onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


January 20th, 2015

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


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 for more information.

January 19th, 2015

Planning Application Confirmed For The 29th


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.

January 18th, 2015

Holocaust Day 2015

From the District Council website:


Picture - Keep the Memory Alive - Holocaust Memorial Day 2015


Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 – 12:30pm


To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 Rochford District Council will be holding a public service at the Memorial to Victims of Persecution Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh followed by a short film and reading in The Mill Arts and Events Centre on Tuesday, 27 January at 12:30 pm

The Chairman of the Council would like to invite you, your family and friends to attend the service

Please RSVP to Lynn Rackley, Civic Officer

Phone: 01702 318144

January 17th, 2015

A Question Of Floor Space, A Question Of Localism

question mark

There’s a planning application in Hockley to construct a two bedroom bungalow. The application number is 14/00807/FUL and the intention is to build in the rear garden of 28 Great Eastern Avenue but fronting directly onto Gladstone Road.

What’s interesting is that last month the council adopted policies about minimum floorspace in new homes. The floorspace in this application is below that standard, but officers are still recommending approval . The reason? The national government is going to enforce a national policy sometime in the future, which allow smaller homes. So much for localism! It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a general election soon- a new government might do something different.

The application will be passed unless at least one councillor calls it in to the Development Committee by Wednesday.

You can download the officers report here (it’s the third item).
This is the key extract from the officer’s report:

Policy DM4 of the Development Management Document 2014 refers to the
need for new dwellings to adhere to minimum habitable floor space standards
and a house with two bedrooms to provide 77m². Habitable floorspace
includes bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens but not hallways and
bathrooms. The proposed dwelling would be somewhat less than the recently
adopted figure with a habitable floorspace of 62m².
The preamble to policy DM4 also requires a floor to ceiling clearance of 2.5m
and the proposed section drawings indicate only 2.4m is achieved.
The Government has however proposed a national space standard as part of the Housing
Standards Review (2013) which differs from the standard that Policy DM4
seeks to achieve in several respects. The two standards are calculated
slightly differently with the national standard proposed to be calculated on
Gross Internal Area including voids, stairs and all rooms whereas the local
policy standard incorporates only certain ‘habitable rooms’. In some cases the
proposed national space standard would be less generous than the local
policy requirement.
Government advice is however clear that, once in force,Local Authorities
will not be allowed to require a more generous space standard than
the national space standard. The proposed national space standard for a
single storey two bed dwelling would be 70m² and as the
proposed dwelling would have a gross internal area of 77m² it would be
compliant with this. It is therefore considered reasonable to relax the
requirements of Policy DM4 in this instance.

January 16th, 2015

Application To Remove Cabinet in Rochford……

It was intriguing to see there’s a planning application to remove an existing cabinet in Rochford, but actually it’s nothing to do with replacing the council leadership !   It’s a more serious matter regarding a mobile phone mas:


Application No : 14/00777/FUL
Zoning : Car Parking
Parish : Rochford Parish Council
Location : Telecommunications Mast 4925 At Rochford Railway
Station Car Park West Street
Proposal :
Remove the existing monopole and replace it with a
new 17.5m monopole & headframe which will support
6no. antennas & 2no. 0.3m dishes. Remove 1 no.
existing Cabinet and replace it with 2no. new Cabinets

It is recommended for refusal:

1 The proposed development by virtue of the monopole diameter and the
number, size and bulk of the antenna arrangement proposed is
considered to have an adverse impact on the character and
appearance of this part of the Rochford Conservation Area. Given the
appearanceand height of the proposal, it would be open to views over
a wide area damaging the wider character and integrity of the Rochford
Conservation Area and failing to enhance or preserve the
Conservation Area. As such the development is considered to be
contrary to policy UT4 of the Rochford District Replacement Local Plan
2006, policy CP2 of the Rochford District Council Local Development
Framework adopted Core Strategy and Policy DM6 to the Rochford
District Council Local Development Framework Development
Management Plan (2014)



January 15th, 2015

Meeting In Hullbridge

From the Rochford Independent Facebook Page:


Housing Development PUBLIC MEETING 25th Jan 2015

The HRA Committee have been able to book the HULLBRIDGE DAY CENTRE, Windermere Ave., (behind Riverside Medical Centre) for a Public Meeting Sunday 25th Jan from 14:00 till 16:00 in which they will present to the Community what they have been able to identify within the Outline Planning Application 14/0813/OUT to object to.

They will also be collecting residents letters of objection which they will deliver to RDC Planning Office before the 30th Jan 2015. This is a chance for the community to find out more information and ask questions.


January 14th, 2015

Could Be A Dark and Stormy Night…



From the County Council website:

Gale warnings issued for Essex

14 January 2015
The Met Office has issued severe gale warnings for Essex for today and tomorrow (Thursday 14 January).
Inland gusts may locally exceed 60mph close to the squally cold front, while gusts of 60 to 70mph seem likely at coastal sites in the south and west, as well as across hills. Gusts may exceed 75mph in the more exposed coastal locations.
For more information, visit the Met Office website.
For information about schools closures and travel advice, visit our winter service page.

January 13th, 2015

Serious Reading

We’re fairly busy at Onlinefocus Towers at the moment, studying planning documents and whatnot. So there’s less time to write.

But if you are in the mood for some serious reading, have a look here. It has information about the Rochford District Development Management Plan – basically the set of policies that guide councillors when deciding whether to approve or refuse planning applicatiosn. You can download it here. (Warning – 107 pages long)

January 12th, 2015

Tesco Car Park Application

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Tesco have applied to extend their car park in London Road by 5 spaces and widen the access.The application number is 14/00903/FUL – you can find it online by going to the council website here.

