Top

Rochford District NEW Local Plan 2017 – 2037

December 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

IF YOU WISH TO HELP JUST CONTACT US here.

A NEW LOCAL PLAN FACEBOOK GROUP is here.

As many residents will already know Rochford District Council is about to launch a public consultation on a SECOND Local Plan for 2017 to 2037 focusing on a maximum of ANOTHER 7500 dwellings. With the FIRST local Plan 2011 to 2025 came committed approval for 2785 dwellings so together this makes over 10,000 !!

As you might expect the Council is required to ask Landowners and their Agents to formally notify the Council if they wish their land to be considered (for obvious reasons but some might not be so obvious and the Council assumes that each has a REAL intention to see development on their site.)

The information on the land available is publicly available on these maps (https://goo.gl/grJe3A). And there is even more information here (https://goo.gl/JNVBhv).

NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. YOUR VIEW IN THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION COMING SOON WILL COUNT.

So what will your District Councillors be doing? I can’t speak for other political groups on the Council but I can say what The Rochford District Residents and Green Group propose.

We will leaflet all homes our Wards drawing attention to the questions and options put forward by the Council and how residents can comment on the Evidence put forward.

I shall also be asking our Councillors to work with residents to create a sustainability profile for the sites that landowners have put forward in their Wards and submit these in the Public Consultation.

How? Our approach is attached.

sustainability analysis template 2017

We will welcome all other political groups, action groups and residents’ associations/community groups if they decide to join in this way.

 

Independent Candidates – Rochford District Council Elections – 7 May 2015

April 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochforrdrd District Residents has 8 candidates;

Hawkwell West – Christine Mason
Hawkwell South – Phil Capon
Hawkwell North – Elliot Mason
Ashingdon & Canewdon – Tracy Capon
Sweyne Park – Toby Mountain
Grange – Peter Scott
Lodge – Richard Lambourne
Hockley Central – Irena Cassar

Residents and Independent Candidates for Rochford District Residents are not associated with any of the national political parties and if elected will represent ALL residents irrespective of political allegiance on the local matters that affect us all.

The common ground between ALL Independent Candidates standing for Rochford District Residents in the Local Election on 7 May is as follows;

– Transparency and Openness of Local Government keeping residents always in the picture and consulting with residents

– Against the Cabinet System which has wasted £500,000

– Residents to drive Council policies and not National Party Politics

– There is no Whip when Independent and Residents Councillors work together

– Challenging any large development in the District so that all necessary infrastructure is in place first

– No development in Green Belt except in very special circumstances

– The Revision of the Core Strategy must include starter homes that people can afford to buy

– A full public consultation on street lighting

– No Local Subsidies of Essex County Council for Grass Cutting (£150K)

– No Local Subsidies on Flood Prevention; full cost recovery on landowners and Essex County Council

Councillor John Mason who is the Group’s Leader on Rochford District Council is not required to stand this year having been re-elected in 2014. He is acting as Election Co-ordinator and Spokesperson for Rochford District Residents.

Internet Campaigning is on Facebook – “Rochford to Rayleigh Rising “https://www.facebook.com/groups/rochfordandrayleigh/?ref=bookmarks and http://rochfordessex.com  Contact Phone Number 01702204377 and email john@onlinemail.me.uk

NOTE: John Chaffin is standing in Hullbridge as an Independent but he is NOT a candidate for Rochford District Residents

Could there be a Reduction in House Building Targets in Rochford District

July 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Yes, there could be, but many residents who listened to and read the promises made about over development of the green belt at the General and Local Election in 2010 think that the new Government has stopped all building on green belt.

No that is not the case, far, far from it.

Well the RSS Housing targets have been revoked. What does that mean then?

It could mean this;

-10.9%
East of England Regional Assembly (EERA)
23,900 local authority option one figure
26,830 current RSS figure

[Source http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/ihstory.aspx?storycode=6508627]

The difference represents an attempt by the now defunct EERA to impose housing targets of 250 dwellings per year in the development time line from 2025 to 2031 which the Council had already rejected !

In other words NO CHANGE ?

Did you expect a reduction immediately in the proposed losses of green belt 2011 to 2015 that feature in the many planning applications that developers have put into Rochford District Council?

Whilst the Council can set its own housing targets it is still heavily constrained by the RSS and the other recent housing studies.

So why might there be no reduction in housing development and loss of green belt?

What are the issues?

The Government has instructed Council’s to place a zero council tax rise in their 2011/2012 Budgets. As the Rochford Independent has already reported this will, in all likelihood, mean a loss of income of £300,000 in the first year and cumulatively £1.5m over 5 years.

The only viable alternative is to cut services or to recoup this over each year of lost cash flow with income from another source.

