What does the Census 2011 tell us about our future housing needs?

September 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Essex Coastal Scene

The recently published Census 2011 data suggests to us that we did not need 175 new houses in Hawkwell for our children and grandchildren as the Council suggested to residents when they protested.

Nor perhaps the housing estate developments proposed in the rest of Rochford District.

With the age group 0 to 18 having increased across the whole District by only 186 over 10 years we leave it to you to decide about that.

Even if the birth rate in Rochford District shoots up from 2012 onwards as predicted these youngest children will not need new houses until earliest 2031 which is almost outside of the house building plan period.

With 0-18’s remaining around 17,000 over 10 years it is evident that the 1,828 new dwellings built in the District over 2001 – 2011 contributed adequately to their housing needs and other age groups. That is on average 183 new houses per year against the 250 per year which has been forced on our District by the last Labour Government and the new Coalition Government.

So if new estates numbering thousands in the District are to be built then many of these new homes must be for new residents to the District.

We are promised new jobs. When will the new jobs be created?

As the majority of the 6% population increase for Rochford District in the Census was in the over 60’s then instead surely we will need retirement villages to release “secondhand” family homes instead of new housing estates for a phantom birth rate or incomers to the area.

We adopted this policy as Independents several years ago.

On 9 April 2011 we wrote to Miss Laura Graham who was the Goverrnment Planning Inspector responsible for making a Decision on the Rochford Core Strategy.

“You should be recommending that the LPA should, therefore, take the existing CS away and press ahead without delay in preparing up dated development plans to respond to Planning for Growth and the LPA should use that opportunity to be proactive in identifying, driving and supporting the type of housing growth that this district really needs.

Instead of building new homes for families the housing strategy should focus on releasing smaller parcels of green belt in appropriately strategic locations to accommodate the needs of our aging population in terms of retirement villages which use a smaller footprint of green belt and release over housed family properties for re-use on sale.

Indeed Planning for Growth says “LPA’s should make every effort to identify and meet the housing, business and other development needs of their areas, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth, taking full account of relevant economic signals such as land prices. Authorities should work together to ensure that needs and opportunities that extend beyond (or cannot be met within) their own boundaries are identified and accommodated in a sustainable way, such as housing market requirements that cover a number of areas, and the strategic infrastructure necessary to support growth.  I do not believe that the CS meets these requirements.”

We were interviewed by Rochford Life;

“Interestingly enough, when I mention retirement villages, I was quite heartened that in this Thames Gateway draft that the consultant have been putting together, that issue seems to be coming back, so maybe the noise we made, and the noise we made to the Inspector on the Core Strategy, has been read by someone and maybe this is the way our ideas come back and come into fruition.

I don’t honestly understand why the Inspector, when looking at the Core Strategy and looking at the potentials, didn’t turn round under the subject heading of housing and housing types, didn’t actually introduce that into the debate. If she had brought that idea forward with the developers, we may have found that many of them would have put their hands up and said, what a great idea, we can do that and it’s highly profitable and it’s socially sensible, it’s entirely engaging because it releases less Green Belt, so why don’t we do that. It’s a mystery to me.”

But today the Telegraph publishes that there is now support for this policy from a respected think tank report.

Pensioners stuck in family homes

A report from Demos has claimed that millions of pensioners face growing old in social isolation because they are trapped in family homes which they cannot leave. Pensioners who would like to downsize are sitting on a stockpile of properties with an estimated value of £400bn, the reports says. However, a shortage of smaller homes suitable for retirement means that more than three million over-60s are unable to move, it adds.

About Demos

Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank. We have spent 20 years at the centre of the policy debate, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people.

The Government’s response to the housing crisis is a focus on increasing home ownership among first-time buyers. Our latest report argues that building retirement properties for older people keen to move could free up over 3 million family homes.

The District of Rochford is part of the Thames Gateway Housing Market which comprises Rochford, Castlepoint, Southend, Basildon and Thurrock. This is a “Strategic Housing Market” and we are part of that “SHMA” (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) which will be published again by the end of 2013.

As with the Labour legacy of the Regional Spatial Strategies, it would appear that the number of new houses required to be delivered in Rochford District will not be decided solely by Rochford District but by consultants partly paid for by the Council and possibly by adjoining Councils under the “duty to co-operate” who would like us to take part of their quotas.

Will the new SHMA increase the yearly requirement from 250 per year in RDC?

According to the experience of the last 10 years according to the Census 2011 perhaps that figure should have been reduced already to the original 190 per year?

To justify 250 per year or more we need explanations and furthermore justification why we cannot have less.

[Notes: Rochford District Council provided the metrics referred to above and as such were verified and validated by the Council. The base information has since been requested and provided by the Council although Councillor John Mason has simplified the spreadsheet to allow the comparison between 2001 and 2011 to be seen at a glance here.]

Tree Preservation Orders – Do they work?

September 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Written and edited by Christine and John Mason

4989 Stoke Lodge Lucombe Oak T1 - Quercus x hispanicus

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an Order made by a Council in respect of a tree(s) because the tree is considered to bring amenity value to the surrounding area. The Order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, lop or damage the tree in question without first obtaining the Council’s consent. A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees or woodland.

Often such Orders are stimulated by planning applications when local concern is focused on an area under threat of change.

If a protected tree is removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of a TPO it is the duty of the landowner to plant another tree of an appropriate size and species, at the same place, as soon as he/she reasonably can.

But who ‘polices’ these actions and what penalties can occur? The Local Planning Authority is responsible for issuing a TPO, initially a provisional one that is then either confirmed to provide long term protection, not confirmed or modified. The penalties for contravention, on conviction in a Magistrate’s Court, is a fine of up to £20,000, and could be unlimited if taken to a higher Court.

This would indicate that TPO’s are seen as an important piece of legislation that should be taken seriously. Whilst the public seem to rely on TPO’s do the Council’s that are charged with carrying out the administration of such Orders actions actually match up to these expectations?

There have been four local occasions in my memory where a TPO has been the cause of controversy locally. One 20/30 years ago in Hockley, where if memory serves me correctly, the builder removed trees with TPO’s to facilitate a planning application and was served a hefty fine. Another more recently in Hawkwell where the land owner correctly applied for permission to cut the canopy but the work was allegedly unsupervised and resulted in a visual damage that will not be corrected by nature for many years. The resultant diminished canopy helped permit a planning application for buildings to be agreed.

Again in Hawkwell, this time on the David Wilson Homes/Barratts Site a protected tree was cut down in January. Despite our requests to Council Officers to arrange for a replacement tree of appropriate size and species to be planted in the same place nothing has yet been done. The TPO legislation states that the replacement should be planted as soon as it reasonably can. Our understanding is that this has not been undertaken nor has any penalty been applied for.

