How Lots Of Residents, A Few Councillors, And The Government Stopped The Council’s Proposals

We really should have a quiet celebration this weekend. Because last week the District Council abandoned the housing figures it had originally proposed. These were the figures that gave almost half – 1800 houses – to Rayleigh.

At the “Local Development Framework Sub-Committee “- the officers gave councillors a written report -you can download a copy of it here.

Here’s a few extracts from the report – (with our comments underneath!)

In June and July 2007, the draft Core Strategy was subjected to 6 weeks of
consultation, which included a series of public participation events, letters to
statutory consultees and those registered on a database, school workshops,
and information on the Council?s website.

…. The council was only going to have one exhibition in Rayleigh – on a Sunday afternoon. But councillors like Ron Oatham and Tony Humphries protested so strongly that they added an extra exhibition during the week.

A key conclusion from the consultation is that a further round of public consultation would be appropriate before the preparation of the submission version of the plan.

… The public were outraged. Especially in West Rayleigh, people felt that we’d already had enough. So the Conservative group knew they had to abandon these plans otherwise it would be political suicide for them here. Especially after seeing Jackie Dillnutt win for us in May!

The volume of people attending the exhibitions varied from venue to venue, with some unexpectedly high turnouts in certain locations.

The council didn’t fully understand that a lot of residents were really concerned about this.

The issue that by far and away elicited the most responses was that of the location and numbers of new housing. 459 representations related to this issue, 327 of which were objections, 114 comments and 18 in support. A large proportion of representations on this section were people objecting to addition development in their area of residence, the majority of which were objections to the allocation for Rayleigh, or respondents promoting development o n particular sites.

Like we said, people were really upset about this.

…responses from statutory consultees, [including Government Office for the East of England ], suggest that more detail is required at the Core Strategy Preferred Options stage than was provided in the Council?s draft. Comments from GO East suggest there is a high risk that if the Council were to proceed to Submission Stage from this Preferred Options draft the Core Strategy would ultimately be found unsound. In addition, a report published by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2007, explains the importance of ensuring that evidence is complete on the submission of the plan.

Now this is really important . It turns out that the government was also unhappy that there wasn’t enough detail in the council’s document – there’s wasn’t any sound basis for the 1800 figure and all the others. It shows that Cllrs Chris Black and John Mason werreright when they complained about a lack of detail back in the spring!

The production of a revised Core Strategy Preferred Options document and subsequent community involvement exercises, will be largely undertaken by the Council?s Planning Policy Team. However, resources will be required to prepare additional baseline reports, including a retail study, pitch/open space provision, and sustainability appraisal and environmental assessment of the revised document. The costs of this work can currently be met from Planning Delivery Grant.

the council will probably need to hire consultants to do this work

The delay in producing the submission version of the Core Strategy requires a revision to the LDS timetable and this may impact on the award of Planning Delivery Grant.

This delay is going to cause the council – and residents – money, because the government will redce it’s grant to us because the council is falling behind schedule .

It is proposed that the Sub-Committee recommends
That a revised Core Strategy Preferred Options document be prepared, having regard to the results of recent community involvement, and an improved evidence base.

So there is a going to be ANOTHER consultation – probably next spring. It looks like it will suggest more than one option ( the Conservatives new figures will be one of those options). It also looks likely that it will go into much more detail – suggesting actual sites, with numbers of houses and numbers of flats etc

There’s a long way to go yet, but it seems that all the pressure we put on the Conservatives and all the effort to keep the issue high profile has paid off. Now there’s the possibility of getting some cross-party co-operation on this. In a future post we’ll look at the council’s “Urban Capacity Study” which will have a big influence on where homes will be built.

  • http://www.girltalk.pcs-net.com/rol/options-for-housing-allocation-rochford-district/

    A successful campaign for Rayleigh creates the need for other campaigns elsewhere. Circa 1100 houses not placed in Rayleigh will have to be built elsewhere. Who loses out? I’ll do the sums later and tell the unlucky residents but here is the Tory allocation.

    SW Hullbridge 450
    Ashingdon and E Rochford 500
    W Rochford 550
    NE of Rochford 75
    Hawkwell 365
    NW Rayleigh 190
    SW Rayleigh 550
    Canewdon 165
    Stambridge 75
    Great Wakering 365
    Hockley 36

    The allocation for Hockley/Hawkwell of 400 suddenly gets split 365 Hawkwell and ONLY 36 for Hockley where influential Tory and Deputy Leader Councillor Keith Hudson both lives and has his Ward. I have no doubt that given the attendance at the Central Area Committee of many residents about this issue there will be a vigorous campaign. Councillor Hudson said that the Conservative Party proposal on Options had not decided on which sites had been chosen by the Tories. One resident actually said that she did not believe him. No do I. The most likely site is land South of Mount Bovers Lane. Farmland owned by Rankin Farms I think. All the other sites are on minor roads with significant access problems and are not sustainable but the land South of Mount Bovers Lane comes straight off the B1013.

