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Residents of Thorpe Road Have Had Enough !!

April 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

shmaResidents of the “Unmade End” of Thorpe Road. Hawkwell have suffered so much damage to the road surface that they have issued an Open Letter of Complaint to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.

We hope that Barratts will now listen to the these residents and put things right immediately.

Street Light Re-location in Rectory Road

Rochford District Council has also issued the following by email.

“Dear Councillor
It was apparent that the lamp columns along Rectory Road, which were required to be repositioned off of the footpath, had been installed by the power utilities company in the wrong place. They have been instructed accordingly and will put right their error.”

“FYI…there is an officer meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the ‘correct’ position of the relocated lamp columns.”

Damage to the Verges in Rectory Road and Thorpe Road

Because of the above problem there will be a delay in seeing this damage put right as well !!

 Open Letter of Complaint from Residents to David Wilson Homes/Barratts at their Clements Gate (Christmas Tree Farm) Site.
Dear Sir

I write with regard to the unmade end of Thorpe Road opposite the four bungalows numbers 82,84,86, and 88 and along the side and front of the bungalow on the corner of Rectory Road number 400. The road has been dug up some four times now and left in the most appalling state by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints to your communications people nothing is being done to correct the damage, we are therefore asking you directly for the following:

The grass verge opposite the four bungalows has been dug up and just left as mud, as has the verge along the side of number 400 Rectory Road. We ask that the grass verge is reinstated.

The entrance to Thorpe Road either side is churned up with deep tyre tracks by YOUR contractors lorries and diggers and has been left in that state. We ask that the entrance to the road is cleaned up.

The unmade road fronting onto numbers 82,84,86 and 88 Thorpe Road was repaired last summer by the residents with hardcore provided by yourselves. This was extremely hard work and we do not see why we should have to do it all over again when the damage has been done by YOUR contractors lorries and heavy plant. Contributing to this is the number of lorries, big ones, that ignore the ‘No Access’ signs at the entrance to the road every single day. We have asked for a yellow ‘Construction Traffic’ sign with an arrow pointing up Rectory Road as this might help, but this has been refused!! We ask that potholes are repaired and the road reinstated to how it was last summer.

The grass verge and the driveway across the outside of number 400 Rectory Road has been left in a mess by YOUR contractors and despite several complaints nothing has been done to tidy it up. We ask that this work is done.

A line of Lavatera bushes along the right hand side of the entrance to the road, planted by residents, has been trashed and left. These need tidying up or replanting.

Every time we complain we get the answer ‘nothing to do with us’. These are YOUR contractors and YOU are responsible. WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MONEY, WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR COMPENSATION, WE ARE SIMPLY ASKING THAT THE AREA IS PUT BACK THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE YOU DUG IT ALL UP.

I have copied in our local Councillors Christine and John Mason and give them permission to publish this email on their website and to forward it on to anyone they think might be able to assist us. If nothing is done our next step is to go directly to Mr David Eardley who I am told is the Managing Director of Barratt Homes.

I look forward to hearing from someone in authority or perhaps it might be a good idea to send someone along to actually look at the mess!

Yours sincerely

Carol Dutton

84 Thorpe Road
Hawkwell

UPDATE FROM DWH/Barratts

In respect to the grass verge, this is the responsibility of one of our statutory service providers, Power On Connections. These works are still to be finished in this area and they are due to return and conclude works on the 17th and 18th April. They have a contractual obligation to reinstate the area of their works to its original state and this usually occurs within a month of work being completed.

In regards to the disturbances on the unmade section of Thorpe Road, I believe Nikki has explained that we are unable to repair these ourselves as not all of the residents want it repaired, out of a wish to deter non-residents from using the road as a thoroughfare. Therefore, we are happy to provide material for individuals to carry out the works on their own initiative. We can get you this material fairly quickly but believe it is best to wait until Power On Connections have finished their works.

