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News Leaks from District Council in Echo

December 16, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Firstly Rochford not totally opposed to traveller caravan pitches

SOUTH Essex will have to find an extra 185 official traveller caravan pitches if new regional government proposals are accepted.

UNLIKE other south Essex districts, Rochford is not totally opposed to extra pitches.

Deputy leader Keith Hudson said he had no objection to a small, properly-regulated site, so long as it did not affect local residents and had adequate road access.

He added: “I believe a site for travellers should be just that – somewhere they can stay for a short time before they move on.”

And…………..An Officer speaks in public at a sub committee about a new waste contract where Councillors who met in secret on 5 December because of confidential financial matters were asked to keep quiet until a Press Release as made in the New Year !!

Full Council Minutes of the 5 December Meeting where the decision on the placement of a new 7 year rubbish and recycling contract have been suppressed.

Why should we continue to be censored if an Officer can speak and the Echo can publish?

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local/display.var.1905801.0.bottle_banks_cut.php

 

 

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger – Echo Article

October 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Hullbridge 500 new homes plan sparks public anger from the Echo
By Michael Casey

RESIDENTS are furious over plans for hundreds of homes in a quiet village.

About 500 new homes could be built in Hullbridge by 2021, under revisions to Rochford District Council’s new development plan.

The village was one of the areas earmarked to take an increased amount of housing when the number of new homes in Rayleigh was slashed from 1,800 to 720, following huge pressure from the town’s residents.

However, 80 residents who attended the council’s central area committee meeting were told they could not discuss the issue, as planning was not under the committee’s remit.

Wendy Clarke, of Mapledene Avenue, Hullbridge, said: “We are trying to get some answers about flats being built in the village.

“We were only given ten minutes for questions. However, we were fobbed off with excuses and got no answers.

“Then they spent 25 minutes telling us about an inspector the council is going to employ to look into dog mess on pavements. Time would have been better spent listening to us about our concerns.”

Chairman of the central area committee, Hawkwell Tory councillor Derrick Stansby, said while he could appreciate residents’ concerns, the area committee was not the place to discuss planning. He said: “As far as new homes are concerned, the issue is not cut and dried.

“Because of the concerns there are across the district, we have gone back to look at all the housing allocations. There is going to be another round of public consultation, when everyone can raise issues.”

Rosemary Brown, a Hullbridge Tory district councillor and chairman of Hullbridge Parish Council planning committee, echoed his views.

She said: “It has not yet been decided how many new homes will be going where. It is not only in this village people are up in arms, but across the country, because of the Government’s demands.”

 

 

Row over Publication of Direct Dial Number of Head of Planning, RDC

October 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

This has been printed in the “Community Voice” leaflet. “Community Voice” is the periodic newsletter of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association which owns a registered political party called Hawkwell Residents. The Hawkwell Residents registered political party has two seats on Hawkwell Parish Council.

We hear on the grapevine that someone at the Council is not very happy with the Hawkwell Residents Association about this as all calls to the Head of Planning are supposed to be screened by a Personal Assistant.

And there might have been quite a few calls because the article which gave the DD Number told residents if they were concerned about 365 new houses in Hawkwell that “you might want to contact RDC (Mr S Scrutton, Head of Planning on 01702 318XXX). [We X’d out the last 3 digits – Editor] 

We wish to make it clear that Councillor John Mason has absolutely no connection whatsoever with the Hawkwell Residents’ Association or the Hawkwell Residents political party.

Perhaps the Hawkwell Residents Association should have asked if it would be acceptable to include the information? 

No doubt the Hawkwell Residents Association will apologise for this mistake in their next Newsletter and remove the phone number from its web site immediately.
 

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.

 

 

Hullbridge Residents Speak Out

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The RDC Central Area Committee met in Hullbridge tonight.  About 100 people attended.  By and large they left unhappy. Here are a couple of quotes from those who spoke as they left. “This meeting has been carefully orchestrated so that we did not talk about what WE wanted”.  “The meeting has been all about dog crap and not about people.”  My take from those who raised issues at the beginning of the meeting was that the public wanted to talk about current planning issues and the new allocation of houses to Hullbridge.  The first questioner wanted to know how the allocation that was consulted upon in May/June 2007, turned into 400 houses for Hullbridge.  No answer was given from the Chair apart from “it’s all back in the melting pot.”

Which is actually not true because the Conservative Group, meeting in private and not in Council, came up with the new figures and published them in the Echo.  What the residents of Hullbridge wanted to know was who decided on this and on what basis considering the lack of infrastructure.  The response was its not our fault, it’s the Government and if you change the Government then the problem will go away.  Oh how I wish that might be true.  But it is not.  The Affordable House Building Deficit is as demonstrated in the Council’s own strategy documentation. Where are our children and grandchildren going to live?

