like as “sacrosanct” or “common land”, have not been used in providing a response.

The Head of Planning at RDC, Shaun Scrutton does not agree that the RDC had said that the Mount Bovers Land could be described as “sacrosanct” or “common land” as claimed by a resident at the public meeting at Belchamps.

Newly co-opted Parish Councillor Bob Mitchell attended the meeting.  Well done Bob and thank you. 

The Echo weren’t overkeen to attend and presumably did not because they said “nothing is concrete with that area yet”

Apart from John Mason no other District Councillor for Hawkwell (there are six !!) attended.  There were enough posters around but I suppose if they did not live in Hawkwell, then they would not have been aware !! 

The Hawkwell Residents’ Association did not appear to attend. 

Hopefully it never will be “concrete” and if it is then it will be no thanks to the ECHO (who everyone thinks is a Tory Line paper). 

If you wish to join the Action Group then please email us through our Contact page.

Likely next steps are:

  • an email to all District Councillors expressing opposition 
  • further leaflet publicity
  • letters to Shaun Scrutton and Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member in charge of the LDF
  • meeting with Hawkwell Parish Council
  • meeting with the Chair of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association

 

 

Which Village Cops the Increase in New Houses from the Reduction in Rayleigh?

October 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Independent has been asked by residents to look at the original the housing allocations actually put forward to the public in the recent consultation and find out which parts of the Rochford District are the unlucky ones which receive the increase of 1060 houses from the Conservative Party resulting from the reduction in the allocation to Rayleigh.

  • Rochford and Ashingdon increased by only 125 from 1000 to 1125
  • Hawkwell and Hockley 400 (no change but Hawkwell West gets the lot !!)
  • Smaller Settlements (Hullbridge,Canewdon,Stambridge & Great Wakering) increased by a MASSIVE 555 to 1055
  • The difference between the increased allocation to the rest of the District of 1060 and the actual allocated increase of 680, namely 380 is, presumably, made up of the extra houses that are already planned to be built.

We hope this helps everyone in Rochford District understand what happens when a reduction is agreed in one place. And the decrease of 1060 was actually only an increase of 680 elsewhere. But that’s quite enough to be of concern.

Hawkwell Parish Council Opposes the loss of Green Belt for New Houses

October 2, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Stuart Mennell
Clerk to Hawkwell Parish Council

Dear Stuart

I am writing further to our conversation this morning concerning the RDC public consultation on the LDF Core Strategy which took place in May and June of this year. 

As a District Councillor I informed residents by Newsletter that the RDC allocation to Hawkwell and Hockley was 400.  The District Council also released details of those landowners who had put their land forward for consideration of allocation for development.  You can find maps and descriptions on the RDC web site at http://www.rochford.gov.uk/rdc/main.asp?page=1101

Go East (The Government) was not happy with the proposals that RDC put out in the Consultation and has told RDC to come up with more detail and consult again. Councillor Hudson announced at the Central Area Committee that this would be in the Spring of 2008.

Since then the Conservative Party has announced in public by a letter from the Deputy L:eader of the Conservative Group that the allocation for Rayleigh has been reduced from 1800 to 740.  At the same time the Conservative Party has put forward the allocation in Hawkwell/Hockley of 400 to be split 365 Hawkwell and 36 Hockley.

I understand that the Planning Committee of Hawkwell Parish Council has discussed the issue as has your Full Council but that the Hawkwell Parish Council still has no Policy on the proposals. 

In reply, The Clerk to the Parish Council has written: Members have had extensive discussion on this and I am sure that they will discuss the matter and develop their views further as more information becomes available. Meanwhile the Council has re-affirmed its policy to resist development in the green belt and a motion to that effect was adopted at last full council.

The main sites in Hawkwell being considered are all in Hawkwell West.   53.3 hectares = 1599 to 2665 houses at the density required by Government of 30-50 houses per hectare.

Where?

Off Thorpe Road (residential but ‘open to discussion’) 11 hectares = 330 to 550

South of Ironwell Lane 0.3 Hectares = 10 to 17

East of Clements Hall Sports Centre (‘residential or mixed use’) 14.6 hectares = 450 to 750

Magees Nursery, Windsor Gardens 3.1 hectares = 90 to150

Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley 2.3 Hectares = 65 to116

South of Mount Bovers Lane 22 hectares = 660 to1200

I have been contacted by residents to form two Action Groups which I will lead in opposition.