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 20

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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GB_Rochford District Residents_254Development Committee was busy this week particularly for your Hawkwell West Councillors, John and Christine Mason, as two applications that affect our Ward were up for consideration. These were both for alterations to Conditions for the Housing Estate that is currently being built. Despite the developer receiving full, detailed approval in Dec 2012 our Officers seem to be constantly having to work on proposed alterations.

This time the first Application heard was for an alteration to the Flood Risk Assessment. Since last August John and I have been researching and studying the complex terminology and criteria that affect this issue, with help from local residents who have expertise in this field. We now feel we have an adequate understanding to ask the right questions of the appropriate authorities. In view of this and with the support of the Development Committee we have asked for a couple of important aspects of the revised proposal to be clarified and the Development Committee also determined that we, as Ward Members, should be involved before final approval to the revised scheme is given by our Head of Planning and Transportation. Flood prevention and surface water drainage are subjects that create considerable concern and whilst we are by no means experts we can at least communicate these concerns together with our intimate and extensive knowledge of the local area.

The second was another request for an alteration to a Condition that requires the alteration to the mini roundabout at Hall Road/Rectory Road to be complete before first occupation of any house on the new estate. The Developer wanted to be able to have 22 properties occupied before this was completed. However the mood of the Committee was unanimous in support of Refusal. Councillors felt that Conditions, which Members and Officers alike spend considerable time on agreeing to, should be adhered to. We also pointed out that there were other Pre-occupation Conditions that had not been fulfilled and that the work on the roundabout commenced on the 3rd February with, we understand, a very generous time scale of six weeks. Maybe this is due to the fact that there would appear to be a cessation of activity, certainly no work has been noted this last week despite equipment being left on the verge.

Let us hope that this work will be completed in a speedy manner, likewise the supposedly temporary closure to pedestrian access in Thorpe Road.

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 19

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417eccA Brief Update

As ever your Ward Councillors, John and Christine Mason, have been busy dealing with issues and complaints and following a really helpful meeting with two of ECC engineers we are able to report the following;

  • Two badly damaged areas in Thorpe Road pavement are to receive a temporary a repair today, 30 January, and discussions will be taking place next week regarding more permanent remedial works.
  • The fence erected blocking a neighbour’s driveway is to be moved.
  • The damaged section of Thorpe Road carriageway is to be inspected with a view to a satisfactory reinstatement of the road surface.
  • Work is due to start on the mini roundabout at Nursery Corner/Hall Road junction on Monday the February 3rd and should take about 3 – 4 weeks.
  •  Despite promises the footpath access through Thorpe Road has yet to be reinstated but we are hopeful that this will be done before the end of March.

David Wilson Homes “hopes” to reopen a temporary path through Thorpe Road by Christmas – Quote – Unquote

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417Reported in the Echo 6 December 2013

Update on our Article, Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

A FOOTPATH which was closed,leaving residents with a half-mile detour to reach village amenities looks set to be reopened by Christmas.

The path at the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hockley, was shut unexpectedly in October, as part of a development for 175 homes in the village.

The closure meant residents had to walk half-a-mile along narrow pavements on Main Road or Rectory Road to reach shops, a doctor’s surgery and Greensward and Westerings schools. At the time, the move left residents angry at the lack of communication from developers David Wilson Homes, who had told residents the path wouldn’t be shut and access would be maintained at all times.

Now, after intervention from County Hall, the path looks set to reopen.

Following a meeting with developers,a spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The developer was understanding and supportive of the council’s desire to have access through Thorpe Road fully restored for pedestrians as soon as possible. “An alternative diversion within the site is being considered by the developer, which will direct pedestrians from the north of Thorpe Road, and to the east of the site to join with the southern part of Thorpe Road.”

“A spokeswoman for David Wilson Homes confirmed that it hoped to reopen a temporary path by Christmas.”

Comment from District Councillors John and Christine Mason

“Let us hope that the promise made by Barratts is fulfilled because this has caused problems for residents for over a month now and by Christmas  is another month”  

“Whilst welcoming the position negotiated by Essex County Council Officers this has only been achieved after protest by Councillors and Residents.” 

