A Question Answered….

A reader asked us recently, in regard to  our town centres:

Do RDC have a team that actively pursue large companies ( Next, John Lewis etc) with a view to getting them in this type of location?


Well we asked Mike Steptoe, Conservative councillor with the “Enterprise” portfolio, and he kindly passed on the following from officers:

The Council’s Economic Development Team work to assist local businesses to grow and develop, to promote new business start-ups, to nurture and inspire entrepreneurial talent, and to encourage existing businesses to relocate to the Rochford District.

In terms of encouraging existing businesses to relocate to the District this does include larger national companies and every effort is made to assist such business enquiries, we also work Invest Essex (part of ECC) who specialise in business relocation and expansion in Essex.

The Council will also continue to nurture home-grown small businesses, independent retailers and entrepreneurs.


Marks And Spencer Plan To Convert The Co-Op Into Two Units

For those people wondering what Marks and Spencer are really planning to do in Rayleigh, one of the applications on the latest ‘weekly list’ is a clue. It’s the last one in this document here. (starting on page 30).

These are the key paragraphs:

This application seeks planning consent for external alterations relating to the
change of the former The Co-operative Food store in Rayleigh to that of M&S
Simply Food. The store has a frontage of 74metres onto Eastwood Road and
lies within the Primary Shopping Frontage Area. It is outside of the Rayleigh
Conservation Area.
The proposed external alterations will facilitate the subdivision of the former
Co-operative store into two units with the larger unit to be occupied by an
M&S foodhall and the other sublet the occupier yet to be confirmed.


The Secret MultiBillionaire Of Asda Rayleigh (And The Rest Of The Walmart Empire!)

From the New York Times yesterday:

For years, Christy Walton, the widow of Walmart heir John T. Walton, was considered the richest woman in the world. The consensus gossip in plutocratic sewing circles was that Ms. Walton had inherited the bulk of her husband’s vast estate when he perished in a plane crash ten years ago. But according to court documents obtained by Bloomberg this morning, the late Walton left half of his then-$17 billion fortune to charity, a third to his son Lukas Walton, and the rest to his wife.

Now estimates of Christy Walton’s fortune have been revised down from $32 billion to a piddling $5 billion. But even as Bloomberg exposed Ms. Walton as a mere single-digit billionaire, they vaulted her son out of the huddled masses of trust-fund millionaires and into 103rd place on the list of the world’s richest people.

So, what do we know about this 29-year-old whose wealth outstrips that of many island nations?

He almost died of cancer as a small child: When Lukas was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer that quickly spread to his lungs. In an interview with the San Diego Tribune in 2008, Christy Walton credited her son’s miraculous recovery to a plant- and herb-based diet, with all the vegetables sourced from the family’s own home garden.

“I was giving Luke six glasses of juice daily — fruit or carrot. We would get organic pasta. I removed red meat and pork altogether, made my own mustard, mayo,” Walton told the paper. “In five months, Luke’s tumor was gone. I attribute that to a complete nutrition change.”….

…..He is enormously powerful: John Walton’s will ordered that his son be given the right to vote the estate’s general and limited partner units in Walton Enterprises, a holding company that owns a 50.2 percent stake in Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest private employer.

Full article here.

3 Applications In Rayleigh High Street Are All Passed

3 planning applications in Rayleigh High Street were all passed at last week’s Development Committee – but only after a lot of discussion.


sep high st1

This was the rather surprising application which would allow the landlord (at the end of the current leases) to convert the estate agent and “New Look” into a bigger retail unit and allow the use of Santander Bank as a cafe or restaurant. Many councillors felt that having a bank there added more vitality to the High Street than yet another eating place however there were no strong policies to base a refusal on, so it was passed.

This doesn’t mean that Santander will be replaced by a restaurant, it just allows the possibility.

sep high st2

This was an application to allow the old art shop at the entrance of Berry’s Arcade to become a financial or profession premises. There was more discussion here , with Cllrs Jack Lawmon and Chris Black arguing that the application should be refused. Council planning policy here is to have a target of 50% retail use in this part of the town centre but the figure was already down to 48%. However the scheme was passed by 12 votes to 10.

sep high st3

This was an application for the new Pizza Express to have outside tables. This was quite controversial, partly because Rayleigh Town Council were concerned about making the pavement too narrow. However it was given a temporary 3 year permission, with a condition that the tables and seating have to be removed on market days.

