What Happened At THAT Meeting: District Council Voted NOT To Defend The “North Of London Road” Appeal.

Image: Stevie Turner
Image: Stevie Turner

The minutes for the July 23rd meeting are now on the District Council website! The District Council has voted NOT to defend the appeal on the “North of London Road” site, despite the refusal in January being supported by most councillors, the leaders of all the political groups, our local MP and thousands of local residents. This is the decision:

 

THAT1

You can download the complete minutes here. They explain a bit more, but not everything.

This is the vote on going into private and confidential:

THAT2

This is the key sentence that really explains things:

THAT3

This explains what happens with the appeal and the repeat application from Countryside :

THAT4

Ron and Chris have been campaigning to try to get a better Development Framework for about 7 years. We are naturally very disappointed at the outcome. And that’s an understatement. We see it as a kick in the teeth for thousands of concerned residents.

We watched individual Tory councillors vote again and again over the years to push the plan through, most of them silently following officer’s advice and the instructions of their party. A bit of public support back then from even one Tory district Councillor might have helped us to get stronger grounds for refusal or at least policies that would have given us better infrastructure. But we can’t recall any of them speaking out since the late Tony Humphries. Many Tories voted for refusal at the big meeting in January when an angry public were present, but they didn’t give us any support when we pointed out problems months and years ago. They didn’t listen either to Rawreth Parish Council , who were willing to engage with the District Council but were treated very poorly.

  • Predictable but no less disgusting for being so. The officers prepared this deeply flawed scheme, the officers recommended acceptance of the planning application and tried to shove it through, now the officers recommend not defending the appeal, and most Councillors just baa like sheep and follow the herd. This whole thing needs investigation, there is something deeply wrong with a system that allows Parish and Town Councils to be completely ignored and public sentiment and feeling to be walked roughshod over. We all know the developers would have won the appeal, appeals always go the way of the appellant no matter what arguments are put up, especially when it involves housing, This Council however should be so ashamed if itself that none of those who voted in favour of this should show their faces in public.

  • “The lunatics have taken over the asylum ” – this is a blatant case of un-elected officers getting their way ,one way or another , they have out manoeuvred the elected Councillor’s decision to reject their scheme ( it is their scheme – Countryside are just the vehicle to implement it ). They are of course aided and abetted by the ‘Cabinet’ in that the 29/01 vote was inconvenient in advance of the General and local elections – hence a clear strategy to appear to vote against it the renage as they have now done , and we all knew they would.

    Our strategy now should publish / advertise what they have done ( and the in-elected officers abuse of position ) from now through to the 2016 elections and get them voted out.

  • I agree Jim, the role of the unelected officers here needs very careful and thorough scrutiny, but how do we make that happen. No good complaining to the Council, Local Government ombudsman won’t get involved unless the full council complaints procedure has been gone through, and the diggers will be in by then. We know they have driven this whole thing, handed a nice virgin greenbelt site to developers on the proverbial plate rather than three or four more sensible brown field sites that are dearer to develop, and that various Cllrs have been happy to let them get on with it. We need something like a National paper to take up the case and push and shove for information and some form of investigation, that is the only way we will uncover what really went on

  • The obvious route would be via our MP ( sympathetic to the cause? ) but I have not received any response to my prompting as yet –
    let’s hope his enthusiasm has’nt now dimmed after the General Election!!!!!!!!

  • I often read comments on this website which are posted by the same few. I have no issue with that (by the way) and from what I’ve read, most of them probably know more about this particular application than most officers do! But one question/ comment I always see and have never seen an actual clear answer to is this – Brownfield alternative sites that should have been used/considered. Can someone actually name these sites? I see the prison is now being developed so I assume that isn’t one of them, so where are these other sites, and what were the reasons given by RDC for not using them?

  • James – if you are seriously interested then Linda Kendall ( RAG ) can give you an extensive listing – right accross the RDC areas, likewise
    both Rawreth and Hullbridge Parish Councils counter proposed a number of local Brownfield options – for example just North of Bedloes Corner on the East side of the old A130 ( acres of dis-used commercial greenhouses which have stood decaying for years ) with a railway station ( Battlesbridge ) to hand and easy access to the new A130 that links to A127/A13 /A12………..ignored.
    And don’t be fooled by Bullwood Hall, only a portion of it is Brownfield the majority of it is Green/ open land , in fact the plan is to develop it for about 45 luxury ( 4-6 Bed ) millionaires row style houses – yep just 45 on 35 acres………so don’t fall for that one.
    The Allocation Document chose Land North of London Rd / Hullbridge and converting the existing Rawreth Ind Estate into housing,
    Guess what planning applications in for the first two ( open field sites ) and no- takers for the Ind Estate because it involves demolition/
    Decontamination so reduced profit margins – it is obvious that developers will always go for green field sites ( aided and abetted by RDC ).

