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Rochford District NEW Local Plan 2017 – 2037

December 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

IF YOU WISH TO HELP JUST CONTACT US here.

A NEW LOCAL PLAN FACEBOOK GROUP is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How? Our approach is attached.

sustainability analysis template 2017

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

 

Independent Candidates – Rochford District Council Elections – 7 May 2015

April 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rochforrdrd District Residents has 8 candidates;

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

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

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

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

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

– Residents to drive Council policies and not National Party Politics

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

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

– No development in Green Belt except in very special circumstances

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

– A full public consultation on street lighting

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

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

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

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

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

Electoral Ward Review – Rochford District

August 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

LATEST UPDATE:

electoral ward review

Rochford District Council will be considering, and voting on, the model presented in the map above on 4 September. (just click on the map to see it full screen.)

If you wish to read all of the Council’s working numbers then you can download it here.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is conducting an ‘Electoral Review’ to look at ward boundaries in order to shape Rochford District Council for the future.

The first Public Consultation is taking place right now from 22 July to 29 September to determine ward boundaries across the Rochford District.

These new wards will be for all District Councillor elections from 2016.

The Commission has also announced that it recommends that the Council should have 39 councillors in future, the same number as in current arrangements. The Commission wishes to see 13 by 3 Member Wards making 39 and as close to an equal number of electors for each ward (5400) and each Member (1800).

https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3536

If approved by Rochford District Council the above map will be presented to the Commission as the Council’s preferred model which the Commission will consider and, if necessary, the Commission will present its own model for further consultation with the public in December.

If you have any comments before the Council’s Meeting on 4 September then please email us at john.mason@bigfoot.com.

We have a few tweaks in mind to present to the Commission before 29 September because the model presented here corrected an earlier Officer error and because of that we think that some further small changes in Hawkwell are necessary.

If you submit information to the Local Government Boundary Commission athttps://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/3536 unlike other consultations no one else will see what you said until AFTER the first Consultation closes.

 

Review of the 7 and 8 Bus Services

September 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

bus

Essex County Council would like to hear your views as it starts a review of its Bus Strategy and how it provides financial support to local bus services.

In this challenging economic climate it is very important that we focus our expenditure where it is really needed to ensure value for money for residents.

This review will help to ensure that the bus services provided by the County Council meet, as far as possible, the essential needs of Essex. The outcome of the review will help to decide what types of service will be supported in future.

This first consultation stage is designed to help us understand which types of supported bus service you value most. Individual services are not being considered for change at this stage. You will have the opportunity at a later stage to give your views on any proposed changes to individual services that may result from the review.

To respond online, please click here to answer the survey. The Survey is open until 9 December 2013.

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT A BUS SUBSIDY OF £100,000 HAS BEEN AGREED TO BE OBTAINED FROM BARRATTS  FOR CLEMENTS GATE. THIS IS UNDER THE CONTROL OF ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL.

Here is an extract from the Section 106 Agreement;

“The County Council hereby covenants with the Owner and the Developer to place the Contribution [£100,000.00] into the Contribution account and to utilise the principal and interest solely to subsidise the provision of a bus service between Rochford and Rayleigh passing the Application Site on Rectory Road as the Engineer considers necessary or other bus service connecting Hawkwell with one or more of Rayleigh Rochford or Southend (in respect of which the Engineer shall consult with the Developer before making his decision) the unexpended balance of principal and interest on which account at the tenth (10th) anniversary of the receipt of the said Contribution in cleared funds after appropriate provision has been made for sums committed to be expended by the County Council prior to the said anniversary but not yet paid on the said anniversary shall be returned to the Payers”

If Essex County Council remove or reduce the subsidy on the Number 8 Service then we would expect ECC to use the above funding in substitution.
With regard to the 7 Service running through Hawkwell South or Hawkwell North Wards we will support any initiative taken by Hawkwell Parish Council or the District Ward Members for Hawkwell South or Hawkwell North to keep subsidised services.

Information on bus services from http://onlinefocus.org/
In Hockley, Hawkwell and Ashingdon Essex County Council subsidises the following services:

Monday to Saturday

7  – ECC subsidises three services per hour between approx 0900 and 1500 to extend from Ashingdon Schools to Hockley Spa

8 – ECC subsidises one service per hour between approx 0900 and 1500 to extend from Golden Cross to Hockley Spa

If subsidies for extending weekday bus services beyond Ashingdon Schools / Golden Cross were cut there would only be an hourly service on the number 8 via Hawkwell and a half-hourly service between Hockley and Southend compared to every ten minutes at present.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY IF YOU WISH TO SAVE THESE SERVICES

Sundays

7 – ECC subsidises the 1829 (1820) journey from Rayleigh to Southend

If this was cut there would be a one and a half hour gap between the last number 8 and the next number 7, or a two hour gap between services if the number 8 service were also cut.

8 – ECC subsidises the whole number 8 timetable between Southend and Rayleigh.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY IF YOU WISH TO SAVE THESE SERVICES

and

email your County Councillor cllr.Terry.Cutmore@essex.gov.uk

 

 

 

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.

 

Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP)

December 30, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

HÅP

We are formally objecting to the Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP) which is published at the link below.

http://www.rochford.gov.uk/planning/policy/local_development_framework/hockley_area_action_plan/hockley-area-action-plan-haap

As District Councillors we believe that this plan will have adverse effects on the residents of our Ward, Hawkwell West Ward which adjoins The Hockley Village centre.