The Chair’s answer on infrastructure was that developers would have to provide this.  So much is required to make new development work in Hawkwell and Hullbridge it is beyond the commercial capacity of such developments to fund all the necessary improvements and make a profit. Think again.

Hawkwell has decided to fight.  Hullbridge is in the mood to fight.  Residents in Hullbridge must call their own public meeting and, whether their District Councillors turn up or not, they must decide to run a campaign against the Conservative Party proposals of 400 houses before it is too late. The Conservatives faced a loss of seats in Rayleigh and the Conservatives cut the new housing allocation from 1800 to 740 in a stroke !! Such is the power of the ballot box and so be it.

The Conservatives might now consider the best option to be a new conurbation out to the East of the District associated with a Southend By Pass.  On this basis it would be all new infrastructure and fit for the purpose in terms of eco housing.  But don’t build the houses until the infrastructure is in place.  If we hope for developers to fund infrastructure in existing conurbations then it will be an unmitigated failure.

If that option came with a condition that it is no infrastructure, no houses then if the Southend By Pass never comes to fruition then NO HOUSES.  Might be a canny strategy after all?

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Residents to Give Evidence on Climate Change to Council Committee

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford District Council Review Committee is to take evidence from the public following the intervention of independent councillor, John Mason. 

Officers presented a project plan to the last Review Committee which had not been tabled on the Agenda.  One Tory Councillor was concerned that this had not been drawn up by Members and the obvious unseen nature of the proposals.

Councillor John Mason stepped in and swiftly proposed vital changes to the project plan to include taking evidence from the public and commerce before the Review Committee makes recommendations to the Executive Board in the New Year. He also made a recommendation to visit the Borough of Merton which has reportedly angered the Government by insisting that all new housing developments have a significant percentage of sustainable energy sources on site.  John said “Given that the Council is proposing building 3300 new houses in larger developments across the district then this will be a very important policy to consider.”

Meanwhile the Committee has the following to go on from nearby districts; 

In 2005 the South East Essex Green Party released the results of the public opinion poll on climate change they conducted in Southend and Castle Point.

Most people (177 out of 200) believed climate change caused by human activity is happening. Nearly half (91 out of 200) had made lifestyle changes to try and stop it, including three who had given up their cars. However, many people would do more if they knew more about how to live a Greener lifestyle and it was made easier.

The majority (170 out of 200) thought politicians were not doing enough and particularly singled out American politicians for criticism. Our politicians pay lip service to the problem of climate change, but their actions will make things worse. 

Questions that were used for the survey;

1 Do you think that climate change is happening because of human activities?

If yes 2 Have you changed anything in your lifestyle based on this view?

If no 3 why you have this opinion? A) Media B) Part of the natural cycle C) Politicians

If don’t know 4 What would convince you that it is happening? A) An event B) Arguments

5 Do you think politicians are doing enough?

Results-

Southend

Question 1-86 Yes 6 No 2 Partly 3 Possibly 3 Don’t Know
Question 2-45 Yes. 45 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-1 Said A. 3 said B. 2 said C.
Question 4-4 said A. 2 said B.
Question 5-77 No. 4 Yes-Rest (19) 1 said OK. 7 don’t know /do what they can. 1 could do more. 1 no idea. 1 not bad. 1 should concentrate on other things. 5 not sure/ don’t know. 1 possibly. 1 Environmentalists create unnecessary panic
Castle Point
Question 1-91 Yes. 1 No Idea. 3 Probably. 5 No.
Question 2-46 Yes. 48 No. 1 Not Yet.
Question 3-4 Said B. 1 Said A.
Question 4-No Answers
Question 5-93 No. 4 Yes. 3 Don’t Know. 

 

  

RSPB Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

AN AMBITIOUS £12million project is planned to recreate the lost landscape of Wallasea Island.

The RSPB today announced details of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, to return the farmland back to coastal wetland to attract rare birds back to an area that has not nested in for about 400 years.

The charity hopes to raise enough money to buy three quarters of the island, farmed by Wallasea Farms.

advertisementThe cash will also fund engineering work to let water back on to the land through a series of pipes in the current sea wall.

Wallasea is eight miles north of Southend, and could provide a 1,800-acre paradise for fish and birds with its planned saltmarsh, creeks, lagoons and mudflats.

It will also provide an open space for recreation with ten miles of foot paths and cycle ways.

Project manager Mark Dixon said: “The island used to be made up of five separate islands and we want to take it back to that.

“By letting sea water in through pipes in the current sea wall we will create shallow wetlands a couple of feet deep.

“The water will go in and out with the tide.

“It will be a giant wilderness. It will prepare the land for climate change, suck up carbon and provide a space for people to enjoy, and be fantastic for wildlife.”

The charity hope to attract rare birds like the spoonbills, Kentish plovers – which have been absent for 50 years – and black-winged stilts, which have only bred in Britain three times.

Otters, saltwater fish such as bass, herring, flounder and specialist saltwater plants, including samphire, sea lavender and sea aster, could also flourish.

