onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for District Core Strategy

Flashback To 2011

This was the second page of Ron’s election leaflet four years ago (click to enlarge)….

 

ron leaflet 2011

What’s happened since?

– the council’s proposed traveller site is now at Michelin’s Farm instead of the locations on our sketch map.

– the land “North of London Road” is now allocated for housing. (though it doesn’t have actual planning permission)

– The Council are still talking about relocating the businesses on  Rawreth Industrial Estate to Michelin’s Farm, and building houses there instead. But we really doubt if that’s ever going to happen.

A View From Hullbridge

The submission from the Hullbridge Residents Association to the planning application on the Hullbridge/ Rawreth borders can now be found on the council website here.

It’s not a brief letter either, not even a long letter, its 46 pages long….

A Tory Question — And A Lib Dem Answer

question mark

The latest Conservative leaflet says:

“WHAT COULD YOU DO WITH £70,000.00″ ? That is what Linda Kendall has cost us the tax payer for taking Rochford District Council to the High Court! Just think what these funds could be spent on.”

Our answer is :

  • The council’s Core Strategy cost more than £2,000,000.00 of public money – about 30 times what Linda Kendall’s court case has cost the council !
  • For that amount you expect a MUCH better plan.
  • The Conservatives really should have listened to the public more, and should have listened to the Lib Dem and Independent councillors more.
  • Instead they relied on their massive majority in the council chamber to force things through.
  • When you can’t get satisfaction in the political arena, one recourse is to try the legal arena, and that’s what Linda Kendall did.
  • She lost, but there was evidently a case for the council to answer-  to quote the  judge in paragraph 83 of his judgement “I can see some force in those submissions”

- the onlineFOCUS team – Chris Black, Ron Oatham, Bruce Smart, Chris Stanley

Action Groups Ally Together….

We’ve just been sent the following press release …. worth printing in full:

South East Essex Action Group Alliance Press Release Issue 1

Introduction

In towns and villages across the country residents are fighting to prevent unjustified housing developments, particularly those where Green Belt land will be lost for ever. Councils are wilfully

ignoring local concerns in spite of the Prime Minister’s drive for Localism. In the South East of Essex the situation is exacerbated by the limited supply of land suitable for development, the already-overstretched infrastructure and the existing high population density. A number of independent Action Groups have already been set up by concerned residents. Now these groups are collaborating, sharing information and experiences and preparing to fight together on their shared concerns.

The SE Essex Action Group Alliance, (AGA), has been initiated by action groups from Billericay, Rayleigh, Hullbridge, Daws Heath and Jotmans Farm (these fall within the Basildon, Rochford and Castle Point Local Authority areas). AGA will campaign on three main issues:-

 Unnecessarily high housing targets;

 failure to implement Localism;

 impact on the Green Belt and infrastructure.

Unnecessarily high housing targets

Councils across south Essex are making policy decisions that produce housing targets that are unnecessarily high. For example:-

 Basildon proposed a new homes target of 16,000 when natural growth would suggest just 8,900 homes are required;

 Rochford’s target of around 3000 new homes is twice the natural growth needed;

 Castle Point is proposing 4-5000 new homes when recent estimates show negative growth.

Other areas show similar disparities. There can be sound reasons for increasing housing targets beyond that required for ‘Natural Growth’, but the contrasts noted here are staggering.

Failure to Implement the Localism Act

In 2011 Central Government introduced the Localism Act with the stated aim of devolving detailed planning powers, including the setting of housing targets, to Local Authorities. Numerous Government Ministers have reiterated the intention of the Act to put Local Authorities and the communities that elect them in charge of planning in their areas. Unfortunately Local Authorities in South East Essex have universally failed to understand and implement the concept of Localism. They have allowed themselves, not necessarily unwillingly, to be held to ransom by developers and Central Government dictat, to the detriment of their residents and at the expense of their Green Belt.

Some residents groups have even resorted to taking expensive legal action against the Authorities who purport to represent them. The fact that residents of most towns and villages have to form an Action Group to give the public a voice speaks volumes about the way our Councils wilfully ignore the concept and implementation of real Localism.

Impact on Green Belt & Infrastructure

Local historic demographic data indicates a steady and relatively low rise in the number of new homes required for the existing local people which, in many areas, could be met by Brownfield sites
and infill building. This would leave the untouched Green Belt able to fulfil its purposes and give the inadequate infrastructure a chance to catch up. Government-prompted over-estimates of future housing quotas (driven by the myopic expansion of London), will destroy the existing Green Belt and overwhelm the under-funded existing infrastructure (roads /railways/ schools /hospitals etc ).

