Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP)

December 30, 2012 by · 1 Comment 


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John and Christine Mason

Wishing you and Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012

December 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Wishing you and Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012

Click above for Video Card

Happy Christmas From The Rochford Independent


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

November 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Photo by bangli 1

The Liberal Democrat Group in Rochford has published an interesting article called “What Could Really Happen In Our Green Belt” at  “OnlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did anyone else read this?

What was it for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So expect the other Maxima to be used perhaps;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is it?

The Thames Gateway South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment

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

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

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

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

The David Wilson Homes Development in Hawkwell

October 7, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

By Councillor Christine Mason

For the last few years Hawkwell West has had the uncertainty created by the David Wilson Homes application to build a new estate in our midst, on land confusingly called South Hawkwell (and not Hawkwell West as it should be) by Rochford District Council. For those residents who attended last week’s Development Committee (and for those that were unable to do so) on 27 September, there were heated exchanges and contradictions that centred around the Public Open Space therefore I thought we should explain the importance of this relatively small but vital part of the development.

Green belt is I feel important to everyone in an area such as ours, especially when we are compelled to sacrifice some of it for housing. An area of planning called the Section 106 formalises the benefits the developer will provide for the area in respect of payments for sports facilities, education, health, highways, transport and other improvements to the area affected by the development. The District Council often request an area of Public Open space as a buffer. The Council also acquire a New Homes Bonus which one would hope would be similarly used although I believe that the Conservative led administration has yet to decide if this will go into the general pot. Expect a decision in the October Meeting of the Executive (Tory Cabinet Members only can speak and vote.)

In Hawkwell West we have quite a few Open spaces – White Hart Green, Clements Hall, Glencroft and Spencers being the ones most people know well. Public Open space is just that – Open space in the Public ownership for the use of all the public.

Generally speaking Public Open Space is ‘owned’ by a public body such as either the District Council or Parish Council and maintained out of the District or Parish rate. This protects the land from future development and also ensures public accessibility. We understand from the Press that Hawkwell Parish Council maintains 100 acres of public open spaces such as Glencroft, Spencers and also Magnolia Park. A significant part of their budget (the Precept or Council Tax that you pay to the Parish Council) is consumed by the equipment, labour and administration of these spaces and the Parish Council carries out an important role enabling local people to determine their own needs. We understand that both the Christmas Tree Farm Development Action Group and The Hawkwell Action Group wished to see Hawkwell Parish Council take over this space on behalf of the whole community.

The difference with the David Wilson Homes development is that despite the Conservative Council Leader stating in the July FULL COUNCIL “he saw no reason for any new public open spaces created to remain with developers,” is that David Wilson Homes could either form a management company to own and maintain this space and pass the costs onto the new householders or pass Management and/or ownership to Hawkwell Parish Council with Hawkwell Parish Council negotiating for funding.

Management companies often experience difficulty both with obtaining finance from changing owners and the perception of the householders is that as they are paying for this it is in effect private open space, which can cause social and neighbour problems which we were anxious to avoid.

Hawkwell Parish Council approved the following Motion on Monday, 1 October.

“That this Parish Council write to Meeting Place Communications informing them as far as Hawkwell Parish Council is concerned we do not wish to partake in this project and will not give access to our land”.

Hawkwell Parish Council have by this motion closed any discussion with DWH and denied access to Spencers Park via a footbridge linking Spencers Park and the new Public Open Space to ensure accessibility for all. The Developer had provided a budget of £10,000.00 for this so the cost to the community would have been nil and the footbridge would have linked the two areas of open space which otherwise can only be accessed from the new Estate itself.

What we as your District Councillors asked for at the Development meeting was for Rochford District Council to step in and negotiate with David Wilson Homes to prevent future problems for our community in line with their own publicly stated policy. The vote was narrowly lost 10/12. That is why we voted against the development despite all the many, many hours of work we have both put in to improve the design of the estate.

