onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


Archive for Green Issues

A Really Good Garden Idea ?

With the price of food going up , more people want to grow their own vegetables and fruit. But a lot of modern gardens are really too small for this, and there’s often a waiting list to rent an allotment.

On the other hand , some people have a big garden but are either too frail – or too busy – to make the most of it.

So an idea in the Guardian last week seems rather a good one. It’s to have schemes that help garden-owners and frustrated vegetable growers get together, and share the produce:

“I grow as much at home as I can to try to save money on food bills, but we live in a flat so it’s mainly herbs and salad leaves in window boxes. When I heard about this scheme I was really interested. I had an interview about the kind of growing I wanted to do and got matched up. It’s worked so well.”
The garden was initially overgrown; the owner was too busy with work commitments to look after it. They now share the planting and watering with two other women and divide the produce, which includes peas, beans, radishes, beetroot, potatoes, rocket, spinach and carrots.
“I didn’t know much about gardening but I did a lot of research online and picked it up as I went along,” Gloster says. “Things like salad leaves and sweetcorn can be quite expensive, so we make a good saving there. And I keep or swap seeds for the following year to keep costs down.”

There’s a number of schemes operating. One is a national website called Landshare which is worth a look. But there are also some local schemes in different places – the Guardian article mentions Edinburgh, Totnes and Brighton.

Should we be thinking about having a similar scheme in our area? Or is there one already?

A Dimmer Future….

As the Echo explains here:

This week Essex County Council decided it would push ahead with plans to turn off 70 per cent of the county’s street lights between midnight and 5am, saving £14million in electricity bills and cutting carbon emissions Lights in town centres and at major junctions will stay on.
The lights will stay on in the Thurrock and Southend areas, which come under unitary authorities…..

It will save energy, in the medium and long term it will save money, and it will allow us to see more of the night sky (which can be something beautiful).

On the debit side, people will be concerned about more crime….

In response to this, Tory County Councillor (from Rochford) Tracey Chapman was quoted as saying:

The woman behind the proposals, Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council’s Tory councillor responsible for street lights, said people’s fears were unfounded.
She said a trial of part-time lighting in Uttlesford and Maldon had seen crime fall during the light switch-off.
In Maldon, offences between 11.30pm and 5.30am dropped by 14 per cent, while offences dropped by 12.6 per cent in Uttlesford.
Mrs Chapman, who announced the proposals at County Hall, said: “Many people are worried about crime statistics going up, but we have seen from the trials we have had in Maldon and Uttlesford that crime statistics did not jump. I hope having these trials already will put people at ease.

This looks like being a talking point for quite a long time, with mixed views cutting across party lines….

Bees And The Future- And Sainsbury’s

Sometimes the issues that people talk to you about on the doorstep don’t fit neatly under a political label.

And one issue that is cropping up is the decline in the bee population.

Here’s an interesting post from South London Lib Dem David Boyle, particularly where he says:

I took this up with an important looking manager in my local Sainsbury’s in Crystal Palace this morning, asking him – as I usually do – where the English honey was. Long search, and – sure enough – they don’t stock it.
But he did tell me that every Sainsbury’s store within the M25 will soon have its own hive, and that did take me aback. It’s difficult for me to say anything good about the supermarket giants, but I thought this was rather far-sighted. The next stage is to get them to have more than one, and make their own honey locally.

Airport Expansion Given The OK For Takeoff

As the BBC reports:

The government has approved plans for a runway extension at Southend Airport in Essex.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham claimed the right to a final say on the extension earlier this year.

He could have called for a public inquiry on the decision made by Southend Borough Council planners.

But he has now told the council he is happy for the council to progress with the plans.

Get A Thermal Image of Your Home

One of the useful things about a snowfall is that you can look at your roof and see if the snow is melting. If it is, you have poor roof insulation.

But instead of waiting for snow, you can now ask the District Council to bring their thermal camera to your home and take a picture. That gives you an indication of how well each part of your home is insulated.

You can ask here for them to come. If you look at the comments at the bottom of the page, they already have one satisfied customer!

What Do You Think About Open Space In Rochford District?

The District Council are carrying out a consultation here.

If you are going to comment- You might like to consider that at the moment the District Council has a deliberate policy of having a lower amount of sports pitches in Rayleigh and Hockley than recommended by England . (See here). Now would be a very good time to demand that the council changes this.

Who Are Ya?


To continue with our recent avian theme, an onlinefocus reader took this picture of a bird in a Rayleigh back garden this morning. Can anyone identify the species? Suggestions we’ve had so far are juvenile starling and juvenile Green Woodpecker….