“Essex County Council should never have allowed the agreement that it would not be closed to pedestrians, agreed with District Councillors by ECC and Barratts, to be reneged upon in the first place.” 

“People Power” or How Residents Can Carry Out DIY Flood Prevention

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2013-11-30 10.27.21_DCEHawkwell Brook Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December

As featured in the ECHO DIY Flood Plan

No one told us how physically hard flood prevention would be.  John and I ache in muscles that “we did not know that we had and probably have not got”!  (Christine was heard saying “Charlie Dimmock I am not.  (Certainly John is not!))  That said it is a lot cheaper and more rewarding than the gym.

Saturday dawned cold, bright and above all dry.  Nearly 40 people turned up over the course of the session, it was impossible to keep track of everyone but all set to with a will.  Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Family and friends from age 8 to 80 every one did what they could and more.

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As someone said the camaraderie was fantastic and they got to know their neighbours better.  The community support has been staggering from Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members to school children, young and old, fit and less physically able, residents and ‘outsiders’ side by side.  Some residents who could not help provided tea, coffee and biscuits for the volunteers, one lady brought round a tray of cakes.  Everyone has contributed. As tired limbs were failing we were further encouraged by the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members who came along after their commitments and finished of the stretch we were all working on.  A massive improvement but better was yet to come.  Sunday saw more members of the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and their strength and abilities saw the task finished.    With the support of yet more tea and cakes!

 

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As a Community, Hawkwell West owes a great deal to these willing volunteers for their assistance with this project, but we can also congratulate ourselves.   Let us hope that those residents that were so adversely affected by the floods can now approach winter with a greater sense of peace and that this effort will achieve its aim of helping to prevent a repetition of the August floods.  Everyone has contributed.  Our Hawkwell West Community has proved that the spirit of community is alive and well.

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Thanks to Rochford District Council for the Gloves and Rubbish collection, DWH for the loan of two wheelbarrows and forks, Southend Hospital for the Hand Cleanser, Everyone who helped and…………………

Special Thanks to Rochford Hundred Rugby Club Members.

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Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 18 – HGV Access to Thorpe Road

November 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

GB_Rochford District Residents_254  We returned home from our annual family holiday to find that David Wilson Homes (Barratts) had not ceased to use Thorpe Road for access of HGV Construction Traffic from the end of October.

Complaint to the Managing Director, David Wilson Homes (Barratts)

Dear Mr. Eardley

Several weeks ago Mr. Ruffy advised me personally, face to face, that HGV Construction Traffic would cease to use Thorpe Road from the end of October.

On the strength of this, and in response to a large number of complaints, Christine and I knocked on every door on Thorpe Road to pass on this assurance from Barratts. This was in good faith and an attempt to assuage the growing deterioration in the relationship between residents and Barratts.

It is evident from a complaint today that this promise has not been fulfilled.

I am advised that a large amount of clay has been deposited on the highway and all that has been done is turn this into a dangerous slurry.

The resident is as I write telephoning County Councillor Cutmore to complain and ask ECC Highways to send an Inspector immediately.

If the resident is unsuccessful then I shall contact the Chief Executive of Essex County Council personally.

I expect to receive a number of further complaints that HGV Construction Traffic has not ceased to use Thorpe Road from the end of October as promised.

I have copied in Mr. Amar Dave, Chief Executive of Rochford District Council because I believe that a resident of Thorpe Road has met with him recently.

Sincerely
Councillor John Mason
Hawkwell West Ward
Rochford District Council

Reply from David Wilson Homes

Dear Mr Mason

I am in receipt of your mail to David Eardley regarding concerns about the mud to Thorpe Road, caused by construction movements and he has asked me to respond as he is away from the office.

Recently we have experienced extremely heavy rainfall and this has made our processes to keep Thorpe Road mud free more challenging. We are making every effort to improve the situation and will continue to do so on a daily basis. We have had a number of discussions with residents locally and we continue to address their concerns.