More recently a provisional TPO has been placed on an Oak Tree on the boundary of 169/177 Main Road due to concerns of neighbours who feel that a planning application may threaten the tree in question. John and I are concerned that should work be undertaken on the travelling canopy, with permission, that the Council’s own tree specialist is present to ensure the work is performed to a suitable standard and so that errors of the past are not repeated. You can’t stick branches back on! Whilst the owner is always responsible for looking after a protected tree the local authority should be able to offer help and advice on how the tree/s are managed.

Generally speaking permission is always needed from the local planning authority to work on a tree covered by a TPO order unless it comes under the one of the special exceptions.

However John and I both remain concerned that although “the words” of TPO’s would seem to protect these special trees this does not always happen in the way it should.

If you think a tree needs to be protected or a tree with a TPO is being worked on please call us or Brian Clary at Rochford District Council.


Love thy Neighbour

August 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Despite our concerns about the new Barratts/David Wilson Homes development when an invitation to their new Show Homes launch arrived in the post unexpectedly we decided to be open minded and as a family member is house hunting for such a property Saturday morning saw us at the Sales Office (still no permission for the copious advertising and lighting but that is another story).

It was pouring with rain but the car park was full, including of all things an ice cream trolley and some tables, indeed the only umbrella on site appeared to be the one protecting the ice cream container!

Nevertheless we persisted and parked in Thorpe Road – sorry residents – braved the torrential rain and darted along the path to the sales office.  Had we an appointment?  No!  Alas I had failed to turn the card over and see that we were invited to call and make an appointment………..Nevertheless we were advised we could look around the Show Homes and told to follow the path.  We did.

The first house was a three bedded one (nice, neat and well presented) but the rain appeared to make a weird glugging sound emit from the plug hole in the kitchen which caused some confusion and hilarity.

By now we were so wet that we decided we may as well drip over the other house as well.  Four bedded and again well presented although a bit unnerving that the electrics kept switching on and off on their own accord, however teething problems that I am sure will be corrected.

Back to the Sales Office where tea and cup cakes seemed to be the order of the day; but not for us.

hmm, some sort of raspberry cupcakes

Perhaps you needed to have an appointment to be offered those!

Soaking wet we had to run back to the car and return home for dry clothes.  Note to Barratts: perhaps a few brolly’s for use of customers  might be a good investment if you are expecting potential buyers to undertake unconducted viewing in wet weather.

Our day meandered as most Saturdays do via food and shops but when we returned home we were concerned to see that the Brook behind our house was over the bank and up to the fence and our neighbours had potential issues as part of Rectory Road is very low and the torrential rain plus high tide (the Brook eventually runs into the sea and is consequently affected by the tides).

Several properties were affected and some flooded.

John could not get through on the Council’s emergency number  and the emergency services were inundated and only concerned if there was risk to life.  Although the Police agreed we could ask drivers to turn back due to the problems the wash was causing although they did imply people might be difficult.  Surley not thought I, homes at risk, potential untold distress and misery, no one would be that callous.  Wrong.

Rectory Road was flooded at the junction with Windsor Gardens and for some considerable length and the water levels rising.  Unfortunately motorists driving through the flood waters aggravated the problem sending the flood waters back towards the properties in a strong surge.  Some properties had air bricks covered and were literally an inch away from flooding.  Some have flooded.  My heart goes out to those residents affected.

Local residents were doing all that they could to support each other but the motorists seemed to be in their own protective bubble, more concerned with their own journey and some obviously relishing the mess and mayhem that they were creating.  One (local) tractor came tearing along and when asked to slow down speeded up creating a wave of over 6 inches (I know my wellies got flooded).  After that we discovered another property under water.  Generally though most motorists understood and were helpful, a big thank you to those drivers who offered to park up and walk or turned around.   After a while the water started to recede and we merely had to ask traffic to drive slowly.  A big thank you to all those neighbours who tried to help each other and themselves and for those who thought it did not matter remember it could be you needing help another time………..

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Taxi Licensing Problems

August 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Presented by Councillor Christine Mason


John and I have received representations from Taxi proprietors in the area regarding difficulties created by new conditions imposed by Rochford District Council.

Apparently the main problem is the requirement for one in three Badges to be issued to a ‘wheelchair accessible taxi’. These vehicles are by their very nature more expensive to both purchase and maintain.

Whilst the intention of the Disability Acts and Equality Acts are to assist people with mobility issues it would appear that the Council’s new decision on Licensing has actually created a problem rather than resolving it.

According to the information I have been given (along with other Councillors) only 7% of their customers have any mobility issues and less than 0.5% request wheelchair accessible vehicles so the need for 33% of vehicles to accommodate this need would appear to be overkill.

Surely it is better for a firm providing transport to have a range of vehicles that could cater for differing needs.

Personal feedback I have received on ‘wheelchair accessible vehicles’ is that they are invariably very high and certainly some elderly infirm passengers say they prefer a low saloon car. Also modern wheelchairs can fit into a wide range of vehicles. I observed one being used from a soft top sports car outside my house only last week (don’t ask me for the type of car, not my area of expertise!)

I do hope that this can be resolved by the Portfolio Holder at Rochford urgently so that our taxi drivers are able to continue to both provide a service to the community as well as earning a reasonable wage.

We would hate to see cars taken of the circuits because of inflexible rules.

If any resident wishes their views to be taken into account please contact us and we will pass these views on.

Rochford Core Strategy Costs Already at £2.1 Million

August 11, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

George Osborne in Beijing

£2.1 million of Public money has been poured into R&D costs of Developers which they do not pay for.

You did !!

Surely the Coalition Government should have found some sort of mechanism for this public money to be recouped from the profits made by each developer?

Rochford District Council has spent £2.1m plus over the past 7 years to April 2013 on the Core Strategy.

Within that £350,000 to Consultants.

£1 million came from Council Tax and £1.1 million from Government Grants making £2.1 million overall.

All money paid by you in Taxes.

How do I know? Because as Members of Rochford District Council (independents) Christine and I asked the question on behalf of residents.

If you want to see the full information supplied to us go here.

How do we see things?

