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Why was the Council overruled on housing development in Hawkwell?

September 2, 2012 by  

Both John and Christine Mason were present and gave evidence to the Appeal Hearing and will now take a closer look at how the Inspector made his decision.

The Inspector explains why the preferred strategy of Hawkwell Parish Council could not have been included in the Core Strategy because it would not have complied with new Government Policy.

The new Government National Planning Framework (NPPF), which only came in late last year, certainly featured in the Inspector’s decision made in favour of the developer but there would also appear to have been lapses in the planning policies of Rochford District Council where Councillor Hudson is the Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation.

We made our Ward Member case that the Allocation of Sites Consultation should be held first but to no avail because the inspector decided that this did not matter in his decision.

Substantial weight was attached to the delivery of the level of affordable housing in this scheme.

So did the Inspector ignore Essex County Council’s, Essex Design Guide?

The Inspector said “The Council identified in the reason for refusal nine failings with regard to advice in the Essex Design Guide. That document is described as Supplementary Planning Guidance, having not been through the process to be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document under the 2004 Act. Policy CP1 of the Core Strategy refers to guidance not being overly prescriptive.”

No, it would appear that due to lapses and failures of administration at both Essex and Rochford that the Essex Design Guide does not have prescriptive status in our Core Strategy, as Members expect, and the Rochford Core Strategy says that Policies with the status Guidance are ONLY just that – guidance.

There was a further big issue indentified by the Inspector against the Council Statement on Refusal “The statement goes on to say that the proposal is a lost opportunity to provide a development of a high standard and an exemplar of good design.”

The Inspector concluded;

“[The] Framework (NPPF) contains at sections 6 and 7 the need to deliver a range of high quality homes and the requirement for good design, and Core Strategy Policy CP1 contains similar requirements for good, high quality design.

“The use of the word exemplar is not backed by policy and is more usually reserved for developments that ‘point the way’ in technical or design features. Whilst there is no harm in development of this type aspiring to this status, it is not reasonable to expect it.”

The Inspector also went on to disagree rather fundamentally with the Essex Design Guide Team findings.

Another issue of great concern to us is the prospect of even more houses being determined by the Council for Hawkwell West.

How could that happen I hear you ask?

“Housing Shortfall Backlog”.

The Rochford Core Strategy was formally adopted on 13 December 2011.

Following recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) as part of the examination process the Council has made a commitment to undertake an early review of the Core Strategy because of the need to ensure compliance with the NPPF, Government Planning for Growth strategies from the Treasury and the shortfall in the total caused by having to revert to 250 per year and a longer time profile.

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. A general location is Hawkwell West.

We will continue to work for you and your family and oppose any increase to the detriment of Hawkwell.

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