Update Number 1 on planning problems at Clements Gate (Thorpe Road/Rectory Road Hawkwell)

March 10, 2013 by  

Pioneer Tree Farm

As your Ward Members we ended up voting for refusal of each of the three planning applications at Clements Gate (Thorpe Road, Rectory Road, Christmas Tree Farm, Hawkwell).  On two we were successful but on the last in September 2012 the Development Committee approved the application.

We were concerned that despite previous assurances from the Council Leader, Terry Cutmore, that the public open space would more likely be a private open space for the new estate rather than one owned by a local council. RDC refused to take ownership and Hawkwell Parish Council, despite owning and maintaining acres of public open space already at the public expense with publicly owned machinery, also refused and went even further stating that it would not even talk about it. Furthermore a bridged connection between Spencers Park (Hawkwell Parish Council land) and the new public open space at Clements Gate, which was to be paid for by the developer, was also refused by Hawkwell Parish Council rendering the new public open space a private open space.

Of the residents groups Hawkwell Residents Association (HRA) backed the Hawkwell Parish Council decision which was hardly surprising given that the HRA has a Parish Councillor.  But both the Christmas Tree Farm Development  Action Group (CTFDAG, Richard Hill) and The Hawkwell Action Group (HAG, Carol Dutton) backed our request to the Developer for a further meeting.  Despite some “thank you for your patience” noises from the developer via its external communications consultant nothing has happened.

So with the construction having commenced on 7 January we decided to talk direct to the developer about various material complaints coming from residents.  Things went quite well until the developer decided to have all communications via  its external communications consultant and that as District Councillors we must put everything through Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation at Rochford District Council. This dismayed us but as Independents we decided to go our own way and pursue residents’ complaints in whatever way we felt appropriate.

It has been a busy couple of weeks and our computers have been humming with our demands and negotiations on behalf of residents.  Once a planning application is passed various Conditions are attached to it by the Planning Authority.

We expected that all those restrictions that the developer had put forward in the planning application would appear as restrictions and that if a long road closure had been sought then it would have been applied for in the planning application.


Naturally with such a large site as DWH/Barratts we were concerned that the necessary disturbance to the area is kept to a minimum and that the conditions are put in place to ensure that this is so. But not all of the issues that may arise come under planning; some for example may be Environmental Health, (which is a 9-5 Monday to Friday service as we found out when we recently had a problem ourselves!)

To this extent it is important that problems are raised as soon as possible because of the inevitable slow pace of action of any resolution and to prevent the situation getting worse.

Since construction operations started in January we have had many issues raised and below I list some of them and the state of play now:

Road Closure – For vehicles 6 months

We have an reached agreement that although Thorpe Road will be closed to traffic pedestrian access will be maintained even if the route has to be varied on occasion as previously reported ‘DWH will ensure that a pedestrian and non vehicle usage passage remains open at all times allowing residents to access from one end of the road to the other.  This route may be varied over other parts of the site for Health and Safety reasons but we have been assured that every attempt will be made for a pedestrian and other non vehicle access to be kept open.  Should they need to close it for a day or two DWH will put an advance notice out to minimize disruption.  Cyclists may also use this route but are likely to be requested to dismount and they are looking for a way to accommodate horse riders as well, perhaps with passing points.’

We have asked Essex County Council to incorporate this agreement in the Decision Notice and have yet to hear if this will be done.

Hours of Working – would the hours read out before voting at Development Committee be kept to?

After some representations we have received the following from Mr Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation, RDC who we understand is the decision maker on this matter.

‘It’s now been possible to check the Construction Management plan submitted for the discharge of conditions 11,15 and 26 and this does confirm the working times to be 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 4pm on Saturday, with no working on Sundays or Bank Holidays, though this may be varied in exceptional circumstances subject to approval by RDC and notification to the residents in writing at least five days in advance.

Deliveries are specified to be between 08.00am – 17.30 pm Monday to Friday and 09.00am – 15.30 pm on Saturdays.  Again no deliveries or collections allowed on Sundays or bank Holidays unless otherwise agreed in writing by RDC.’

We have requested further information and clarity regarding the Delivery aspect and await a response.

Complaint as to whether or not the tree felling plan was being adhered to:

Reply from Mr Scrutton (Head of Planning and Transportation, RDC)

“I have asked for our arb. chap to make a visit to the site to check on the situation and I am waiting for feedback.  However, I understand he has actually made at least one visit to the site and confirmed afterwards that more trees were being retained than shown on the approved plan, so I am not anticipating any issues.

As soon as I get a further update I’ll let you know.”

We will monitor this.

Request for ‘no exit/access to construction traffic’ notices at the Thorpe Road end of the unmade road to prevent mistaken exits onto Rectory Road

In place – installed by DWH at our request

Request for residents only parking notice as originally requested by Hawkwell Action Group but not responded to.

Agreed by Highways with the assistance of the County Councillor Tracey Chapman and DWH have agreed to procure and fund but residents are still waiting implementation.

 Excessive noise from tree felling

Activity ceased before this could be investigated

Rodent infestations in adjacent residential premises due to site disturbance

DWH have ‘baited’ but the problem persists.

Burning of waste on site

Being investigated by Environmental Health RDC.

Planning Issue raised by CTFDAG

“DWH went to great lengths to assure us that whilst the site offices would be behind the houses in Thorpe Road and so the sub contractors would use Thorpe Road to access the off road parking facilities around the offices, the plant and delivery lorries would be directed to an entrance in Rectory Road and subsequently Clements Hall Way so as to avoid any such vehicles using Thorpe Road for access, other than in the very initial stages of the development, whilst the site offices, yard and access road were put in place.”

CTFDAG are dealing with this matter themselves and have a meeting with the developer on 12 March.

Please let us know if you are aware of any problems and copy us into your communication with the authorities so that we can see if the issue is a one off situation or a wider issue.

We will help you as much as we can but we can only do so if we are kept informed. If you write to or email anyone about a concern or complaint please copy us in.

Also for your information there are two more planning applications pending for this site from David Wilson Homes.  One, 13/00035/FUL  is to vary condition No 4 to application 12/00381/FUL and the other, 13/00109/FUL is to Demolish Existing Dwelling and Construct Single Storey Part Pitched Roofed Part Flat Roofed Sales Building and Car Parking Area.  Any comments on these please write to Shaun Scrutton, Head of Planning and Transportation but please send a copy to your Ward Councillors.   

Residents opposed to the development have rather pointedly sent us this link

We obviously can make no comment.


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