  • The Conservative Party promised to reduce the extent or even stop unwelcome development in their manifesto for the 2010 General Election.
  • The National House Building Federation lobbied the new Government over many months and The Chancellor of the Exchequer reversed the manifesto promises by creating a policy for economic recovery based on house building; boom and bust repeated.
  • Localism was promised in 2010 with local communities having a say in development was promised but all it meant was that Conservative controlled Councils would decide instead.
  • The views of local communities calling for a stop were ignored.
  • The reductions proposed by the Conservative Administration of Rochford District Council in mid 2012 were rejected and RDC now has yearly targets based on the Labour Regional Spatial Strategy coupled with a legally obligated Review for more years and more houses to meet the shortfall for adopting the Plan too late and finishing the build profile in the Plan years too early.
  • The Conservative Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, failed to dismantle the Regional Housing Policies (RSS) of the previous Labour Government until January 2013. Too late to matter as the Rochford Core Strategy was Approved by a Government Inspector and Adopted in December 2011 at 250 new houses p.a. rather than the preferred RDC number of 190 p.a.
  • So why has RDC not used the change in the law to revert to 190 p.a.?
  • Surely residents would have expected the Council to have reduced the number of houses in the Allocation of Sites which is in Public Inquiry in September?
  • The Hawkwell West development at The Christmas Tree Farm (Clements Gate) went ahead despite the fact that there has been no formal decision on the site at the Public Inquiry. So the Allocation of Sites could have been pulled until the numbers could have been reduced without opening the District up to the promised free for all from developers building even more houses.
  • Too late for Hall Road (600), Brays Lane (100) and Hawkwell (175) where plans are already passed but a benefit of reduction in Hullbridge and Rayleigh.

Report by the Leader of Rochford District Council

August 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

fountain pen tips 3

Every 6 weeks or so the Leader of Rochford District Council at a Full Council Meeting in Rayleigh reads his “Report of the leader on the work of the Executive”. The Executive are all Conservative Councillors who are Cabinet Members.  Only The Cabinet Members can speak at Meetings of The Executive. The Conservatives in their own words “control” the Council.  The latest Leader’s Report was read out on 30 July.

You can read it here.

In our view this Report is  much less about “the work of the Executive” and more about Party Political  Statements.  (Make up your own mind, of course.)

The first paragraph confirms the content of our Press Release.

Paragraph 4, which goes over the page, states “there have been fights between us politically at election time and in the run up to elections………………..


“There does appear to be a lot of misinformation being circulated.”

The many emails that I received last week suggest to me that this might have been referring to the challenges being raised against 772 new houses in Rayleigh.

It is a pity that the Leader does not name the organisation that is causing so much angst and confusion.

For the record Rochford District Residents  does not circulate misinformation.

But we have evidence that residents found the election leaflets of other political parties misleading. 


But a quick look around on other local web sites revealed this today.

Councillor Colin Seagers (Conservative) wrote on the Lib Dem Web Site – Comment 12 ;

“Also to make quite clear, a proposal for 1800 homes in Rayleigh was never supported by RDC Members – it was an initial proposal suggested by RDC Planning Officers that was rejected by the Conservative Member majority, not just Chris Black and the Lib-Dems.”  

This was quickly refuted by the Lib Dems by quoting from a Council Meeting in March 2007.

“The Tories won the vote by 4 to 2. The 4 voting for were Terry Cutmore, Phil Capon, James Cottis and John Pullen. The 2 against were Chris Black and John Mason.”

“So now the council will go out to public consultation on a document that includes 1800 houses for Rayleigh, 1000 for Rochford/Ashingdon and 400 for Hockley/ Hawkwell without giving any reasoning. Let’s see what the public makes of that.”

Cllr Colin Seagers replied:
August 4th, 2013 at 10:08

Cllr John Mason/Rochford ’Independent’??? and Admin/Cllr Ron Oatham?

You may not remember that I attended that Planning Policy SUB-COMMITTEE meeting on 23rd March 2007 as one of the two non-voting Visiting Members choosing to observe, along with Cllr Mrs Heather Glynn.
My recollection is that RDC Planning Policy including that contentious ‘1800’ suggestion had been driven largely by Officer Andrew Meddle right up to that Sub-committee meeting, immediately after which he left RDC to join another authority.
However, since when did a recommendation from a SUB-COMMITTEE totalling just seven Members attending dictate the view of the very large Conservative Majority Group (among 39 RDC Members in all)?
The Sub-committee’s recommendation WAS turned down by the CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY, as previously stated, when the recommendation was subsequently put before them. How else could it have been voted down, since all the opposition parties combined formed but a rather small fraction of the 39 RDC Members in 2006/7. The Officers’ suggestion of 1800 houses to be allocated in Rayleigh was scuppered by the mass of CONSERVATIVES VOTING AGAINST.

@Councillor Colin Seagers from John Mason

To recap I have questioned your following posting on OnlineFOCUS;

“Also to make quite clear, a proposal for 1800 homes in Rayleigh was never supported by RDC Members – it was an initial proposal suggested by RDC Planning Officers that was rejected by the Conservative Member majority, not just Chris Black and the Lib-Dems.”

The 1800 in Rayleigh definitely went to a Public Consultation.

I therefore interrogated the public CMIS System at the Council Web site to find exactly what happened in 2007.

Looking at the two documents below I can see that 1800 for Rayleigh was approved for Public Consultation.

Sub Committee


Is it correct that the approval for the Consultation was given by 4 Conservative Councillors in Sub Committee and then by 8 Conservative Councillors in Committee?

The Committee included Cllr C G Seagers.

The Rochford Core Strategy Preferred Options (May 2007) was formally known as Regulation 26 Draft.

The document is here;

This was subject to Public Consultation during May, June and July 2007.

At 4.6.10 of the Regulation 26 Draft appears a consultation proposal for 1800 in Rayleigh.

“The Council will set out a policy allocating the total number of housing units to the top (90%) and second tier (10%) settlements, to gain a smaller number of large sites which will deliver the greatest amount of infrastructure improvements.The split (with approximate numbers) will be as follows:”

Completions 2001-2006 900
Rochford / Ashingdon 1000
Hockley / Hawkwell 400
Rayleigh 1800
Smaller settlements 500
TOTAL 4600”

OnlineFOCUS on 23 September 2007  published a reference to a Report made to the LDF Sub Committee which, following the review of the Public Consultation conducted in May, June and July 2007, the 1800 in Rayleigh was eventually rejected by the new Sub Committee but having previously been rejected by residents having been through a Public Consultation.



Appointment of New Chief Executive to Rochford District Council

August 2, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Polyethylene Diffusion Series II

As your Ward Councillors we found the overall situation most unsatisfactory. We decided to “stay away” from the decision making Council Meeting because we regarded the options of FOR, AGAINST or ABSTAIN equally unsatisfactory.

Press Release by Councillor John Mason, Councillor Michael Hoy, Councillor Diane Hoy and Councillor Christine Mason

Immediate, 1 August 2013

Appointment of Chief Executive to Rochford District Council

Residents and Green Councillors were disappointed that the Conservative Administration of Rochford District Council only invited one candidate to make a presentation and take questions from all Members of the Council on 30 July.

Whilst all Members were initially promised that they would have a choice from more than one candidate this was changed to a presentation from a single candidate by the Conservatives.

