onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for District Core Strategy

Judicial Review !

As was mentioned in a comment here last week , campaigner Linda Kendall has arranged and financed a legal action – a Judicial Review – into whether the council  consulted properly on its core strategy and allocations document.

Even if she wins the court case and forced a rethink it might not ultimately change the amount of housing and the locations.

But even so its a very bold – though costly – thing for Mrs Kendall to do.  If anyone wants to contribute towards the cost, you could contact her via the Rayleigh Action Group website.

What We Were Saying 4 Years Ago – Car Parking and Overdevelopment

We’ve just found a copy of an old leaflet put out by Lib Dem campaigner Chris Stanley 4 years ago. (In Trinity Ward)
Main issues : car parking and overdevelopment!
Ah well, at least it shows we’ve been consistent on these issues for a long time…! (click on the images to enlarge them)

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What The Leaders Said….

The minutes of the last full District Council Meeting are now on the council website.

All the four group leaders are quoted on the Allocations Document, which the Tories pushed through on the night:

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr C I Black, made reference to the Allocations Document needing to be seen in the context of the Council’s objectives and values, as set out on the second page of the meeting Agenda. The Rochford Core Strategy was the overall key document. The Allocations Document did not adequately address known issues associated with subjects such as flooding in Hullbridge and the Rayleigh Sports and Social Club. Community benefit aspects were relatively light in the context of what had been achieved with previous projects such as Sweyne Park and the Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park. As far as Cllr Black was aware, there had been no public meetings on the Allocations Document.
_
The Leader of the Rochford Residents Group, Cllr J R F Mason, referred to the Council having already given approval to over one thousand houses without an Allocations Document in place. The value of the Document was questionable and it could be argued that it would be appropriate for the Council to hold a face to face public forum to enable residents to have their questions answered, particularly in respect of concerns about flooding and District infrastructure. It would be inappropriate to adopt the Document if residents had material concerns.
_
The Leader of the Green Group, Cllr M Hoy,
observed that addressing residents’ concerns should be seen as fundamental. Notwithstanding the Inspector’s Report, it was felt that appropriate weighting had not been given to some of the evidence and that the document in its current form did not serve the best interests of the District.
_
The Leader of the Council, Cllr T G Cutmore, quoted paragraph 7.1 of the officer’s report setting out the risk implications of failure to have an Allocations Document in place, which included the Council being vulnerable to planning applications for development on unsuitable sites and/or of an appropriate form. The intention was for development plans to be spread as evenly as possible throughout the District in a fair and equitable way. Public meetings had been held in many parts of the District.
On a show of hands it was:-
Resolved

That the Allocations Document, as attached to the officer report, be adopted as a Development Plan Document. (HPT)
Note: Cllrs C I Black, Mrs D Hoy, M Hoy, C J Lumley, Mrs C M Mason and J R F Mason wished to be recorded as having voted against the above decision. Cllr Mrs A V Hale wished to be recorded as having abstained.

A Passionate Public Meeting

Rayleigh Action Group held a public meeting on Sunday.Two of the onlineFOCUS team, Chris Black and Chris Stanley, were in the audience to listen.

The Echo have a report tonight:

CAMPAIGNERS want a judicial review to stop Rochford District Council build 2,785 homes in the next 15 years.
The call comes from a meeting of the Rayleigh Action Group meeting where more than 500 people turned out to show their displeasure at the plans.
The group would now need to raise £30,000 in less then a month to fight the housing plan, which were officially adopted by the council two weeks ago….

The District Council’s Explanations…. And Countryside Properties Masterplan For “West of Rayleigh”

exhib

The District Council have displays in the Mill Hall for a few days and in our district’s libraries for at least the next two weeks. You can find the exhibition material here.

masterplan

And the developers Countryside Properties are now showing what their ideas are
They say they will be holding 2 public exhibitions later this month and sending a newsletter to local residents.
They are also giving people a chance to register their comments with them online here.
Any thoughts?