Rayleigh’s Dawn Chorus….

One Rayleigh resident has told us he’s had six different species of bird nesting in his garden this year- chaffinch, hedge sparrow, house sparrow, robin, wren and blackbird.

Can anyone equal this or do even better?

Organic Gardening

We’ve had the following email from SE Essex Organic Gardeners:

SE Essex Organic Gardeners are running a series of organic gardening seminars in the community across SE Essex, which are being led by Robert Wiseman.

This project has been funded by a Grassroots Grant from the Office of the Third Sector, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation. Our next seminar is as follows and is sponsored by Rochford Housing. I hope very much that we shall see some of you there as sadly at the Benfleet seminar earlier this month Castle Point was not represented.

DATE AND TIME Saturday 25 July, 1.30pm

Our seminar is designed to encourage the “growing of your own food” both on an allotment, in your own garden and even on the patio using the principles of organic gardening.

VENUE Greensward Academy, Main Hall, Greensward Lane, Hockley SS5 5HG

Everybody is welcome at these seminars, for which there will be a nominal charge of £2.00, with many concessions. Children under the age of 16 are also free if they are with their parents. Please book early to avoid disappointment.


Robert Wiseman

07941 078135

Grasshopper Warblers and Little Stints

For those interested in local wildlife, the website of the South East Essex RSPB is worth a look. They have for example, details of upcoming events, the latest bird reports sent in (today’s report includes grasshopper warblers and little stints) and details on the best places to see birds.

Wood You Like To Win A Book?

The District Council are giving people the chance to comment on how they manage local woodlands.

Now, Rochford DC manages five local woodlands – Hockley, Kingley, Betts,Grove and New England. Hockley Woods is the largest and pretty well known. In contrast Kingley Wood is almost a secret – lots of Rayleigh people don’t even know it exists. (It is tucked away near the A127).

© Copyright terry joyce and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright terry joyce and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The questionnaire takes about 2 minutes to complete. What’r more, if you complete it you have the chance to win one of ten copies of Oliver Rackham’s “The Woods of South East Essex”, the classic book for any local nature lover.

The Next Planning Meeting…. Flats, A Bund, A Reserve And A Shop

There are four planning applications on the schedule for next week’s planning meeting. You can download the officer’s reports here.

The first is for adding extensions and converting no. 3 Station Avenue, Rayleigh into two flats – this is recommended for approval by the officers but called into the meeting by Cllr Chris Lumley.

The second is at Lords Golf Club, Hullbridge“RETROSPECTIVE APPLICATION TO CONSTRUCT EARTH BUND 1.5M HIGH TO PART OF DRIVING RANGE AND CONSTRUCT 5M HIGH POLE AND NETTING TO RAISED BUND TOP”. It is recommended for approval by officers. There’s a lot of information on this and to get a full picture you really need to look at the report. But here are some extracts:

Six letters have been received in response to the neighbour notification and which in the main make the following comments and objections:-

o Noise and disturbance.
o Overdevelopment.
o Insufficient drainage.
o Object on the basis that the applicants have received an enforcement
notice to stop the transfer of soil, etc. to this site. o Lorries had to carry this soil along Rawreth Lane and hence the notice. o Was previously refused and should not be allowed to continue. o Why is an application of this nature being considered? o Have no confidence in the owner building what is applied for. o The 1.5m high bund created acts as a dam for any excess water from
adjoining areas and affecting properties in Wellington Avenue.
o The bund should be removed without delay before flooding occurs as the water will not be able to run freely across the site as it always has done in the past.
o Very angry that the applicant appears to do what he chooses with or without the Council’s consent.
o Two previous applications rejected.
o Spoil containing items such as old cable and rubbish brought to the site by lorry during the day and on Saturdays. This was then topped off with top soil. o None of the safety measures were put in place for users of the footpath and thus reducing costs.
o Considerable noise and vibration.
o Concern for contaminants that may pollute the water course and adjoining fishery. o The work has been done in the full knowledge that permission did not exist and even ignored the service of notices.
o Applicants appear to hold the Council’s authority in contempt and have demonstrated they cannot be trusted to comply with planning conditions to any consent that is granted.
o It would seem that the risks of punitive fines are outweighed by the income derived from accepting lorry loads of landfill onto their site.
o If retrospective planning permission is granted it would imply that if permission is declined it is still possible to proceed and worry about regularising consent at a latter stage.

