A Chance For Dialogue

Chris and Ron recently received a letter from Coral, who are applying for permission to build at the front of the Asda site. With their permission, we are printing most of the letter below.

As councillors we have to keep an open mind in advance of the council committee meeting (whenever that is). We won’t be commenting here ourselves, except perhaps to deal with any factual errors.

But if we can start a dialogue between the applicants and residents , that could be useful for everyone. So we welcome everyone’s comments – please approach this in a positive way.

Dear Councillor


I hope you will excuse the direct contact with you as the Ward Councillor for the Downhall and Rawreth Area. However, we thought that it would be helpful to write to provide you with some of the background and context to our proposals to provide the remaining element of the mixed use neighbourhood centre envisaged as part of the wider development of the former Park School Site on Rawreth Lane.

I would like to begin by stressing that we are not connected to Asda in anyway and indeed we have only recently become aware of the controversy that surrounded their previous proposals.

By way of background we are a small company that specialise in providing local/neighbourhood shopping facilities to meet the day to day shopping requirements of local communities. We pride ourselves in providing truly local facilities, somewhat in contrast, to larger one stop national multiple operators who appear to increasingly dominate the convenience retail market.

Due to our relatively small size and our speciality in providing local facilities we are often able to take forward proposals where others are struggling with viability. We have had to work hard to ensure that the proposals, as they are currently being promoted, could realistically come forward and provide a vital and viable shopping centre for the surrounding community.

By way of further background we benefit from an agreement to purchase the land from Asda Stores Ltd subject to planning permission which has given us the opportunity to promote the current planning application. Should we be successful we will develop the mixed use building for neighbourhood centre and incorporate a mix of uses that will ensure the sustainability and vibrancy of the centre. A lot of thought has been given to the actual mix of uses which is crucial to ensure that the aforementioned sustainability and vibrancy is achieved.

We have been careful to create sufficient flexibility within the description of the development to ensure the best prospects of letting all of the units. It will be in no ones interest to have voids within any proposal which will detract from overall aesthetics and undermine the parades role and function.

The most significant difference between the latest proposals and those granted on Appeal is the introduction of residential accommodation on the first and second floor. This is seen as essential to ensure that the proposals are viable and can be delivered. The introduction of residential above retail units is supported by both national and local policies and has additional benefit in ensuring that the aesthetic quality of the proposal is maintained in the long term and that natural surveillance is provided to ensure the security for both proposed and existing residents.

With regard to the overall design, we have been careful to emulate that which has been granted consent, although we are currently in discussions with officers of the Council over various details.

There is some debate in respect of whether or not affordable housing, as part of the scheme, is applicable given current policies within the Local Plan. However we have undertaken to provide 15% of units as affordable and are currently in discussions with officers with the Council?s Housing Department to establish the mechanism to take these forward. Individual parking spaces will be provided for all of the units proposed.

Our proposals give the neighbour centre the diversity of uses that should be expected of any sustainable neighbourhood centre. The mix of uses provide retailing, health/community use and residential accommodation (including much needed affordable units) that provide security to the centre.

I sincerely hope that you are able to support these proposals and we would be more than willing to come and discuss our position with you if that is seen as appropriate.

Yours sincerely,

About the author, admin

  • Perhaps they need to come and speak to existing residents. With all due respect to Chris & Ron, neither of you live in the immediate vacinity of this application and thus are not directly affected. We, the residents are the ones that will be directly affected by this scheme for many years to come.

  • Hi Corey, sorry for not making things clearer – the applicants have been reading previous comments on onlinefocus about their application, so anything raised here by residents , or explanations of the current situation re parking will definitely be seen by them. Hopefully they will feel free to reply here if they wish – I don’t think there’s anything in any council protocols to prevent this.

    Perhaps a face to face meeting might be possible.

  • I read the above letter from Coral with interest, and they should be congratulated for trying to start some dialogue with local residents. We as local residents would love a centre that has “sustainability and vibrancy” and also considers the needs of the local community, especially those of us right on their doorstep. Listening to residents who can then be involved and support local development has to be key to its success.

    I would be interested to know from Coral how they find out what the “day to day shopping requirements” are of the local community?

    I have some concerns regarding keeping the design as “flexible as possible”, I feel that as local residents we should have a say in specific details about the types of retail units ad the likely impact on traffic, parking and security in a very residential area.

    I will look out for further information from Coral……..

  • This site must NOT be developed any more…

    WIMPEY blatently lied to perspective home buyers and I was led to believe by my Solicitor and the WIMPEY Sales team that a small “Tesco Metro” sized shop was being proposed INSTEAD of the originally planned and then rejected Community shops NOT AS WELL AS! The ASDA which appeared can by no means be described as a small “Tesco Metro” sized shop.
    This was the third brand new property that I have purchased in 15 years but it will almost certainly be my last, as any faith that I foolishly had in the building trade has been totally destroyed.

