A Couple Of Close Votes




At the Development Committee tonight, both applications were passed 7-5.

The Folly Lane, Hockley , application was particularly contentious, as the Core Strategy indicated 50 dwellings for the site but 75 were proposed. Approval was moved by Heather Glynn, seconded ny Terry Cutmore and passed 7-5. The 5 who voted against were Christine Mason, John Mason, Chris Black , John Hayter and Mike Carter.

The London Hill, Rayleigh, application for three 5-bedroomed houses prompted a finely-balanced debate. It just about met with our policies, although the council’s conservation adviser recommended refusal on grounds of bulk and scale, and it was borderline on the car parking policy. Chris Black moved refusal on grounds of bulk, the motion was seconded by Heather Glynn but failed 7-5. Christine Mason, John Mason and Johhn Hayter also voted for refusal

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  • So, a clear indication of why the committee was redesigned as 13 seats , cabinet driven decisions via the 7 party faithful obeying the whip – it will be a regular feature……..

  • 15/00599/FUL – POND CHASE NURSERY, FOLLY LANE, HOCKLEY, SS5 4SR – ERECTION OF 70 DWELLINGS was passed last night.

    There was an interesting set of paragraphs in the Council Report which, to my mind, failed to provide any numeric justification for increasing the number of allocated dwellings in the Core Strategy from 50 to 70.

    This is what should have been proven as required by a Government Planning Inspector;

    “The additional number of dwellings are required to maintain a five year land supply;
    The additional number of dwellings to be provided on the site is required to compensate for a shortfall of dwellings that had been projected to be delivered within the location identified in the adopted Core Strategy.”

    Instead there was a subjective statement as follows;

    “The planning statement goes on to state that it is acknowledged within the report that there have been delays in bringing forward some allocated sites, including Hall Road and Stambridge Mills and the West Rayleigh and West Hullbridge sites and that the monitoring report also acknowledges that a five year supply can only realistically be achieved by bringing forward post-2021 sites.”

    The Conservatives who brought in the Core Strategy for Housing always proclaimed that we must have a 5 Year land supply to protect us from predatory developers who could use the lack of a 5 Year Supply to argue that their development should take precedence over those agreed by the Council.

    So are we in that position now freely admitted in a Council Report?

    So can we expect now developments like the unwelcome Coombes Farm development to come back to fill the shortfall?

    Or will the density of those already seemingly agreed in the Core Strategy increase to 46 per hectare as projected on a site in Hawkwell?

  • Same old, same old – years of Site construction traffic on a road ( Hockley Rd )
    That already struggles to cope , another of Hockley Councillor ( K Hudson ) pledges – “that the road issues will need to be resolved before any development”. OK that statement was related to Bullwood Hall development,
    that is now approved so probably two lots of site construction traffic heading your way……but as we all know it’s a “Done Deal”.

  • “Delay in bringing forward some allocated sites” ( including Hullbridge ) – so who has delayed that one ? , first submitted Dec 2014, and was to be before Development Committee July 2015, that was scrapped and no news since.
    Seems to me RDC have a part in the delaying tactics , the application being so
    poor in so many respects that the developer is being helped to get it up to an
    “Approvable” level……?

  • Yes, Jim and the Officers of the Council have full and sole control over the delays which are based on Formal Planning Agreements between the Council and the Developer which continuously extend the date by which the Decision must be made. Councillor do not know why the delays are necessary and neither are Councillors ever consulted. I have asked for a full formal review of all delegations to Officers but it has not taken place (Labour is in the Chair [appointed solely by the Conservatives] and a Conservative is Vice Chair so these people must be to blame.) These sort of Planning Agreements are not even listed in the Delegations in the Constitution so to my mind are ultra vires. Having pointed this out to the Officer in charge of Democracy in the Council still no action has been taken. This needs to get into the Press. There is more to come but I think that in terms of ethics I am unable to say at the moment…………but soon.

  • This is something I can say because I have exchanged an open email with our new Planning Chief.

    The SHMA (Strategic Market Housing Assessment which determines the number of new houses in (for our local purposes) Southend, Castle Point, Basildon and Rochford was supposed to be published in December.

    But it has not been published and we do not know why except that RDC Members were promised a draft early in the New Year.

    This has not happened either.

    Officer “This matter has been further delayed and I will provide a further update when I have this information. I had envisaged using the Formal Planning Training session in February to provide members with both a short session on the SHMA and what it seeks to provide plus the document release.If we have it before this date I will of course send this document to all members.”

    Well obviously February will come and pass !!