We are moving the wheel wash over to the bottom half of the development next week and will be using the Clements Hall access exclusively for Construction traffic from Monday the 25th November, which is later than we had originally targeted and we apologise for the inconvenience this delay may have caused, but we can assure you that we are giving the matter our utmost attention.

Best regards

Peter Creighton
Construction Director
David Wilson Homes

Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

October 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

road-closedThis was permitted by Essex County Council with less than 24 hours Notice against promises that footpath access would never be closed for more than a few days at a time.

Closure of the footpath along the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell.

“I am writing on behalf of Barratt Developments to let you know that due to safety reasons, Thorpe Road will be closed to pedestrians as from 10:00am tomorrow (23/10) until further notice.

It is already of our concern that there is currently no segregation between members of the public walking through our construction site and the construction plant, as well as delivery vehicles at the site entrance. We have decided that with this concern, and whilst the current stage of deep drainage, services and road construction is carried out, the safest way forward is to close Thorpe Road at our site entrance down to plot 57. This is in line with our current stopping up order for Thorpe Road which expires at the end of February, however we will of course re-open the road for pedestrians when we feel it is safe to do so.”

We have written to Joanna Killian, Chief Executive of Essex County Council.

“I have been trying to get an understanding of how ECC will be dealing with the fact that the Road Closure will cease on 1 November 2013 from Sarah Alcock. We have had no reply. This is unacceptable.  I shall be obliged if you would arrange for an Officer to call on the affected neighbours and explain why ECC has reneged.”

Residents have also written to County Councillor Terry Cutmore.

“As you will be aware by now, David Wilson Homes (DWH) have given local residents just 24 hours notice of the closure of the footpath along the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hawkwell. Although I recognise that the path runs through the building site, I am astonished by the lack of consideration for local residents, this is a right of way and without it residents will have to make a half mile detour in either direction. My concern is mainly for the elderly and school children that use this cut through every day. When we asked ECC to pedestrianise the unmade end of the road to prevent it becoming a rat run (which it will), we were firmly told that right of way cannot be rescinded, so how come DWH can do it? I would ask why this was not considered within the plans when the Hawkwell Action Group and our two local Councillors were in consultation with the developers on behalf of local residents? “

“Make no mistake, closure of this path is devastating to local people, it is used constantly and closing it will affect many people’s lives. I have copied in both of our local Councillors for their information and also my three neighbours at this end of Thorpe Road who are all affected by the closure.”

“I hope you can step in and help us.”

 

 

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 17 and Other Local Issues

October 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Clements Gate Development

A brief summary of where we are now with this development and other local issues.

 

 

Signs and Advertising

No more progress or information on the simple request for a ‘residents only parking sign’.  However David Wilson Homes have applied for permission for some of the signage at the Thorpe Road Marketing suite and although our last information on a site visit was that the application did not reflect what was on the ground the RDC Planning Officer was attempting to resolve this so that the retrospective application can be heard by the Development Committee on the 24th October.   As far as we are aware there has been no application for the flagpoles and advertisements at Clements Hall Way although I believe this has been ‘requested’ by Officers.

The abundance of signs appearing on the Rectory Road site entrance gate are growing but as we have not received any complaints we have not raised this with Officers.

The many signs at the unmade end of Thorpe Road seem to have eventually registered on delivery drivers and we have had only one recent report of a vehicle trying to access the site that way.

Rodents

This situation seems to have been satisfactorily resolved and we have had no more reports of infestations.  Now that the site clearance has been completed this problem should hopefully not reoccur.  Seven householders who jointly employed a consultant had to contribute £10 per household over and above the ex-gratia payment from Rochford District Council.  David Wilson Homes were approached to pay this amount but declined.  Other residents have dealt with this problem in different ways with different degrees of success in obtaining financial assistance from the Developer.

Road Names

We have still have not heard who the winners of the David Wilson Homes and Barratts Competition are although the street names were announced in July, and the site is well under way, however we are pleased that our suggestion of Aaron Lewis Close was included in recognition of his service and the sacrifice of his life for our Country.

