So IS there a Proposal for a Road?

There seems to be a lot of manouevering before the scenes regarding some kind of a by-pass to help access to Southend. This would presumably be at the cost of going through Rochford’s Green Belt. But nothing is at all clear at the moment. Southend Council want a road, Teddy Taylor wants a road, Somebody in Eastern region wants a road, but there is no definite proposal at the moment.

If it helps , we show below a recent letter from the Head of Planning and Transportation at the Eastern Region, to the Chief Executive of Rochford District Council. The point that emerges is that some influential people at Eastern Region want a new route, and when the “Regional Spatial Stategy” is available for public consultation from December 8th, all of us with views on such a road should make our feelings cleaR.

Dear Paul,

I can assure you that I do consider enquiries from the public, parishes,
etc. most carefully, and I deal with these matters on behalf of the
Assembly in so far as they concern the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS)
and Regional Transport Strategy (RTS). I have received a number of
enquiries from people and organisations around the area, and have been
making clear that while there is a general proposal in the draft RSS,
there is no detailed scheme at present, and I refer enquirers to the two
highway authorities involved, i.e. Essex and Southend, for more detailed
matters.

You are correct that the ‘Southend Relief Road’ is not referred to by
name in either the RSS or the RTS. However, Policy TGSE3 of the draft
RSS refers to:

“upgrades to the M25, A127 and A13, (including links with the A130 and
strategic improvement on the Saddlers Farm junction) which form a
strategic transport ‘loop’ serving the sub-region, and provision of high
quality infrastructure links to London Southend Airport, and other
strategic sites to the eastern side of Southend”

and the RTS refers to a number of infrastructure investments in more
detail, but again does not refer to a relief road by name.

This has been in the ‘banked’ draft RSS since its approval by the
Assembly in February this year, and is in the recommendations –
unchanged – for the final draft RSS that will be put to the Assembly on
5 November next for approval and publication. The wording was produced
by the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership on behalf of EERA, and as
such it has been our understanding that all partners are signed up to
it. The work has also been supported by both the Thames Gateway
Strategic Framework and the London-Southend Transport Study (LOTS), and
as you know, it is both a regional and national priority to seek
regeneration and growth in the Thames Gateway, and the eastern part of
the Southend conurbation is an important part of the proposals.

I must also point out that in accordance with the Planning and
Compulsory Purchase Act, 2004, EERA sought advice from strategic
authorities on possible changes to the RSS. Neither Essex County
Council or Southend-on-Sea Borough Council proposed any changes to the
provisions for access to the east of Southend. Revisions to the draft
RSS were discussed at the Regional Planning Panel on 15 October last,
and again, no changes were requested in respect of this proposal.

The draft RSS wording is necessarily non-site specific because RSS must
confine itself to strategic level proposals while giving sufficient
guidance to the subsequent preparation of Local Transport Plans and
Local Development Documents. Thus the policy wording is designed to
encapsulate the options of both a new route and improvements to existing
corridors – though our understanding is that in practical terms, any
scheme is likely to be a combination of both approaches. I would agree,
however, that it was probably an over-simplification to refer to the
proposal as a ‘Southend Relief Road’, even though this is the
description widely used in the area. I can only apologise for the fact
that during a period of enormous work pressure we used the parish’s term
rather than ours.

I consider that the important message to put to the public and
stakeholders is that the RSS will be published for public consultation
on 8 December next (subject to formal approval by the Assembly on 5
November). This will enable the Parish Council and everyone else
concerned about this matter to see it in its proper context against the
full range of RSS proposals for the region, and to submit their comments
on this proposal.

Alan Moore