The first Action Group in Hawkwell aims to protect the area around Mount Bovers Lane and the second the area of Thorpe Road.  Taking into account rumours that two other large nursery sites might yet come forward and possibly another, the Thorpe Road Group will extend its interest beyond the site already notified in Thorpe Road.

The last major site are the farmlands behind Rectory Road, adjoining the Leisure Centre and running down to Windsor Gardens.  If residents also have objections then an Action Group can be set up for that site too if residents contact me.

What the Action Groups will want to know is whether Hawkwell Parish Council is going to oppose the loss of this green belt? I look forward to hearing from you on behalf of your Council.

In reply, The Clerk to the Parish Council has written: Members have had extensive discussion on this and I am sure that they will discuss the matter and develop their views further as more information becomes available. Meanwhile the Council has re-affirmed its policy to resist development in the green belt and a motion to that effect was adopted at last full council.
Yours sincerely

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West

Housing Allocations in Hawkwell – Action Groups Set Up in Opposition

September 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Residents have contacted their independent District Councillor, John Mason, and have asked him to provide them with information and campaign assistance.

This follows the announcement by the Conservative Party running Rochford District Council that 365 new houses should be built in Hawkwell.  As the current position shows for Hawkwell that there are four major sites likely to have been earmarked for development residents in Hawkwell have added 2 + 2 and come up with 4 !!  They can’t guess which of the four sites might be chosen so they have decided to set up Action Groups to oppose development.

Some may say that this is NIMBYISM but given the successful campaign run in Rayleigh by the Liberal Democrats who can blame them? The 5 Lib Dem Councillors are all in Rayleigh and the Liberal Democrats do not have a policy for the whole the Rochford District as do the Tories.  It is understood that Lib Dem Leader has the notion that it would be strange for 5 Rayleigh based Councillors to come up with a policy fot the whole of the District. Our view is that whilst Councillors have Ward responsibilities they also represent the whole District of Rochford and it is a very poor example that is being set by a major political party. 

The first Action Group in Hawkwell aims to protect the area around Mount Bovers Lane and the second the area of Thorpe Road.  Taking into account rumours that two other large nursery sites might yet come forward and possibly another, the Thorpe Road Group will extend its interest beyond the site already notified in Thorpe Road.

The other two sites do not seem to concern residents yet.  The Magees Mushroom Farm in Windsor Gardens is now a mix of one mushroom production shed an other sheds turned over the industrial uses.  As residents nearby did not wish to have the conversion of sheds to industrial but lost narrowly lost the fight put up by residents led by Councillor John Mason, perhaps they will be just happy to put up with houses instead?

The last major site are the farmlands behind Rectory Road, adjoining the Leisure Centre and running down to Windsor Gardens.  Residents successfully opposed the imposition of a Golf Course about 13 years ago but silence suggests, despite every adjoining house having been leafleted by Councillor Mason, that residents are obviously not concerned enough to object. If they do then an Action Group can be set up for that site too if residents contact John Mason.

If anyone wants more information on the Action Groups please go to our Contact page and e-mail John Mason.   

365 New Houses for Hawkwell

September 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

365 Houses Allocated by Conservative Party to Hawkwell West but only 36 houses to Hockley

So far the only land put forward is all in Hawkwell West –  53.3 hectares = 1599 to 2665 houses at the density required by Government of 30-50 houses per hectare.

Where?

Off Thorpe Road (residential but ‘open to discussion’) 11 hectares = 330 to 550

South of Ironwell Lane 0.3 Hectares = 10 to 17

East of Clements Hall Sports Centre (‘residential or mixed use’) 14.6 hectares = 450 to 750

Magees Nursery, Windsor Gardens 3.1 hectares = 90 to150

Greenacres, Victor Gardens, Hockley 2.3 Hectares = 65 to116

South of Mount Bovers Lane 22 hectares = 660 to1200

So where is the most sustainable in technical planning terms?

All of the sites EXCEPT South of Mount Bovers Lane have significant adverse traffic and access issues.

So far only one resident has contacted me about the site described as South of Mount Bovers Lane which I last understood was owned by Rankin Farms.

Options for Housing Allocation – Rochford District

September 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Shaun Scrutton
Head of Planning and Transportation
Rochford District Council
Dear Shaun

Options for Rochford District Core Strategy – LDF Consultation

You asked me to submit any Options that Rochford District Residents (RDR) had on the LDF before 30 September.

In terms of the Options put forward by the Conservative Party, RDR would like to see a copy of the proposal together with all supporting papers if this has already been received by the Council before the deadline of 30 September.  If the proposal is not complete then I would like to receive a copy on 1 October please.