UPDATE – HERE IS A SYNOPSIS OF WHAT Councillor John Mason told the Planning Inspector at THE HEARING ON 17 SEPTEMBER 2013

I suggested yesterday at the Hockley Hearing that if the “up to” 3000sqm Supermarket/Retail scheme was not viable then a Retirement Village might be ideal instead and meet the rising needs of the over 60’s who have no smaller housing unit provision in the Core Strategy. More on this at http://rochfordessex.com/ in the article on the Census 2011. The Council suggested that 3 bed “lifelong” properties would remove the need to downsize……………nope !!

 

When I said that there were no new properties being built at one and two bedrooms that older folk could buy to downsize to the Council representative at the Hearing on Hockley yesterday said that older people were also eligible for rentable affordable housing if they wished to downsize. Don’t think the Social Landlords would agree.

 

The B1013 was running at 73% when I asked Essex County Council in 2008. Apparently the free flowing practical % only runs to 85% so I wonder where we are now? No answer from Highways at the Hearing on Hockley yesterday because they have decided not to do a Traffic Assessment. So is the Hockley Village Centre scheme viable?

 We are supporting the Hockley Residents’ Association whose Chair, Brian Guyett has had input into this article.

We would encourage you to read the HAAP and consider whether you personally or your organisation will also object. You might like to think about the concerns we have.

Anyone who either shops or drives in Hockley should be concerned with the District Council’s recently published proposals for regenerating the centre of Hockley which is called the HAAP.

There is the likelihood of a new “medium” sized supermarket of up to 3,000 sq metres (that nearly six times the size of the existing Co-op). There are concerns that a supermarket this large will overwhelm the existing shops and result in less competition and, in turn, higher prices. It is also contrary to the Council’s own experts, who recommended that Hockley should be redeveloped along small, “boutique” lines.

There are also plans for a public square, with an evening culture of bars and cafes, and around 100 new homes. Clearly this will all change the character of the ‘village’ against the wishes of residents.

This makes 150 new dwellings in Hockley made up of 50 recently given planning permission in West Hockley and the 100 in the Centre. (We thought there would only be 50 according to an election leaflet circulated in Hockley in 2010.)  So with the 976 dwellings already given planning permission in the Central part of the District the additional 100 takes the total well over 1000 (1026). There are 326 new dwellings just for Hockley and Hawkwell.

We cannot see how the overall highways infrastructure can cope without major improvements and from what Councillor Chris Black has said in Council there are the same concerns in the West of the District.

Christine and I pledge to continue to campaign for highways infrastructure improvements.

However, the main concern on the HAAP is the impact on traffic and parking. The Council has repeatedly promised that highway considerations would be included in the Hockley Area Action Plan (HAAP) but, in a the last minute U-turn, did not do so arguing that it could save money leaving it to a planning application to pay for this.

But

Essex County Council, advises that “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

The Council “considers” that the Spa Roundabout could be improved through the provision of 3 slip lanes and a wider pavement beside the Spa pub. There is no evidence to support this view or whether it is even physically viable. The Council has only allowed £2-300K for the cost of this work, which looks optimistic given that they allowed up to £2M for the same work in the Council’s costings for the Core Strategy.

The Council also proposes to move the Hockley Station car park in to Eldon Way, and build more houses on the existing car park. Whilst this has some attractions, it would reverse much of the traffic flows under the railway bridge and, again, the Council say they have not modelled the impact. So it is not known how this will change traffic flows through Hockley, including extra volumes from all the new housing in the West of the District.

Parking also looks very tight with just 211 places proposed for shopping and 72 for the Hockley Rail Station. The Rail Station Car Park is often almost full with 159 places so how is just 72 sustainable?

The Council states that to be Sound the plan (HAAP) should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development.

As stated earlier Essex County Council, advises “On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.”

As the HAAP is a proposal for strategic development then according to ECC this must be accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.

The Planning Inspector is being asked by us to reject the HAAP and return this to Council with the requirement to await the formal and reported assessment of the strategic effect of such proposed strategic development on Highways infrastructure in Rochford District by ECC.

If you also wish to object then please submit your own by 25 January 2013.

http://www.rochford.gov.uk/planning/policy/local_development_framework/hockley_area_action_plan/hockley-area-action-plan-haap

John and Christine Mason

Rochford Core Strategy – Revisited 2011

July 24, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

The Rochford Independent stopped publishing Articles for a time because we wished to be less of a “publisher” of news and to concentrate on the primary objective of being District Councillors.

Christine was elected in May to also represent the Hawkwell West Ward in the second of the two seats. I have been naturally acting as her mentor and I am pleased to tell you that she is already acting for residents and making efforts to influence change in the District.

But we have come to the point where we have to publish an Open Letter which both explains our current views of the Rochford Core Strategy alongside that of emerging Government policy which we believe will not deliver the promises made at elections.

Here is the Letter.

Dear Editor

The District Council decided at Thursday’s Council meeting on 21 July to ask the Government’s Planning Inspector to Suspend the Public Examination of the Rochford Core Strategy until December 2011.

But before the vote many Councillors showed a direct interest in the views of Rochford District Residents on strategic planning.

Residents across the district have been opposed for years to the housing targets imposed by the Labour Government and were promised big changes by the Conservatives. 

However we think that many residents are unsure as to what the Conservative Party policies are both nationally and locally.

On national policy the Conservative Party promised at the General Election to do away with regionally imposed Government house building targets and replace these with local targets set locally by residents under the philosphy of Localism. 

But the Conservative Government has suffered a remarkable failure to abolish the regional targets inherited from the previous Labour Government.

And then came along in the last Conservative Budget, Planning For Growth which at least one Planning Inspector expects to see now incorporated into strategic planning or core strategies.