A Big Night Next Tuesday

Market Car Park 2 78009. crop
There are four big items on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting:

- a motion to keep free parking on Saturday afternoons. This looks like being a very tight vote.
whether or not to finally approve the Allocations Document, which has just been okayed by the government inspector
whether or not to approve the Hockley Area Action plan
setting up of a ‘flood forum’

It would nice to have some people in the public gallery! It’s harder to argue that free car parking or protecting the green belt is important, if absolutely nobody from the public bothers to turn up!

The meeting starts at 7:30 in the Civic Suite, opposite Holy Trinity Church. The public can come along to listen, but can’t speak. (Unless someone has submitted a public question).

A Valentine’s Day Message From The Planning Inspector

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The final report from the planning inspector Mr Smith has been published today. You can download it here,

A lot of people are going to feel crushed – he hasn’t changed much in the council’s Rochford Allocations Submission  Document (RASD) , and the changes he has made aren’t very helpful from a ward councillors point of view. If you were expecting major changes in the housing allocation, you’ll be disappointed. If you were hoping for some really significant improvements in infrastructure, you’ll be equally disappointed.  Here’s a brief summary of his views on the RASD:

(you can click on any of the extracts to enlarge them)

PUBLIC CONSULTATION: The inspector accepts that very many people in Rayleigh hadn’t been aware of the specific proposals, but he still thinks that overall the consultations regulations have been complied with:

inspector 2THE ALLOCATIONS DOCUMENT IS  A FOLLOW-UP TO THE CORE STRATEGY: The frustrating thing about the past year’s campaigning is that the most  important document – the Core Strategy - was already passed back in 2011. If you look back at onlinefocus you can see we were battling on this as far back as 2006 – and highlighting the flooding in Rawreth issue back at the start.  So once the council had passed a core strategy that included , for example, 550 houses North of London Road, it was going to be very hard to change that. The inspector emphasises  again and again that  Core Strategy is the central document:

 

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When residents said it was ‘a done deal’ , they were right – at least in the sense that the most important decisions had already been taken in the Core Strategy.

NO NEW INSIGHTS ON INFRASTRUCTURE: The inspector himself points out that there isn’t much in the council’s RASD about road conditions – but hey- the County Council aren’t worried, and we’ve already had the core strategy , so things can go ahead:

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INFRASTRUCTURE NORTH OF LONDON ROAD:  The inspector says:

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WATERY LANE:  The inspector wants some improvements – we’d be interested to know the views of Hullbridge , Rawreth and Battlesbridge residents on whether they think this is enough:

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THE TRAVELLER SITE – He seems OK with the location. And there is no suggestion of having it near Swallow’s Nursery instead:

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CANEWDON — Canewdon gets a reduction in new housing from 60 to 49,  because of the effect on the appearance of the village:

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There’s Still Time To Support The “5% Cap”

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It’s time to think about the core strategy again.

For each of the housing sites, RDC had proposed that slightly more homes could be built there if there was a shortfall elsewhere, but only up to a possible maximum of 5% extra. The inspector doesn’t want to have any limit on this possible extra housing, which is worrying.
You can object to this via the council’s website. The deadline is noon on January 17th.

You need to go to:

http://rochford.jdi-consult.net/ldf/readdoc.php?docid=190

You will need to register if you haven’t done so before (theres a link at the top.)

The key items in relation to the number of houses are MM18 and MM23

For example Chris Black has objected as follows:

MM18 :This 5% cap should be kept. The whole core strategy and consultation process has been based on these figures, and to allow a possible unlimited increase in these figures at such a late stage makes the whole process flawed. In addition the North of London Road site is so problematic, in terms of highways, drainage and coalescence of Rayleigh and Rawreth, that a 5% cap is particularly appropriate here.

MM23: These 5% caps should be kept. The whole core strategy and consultation process has been based on these figures, and to allow a possible unlimited increase in these figures at such a late stage makes the whole process flawed. Other sites may be becoming available, such as aT Bullwood Hall.

Make sure that your comment is shown as “OBJECT” – there’s a little drop down menu.

Two Traveller Applications – And Another Meeting On Housing Allocations And Hockley Town Centre.