Our Conclusion

Untold and irreversible damage will be done to the towns and villages in Essex if National and Local Government continue to disregard the views of residents (the electors), by allowing unjustified
building and the destruction of the Green Belt. To stop this happening it is essential that local people make their views known through their local Action Groups who are working together to present a strong and united case to the decision makers.

The SE Essex Action Group Alliance invites other groups in the SE of Essex to unite with us to ensure the views of existing residents are no longer ignored by those who purport to represent them.

Contact info@billericayactiongroup.org.uk for more information.

Planning Application Confirmed For The 29th

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It was confirmed to us today that the “North of London Road” outline planning application will come to the Development Committee on the 29th.

It’s worth repeating what we put in our latest Focus:


The meeting is in the Civic Suite in Rayleigh (opposite Holy Trinity Church). It is due to start at 7:30 p.m…….

….. You won’t be able to speak at the meeting but we do urge people to come along and listen. As your ward councillors we will be pointing out all the local concerns – and will be hard to convince other councillors that we have problems like traffic and flooding if the public gallery is empty!

Over the last 30 years there’s been LOTS of development in West Rayleigh and Rawreth. Some of it has been very successful, for example in the Downhall Park Way area. But as each development has taken place, it has added to road congestion and put more pressure on our local infrastructure and facilities….

…..when it gets to the final stage of [being] a planning application, the rules change. No district councillor is allowed to make up their minds up in advance. (Including us, so although Ron and Chris will definitely point out residents’ concerns we cannot decide in advance how we will vote). In the same way all councillors have to listen to the debate, and there are no party whips. So let’s see what happens – we will be glad of your presence and your moral support.

RAG’s View

Rayleigh Action Group summarise their view of the situation here. Here’s an extract:

…To expand on the above Rochford District Council’s evidence to the court they stated that just 195 residents from a possible 33,000 in Rayleigh, made representations on one consultation process. Of these, 194 objected and rejected their proposal and just one individual supported their submissions. The programme continued unabated. This simple fact establishes the fact that the ‘consultation’ exercises, on which RDC have expended £2.1 million pounds of public money (confirmed by a Freedom of Information request in July 2013), are simply a total waste of public money at a time when essential services are being slashed to save precious resources.
—————-
The Judgement makes clear that the Judge accepted there is now established major opposition to this Local Plan. This is evidenced by both the petition collated by Brian Carleton of Hullbridge Action Group and the list of 5062 residents connected to the objection produced by Rayleigh Action Group in 2013. Despite this he has refused to quosh the disputed Allocation document, which will serve to destroy swathes of the green belt across our area, as it conforms with the RDC Core Strategy, adopted in 2011. Despite clear evidence that the public were oblivious to the many proposals he found RDC had acted in compliance with their STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (SCI). Produced by RDC Officers and RDC Councillors. It is becoming increasing evident that RDC have no legal requirement to take account of any public opposition to the plans they put forward. Any ‘Consultation’ appears to be an exercise in useless public relations that has no effect on eventual outcomes. This is evidenced by the results of actual ‘consultations’ as presented in evidence to the court by RDC where the overwhelming majority of those who did respond rejected RDC proposals.
—————-
My opinion remains that RDC have not acted in the best interest of the people they serve. Our roads will become increasingly gridlocked, many residents will face increased risk of flooding, our services will become further stretched. The Core Strategy decisions are thus enshrine for the future including every proposal sanctioned in that document, don’t forget the removal of Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club grounds are still an integral part of that plan. Further to place both a Heavy Industrial complex and huge Gypsy and Traveller site in this vicinity will be an error of judgement that will devalue the homes of the hard-working families that have chosen to live here. I do not believe democracy is well served by the decision of the High Court as it will further erode the trust ordinary citizens have in those that are charged with protecting our interest. It is a sorry day for us all.
—————-
Mr Justice Lindblom recognised some failures of the RDC legal team. He has confirmed an agreed wasted costs order against RDC to the sum of £ 11,815.20 which includes the fees due for their failed challenge to the requested Protected Cost Order. The action to prevent the PCO would have halted the hearing. It would have had the effect of silencing the huge protest that emerged when local residents became aware of the full implications of RDC future plans for the district….

Legal Challenge Defeated

It’s been announced today that the legal challenge by Linda Kendall against the Allocations Document has failed. The Echo reports on it here

This is very disappointing news for very many people, though even if the challenge had succceded it would have only affected the Allocations Document, and not the previously agreed Strategy Document that already specified housing “North of London Road” and SW Hullbridge .

Linda Kendall certainly deserves a lot of respect for making the attempt, reportedly at her own financial risk.

The council should not crow too much about winning this. The aim should have been to produce a strategy that had public acceptance , not one that has angered hundreds or more probably thousands of residents, and been simply pushed through by one political party with a huge majority.