“On the final day of the Examination in Public for the Central Lancashire Core Strategy , the planning inspector announced that he is likely to find the Central Lancashire Core Strategy unsound and will be recommending that it be amended to include the adopted RSS housing targets as a minimum. In making that recommendation he had regard to the Government’s growth agenda which recognises the clear link between housing development and economic growth.”
  
In launching the Planning for Growth Directive the Conservative Government also said “Local planning authorities should therefore press ahead without delay in preparing up-to-date development plans, and should use that opportunity to be proactive in driving and supporting the growth that this country needs.”

How strange that a Conservative controlled Council, like Rochford District is asking a Planning Inspector to Suspend decision making on its Core Strategy when the Conservative Government tells them to “press ahead without delay”. 

Even stranger in the light of Conservative Government policy that the Rochford Core Strategy has not been examined as to whether it delivers Planning for Growth.

But the Thames Gateway strategic housing studies quoted at Thursday’s Council meeting generates, according to the Council’s Portfolio Holder, a requirement for over 13,000 new houses!!

It is no suprise that these figures are being rejected by all parties.

The evidence for the local Conservative alternative 3800 new homes over 20 years seems to reside in the almost 1200 people who are on the Council’s Housing Register where if each housing development delivers 30% affordable homes that neatly comes out at 60 per year over 20 years out of a total of 190 per year over 20 years. Certainly one Member quoted that figure to me during the debate.

The risk is that if you project the decision of the Planning Inspector for Central Lancashire then the minimum number of houses for Rochford District may go back to 250 per year (the Labour or RSS target) or 5000 over the same 20 years. And according to a leaked Government documents perhaps by an additional 20% to 6000 !!

But there is an alternative if only the Council would look at its own figures. The Portfolio Holder for Planning stated that our District’s new housing requirement was determined by local needs.

I have an Officer Report of Rochford District Council which sets out our local housing needs for affordable homes which in turn seems to generate the total build figure dictated by the Government (30% of all housing developments must be affordable homes by virtue of Government Policy).

I referred to this report when I was challenged in Council to advise what new housing figure I would wish to see but only two other Councillors had apparently seen this.

The Report headed “Information Re The Approval of the new Allocations Policy” dated 21 June 2011 states;

“Under the new banding system,there will be 593 applicants who it is deemed have no housing need.” 

That leaves by numerical deduction from the total number of applicants on the Council’s housing register that are eligible to be housed at 576.

So RDC has no need to build affordable houses for 593 Applicants only 576 to meet our local needs.  

Bearing in mind that 3800 houses over 20 years seems to relate to the whole housing list of 1200 then because there are only 576 who need homes that seems to suggest just 29 affordable houses need to be built each year for 20 years rather than 60 which is 50% against a total number of houses of 1920 over 20 years rather than 3800.   

Looking at it again for clarity the total over 20 years, based on the 576 being 30%, generates 1920 new houses instead of 3800 proposed by the Council against the previous housing targets of 5000.

So my figure is 1920 based on real housing needs in the Council’s Housing Register whilst the Council still sticks to 3800 based on what we see as incorrect numerical evidence which surely the Inspector for Rochford must reject. 

But in rejecting this must she just replace that with 5000 or 6000 based on the new Government’s policy in replacement for the previous targets? That is what seems to be happening in Central Lancashire. 

No Change………… but Change was promised at the General Election.

With the Council proposing to plough on with figures that will inevitably be rejected our party could not support the waste of time and money that would result in following the recommendation put forward.

The latest Court Case referred to by the Inspector for Rochford says ( her letter dated 2 June 2011);

“”You will be aware of the recent High Court judgement in the Cala Homes case. At paragraph 24 it says “It would be unlawful for a local authority preparing, or a Planning Inspector examining, development plan documents to have regard to the proposal to abolish regional strategies”.””

The words which still ring in my ears are “It would be unlawful for a local authority preparing………..to have regard to the proposal to abolish regional strategies.”

But the Council is continuing to do that and just asking for a Suspension of the Public Examination does not, in our opinion, change this act of continuing to prepare its Core Strategy having regard to the proposal to abolish regional strategies, as it evidences from its published Core Strategy Timetables, from being unlawful to lawful.

Personally, seeing that this position remains I do not think that the Inspector should agree to the Suspension because in doing so she would surely be facilitating something contrary to general direction of Court, in having seen the Council’s intention to continue on an unlawful course despite what the Court ruled, “that it is lawful to continue to have regard to the proposal to abolish regional strategies in preparing a Core Strategy.” 

If agreed the Suspension will prevent further input from residents as to their views on emerging Conservative Government Policy as it affects house building and just prepares the ground for the inevitable rejection of the Council’s current proposals by the Planning Inspector on resumption and decision making following suspension.

An Unsound decision will be disastrous for Rochford District.

What the Council needs to do is return to the public as soon as possible with proposals backed by a local housing study that residents will accept and request a Re-Examination.

If the Council does not do this then I fear the ultimate  imposition of 5000 or even 6000 new homes when we may only need 2000 if the Council’s Housing Register figures are correct.

Yours

Councillor John Mason

The Rochford Core Strategy in a Nutshell – Is it time to move out of the area?

October 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Core Strategy in a Nutshell can be seen in two documents; the first a table of numbers which was produced by The Hockley Residents’ Association (Chair, Brian Guyett) and the second a graphical representation of the district showing the same thing as produced by Rochford District Council.

If you don’t like what you see for your immediate locale then think of moving out fast !!

There was a very poor turnout of Members for the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 14 October to discuss amendments to the Core Strategy. One assumes seasonal maladies for most of the large number of absences. Even then I think that there were only 5 speakers; Councillors Hudson, Cutmore and Glynn for the Conservatives, Chris Black for the Lib Dems, Michael Hoy for the Greens and me, John Mason as an independent for Hawkwell West. 

