At last night’s meeting there were actually more residents in the public gallery than there were councillors (14 members of the public and 9 councillors). The meeting lasted more than 2 hours and we hope that the people watching found it useful.
The meeting dealt with the District Council’s “Core Strategy” until the year 2021 . That means housing figures, intrastructure, the quality of house design, affordable housing and much more… It’s impossible to mention everything that happened, but here’s a summary:
Terry Cutmore , the leader of the Tory group, spoke the most and at least one of the residents watching was quite impressed, saying that he had clearly “done his homework beforehand”. He made the point that the government was forcing us to allow 4600 houses to be built in the district between 2001-2021. Terry complained about the lack of democracy in all this.
Young Tory James Cottis said that the District would grind to a halt because of the extra development.
Independent councillor John Mason asked the most penetrating question. The government was forcing us to allow the building of 4600 houses in the district but where did the figures of 1800 for Rayleigh, 1000 for Rochford/Ashingdon come from? He wanted to know what was the logic behind these figures. The answer from the Head of Planning , Shaun Scrutton, was that officers had come up with these figures. This was done partly by giving the most housing to be biggest towns and villages, and partly by judging what the capacity was around the edge of each of these places.
Chris Black said that this wasn’t good enough. When we had a planning application for ,say, a bungalow in Ashingdon, we had a full officers report giving us all the information. But we were being asked to allow 1800 houses in Rayleigh without any information at all!!!
Chris insisted on a vote. The Tories won the vote by 4 to 2. The 4 voting for were Terry Cutmore, Phil Capon, James Cottis and John Pullen. The 2 against were Chris Black and John Mason.
So now the council will go out to public consultation on a document that includes 1800 houses for Rayleigh, 1000 for Rochford/Ashingdon and 400 for Hockley/ Hawkwell without giving any reasoning. . Let’s see what the public makes of that.