Hey presto, here is what Eric Pickles will do to plug that gap.

“Imposed central targets will be replaced with powerful incentives so that people see the benefits of building. The coalition agreement makes a clear commitment to providing local authorities with realincentives to build new homes.”

“…..those local authorities which take action now to consent and support the construction of new homes will receive direct and substantial benefit from their actions. Because we are committed to housing growth, introducing these incentives will be a priority and we aim to do so early in the spending review period.”

Other issues could revolve around what are referred to as “Option one numbers”.

Eric Pickles says “Authorities may base revised housing targets on the level of provision submitted to the original Regional Spatial Strategy examination (Option 1 targets), supplemented by more recent information as appropriate.”

All local planning authorities were required to project the number of homes they believe are needed to meet their requirements by 2026. Known as Option one numbers, these figures were submitted by local councils themselves to regional development agencies, with both parties negotiating over the number of homes to be included in the regional spatial strategy.

As I understand the position the figures put forward under Option one by RDC, except those for 2025/2031, are those which were in the RSS and are in the Core Strategy anyway.

So no help there perhaps.

And the Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMA) and Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments (SHLAA) for Rochford District could be just put forward as local housing needs assessments which have already been produced and only relatively recently.

But the Council does need to review all of these to ensure that these are really all minimum local housing needs.

Representations to The Planning Inspector examining the Core Strategy by both residents groups and developers are united in saying that much, much more work needs to be done to justify the Locations chosen. Such an irony where the same approach is being deployed by residents and developers to the Core Strategy but with completely different end game objectives if it is thrown out at this point.

At least that could mean that there will be the chance for residents to be to be consulted on the price THEY are prepared to pay in terms of reduced budget at RDC in return for less loss of green belt?

Unless the annual target of 250 dwellings is reduced by the Council then 1250 dwellings will be built between 2011 and 2015. And each 5 years thereafter. It would seem that the only real reduction might only be seen in 2025!!

Where are the outstanding planning application decisions?

  1. Residents of Rochford (326) and Hawkwell (330) wait for Mr. Pickles’ decision on the two Appeals at the end of July/beginning of August.
  2. Ashingdon waits for the Council’s Decision on the Brays Lane Planning Application (150) on 19 August.
  3. Residents of Rochford also wait for the Council’s Decision on the Hall Road Planing Application (600) due in February 2011 under an agreement between the Council and the Applicant (PPA).

It would seem that it has been suggested to residents concerned about the Hall Road planning application that if the Council is minded to approve the outline planning application next February, the release of the greenbelt land that is the subject of this planning application will need the approval of the Secretary of State.

So is it certain that this planning application will be Called In by the Secretary of State and referred to a Government Planning Inspector?

Well No, because it is thought that the Direction made by the Government in April 2009 that many such planning applications must be notified to the Secretary of State for consideration of Call In might, if as thought, the Direction is removed by the New Government then no referral or notification is required.

And, in any event,given the new Government’s policy of localism I think that such applications will not be Called In in future as relatively rare as it was anyway before the General Election.

This might be particularly pertinent if in the Brays Lane application if there is a resolution to grant consent for the development in the Report to the Development Control Committee approved by Shaun Scrutton.

Here is an update from the Planning Inspector’s Office which is administrating the Public Examination on the Rochford Core Strategy which I have obtained from the Council dated 2 July before the announcement of Revocation of the RSS on 6 July.

“Obviously the situation is still very uncertain with regard to policy changes by central government and she thinks it is likely that there will have to be a further hearing on 8 September (the day after the affordable housing hearing) to deal with that.”

“Her latest estimate for the production of her draft report to the Council is around 29 October, with the final report being available around the end of November.”

Rochford Core Strategy Housing Location Hearings

June 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

With all the recent talk and focus on the The Pickles Letter it has been easy to forget that the Public Examinaton of the Rochford Core Strategy is still continuing under the direction of Government Planning Inspector, Miss Laura Graham.  Indeed the Hearing on Housing that was attended by many residents and residents groups was only on 12 May 2010.

During the Hearings many questions were asked and challenges made of the Council.

Miss Graham asked the Council to provide the following additional information by 11 June.