Background

When the new Coalition Government gave local councils the power to re-state their own house building targets Rochford District Council had the opportunity to make a strategy and plans to meet local needs and respond to what local residents wanted. David Cameron keeps telling us that local views will be followed and he urges us all to get involved in his new idea, The Big Society.

The residents of Rochford District have embraced involvement in local issues for decades and long before David Cameron thought that his new Government would give power and choices back to local residents as something new.  I think that he thought that this would be new because Conservative run local councils have in the process of creating a Core Strategy said that this is nothing to do with us; we have to do it by Law because of the Government; if only we were in power then things would be different.

The only problem is they are now in power and nothing has changed.  In fact the Cabinet Member who was solely responsible for using the new local power stated at the Extraordinary Council Meeting held on 14 October that the Council had to follow  the housing needs study that has been put forward by the Thames Gateway by Law instead of a new local housing needs study for Rochford District as proposed by The Green Councillor for Hullbridge and myself.

Well there has been an amendment to the Core Strategy. Rochford District Council did not want a Public Consultation on this but has been forced by Ms Laura Graham, the Government Planning Inspector, to conduct a consultation between 18 October 2010 and 30 November.

What has changed? 

Not much which is disappointing given that residents wanted less development in the centre of the district, Rochford, Hawkwell, Ashingdon and Hockley because of the difficult systemic bottlenecks and the limited capacity of local roads for increased traffic. Residents wanted more development on brownfield sites and where possible these brought forward in preference to green field development.

What we get is the same number of houses across the whole district , 3,800 but spread over a longer period, another 5 years, to 2031 which results under Government rules for less affordable homes, 50% less, being delivered each year at a time when mortgages are not available to the most demanding group, the 34’s which is said to drop off in later years.

The only residents that have been listened to it seems are those in Rayleigh where their protests have been ably represented by the 5 Liberal Democrat Councillors for Rayleigh who won at the outset a reduction from 1800 houses to the mid 700’s with 150 being deferred until the last 5 years by which time that need will probably have been extinguished by windfall developments over the first 15 years.

Also in the last 5 years, 2026/2031 are the 500 for Hullbridge and 250 for Great Wakering.

What are the chances of the Council listening to you?  Very little.  But your representations get looked at by Ms Laura Graham, The Government Planning Inspector, again at Hearings starting on 17 January 2011 which, if you do participate in the Council’s Consultation, might give you the right to speak.

If she hears enough from many residents then she might order some changes.

The Central Area of the District, Rochford, Hawkwell, Ashingdon and Hockley has in the plan around 1000 new dwellings to be built in just 10 years with no prospect of any systematic improvement to the road capacity being made by such developments.

So why are Hullbridge and Great Wakering deferred for almost 20 years leaving the poor infrastructure in the central part of the district to take all of the early development?

Here is what I had to say at the Extraordinary Council Meeting;

1. Green Belt

a) para 4.23 of the published Core Strategy states that the Council will prioritise the redevelopment of brownfield sites to minimise green belt release. This is still not the case in the amended proposals under consultation.

b) Windfall sites will be too late to save green belt which has already been built on.

c) There is now no proposed development proposed for Rayleigh over first 15 years yet according to the published Core Strategy (para 2.38 page 30) dealing with housing need states that based on the housing waiting list the greatest demand for housing was in Rayleigh at 44.4% of the District’s total. There is something wrong here.

d) The older component of our population is said in the Council Paper to be a block on the release of “previously owned homes” and yet the Council has no proposals to release the blockage by requiring the provision of smaller homes in developments like Coachman’s Court (Rochford, Sheltered/wardened Flats for over 55’s). If this were part of the Core Strategy then much less green belt would need to be released.

e) Noting that there is a high demand from the 34’s and noting that the paucity of mortgage funding it is surprising that the Affordable Housing quantum is being reduced from 131 per annum to just 60 which is more than a 50% reduction 

2. Highways and infrastructure

Development proposals for the first phase are concentrated in the centre of the district- the infrastructure cannot cope with existing traffic – there are a number of bottlenecks across this part of the District and being systemic in nature will not be improved by the relatively small improvements provided by the developments proposed.

Is it time to cut and run from the area?  Perhaps………..you have been warned and hopefully you have a choice !! 

Two Hawkwell Buses per Hour from May

February 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Good News !! Local Campaigning works even though the time lag was one year !! 

Nick Blackall,the Essex County Council Local Bus Service Manager has announced that from 2 May 2010, Hawkwell will see an increase to two buses an hour to Southend and Hockley one of which will extend to Rayleigh every hour as now.

In addition there is good news for Hockley as well because a temporary improvement will now be made permanent.

The section of the 7 route between Ashingdon and Hockley along Greensward Lane will increase to four buses an hour to Southend and Hockley and again one of which one will extend to Rayleigh every hour as now.

These arrangements have been agreed by ECC until August 2011.

In summary:

Arriva are reverting to the previous frequency of 6 buses per hour to/from Hockley/Southend, wef from 2 May.  
 
There will be 4 No 7’s via Ashingdon and 2 No 8’s via Hawkwell.  Services to/from Rayleigh will be unchanged ie one No 7 and one No 8 per hour.