Road Closure

Our original understanding of this closure was that it would be for a six month period in an 18 month window and this was originally confirmed by ECC.

The closure is required for the safety of the public and workforce while construction works of the new roads and sewers are undertaken.

The alternative route will be via Thorpe Road – Main Road – Rectory Road and vice versa. 

Access for pedestrians will be maintained at all times during the closure, pedestrians will need to follow the diversion as signed on site. 

The Order will come into effect on 1 April 2013 and may continue in force for 18 months or until the works have been completed, whichever is the earlier.’

This road should be almost ready to open now as the reason given for closure was to facilitate the installation of drainage and make up the road.  To our knowledge this work does not appear to have been started and the closure appears to be mainly facilitating construction traffic moving from one part of the site to another.  Thankfully the footpath has remained open for pedestrians and we have only had one report of a pedestrian (school child returning home) being denied passage but this was granted when another pedestrian pointed out that access was permitted.  I suspect this was a one off error as it is the only report we have received of any difficulty.

I chased this situation with ECC and the response on the 18th September was as follows.

‘I also asked for clarification regarding the road closure and can confirm that it was indeed originally for 6 months.  However this has just been extended  because of the following 2 main points

•         To enable heavy plant to cross between sites safely for public safety

•         Shortly, drainage will be installed which will involve very deep excavations and therefore it is not safe for the general public. This has been subject to a delay as changes needed to be made in regard to the drainage system being installed.

 Once the drainage is in place I have been advised this road closure will be removed and the Development Management Team will chase this up with the site once the drainage system is in place.’

Wheel Cleaning/Mud on Roads

On the 25th September John and I were visiting a resident in Thorpe Road and the state of mud on the road caused us such concern that I made the following report to ECC.

John and I have been visiting various residents in Thorpe road this afternoon and were disturbed to notice a JKS lorry remove its net by number 8 Thorpe Road whilst travelling at speed towards the site at around 3.45.  This resulted in a cloud of dust and various small (I hope) bits of hardcore flying of the back of the wagon onto the surrounding road/pavement and possibly adjacent parked vehicles.

Concerned I immediately walked down to the site and to speak to the ‘gate’ attendant.  Whilst walking another JKS lorry passed me and removed its net before entering the site although on the small stretch of road between the marketing suite and No 37 Thorpe Road.  This vehicle was at least travelling slower than its predecessor. 

I understand that DWH have spoken to their contractor about this and it should not reoccur.

At the same time I raised this problem:  Whilst visiting residents the most common concern was the state of the footway and road as a result of the heavy traffic.  Indeed we have witnessed lorries mounting the pavement on almost every occasion we have visited the site.  Residents do not want to wait for months or years to have this repaired and wish for the surfaces to be repaired before the icy weather.  The other common concern was that this was not done at a cost to the public purse as they feel strongly (or at least the ones we spoke to) that this damage was caused by DWH and they should be responsible for the repairs.

We have been advised that photographs were taken prior to construction and that the surfaces should be reinstated however we have asked that this is done sooner rather than later due to the obvious dangers to residents.  On the 8th Oct ECC advised they were undertaking a site visit…………………we are waiting to hear the outcome.

Construction Access

We have been advised that DWH will be moving the construction access to Clements Hall Way at the end of October which should alleviate some of the distress that has occurred.  If this has not stopped by the 10th November please advise us.

We are however concerned that the wheel washing facility is at the Thorpe Road end and although our Officer advised that there should be another one at Clements Hall Way end of the site we have never had confirmation that this is so.  Also we asked for an updated ecological report before the construction traffic was permitted to cross the Public Open Space as this disturbance to wildlife was not originally envisaged or assessed.  Whilst the Officer advised that he agreed with us we have not yet heard if that has been done.  As ever we are reliant on the efficiency of our Planners.

Site Road Construction

John has checked the Conditions that were made prior to construction starting and apparently the site roads should be made up to base level before house building in each Phase commences.  We do not think that this has been done. This has been checked by a Planning Officer at our request because we felt that this might partially explain the problem with mud on the road.  No Action will be taken!!

