The Rochford Residents Party Now Objecting To The HAAP

Hawkwell Councillors Christine and John Mason of the Rochford Residents Party have published something on their website today about the Hockley Area Action Plan, the “HAAP”:

We are formally objecting to the Hockley Area Action Plan (the HAAP) which is published at the link below.

As District Councillors we believe that this plan will have adverse effects on the residents of our Ward, Hawkwell West Ward which adjoins The Hockley Village centre.
We are supporting the Hockley Residents? Association whose Chair, Brian Guyett has had input into this article.
We would encourage you to read the HAAP and consider whether you personally or your organisation will also object. You might like to think about the concerns we have.
Anyone who either shops or drives in Hockley should be concerned with the District Council?s recently published proposals for regenerating the centre of Hockley which is called the HAAP.
There is the likelihood of a new ?medium? sized supermarket of up to 3,000 sq metres (that nearly six times the size of the existing Co-op). There are concerns that a supermarket this large will overwhelm the existing shops and result in less competition and, in turn, higher prices. It is also contrary to the Council?s own experts, who recommended that Hockley should be redeveloped along small, ?boutique? lines.
There are also plans for a public square, with an evening culture of bars and cafes, and around 100 new homes. Clearly this will all change the character of the ?village? against the wishes of residents.
This makes 150 new dwellings in Hockley made up of 50 recently given planning permission in West Hockley and the 100 in the Centre. (We thought there would only be 50 according to an election leaflet circulated in Hockley in 2010.) So with the 976 dwellings already given planning permission in the Central part of the District the additional 100 takes the total well over 1000 (1026). There are 326 new dwellings just for Hockley and Hawkwell.
We cannot see how the overall highways infrastructure can cope without major improvements and from what Councillor Chris Black has said in Council there are the same concerns in the West of the District.
Christine and I pledge to continue to campaign for highways infrastructure improvements.
However, the main concern on the HAAP is the impact on traffic and parking. The Council has repeatedly promised that highway considerations would be included in the Hockley Area Action Plan (HAAP) but, in a the last minute U-turn, did not do so arguing that it could save money leaving it to a planning application to pay for this.
Essex County Council, advises that ?On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.?
The Council ?considers? that the Spa Roundabout could be improved through the provision of 3 slip lanes and a wider pavement beside the Spa pub. There is no evidence to support this view or whether it is even physically viable. The Council has only allowed ?2-300K for the cost of this work, which looks optimistic given that they allowed up to ?2M for the same work in the Council?s costings for the Core Strategy.
The Council also proposes to move the Hockley Station car park in to Eldon Way, and build more houses on the existing car park. Whilst this has some attractions, it would reverse much of the traffic flows under the railway bridge and, again, the Council say they have not modelled the impact. So it is not known how this will change traffic flows through Hockley, including extra volumes from all the new housing in the West of the District.
Parking also looks very tight with just 211 places proposed for shopping and 72 for the Hockley Rail Station. The Rail Station Car Park is often almost full with 159 places so how is just 72 sustainable?
The Council states that to be Sound the plan (HAAP) should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development.
As stated earlier Essex County Council, advises ?On a local level every strategic development proposal is accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.?
As the HAAP is a proposal for strategic development then according to ECC this must be accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. This assessment considers the impact the proposed development will have on the highway network and includes industry standard forecasted growth (TEMPRO) to ensure a comprehensive approach that accounts for present traffic conditions (including any new and committed development) and future traffic growth.
The Planning Inspector is being asked by us to reject the HAAP and return this to Council with the requirement to await the formal and reported assessment of the strategic effect of such proposed strategic development on Highways infrastructure in Rochford District by ECC.
If you also wish to object then please submit your own by 25 January 2013.

  • When it was proposed to build an ASDA off of Rawreth Lane many people objected but it has proved very popular ( except for the unfortunate folks who live opposite ) and it appears to have had no effect on the local shops whatsoever. And we now get low priced shopping, not more expensive so I do not know why it is felt that prices will rise.

