Disability Essex Opposed

June 23, 2007 by  

The insanity which is prevalent in the Conservative Party reared its ugly head again last Thursday, 21 June in the Development Control Committee (Planning).  The sane Members only narrowly approved a new education centre for the disabled being provided in Rochford District.

Disability Essex is arguably the leading organisation in its field in the UK.  Not only were they applying for a learning centre but they were proposing to build an eco friendly facility which is the only one in the UK to achieve a gold design standard.

It is led by former Chair of RDC, John Gibson who is Chair of Disability Essex and former District and County Councillor Richard Boyd as CEO.

The problem was that the Essex County Council land was technically in green belt on a small part of a playing field.

This is what the Officers advised in their report.  But they still recommended REFUSAL. 

Green Belt Issues and the Very Special Circumstances

The construction of new buildings within the Green Belt is inappropriate development. It is for the applicant therefore to demonstrate that very special circumstances exist to outweigh the harm caused by inappropriateness and any other harm upon the character, appearance and openness of the Green Belt. Very special circumstances are not defined but it is for the Local Planning Authority to decide whether the circumstances submitted in support of an application amount to being sufficiently unique in nature for there to be little risk of a similar special need occurring close by so as to create cumulative environmental impact degrading a tract of Green belt.

So how many other learning centres for the disabled would “occur close by so as to create cumulative environmental impact degrading a tract of Green belt.” ?  None !!

Because of an objection from Sport England this application could be called in by the Secretary of State.  Shaun Scrutton was not happy with my proposal for APPROVAL and saying that he could not support the explanation we would have to give to the Secretary of State.  I had to go to the lengths of saying that I would go personally before the Secretary of State instead of him.

My proposal was backed by sane Hawkwell Conservative Councillor Michael Starke. 

But the VOTE was 18 for Approval and 15 Against.  All 15 against were insane Tories.  Given that there were five Lib Dems present and voting for Approval, and myself, it means that the Conservatives voted 15 to 12 against approving a learning centre for the disabled. 

My thanks go to Lib Dem Councillor June Lumley, who during a hectic debate, during which I was being heckled loudly by Tories and forcefully opposed by Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning, she pointed out to me the statement in blue above at a crucial moment before the vote.  



3 Responses to “Disability Essex Opposed”
  1. K. Rosemary Bull says:

    I know the above was from 2 years ago but has any one who voted 4 the development been to see the effect it is having on the local residents. I back onto it it is a blot on the landscape and has totally changed my life. It is not a case of not in my backyard we live vey happily with Norman House. There was a whole field to choose from why did it have to go in my “backyard”. As e we kept being told it was an ecofriendly building in my innocence I expectede something t like the recent new build at the Nationa osteoporosis headquaters at Camerton what a difference!

  2. Editor says:

    ECHO News

    A CHARITY in Rochford has been dealt a blow after being told it cannot let other groups use its new training centre.

    Planning permission for Disability Essex’s new building on land next to the adult community college, was granted in 2008 to provide offices and teaching facilities for the charity.

    The charity wanted to allow the building to be used by other training providers.

    However, Permission to allow other groups to use the facilities was refused at a meeting of Rochford District Council’s development control committee following a strong objection from Rochford Parish Council.

    The parish council said: “Allowing this application could set a precedent if an applicant had intention of circumventing the strict green belt development regulations.”

    Letters of objection were also received from 15 people, who said noise and traffic would annoy neighbours and the site was already busy.

    Richard Boyd, of Disability Essex, said the charity had already started an appeal process.

    He said: “The nub of the situation is we have permission to use our buildings to do a series of operations. If we do them there is no objection, if someone does it with us there is no objection but if someone says they are going to be the leader then they can’t come here.”

  3. Mrs Rosemary Bull sent this comment in by email and has agreed that it may be published.

    Whilst I am sad for the people who may have been helped in the new Disability Essex facitity I am delighted from my own position, I still have the monstrosity in full view in my living room, at present blocking out the low winter sun, hopefully that will be all I have to cope with. I might even be able to reclaim my living room and garden for sitting in this coming summer; something that was totally impossible this past summer with workman on scaffolding able to look in.

    It is a pity Mr. Boyd didn’t “cut his coat according to his cloth”, a building half the size would surely have given far more room than he has had previously. I understand his plans were turned down in several, far more central areas, what a pity Rochford was the council that eventuially gave in and on a green field site. This has encroached on a facility used by many dog walkers, families and young people us and our neighbouring bungalow and the resource centre who no longer have access to the field for their special needs clients.

    There was never any mention until very recently of it being used by anyone other than Disability Essex, this I understoond was fundamental in permission to build on a green field being granted. Why, before the building is even commissioned is Mr. Boyd seeking, what is in effect a change of use fb efore the project is completed?

    Rosemary Bull

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