The Conservative Administration of the Council had made it clear at the Extraordinary Council to receive the retirement announcement of Paul Warren that Green and Residents representatives would not be invited to join the Appointments Sub Committee who would interview candidates. This was despite the Intervention of the Lib Dems to no avail given that all previous senior appointments at the Council were by full cross party interviews.

One Tory Member who asked his Group why the Residents and Greens had been excluded was reportedly told “it would be like BP (The Conservative Administration) appointing a CEO where SHELL (Residents and Greens) would also be on the Appointments Committee.”

This analogy unreasonably suggests that Residents and Green Councillors are, according to the Conservatives, not part of a wider representation of the interests of the people of Rochford District.

This has been a political appointment without choice being offered to all Members of the Council.

Note for Editors:

John Mason and Christine Mason represent Rochford District Residents in Hawkwell West

Michael and Diane Hoy represent The Green Party for Hullbridge Ward

Michael Hoy is also the County Councillor for Rochford West Division representing The Green Party

Advertising Flags, Posters, Hoardings at the Barratts/David Wilson Homes Sales Office, Thorpe Road

July 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By John Mason

A resident and I were talking in the street yesterday morning and during the conversation they expressed their shock and surprise at the amount of advertising material that had been allowed at Clements Gate.

Advertising in Thorpe Road, 25 July 2013

Advertising in Thorpe Road, 25 July 2013

I explained that this did not actually have permission because the planning application had been withdrawn by the applicant on the day that the planning application was to be determined at Development Committee the previous day, Thursday 25th July.

Earlier in the day, prior to the Development Committee Meeting that evening, Members were advised that revised plans had been received that day, reducing the amount of advertising material and reducing the size of the site hoardings and that Officers would be presenting those changes for Members to consider at the Development Committee that evening.

The original planning application had actually had been recommended for refusal as follows;


8.1 It is proposed that the Committee RESOLVES to REFUSE the application for the following reasons:-

1. The proposed signage would be extensive throughout that part of the site of four plots given over to the selling of the approved housing. The use of two hoardings, eleven free standing signs, five flags and graphics to fencing would be excessive resulting in a proliferation of advertising material on the site contrary to Policy SAT11 to the saved Rochford District Council Replacement Local Plan (2006). If allowed, the extent of advertising material proposed would detract from the character and appearance of the street to the detriment of the visual amenity nearby residents ought reasonably expect to enjoy.

As Ward Councillor’s Christine and I were concerned that adequate time was not being allowed to consider any changed proposals and their impact. We were also concerned that Statutory Consultees did not have the opportunity to see or comment on the revised plans and made appropriate representation to our Officers to consider these points.

At the Development committee meeting Members were advised that the Application had been withdrawn.

We understand that there will be a new Application !!

Clements Gate Street Names – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 15

July 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fir trees sprouting

We are pleased to advise you that as Ward Members we have been involved in a process of sifting and approving Street Names for the Christmas Tree Farm Development.

The Developer has been informed on the decisions made.

We put forward  Aaron Lewis Close to mark the life and sacrifice of Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, from Rectory Avenue in Hawkwell Parish who died while serving with the 29 Commando Regiment of the Royal Artillery, in the Gereshk area of Helmand Province, in December 2008.

His family approved the suggestion made by Ward Members, Christine and John Mason.

Street Description Plot numbers Street Name
Right Hand cul-de-sac off Main Loop Road 160, 161, 170, 172, 173 Fir Tree Drive
Main Loop Road 106, 111 to 113, 116 to 159, 162 to 165, 168,  169 Christmas Tree Crescent
Left Hand cul-de-sac off Main Loop Road 103 to 105, 107 to 110 Spruce Drive
Clements Hall Way (existing) 166, 167, 171, 174, 175 Clements Hall Way
Right Side off Thorpe Road cul-de-sac 62, 73 to 77, 82 to 102 Beehive Lane
Thorpe Road (existing) 43 to 46, 55 to 61, 78 to 81 Thorpe Road
Cul-de-sac off Right Side Thorpe Road cul-de-sac 63 to 72 Primrose Place
Left Side off Thorpe Road Top cul-de-sac 1 to 12 Aaron Lewis Close
Left Side off Thorpe Road Bottom cul-de-sac 13, 14, 36, 37 to 42, 47 to 54 Nursery Drive
Cul-de-sac off Bottom cul-de-sac 15 to 35 Badgers Walk






Dear Tesco, Hours of Gridlock at your Southend Store

July 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Tesco Price Cut
Photo by Craig Murphy
By Christine Mason (reflecting on Tesco, Southend, on Sunday 7 July 2013

This was one of the worst, most frustrating waste of times I have yet to experience.  The staggering indifference of the staff just added to the horror.  We decided to go into store for a few items but…………….the queue to get out had snarled up the whole car park.  However we were not aware of this until it was too late to turn back.

In the hope that things would improve we had a late breakfast (kind and helpful service even if food poor), then shopped.  The only saving grace was that the store was relatively empty and we could find things with ease.  At the checkout we enquired about the queues for exit and were advised that one car had spent 40 minutes  moving just a few car lengths and the average time was 2 hours to exit.  However this was not deemed to be anything to do with Tesco’s and effectively hard luck.

With mounting concern we returned to our car.  It took over 15 minutes just to get out of the parking space.  Unfortunately we were to the rear of the car park and as no one was facilitating the movement of vehicles those at the other end were pushing out into the queue and those at the back, like ourselves consequently had an even longer wait.  Tesco’s line according to the staff is that it is nothing to do with them.  Yes it is.

If they are aware of this, and we were advised it is a common problem in good weather, they could a) Advise potential customers BEFORE THEY GET GRIDLOCKED, sorry that might affect sales but at least a choice would be possible. b) Use staff to organise traffic attempting to exit to ensure both fairness and reduce the risk of prangs. c) Offer water to those trapped in the heat, especially those with young children.  d) Consider offering to hold onto food that is sitting getting overheated.  Tesco claimed to want to reduce its carbon imprint, jamming cars for 2 hours with engines running does not help reduce the carbon imprint however it may increase their petrol sales!

We missed the start of the tennis, wasted two precious hours of a weekend, and to add insult to injury we were overcharged by £5.98.  Will I be going back?  No.

Also I will publish my experience on so other local residents are aware of what shopping in Tesco’s really entails.


Planning Positives or Planning Negatives?

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Despite our recent experiences with Planning Conditions on the David Wilson Homes/Barratts planning permission not all the results of our negotiations are negative.