The plans will not affect the homes and caravan on the eastern side of the island.

An agreement has been signed between the farm and the RSPB to buy the land in two years time, if planning permission is granted and the cash is raised.

Mr Dixon said: “From the farm’s point of view, they are surrounded by 12 miles of sea wall.

“They know in the medium term the sea level will rise and their land is not going to be viable. It could breach and they could lose their land overnight.

“This is a way of safeguarding the land for wildlife “There used to be 30,000 hectares of this wetland landscape in the area, now there is just 2,000 hectares.

“Four hundred years ago most of it was surrounded by a sea wall and claimed for agriculture and industry.

“It is our hope to recreate the lost landscape, with millions of birds feeding and nesting and tens of thousands of fish breeding there.” Wetland restoration began on Wallasea last year, when Defra breached sea walls on the northern edge of the island.

It is managed by the RSPB and the area of wetland will be increased sixfold when this latest project is complete.

The £12million bill, the RSPB’s most costly and ambitious scheme, is mainly to cover the research and engineering costs of allowing water back on to Wallasea to create the marshes.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “Our plans for Wallasea reflect the very great difficulties climate change will cause but also the RSPB’s determination to find ways of combating them.

“We will be providing new sites into which wildlife can move when sea level rise swallows up their existing habitats.”

The charity hopes local people will help them realise this dream by donating money as well as getting corporate sponsorship from industry and corporations.

Donations can be made via the RSPB website.

Villagers to fight housing proposal (from the Echo)

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Villagers to fight housing proposal

By Geoff Percival

ANGRY villagers plan to set up an action group to oppose the building of 400 new homes in the area.

Rochford District Council’s blueprint for development until 2021 includes a proposal for 365 homes in Hawkwell, but only 36 in neighbouring Hockley.

The figure for Hawkwell had to be increased because of an agreement to cut the number of homes proposed for Rayleigh from 1,800 to 740.

The agreement followed fierce campaigning from Rayleigh residents, who complained the town would have taken more than half the district’s housing allocation.

But the move has now angered residents of Hawkwell, about 150 of whom attended a recent protest meeting.

The meeting was originally called because of concerns the area around Mount Bovers Lane, in the Upper Roach Valley, had been suggested by developers as a suitable site for development. The landscape at Mount Bovers Lane is currently considered to be of special value and links to the district council’s Cherry Orchard Country Park. It is part of the vision to maintain a green lung within the area, and it is unlikely development will be allowed there.

However, Hawkwell district councillor John Mason said: “Residents decided they wanted an action group to oppose all the potential sites in Hawkwell and 365 new homes anywhere.”

He said many residents expressed concerns (about) the roads, sewerage capacity, water, refuse collection services, dentists, doctors and schools (that) could not support this number of new homes.

The new action group plans to lobby district councillors, asking for a rethink on the number of homes being proposed for Hawkwell.

Monday 22nd October 2007

Bullwood Hall Prison, Hockley in BBC News

October 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7059283.stm

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

 

 

Strokebusters Appeal – Southend University Hospital

October 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Residents organised a Fun Quiz Night at Hawkwell Village Hall on Friday, 12 October.  All profit went to the Southend University Hospital, Strokebusters Appeal.  Consultant Tony O’Brien gave a short talk on Strokebusters and although his quiz team did not win, they took away donations of £673.

Fortnightly Refuse Collections – Residents Councillor Speaks Out In Echo

October 11, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Fortnightly Rubbish Collections on Agenda

ROCHFORD district councillors are set discuss the controversial issue of fortnightly rubbish collections as their current waste contract comes up for renewal.

John Mason, a councillor who represents Rochford district, said he did not believe fortnightly waste collections were feasible until the range of recyclables and composting was extended. He said: “The grey, general waste bins are going to get too full, unless more can be taken out of them to recycle.

“The Council can’t just say, it’s going to have to be grey bins every fortnight’ without any changes, because it’s simply not going to work.

“I think people will be co-operative with more recycling, but they’ve got to have the chance to do it.”

 

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

How did Rochford Council get into such a mess about Housing?

September 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

A woman in a hot air balloon realises she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing at the lake near Bradley Way in Rochford.

She shouts to him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consults his portable GPS and replies, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 21 feet above a ground elevation of 50 feet above sea level. You are at  51°34’47.26″ north latitude and 0°42’22.89” east longitude.

She rolls her eyes and says, “You must be from The Planning Department at Rochford District Council.”

“I am,” replies the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answers the balloonist, “everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’re not much help to me.”

The man smiles and responds, “You must be a Tory Member of the nearby Rochford District Council.”

“I am,” replies the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it’s my fault.”

The Government had to step in and tell Rochford District Council to re-write its LDF Core Strategy on Housing and consult the public again in the Spring of 2008. Does the above sound familiar?

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. 

 

 

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