There a quite a few things that can go wrong with the housing figures, if the public and Lib Dem councillors aren’t vigilant.
First of all, the housing figures are due to be discussed at a couple of District Council committee meetings in April. Maybe there will be some nasty surprises there. It’s possible that officers might suggest a variation on the 740 figure for Rayleigh, for example.
Whilst councillors have to listen to officer advice, we don’t always have to follow it. For example , Ron Oatham and Great Wakering Conservative Colin Seagers insisted on keeping parking standards for new houses, even though they were advised that government policy wouldn’t allow it. It turned out in the end that government policy did allow it. So we still have parking standards…..
The Conservative Group could backtrack. After all, there’s been no council vote on their figures, just a publicly-stated proposal. Once the elections are over the Tories will have some new members, replacing old ones. They might well have a new leader.
And even if they make it an election promise to stick with fairer figures, they have broken promises in the past. For example, before they took control of the council they said:
?Residents throughout Rayleigh want pay-on-exit car parking in Webster?s Way now. We have had over 1400 replies from houses in Rayleigh – and over 70% want this system?. Yet Liberal councillors have refused to meet residents wishes. Rayleigh Conservatives believe people should have what they want – not be arrogantly disregarded by the Liberals. At the December Council meeting , Conservatives Councillors publicly promised to put pay-on-exit car parking into Webster?s Way.?
Of course, the Conservatives never did bring in pay-on-exit car parking….
The third problem is that the Government could intervene….. and give us a higher target….
But even if we get the council to stick to 740 for Rayleigh, and fair figures for other parts of the District as well, there are still problems. The number of homes on a site tends to creep up once permission is granted. For example, the original indication for the Park School was about 90 – but the final figure was about 57 percent higher. If we had a 57 percent increase on 740, that would bump the figure up to 1160. So we need councillors to be vigilant, to get design briefs agreed for each site, and make sure the right planning conditions are included.
Finally, we want to ensure over the next 12 years that we get the amenities we need to go with the extra housing we’ve already had, and are going to have. We need to learn from the council’s mistakes at the Park School site. It would be good to have a permanent sub-committee of feisty and determined councillors, to monitor the progress of all the development sites across the district, to ensure that all the amenities and facilities that are supposed to be provided actually are created….