The District Council committee meeting on next Tuesday evening looks like being an important one. There’s a lot of paperwork – well over a hundred pages. Most of it deals with the council’s Core Strategy on planning for the next 15 years or more. Nothing will be decided for certain on Tuesday evening – there’s some public consulation to be done first. But it will give a good indication as to where the council will allow 3,000 extra homes to be built up to the year 2021.
So where are all the houses going to go? Opinion seems to be splitting three ways:
The Liberal Democrat District Councillors – Chris Black, Ron Oatham, Chris and June Lumley- have been saying for some time that West Rayleigh and Rawreth musn’t be swamped again. There should be “Fair Shares for All”.
Some Conservatives have been arguing that nearly all the housing should be built in one place – Rawreth. This is something that we are firmly against. To begin with, Rawreth has a special character that should be preserved. The District Council has an abysmal record of providing extra amenities in West Rayleigh in the last 5 years, and we doubt whether they’d do better in the future. Crucially , a lot of the Rawreth area is vulnerable to flooding, as this map from the environment agency shows:
The council officer recommendation is that 90 percent of the housing should be concentrated around the largest build-up areas of the District – Rayleigh, Rochford, Hockley ,Hawkwell and Ashingdon. About 10 percent should go to Hullbridge, Great Wakering and Canewdon. There would probably be none at all in places like Stambridge and Paglesham. (Rawreth doesn’t get a mention at all, which seems odd. When the planners say “Build in Rayleigh”, do they mean “Build in Rawreth?”).
A lot of councillors have been keeping fairly quiet on the subject. However, according to the Evening Echo , senior Tory Tony Humphries is now in support of spreading out the housing through every part of the district. We also understand that junior councillor James Cottis wants to see some housing in the rural locations for local people.
It’s hopeful that other councillors are coming round to our way of thinking. It should,’t be a party political issue… Perhaps we can get a reasonable strategy that would be fair to every part of the district.
It would be good to know what form the public consultation will take so that all interested parties can contribute their opinions to the debate.
Good question Jackie
I undestand that at this stage there will be a fairly quick consultation:
A big Rochford District Matters article and questionnaire
Council Press release
Version on the Council website with questionnaire
Letter some standard consultees
The consultation period will be brief (3 weeks) to allow for this matter
to be reported back to councillors before the end of the year .
The document that is produced from this will then go to to a more thorough consultation, 6 weeks long with a roadshow, press releases, web version,
hard copies, library copies, etc.
Of course, how thorough it is depends on the efforts of residents. A lot of residents – including one lady I spoke to last night – are deeply cynical about this kind of exercise. But I think that residents can make a real difference if they are kept informed.