The Council Press On With Their Development Plans

 

At last Tuesday’s meeting the District Council pressed on with their plans  for future development.

Who was there?

The six councillors on the sub-committee were all there –
5 Conservatives: Keith Hudson, Heather Glynn, Keith Gordon, Simon Smith and Colin Seagers
and 1 Lib Dem: Chris Black.
When you are outnumbered 5 to 1, you don’t expect to win many votes….
In addition two visiting members came along, Lib Dem Ron Oatham and Conservative Brian Hazlewood.
There were also about 17 members of the public present, mostly interested in Rayleigh Sports And Social Club. One of them walked out halfway, saying ‘this is a waste of time’.
Also there was a full team of planning officers, led by Shaun Scrutton.

What About Those Alarming New Housing Figures?

The alarming phrases that mentioned a lot more  potential housing were all removed. It seems that some of the Conservatives were as concerned as we were. So, for example the wording  for ‘Land North of London Road’ was changed from:

The Core Strategy (Policy H2) identifies that the site in this general location should have the
capacity to accommodate a minimum of 550 dwellings during the plan period. A minimum
site size of 20.95 hectares would be required (if 75% of the site was developed at 35
dwellings per hectare).
The site identified in Figure 7 is 38.8 hectares (the gross site area, outside flood zone 3)
which could deliver between 582 and 873 dwellings at a density of 30 dwellings per hectare
on a developable area of 50% and 75% respectively, and between 679 and 1019 dwellings
at a density of 35 dwellings per hectare on a developable area of 50% and 75% respectively.

to

The Core Strategy (Policy H2) identifies that the site in this general location should have the capacity to accommodate a minimum of 550 dwellings during the plan period.  The site identified in Figure 6 is capable of providing 550 dwellings at a density of 30 dwellings per hectare, plus a flexibility allowance of 5%, if required.

So the maximum amount of new housing ‘North of London Road’ has been changed from 1019 to 550 + 5%, which equals 578.

Changes were made in similar way for other sites such as SW Hullbridge, which now reads:

‘The Core Strategy (Policy H2 and H3) identifies that the site in this general location should have the capacity to accommodate a minimum of 500 dwellings during the plan period.  The site identified in Figure 12 is capable of providing 500 dwellings at a density of 30 dwellings per hectare, plus a flexibility allowance of 5%, if required.

What Other Good Things Came From the Meeting?

Well, the Conservatives would probably say that everything that came out of the meeting was good, this was effectively their document! But from our perspective :

  • We got phrases included to show that the preferred option for new open spaces is that they go into the ownership of “Fields in Trust ” (the new name for the National Playing Field Association). This will help to protect them in the long term.
  • Chris Black also spotted that in the list of new open spaces to be created, 4 hectares North of London Road, had been missed off! He got that put back on…

What Happened With The Hockley Area Action Plan ?

After a fair amount of discussion, it went through. Heather Glynn was concerned about certain aspects of the plan, Ron Oatham stressed the importance of leisure facilities such as the tenpin bowling.

What Happened With Rayleigh Sports and Social Club?

The Council are sticking to their new policy of forcing the Rayleigh Sports & Social Club to move.

Heather Glynn and Keith Hudson moved an amendment that presumably was intended to calm the fears of the club:

 The playing field to the south of the site along London Road should be relocated. A replacement sports field with new ancillary facilities together with a new club house will be required to be provided ahead of any removal of the existing facility so as to ensure the continued and uninterrupted operation of this valuable community facility. The new structure will be required to be built to the BREEAM (Very good) standard thus providing a new, efficient and environmentally friendly establishment which will be of great advantage to the community as a whole and to the operators of the Sports and Social club. It should be located within the green buffer to the west of the site, although the arrangement of the facility should be such that the clubhouse and associated development are positioned adjacent to the residential settlement to the east and integrated into the development. It is calculated that the new club house will be built within 340 metres of the existing location and will be served by a new road. Additionally this facility should be well connected to the pedestrian and cycling network.