Car Wash Outrage In Hockley

December 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Echo Report 21st December 2009 – Outrage as car wash is built without approval

A car wash is being put up without planning permission in Hockley.  Rochford District Council has called on those building the car wash, at the site of a former vehicle rental firm in Alderman’s Hill, to stop work immediately.  But yesterday the Echo saw workers continuing the development and digging a drain.  Residents got suspicious after a 12ft sign went up outside the site advertising James Hand Carwash and Valeting Service.  One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is an outrage this is still being built. It is on top of a hill, so our concern is the water and chemicals will run off into the drainage system.  “It will be dangerous at this time of year, creating black ice.  “Also, the emergency services use this as a main route into Hullbridge, causing further concern over accidents from the slippery conditions the valeting service will create. If there is an accident on the road caused by the valeting service, will it be to blame or the council?”  A board has been put up around the site, with work going on behind it.  Shaun Scrutton, the council’s head of planning and transportation, said: “The operator has been informed that works on the site are unauthorised and undertaken at their own risk.  “It has been recommended all works cease until planning issues are resolved. The council has been told a planning application is being prepared for the use of the site as a car wash, and consent will also be sought for the erection of a wall alongside Folly Lane.  “It is understood the underground petrol tanks have been filled with foam and made safe to the satisfaction of the petroleum officer.”  The Echo tried to talk to the workers yesterday, but our questions went unanswered. Residents with concerns have been told to contact the council’s planning department by email, letter or phone.

Hockley doesn’t want 150 New Houses in Town Centre

August 20, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

From the Echo 19 August

RESIDENTS have given a “resounding thumbs-down” to a council plan to revamp Hockley, a pressure group says.

The Hockley Under Threat campaign was set up by neighbours in response to the Hockley Area Action Plan, which aims to revitalise the town centre with new shops, a smarter look and more homes.

Earlier this year, Rochford District Council asked residents what they would like to see. But many complained they were unaware of the plans.

The group’s committee has examined more than 250 responses to the plan and found 77 per cent were against.

Of the 253 responses, 195 were opposed to the plan and ten expressed support, while the remaining 48 were general comments.

Gabrielle Yeadell, chairman of the group, said: “Rochford District Council had put forward an area action plan with no visible notification to traders or residents.

“A public meeting was held in Hockley on April 19 where the majority objected to the plan.

“The group was formed to raise awareness of the plan and to work with other organisations to make clear to the council the plan was unacceptable in its current form.”

The council put forward six options, all of which included redevelopment of the town centre and building 100-150 flats.

Some options suggested redeveloping the Eldon Industrial Estate, moving businesses from the park and creating a new town square in Spa Road, near the junction with Eldon Way.

Keith Hudson, district councillor for planning, said: “This was a consultation document, not a plan.

“We wanted positive feedback indicating people’s preference. We want to draw up something that suits residents and businesses and come back with something to please the majority of people.

“Without such a blueprint, it will be difficult to resist applications which have no place in a village centre, such as a huge supermarket.”

Mr Hudson said residents had been notified of the proposals in the council magazine, Rochford District Matters, in a presentation to Hockley Residents’ Association and at the council’s west area committee meeting. He said there would be further consultation next year.

Licensing Decision on the Cusp – White Hart Public House

July 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

FarmTechnically this pub is in Hockley Parish and representative RDC Members are from Hockley Central Ward although there is a Licensing Committee which makes decisions where applications receive objections. 

The boundary between Hockley and Hawkwell runs down the middle of White Hart Lane.

Outdoor Music was recently permitted by Rochford District Council under what is called a Temporary Event Notice. The noise concerned some residents.

The White Hart has now applied for a new premises license. This comprises 37 Activities including Performance of Live Music, Inside and Out.

Written objections had to be in by 10 July 2009.  There were only 8.  This allows these people to appoint others to represent them if they wish at the Hearing. Of these 7 residents live technically in Hockley Central Ward and any of the following councillors could speak for these residents.

Cllr Mrs C A Weston 1 New Hall Road Hockley Essex SS5 5JT   
Cllr K H Hudson Lower Hockley Hall Farm Lower Road Hockley Essex SS5 5LT
Cllr  J Thomass 2A Hamilton Gardens Hockley Essex SS5 5BU

Only one objector was from Hawkwell West and that objector has chosen a representative other than one of the District Council Ward Members for Hawkwell West, John Mason or Derrick Stansby.

John Mason lives more than 1 km from the pub so cannot object personally either.

The Council has exercised discretion in allowing written objections to be made almost up to the hearing date of 30 July which will be at the Civic Suite in Rayleigh at 10.00 am.  But late objectors cannot speak nor appoint a representative to speak.

Exposing the Rochford Core Strategy

July 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

As regular readers will know  I  have  been  helping  residents  and the Hawkwell Action Group fight against  the  imposition  of new houses on green belt in Hawkwell West because the majority said at three well attended public meetings that they don’t want it.

The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG) has asked me to explain comments that have been made on the local press about house building plans being put on hold.

Yes, informed sources [of the Southend Standard] have already suggested the delays on the more controversial schemes mean they may never happen.

http://www.southendstandard.co.uk/news/southend/4472212.New_housing_plans_delayed_until_2015/

This means, quoting from the Southend Standard, “Land  between  London  Road,  Rawreth  Lane  and  the  old  A130  was originally due to be developed as part of the East of England Plan between 2010 and 2015.” “However, councillors voted to put back the scheme, as well as plans for 985 homes in West Rochford, West Hockley, South Hawkwell, Hullbridge, Canewdon and East Ashingdon.”

Yes,  it  says so quite clearly that development in South Hawkwell was put back. But I can tell you that Councillors have NOT voted to put back 985 homes in West Rochford, West Hockley, South Hawkwell, Hullbridge, Canewdon and East Ashingdon.

On 9th September the the Core Strategy Submission Document, June 2009, will be presented to Full Council with the recommendation that it is accepted and passes to the Secretary of State following a six week consultation period to obtain Residents’, Partners and Stakeholder’s views. There is, I understand, no intention to change something as fundamental as housing quantum or location or implementation.