    I for one boycotted ASDA until very recently. Sadly it looks like we are stuck with the carbuncle but the hike in fuel prices etc has reluctantly made ASDA a convienient “drop in” store for me…Newspapers, milk, bread etc…however I continue to do my main shop at Sainsburys because of the lack of quality and choice in ASDA. I wil not continue to shop at ASDA once the credit crunch is over…

    As ASDA caters for all of our “local/neighbourhood needs”. I can’t envisage that any further retail development could possibly be viable, without making other local retailers suffer…we have a Post Office, Newsagents, Hairdressers, Barbers, Two Takeaway outlets and a Pharmacy etc on Rawreth Lane, we DO NOT need any more…We DO NOT require another Newsagents – because sadly we are also now stuck with ASDA. We DO NOT require a bar or a cafe because we have these inside the Leisure Centre. There are plenty of Doctors in Rayleigh, another one here isn’t required.

    There are numerous shop units in Rayleigh standing empty making the town look increasingly sad and run down… Please, please, please promote Rayleigh High Street BEFORE even thinking about further retail developments elsewhere. I have written to the Council in the past because I suspect that there have been missed opportunities in Rayleigh’s past commercial development. The whole community would benefit for a more vibrant High Street.
    There may well be existing planning permission for this site however the retail development of this small peice of land is NOT required and certainly NOT wanted by local residents who already suffer from ASDA’s unneighbourly arrogance…and the nuisance caused by some of its yobbish younger patrons.

    If Coral are reluctant to call a public meeting to discuss their proposals perhaps they should at least send out questionaires to every household and existing business in the area?

    Say NO TO ASDA (developing OR selling this land) and say NO TO CORAL PROJECTS LTD.

  • When will we see an actual list of what they propose in detail …still they quote a mix of sustainable uses….we got caught this way before with Asda’s application!

    They say they are in full discussion with officers of RDC – that doesn’t fill me full of hope!

  • I am amazed at what I continue to hear re Wimpey. I work for the School Governing Body School and, right from the start when our re-location was mooted and other plans for the site were being discussed, we were ALWAYS told that the Asda store would be in excess of the size of Rayleigh Somerfield – in fact, I am sure we were given the square footage measurements.

    We were also aware of the plans- and saw drawings – for the “community parade” too.

    Why on earth did Wimpey not see fit to communicate this to potential new buyers, or at least train, what appears to have been, over zealous Sales Assistants seeking commission perhaps?

    I am aware that some are considering taking action against Wimpey – has anything come of this?

    Did the Local Authority Searches not show up the extent of the developent either? Are there causes for actions against Solicitors who did not properly communicate details of searches and restrictive covenants and their implications to buyers? I know that on the development where I live people were, and still are, totallly unaware of restrictive covenants and signs of their blatant breach are evident for all to see at every turn.

    I think it is inevitable that the land will be built on – just what goes there is the concern?

  • CCR, I went to the council offices in Rochford prior to exchange of contracts, so we are looking at a time window of December 2005. The plans we were shown at the council offices were for a parade of shops and for ASDA, only on a smaller scale. Had the plans been there for the ASDA we see today, trust me, we would not have purchased this property. From what I have gathered, Walmart, after getting application refusal after refusal went to central government submitting plans for a larger store which were then given approval. For us (and many others)Solicitor searches would have pulled up information available at that time, which was not for the store we see today. It is only houses purchased after the Summer of 2006 that would have seen the current stores plans. So for us we have no recourse with the conveyancer.

    The problem individuals face if thinking about action against Wimpeys is “proving without reasonable doubt” that the ASDA scenario was played down by Wimpeys. I compile cases to go to court everyday (I now investigate and prosecute benefit fraudsters), so do know a little about prosecution, and as the onus is on the plaintiff to prove their case, the only way there is likely to be any form of success with a court case is a group action against Wimpeys.

  • I have already expressed my feelings regarding this, including in a letter of objection. I have yet to receive any communication regarding my request for a site meeting though. I feel this would be a good opportunity for the residents to say their piece, to raise their concerns and to get the answers to their questions that so far are being ignored.

    Give us a site meeting… and soon!!