You can read another account of this at which is the Rochford Liberal Democrat Web Site. They are equally concerned over the principle of the matter.

This is what HAG has said.

“David Wilson Homes now have their planning permission and we are very disappointed to hear that Hawkwell Parish Council (who look after every other public open space in Hawkwell), and the Rochford District Council have declined to take over the public open space that runs right through the proposed development. This leaves it in the hands of developers and vulnerable to even more development!! “

As your District Councillors we will now attempt to meet David Wilson Homes with CTFDAG to see what can be done about the Public Open Space despite the decision of Hawkwell Parish Council. We will keep you informed.

Why was the Council overruled on housing development in Hawkwell?

September 2, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

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.

Proud of Team GB – Superb – Well Done

July 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

3 Great Britain & N. Ireland 29 17 19 65



July 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It never fails to astonish us long it can take to resolve issues.

When John was first elected to Rochford District Council 12 years ago one of the first problems he encountered was the distressing flooding in Woodside Chase, Elmwood Avenue and Hawkwell Chase and he saw how much suffering was caused to the residents.  I believe the cause of the flood was a sudden heavy rainfall and a blocked culvert.  Whilst the culvert itself was, and is the responsibility of Anglian Water Authority the adjoining land where the water and debris enter the culvert is unregistered and no owner could be traced.  At the earlier request of the residents Rochford District Council installed a specially designed Grille to prevent the debris entering the culver pipe which runs under the road.  As far as John was aware this had resolved the issue as in the intervening years no complaints were received by him as Ward Councillor since the grille was installed.

However earlier this year in the initial period of inordinately heavy rain Councillor Christine Mason received a complaint from a resident whose property adjoined the culvert and grille that he and his wife had been up all night removing debris that the heavy downpour had swept downhill to prevent the grille being blocked and flooding occurring.

Christine arranged to accompany an officer on a site visit to see first hand and the difficulties that were being experienced. There was lengthy discussion over whose responsibility it was to maintain the grille as no land owner could be traced and a mutually acceptable way forward. 

It did take some time and plenty of e mails and phone calls to ascertain who was responsible but I think all involved agreed that is was unacceptable to expect our older residents to clamber down into the drainage channel to remove debris. 

After a few games of ping pong between the Rochford District Council, The Environment Agency and Anglian Water Authority,  involving our MP at the request of residents, Anglian Water  finally accepted responsibility for maintaining the grille that protects their culvert and the locks were changed so that only they have access. 

If you do see a problem on this site please report it to Anglian Water authority on 08457 145 145.

Hawkwell Fire Station – Update from Councillor Christine Mason

June 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

When I joined John on Rochford District Council as a new Ward Councillor for Hawkwell West I thought that it would be relatively easy, having helped him over the years.  I was in for quite a shock.  It is an amazingly steep learning curve and the amount of reading is immense.  That said I feel that I have been able to help and add to John’s expertise and it has been a wonderful benefit to have someone close at hand to guide me through the potential pitfalls and various protocols.  Also it is nice to be able to bounce thoughts about without the restraints of secrecy that often prevailed before.
I have dealt independently with various situations in the last year as my confidence grows and one of the more important things that I have been involved with is the planning application for Hawkwell Fire Station with the natural concerns of residents regarding such a change in a residential area and the need to balance these concerns with the respect and admiration I am sure we all feel for our retained fire fighters and a wish to accommodate their needs as far as possible.
After many discussions with officers and residents I was able to propose a resolution that satisfied all parties, accommodating the need for training facilities whilst limiting the use to avoid unreasonable impact on nearby residents.  We have yet to see the implementation of this application but with the support of fellow Councillors my motion was passed.
Item R1 – 12/00014/FUL – Fire Station, Main Road, Hawkwell
Proposal – Proposed road traffic collision training compound, fenced and gated to enclose a de-brief shelter, road barrier, lamp post (non-illuminated) and ditch and a proposed working at heights training tower to include 6.5m tower with screen.
That the application be approved, subject to the following conditions:-
1 SC4B – Time Limits Full – Standard
2 No development shall commence before details of the privacy screening to be used in its construction have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. Such screening as may be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority shall be erected prior to the first usage of the training facilities and shall be retained as approved thereafter.
3 The use of the working at heights training tower and use of the road traffic collision training compound, including the use of power and cutting tools within this area, shall be restricted to between 0900 hours to 1800 hours Monday to Friday, with no working on Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holidays and the use of these be limited to no more than three hours per day and on no more than three days a week.
4 No flashing lights or sirens shall be used at the site in connection with either the road traffic collision training compound or working at heights training tower at any time. (HPT) 