    But there is no need for this with landowners having notified the Council of a number of small sites in Hockley. 20 sites at 20 houses = 400. 36? Think gain Councillor Hudson. If you exclude these small sites then if they are granted planning permission then all they will be is a windfall. But if these sites are chosen in the allocation they count towards the 3300.

    Because the Conservative Party had put forward Options the District Council has accepted that the other political parties represented on the District Council could also submit their own proposals for Options by 30 September 2007. That means the Rochford District Residents and the Lib Dems.

    Rochford Residents submitted their request for a major Option to be considered. Southend has been congratulated by the Government for including a Southend Relief Road. This cannot be left out of the public consultation because all 3300 houses could be built in a spatial relationship to this new infrastructure in Rochford District in one place. Rochford Residents don’t recommend this but it must be considered both by experts and the public. If we do not that the Government will insist that Rochford Council does another consultation to include it making it likely that the new allocation will not start in 2011 !! Perhaps that would be a better idea? No because many thousands of pounds of your money will have been wasted.

    Councillor John Mason
    Hawkwell West
    Rochford Residents

  • Hello

    I promised in my earlier comment to look at the original the housing allocations actually put forward to the public in the recent consultation and find out which parts of the Rochford District are the unlucky ones which receive the increase of 1060 houses from the Conservative Party resulting from the reduction in the allocation to Rayleigh.

    Rochford and Ashingdon increased by only 125 from 1000 to 1125

    Hawkwell and Hockley 400 (no change but Hawkwell West gets the lot !!)

    Smaller Settlements (Hullbridge,Canewdon,Stambridge & Great Wakering) increased by a MASSIVE 555 to 1055

    The difference between the increased allocation to the rest of the District of 1060 and the actual allocated increase of 680, namely 380 is, presumably, made up of the extra houses that are already planned to be built.

    I hope this helps everyone in Rochford District understand what happens when a reduction is agreed in one place. And the decrease of 1060 was only an increase of 680 elsewhere.

    Councillor John Mason
    Hawkwell West
    Rochford REsidents

    PS – hope my sums are right !!

  • John , first of all thanks for your comments.

    I think that, even if I came from another part of the district, I would have said that the 1800 figure for Rayleigh was too high….

    Yes , the reduction for Rayleigh causes increases for elesewhere, but that’s because it is a fairer distribution.

  • Hi Admin

    As you have highlighted yourself, Go-East (The Government) requires the approach to an LDF and Core Plan to be an objective plan based on the sound principles of professional spatial planning and sustainability. From the information above regarding the Conservative Party Options there is more than an argument from other areas in Rochford District to say that the Conservative Party version is “unfair” as well. There are many, many options which could be fairer (in your words). My concern is that the calls of “unfair” will continue to dominate the consultation. Seemingly the Conservative Party seem to be publicly happy for a succession of areas to call the allocation proposed unfair and if strong enough then consult, consult, consult again and again. The Lib Dems followed my lead in Council in agreeing that there was insufficient detail in the consultation to justify ANY of the allocations. Until there is a detailed objective spatial plan with demonstrated sustainability as rightly required by Go-East all the current options are pure guesswork even if you could fit the allocations to sites currently on offer for development. Remember it could be that an objective study returns to an allocation in Rayleigh of 2000 or more new houses. Political expediency to get the heat off springs to my cynical mind.

    Affordable Housing Policies are hardly in the debate and they need to be for future generations. Unless we do then we will have the same round of requirements for more Affordable Housing in another 10 years.

    I look forward to seeing the Lib Dem Option Option for the whole of the Rochford District hoping that you will not fail to do so now the Rayleigh allocation is seemingly solved.

    John Mason
    District Councillor for Hawkwell West
    Rochford Residents

  • Just want to say a big thankyou to Chris and Ron for pressing so hard to get a fairer distribution of all these houses.

    Of course, the possible reduction for Rayleigh means extras for most other areas, but I hope that these,again, can be fairly distributed – with NO political bias and NIMBYISM. John Mason’s information above is interesting and very useful.

    I attended the Local Development Framework meeting last Thursday and ,this time, got the feeling that Members were certainly of a much more open mindset and wanted to get it right. I do believe that if residents of all districts continue to show an interest by attending these meetings and, when the next round of consultations come up, have their say, Members will have to continue to take notice of us.