There are two district council meetings next Thursday evening.

The first is a routine Development Committee meeting – the main items on the agenda are two planning applications that , by coincidence, are both for very small traveller sites. One is at The Pear Tree, 750 New Park Road, Hockley, and the other is at Land West of The Pumping Station, Watery Lane, Rawreth.

Officers are recommending that both are given temporary permission until the end of 2018.

The other meeting is an extra meeting of Full Council to deal with the proposed Allocations Document in the Core Strategy and also the proposed Hockley Area Action Plan. It will take place as soon as the first meeting is over.

Basically the Planning Inspector has suggested some changes to the allocations document; this meeting is to agree to lots of changes in wording to comply with his suggestions, and then there will be an eight-week public consultation period. However the consultation won’t be on the whole core strategy, just on the changes that the inspector wants. So the consultation won’t include the principle of 550 houses “North of London Road” or the proposed traveller site at ‘Michelins Farm, because the inspector seems happy with this. But the consultation will include removing the 5% cap on additional housing for each site – because the inspector wants to remove that upper limit! So the council is saying, for example, it is allocating 550 houses North of London Road, but if other sites fall short they would allow a maximum extra 5% here, to increase it to 578 homes. But the inspector doesn’t want an upper limit… Thats’s something that will worry a lot of people…

In a similar way there will be changes in wording to the Hockley Area Action Plan and an 8 week consultation period.

It’s useful to quote parts of the officer’s report.

On the allocations document:

3.3 The Inspector’s initial assessment into the soundness of the Plan was
received by the Council on 18 October 2013 and published on the Council’s
website. A number of observations were made, including to the proposed 5%
cap on housing numbers for residential extensions, Policy NEL3, Policy
SER7, Policy SER1, Policy NEL1 and Policy BFR4; and recommendations to
make the Plan sound and/or legally compliant were suggested by the
Inspector. These recommendations have been integrated into the schedule of
modifications.

3.4 The schedule of modifications can be divided into main and additional
modifications. Main modifications are defined as those that are required to
satisfy legal or procedural requirements or to make the plan sound, and
additional modifications are those that do not materially affect the policies.
The Council is only required to consult on the main modifications agreed by
the Inspector, which would make the Plan sound and/or legally compliant.

3.5 Proposed main modifications in the schedule include, but are not limited to:-
 Making reference to viability testing for brown field land development
(Policy BFR1, 3 and 4);
 Removing the 5% cap for residential extensions (Policy SER1-9);
 Aligning the western boundary for proposed development to the north of
London Road in Rayleigh with the pylon line (Policy SER1);
 Amending the requirements for site access and relocation of the sports
pitch (Policy SER1);
 Removing the land to the north of Lark Hill Road and to the west of
Church Lane in Canewdon from the proposed residential allocation (Policy
SER7);
 Reducing the housing numbers to be delivered over the plan period for
Canewdon to 49 (Policy SER7);
 Removing proposed employment land to the south of London Road in
Rayleigh (Policy NEL1); and
 Moving the proposed relocated employment site for Great Wakering
(Policy NEL3) northwards so that it abuts proposed residential
development at the brick works site (Policy BFR1).

3.6 If accepted by Full Council, it is proposed that the schedule of modifications
will be consulted on for approximately eight weeks (longer than the usual sixweek
period in order to take account of the Christmas period and ensure there
is sufficient time for interested parties to respond). Those who commented at
the pre-submission stage, as well as general and specific consultation bodies,
will be invited to comment on the schedule. This is a formal consultation
stage, which forms part of the examination process.

3.7 Following completion of the consultation, the results will be submitted to the
Inspector who will consider them before preparing his final report…

For Hockley centre:

3.5 Proposed main modifications in the schedule include, but are not limited to:-
 Amendments to Policy 6, replacing the criterion that limited a new food store to a maximum of 3,000m² with one that sets a maximum overall additional retail capacity for the centre of 3,000m² (gross);
 Additional text to Policy 6 to make clear that the Council will favour the development of smaller retail units in the centre; and
 Additional text to Policy 6 setting out the criteria a larger retail store would need to meet in order to be considered acceptable.