Chris Black still objected to the proposal, saying it was being imposed on the club and he would only support a move if it was by agreement. Even in September the council was still staying that the sports pitches should be allocated as open space.

However the Conservatives forced this through.

What about the Land North of London Road proposals?

Well, they went through. Chris Black got an amendment to look at the feasibility of having a through route between London Road and Rawreth Lane but stressed that traffic problems were a big concern in general, that extra development could bring London Road to gridlock and Rawreth Lane not far behind. He pointed out that with the proposals for the Rawreth Industrial Estate, Land North of London Road, eoN and a proposed new employment site near Swallows Nursery, there should be a Traffic Impact Assessment before going any further. This was important  not only for Rayleigh residents, but for people living elsewhere in the district who also used these roads.

The proposals for Land North of London Road went through by 5 votes to 1. Chris Black voted against , mainly because of the traffic issue and the Sports and Social Club.

What about Hullbridge?

The proposals went through by 5 votes to 1 here as well. Chris Black voted against because of concerns about Watery Lane. The documents said that road improvements would be made, but despite all the thousands of pages of paperwork, there seemed to be no information on exactly what was needed to make the road suitable for all the extra traffic!  So there was no guarantee that the necessary work would be done.

And the rest of the sites?

They each went through after a bit of discussion. This included the proposed Traveller site near the Fairglen Interchange. There was an amendment agreed to make this a council-owned site.

 And What Happens Now?

The whole document goes to an extraordinary meeting of the the Full Council for rubber-stamping. Then there’s a consultation period , and then  all the responses  go to a government inspector.

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 5TH -Just to make it clear, bearing in mind some of the comments below , we are advised by the council that there is no agreement or arrangements between the District Council and any developers or landowners regarding the Hockley Area Action Plan. 

30 Comments

  1. brian guyett

    Crazy! How can any one propose inserting an Asda sized supermarket, 6 times bigger than the existing one, into the middle of Hockley with no highways improvement and no extra parking?
    (EDITED)
    Its also worth noting that concerns about 10 pin bowling take up more space in the HAAP than highways do! What are the council’s priorities?
    Chris, you appear to have voted for this – can you explain?

    Reply
  2. Chris Black

    Brian, this was a difficult one for me, and I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, From my (limited) knowledge of Hockley, I actually think a bigger supermarket will be of benefit to the town /village centre. If Hockley people use it rather than drive further afield , it might actually reduce traffic on some roads at busy shopping times. But parking , I know, is an important question.

    Clearly the two local councillors present were happy with it.

    Reply
  3. brian guyett

    Thanks Chris for an honest response.
    We could have a long debate whether or not a bigger supermarket is beneficial but I find it absolutely incredible that the council could forward this plan without researching the highways implications.
    can you explain why the committee formed a complete U-turn on Cllr Hudson’s promise at Full Council on 17 July that highways would be included in this version?
    To remind you:
    – the railway bridge is not even mentioned
    – changes to Eldon way re extra car parking and housing traffic is not even mentioned
    – the suggested introduction of 3 slip lanes at Spa roundabount have a caveat that they have not researched but simply do not look credible due to narrow pavement.
    Sorry Chris but this proposal simply does not hold water. What’s the deal witgh gthe developer?

    Reply
  4. Chris Black

    Perhaps some of the Hockley councillors should comment on this – they should know more about this than I do ! But with regard to the parking, the plans do at least show ‘new/consolidated parking’. e I’m usually pretty sceptical these days. But I really think that is something that can be discussed at the planning application stage, rather than throwing out the whole plan.