Neighbourhood consultations were sent out today – people should respond by Feb 2nd.

January 11th, 2015

Red and Green – Clashing Colours

Over the border in Southend West, things seem to be turning unfriendly between Labour and the Green Party.

To find out more, read the latest from Labour parliamentary candidate Julian Ware-Lane here.

January 10th, 2015

Help From The Council- And Some More Money Is Still Available For Voluntary Organisations…..

From the Echo:

GRATEFUL volunteers say their free advice service has been saved from closure after it was handed vital funding by their council.Rochford and Rayleigh Citizens Advice Bureau was given £67,000 by Rochford District Council. The council is giving more than £100,000 to voluntary groups across south Essex.
The CAB helps more than 3,000 people a year. Sue Murray, chief executive of Rochford and Rayleigh CAB, said: “This money will enable us to provide a service. Without that funding and the support of the council, and they really do support us, we wouldn’t be able to provide any advice.”
Rayleigh, Rochford and District Association for Voluntary Service has been awarded £15,000. June Lumley, its chairman, said: “This grant will allow us to continue to support the hundreds of local volunteers and organisations which make such a difference on a daily basis.”—–
The funding will help support nine projects in the Rochford district, including buying equipment for disability sports sessions run from Stambridge Memorial Hall.
Rayleigh Age Concern will get some help towards buying a new boiler, while Fairview pre-school, in Rayleigh, will be given cash for a storage shed.
Local Scout and Cub groups will be able to improve their Scout Huts, refurbish toilets, buy a new trailer and waterproof their tents, and Rankins Cricket Club will be buying a new sightscreen.
More than £7,000 was left unallocated and the council is inviting applications for the remaining funding.
Jo McPherson, Rochford District Council’s councillor responsible for the community, said: “These organisations truly make a difference to the lives of residents.”
If you are a voluntary organisation and would like to apply for funding, contact Andrew Lowing, on 01702 318061 …

January 9th, 2015

Looking For A New Cat?


Rayleigh Cat Protection have their first homing show this Sunday;

Please don’t forget our first Homing Show of the year, being held this Sunday, 11 January at Smallgains Hall, Creek Road, Canvey, SS8 8QP. We’ll be there from 11am to 1.30pm, with lots of lovely cats looking for a new home, and a new start, in 2015.

However, you don’t have to wait until the Homing Show to offer a cat a home – we’d be delighted to hear from you before the Show. Please contact Yvonne on 01268 750831 for more information and to arrange the home-visit that will be needed before the cat or kitten is homed with you.

All our cats and kittens available for homing are in good health, microchipped, vaccinated and, dependent on their age, neutered. They also come covered by four weeks’ Pet Plan insurance (excess applies).

At the Show we also sell everything you need for your new cat or kitten, such as bowls, litter trays, collars and toys, plus Cats Protection gifts such as t shirts, Crazy Cat Lady t towels and mugs. Admission free but all donations welcome.

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February 2015
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We are Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Rochford 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

  • bruce smart: Thanks Linda the Council officials etc should be aware of the numbers involved and the disappointm...
  • Linda Kendall: Bruce . There are pictures and also views of the corridors packed with people. I will see if someone...
  • Jim Cripps: Bruce – my wife and daughter were outside , they spoke to the ECHO people and the coverage will be...
  • Jim Cripps: Sir , it is very simple , the Officers Report and recommendation failed to convince the majority of...
  • admin: I dont think the application has been submitted yet Jim…
  • The Mighty Oz: And there’s more, http://www.tele s/earth/country side/11080751/P lanning-rule...
  • The Mighty Oz: Surprised, Really !!! He should get a job with Euro Claggy, two complete idiots together… .
  • bruce smart: Any pictures of the 100 or so outside who were denied the opportunity to hear what was going on?
  • Jim Cripps: Chris , is there a link to RDC in order to lodge an objection – think this is overshadowed by the...
  • Jim Cripps: Has to be opposed on the same grounds ( Traffic / Flooding impacts ) and most important of all now with...
  • James Newport: [edited] Chris Black – you did very well last night considering scrutton’ s attempts at...
  • Jim Cripps: Nope – I did’nt follow that logic either , even the Chairman ask her to stick to the matter...
  • bruce smart: It is clear from the numbers that some Rayleigh Conservative members voted against the application....
  • James w: Chris @ 12 – yes you’re right Chris, it was nice and refreshing to see that councillors across...
  • Chris black: Bruce at 10- Understand what you are saying. The problem is that for these meetings a member of the...
  • Jim Cripps: For Mr A. Matthews ( Rawreth Parish ) – can we meet sometime soon , I listened very carefully to...
  • bruce smart: I knew who did speak as a member of the general public but my point is that neither Mark or Linda, due...
  • James w: I was lucky enough to get inside the ‘chamber& #8217; last night. Thought Chris Black did very well in...
  • admin: Actually Linda Kendall would have been an obvious choice to speak. but Mark Francois made a couple of very...
  • Linda Kendall: Well said Jim. In fact I think we should all, including our MP, be calling for a full Public Enquiry...
  • admin: Mark Francois spoke..
  • bruce smart: There must be comment on the fact that at least 100 people were not able to enter the meeting. I was...
  • Christine Paine: Good result, well done everyone who spoke against. They will be back though, we know that, but at...
  • admin: We will publish the list as soon as the minutes are on the council website…

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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

Join Your Local Team

If you read onlineFOCUS for a while you can see the kind of things we are trying to achieve locally. Maybe you would like to help us?

If you fancy helping us deliver leaflets, or actively campaigning for us at election time, or simply just helping behind the scenes with paperwork, please contact the onlineFOCUS team here.

“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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