I am the Party Leader of Rochford District Residents which is a Registered Political Party which has the same status as The Conservative Party.  I am expecting that the Council will afford RDR equal status with The Conservative Party in considering the Options put forward.

I understand that Go-East is broadly supportive of  a new outer relief road for Southend, though it stresses this would need to be built in partnership with the County and Rochford district councils and might be privately funded.

On the basis that Go-East has already signified that such Option should be included in the next Option Appraisal for the LDF, RDR formally requests that Rochford District Council considers this infrastructural change, which has publicly stated Government support, in the way that it might affect Rochford District and the spatial housing planning allocation in relation to such infrastructural development and in particular that the whole requirement of circa 3,300 houses can be placed in the Eastern part of Rochford District in the LDF Core Strategy.

This request does not imply in any way that RDR is supportive of such Option.  It believes that such an Option cannot continue to be excluded from the next LDF Core Strategy Consultation.

RDR does not believe that the Option for Affordable Housing includes sufficient identification of the ownership models that exist to ensure that Affordable Housing is retained in that status over the coming 50 years.

RDR wishes to point out to Rochford District Council that Local authorities usually use policies within the LDF (sometimes with the proviso that if it could be demonstrated that developments serving the greater interest of the authority for example financing key infrastructure projects could not sustain affordable housing then an ‘open book’ approach is used with a claw back clause enabling the authority to receive commuted payments towards off site affordable
housing).  However there are other mechanisms as well. The Green Paper on housing delivery picks up on the responsibility of housing delivery and the penalties for inadequate supply.

RDR also wishes Rochford District Council to discuss this aspect in detail with the Peer Group Review Team when it visits the Council in October and report in the LDF on the content of such advice.

Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council announced at the Central Area Committee on 20 September that the next Public Consultation on the LDF Core Strategy will take place in the Spring of 2008.  It is of regret to RDR that Rochford District Council has not given the Party more time to research and consider the Options for the LDF.

Yours sincerely

 

John Mason
District Councillor for Hawkwell West
Party Leader, Rochford District Residents

So much for local consultation – Ignored !!

September 23, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

The Central Area Committee on 20 September in Hawkwell Village Hall considered a request by Hawkwell Parish Council for a Teen Shelter to be sited on the field adjoining Clements Hall Leisure Centre.  No details had been submitted before the meeting but the Central Area Committee was supposed to recommend this in principle to the Executive Board.  A large number of residents from Hawkwell West, my Ward, attended and some spoke out very strongly against this proposal.  Because no details had been submitted before the meeting no one knew if it required Planning Permission or not.  If it did not then the Chairman, also a Member for Hawkwell West but a Tory (Executive Councillor Derek (Steve) Stansby), said that the Executive Board would approve it.  Not so said an Officer and indeed Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council, but the Chairman, wishing to push this through regardless of local opinion, the people he represents, insisted otherwise.  Under the circumstances I publicly voted against because it went against the views of residents and I had not even seen the details.  So much for local consultation.  Indeed I discovered in the Minutes of Hawkwell Parish Council that only 6 adults had attended their public meeting – so the rest,54,were young people and Parish Councillors.

Other residents had come along to challenge housing allocations.  36 for Hockley and 365 for Hawkwell as put forward by the Tory Party.  Despite what Councillor Hudson had to say about specific sites not having been considered, residents did not accept this.  One answer to a written question was wrong.  The questioner asked if the allocation to specific sites could be undone at a future planning application.  Absolutely Yes wrote the Officers – THE ANSWER IS NO and residents have been misled again.

The British Horse Society and a Member of Ashingdon Parish Council came along to ask for the access from Clements Hall to a bridle way running between Hawkwell Park Drive and Park Gardens to be reopened.  This was overlooked when a new barrier and fence was installed to keep motorcycles off the playing field.  Site visit to be held for a special barrier solution.

Speeding is at the top of the list for all three local police public forums.  Data is available but nothing has been done and the police are concerned about a kick back from motorists.  I asked the police to get the data and make some decisions.  They will now do so. 

 

 

Is this the big debate that is needed in Rochford District?

July 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you know someone who is finding it difficult to rent or buy their own home in Rochford District, or know someone who has had to move from the District to find a home? Most likely, Yes. But what is Rochford District Council going to do?  It has been reminded that it must look at the following data so by the IDeA Review Team this week.

