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VOLUNTEERS WANTED TO HELP WITH FLOOD PREVENTION IN RECTORY ROAD

October 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Discussing Water Rights.preview30TH November: 10 am

1st December: 10 am

Meet at junction of Windsor Gardens & Rectory Road

The Problem: In August our area suffered flooding when the Hawkwell Brook overflowed as a result of the heavy rain and high tide.  Many of those worse affected were frail or elderly and have become fearful of a repeat situation.

The Situation: Generally, the owners of the land adjoining a watercourse are responsible for keeping the passage clear.  In the past the Water Authority cleared this on occasion but in recent years they have left this to the adjoining landowners.  Unfortunately, many landowners are unaware of their responsibility or are unable to deal with the debris and growth.

The Resolution: We are asking residents to come together and help clear the vegetation around the Brook, starting at Windsor Gardens and working back to Clements Hall. Once the vegetation has been cleared, this should allow water to flow more freely to where it passes onto farmland and no longer threatens property.

Equipment Needed (Please raid your sheds!)

∙ Thick Gloves ∙ Secateurs ∙ Shears ∙ Sacks ∙ Wheelbarrows/Containers

If you can help please call 01702 204377 or write to us at Wistaria Cottage.

The Planned Action:

∙ Mick Purkiss (the farmer) has offered to remove as much vegetation as possible during November with his hedge cutter.

∙ Rochford District Council are providing large bins for us to fill with green debris

∙ Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and a local Church have offered their help

∙ We ask for your help cutting back vegetation or transporting it to the bins

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: When working in areas such as the Brook there is always a risk of Weil’s Disease. Please be aware and take precautions, you may also want to check your tetanus is up to date. Sensible footwear is a must.

 PLEASE BE AWARE THIS ACTIVITY IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Let us all work together and show that Hawkwell still enjoys a real community spirit.

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

Barratt Consults Public on 370 Houses in Rectory Road

July 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The developer is David Wilson Homes which is part of Barratt Developments PLC.  Site Map

Rochford District Council has put forward a plan in its Core Strategy for 175 new dwellings in Hawkwell whilst David Wilson Homes is actually preparing a Planning Application for 370 houses on one of the potential sites that have been suggested to the Council.  Confused, Yes you have every right to be !!

At the same time, The Hawkwell Action Group, which is believed to have at least 300 active supporters, will also no doubt be letting them both know what it thinks about their conflicting proposals !! And also the public.

This is a unique position.  Both developer and residents seem to be saying “Thank You, Mr. Council for your Offer but NO DEAL !!”

But first a legal statement from this site. Because there is now been an pre-announcement of the submission of a  Planning Application the law says that all district councillors, because they make decisions on planning applications, have to remain impartial and open minded to hear all views put forward.

John Mason, the site publisher who is the rochford independent, has contacted The Hawkwell Action Group  to just assure residents that the proposal for 370 houses is definitely not a “done deal”.  If a Planning Application is submitted then it will be considered on material planning issues just like any other.  Even the 175 being put forward by the Council in its Core Strategy is the subject of consultation which residents can participate in. It will be helpful if, when contacting the Council or the Developer, that you could contact John and let him know what you think so he also knows what you views are before he speaks in Council !!

Our major local paper, The Southend Evening Echo, as well as having interviewed local residents and District Councillor, John Mason,  has commented today about the proposal in pragmatic terms and explained what the paper sees as the background and strategy behind the David Wilson Homes exhibition, consultation and the ultimate planning application which is believed could be submitted before 9 September 2009. This is the same date on which All Members of Rochford District Council meet to approve their Core Strategy, Submission Version which puts forward Council’s vision for just 175 new houses in Hawkwell and not 370 as the developer is applying for.

Echo Front Page on 28 July 2009

Echo Articles on 28 July 2009

If the Planning Application for 370 houses is submitted then the Council will have 13 weeks in which to make a decision. If the planning application were submitted in early September, and found to be complete or “validated”,then a decision would have to be made by early December. But that would be before the Council has even announced it’s decision on what site in Hawkwell West should be developed together with its own concept design for the site chosen. It might or might not be this one.

There are even more conflicting dates.  The Council’s public consultation on it’s Core Strategy recommending just 175 houses is likely to commence on 16 September and last for only 6 weeks.  At the end of the 6 weeks it is expected that the Council will submit it’s Core Strategy for Examination in Public by a Government Inspector.   And that is really conducted at a public hearing or inquiry over several days in 2010. Only then could the Council’s Core Strategy be adopted.

The Echo said in its article  “They [developers] hope if councillors reject a scheme because of the local plan, it could get approved by a Government inspector on appeal.”

The Examination in Public by a Government Inspector will not happen until 2010 and subject to when he/she publishes any changes required the Council is unlikely to be able to adopt the Core Strategy until later in 2010.  It is likely that the June 2010 latest date for the General Election will come first unless the General Election takes place earlier.

So would any proposal in Hawkwell be squashed anyway? Who Knows?

Here is an article which discusses what the Conservative Party nationally has announced as to what it might do to the Core Strategy if returned to Government in a General Election. 

Please also see the letter received by councillors from Hard Hat Communications dated 24 July 2009 on behalf of David Wilson Homes which is part of part of Barratt Developments PLC (Barratt Group).

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