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

April 7, 2013 by  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update Number 5

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

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

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

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

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

Here is another quick update on specific issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rodent infestations in adjacent residential premises due to site disturbance

RESULT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CllrJohn.Mason [at] Rochford.gov [dot] uk and/or CllrChristine.Mason [at] Rochford.gov [dot] uk or Martin.Howlett [at] Rochford.gov [dot] uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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