2.14 The current application is substantially different in scale to the previously refused applications:-
o The current application relates only to the driving range area of some 0.875ha as opposed to parts of all three elements of the site as a whole in the previous application which related to some 21.5ha.
o The bunding and raised earth areas in this current application are substantially smaller in height compared to the 5m average height of the practice range works in the previous application.
o The bund formed in the current application involves only mounding to the “U” shaped area rather than transformation of landform to the whole practice range area as in the case of the previous application.
o The previous applications extended the landform to the inside of the ditch bank top around the site. The current application provides the toe to the bund 20m – 45m to the boundary of gardens in Wellington Avenue. Similarly, the toe of the bund would be between 25m – 47m from the bank top to the ditch alongside Hullbridge Road

2.33 The proposal seeks consent for development to provide a bunded land form to contain the practice range area immediately to the north of the driving range building. Also proposed to the bund top is the provision of a 5m high catch fence. The proposal is retrospective and the surface recently seeded. The area contained within the bund remains grassed and available for play.
2.34 The bund works undertaken are modest in scale to a height ranging between 1.34m – 1.79m and would be located a good distance from the site boundaries and set against the backdrop of the club building envelope and the two golf courses on the greater site beyond.
2.35 The proposal would not conflict with Green Belt or leisure policies contained within the Council’s adopted Local Plan (2006) or give rise to pollution or amenity concerns that can be substantiated.
2.36 Subject to no adverse comments being received from the Essex County Council’s Head of Environmental Planning concerning minerals and waste, the recommendation is to approve the application.
2.37 Subject to no adverse comments being received from the Essex County Council’s Head of Environmental Planning concerning minerals and waste, it is proposed that the Committee RESOLVES to APPROVE the application, subject to the following conditions:-
1 SC4B – Time limits standard
2 No floodlights or other means of artificial illumination shall be provided/installed to the fence post/columns and/or operated, whether or not in association with the use of the site permitted.
3 Any of the trees adjoining the bund area at the approximate positions of section A-A and section D-D as shown on the approved plan Drawing No. LR01-100 and dying before 21 January 2014 shall be replaced by such species as shall be submitted to the Local Planning in writing. The replacement planting shall be carried out in accordance with such details as may be agreed by the Local Planning Authority within the first planting season (October to February inclusive) following agreement of such details.

The third application is just about unique- creating a massive coastal nature reserve: There is no recommendation yet – the officers report is still being completed:


Finally, the fourth application is for a shop and six flats at 74-78 West Street, Rochford – recommended for approval.

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November 2014
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Latest Comments

  • Christine Paine: As Jim has said we are not having rain that is anything out of the ordinary for the time of year,...
  • admin: Ron is writing something up for tomorrow on a recent meeting re Watery Lane
  • admin: Bye Bye ? She has a nice article today in the Guardian on Lardy Cake…. looks good for a winters day...
  • Corey Vost: I think your calculations are somewhat flawed, will EVERY house have 4 people living in it? I find that...
  • White Van Man: Bye bye Jack
  • D: I think its a bit harsh to imply he misled people…. He was given 10 months to live, he was trying to give...
  • Collins: Old London Road flooded on Sunday evening we arrived home about 8pm and just about got through.
  • Chris Black: One of the things I like about Jack is that she doesn’t hide behind a pseudonym , or behind an...
  • Jim Cripps: 3600 x family of four = 14400 , so a new Hospital? / more Doctors-Dentist s? / Social Services ? etc;etc;...
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  • Jim Cripps: Given the most recent rain was persistent ( rather than extraordinary ) this shows just how close to...
  • Corey Vost: Jim, this is nothing new – this has been on the cards for a number of years with plans available to...
  • The Mighty Oz: It’s all a mystery…& #8230;😳 http://www.inde ews/people/wilk o-johnson-n...
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  • Linda Kendall: I know nothing about this Wilko person whatsoever except my daughter bought rather expensive tickets...
  • Greenbelt: I received one due to the fact that, having made formal objections throughout the Local Development...
  • Christine Paine: Didn’t get one of the letters, but I’ve seen the details. As far as I can see a bit of...
  • Chris Black: It may be strange …. but I heard him on Radio 2 this morning, sounding pretty good after having a...
  • admin: I’ve not seen one….
  • Local resident: Did they reply?
  • Jim Cripps: So, has anyone else received the notification of the modifications to the submitted outline planning...
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There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

Reporting A Problem

If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

Food Hygiene Ratings

To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

Essex Political Blogs

Geography, History , Science

Lib Dem Websites

Local Council Websites

Local History

Local Info

Non-Political Stuff

Other Lib Dem Blogs

Planning Issues

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

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