Confused?  You are entitled to be.  But this is politics and the run up of spin to a General Election which must take place before June, 2010.

The Southend Standard also says “If the Conservative Party wins the next general election, it is committed to scrapping the East of England Plan and the linked housing targets.”

But does that mean that no houses will ever be built?  No, many houses will still be built.

The Conservative Party promises to give you greater local decision making and do away with the present regional housing target based system.
(http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2009/02/Its_time_to_transfer_power_from_the_central_state_to_local_people.aspx)

But there will be different rules. But they do not say what they are going to be which has given respected bodies such as the Planning Officers Society and The PPS Group grounds for some concerns.

(http://www.planningofficers.org.uk/media/www/documents/Conservative_Green_Paper_110309.pdf)
 
(http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:UDtxsmLgRPoJ:www.ppsgroup.co.uk/blog/2009/04/conservative-housing-green-paper/+conservative+green+paper+9&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk)

One rule which seems destined to remain in my view is the “5 Year Rule”. This is the rule which local councillors quote when they explain that if they decide not to produce a policy, because they disagree with the Government, this will kick in and work to the complete disadvantage of all residents of Rochford District.

If only the Conservative Green Paper Number 9 had said that this would be repealed if they came to Government then there would be no need to go through the farce of producing costly policies which they are going to scrap. But are they really going to do this?  Read on.

Because the Green Paper does not scrap this rule  we have to assume that the “5 Year Rule” will remain under a Conservative Government.  So what does it say and what does it mean if the Rochford Core Strategy goes forward?

If Rochford District Council does not put forward a Core Strategy then the Council will not be in a position to deliver even existing rates of housing until a new land supply is established through the Local Development Framework. Consequently, in the period where there is no Core Strategy, the Council could challenged by developers pursuing development on unallocated sites on the basis of the lack of a five-year supply. Basically they could build anywhere they wanted.

So that is why local councilors say that the locations of housing targets MUST still go ahead. And the “5 Year Rule” is unlikely to be repealed in 2010 by the new Conservative Government because there simply isn’t time after the General Election to do so and they have already justified why these must be built anyway in the Core Strategy put forward.

So those land allocations in the LDF for 2010 to 2015 will go ahead anyway because they are justified on the needs for new housing to match the new jobs at the expanded Southend Airport and affordable housing needs.  This includes Hawkwell West, 175 houses.

The only ones which could be stopped are post 2015 like Rayleigh.

So HAG needs to keep asking you to maintain your objection even though the local papers through their informed sources have got it very wrong. Cynically it is the worst possible political spin just to get your vote.

Existing rates of housing growth for Rochford District under the “5 Year Rule” are as follows;

PPS3 states that LPAs should identify sufficient specific deliverable sites to deliver housing in the first five years.  In the latest Annual Monitoring Report published in December 2008 RDC included a table (Table 4.10) that lists the expected dwelling completions in the district over the five years 2008-2014 (assuming the adoption of the Core Strategy).  This indicates that 1376 units should be provided in five years and set against the annual target of 250 units (1250 in five years) indicates there is a five year supply.

New Houses for the Mythical World of “HockWell”

June 27, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

The latest version of the District Council’s Core Strategy is now available from the Rochford District Council website.

And the Council still is talking about this mythical place called HockWell !! This is because the Council insists that Hawkwell and Hockley are grouped together “because of housing markets and access to services and facilities”.

Hawkwell West, which is still masqueraded by the Council under the misdescription of “South Hawkwell”, is nothing at all like Hockley in terms of access to services and facilities.  

You can download the document here.  It is a total of 170 very full pages about where 2785 houses are proposed to be built in our district from 2011 to 2025.

For Hawkwell I am pleased to tell you that the residents campaign by The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG) has caused the proposed 330 houses to be built in Hawkwell West to be reduced to 175.  The bad news is that it they are phased to be built by 2015.

As I said in my recent Newsletter that we delivered to you in the last week or so, I will continue to work with HAG to object to any more houses being built in Hawkwell on green belt.

Once again the Council does not tell us the site; just South Hawkwell.  But as you already know from a conversation that I had last year with a senior officer at Essex County Council and the news leaflet put out by HAG in November last year that we think that we know where !!

My job as a District Councillor for Hawkwell West is to read through this document in detail and understand how the policies put forward relate to the proposal to put 175 houses in Hawkwell West.

I will then discuss my findings with HAG and jointly decide what the campaign should do next.

But we need your help right now. I set out the options you had to consider in my recent Newsletter and now that we know that the figure is reduced to 175 I do need to hear from you with your views before the full consultation in the Autumn.

Bus Cuts Extra

April 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Essex County Council has now conveyed a decision not to provide an evening service on the Arriva 8 to Hawkwell.

Here are a few quotes from an Essex County Council email which was sent to me in 2003 to explain why Ashingdon has a good bus service but Hawkwell has none. It still makes no sense to me reading it again 6 years later.

“Under the Essex Road Passenger Transport Strategy , Ashingdon counts as a rural parish with a population of 2937 (1991 census, updated 1998). This means that it falls into category 5 and should ideally have an hourly service (minimum 8 return journeys) 6 days per week and at least 2 return journeys on Sundays.  It should be noted that this is  a minimum service level and a higher service level can be provided if this is deemed necessary. In the event, the economics of running a service on the existing half hourly pattern meant that the benefit to doing so instead of reducing it to hourly was deemed to outweigh the cost. (Vehicle and driver commitment over the day makes up a large part of the fixed cost of a service and extra trips are then possible on marginal cost alone)”
 
So the reason for the evening 7 being half hourly rather than hourly as prescribed by policy is clearly explained by the economic model referred to.
 