With the David Wilson Homes/Barratts development there was even the potential of Community benefits through a Public Open Space if Rochford District Council, Hawkwell Parish Council, and The Hawkwell Residents Association had the same vision as ourselves, HAG and CTFDAG. A Private Open Space isolated from the Spencers Park Open Space, which is owned by Hawkwell Parish Council, is not a Community benefit. We negotiated for the provision of a bridge to join the two spaces, to be paid for by the developer but as permission by Hawkwell Parish Council was refused this cannot go ahead. So there are no benefits there which seems hardly reasonable given the loss of greenbelt.

But there are the benefits required by a Planning Inspector and embodied in the Section 106 Legal Agreement. In this case the retention of the ‘Paddocks’ as a green buffer zone.

Okay part of the Paddocks, The Christmas Tree Farm, is being used as a builders yard/ compound, contrary in our opinion to the Legal Agreement, but we have asked our Head of Planning to see if something can be done bearing in mind the estimated 5 year build/sales time and the adverse effect on the scene from the road which was not expected by the Planning Inspector. No response as yet from Shaun Scrutton.

It is argued that there is tangible benefit to the Community by provision of 60 new homes as affordable housing stock. We will let you decide if that is a positive or a negative.

The New Homes Bonus (£200,0000 from the Government to compensate the Community), which we had hoped would be used primarily for the benefit of those adversely affected residents could have been another plus but no benefit for Hawkwell. Unfortunately this money is expected to go into the general Rochford District Council “pot” to enable the Council Tax for the whole District to be kept lower. Again we will let you decide if that is a positive or a negative.

It was a regrettable decision, in our opinion, of Rochford District Council (we voted against) to allow two David Wilson Homes/Barratts commercial sales and marketing offices in a residential area but it should bring in additional business rates as Non-Domestic Rates, or business rates, are collected by local authorities. This is how businesses using non-domestic property contribute.

Under the business rates retention arrangements introduced from 1 April 2013, local authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. We have alerted our Head of Finance at Rochford District Council and she is going to take the necessary action to bring these Offices into the business rating list. This would not have been captured as a positive if your Ward Members had not raised this opportunity with the Council.

On a smaller but equally important scale when as Ward Councillors when we are made aware of potential problems with Planning Applications we can ask for Conditions to be put in place that protect the affected parties as far as possible.

Conditions are only of use in this way if they are known about and communicated so we do try and ensure that those potentially involved know about the restrictions.

On one property recently, with an issue of overlooking where windows not shown on the original plan had been incorporated, a simple condition requiring the retention of the dividing fence to prevent potential future overlooking resolved the issue and ensuring the affected neighbour was aware of the Condition will hopefully prevent any future disputes.

On a similar small but important build the neighbour concerns about bulk and potential ungainly effects of a fence on what had been an attractive green vista was overcome by the simple addition of a condition requiring a small fence wall with evergreen planting to soften the impact.

Neither of these interventions would have occurred without action  by your Ward Councillors.

Our main concern is that the Planning Officers do ensure that the Planning Conditions are kept and whilst we are busy looking at the DWH/Barratts site more than others at the moment we do keep our eye on the small developments as well.

Sighs over Signs !! – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update 14

June 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Whatever Way You Want
Photo by clappstar
When is a street sign not a street sign? When it is an advert apparently!

The residents of the unmade part of Thorpe Road asked Essex County Council in 2012 for permission for a “residents only parking” sign. ECC agreed that residents could do this.

In January when DWH/Barratts commenced the residents decided to ask DWH/Barratts to pay for the sign as the need was caused by their development. DWH/Barratts agreed but Rochford District Council decided they needed to consider giving permission because it was an advert.

A few months later RDC decided that it was not an advert.

So it would be erected by DWH/Barratts? No because RDC decided it had to go back to ECC.

In the interim DWH and/or ECC have managed to erect at least three directions signs to Clements Gate, many ‘construction traffic only’ notices, a ‘Road Ahead Closed’ sign, seven flag poles (planning consent is required for more than three and has been retrospectively applied for four of them), a large advertising hoarding at the junction of Thorpe Road/ Thorpe Close, another two at the site entrance from Clements Hall Way again all without formal permission.

The same goes for the hardcore that needs to be put in by DWH because of their vehicles accessing the unmade part without permission. They have had meetings apparently and it now has to be ‘costed’.

Will either be done?  Could there be one rule for DWH/Barratts and another for residents? Let’s wait and see.

There is now an application by DWH/Barratts for about 23 various hoardings and signs to be erected around two show homes and the Sales and Marketing suite in Thorpe Road which was approved by Development Committee (we voted against this commercial use in a residential area but the remaining Members passed this usage quoting precedent. When we asked to see the planning permissions for the precedents these could not be produced. The modification of a “garage” and bespoke internal modelling for commercial use seems to be new and the so called precedents only related to the usual use of show homes.)

If you wish to comment on the current application for the advertisements please do so quoting ref 13/00299/ADV to RDC as soon as possible and we would appreciate a copy of your comments.

Another concern is that the application for a second Sales and Marketing Office by DWH off the Clements Hall Way access was passed without what Ward Councillors saw as adequate protection for the new nearby residents in relation to parking.

Hawkwell Parish Council was concerned that DWH/Barratts would use both at the same time. So were we!!

Whilst DWH/Barratts confirmed that they do not intend to have two sales offices open simultaneously’ despite a motion from John Mason asking for a condition to this effect this was not deemed necessary by the majority present. We voted against the application.

We have also raised the issue of two estate agents sales boards outside No 352 Rectory Road which is another DWH property which they have modernised for sale.

Residents are only allowed one for sale sign when attempting to sell their home and if more than one agent is used they have to use back to back signs of standard sizes.

Whilst one of the signs is of standard size the other is not and yet again when RDC were notified of this very little obvious action is taken. The offending large hoarding for the sale of a single house remains. Residents could not have one of these.

The comment from an Officer was ‘well they have spent a lot of money on it’……………………………are we missing something?

Meeting Place Communications (MPC) – Barratts and David Wilson Homes Update Number 13

May 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

13Meeting Place Communications has been described by RDC as a “complaints service for residents” and our local police as “mediators”.We have found this article from Meeting Place Communications on the internet and we felt that we should share this with you together with our feedback on the contents.
Case Studies – “Shifting the balance from opposition to support in Essex”

MPC was appointed by a leading national housebuilder to assist in the promotion of 175 new homes in a village in Rochford District, Essex. Previously, two similar applications for the site by the developer had received strong opposition from the ward councillors and three local residents groups and were refused by the district council.

The key focus of the consultation strategy was stakeholder engagement. MPC held regular meetings with the local residents groups and the local ward councillors. Views expressed by these groups were taken on board where possible and reflected in the final proposals. MPC also forged a strong relationship with the local journalist; a relationship that was key to communicating with the local community.