  • Vision
  • Housing location audit trail
  • Record of correspondence between ECC and RDC about the transport infrastructure
  • Missing line from para 3.8 of Topic Paper 1 (Sequential test)
  • Additional text to explain purpose and content of Transport Strategy SPD

Respondents at the Hearings were invited to look at the new information and make any comments available to the Programme Office by 5.00 pm on 28 June.   I have looked at the information on behalf of residents of Hawkwell West and it confirms my contention that the CS is UNSOUND.
Is this important? Yes.  Because if we can now demonstrate that in the Rochford CS that there are substantive objections then, if the Planning Inspector were to agree in her Recommendation due to be made at the end of September, then the CS could not be used to push planning applications through before it is either revised or replaced with a fresh local plan because of the eventual abolition of the RSS.
So pushing for the CS to be declared UNSOUND can be helpful to residents. At least it counteracts the unhelpful opinion provided by the RDC Planning Policy Team Leader who Colonnade Land LLP say in their letter of 16 June that he confirmed at the Coombes Farm Appeal ” that the Council could not resist applications for residential development at the broad locations in the CS”.
But according to the Blyth Case no weight can be attributed to an emerging core strategy in the light of substantive objections.
Here is the submission I sent to Miss Graham today;
 
Date: 26 June 2010

Miss Laura Graham BSc MA MRTPI

Planning Inspector

C/O Programme Office

RDC

 Dear Miss Graham

 I have read the additional information provided by the Council at your request and which was posted on the Council’s Web Site on 12 June 2010.

 I was hoping that this would answer some of the questions, issues and challenges that I raised and you noted on 12 May 2010.

 I am afraid that for my part the additional information does not assist me in that respect. 

 You have invited comments from Respondents who attended the PE Hearings on the additional information you requested from the Council by 17.00 hrs on 28 June 2010. This letter sent by email to your Programme Office at RDC complies with that requirement. 

 I have looked through the Audit Trail and I cannot find a trail to the actual evidence that the Council has undertaken a comprehensive and detailed (in planning terms) comparative assessment of the impact of the CS Locations, in that they are identified for places of housing growth, in terms of the impact on green belt, the effect on the landscape and highways.

 I raised with you on 12 May, at the first day of your Hearing on Housing, my concerns about the lack of a comprehensive assessment in highway impact in terms of ALL of the proposed developments on the entire highway network by cumulative effect.  Neither does the additional information provided by the Council specifically on Transportation provide this necessary evidence.    

 Also of great significance I cannot locate in the Audit Trail a detailed consideration of the impact and harm of ALL the development sites on the Hockley Woods SSSI.

 I also raised with you my opinion of the unsustainability of South Hawkwell in particular and spoke about the consideration of alternative Locations.

 It seems to me having looked through the Audit Trail as a definitive source of additional information to the Public Examination of the CS that there is no actual evidence that the Council has undertaken a detailed objective assessment, in planning terms, of reasonable alternatives to the Locations which have been put forward in the CS. 

 Indeed prior to identifying the Locations to the public at all the Council should have carried out an assessment of reasonable alternative Locations that was conducted in full, in a detailed and objective manner in planning terms and, above all, visibly to the public.

 In my view SOUNDNESS of the CS may have been compromised and that these are substantive objections to the CS and, therefore, it should not be recommended for adoption following the PE as it is UNSOUND.

 Indeed according to the Blyth Case I believe that no weight can be attributed to an emerging core strategy in the light of substantive objections?

 If you not minded to observe that it is UNSOUND then the emerging CS will continue to be presented in planning applications which are premature in terms of PPS3.

 What is of great concern to me is that in a letter of objection dated 16 June 2010 submitted to the Council in respect of the Hall Road Planning Application (10/00234/OUT), Colonnade Land LLP allege that in evidence to the Coombes Farm Appeal that the [RDC] Planning Policy Team Leader confirmed that the Council could not resist applications for residential development at the broad locations in the CS.  

 I would urge you to find this CS UNSOUND and allow the substantive objections to require that the emerging CS is revised by the Council and, in any event, probably replaced by a fresh local plan in accordance with the written intentions of the new Government as put forward by Secretary of State, Eric Pickles in his letter dated 27 May 2010.

 There is a final matter that I wish to draw to your attention.

 There would appear to be gap in the Audit Trail between the LDF Sub Committee Meetings which are referred to on 9 February 2009 and 1 July 2009.  The Reference points are Pages 36 and 37.

 There was a meeting of the  LDF Sub Committee which is not reported upon and for the sake of completeness I am informing you accordingly because it was a significant decision making occasion.

 As a Member of the Council I was invited by an Officer by email only to attend a meeting of the LDF Sub Committee on 1 April 2009 where all Members could attend to discuss the Allocation of Sites.

 It was a meeting where Minutes were NOT published to my knowledge with just Shaun Scrutton attending other than Members.

 It was not summonsed by a Council Agenda or advertised to the public that a meeting was to be held by the LDF Sub Committee on the Allocation of Sites.

  This part of the CS process should have been made visible to the public with a record of the explanations for the basis of the assessment undertaken and the detailed planning reasons for promotion or rejection of sites disclosed when the Allocations of Sites DPD was put to public consultation in March 2010.