It seems to me that the issue upon which bus services for Hawkwell revolves is the status of Hawkwell bus routes under ECC Policy.

“Hawkwell, with a population of 10,667 falls outside the definition of a ‘rural area’ adopted by the County from national governments definitions of a rural area for its Rural Bus Grants. Hawkwell is therefore treated as an urban area under the RPTS and looked at in association with the major settlements. Minimum services in urban areas are based on a corridor approach, with minimum service levels supported down specific named corridors (a similar system applied to interurban routes). As an example, for Rayleigh, the route between Hockley and the Town Centre is specified as  requiring a 30 minute frequency in the peaks, and 60 minutes at other times. Should the commercial provision fall below this level, the County would in principal look to intervene to support it. (There are other limiting factors such as a maximum subsidy per passenger journey of £5 which would also apply.)”
 
“Unfortunately no route is specified in this way for Hawkwell [eg.,it is not a specific named corridor] so in principle, under the ERPTS, the County Council is not obliged to cover the withdrawal of commercial services in this area. 
 
So the answer lies, in my opinion, in getting ECC to specify the Hawkwell Section of the 8 a “specific named corridor” following which ECC is obliged to cover the withdrawal of commercial services in this area both day time and evening.

It make no sense to me that Hawkwell with a population 5 times the size of Ashingdon has no evening bus service whereas Ashingdon has a bus every half hour.

And there is the ridiculous situation that there is only one day time bus per hour to the Rochford District’s flagship Leisure Centre which is in Hawkwell on the bus route and no buses at all in the evening. Surely this is enough alone to warrant the Hawkwell bus route being a “specific named corridor.” 

Our County Councillors need to get together and sort out the red tape that is such a nonsense to any sane mind.

Rochford Housing Policy – What happens next?

March 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

So the public consultation on the Rochford Core Strategy – Preferred Options closed at 5.00 pm on 17 December 2008.

So what happens next?

Rochford District Council has shared with the public the outcome of the consultation.

But they have yet to say what they intend to do about the objections.

In the meantime the Councillors responsible for planning policy strategy have embarked on yet another tour of potential sites.  John asked the Portfolio Holder in public if these members would read all the objections before they visit a location.  He said that he would so let’s hope that all the others do and get up to speed with the problems that they did not forsee because of the lack of ward specific knowledge. 

Could 200 of the properties to be forced on Hawkwell be placed in the centre of Hockley?  Yes, if that option in the Hockley Town Centre Plan which was too late for the Core Strategy Consultation is chosen.  But only IF !! 
 
But the timetable for the production of the Local Development Framework has not yet been finalised.  The last John was advised in December was that RDC was still waiting for advice from GO East.  It is now 3 months on and it still has not been formalised which is a matter of concern.  Let’s hope that the latest dates for compliance have been chosen because Conservative Party policy promises to cancel the requirement for the houses and a General Election could be salvation for our green belt.

But there is concern that the RDC Core Strategy might have to be pushed along and into law on fears that there is no longer 5 years developable land in the District and that developers could force through unwelcome developments because the core policy is not already in place.  If that is the case then the Conservative leadership at the Council will be responsible for failing to spot the vulnerability and plan ahead because being able to delay progress and success of their own party at a General Election just could have saved the loss of so much green belt.

So what is the likely timetable?  It is likely, however, that the formal round of consultation on the Allocations DPD and Development Control Policies DPD will take place in June 2009, with pre-submission consultation on the Core Strategy in July 2009.

There will only be one formal consultation before the preparation of the submission document, and then formal consultation on “soundness” prior to submission.
 
“Soundness” is a particular procedure set down by the Government in a document called “Development Plans Examination – A guide to the process of assessing the soundness of Development Plan Documents.”  You can read it here. http://www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/pins/appeals/local_dev/develop_plan_docs.pdf
 
The Allocations DPD is when RDC will finally reveal the individual sites that it wishes to see developed for new housing.

Consultation on the Allocations DPD will be carried out in accordance with the Council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement.  The precise community involvement activities to be used and arrangements have yet to be determined, but it is likely they will be broadly similar to those used for consultation on the Core Strategy Preferred Options.
 
The consultation on the Allocations DPD will not simply be a referendum and we will be looking at the contents of any representations.  If a member of public wished to object to one of the options being put forward in the Allocations consultation, I would advise them to outline their reasons for objection and exactly what they are objecting to, rather than to simply state that they objected in principle. 
 
The Council is not obliged to withdraw a proposal in response to public consultation, but we are required to show how representations have been taken into account.
 
Hawkwell should be looking for the long list of sustainability and infrastructure objections that I raised on behalf of residents to be fully satisfied if “South” Hawkwell  or rather Hawkwell West remains a proposal for 330 houses.
 
If not then the final and ultimate test of soundness will be an appeal before the final Public Inquiry.

And if the total number of houses in Hawkwell can be reduced to 130 then perhaps they could be built on the industrial site in Windsor Gardens, Hawkwell.  Magees is on the Call for Sites.  But has it been looked at seriously in the latest Tour by the Councillors reponsible for planning policy and strategy?

Residents of Hawkwell should write to each of them and ask.

More or Less New Houses in Hawkwell?