BREAKING NEWS : THE INSPECTOR’S INTERIM REPORT

develmap5

 

The planning inspector’s ‘Interim Report ‘ on the Site Allocations  can be downloaded by clicking  here.

We are still looking at it but the key points seem to be:

1) The inspector is satisfied with most of the housing site allocations, but he wants to reduce the housing proposed for Canewdon

2) For each of the housing sites, RDC had proposed that slightly more homes could be built there if there was a shortfall elsewhere, but only up to a possible maximum of 5% extra. The inspector doesn’t want to have any limit on this possible extra housing, which is worrying.

3) The inspector thinks the proposed employment land south of London Road (NEL1), isn’t needed, so that proposal is likely to be scrapped:

In my opinion Policy NEL1 is not deliverable and therefore ineffective and does not comply with national policy. Removing this site from the Plan would, in my view, be sound and the Plan would
be consistent with the Core Strategy in that eventuality.

4) The inspector seems satisfied with the proposal for the traveller and employment site at Michelin’s Farm / Fairglen – he barely mentions it in his report.

5) The inspector wants to make the site for 550 homes “North of London Road” slightly bigger, by extending it 30 metres further to the west. He thinks this would give a more suitable boundary and have the access road inside the site rather than in the Green Belt.

6) The inspector has also written about the Hockley Area Action Plan – click here to download.

Key paragraph:

Policy 6 is not sound and should be revised taking account of the following principles:
Setting a maximum overall additional retail capacity of 3,000 sq m (gross)
Removing reference to food (although this would not preclude an individual proposal from coming forward);
Giving priority to smaller shops or the expansion of existing stores; and
If a proposal for a large single store does come forward it would be expected to
demonstrate that ‘clawback’ of expenditure from other centres would be achieved and to assess the implications for them
. Any such scheme should also show that a development of this size would not harm th overall vitality of Hockley by, for example, marginalising
existing units.

7) He prefers to use a different site in Great Wakering for employment land.

Empty Homes In Rochford District


Michael and Diane Hoy write about empty homes here:

As she walks around Hullbridge (the Ward she represents) Diane makes a note of all those which appear empty and reports them to the Council.  However she has so far been disappointed in the progress by the council in making those homes available to the public, either to rent or to buy.

We have obtained the figures for empty homes in the Rochford District.  They are set out below.

Total no. of empty properties:               1,021
Properties empty for over 6 months:     575
Properties empty for over 1 year:            375

 

 

 

The full article is worth a read, especially with its reference to the core strategy.

A Day In The Council Chamber

 

So, today the planning inspector Mr David Smith looked at the various proposals for “West of Rayleigh”. Here’s a summary of the key points.