“Condition 17 of the consent does require the estate roads to be constructed up to base level prior to the commencement of any dwelling to gain access from that road.

 The purpose is so that any dwelling when occupied has a sensible means of access. The final wearing courses must be provided within 12 months of occupation.

 At our recent site visit a small number of houses had been constructed with the roof on. It was not clear to me as to whether the road construction was up to the requirements of the condition but it did not have visible inspection chambers and kerbing. That being said, the site manager anticipates selling the first few houses around Christmas. It may be that the road construction is not yet to road base level but as there are no houses to be soon occupied, it would not be expedient to take enforcement action at this early stage. The condition is worded the way it is so that there would be an opportunity and a measureable point in time. Clearly, it is in the applicants interests to make access provision in time for the first occupiers. With the extent of heavy plant on the site and the outstanding work still required on those first houses. It would not be expedient to pursue action at this early stage.”

 Site Visit

John and I had asked to visit the David Wilson Homes/Barratts site so that small issues could be raised, clarified and hopefully resolved either by fuller communication, better understanding or action.

However that appointment has been cancelled and no alternative offered.  Ever felt unwelcome!

Flooding

We are in the process of arranging a ‘volunteers’ group to help residents prevent future problems.  More information when the details are firmed up.

Application for 177 Main Road

Whilst this planning application was refused the nearby residents have taken the view that a new application would probably be made and wanted to discuss this with the developer so that their point of view could be incorporated, if possible, in any new application.  Resident’s wished for John and I to be present with them to assist an even and constructive discussion.  Unfortunately our Planning Department has not allowed an Officer to accompany us as the Standards and Planning Protocol that MUST be complied with by Councillors would indicate that we cannot get involved without an Officer present.  Both the residents and ourselves have contacted Mark Francois MP as we believe that the NPPF (Government Policy on Planning) encourages this dialogue but so far there appears to be an impasse with conflicting decisions between the Council’s Legal Officers (No) and Planning (Yes).  We have asked our Officers to determine this but are still waiting for a decision.  It seems a shame that such a simple, constructive approach is not officially supported in the dos’ and don’ts documentation.

Tree Preservation Orders

Whilst these Orders are put in place to protect trees and indeed some new ones have recently been put in place in our ward, we remain concerned that if a tree with a TPO is illegally felled that it should be, wherever possible ,with a similar sized and species tree.  If not the legal consequences should follow.  Are we out of touch here?

Contact

Please note our preferred contact details are our personal e mail addresses: Christine.mason@rochfordessex.net and john.mason@bigfoot.com

New Hawkwell Homes “Out of our Reach” is quite true

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

echo hawkwell 300913

The Echo published an Article today headed “Hawkwell homes “out of our reach”.

You can read it here.

 We have approximately 600 registrations on the Council’s Housing Register in a hierarchy of bands that are eligible for housing in our District.

 We hoped that the 35% Affordable Homes, presumably sold at rock bottom prices to Registered Social Landlords (RSL), would enable some of those residents that are on the Rochford District Council Housing Register to be housed at last.

 Councillor Keith Hudson, in charge of planning at Rochford, said to the Echo that he expected first time buyers would look to buy at the site, but would encourage people to use the shared ownership options available as a way of getting on the housing ladder. He added: “It’s an excellent way to get on the ladder. You share the burden with the housing association.“You can have a shared equity situation where you can buy a percentage of the property, and then pay a smaller amount of rent.”

 HERE IS THE WHOLE STORY.

 What Councillor Hudson did not say was how few of the Affordable Houses were available to be sold with “shared ownership”.

 It is only 20%. …………………….  Only 20% of the 35% Affordable Housing 

 Putting this into perspective this means for Hawkwell 20% of 62 Affordable Houses making just 12 available for Shared Ownership.

 Of the 35% Affordable Housing the rest, 50, are for rent only.