  • A group action against Wimpey is a fine idea but unfortunately I doubt that it would be successful as I believe that the Solicitors involved may have been complicit on some level with Wimpey’s deceit. I part exchanged my last house for my present one and part of the “deal” was getting legal fees etc paid for by Wimpey – this Solicitor was supposed to be independant but I fear this was not actually the case as the Solicitor was effectively being paid by Wimpey.
    I entered into this “deal” in June 2006 – but didn’t move in to my new home until November 2006. The only issues that my Solicitor pulled up as a result of “local searches” was the original rejected plans for the community shopping parade. I suspect that this Solicitor actually carried out the “local searches” only once and new Wimpey customers thereafter were simply provided with those original details which I assume they neglected to refresh or update??
    I was verbally advised by a Wimpey Sales advisor that ASDA were in the process of applying for planning permission for the “small Tesco Metro sized store” INSTEAD OF the rejected community shopping parade… I never got to see the revised plans and I therefore assumed that ASDA’s plans were still in the “blue sky thinking” phase…how wrong could I have been?
    I was totally in the dark about the community shopping parade still being on the cards until I received a FOCUS newsletter and logged onto this website a few weeks ago!!!

    If I had been a local person I would have probably known about these plans a lot sooner as I believe that the ECHO covered some of these issues in 2006 BUT sadly I was relocating to this area from “up north” so local reporting completely passed me by…
    As you have probably gathered by now I am totally opposed to any further retail development in Coppice Gate and I firmly believe that there is NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE on this issue!! I look forward to CORAL conducting full and proper local consultation into the viability and desire for this so called community parade. In addition I would like to see the local planning officers withdraw any existing planning consent with immediate effect as these plans are no longer credible.

  • PS:- I e-mailed the Rochford District Council Planning Policy Team on July 3rd regarding these proposals. This was acknowledged the next day by their Team Leader however I am still awaiting a full reply from Mike Shranks – Development Control North Team. The Council web site is not allowing me to comment on these proposals as it is not a current application…?

  • TWR, I am assuming you used the firm of solicitors in Colchester? We used the same firm, with the same deal (although we had already sold our house). When we looked at legal action against Wimpeys for a seperate matter, we consulted that firm of solicitors first (their name escapes me at the moment), they advised me that were not in a position to take on the case because of their “on going healthy relationship” with Wimpeys.

  • Corey, TWR and others, If you are thinking about legal action, it probably isn’t appropriate, for either your sakes or ours, to discuss it further on an open website! If you are wish , we can send you each others email addresses.

    As background, it might be worth clicking on the ‘archives’ button on the top of the page and them looking at Nov 2005 and Dec 2005.

    You will see that Asda’s first detailed scheme was refused at the end of Nov. Once that had happened, the only valid planning permission for the site was the outline planning permission which talked about neighbourhood uses (not a supermarket!!!).

    At the end of Dec 2005, Asda submitted a new application that had the same size store as previously, but without flats in the smaller building.

    So for nearly all of December 2005 , the only planning application that was approved was the outline scheme. But obviously there was a lot going on that Wimpey would have been aware of.

    As for the new scheme – don’t assume that Coral have been fully briefed by Asda on all the problems with parking or anything else!

  • After all I have just read I cannot believe that our planning department are not playing games with the residents. We have this debacle plus the golf club and the planning department have not put residents minds at rest at all. There is definately more than meets the eye here. What was that comment by a planning department employee recently, something about assuming there would not be that amount of deliveries to ASDA!!

  • Nic, as I assume most local residents work weekdays can I suggest you arrange this meeting in an evening after 19:00 hrs or on Saturday 9th August?

    Can I also ask you to notify (leaflet drop) all local residents and businesses ASAP as not everyone looks at this web page.

    Thank You.

  • TWR, it seems to me that there are two possible types of meeting.

    One is onsite with a small number of residents talking with the applicant. The applicant can explain things from his point of view; the residents can physically point out the problems on the site. It could be done in the open air, maybe with a coffee at the leisure to round things off. It wouldn’t work with a great crowd of people, so doing a leaflet wouldn’t be needed.

    The second type of meeting would be in a room somewhere – cocneivably at the cafe, or maybe in Rawreth Village Hall. The idea would be to have as many residents as possible, so a leaflet would be a very good idea and the onlinfocus team could look after that. The meeting would need chairing by someone – not a nearby resident, not a councillor.

    Which type do people think is best? Or should there be both?

  • Thanks Chris for your timely response.

    I can see an arguement for both sorts of meeting…however I am anxious that residents and local businesses are not left out because of a lack of information and I think that an initial public consultation meeting at the Leisure Centre is an excellent idea – CORAL should be in a position to demonstrate their proposals at this meeting by way of a presentation… I’m not sure who should chair this meeting though?

    IF a site meeting is still thought to be necessary after this first consultation then volunteers can be asked to attend a site meeting and report back to interested parties as required…

    What do others think?

  • Having been at the meeting that ASDA held with local residents, that type of meeting didn’t work. Too many people overtalking one another to get their point across or talking with their friends/nighbours made listening to what was said near on impossible.

