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Pickles – Court Says That Revocation of Housing Targets was Illegal

November 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Guardian, 10/11/10

The Government’s ambitious plans to let English councils decide where new housing is to be built were thrown into confusion last night after Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, lost a court battle over his decision to scrap the the previous administration’s regional targets.

Upon taking office in May Pickles wrote to local authorities to announce his intention to “rapidly abolish regional spatial strategies” and instructed councils to start devising their own housing targets. The result was that local authorities cancelled plans for 189,000 new homes.

Council in Battle with Government Inspector over Core Strategy

August 13, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Everything that Michael Hoy and I (John Mason) asked Rochford District Council to do in our recent Motion on the housing needs of our district has been borne out by a Governmment Planning Inspector.

On 27 July the Motion was defeated by the block vote of the Conservative Administration and consigned to the bin.

But on 2 August the Government Inspector charged with deciding whether the Council’s housing policy and strategy for 20 years is SOUND or UNSOUND raised exactly the same type of questions formally with the Council.

Here are some extracts.

Is the Pickles Abolition of Labour’s Housing Targets a Political Sham?

August 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Promises made in the General Election and Local Elections could have been a cynical political sham.

Once the promise to revoke the RSS Housing Targets was enacted by Eric Pickles on 6 July, District Councils had the chance to make sure that the views of the majority of residents put forward in public consultations on their respective LDF/Core Strategies were acted upon.

But Rochford District Council has decided not to reduce the Labour house building targets but to just spread the same number over another 5/6 years. No green belt is saved. 

Core Strategy – A Done Deal Despite Further Consultation?

July 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Although the Dismissal of the David Wilson Homes Appeal for 330 dwellings was known over a week ago I have not felt able until now to comment over and above publicly stating in the Echo that I am delighted with the result.

The residents groups of Hawkwell, the parish council and the many residents who have individually campaigned against  the proposals of David Wilson Homes are to be congratulated heartily for the work that they have done for our community.

Will Tough talk on the election trail actually be turned into action right now?

July 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today the Secretary of State announced the revocation of Regional Strategies with immediate effect.

In its Press Release on 17 June, Rochford District Council declared that it needed legal revocation and Government guidance in order that it could take action on pre-election promises on the Core Strategy – now it has both !!

What were the promises?

“Following its adoption [The Rochford Core Strategy] and when our electorate returns a Conservative Government to Power next spring, we shall be able to carry out our own housing needs study, it is then that we shall be able to adjust the housing allocations, as I promised so many months ago, to satisfy the needs of our community – not a penny more nor a penny less.”

Will The Pickles Letter and Abolition of the RSS Actually Matter?

June 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

DEVELOPERS have won a legal battle to build more than 300 homes on Green belt land at East Tilbury, prompting a leading local councillor in Thurrock to say he fears the “floodgates” are about to open.

Whilst back in Rochford in an email to a resident representing the West Rochford Action Group (WRAG) (and openly copied with no restriction to all Members of Rochford District Council) Portfolio Holder and Cabinet Member, Councillor Keith Hudson writes I must profess disappointment and not just a little concern with respect to the planning appeal in East Thurrock towards the end of last week, the detail within the report is worth careful consideration.”

Rochford Core Strategy – It’s Half Time

June 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Basically it’s half time in the Rochford Core Strategy and the Council is taking a breather !! 

Come on England !!

This is a light hearted article by style and approach but it does focus on some real issues that concern residents of Hawkwell and the Rochford District.  

Rochford District Council, in its amorphous legal identity rather than a Cabinet Member charged with the personal responsibility for planning development or its paid Head of Planning, has issued a Press Release in response to my letter to Cabinet Member, Councillor Keith Hudson, on the matter of the Core Strategy following a series of announcements by the Conservative led Coalition Government.

Councils Can Surely Halt Housing Development Decisions – if they really try !!

June 13, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Sarah Calkin’s article on “Housing targets are to be scrapped” published on the Echo Online on 5 June carried some fairly luke warm comments from Councillor Keith Hudson who is the Cabinet Member for Planning on Rochford District Council.

I have heard Councillor Hudson say in public many times that he did not wish to see so many houses built in Rochford District but that he had no choice but to put forward such proposals because the Government required this by Law.

Here is what he has published.

Will the Rochford Core Strategy Remain Unchanged?

June 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Currently, under existing Legislation, no local authority can avoid the targets set out for it in the RSS (regional spatial strategy), as the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 strengthened the powers of the previous Secretary of State over local planning authorities.

The LDF (local development framework) and the Core Strategy, which the Rochford District Council has produced, must be in general conformity with the regional spatial strategy and is currently before an examination in public by a planning inspector before approval. That planning inspector can recommend changes and, hopefully, Miss Laura Graham, the planning inspector, will make the changes that were sought by residents at the Hearing on 12 May 2010.

Will Rochford District follow South Oxfordshire & Scrap further work on The Core Strategy?

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

South Oxfordshire’s announcement immediately follows a letter yesterday from the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles to Local Authority Planning Chiefs telling them that Regional Housing targets are to be scrapped, which has in effect given a green light to Local Authorities to halt decisions on development plans and planning applications.

But will Rochford District Council, given the huge number of written objections made by residents over the last 3 years of expensive consultations do the same? 

Many residents groups even went to the trouble of making themselves available to discuss their objections directly with the Government Planning Inspector on 12 May which was reported on very fully by the Echo.

Will it be a Happy New Year for the Developers……but not for residents?

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I am told by some readers that there is nothing to worry about because the green belt will be protected by the New Lib/Con Coalition.

But when will the Bill scrapping the housing targets go through Parliament?

Our MP’s Office says “Unfortunately, no dates appear to be available yet however, once these are known, they should be listed on the following website.”

http://www.parliament.uk/business/bills-and-legislation/

According to the Queen’s Speech the Bill which will, amongst other things, scrap the Regional Housing Targets is called The Decentralisation and Localism Bill.

Would the Government please explain exactly what this means for Rochford District

June 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The New Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government has made some big announcements on planning today and we have taken this direct from the full document below.

But does this really mean;

  • the end of the Core Strategy?
  • the certainty of dismissal of the Hawkwell and Coombes Farm Appeals?
  • that RDC can turn down the queue of big planning applications simply on prematurity?
  • Or will some or all of these things skid through because the Law will not be changed quickly enough?

A Tale of Two Villages

December 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Cheer up, you guys run the country..Whilst the title of this article is an opportunistic pun on the Dickens’  Classic, Tale of Two Cities,  the story here in Rochford could be a tragedy of epic proportions for two villages in Rochford District if Government Planning Inspectors allow the two appeals in Stambridge and Hawkwell. 

Also at risk is the whole strategic housing and development plan (Core Strategy) which is being put forward by Rochford District Council to another Planning Inspector the same time.

So why are two big developers challenging RDC through planning applications rather than the Core Strategy Consultation and Public Examination?

 Both developers have something to lose.

Hawkwell Planning Application Refused

December 4, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

The Rochford Independent congratulates the individual residents who made written representations to Rochford District Council and to the organisations which ran campaigns of objection, namely The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG) and The Hawkwell Residents Association.

The David Wilson Homes Planning Application was Refused Permission last night, 3 December 2009, by the unanimous recorded vote of District Councillors present at the Development Control Committee.

One of the Ward Councillors, John Mason, led the debate having heard a presentation by Officers, and speeches by Mr. Hull on behalf of the Applicant, Parish Councillor Myra Weir on behalf of Hawkwell Parish Council and John Dagg QC on behalf of The Hawkwell Residents Association.

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