 According to Council Officers the Shared Ownership will be 50:50.  So, on a property of £300,000 a first time buyer of an Affordable Home would have to raise a Mortgage of £120,000 (80% of £150,000) and provide a cash deposit of £30,000 as the Government Help to Buy Scheme for 5% will not apply, plus continue to pay rent on the other 50%.

 “Out of our reach” is quite true.

 Buying a new home direct from a developer under the Government “Help to Buy Scheme” you look at, even with the 5% cash and the remaining deposit of 15% Guaranteed by Mr. Cameron announced today, you still need an 80% Mortgage.  Even with a property costing £300,000 you still need a Mortgage of £240,000.  Plus £45,000 provided by the Government on the 15% Deposit making a 95% Loan of £285,000. Can young adults with or without  University Debts of £ 20,000 – £40,000 EACH afford a Loan of £285,000 on top?

 How can these new houses be for our kids?

 “Out of our reach” is quite true.

Clements Gate – David Wilson Homes & Barratts – Update 16 and Other Local Issues

September 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Putty Road

Clements Gate Development

A brief summary of where we are now with this development and other local issues; Flooding, Noise & Pollution, Highways and Parking

Signs and Advertising

Residents in the unmade section of Thorpe Road have still not achieved success in the simple request for a ‘residents only parking sign’ yet David Wilson Homes appear to be able to erect as many signs as they want without Highways permission from Essex County Council or compliance with advertising regulations.  David Wilson Homes and Barratts have now applied again for retrospective planning for the signs around the Show Homes and the greater number of flagpoles than normally allowed around the whole site.  On the day the original application was to be heard, (Officers had recommended Refusal) the application was withdrawn. The new retrospective planning application should be heard in October and we hope to visit residents for your views once we have reviewed the position with Officers.

No 352 Rectory Road has been sold which resolved the issue of the enormous ‘For Sale’ board, which should have had permission and did not.

Rodents

David Wilson Homes and Barratts help did not materialise in an effective way so in extremis we approached Rochford District Council who have agreed to provide £50 towards the cost per affected household.  The residents are now requesting David Wilson Homes and Barratts to cover the additional £10 per household and await their response.  There is much appreciation for the assistance that RDC provided residents in this difficult situation.

Official Opening

The Show Homes are open and maybe the resulting traffic has created a problem so please advise us if you have experienced any problems. The Official Launch of Clements Gate is on the 23rd September at 11.00 am in the Sales and Marketing Suite (by invitation of course!).

Road Names

We still have not heard who the winners of the David Wilson Homes and Barratts Competition are although the street names were announced in July.

Noise and Air Pollution Concerns – Clements Gate and Clements Gardens

Prior to planning approval we raised concerns regarding potential high and invasive noise and hours of working with the Head of Planning.

Although hours and days of working are in the formal documentation we now gather that decisions on enforcement could be made by RDC Officers on a subjective basis leaning towards leniency.

The Head of Planning did inform us that any issues could be more effectively controlled by Environmental Health Statutes which provide adequate powers to deal with environmental issues.

However when issues of noise from the construction were raised it transpired that these powers do not provide the expected protection. The noise from construction is not covered.

Issues of ‘dust’ from building materials blowing onto adjacent properties and across Rectory Road from the compounding on the Vega Nurseries Site (Christmas Tree Farm), was another environmental concern, but it was, however, investigated and dealt with by RDC.  We were given to understand that the material should have been dampened to prevent this issue.

We had understood at the pre-planning stage that the storage compound would be to the right hand side of the new Clements Hall Way access and not on the Christmas Tree Farm accessed direct from Rectory Road. Indeed there is, apparently, provision for the Christmas Tree Farm to still sell trees this year. Because Officers had apparently not noticed, and certainly did not point out to Members, the possibility of the use of this entrance by the Developer, it was not covered in any agreements.  Unfortunately the Christmas Tree Farm access from Rectory Road is now yet another construction access despite intentions to the contrary.  Apparently our Officers are powerless to prevent this despite the amount of time and money spent on this application.