    Reply
  5. brian guyett

    Chris, your right about Hockley councillors but they are out of touch and you did vote in favour. Obviously, we disagree but I’m grateful for your participation.
    In your article above, you rightly raise your concerns for traffic implication ‘North of Rayleigh’ and ask for a traffic assessment. But with the HAAP you dismiss the same legitimate concerns. Is this double standards?
    Lets recap:
    – the council proposes a 6 fold increase in supermarket size but no one sees the need for a traffic assessment!
    – why? that’s obvious – the council knows a traffic assessment would ‘fail’
    – so why progress? Again its obvious – money!
    It all comes back to what deal the council have agreed with the developer. It increasingly feels that Hockley has been sold out!
    Democracy?

    Reply
  6. Chris Black

    Brian, I can see very well why you suspect double standards but from my point of view it isn’t.

    With the “Land North of London Road” it isn’t just that one development, it’s 3 others as well – eoN, Rawreth Industrial Estate and a new employment site on London Road. Altogether that’s a BIG package of development. With SW Hullbridge the issue is that Watery Lane didn’t get it’s name without a reason! It needs a lot of work done to it.

    Reply
  7. brian guyett

    No need to defend your action Chris. I quite agree those areas need traffic assessments.
    I realise you are limited in what you can say but its interesting what you have not said.
    I think it will be quite clear to everyone what is going on.
    many thanks.

    Reply
  8. Christine Paine

    If this all goes through it is going to be almost impossible to drive from Rawreth into Rayleigh without fighting through heavier and heavier traffic. Public transport is so bad it isn’t really an option. Add into the mix the traffic coming from Shotgate Industrial Estate along London Road and round the Carpenters Roundabout at peak times and you have a traffic nightmare. Has anyone considered/ever looked at the cost of a dedicated road from Shotgate Industrial Estate to the A127 to take some of the heavy goods vehicles and works traffic – most of it heads to the A127 from the Carpenters so a road here would take some of the local traffic out.

    Another thing that concerns me is provision of Doctors. Already in Rawreth we are limited for choice. Rayleigh Doctors won’t take us if we live Wickford side of the Carpenters, Wickford won’t take us if we live Rayleigh side of Shotgate, which leaves us the surgery in Downhall Road. A lot of the people taking houses in these new developments will look to sign on there as well. Two doctors and a nurse can hardly cope now. Has this been looked at at all.

    Reply
  9. John Mason

    Chris, the cumulative total development in the Central part of the District has already been approved in planning applications at Brays Lane, Hall Road and Hawkwell at 875 dwellings without any cumulative traffic impact assessment being undertaken. The HAAP is part of this. This is why I support the Hockley view. This is a big package too. Each traffic assessment was conducted as a standalone. Brian and I called along with other organisations and many residents for a cumulative assessment but this did not happen. I note what you said on behalf of the Western part of the District at Committee but I have said this before on behalf of the Central area but to no avail I am afraid. I don’t think that you will succeed either but good luck.

    You say “The alarming phrases that mentioned a lot more potential housing were all removed.” This is just “smoke and mirrors” in my opinion as the 2006-2011 shortfall in the Core Strategy of 402 must be closed by additional building by 2021 and the Core Strategy extended to 2031 (1500). This adds up to nearly 2000 more dwellings. If the “Maxima” referred to in the Allocation of Sites were not to be exercised then surely the additional sites in the SHLAA 2012 must be the prime candidates? Surely the SHLAA provides an evidence base to prove that these additions can be delivered? What is your view?

    Reply
  10. brian guyett

    Thanks John. It is hard to understand what is going on here. RDC appear to have done a U-turn on traffic assessments in Hockley so that effectively they can put forward a planning application on behalf of a supermarket. But the parking proposals in the HAAP do not make sense either. There is clearly insufficient parking for an Asda sized supermarket. RDC may not mind the resultant chaos but no supermarket is going to invest in a major new store with insufficient parking. So expect further changes to the HAAP. Multi-story car parking or fewer houses perhaps?
    But, as you point out, its not just Hockley. Its across the District. Do RDC have a highways policy that relies on traffic jams to curtail traffic growth?