 There were some reasons given in the Allocation of Sites DPD but the quality of these is very poor in my opinion and I have concern that the Council has not undertaken a comprehensive and detailed (in planning terms) comparative assessment of all of the sites promoted and rejected by the Council.

 Sincerely

Councillor John Mason BSc FLS ACIB

What local councils could do to stop an existing or emerging Core Strategy

June 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Council says in its Press Release that it has to continue to proceed with its Core Strategy (CS) because although the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, has announced the new Government’s intention to abolish the Regional Housing Targets (RSS) it has not passed legislation.

It has been said by other planners that Section 79 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 sets out the Secretary of State’s reserve power to revoke a regional strategy where the Secretary of State thinks it, necessary or, expedient to do so.

So if the Council wishes to deliver the promise of reduced housing development, especially on green belt, then why does it not lobby Eric Pickles, David Cameron and Nick Clegg for the use of Section 79?

Until the existing emerging Core Strategy is officially placed under revision those areas with large housing developments currently scheduled in the first 5 Years are, in my opinion, vulnerable to new, existing and revised planning applications on dismissal of appeals which none of us want in green belt.

These areas are as follows; (from the Core Strategy Submission Document)

West Rochford 450
West Hockley 50
South Hawkwell 175
East Ashingdon 100

There is already a planning application for 600 dwellings at Hall Road and one for 150 in the vicinity of Brays Lane, Ashingdon under ref 10/00374/OUT which will be approved or refused by the Council on 19 August 2010.  The DWH Appeal in Hawkwell for 330 could still be Dismissed but a new planning application for 175 submitted very quickly.

But the Council might consider in strategic policy that even if the RSS is abolished by force of law that it cannot produce an assessment of local housing needs per se or sufficiently quickly so as to re-denominate the 5 Year Supply of developable land thus leaving a planning policy vacuum. Under these fragile circumstances The Council might have little choice but to stick with the higher targets of the RSS as the only fallback that the Council has if it is avoid a deluge of planning applications and/or appeals with the associated high cost regime.
 
Indeed if you look at the structure of the CS it is really hard to see how it could reduce the emphasis on the development of green belt immediately as encouraged by Conservative Party policy which is now emerging as new Government policy.  It is not possible to bring forward development of brown field sites because these need to be vacated first !!
 
There would appear to be concern in the Council about how to conduct a local housing assessment because it has never done it before and in its Press Release dated 17 June the Council admits to be waiting for further guidance from Government. This is disappointing because I would have hoped that the Council would see this as a challenge and embark very quickly to adopting suitable methodology. 
 
There is talk in the Council that it seems to hope that the Government will require Essex County Council to be setting housing targets again when actually a radical re-assessment of local housing needs is required by our most local planning authority (LPA) as enabled by radical political change supported by local voters.  

An alternative might be to create a local housing assessment consortium with Council neighbours Chelmsford, Castle Point and Southend. A sort of sub regional housing target to replace the RSS when abolished.

If you live in Rochford, Hawkwell or Ashingdon then you might wish to ask your Council to lobby for Eric Pickles to use Section 79 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 sets out the Secretary of State’s reserve power to revoke a regional strategy where the Secretary of State thinks it, necessary or, expedient to do so.

And in readiness for legislation create a local housing assessment consortium with Council neighbours Chelmsford, Castle Point and Southend. A sort of sub regional housing target to replace the RSS. ON that basis the Council might be able to not just resist some planning applications but the ones that residents voted in the General Election and Local Elections that it did not want.

You might wish to read a more detailed review of the Implications of the Pickles Letter for the Rochford District Core Strategy which might be helpful to those people who have been asked by the Planning Inspector (letter here)conducting the Public Examination of the Rochford Core Strategy to comment further.

Which Village Cops the Increase in New Houses from the Reduction in Rayleigh?

October 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rochford Independent has been asked by residents to look at the original the housing allocations actually put forward to the public in the recent consultation and find out which parts of the Rochford District are the unlucky ones which receive the increase of 1060 houses from the Conservative Party resulting from the reduction in the allocation to Rayleigh.

  • Rochford and Ashingdon increased by only 125 from 1000 to 1125
  • Hawkwell and Hockley 400 (no change but Hawkwell West gets the lot !!)
  • Smaller Settlements (Hullbridge,Canewdon,Stambridge & Great Wakering) increased by a MASSIVE 555 to 1055
  • The difference between the increased allocation to the rest of the District of 1060 and the actual allocated increase of 680, namely 380 is, presumably, made up of the extra houses that are already planned to be built.

We hope this helps everyone in Rochford District understand what happens when a reduction is agreed in one place. And the decrease of 1060 was actually only an increase of 680 elsewhere. But that’s quite enough to be of concern.

So much for local consultation – Ignored !!