  1. Mrs Linda Kendall spoke on behalf of the objectors, made some determined points, and with a lot of concerned residents in the council chamber, was applauded quite a lot of  times. She was assisted by Peter Scott.
  2. Mark Francois MP spoke in the afternoon, and got a round of applause as well.
  3. Mr Sam Hollingworth was the speaker on behalf of the District Council.
  4. Other speakers included an officer from Basildon Council, an officer from County Highways, two planning agents on behalf of the developers Countryside (who control the “North of London Road” site), and notably, a representative of Sport England.
  5. The feeling in the public gallery was that Mr Smith conducted things fairly.
  6. He said he was there to test the ‘soundness’ (there’s a special planning definition for this) of the proposals and if they were legally compliant.
  7. During the discussions the proposal to relocate the businesses on Rawreth Industrial Estate began to look pretty shaky.
  8. The planning agents for Countrywide queried whether any homebuilding at the Industrial Estate would actually happen, there appeared to be no promoter for the site, and it would need compulsory purchase which didn’t seem likely without a promoter.
  9. They also claimed that the density of homes proposed for the Industrial Estate site for the site was probably too high to be viable
  10. When the subject changed to the site of the 550 homes, the planning agents said it would take about 5 years to build and sell them.
  11. When the planning agents stated that the drainage system installed would be designed to ensure that the speed of water leaving the site would be no greater or actually less than the current speed. This was greeted with some scepticism by the public listening.
  12. The planning agents think that the ‘green buffer’ could extend from the 550 houses up to the A1245, but if it was that large some of it would be agricultural land rather than park land.
  13. Up till now it’s been proposed that most of the traffic from the 550 would go onto London Road, with less going onto Rawreth Lane. But it was agreed that this would be looked at again at the detailed highways design stage.
  14. Peter Scott argued that the traffic survey results used by the council were either too old, or didn’t cover the right locations.
  15. The chap from Sport England had quite a few concerns about relocating the Rayleigh Sports and Social Club. He wanted detailed wording included to ensure that the new facilities were at least as good as what was currently there, and there should be a proper new lease offered to the club. Not some kind of short-term rental.He warned that in terms of phasing it would take 18 months to get new pitches ready. And he wanted flexibility in the wording to leave open the possibility of the club staying exactly where it is.
  16. Mrs Kendall pointed out that where they wanted to put the new pitches, there used to be a lot of ponds , where there are ponds there is water.
  17. In her most scathing comment of the day Mrs Kendall said that the Core Strategy already approved was like “Noddy and Big Ears”. If the Rawreth Industrial Estate was left alone, she said, there would not be a need for the new employment/ industrial sites south of London Road and at Michelins Farm.
  18. One surprising statement from the District Council’s Mr Hollingworth was that the employment site might not be needed , office space might become available in Rayleigh, and Hockley Town Centres. He said the employment site on London Road was a long-term aim, there was a lack of interest from the owners.
  19. When the discussion moved to the traveller site Mrs Kendall said the decision was a political one and racist – the site wouldn’t be suitable for habitation  so close to industry, traffic , etc.
  20. Mr Hollingworth said this would be a planned scheme [as opposed to something that happened accidently without a proper design] and mitigation could be put in place.
  21. The officer from Basildon council explained that they still objected , they didn’t think this site was the most suitable one for this sort of development. He also said that since Rochford District Coucnil had come up with this proposal, Basildon had given permission on the land next door for a construction workers training school. Part of the training would include practice earth moving operations  any time from 7 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday.
  22. It was agreed by everyone, including Rochford District and Mark Francois that putting a new traveller site on London Road was unacceptable and not viable – apart from anything else, there would be electricity pylons and flooding issue to prevent it.
  23. Mrs Kendall supported allowing  the unauthorised traveller site on the A1245 to become legal and queried why we had to have all the travellers in West Rayleigh
  24. Mr Hollingworth answered that there were actually 6 other [small] sites already in the district.

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Daily Reporting by Chris Black

With support from:
Ron Oatham Ron Oatham Bruce Smart Bruce Smart Chris Stanley Chris Stanley

Latest Comments

  • Jim Cripps: A good point Brian , in fact it is now obvious that most Towns & Villages in all the SE Essex...
  • Corey Vost: It is becoming increasingly obvious that ECC Highways have precious little intention of adopting this...
  • Christine Paine: Thanks Chris. I think noise depends to a great extent on wind direction. At least, with quite a few...
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  • Jim Cripps: PS: And can you explain how a party political leaflet “in touch” has the authority to cancel...
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  • Jim Cripps: Well done Chris/ John and sorely needed as they have already cancelled two promises ( RTSSC & new...
  • Jim Cripps: Two quotes for you :- Cllr K Hudson via Evening Echo ( Fri 11th April ) – “The process we...
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  • Jim Cripps: Greenbelt – it is’nt the same show ( the Battlesbridge one is in June ), the one last weekend...
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  • Greenbelt: The ‘RaveR 17; type event last year which caused many complaints on this site was clearly audible...
  • Christine Paine: We could hear it over the television. I’ve got nothing against the showground as such,...
  • admin: I would think you can hear it over half of Rayleigh, with the windows closed….
  • admin: Not sure…
  • John Mason: So what happens next please?
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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.

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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.

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The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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