    Reply
  11. Chris Black

    John- my view is that we shouldn’t commit ourselves to any more development until we have to. We need to know more about traffic, we need to know more about future government policies, there may be extra windfall sites ….. and we shouldn’t cram more development onto the sites already selected.

    Reply
  12. John Mason

    Chris, just as a matter of interest did the potential increase on the preferred “South Hawkwell” site (now with planning permission for 175)also get restricted to + 5% and not the max 252? I mention this because your article only refers to Land North of London Road and S W Hullbridge?

    I note that you picked up on a missing Public Open Space again in North of the London Road but not the missing POS in South Hawkwell. Do you think that the South Hawkwell ommission reflects the Council’s rejection of my proposal for RDC to own and manage this at the Planning Decision in September?

    The 402 Shortfall MUST be met under policy. It MIGHT be met from windfalls but if not it WILL be added to South West Hullbridge,South East Ashingdon and West Great Wakering.

    You seem to be hoping that something will change at Government Policy level to remove the requirement for 250 per year 2025 – 2031.

    If the Government does manage to revoke the Regional Spatial Strategies then all this will do in my view is leave the opportunity to increase beyond 250 per year.

    In my view RDC policy planning has already laid down the potential sites that could be chosen in the next phase. As it has to of course.

    Reply
  13. Chris Black

    John, yes South Hawkwell’s wording was changed to 175 with a flexibility allowance of 5% as well. I think this 5% was used for all the former greenbelt residential sites.

    Yes, you are right – South Hawkwell open space wasn’t mentioned on page 117 either. I missed that (!) I assume that’s just an error. If so , that’s not good…

    Reply
  14. John Mason

    Thanks Chris.

    I remain concerned about the POS in Hawkwell West. I am trying to get RDC to negotiate some legal protection with David Wilson Homes in the Section 106 in recognition that it will not be in any form of public ownership. The fact that it has been missed out as well in the Allocation of Sites DPD as well does not help.

    I have managed to get the MD of David Wilson Homes to meet with me though. Soon I hope.

    I am sure that others will be interested in the follow up questions below which I hope you may be able to answer.

    Did you find out why the Maxima were ever quoted at all? Did anyone explain at Committee?

    You said that these were also of concern to some Conservative Members. I can understand that if you have a County seat to strive for in 2013 or defend a District seat in 2014. But the seeds of a policy for more houses is laid down in Government Planning and Economic Policy anyway. The present Core Strategy total is Phase 1 only and residents must not think that’s the end; no more !!

    Have the Maxima now been expunged from RDC Planning Policy? Or could they come back in future iterations of policy?

    Thanks, John

    Reply
  15. admin (Post author)

    -Just to make it clear, bearing in mind some of the comments above , we are advised by the council that there is no agreement between the District Council and any developers or landowners regarding the Hockley Area Action Plan.

    Reply
  16. brian guyett

    And I just saw a pink pig go past the window!
    RDC repeatedly promised to include highways but didn’t, so why should we believe anything they sat?

    Reply
  17. Rayleigh Resident

    If governments were prepared to tackle the thorny issue of uncontrolled population growth then you would not be having these debates about additional housing / congestion etc. People never seem to make the connection between having loads of kids and needing more houses or are new houses OK as long as they are nowhere near them.

    Reply
  18. brian guyett

    Frightening, quite frightening! If we believe RDC and there is no secret deal, then there is no secret benefit and we are left with an unworkable plan. If you have an Asda sized supermarket, you need an Asda sized car park and there simply isn’t space on this plan. It’s like the ‘King’s Clothes’ – so bad no one will admit it.
    3 years and 3 lots of consultants fees and we don’t even have a viable plan!

    Reply
  19. Christine Paine

    While the RDC are busy trying to destroy the Greenbelt, does anyone know how many vacant houses there are in the area that could be brought back into use if they were renovated?

