Last Thursday, Rochford District Council voted to defer the application for 662 homes which had been put forward by Bloor Homes.
Both non members and members of Rochford District attended the meeting with all three Downhall & Rawreth Lib Dem Councillors in attendance.
Cllr Chris Stanley, who is a development committee member, and both Cllr Craig Cannell & Cllr James Newport all spoke on the application having taken much interest in the proceedings prior to the committee meeting.
Residents group, Rochford Supporters, spoke against the application primarily on the grounds of highways. With the Ashingdon Road, being heavily congested (not unlike Rawreth Lane and London Road here in Rayleigh) and safety concerns with a school on the road itself.
The main focus of the night did appear to be around the Highways matters and our Councillors had submitted several questions regarding the Highways assessment prior to the meeting to the Assistant Director, these remain unanswered. However, we did discover that traffic assessments CAN be challenged by the council. Albeit, than can become a costly exercise, it IS possible.
Highways matters were not however the only problem with the application. Cllr Stanley had uncovered that the flood report had only been carried out with 500 houses taken into account and not the 662 that Bloor propose. Good find Chris! – despite Chris’ questions to officers on this matter, this question remain AGAIN unanswered.
Opposition independent member, Cllr Wilkinson, moved for refusal but found himself without good enough reasons to gain support from other members of the committee and soon found out that the committee was more minded to defer the application given the huge levels of uncertainty in the evidence put forward in the application.
Now with these huge levels of uncertainty in the original application reports the Council could find itself in an unpresdented situation.
- If the Council challenges the Highways assessment that has been ‘rubber stamped’ by Essex Highways, will this set a precedence for future applications?
- Will the developer appeal the application and argue that Essex Highways has ‘approved’ the traffic assessment, which could be costly for the Council?
- Will the Conservatives be able to seen to ‘U-turn’ on their already agreed plans for the SER8 site allocation?
- Will ‘re-running’ the traffic assessment with an independent report be an option that the Conservatives consider simply because they don’t like the findings of the first one?
- Is this deferred position of the Conservative majority on the development committee an opportunity to ‘kick the can down the road’ until after the May election?
There are many problems that are now faced by the Council, not least, many of these options could cost the Council ‘a pretty penny’
We will update when we hear more from the planning department at RDC, sit tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!