    Castle Point and Basildon do not have Core Strategies as yet but Rochford dutifully (to the Conservative Government) adopted one in 2011 and you know how many new houses that have already been built and approved in our District whilst Castle Point and Basildon prevaricate.

    Castle Point and Basildon Councillors continue to argue amongst themselves.

    Neither will want the SHMA published at this stage and neither will Rochford given the May elections for the whole Council where theoretically overall control could change.

    What I can tell you is that Castle Point and Basildon have done well to delay their Core Strategies whilst Rochford has suffered. And there will be yet more suffering by our residents. More later unless someone else decides to breach ethics and confidentiality.

  • I can also tell you that one local residents’ association has written DIRECT to this Panel to ask why Rochford District Council has not yet put in place its legal requirement to put in place a Revision of its Core Strategy and whether the Panel is going to require that RDC complete this by early 2017 like the other local councils? There is another 1500/2000 houses to come unless the SHMA requires more but publication of that seems to have been delayed by the local councils.

    Residents have been told none of this up till now.

    The Department for Communities and Local Government said 276 local authorities had published Local Plans, with 216 adopted so far. More than a third of local planning authorities had accordingly yet to adopt plans.

    The DCLG said the panel would consider how the process could be simplified “with the aim of slashing the amount of time it takes for local authorities to get them in place.

    “This will provide greater certainty to communities regarding plans for new homes and infrastructure in their area, while speeding up the planning process so developers can get on site quicker.”

    The other members of the panel are:
    · John Rhodes of planning consultants Quod (chair);
    · Adrian Penfold from developers British Land;
    · Cllr Toby Elliott from Swindon Borough Council;
    · Keith Holland, a retired Senior Planning Inspector;
    · Liz Peace, formerly of the British Property Federation;
    · John Howell MP, member for Henley;
    · Derek Stebbing, Local Authority Plans Manager for Chelmsford City Council.

    The DCLG said the panel’s remit would be broad and cover any aspect of the Local Plan-making process that they feel is relevant. The panel is expected to report in the New Year.

    Councils have until early 2017 to produce Local Plans. In cases where no Local Plan has been produced the Government will intervene to arrange for a Local Plan to be written, in consultation with local people.
    The Department has previously written to the Planning inspectorate urging them to take a pragmatic approach to examining Local Plans.

    Brandon Lewis acknowledged that it was “fair to say” that the process of getting Local Plans in place would sometimes be lengthy and complicated.

    “That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need,” he said.

    • More homes for the rich. Built by the large multi national developers,instead of our local developers. These developments will just swamp and completely change the current local communities.
      Still, its sure to be well paid work for those who are paid to operate the rubber stamps for their paymasters.
      These developments are just too big. It is the wrong type of development. Existing communities would be better served by small (more numerous) developments. They integrate better with what already exists (communities AND infrastructure), provide jobs and distribute wealth locally. However RDC’s preferred type of developer do not like these as they will not maximize their profit margins.

    • A panel of experts who will assist local authorities in producing plans for large multi national developers to deliver huge new estates of homes where is best suits them, despite current green belt legislation, existing infrastructure or the objections of existing local communities.
      I think the word streamlining should be replaced by the word railroading.

  • Thanks for your input here John, we seem to be heading for the worst of both worlds – where we have a core strategy that allows development in places like “North of London Road” but still allows developers to swoop in elsewhere. And that’s the whole point of having a strategy, to keep some kind of control! Even to actually plan things like infrastructure properly. Meanwhile the panel of councillors that is supposed to deal with this hasn’t met for ages !

  • Seems to me this should be the platform item that prospective ( any non Tory )
    candidates campaign on in the coming May Council elections – the seats to target are those who now sit on the ‘reduced’ Development Committee I’ve:-
    Cllr Ward and Co…..

    • Not really. After the May elections there will be 39 councillors , 3 elected from each of 13 three-member wards. As there are 13 seats on the committee , this would allow one member from each ward. However there are also pro-rata rules for splitting the seats between parties , and things could be complicated if some wards end up with a mixture of councillors from different parties.

      In any case we should target our efforts on where we are most likely to win.

  • Winning the same seats again will not change the status quo, only inroads into the Tory majority will see a more representative ( diverse ) Council Chamber –
    Unfortunately the electorate tend to vote ‘party wise’ at Council elections when
    it is actually an opportunity to vote differently ( ie: for someone who represents your views locally ) – seems to me everybody is sitting too comfortably.

    • You are right Jim, we must try to make gains. But target seats should be selected on where we (and I use ‘we’ in a very broad sense, not just us guys with yellow rosettes) are most likely to win. There is still time for new candidates to come forward, so if anyone out there wants to get involved and make a difference, please contact us….

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