    Rayleigh Resident also has a very good point. The population of this Country has spiralled in the last ten years, and the South East as a whole has higher growth than other parts of the Country. Perhaps we should all be putting pressure on our MP’s to live up to their promises about reducing immigration.

    Reply
  20. John Mason

    @ Christine Paine. The number of vacant houses is remarkably lower than you would think………the question was asked formally in Full Council by a Green Party Member not so long ago. I know that Michael and Diane Hoy read this site so I will leave them to answer. There are national schemes and policies adopted by RDC and at the time everything seemed in order.

    The issue of population growth and inward migration to our District is a real issue. Michael Hoy proposed in Council a couple of years ago that RDC conducted a housing needs assessment for our local needs only. This was rejected with some fairly nasty derision that we were Passport from Pimlico Parties which is repeated from time to time on this site by a certain visiting Conservative Member.

    Other looming pressures on the District might mean that new Laws could compel Rochford District to take on house targets from Southend, Castle Point, Basildon or even Maldon!!

    The SHMAA was last reviewed in 2010. Expect a new one early in 2012.

    What is it?

    The Thames Gateway South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment

    The study is likely to tell us how many Affordable Houses we need to provide in our District and being a standard 35% of each new development this might mean we need many more houses just to meet this target for the homeless and population growth and migration to our District.

    Yes, I agree Christine, this is an issue for our MP’s

    Reply
  21. Rayleigh Resident

    Immigration into the UK is not the only factor contributing to overpopulation, what about the number of kids born each year to “native” residents. We just cannot carry on this way but I suspect that very few politicians are willing to speak out. It’s the same old story, it’s not my kids that are the problem, it’s other people’s.

    Reply
  22. Christine Paine

    Thank you for that John. Not exactly an encouraging outlook for the future. I think my MP may be hearing from me in the not too distant future.

    Reply
  23. Rayleigh Resident
  24. admin (Post author)

    Actually, the amount of new housing coming in the district isn’t that big compared to what we already have.

    At the intended rate of development I think it would take over a century to double the amount of housing in the district.

    One of the problems is that there has been so much building already in Rayleigh in the last 60 years that nearly all the possible sites close to the town centre have already been used. So now Rayleigh is encroaching on Rawreth and Community identity is also frayed. Also rather than trying to keeping amenities in Rayleigh, the District Council is now seemingly trying to push them out to the edges.

    Of course the other big problem is traffic – no new roads out of the town during that 60 year period, and the amount of vehicles per household has soared.

    Reply
  25. Rayleigh Resident

    Admin, the problems are all too clear, so what’s the solution ?

    Reply
  26. Canterbury Close Resident

    Our roads are always crowded, Rayleigh station is fit to burst at peak times and doctors, dentists and schools are full too. So where is the infrastructure coming from to accommodate the needs of all of these new residents to the district?

    Reply
  27. Rayleigh Resident

    Am I the only one on this site to make the correlation between an ever increasing population and the need for more housing and infrastructure ?

    If you came home to find the bath overflowing you would not keep putting towels on the floor until they ran out, you would turn off the tap.

    Reply
  28. admin (Post author)

    I would say nationally yes of course there is an impact and this affects things locally. But other factors are at work – if you have a higher divorce rate for example that increases the demand. And in a world where most adults have a car that will have an impact too.

    The really big increase in Rayleighs population was quite a long time ago – in the fifties (we’ll post something on this tonight) Can you guess what the infrastructure problem was that caused our MP to complain in 1959? It wasn’t roads schools or medical….

    Reply
  29. Greenbelt

    I often wonder how many of these new houses will be occupied by existing residents of Rochford District. My guess is that the trend, where incomers to the district, come from areas beyond our western boundary and as far west as east London, will continue. Perhaps the rule that requires each estate to have 35% affordable houses should be extended to include a requirement that 35% of all dwellings on every new estate are reserved for existing long term residents of the Rochford District.

    Reply
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