Rayleigh Town Centre :Three Purses Snatched; Marks And Spencer Delayed Until Early Next Year

The Echo has recently had two news stories about Rayleigh Town Centre.;

First of all, three elderly ladies have had their purses snatched, apparently from open shopping bags :

Det Sgt Lione added that they had no suspects for the purse snatchings yet, but they could be linked to previous shoplifting incidents where Eastern European suspects seem to be responsible.

She said: “We have had a few incidents over the last six months and it has mostly been Eastern Europen suspects.

“It does appear that Rayleigh is being targeted at the moment.

“We are trying as much as possible to patrol the High Street on market days and give advice to elderly shoppers.”

Purse chains and bells are available to collect at Rayleigh Police Station.

Secondly, the opening of Marks and Spencers is now scheduled for early next year:

A HUGE new M&S food store being built in Rayleigh will not open until early next year.

The new Marks and Spencer store is replacing the former Co- Op supermarket, in Eastwood Road.

However, it emerged asbestos has been found in the building, which is now being removed.

M&S has denied the discovery has delayed the opening of the store, but it does mean Rayleigh is without a town centre supermarket until next year.

A spokesman for Marks and Spencer said: “We always planned to open next year and we are on track to do so.

“The management of asbestos is very common in dealing with buildings built before the Nineties. It has not affected the launch date…..”

New Planning Application In Rayleigh High Street

There’s a new planning application that’s recently come in. It’s for 57 to 61 High Street Rayleigh, which we think includes Santander Bank, New Look and Elliott and Smith, the new estate agents. You can find the application on the council website here.

The application is described as:

Shopfront Alterations , Erection of First Floor Corridor and Change of Use From A2 (Bank) to A3 (Restaurant)

We’ve haven’t checked with officers on this but the documents indicate a change from a mix of banking and retail to a mix of retail and restaurants:

santander 2

santander 1

M&S In Rayleigh ?

Hot on the heels of Marks and Spencer having a food outlet at a petrol station in Rawreth (opening this month), there’s some unofficial reports on the Rayleigh Action Group Facebook page that M&S are taking over the Co-op in Eastwood Road, probably as a food store.

This should be quite a boost to the High Street… a Marks and Spencers in Rayleigh has been on quite a few people’s wish-list for decades…. though it would be good if they had a clothes range too..

The Survey Results

Here are the results of the survey for people who live in the Rawreth Lane area. Thanks again to everyone who helped. The first question was about how many of people’s shopping trips from home by car were to ASDA in Priory Chase. We had 87 responses:

survey 1

If you treat “almost all” as being 100%, and “almost none” as being zero , we can calculate a figure of about 58% of these trips being to ASDA. Slightly lower than Countryside’s prediction of 63% , but not vastly different.


The second question was about where people who mostly shop at ASDA have as their second choice place:

survey 2

The third question was where people go shopping who don’t have ASDA as their first choice:

survey 3

Sainsbury is the clear ‘winner’ here, and few people do food shopping in Rayleigh Town Centre, which is a bit different to Countryside’s estimates:



An Experimental Survey – Where Do Residents Who Live Around Rawreth Lane Go Shopping?

If you look at the traffic impact assessments from Countryside, they predict that most of the traffic from their 500 dwellings will go via London Road, instead of Rawreth Lane. On this basis they predict that the new homes will only have a tiny impact on the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction. In fact they predict only 7 extra vehicles in the morning peak and 8 in the evening peak!

Obviously, Countryside have to make some assumptions before they can prepare these figures. One of them is about where people in the new homes will shop. They predict that 63% of their shopping will be done at the nearby Asda:

shoppingWe are wondering just how realistic that 63% figure is. It might give us a clue about how accurate their other assumptions are. So if you live on Rawreth Lane, or on Downhall Park Way, or on one of the many side roads , we’d be interested to know where you go shopping. So, after about 11 years of onlineFOCUS, here’s our first ever survey. We are not sure how well it work , or if anyone will answer, but let’s try it…


Have You Been In The New M&Co ?


Have any of our readers been in the new-style M&Co – what do you think?

This is how it was reported in the press:

A CLOTHING chain’s Rayleigh branch will be one of the first in the country to get a makeover.
Womenswear company M&Co’s High Street shop will re-open on Wednesday, September 3 with a new look and the promise of “a complete shopping experience”.
Staff are being re-trained and some of them will act as in-store “style advisers”.
iPads will be provided to allow customers to browse the company’s full range online and order what they want into the store.
The fitting rooms have been completely revamped to offer more space to relax and try on the latest look.
New shop fittings will also make the store more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly….
….The company says the new-look store will used as its flagship branch, with international customers encouraged to visit it to find out about its business and range of clothes.