Street Lights in Hawkwell & Hockley to be Switched Off Midnight to 5am soon

June 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Update from Cllr Derrick Louis TD MBA MCILT MAPM
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, Essex County Council

“Just writing to keep you up to date on the progress of the Part Night Lighting scheme. I’m pleased to confirm that the telecells for the Central Management System (CMS) will start to be installed tomorrow. The contractor will start work in Ashingdon and then move on to Hawkwell and Hockley.”

Will this happen universally across Rochford District? 

District Councillor Keith Hudson advises “Generally most lights will be switched in accordance with the new regime but the County Highways Department do the have the ability to exclude specific luminaires for security or safety purposes, as they see fit.” 

Will it be soon?  Yes, the Rochford Independent thinks so.

If you have forgotten what this is all about here is a reminder;

“Essex County Council (ECC) has been running a pilot part-night scheme in Maldon and Uttlesford since 2007, with street-lights being switched off between midnight and 5am each night.

Crime statistics recorded during the trial showed no significant change due to the installation of part-night lighting in the two districts. The number of offences occurring between 11.30pm and 5.30am actually dropped by 14% in Maldon and by 12.6% in Uttlesford.

Since the pilot scheme began there has also been no demonstrable increase in road collisions. The pilot has also delivered energy savings of 20% (circa £70,000 per annum). It is estimated that switching 70% of ECC’s street lights to part-night would reduce carbon emissions by 8,000 tonnes per year.”

“To facilitate the move to part-night lighting ECC has also begun the phased roll-out of a new central management system (CMS) for street lighting across Essex.

The will bring a number of operational and efficiency benefits, enabling all ECC-owned streetlights to be controlled remotely from a single location. It will also provide instant notification of any streetlight failure, which will mean faults can be repaired more quickly.”

NEW Local Highways Panel

June 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The NEW Local Highways Panel, consisting of some District Councillors, has asked Shaun Scrutton to find out from other Members what new highways schemes they would like the  NEW Local Highways Panel to consider using the £427,808 budget available from Essex County Council.
Prior to the abolition of the Area Committees all Councillors, including those from the Parish Councils, had a direct input to argue the case for their areas.  But not now.
The Local Highways Panel is a forum for county and district Members to jointly consider and prioritise elements of highways spend in the district.

For 2012/13, a total of £427,808 has been allocated to Rochford by County Highways covering the following capital budget lines:

traffic management improvements;
tackling congestion;
safer roads (including casualty reduction);
public rights of way schemes;
cycling schemes;
passenger transport improvements; and
minor highway improvement schemes.
The Rochford District Residents Group, Christine and John Mason, representing Hawkwell West, has put forward a list of needs which had been been drawn to their attention by ordinary residents over the last few years and remain unfufilled. Read more

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

June 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planning Pre-Application Advice

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

Meetings with Members

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


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

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

From the Minutes of Development Committee dated 15 December.

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

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

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

Technical Issues

June 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

 Technical problems caused by a string of hacking damage have caused the long  interregnum in the publication of new articles.

I have spent several days talking to my host support and they are going to undertake a series of content and domain migrations to a new server as well as assist me with configuration changes to the WordPress Application software.

Hopefully we will be back shortly with the same site with the database functioning again.