  • The mystery deepens! What are RDC intentions re highways in the District?
    The council is now claiming that they haven’t done TAs (Transport Assessments) for Hockley, Rochford or Rayleigh, despite earlier commitments and a FoI (Freedom of Information) response indicating they had TAs for Rochford and Rayleigh. Highways issues were also specifically included in the contract with the consultants undertaking the 3 AAPs, but not included in the HAAP (and they say Rochford and Rayleigh AAPs will be the same).
    Then we find that the fully used parking at Hockley station is to be reduced by over 50%! Where will commuters go?
    Now we find that RDC do not appear to have undertaken the required TA for the Core Strategy.
    Its time for the council to come clean. What are they hiding?

  • Seems to me that if all necessary works to the infrastructure for existing population were carried out let alone the future housing proposals ,then the whole area becomes unsustainable unless the government are prepared to provide millions to relieve the natural barriers that a peninsula creates .Any contributions from developers would only provide a small proportion of funds needed , even then increasing the cost of each housing unit ,so that housing would become prohibitively out of reach to the working family . It is something I was taught in economic geography over 40 years ago ,nowadays seems like economic greed has become the mantra !

  • Mr Guyett / Mr Matthews.

    Do you know how many of the residents that are objecting to new housing have had families themselves and are therefore the cause of the problem ?

    Sorry to be so blunt but no one that contributes to this site seems prepared to come up with proposals to tackle what is, undeniably, the root cause of the problem. That of too many people living (1) In the south east of the county, and (2) too many people in a small island such as the UK.

    And just for the record I am not someone that dislikes children, I am a realist.

  • I note that the Castle Point MP has asked questions at parliament about the need to provide infrastructure before any further developement is allowed .Must be right cannot go on like this ,piecemeal developements without any overall transport assessment is madness and bad planning .

  • @RayleighResident: Sorry I can’t answer your question but I agree with you. We simply cannot endlessly go on building new housing. But its an issue our politicians are not prepared to face up to.
    The lack of infrastructure in this District was very clearly lagged up as part of the Core Strategy process but then ignored.
    It is still being ignored.

  • This isn’t just a local issue though is it? It is national. There are just too many people for the infrastructure of the country as a whole to cope with, and the only policy that any government can seem to come up with is build more houses, more roads, cover the country in concrete and tarmac. Until this is looked at in a cohesive national policy then piecemeal not properly thought through local development is going to carry on happening. No, we can’t just carry on building and building, but until the population issue is addressed, whether it is by limiting immigration, encouraging people to move to areas other than the south east, there won’t be any proper answer. Brian, you have said our politicians are not prepared to face up to this – and this is very true, but then it is up to each and every one of us to write, lobby, take whatever steps we can, to make them face up to it.

  • Christine and RR ,we do not know the answer as Brian said but all of us can see the problem .The solution may be vigorous restriction of immigation and discouraging settlement in the south east in the long term .The problem is the core strategy which is immediate ,it has reached it’s final stage and consultation ends before the end of the month . We can only comment whether it is sound or legal . These comments go to the inspector ,whereas before in previous rounds of consultation there were thousands of responses which seemed to get lost and ignored ,they were not all nimbyist and suggested viable alternatives. In an ideal world I would have liked the area to have stayed in a time warp as I remembered it as a child .Unfortunately we have to face reality to deal with any” local” housing needs .What we should resist is more influx from outside our area . I do not know of any means to do this in a free and democratic country .Though democracy appears an illusion with apathy and self interest predominanting . We as a parish council have responded to the consultation arguing that it is unsound .the response should be published on the parish website imminently .