September 23, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

The Central Area Committee on 20 September in Hawkwell Village Hall considered a request by Hawkwell Parish Council for a Teen Shelter to be sited on the field adjoining Clements Hall Leisure Centre.  No details had been submitted before the meeting but the Central Area Committee was supposed to recommend this in principle to the Executive Board.  A large number of residents from Hawkwell West, my Ward, attended and some spoke out very strongly against this proposal.  Because no details had been submitted before the meeting no one knew if it required Planning Permission or not.  If it did not then the Chairman, also a Member for Hawkwell West but a Tory (Executive Councillor Derek (Steve) Stansby), said that the Executive Board would approve it.  Not so said an Officer and indeed Councillor Hudson, Deputy Leader of the Council, but the Chairman, wishing to push this through regardless of local opinion, the people he represents, insisted otherwise.  Under the circumstances I publicly voted against because it went against the views of residents and I had not even seen the details.  So much for local consultation.  Indeed I discovered in the Minutes of Hawkwell Parish Council that only 6 adults had attended their public meeting – so the rest,54,were young people and Parish Councillors.

Other residents had come along to challenge housing allocations.  36 for Hockley and 365 for Hawkwell as put forward by the Tory Party.  Despite what Councillor Hudson had to say about specific sites not having been considered, residents did not accept this.  One answer to a written question was wrong.  The questioner asked if the allocation to specific sites could be undone at a future planning application.  Absolutely Yes wrote the Officers – THE ANSWER IS NO and residents have been misled again.

The British Horse Society and a Member of Ashingdon Parish Council came along to ask for the access from Clements Hall to a bridle way running between Hawkwell Park Drive and Park Gardens to be reopened.  This was overlooked when a new barrier and fence was installed to keep motorcycles off the playing field.  Site visit to be held for a special barrier solution.

Speeding is at the top of the list for all three local police public forums.  Data is available but nothing has been done and the police are concerned about a kick back from motorists.  I asked the police to get the data and make some decisions.  They will now do so. 

 

 

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

June 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochford District Council – Central Area Committee 12 June 2007

NO members of the public attended.  Why?

But there were 14 paid employees of RDC present (cost?).  And at least 7 paid employees of Essex County Council who were not presenting (cost?).

RDC Executive Councillor Mavis Webster was down to present on Tourism but she did not turn up nor send apologies.

The Chairman of the Central Committee surrounded himself with an shield of paid employees.  The Ward Councillors were on the wings of the table and if the public had attended they would not have been able to see who was speaking or if they could who it was because the name tags would have been at 90 degrees to them.  I thought the idea was to get Ward Councillors more directly involved?  Perhaps not then?

The presentation made by the paid employees at top table were poor and there was one that I could not follow very well and the PA system was causing distortions.

The presentation of the meeting by the Chair, who is an RDC Executive Councillor was poor because all he did was read from notes in an uninteresting monotone. I am glad that the public did not attend.

Then there was the spectacle of 3 ballots with four Tories scrapping over the position of vice chair.  One candidate had no votes so they did not even rate themselves!!

The Chair was obviously confused about who could speak at the formal Committee.  A Chairman of a Parish Council asked if he could talk about the Terms of Reference.  The Chair said no but he went right ahead.  The Head of Legal Services intervened and said NO but he carried on and the Chair did nothing and allowed all Parish Councils to go on speaking and even one, Hawkwell Parish Council, made a presentation on a Youth Project where they want the District Council to support a Youth Centre in the form of a Portakabin being sited in Gree Belt on Hawkwell Playing Fields.  The Chair of the Central Committee gave this his full support. The Chair will then take all matters from the Central Committee for decision at thge Executive Committee.  So perhaps that is it, approved without planning permission?  Who knows these days when anyone can speak when they like at an RDC Committee but ordinary Councillors cannot speak at the RDC Executive Committee. 

Things you ought to know about matters raised during the meeting:

Police – In April there were only four offences in Hawkwell and combined with Hockley there were 28. By comparison with 2006 this had fallen from 35, which is a 20% reduction.  Across the District Anti Social Behaviour has fallen by 36%.

The Police policy is for all young people to congregate at Clements Hall and the Playing Fields but in small groups. The Police want small groups to be able to use the leisure facilities in small groups. The Police view on the new Skateboard Facility is that is well used and the youth wanted it.  It is early days but the police feel that it will make a difference.

Dog Fouling – Officers and Members agreed that there needs to be an example prosecution.

Golden X Flats – They have no wheelie bins and have to keep refuse inside their homes.

Highways – Major footway program in Hockley and Ashingdon.  Plumberow and Bramerton finished with Greenward and Southend Road to follow later in the year.