A Housing Needs Survey was completed in 2004 and it identified that 67% cannot afford private rental and home ownership is beyond the reach of 75% of concealed households, even though nearly 40% of them earn over £25,000 p.a.The Survey established an outstanding net total need for 291 affordable homes per annum. This calculation took into account the Council’s waiting list, homeless and concealed households, and requirements emanating from demographic changes. It is clear from the study that there is too little affordable housing in the district to satisfy local needs. Over 15 years that means 4,500 affordable homes. The current Government target for Rochford District for the same period is an additional 3700 houses. But the Rochford District Council is only proposing 30% of that figure based on each new development over 25 houses contributing 30%. There will be an affordable homes deficit of around 3,300 homes.

The two public consultations on the “Housing Target” (LDF) have shown that the public is overwhelmingly against further loss of Green Belt. But did they realise that 67% of the population of Rochford District cannot afford private rental and home ownership. Most likely, No. (Here are the latest consultation results.)

But it is clear from anouncements this week from Gordon Brown and David Cameron that this issue must be faced up to by Rochford District Council.

Gordon Brown has put affordable housing at the top of his Government’s agenda by announcing plans to build three million new homes by 2020. He told MPs that the number of new homes to be provided each year would be raised by 40,000 to 240,000 a year. He promised to “protect robustly” the green belt but left the door open to some limited building in it, saying that “principally brownfield land” would be used for the new programme. But there appears to be little brownfield available in Rochford District.

David Cameron has warned his party it may need to drop its opposition to new housing so don’t expect the Conservatives at Rochford to be able to protect Green Belt. Read more

Health Profile of Rochford District

July 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Residents Survey 2007 – Matter of Concern Number 4 – Health

Rochford Health Profile 2006

Rochford Health Profile 2007

Local authority health profiles are designed to show the health of people in each local authority area, and include comparisons with other similar populations.  With other local information these profiles demonstrate where action can be taken to improve people’s health and reduce health inequalities.

Please take the opportunity to read the full documents attached.  But if you do not have the time here are some things that I think that you ought to know;

The Rochford Health Profile for 2006 is far more revealing than The Rochford Health Profile for 2007.

  • “Deaths from cancers have not decreased in the last 5 years despite a decrease nationally.”
  • “Of concern is the rate of road deaths and serious injuries, by vehicle kilometres, which is worse than the average for England.” This is not repeated in 2007.
  • “Treatment for Mental Health is significantly worse than the average for England.”  But this is completely reversed in the 2007 report and this deficiency does not show.
  • “Health inequalities exist across Rochford District. Within Rochford residents of the healthiest wards can expect to live 7.3 years longer than those in the unhealthiest.” You really need to look at the full document for 2006 to see if where you live has such inequalities.

I shall be meeting with our PCT to discuss these findings and what action is proposed in Rochford District.

The Conservative Policy on Housing in Rochford District

June 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Local Tory Manifesto says ” Housing – Rochford Conservative Councillors will forever be the guardians of our most precious resource; our countryside, our green and pleasant land. At the same time we recognise the needs of our growing population. We will always ensure that we make the best possible use of the land that is available to us for the benefit of our residents and their children.”

Fine words, just that, and only that, unless residents see that the ACTIONS they want are being taken to back this up; not just promises.

But instead the Conservatives are just blaming the Labour Government as we have already seen in the Echo from Executive Councillor Mavis Webster. It is the obvious excuse for failure. Perhaps it is time for the electorate to elect politicians of status, people who will campaign for our District? The Conservative Party has financial resources, the County Councillors and the MP’s but they are evidently not working on this grassroots problem.

The Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Hudson, representing Hockley, has replied to my letter published in the Echo on June 26.

Yes, the Tories continue to blame the Labour Government and do not appear to be doing much else but preparing residents to accept what they clearly do not want.

” Its not our fault”.

Let me quote from Councillor Hudson’s Letter.

” the procedures required to be adopted by all Planning Authorities in England by this Labour Government, specifically from the pens of John Prescott and Ruth Kelly, and the subsequent contortions of bureaucracy that we are obliged to labour under, are extraordinarily complicated.”

” Its not our fault”.

“The present Labour Government has made it perfectly clear that there is no money for the improvement of our road system; they suggest that we make better use of public transport; let’s face it, with the present provision in this area the suggestion to use public transport is quite laughable.”

” Its not our fault”.

Councillor Hudson, what are the Tories doing about providing better local public transport? It’s not even in your Local Manifesto !! 

He goes on to say “The map which we are required to use and include in the core strategy is termed the “key diagram” and it is intended to provide a simple representation of the locations for development, it is based on the Ordnance Survey map for our area, but it is not intended to show the detailed web of roads and tracks and minor features; it does, however show principle features including the positions of all of our towns, villages, hamlets and minor settlements.”