At committee, the residents groups offered their support calling the scheme “a showpiece site which could be used as an example of how co-operation between the developer, Council and local residents can improve the final development” and the local newspaper ran a story about the scheme with the headline “Housing developers do have a caring side”. Rochford District Council voted resoundingly to approve the application.

Feedback from Ward Councillors John and Christine Mason on the statements made above.

  • No residents group spoke at Development Committee on 17 September to offer their support or make any other comment.


  • Both John and Christine Mason voted AGAINST approval and this is recorded in the Minutes.

As Independent Councillors we believe that any complaints should go through us in order that we can keep a full log which might be important later and the fact that we will use whatever channel we think fit including direct communication to the Managing Director of Barratts and David Wilson Homes.

David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update No 12

May 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Gosh!  We have never been so busy!  This afternoon, when returning home from a Planning Training Session lead by Shaun Scrutton at Rochford District Council we noticed a large advertising hoarding accompanied by four flag poles with site advertising banners at the end of Thorpe Road.

Only 3 Flagpoles are permitted on the whole site according to RDC. There are two already in Clements Hall Way.  This makes 6.

Only 3 Flagpoles are permitted on the whole site according to RDC. There are two already in Clements Hall Way. This makes 6.

Driving round to check that our eyes were not seeing mirages we were unable to drive through Thorpe Road as a ‘tipper truck/lorry’ was being loaded with top soil over the temporary fence whilst parked in Thorpe Road. The Planning Officer at RDC considered this unacceptable.

Loading like this is not permitted according to RDC. No Wheel Washing either !!

Loading like this is not permitted according to RDC. No Wheel Washing either !!

When it eventually moved, without undertaking the agreed wheel cleaning, it was noticed that the road cleaning tanker used to clean the road was seemingly attached a fire hydrant.

As we were not sure of the permissions required for these new apparitions we contacted RDC Planning who confirmed that the flag poles need planning permission (they do not have it nor have applied for it) as there are already two on site at the Clements Way entrance and developers are, we are informed, only allowed three on site without planning permission.   We understand that RDC will be asking for a retrospective planning application.  In the meantime we think that these will remain in place of course.  We have asked for them to be removed.

Also the Planning Officer we spoke to was of the opinion that the advertising hoarding should also be subject to planning permission but he is going to check on this.

There are two more today, 10/5 in Clements Hall Way

Advertising in Clements Hall Way.  Does this need permission?

Advertising in Clements Hall Way. Does this need permission?

He is also going to enquire – again – why David Wilson Homes & Barratts are not cleaning wheels as agreed.

The water is another issue and we do not know if this is correct or not.  Essex and Suffolk Water are investigating.  They did ask if anyone in the locality had issues with discolouration or pressure.  If you have can you please let us know so we can inform them accordingly.

There have also been more recent incidents of parking on the footways, construction traffic exiting the unmade section of Thorpe Road into Rectory Road, vehicles waiting outside the Vega Nurseries Gate at 7.30 am and we found out that the residents parking only sign residents would like in the unmade end of Thorpe Road is being given the run around between RDC and ECC.  It is now at Essex County Council once again!!

No advance notice was given about the traffic lights in Rectory Road on 9/5 and 10/5. There was no work going on when we passed at around 11 am 10/5.  No we do not know how long there will be this disruption.

David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Clements Gate – Update Number 11

May 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rodents – “a short update”

Demon Squirrel

Since the issue of rodent infestation in some properties surrounding the David Wilson Homes & Barratts site, alleged by residents to be following the start the clearance work, there has been a lot of anxiety and uncertainty experienced by residents.  Initially affected residents were told by David Wilson Homes & Barratts site operatives that it would be dealt with by David Wilson Homes & Barratts but when this failed to be effective the residents turned to us as Ward Councillors for assistance.

In March, in response to our representations, and those also made by our Environmental Officers at our request (this is after all a Public Health issue) we received the following reassurance from David Wilson Homes & Barratts representative, Meeting Place Communications (MPC).

‘residents are invited to arrange treatment and send DWH a bill for the works which they can then consider. Please invite residents to send the bill to me (c/o DWH) which I can then ensure gets to the right people within the organisation.’

So far so good!

However not everyone has the resources to outlay for treatment so with this in mind we re-approached MPC who advised…….

“DWH has had further discussions about this and has instructed Rentokil to visit the following properties – (addresses deleted) – They will be checking to see whether the bait boxes on the DWH side of the boundary are sufficient, or if they need moving or adding too in order to help rid these properties of rats. I am not sure what time they will be coming round however if no-one is at home can they will leave a contact card so they can get in touch.”

“This will hopefully prevent the need for residents to have the work done and paid for by themselves and send the invoice to DWH as I had previously mentioned.”

In the light of the potential health risks, anxiety and uncertainty, after all the Managing Director, Mr. David Eardley, of DWH did state in response to request for a solution on the 17th April………

‘We are very aware of the urgency of the rodent issue and we are dealing with this matter with up most importance.”

Our understanding from affected residents is that no one has inspected their homes or back gardens and the one resident who did have the work carried out at their own expense and submitted an invoice via MPC has had any contribution to the cost declined by David Wilson Homes & Barratts.

As Ward Councillors we met with Richard Evans, The Head of Environmental Services at Rochford District Council urgently this week to see if some resolution could be untaken for those residents who have suffered this period of uncertainty. We are pleased to say that The Head of Environmental Services at Rochford District Council has agreed to assist these residents with a proposed resolution. He will be in touch with all of those residents who have contacted us.

Many thanks to Richard Evans and his Team and let us hope this is an end to this sorry saga.

Barratts and David Wilson Homes – Clements Gate – Hawkwell – Update Number 10

May 4, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Barratts, Clements Gate, Hawkwell 


So what revelations do we have to report to residents this week?

You would expect that major developers would put forward a proposal for planning permission a scheme that was pretty much “on the ball” in terms of significant needs such as road closures, construction access, building compounds, change of haul route and new marketing suites etc.,

But according to RDC Officers the people that put planning applications together are then superseded by the operational people who open the site who then see that major changes need to be made hence the problems we are now trying to deal with.  The apparent lack of contact between these two groups of professionals seems astonishing.

As we have said before Members of the Council are excluded from many of these decisions which are taken by Officers of Rochford District Council AFTER planning permission is granted.

We know that The Conservative and Lib Dem Government wish to build, build, build to save the economy with another round of consumer driven boom and bust from the housing market now that everything has been done to remove the so called “red tape” protecting the interests of residents.

We have heard The Chief Executive of Rochford District Council at the Business Breakfast tell businessmen and women in his update that RDC is encouraging house building in the District.

Further another RDC Officer has written when discussing Planning Conditions and Non Enforcement with me “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.