    What might be a good idea is for a few of us to canvass local residents, take their questions, comments and opinions forward on their behalf. Mave the meeting as formal as possible in the sense that minutes are taken, these then typed up, copied and dropped through local residents doors. That way, everybody gets their questions and opinions heard (and you can be sure that some concerns will be identical across a range of residents), and everybody gets feedback. What can also happen is if people are out when they are canvassed, a flyer can be put through the door with a contact number/address so that they are not missed out on this exercise.

    How does that sound?

  • Why is there a sign on Rawreth Lane saying that 6 retail units are going to be ready for Sept. 2009? Has a decision been reached? If not then does someone know some inside information?

  • Bruce, that’s a good question. No decision has been reached, except the permission that was granted to asda for a similar sized building. But builders sometimes advertise homes for sale before they get planning permission as well.

    BTW , how would you fancy chairing the meeting between residents and Coral ?

  • I’m pleased to see the suggestion of a meeting has been taken up. Corey, I also like the idea of a canvassing exercise since the date that’s been suggested for the meeting is the day I jet off on my hols! At least with a canvassing exercise everyone gets the opportunity to speak and to put forward their concerns.

  • I have just had the following information confirmed for me:-

    The current application is for 11 two bedroomed and 8 one bdroomed flats at first and second floor.

    The Commercial units are proposed for a range of uses to the ground floor units in this development.

    A 1 is Shops,
    A 2 Financial and Professional such as Estate Agents, Banks and Betting Offices,
    A 3 is Restaurants, Snack Bars and Cafes,
    A 4 is specifically Pubs and Bars and
    A 5 is Takeaways.
    Use D1 which relates to the two storey element of the building could be used for halls, churches, clinics, health centres, creche, Museum, Gallery, or non – residential training.

    The application if allowed would on face value permit ALL or ANY of these unless specifically controlled by a condition to any approval that might be given.

    The application will hopefully be reported to committee on 28th August.

    There is still time for your comments to be received before that date…

  • Dear all,

    Have caught up with this discussion today, with interest.

    I think that Coral’s offer of a meeting is an appropriate and gracious one. I would endorse Chris Black’s second suggestion of a formal, public meeting in a community space, chaired by someone not resident or with any direct links to the interests discussed. To this end, should it be of any value, I can let you know that I would gladly make St Nicholas church building available for such a meeting (and could even stump up teas and coffees, gratis!). I would, further, be content to Chair the meeting, should a more suitable candidate not be forthcoming.

    Could I suggest, further, in thinking about this that you try to avoid a hasty arranging of this during August? Families with school-age children – at very least – are likely to be away on holidays during the month; some of those key-workers in the flats, also, I suspect may be in the same situation (esp. teachers, of whom I know a handful live in the flats). We should ensure that it is as wide a consultation as possible. Can I therefore suggest that ideal timing might be for leaflet drops through August, advertising an early evening meeting sometime in the second week of September? (I would also gladly make information available through the school when we re-convene on 2nd September, to spread the word further.)

    Do please discuss whether this is of use, or not. Go well,


    (The Revd Paul Trathen, Rector of Rawreth, Vice-Chair of Governors, St Nicholas Primary School)

  • Hi Paul and others.

    We understand the application is likely to come to the development control committee meeting on August 28th, so we should probably be thinking about a ‘discussion’ meeting in the third week of August.

  • I have no problem with my contact details going onto a leaflet drop to collate questions or concerns (or comments of praise!) for those unable to attend!

  • Any ideas where the parking will be for both the businesses and residential? I can’t imagine ASDA will allow parking in their car park when it’s too small to start with for their needs.

  • Hi Corey. Try going there on Bank Holidays, Easter or Xmas. It’s a mad house. A car park needs capacity for holidays and not just every day. What if ASDA don’t permit parking in their car park full stop?

  • Hi Richard,

    I live directly opposite the store, so pass the carpark at least twice every day, and have to say that even on Bank Holidays, Christmas and Easter, I have not seen the car park at capacity!

    The plans do show parking provision for the flats that will go above the shops, if memory serves it’s one space per flat.

    If I were to play devils adovate here for a minute. As this development only offers one space per flat, if people require two or more spaces, then perhaps they will need to consider alternative developments that offer more parking facilities.

    With regards to parking for the shops, perhaps what needs to be considered here is that this is being billed as a “neighbourhood” centre. Therefore, the target consumer are those that live on or just off Rawreth Lane, walking distance. Therefore, in essence, parking for shoppers is not really needed.

  • One space per flat – brilliant! So these flats are all going to be bought by retired couples whose visitors only ever use public transport. Excellent, there shouldn’t be any parking problems there, then.

    My 4 year old doesn’t have to start school until September, does the planning office need a hand?

  • I have only ever (including bank holidays) seen the car park half full, always seems to me there are plenty of parking spaces, and thats including the day it opened.

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