PCT – Hawkwell Doctors – Monthly meeting with adhoc patients committee

    

Community Initiatives Fund – How was it spent in Rochford District?

June 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Essex County Council – Community Initiatives Fund 2005/2006

How was the money spent in Rochford District? 

Reducing Council Tax : Matter of Concern Number 2, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

Read more

400 Extra Houses for Hawkwell? Perhaps, if you do not act now !!

May 26, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

 Planning : Matter of Concern Number 5, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

The Conservative run District Council has determined its preferred options for how the District is to develop over the next 14 years and it wants to hear your views on these.  An array of issues need to be decided, including the general locations for new housing, areas to be protected, future employment provision, affordable housing, the approach towards tourism and leisure, and more.
 
The proposals are explained in the draft Rochford District Core Strategy, one of a series of development plan documents being prepared by the Conservative Party for the District.

As your Independent District Councillor I have to tell you that I am not happy with the way that the Core Strategy (Reg 26) is being presented in the public consultation.

I do not think that the Draft document explains how the allocations below might have been arrived at;

Rochford/Ashingdon 1000    HOCKLEY/HAWKWELL 400    Rayleigh 1800

Here is the reasoning included in the Draft Core Strategy for Hawkwell/Hockley.  Has Hawkwell already been chosen?  It looks like it to me with the statement “Hawkwell is the best located part of the conurbation”.
 
Full Quotation “Hockley/Hawkwell is less well located in relation to the existing highway network and close to its edges the conurbation has a more rural feel than Rayleigh and Rochford/Ashingdon. Hawkwell is the best located part of the conurbation, being only a short distance from the Cherry Orchard Way link road. There are a range of environmental designations surrounding the area from the Roach Valley and Hockley Woods along the southern boundary to a series of open spaces and wildlife sites elsewhere. The conurbation is significantly limited, as a result, in terms of opportunities for expansion.”

I have been reminded by an Officer that the Core Strategy is not site specific – the site specific details will be included in the Allocations Development Plan Document to follow. But if the allocation of 400 is approved then the Council will have to identify sites in Hawkwell/Hockley to meet that capacity allocation and we might not stop it.

But earlier in 2007 RDC made a ‘call for sites’ as part of the early work on the Allocations Development Plan Document. The aim was to flush out details of all the sites landowners and developers that are lining up to promote for housing development (and make a lot of money !!).

When I asked the Officer about this information I was advised that RDC will be arranging for a summary of all the promoted sites to be reported to Members in the not too distant future.  At the moment, the information is not public. And too far late for this information to be given to both Members and Residents as part of the consultation!!

Enquiries of the Officer confirmed that as part of that exercise, RDC had received representations in respect of the farmland east of Clements Hall, behind Rectory Road and Magees Nursery (mushroom farm and industrial units).

Hockley/Hawkwell has an allocation of 400 houses.  By a strange coincidence working from current housing densities the two sites which have been identified in Hawkwell have a capacity around 400 houses !!

My own view is that brownfield sites such as the mushroom farm and factory site will inevitably have priority consideration but I will fight against the loss of Green Belt adjoining Clements Hall.

IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE THIS GREEN BELT LOST YOU MUST WRITE TO THE DISTRICT COUNCIL BEFORE 2 JULY 2007.

You can download the Council’s proposals document and send your objection to the Council from http://www.rochford.gov.uk.  Or you can write to Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning & Transportation at RDC, South Street, Rochford, Essex.  SS4 1BW with the Reference, Draft Core Strategy (Reg 26), Objection.

 

NEW HOUSING FIGURES REVEALED FOR ROCHFORD DISTRICT

March 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW HOUSING FIGURES REVEALED FOR ROCHFORD DISTRICT

“The Council sets out a policy allocating the total number of housing units to the top tier (90 per cent) and second tier (10 per cent) settlements , to gain a smaller number of large sites which will deliver the greatest number of infrastructure improvements. The split is as follows:

Completions 2001 -2006: 900

Rochford/Ashingdon : 1000

Hockley/Hawkwell : 400

Rayleigh : 1800

Smaller Settlements 500

====

TOTAL : 4600
(By “1st Tier ” this means towns and large villages – Rayleigh, Rochford, Ashingdon, Hockley and Hawkwell. By “2nd Tier” this means Hullbridge, Canewdon and Great Wakering. “Completions 2001-2006″ means houses already built.)

Despite Hawkwell coming out of this quite well, I decided to vote against this proposal which will mean a wholesale loss of green belt in the District as a whole.  The 3700 new homes are a Labour Government dictat not a rational view of the desires of local people or logical professional planning.  The East of England Plan does not deal with the infrastructural requirements to support an extra 4600 houses and residents.