Perhaps this explains the apparent disregard some builders, small and large, seem to have for planning requirements.

Given what we are seeing in our Ward we wonder why they even bother with planning applications at all and we have a legal agreement on “The Paddocks” that you could pour water through like a sieve!!

This is a warning to all other residents across the District who will be getting housing estates soon.  

Can you trust the written word? 



No update as promised by Barratts and David Wilson Homes on 29th April.

Marketing Suite in Thorpe Road

Just days ago Barratts and David Wilson Homes were granted planning permission for a temporary period of 2 years. The Officer’s Report said “In this case the applicant is requesting a period of two years. It may be that if sales are slower than expected, that period could be increased ”. Barratts and David Wilson Homes now want three years just a short time after asking for 2 years. Are sales expected to be that slow already?

Clements Hall Way Access

The Vega Nursery Gate in Rectory Gate will still be used although it would seem that some traffic is now going through the new access.

Two advertising flags were erected a few days ago. We do not know if these were on the approved plans.

But there are plenty of ways round this.

Barratts and David Wilson Homes can have 3 flag poles on the whole site without specific permission.

So one to go………………

……….but how many do they want in Thorpe Road?


Residents Only Parking Signs in Thorpe Road

Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed to a request for this signage but have to put this through RDC for permission.  Several months later it has still not been looked at.  We understand officers have other priorities. (Planning Applications are dealt with in 8 weeks.)

Complaints please to Councillor Keith Hudson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation

Perhaps residents should have just put up a flag pole?  Oh dear, No.  The rules are different for us.

Use of Open Space as Construction Haul Route

In order that heavy Construction Traffic access via Thorpe Road can be stopped as soon as possible Barratts and David Wilson Homes wish to run heavy heavy Construction Traffic across the Open Space. According to Barratts and David Wilson Homes there will be issues which need to be solved first with travelling over the GAS MAIN. We also have concerns about the risk to wildlife in the Open Space and we have insisted that Barratts and David Wilson Homes undertake an Ecological Assessment. Surprisingly both Officers and Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed.

Management of the Open Space

As we told you last week Rochford District Council knows nothing about Trinity Estates as stated in the Barratts and David Wilson Homes publicity and advertising circulated to residents.

An Officer writes  “The S106 requires agreement before first occupation – certainly there is a requirement for RDC to agree the arrangements, but it may be some while before we’re asked to do so; we’ve seen nothing as yet.”

County Council Election Update

Councillor Keith Hudson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected in Hockley and Hullbridge for Essex County Council. The seat was won by Green Party Councillor Michael Hoy.


Newly Elected County Councillor Terry Cutmore ( is now responsible for dealing with all of the Highway Authority complaints that you might have against Essex County Council.  Indeed any Essex County Council problems you may have. If things are not dealt with to your satisfaction let us know and we will help you take your complaint to the Chief Executive of ECC and the Local Government Ombudsman.

Councillor Terry Cutmore is also the person who controls Rochford District Council and is Leader of Rochford District Council.

Christine’s Charitable Work – Southend University Hospital

May 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


An Interview With The Rochford Life Magazine – John & Christine Mason

May 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


What Residents Are NOT Told by Barratts and David Wilson Homes – Update Number 9

April 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Photo by modot_stl_photos
Summary of Clements Gate, Hawkwell Update

Many residents will now have received the misnamed Hawkwell “Focus” from Barratts-David Wilson Homes.

As your Independent District Ward Councillors, John and Christine Mason, we will now give you much more information of what is going on with the issues that Barratts and David Wilson Homes left out of their glossy, expensive, news pamphlet and report on other issues covered by Barratts and David Wilson Homes but without “spin”.   We are going to cover progress with the Clements Hall Way Access, the continued use of the Rectory Road Access (not in planning approval), the so called “public “Open Space, The Rat Problem, Street Naming, the continual use of the permanent open space of the “Paddocks” for a Builders Yard contrary to the intention of a legal agreement, the inadequate width of the Rectory Road Footway and the “Estate Agents” Office.

If you do not have the Hawkwell “Focus” from Barratts and David Wilson Homes you can download it.


Before you start thinking that we can take this pain and it will be all over in a little while please do read about the future we foresee.

The Future for Even More House Building

You will remember that at the General Election that you were promised that the house building required by the Labour Government would be stopped or reduced. That quickly gave way to “we can’t” for legal reasons and discarded completely with economic recovery would be assured with the Conservative Government policy of “Build Houses for Growth”.

We heard The CEO of RDC at the Business Breakfast on Thursday tell businessmen and women in his update that RDC was encouraging house building in the District.

Further another RDC Officer has written when discussing Planning Conditions and Non Enforcement with me “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.

Both of these evidence that this promotion seems to be going much further than the binding requirements of the new NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework).

We have a Local Plan which currently requires over 3000 to be built with an embedded automatic increase of more than another 1000+.  There is documentation in public that suggests that Hawkwell West will get even more in new developments in Ironwell Lane. Worse than that perhaps there is a bunch of consultants currently telling us that we need many more thousands of houses in the Rochford District.   With real immigration figures into the District being very, very low you can forget the scaremongering by UKIP and the English Democrat Political Parties. As Independents we joined with the Greens to put forward long ago that we should only meet our local housing needs but this was savagely rejected by the Rochford District Conservatives.

Clements Gate Update

Rodent Infestations

Promises from Barratts and David Wilson Homes are not being met and the update actually appears in the Echo.  The problem appears to be spreading.

Clements Hall Way Access

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Barratts and David Wilson Homes advised that this will open on 3 May 2013.

You would think that the use of the Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road would stop then?


Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road

Whilst we understand that Officers of Rochford District Council acknowledge that continued use of the Vega Nurseries Gate in Rectory Road, and that is what Barratts and David Wilson Homes intend, should be subject to a planning application there is no certainty that this formality will be fulfilled. Even if it is not we understand that there will be no enforcement action taken because RDC and ECC apparently do not see that any harm is caused.

An ECC Officer actually wrote I understand RDC want to progress this development and this would facilitate the process…”

You can see what we are up against “the local planning authority is required by Government to take positive stance on housing development”.  No planning permission would be clearly OK with the Conservative Party nationally and locally.

As Ward Councillors we would at the very least want to see a temporary permission with an end date agreed with all of the all the relevant protocols in place; but in the absence of a planning application this will obviously not be possible.

We had one success with the help of information provided by residents.  Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed in writing to us that there will be no construction traffic waiting in Rectory Road or parking on the inadequate footway.

Widening of the Footway in Rectory Road

Whilst Barratts and David Wilson Homes refer to this in their Hawkwell “Focus”, Officers at RDC advise as follows;

The footway is not to be widened; this is misinformation in the newsletter. The planning statement we considered with the application agreed to “relocate telegraph poles and lamp posts from the footway into the site”.