On the issue of pollution we were notified of an issue at Clements Gardens (not David Wilson Homes and Barratts) this Saturday, 14th September.  After visiting the site we realised that apart from the clearing of vegetation and trees it appeared that tyres were being burnt on the site.  An environmental “No No!”  Although we and residents contacted the Council’s Out of Hours Service, the Police and, we believe, the Fire Service was called, little happened.

An RDC Officer attended and asked the people responsible to stop but was apparently ignored.

What is the point of rules, regulations (laws?) if they cannot be enforced and do not protect the public?  We live some way from the burning but could smell it outside our house and inside where windows were open.  We wait with interest to see what action, if any RDC will take.

Wheel Cleaning/Mud on Roads

We have not had any recent complaints regarding this activity but with autumn approaching the difficulties originally experienced at the beginning of the year may resurface (no pun intended).  Mud on the road is potentially dangerous so if you do see any please photograph it and telephone Rochford District Council on 546366 or contact us straight away.  Prevention is always better than an accident!

Planning/Highways/parking

Recently we have been busy looking at two local planning applications that have caused distress and concern.  One at 177 Main Road was Refused but we are puzzled that although the County Council Highway Authority is the statutory expert on accident blackspots and what it says carries full weight in planning decisions the information they gave was different to that given by the Police and residents.

It would appear that only accidents which cause certain injuries are recorded by Essex County Council Highways.  Surely the number of collisions is more appropriate?  It is for schools. If you think this is wrong please ask your County Councillor to investigate.

Parking on pavements is seen more and more these days.  We can understand the temptation to ‘remove’ your vehicle from the highway and potential danger but parking on the verges causes other, sometimes hidden, problems.  Apart from the unsightly aspect of killed grass, mud can be slippery for pedestrians.  Pedestrians with mobility issues or pushchairs and prams can be caused difficulty, damage is often caused to underground services and the sight splay for drivers coming out of nearby driveways may be compromised.  So please think twice before parking inconsiderately.

Flooding

Our hearts go out to all those residents affected by the recent storms.  Please consider checking all your storm drains and nearby water courses for blockages to try and prevent future trauma.  We will be writing more on this at a later date.

Contact

We have been told that RDC is, as required by the Government, adopting the utmost security of emails sent to Members by The Council.  The small Ipads that the Conservatives have decided will be supplied to Councillors, for Council email use only, are not satisfactory in operation for either of us due to certain personal issues. Unfortunately rather than accepting our word The Council is now insisting that we will be required to obtain a medical report at our cost before alternative arrangements can be made. We have refused because we see no reason to have to pay personally for medical reports or to waste the time of our GP.  Our personal email addresses are Christine.mason@rochfordessex.net and john.mason@bigfoot.com

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.]

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 RECOMMENDATION

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

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Positives or Planning Negatives?

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Choices



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”

http://www.meetingplacecommunications.com/case-studies/shifting-the-balance-from-opposition-to-support-in-essex.aspx

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 


Advertising
Barratts, Clements Gate, Hawkwell 

Editorial

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? 

Update

Rodents

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?

Seven!?

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  CllrKeith.Hudson@rochford.gov.uk.

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.

Highways

Newly Elected County Councillor Terry Cutmore (CllrTerry.Cutmore@rochford.gov.uk) 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.

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

April 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Route141-October2010-80
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.

(https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1063718/Hawkwell%20Focus%2C%20April%202013.pdf)

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.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/10379891.Rat_problem_still_not_solved/

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?

No.

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.

http://www.blagger.com/db4/company_id/9845/companyname/Trinity-Estates.html

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; http://bit.ly/Y1qfGg

Here are the recommendations we put forward to RDC.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1063718/Ward%20Members%20Final%20List%20Clements%20Gate%20%281%29.doc

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

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/10252842.Naming_road_after_Rochford_soldier_would_keep_his_memory_alive__dad_says/

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?

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And finally the…………….

“Estate Agents” Office Approved in Established Residential Area

As we stated here, http://bit.ly/15Wro6D, 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.

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