As Rochford Officers had not put the planning reasons for choosing the allocations into the policy for review by Councillors I could not approve the draft.

The Liberals have said this on their web site:

“Independent councillor John Mason asked the most penetrating question. The government was forcing us to allow the building of 4600 houses in the district but where did the figures of 1800 for Rayleigh, 1000 for Rochford/Ashingdon come from? He wanted to know what was the logic behind these figures. The answer from the Head of Planning , Shaun Scrutton, was that Officers had come up with these figures. This was done partly by giving the most housing to be biggest towns and villages, and partly by judging what the capacity was around the edge of each of these places.”

Prior consultantion with the public had made it clear to the Council that the basis of allocation now presented was not favoured and that development should take place in the East of the District.  But the Council had made no attempt to explain why this was not possible and a logical basis put forward for the proposed allocation.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF CONSULTING WITH THE PUBLIC IF THEIR VIEWS ARE NOT TO BE FOLLOWED OR ANY EXPLANATION PROVIDED WHY THEIR VIEWS CANNOT BE FOLLOWED. ALL THAT WILL HAPPEN IS THE PUBLIC WILL BECOME DISENFRANCHISED AND PUBLIC CONSULTATION WILL NOT BE RESPONDED TO IN FUTURE. 

The Liberal Leader, Chris Black joined me in voting against. The Conservatives won the vote, 4 to 2. The 4 voting for were Terry Cutmore, Phil Capon, James Cottis and John Pullen.

Another example of the Tory Party Whip because James Cottis had previously said in the debate that the District would grind to a halt because of the extra development.

Mavis Webster, also Tory County Councillor, decided to ABSTAIN. That means to not make any decision.  What was the point of attending? This is not representation.  It is ABDICATION.

When it goes to the new super executive cabinet councillors after public consultation the policy will no doubt be voted through again by THE TORY PARTY WHIP. 

When Rochford District Council has an executive cabinet we will not even be able to try to stop these policies.

11.6% Possible Increase in Hawkwell Parish Council spending the last straw !!

January 6, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Christine and I have decided to leave Hawkwell Parish Council and concentrate on other more productive work for the community.  Christine will continue to run the Smellies for the Sick at Southend Hospital which covers Southend, Rochford and Castle Point Districts. They will both continue to run the Hawkwell HeartStart Group for the benefit of Hawkwell, Hockley, Ashingdon and Rochford areas.

John will continue to represent you at Rochford District Council.

Dear Colleague

We have decided to resign as Members of Hawkwell Parish Council with immediate effect.

We both feel that our reasons for doing so should be put on record.

When John was elected in 2003 he put forward a number of proposals for Hawkwell that were all achievable ambitions which we both believe would collectively have significantly improved the quality of life across all ages in the Parish. It has, however, not been possible for Hawkwell Parish Council to demonstrate its commitment to the level of change, energy and drive required.

In addition John has found Council Meetings an unpleasant experience over the last 9 months and recent unfounded complaints about him have left him wondering if his motivation would return.  Sadly it has not.

Christine has been equally dismayed by way Council business has been conducted since she was elected and under the circumstances does not wish to serve alone.

The last straw is evident in the proposal being made to Finance Committee which, if agreed, could cause an increase in the Parish Precept of 11.6% without any increased benefit to the community.  We cannot support this as a matter of principle and we both feel that the only way that this might be stopped is to resign in protest.

Yours faithfully
John and Christine Mason

Social Events

September 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

We are in touch with a number of organisations across the Rochford District and will be advertising what is available.

Starting with Rochford District Residents, we run a series of Fun Quiz Niights over the year – if you are interested contact Christine on christine.mason@rochfordessex.net

From our personal friend of more than 30 years, Brian O’shea here are the trips that the Hockley Residents’ Association have asked us to advertise.

Friday 29 September, London Wetlands Centre & Guided Tour Of The Royal Albert Hall.

Saturday 18 November, The King and I at the Cliffs Pavillion by SODS.

Friday 1 December, The Banqueting House & Christmas Quiz Tour.

Sunday 20 to Wednesday 23 May, 5 day break in the Derbyshire Dales.

Ashingdon Events – list coming soon……..
If you have any to add then just register and post your events.

Evening Echo – Reluctant Rochford’s 3,000 new homes

September 17, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Reluctant Rochford’s 3,000 new homes
By Geoff Percival

Rochford councillors have reluctantly agreed 3,000 more homes might have to be built in the district by 2021.

But councillors are angry that the Government is trying to force so many new houses on area.

The proposals will mean 90 per cent of the extra homes would be in Rayleigh, Hockley, Hawkwell, Rochford and Ashingdon.

However, Rochford District Council leader Terry Cutmore (Con, Ashingdon) pointed out the plan had yet to be ratified by the East of England Regional Assembly, which drafted it.