  • I have no problem at all in dealing with local housing needs. I and my husband are the third generation to live in the same property, but I know that many people find that their children either cannot afford housing in the village, or there is none available, and no, we can’t live in a time warp. I know my husband wishes that the only traffic up and down the road was still a horse and cart, but we have to accept modern times. However, there is a vast difference between small scale building for purely local needs and imposed vast swathes of housing estates because someone else decides that is what we need. Local development should be in the hands of local people to decide what they need, what their area can sustain. I am pleased to read that the Parish Council have responded saying the Core Strategy is unsound, however I fear that no matter what anyone says it will be pushed through anyway because “they” want it.

  • I understand what you are saying Christine.

    Actually, the amount of new housing per year proposed for this district is probably lower than in times past, and that’s part of the problem – Rayleigh grew so fast in the 50s 60s and 70s, not to mention the 80s, that the most suitable sites for housing have already been used.

    New housing isn’t bad in itself. I remember one chap from Downhall Road in the 1980s warning me that Downhall Park Way would be the slums of the future (that was the precise phrase he used). It hasn’t turned out like that has it? The overall impact of Downhall Park Way, together with the park, has been good for the town.

    I have much more of a problem with the sites that have been chosen and the details that have been left to chance. Losing a small community building behind the eoN site (and the council not caring about it one whit) , building on sports pitches at Rayleigh Sports and Social Club for no good reason, not knowing what improvements are needed for Watery Lane even though we are building near there, DOUBLING the population of Rawreth…..

    The idea of ‘big sites’ instead of little ones is that it easier to get community benefits from them (such as Sweyne Park in the past). But the community benefits from the new housing seem very meagre.

  • I hear what you are saying Chris, and I agree with a fair bit of it. No, new housing is not in itself bad, but I think what I and a lot of other people are saying (and I wish more of them would say it publicly and loudly) is that you reach a stage where you have to say stop, no more, as otherwise you completely change the character of an area. Once that happens you can’t go back, and if the character changes too much then people stop caring about and fighting for where they live. If this goes through then what next, a housing estate on the football pitches opposite the Chichester – why not, only used once a week, and the precendent is there with the Sports and Social Club, lets put industrial units alongside the A130, or once the travellers site is at Michelins Farm build a petrol station on the dual carriageway, plus a few workshops, wherever there is a gap between properties lets infill it, green belt – so what, we already grabbed a load of that and no-one cared.

    These are the wrong proposals for the wrong sites in an ill thought out plan that is very short on detail (or caring) about traffic or environmental impacts.

  • Known as the HAAP, it is more likely the MISHAAP!! One of the main issues living in Hockley is traffic congestion and yet this action plan has been drafted without the benefit of a traffic analysis (something which has been done for similar plans for Rayleigh and Rochford). In addition the plan provides far too little detail to allow proper assessment of the potential impact of the proposals. It is far from clear that the proposals will improve traffic flow and parking provision, the opposite seems more likely. Spa Road from the central shopping area to the rail bridge is too narrow, poorly aligned and even now provides a pinch point but this is not addressed in any way. The volume of traffic that would use Eldon Way and the station approach would greatly increase, exacerbating an already bad situation. The councils lack of foresight over Sainsbury’s delivery arrangements, which were easily predictable to create significant problems, seems to be ongoing and evident in this plan. The effective of the Spa mini-roundabout proposal, again without any proper plan included, is also open to question, particularly for traffic exiting Spa Road.

    As for the so called consolidated central parking no number are given for existing and proposed capacities. Given the range of users (residential, retail, leisure, office and rail users) this parking is projected to accommodate it is very difficult to perceive it as being adequate if the existing station parking is given over to residential development as indicated. The large food store (six times bigger than any that currently exists, I believe) will attract significantly more traffic into Hockley. Furthermore a store of this size is very likely to displace any competitors and in consequence obtain considerable leverage concerning access issues in the future. That would not bode well for the interests of the community.

    This plan seems to lack transparency with a distinct absence of detail, analysis to make it informed, and a consultative process which seems designed to intimidate, confuse and deter all but the most determined of critics. The council should perhaps use this plan as a training exercise to show how it should not be done.

    Brian Walker