” Its not our fault”.

But Tory Policy in Rochford District is as per Councillor Hudson’s Letter …we have to look to areas which are best served by our existing road structure and not to the areas that are served the worst.”  

If the planning strategy for these house allocations is the use of the best existing roads then this is what the consultation map surely needs to show; the roads, so that the Conservative Strategy can be judged. It is nonsense to do otherwise and we expected our Conservative Administration to do better for us by at least getting this requirement amended for the Consultation rather than just whine about it when I challenge what is happening.

” Its not our fault”.

Also on the Rayleigh Conservative Party Web Site, Councillor Hudson says “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are talking in terms of months for these documents to be compiled and presented for examination in public, not years. I cannot over emphasise the urgency to have your say now.

” Its not our fault”.

But the Chief Executive of the Council, Paul Warren has written in an email to me that the Consultation runs in stages to 2009, which is years NOT months? Who is right? Does it mean, if you believe Councillor Hudson, that this Consultation is the defining point?  If so it should have been far better presented to the public. 

 

 

Arriva No 8 Bus – Improvements sought by RDC

June 25, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

Planning Policy & Transportation Committee – 3 April 2007
Review of Bus Services

Resolved
(1) That County Highways be asked to:-
– Explore with the local residents ways in which the transport link between the Dome and Hullbridge could be improved.
Planning Policy & Transportation Committee – 3 April 2007
-Explore ways of improving evening services generally.
-Explore the possibility of reinstating the No. 8 service from Hawkwell to Rayleigh during the week.
-Explore with the local residents ways in which the local bus services could be expanded to cater for people wishing to visit places of recreation from the Rochford District.
(2) That Central Government be lobbied to increase its funding to support subsidisation of the bus services in the county.
(3)  That Arriva be lobbied via Essex County Council to improve the condition of their buses and make them more user friendly.

Update

Shaun Scrutton, The Head of Planning and Transportation at RDC has written to Essex County Council Highways Department requesting that this matter be investigated.

Following the report Cllr T Livings has had a meeting with a representative from Essex County Council to discuss the recommendations at which time Cllr Livings again mentioned the No 8 Bus Service and whilst he was advised that the extension from Hawkwell to Rayleigh is a long outstanding request that Arriva are well aware of, Essex CC have said they will raise it again with them at their next meeting.

The Massive (Youth) Project by Janet Snelling of Ark II

June 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

In brief we are a registered charity that has already set up Together on Sunday Afternoon – a group for people in the community that would otherwise be on their own on a Sunday.

We meet in the Public Hall, Bullwood Road for two hours and have a free tea and social activities.  This group has been establised for 18 months now and we have recently been trying to initiate something for young people – especially a meeting place.

We have an involvement with the working party set up by Hawkwell Parish Council to look into youth provision.  I am involved with Hockley Residents Ass. and on a NAP in Hockley now.  We decided to initiate The Massive Project to start fund raising and to liaise with other individuals and community groups to work together for our young people.  In conjunction with Steve Joynes , a meeting was held on 18th June for all interested parties as we have been offered part of an industrial unit on the Eldon Way Ind. Est.

This is early days, but a small working committee was appointed, with three councillors and three young people.  I have been working with Kath Muncer from the HPPG and we have been talking to young people  and this week we went to Greensward College to speak to some of the students as they have a real interest in this plan going forward.  They hope to initiate some fund raising as a result.

We have someone who is kindly putting together a Business Plan which is in a draft form at present with ongoing work regarding costings and risk assessment etc.

We are meeting with the Hockley Business Group this coming week.

Visits have been made to The Warehouse and Legacy to gain valuable information about their projects, plus a number of other meetings and helpful discussions.

Hope that this will give an overview.  We are trying to help the project come together and to help support other ideas at the Hawkwell end of the area. The working committee will be meeting soon to decide on the necessary actions.

‘Tell us more about local homes plans’

June 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

‘Tell us more about local homes plans’

Evening Echo Article

A COUNCILLOR is calling for more information about possible future housing developments in his village to be made public.

John Mason, independent Rochford district councillor for Hawkwell, thinks the district’s present development strategy does not give enough details of the kind of developments on the cards in the future.

Well, Members received that information for the whole of the District on Thursday, 21 June just a week before closure of the Consultation.

But will it be made available to the public?  I have asked Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning at RDC, for an electronic copy of the maps but I have had no reply.

No surprises there then.  If you want to see the information contact me or your Ward Councillor. 

Read more

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