Open Space

This was stated in the Planning Application to be a PUBLIC Open Space in return of course as a benefit to the whole community for the loss of Green Belt.

Councillor Cutmore reneged on his promise for RDC to form a PUBLIC Open Space.

As Independent Councillors we fought for the right for Hawkwell Parish Council to be able to own and manage this as a PUBLIC Open Space.  Hawkwell Parish Council refused to even talk to Barratts and David Wilson Homes.  This was backed up in a public statement by The Hawkwell Residents Association which agreed with this decision.

Hawkwell Parish Council also refused to participate in allowing a link to Spencers Park (owned by HPC) by a bridge to facilitate access to the PUBLIC open space from Spencers Park PUBLIC open space.  We understand that HPC was concerned about youths moving to Spencers Park. Barratts and David Wilson Homes have agreed to provide £10,000 funding for this facility but if not built the money will be retained by the developer.

Instead of a PUBLIC Open Space we ended up with a PRIVATE Open Space just for the residents of the new estate.

HAG and the CTFDAG disagreed and Richard Hill, Christine and John wished to meet with Barratts and David Wilson Homes to discuss alternatives. This was never taken up by Barratts.  When we chased all we got was “Thank you for your patience.”

With Barratts and David Wilson Homes stating in their Hawkwell “Focus” that this will be managed by Trinity Estates this will be a PRIVATE Open Space.  Rochford District Council are required to approve the plan but with no reply from Officers of RDC we assume that this remains a mystery.

You might want to read this link. It has nothing to do with us. We found it on Google.

We believe that the decision of Hawkwell Parish Council to refuse to talk to Barratts and David Wilson Homes could be seen eventually as a grave mistake.  If you wish this to be altered even at this eleventh hour please make representation to Hawkwell Parish Council as soon as possible.  They are now the only authority that can ensure that the loss of green belt is offset by a PUBLIC open space.  Without their agreement to the Bridge the Open Space will certainly become and stay private.

Street Naming

We wrote about this here;

Here are the recommendations we put forward to RDC.

This is why we chose Lewis Close/Avenue and objected to ALL of the other personalised names.

We hope that you agree.

The Paddocks

We have  been concerned that the “green strip” known in the planning application as “The Paddocks” which adjoins Rectory Road is being used not only for access but also for parking and storage of building materials.

The Agreement states “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.”

Despite our objections Officers of the Council have decided “As these areas are within the application site and this use is permitted by the General Permitted Development Order 1995, it is lawful to use the areas for these purposes during the construction works.”

All we can say is that Officers did not advise Members that this current use could be permitted when the idea of a Legal Agreement was put forward in the planning application.

We have always feared that a Legal Agreement between the Council and the developer might not protect the interests of residents and our request for this to remain green belt was turned down by Deputy Council Leader, Keith Hudson.

Here is what Councillor Keith Hudson stated to Councillor John Mason “I am of the opinion that we require a legal agreement with the Developer and the landowners and RDC within the Section 106 agreement associated with the application to ensure that these parcels of land remain areas of permanent open space; such an agreement would be far stronger and defensible in law than a general green belt designation and have far more meaning. Such a legal agreement would be binding on all parties concerned unless there was agreement by all parties to nullify or amend the agreement.

Do you agree that this current use as a compound/builders yard provides open space which mitigates the visual impact of the Development and ensures that these parcels of land remain areas of permanent open space?

pano2 (2)

pano3 (2)

And finally the…………….

“Estate Agents” Office Approved in Established Residential Area

As we stated here,, we voted against this.

In his opposing speech (supporting Christine’s initial speech) John stated that he had not seen this particular arrangement put up for planning permission in his 13 years on the District Council or previously when he was on Hockley Parish Council and he was concerned about precedent.

A Tory Member pointedly suggested that he go and look at the EON Development and remember the Etheldore Avenue Development.

We followed up on this statement with Shaun Scrutton in writing and he agreed that neither of the examples referred to by the Tory required planning permission because they were unmodified and extended Show Houses.

The application approved in Hawkwell was different because it was an extended garage which had an internally modified layout for a commercial office and it does create a precedent as John stated.

Information Please

Please give us some feedback on these issues and let us know if you agree/disagree with the stances we are taking.  As your Ward Councillors we try to represent the view that we see as a local consensus and also to provide a voice for our community.  We can only do this successfully if you let us know what your opinions are.

David Wilson Homes/Barratts, Clements Gate – Update No 8 – Street Naming

April 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Name stamp

Have you ever wondered how and why streets get called what they do?

Some are very obvious, Main Road, London Road, Esplanade, Wood End etc.

Some more obscure.

When a new road is formed certain criteria for the names are considered.  One consideration is easy spelling so that a name is unlikely to be misspelt.  Another consideration is easy pronunciation in case of Emergency.

Names that reflect subjects that can be identified with the area such as Nursery Corner are encouraged.  One big “NO, NO” are names that relate to a person who is either living or those who have been alive during living memory.

Only under exceptional circumstances will this be given consideration and justification will be required, as well as consent from the person or family.

The main exception to this is where our War Heroes are killed in action and local Councils can use the Road/Street Naming process to commemorate their sacrifice if the families are agreeable.

Because one of the criteria for names is that there should be no confusion between neighbouring areas and districts it is probably preferable that each Council commemorates its own heroes.

David Wilson Homes or Barratts at Clements Gate, Hawkwell is an opportunity for this policy to be exercised without favour and in accordance with policy.

Unfortunately confusion has been caused as Barratts have produced two different lists of suggestions.

However it would appear from an examination of the Section 106 Agreement that many names that were put forward by Barratts belonged to the past and present landowners comprising the area now known as Clements Gate.

Whilst John and I initially decided not to comment or suggest names we did previously advise Barratts informally and verbally that we felt it inappropriate that personal names should be used in view of the lack of support locally for the development.

This has been a highly controversial, lengthy, series of planning applications in view of the strength of opposition by the local community.

Some of the names put forward such as Nursery Drive and Badgers Walk reflect the previous use of the land and would not continue to cause objection from the community.

Once a developer like Barratts submits names they are subjected to a simple process checking that they comply with policy and are acceptable to the local Post Office/Royal Mail before being put to Ward Councillors for consideration.

We do hope that suitable names are eventually going to be chosen by your District Council Officers in conjunction with Barratts and that the objections that we have put forward on behalf of residents will be accepted by Barratts.

We cannot be sure of that because this is development that your District Council has imposed on us and we hope that the street names adopted by Barratts and RDC do not perpetuate unnecessary controversy into the future.

If you want to have your say write to Sarah Fowler at RDC; as soon as possible please.

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