March 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

From the Echo;

“Councillors are preparing to tour the Rochford District to find sites for new homes. Last week, Councillors decided they would look at about 30 to 40 locations for settlements of more than 50 homes.  They will then draw up their plan, called a core strategy, which guides development in the district. Keith Hudson (Con, Hockley Central), Councillor responsible for planning, said a possible 100 magic prismhomes, which could be built in Hockley town centre, would be included in the 350-home total required for both Hockley and Hawkwell.  Last autumn, the district council revealed its provisional plans for where the housing would go as part of its preferred options for the core strategy.  The two most contentious areas were Hawkwell and Rawreth, where residents campaigned against their housing allocations.  The District Council earmarked 330 homes for Hawkwell and 1,050 houses for Rawreth.  During the consultation, Rayleigh Town Council and Hawkwell and Rawreth parish councils all listed their objections to the plan in strong terms.”

The Hawkwell Action Group has written to Councillors to make sure that they consider all sites and take into account all the objections including a 17 page dissertation from District Council Ward Member for Hawkwell West, John Mason.

“This email is being sent on behalf of the Hawkwell Action Group by myself, Carol Dutton and our Chairman, Jamie Popplewell.

“I would like to request that before you visit any sites within South Hawkwell (which is in effect Hawkwell West) you would take the time to read all submissions made and in particular those made by Hawkwell Parish Council and Ward Member for Hawkwell West, Councillor Jonh Mason.  Councillor Mason’s document I have attached to my email for your convenience, it is fairly lengthy but as it covers most of the local issues it is well worth the read.”

Essex puzzle enthusiast scoops £10,000 cash prize

August 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

FarmA local puzzle enthusiast has scooped a £10,000 cash prize from the UK’s leading Prize Competition organisers, Prize Magazines.

Sheila Watkins from Hockley in Essex was presented with the cheque for £10,000 by Prize Magazines owners Tony and Judy Lane after winning the main prize in a national draw being run through their seven magazines.

Sheila, who is about to start receiving her pension later this year, said “What a brilliant boost to my pension! I plan to share some of the money with my family, visit friends in Portugal for my sixtieth birthday and go on a dream trip to Iceland. I have already treated myself to a Nintendo DS too!”

‘Fair Shares for All’ Housing Allocation? – 365 is NOT a Fair Share in Hawkwell West

May 26, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

The story so far:

In the Summer of 2007, after the first public consultation, 32 Conservative Councillors met in private to allocate 2200 new housing units across Rochford District.  They came up with 365 for Hawkwell West and just 740 for the whole of Rayleigh.

The Liberal Democrats seem to have gratefully accepted the reduced allocation for Rayleigh and have not raised any objection yet to the allocations across the remainder of the District. Not surprising because any objection to what is going on elsewhere might lead to the Rayleigh allocation increasing !! 

But Lib Dem Councillor Chris Black, Leader of the Opposition at RDC, has written “We support a ‘fair shares for all’ policy for new housing in Rochford District.”

But how can 365 new houses in Hawkwell West be described as ‘Fair Shares for All’ ?  It is not Fair Shares At All !!

  • A ‘Fair Shares for All’ policy would mean just 110 new houses in each of the 23 District Wards
  • Rayleigh should have 1000 new houses not 740
  • Hockley should have 330 not 36
  • So why is one Ward in Hawkwell allocated 365?
  • This would mean an increase in the number of houses in Hawkwell West by 25% Read more

Rochford Square Plans

February 15, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Comment from the Rochford Independent on the article in the Echo

So the shop keepers of Rochford Square don’t want it pedestrianised and they have been supported by 500 customers.  That should be enough for the RDC Chief to withdraw this idea.  The benefit of parking in the Square is not so much that it is free but it is convenient for the shops.  Even free parking elsewhere would kill off the idea of just popping out to local shops and the Somerfield close by.  Might as well go to the super centre supermarket then….perhaps.  And if Rochford is going to have free parking somewhere then the traders of other places will want free parking as well?

Banning all cars won’t work here

TRADERS  are  worried                  By JOHN GEOGHEGAN

for   their   livelihoods   if                        john.geoqhegan@nqe.com

plans   to   pedestrianise            owner of Home Plus hard-

Rochford’s historic mar-            ware shop, in West Street,

ket square go ahead.                 and   a   member   of   the

About 500 shop owners     Rochford Chamber of Trade

and customers have signed                            committee,

a petition opposing the idea,         He said: “Lots of people

which was announced by           who have signed the peti-

Rochford District Council           tion say the plan is stupid

last week.                                 and, if they can’t park in

They are concerned the       the square, they won’t both-

move could result in no                  er to stop in Rochford.

more free parking in the               “Pedestrianisation won’t

town centre, which could          attract people. Rochford is

drive shoppers away. At the     not the place for pavement

moment, people can park in          cafes and art and  craft

Market Square free for one                                 shops.”

hour.                                      Rochford District Council

The petition was organ-           has been asking residents

ised by Mike Lucas,  64,            what  improvements they


 

would    like    to    see    in        wanted to pedestrianise th

Rochford and Hockley town    famous square in the hop

centres. The deadline for          it would boost tourist num

the consultation is today.                     bers in the town.

Ken Massow, 62, who runs       Mr Cutthore said: “The

R J Yeo jewellers, in West         concerns are really about

Street, said: “Every time          the taking away of the fre

the square’s been closed to             parking in the square,

parking, business has dete-         “Some traders have said

riorated.”                            to me if we find somewhere

However, Ian Dane, 47,        else with free parking nee

landlord of the Kings Head     the town centre, it will take

pub, in West Street, has          away some of those fears,

backed the plan.                         “We want to bring moi

He said: “I think it will do       business    to    a    revive

a lot of good for the town       Rochford town centre area

and local businesses. Ped-           want to take the traders

estrianisation   seems    to       with us as much as we can

work well in other market           An exhibition of the ear

towns.”                                  consultation results will 1

Council   leader    Terry       held in March before more

Cutmore said the council          final plans are drawn up.

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