The council also shouldn’t complain about the cost of the appeal. It’s a drop in the ocean compared with the millions of pounds already spent on the planning strategy.

Looking back …. We had our biggest success on this very early on , when we got the proposed 1800 new houses for Rayleigh reduced by about half – and in fact the figure for Rayleigh is now about zero because all the “North of London Road” housing is in Rawreth.

The key night and our big defeat was back in 2009 when the council voted by 23-4 to submit its core strategy to the inspector. The four who voted against were, in alphabetical order, Chris Black, Jackie Dillnutt (Lib Dem ) John Mason (independent) and Ron Oatham (Lib Dem).

This is what the the Conservatives said at the meeting in 2009, it doesn’t quite ring true now:

…it is well that we and our residents never forget which political
party, which outgoing socialist government, instigated this fiasco…..

…..Following its adoption 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.

Now we are towards the end of the process, but there is still plenty for campaigners and councillors alike to think about and do.

Hullbridge / Rawreth Planning Application Now In….

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Another big planning application, part of the District Council’s Core Strategy has now been submitted.You can find more on the council website here. A lot of resident’s comments have already been submitted over the weekend.

The outline proposal includes:

“Residential development for 500 dwellings including a proportion of affordable housing, associated open space, landscaping and drainage and infrastructure works”

<

Incidentally, the Council website shows the parish for this application as Hullbridge, but we believe it also includes part of Rawreth, so that Rawreth Parish Council should be consulted as well.

Here We Go Again?

If you look at the District Council’s “Key Decisions Document”  you will find this section:

 

key decisions documentAnd what does a ‘call for sites” mean? It means asking landowners and property companies etc. to submit suggestions for possible sites for development. This would normally be somewhere where they have a financial interestt.

 

This is how local plans begin, and we asked the council to explain   – we  got the following  answer:

 

“This is part of the process of building the evidence base for the review of the local plan – the call for sites information will feed into the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, but it is important to bear in mind that the assessment does not allocate sites for development , or of course give planning consent –   it simply provides information to be considered as the review of the plan progresses.”

Rawreth Meets…

240px-Rawreth_sign

 

Just a reminder that Rawreth Parish Council meets on Wednesday at 7:30 in the village hall. As usual there will be a public question time, and the public and press are welcome.

One of the biggest items will be the planning application for “North of London Road” which is entirely in Rawreth.

Amenity Space Saved, Wakering Development Squeaks Through……

At tonight’s meeting of the Development Committee:

The outline  application for 6 dwellings on the amenity space at Brocksford Avenue was refused by an overwhelming vote of councillors. Refusal was moved by  Ian  Ward and seconded by Heather Glynn. This pleased the public gallery, which was packed with concerned residents.

The application for 116 dwellings at the old Star Lane Brickworks in Great Wakering was passed – but only just. This is another one of the big sites that has come forward as part of the local plan. Chris Black and Ron Oatham moved refusal, saying that the application was contrary to our core strategy, because extra funding for the local primary school wasn’t being provided. We lost the refusal  11-9. Interestingly , none of the ward councillors supported our refusal. Cllr Mrs Wilkins voted against our refusal , Cllr Hookway was absent and Cllr Seagers declared an interest and quite properly left the chamber.  A motion of approval was then moved and the scheme was passed 14-5

The District Council applied to itself for planning permission to install a banner in Bradley Way to advertise public events – and the committee refused this , on the grounds of it being a conservation area.

Changes To Look At Carefully !

One part of the District Council’s Local Development  Framework is the “Development Management Plan”. This is the document that sets out the day-to-day policy for determining planning applications.

The document has already been to an government inspector, the inspector asked for some changes, and the council officers have now amended the document.

Cllr Keith Gordon has been the portfolio holder for planning (at least until a few days ago). He has now agreed that the revised document should go out for public consultation over an 8 week period, with the consultation responses going straight to the inspector.

However there is still time for any 3 councillors to call this in to Full Council, or for the Review Committee to call it in. The deadline for calling it in is 5 working days after July 18th.

So where can you see the document and what are the changes? Well, you can download the document here (2mb)

Here are a few of the changes:

  • The density across a site should be a minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare, unless exceptional circumstances can be satisfactorily demonstrated.
  • Instead of just refusing ‘tandem development’ ‘, which has been council policy for 30 years, tandem development would be allowed when ‘overlooking, privacy and amenity issues’ can be overcome (tandem development is when one house is built directly behind another in a ‘tandem’ arrangement)
  • Instead of sticking to minimum floorspace standards, a smaller floorspace would be allowed if compliance with the standards would be unviable or undeliverable.

But there is a lot more for councillors to study. It’s surprising that this hasn’t gone to the Local Development Framework Sub-Committee

 

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Daily Reporting by Chris Black

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

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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

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.

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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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