He added: “Effectively, we are looking at a plan which has not even been approved by the assembly which put it forward, because of worries about the number of homes involved and the infrastructure of the East of England.”

Peter Webster (Con, Rayleigh Wheatley) added: “This is not what we want to do. It is something we are being forced into by a Socialist government.”

John Mason (Ind, Hawkwell) said he felt 3,000 new homes was an unrealistic number. He did not believe so many could be fitted into the existing main residential areas.“We need to put a lot more work in on this before it is finally approved,” he suggested.
Head of planning Shaun Scrutton said the plan was in its infancy and it was too early for a final decision.

Head of planning Shaun Scrutton said the plan was in its infancy and it was too early for a final decision.He pointed out there would be a period of public consultation before the council had to agree on it.

Mr Scrutton added: “The concept of the whole plan will then be tested by an inspector at a public inquiry later next year, making the final decision.”

Rochford District Residents is Independent

September 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been pointed out to us that Hawkwell Residents’ Association say on their web site and in their newsletter that “The Association has been contacted by a number of members who are confused as to whether the Association is linked in some way to Rochford Residents. The Association has no links to this political party.”

I think that now is the time to clear some air.

Rochford District Residents is a registered local political party and we say that upfront on this page. We have two Councillors. Christine Mason has a seat on Hawkwell Parish Council and John has a seat on both Rochford District Council and Hawkwell District Council.

We do not have any current links with the Hawkwell Residents’ Association.

I left the Hawkwell Residents’ Association and the political party, Hawkwell Residents that it controls because the Hawkwell Residents’ Association had changed too much for me from the basis it had in 1994.

I was told that I could only represent as a Councillor what the Committee agreed using as an example about such issues as a new major road through the green belt of Rochford District. I had taken my “authority” to oppose this from the Constitution which simply required the Association to protect green belt.

Indeed the Association’s Constitution now only speaks about local green belt and has dropped coalescence which means that they would not mind if Rayleigh, Hockley, Hawkwell and Ashingdon was joined up with no green gaps into one urban sprawl.

Neither was I prepared to abandon the interactive community web site, that the Committee had previously agreed to, to one where the committee supplied the content and did not let the community feedback !!

Personally, despite having worked so hard for the Association over 10 years, I felt that I was being hounded out of the Hawkwell Residents’ Association because this was an abrupt and unsignalled change in committee policy which was communicated only in the Minutes.

I should, perhaps, have not been surprised about that because this change of policy preceded some personal difficulties with two Committee Members.

What is surprising is that the Committee of Hawkwell Residents’ Association says that it is still a non political organisation in its Constitution when it controls a political party called Hawkwell Residents !! And it has three Hawkwell Parish Councillors representing that political party.

Would it be misleading for the Hawkwell Residents’ Association to claim that it is a non political organisation?

Could standing as candidates in the elections be deemed to be inconsistent with the Association’s constitution that states that the organisation will be non-political?

Clearly this should have been changed when the next revision of the Constitution took place following the creation of the political party because the Hawkwell Residents’ Association is clearly political if it controls a political party.

Planning Policy to 2021 – an extra 3000 houses

September 13, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

The District Council Planning Policy and Transportation Committee meeting on 12 September presented the Council’s Core Strategy on planning for the next 15 years or more. Nothing was decided and there is public consultation.

But it gave a strong bias as to where the council will allow 3,000 extra homes to be built up to the year 2021.

These are required by the Government and the East of England Regional Assembly is not even supporting the requirement. This is supposed to be a LOCAL framework and Government direction of the level of development WE want is a nonsense and anti democratic. The Council Officer recommendation is that 90 percent of the housing should be concentrated around the largest build-up areas of the District – Rayleigh, Rochford, Hockley ,Hawkwell and Ashingdon. About 10 percent should go to Hullbridge, Great Wakering and Canewdon.

This became a nonsense when I looked at some of the wording that related to th 90% option ” They are capable of sustaining some expansion, infilling and development”.

The Officers admitted that the word “some” was there as a requirement of the Government that there was no detail in the strategy !!

The highways and all services are overloaded with no realistic expectation of the level of improvement needed to sustain housing development. And the dreaded word “some” without enumeration creeps in. If it is only “some” then 90% is not probable; it is improbable. Hardly a strategy you can have any confidence in.

And coalescence of the “villages” is now on. A retrograde step which will lead to one urban mass.The Lib Dems say on their web site” Last night Hawkwell Councillor John Mason made it clear that he wanted it more fairly shared out.”  Nice to be appreciated for speaking out for the District.

I hope that you will also have your say and make your opinions known.

I hope that you will also have your say and make your opinions known.John Mason

Bottom