  • Rawreth Parish Council would have been happy to see the greenhouses site developed rather than standing as an eyesore. Planned well it would have given a heart to the village, probably attracted in a couple of local shops, maybe a GP and would not have the infrastructure and flooding problems. However the unelected officials chose to completely ignore this recommendation as well as others put forward by both Rawreth and Hullbridge.

  • Chris, I have to ask, are these people at RDC completely unaware of what is being said about them, the contempt people feel for them or do they just not care. Surely no one is that thick skinned

  • The “system” has clearly been manipulated from day one and I suspect that recent events were pre-planned as part of the pre-election
    “Refusal” of the Countryside OPP only to be reversed now based on a few non-committal extra words included in essentially the same proposal now re-submitted ( with the Hullbridge OPP deliberately delayed to accommodate the Change of heart ).
    Admin – as Ward Councillor’s please now ask for a meeting with the Parish / Town Councils plus any other Rayleigh / Hulbridge Councillor’s and our MP , we need to mobilise an ongoing campaign to highlight the sacrifice of The Rayleigh area by a handful of
    Cabinet members .

  • Chris, a lot of critical comments have been written in this column about the adverse role of officers. – is this warranted?

    I don’t live in your part of the district but from where I sit, it seems to me that its been the Conservative councillors that caused the problems. If i recall correctly, the initial proposal from officers placed the majority of the housing (1800) in the west of the district. Councillors over-ruled this and scattered the housing loosing all economies of scale and making appropriate highways improvements impossible. Then, when the planning application was originally submitted, Tory councillors voted against it despite warnings from officers that their objections were unsustainable.
    Do you agree with this analysis? If I’m correct it is important that the electorate understands this in time for next year’s elections.

  • Brian – the Conservative Councillor’s voting against the Countryside submission ( 29/01/15 ) was but a pre-election ruse , they were worried about both local Council and the General Election voting , now that is past they will follow the Whip and vote to approve the
    re-application when it comes to the Chamber ( mark park my words -it will be approved next time ).
    The “Officers” – don’t forget this is their plan ( Countryside are but those that execute the scheme ) , the Officers report recommending
    Approval ignored submissions by the MP , Town Council, Parish Council and hundreds of local residents and they are the Architects of every
    single twist and turn in this sorry affair . The senior Officer ( Mr S Scrutton ) is un-elected / does’nt have a vote but is dictating policy.

    Regardless of the opinions on the scheme itself the over-turning of a Council decision in this manner certainly warrents the
    Ward Councillor’s pursuing an independent enquiry by whichever Ombudsman / Standards Commission / Juristiction is the most appropriate. Who else is in a position to do so ( Admin? )……

    • [OFFICERS ] dictating policy is what caused the council this problem in the first place. Thats why the planning department HAS to back the application, because their policy is to only allow applications at this site for Rayleigh. …. What a joke RDC is. They make bad policy, we have to live with it so the planers and local politicians get to keep their jobs. George Orwell would have struggled to make this up.
      I expect we will have to have RDC make some comment about what a wonderful job they do in listening to the community, and localism. Please dont bother. Keep your fiction contained in the RDC bubble please in future. [EDITED]

  • Admin – can you confirm the latest e mail addresses of both the Town and Parish Councils ( presumably the Secretary for each please ),
    I intend to write to both and ask for this subject to be put on their next meeting agenda’s , as their wishes are clearly being usurped by RDC.

  • So now those tory councillors have put cloth on the backs of their masters in Westminster for another possible 5 years, they show their true colours. The word that springs to my mind is Cowardly. Do they really think they have any moral authority to represent the people who elected them? Anyhow, this rant will not change this. I am not seeing any sign that this is now not a done deal, a lost cause. Who will lead on this? I guess we got yet another dodgy lot to represent their own interests over our own. Same as it ever was.

  • The RDC is comprised of 39 seats – Rayleigh has 24 Ward Councillor’s ( many of whom are also on the District Council ) , there are also
    some other non-Tory Councillor’s within RDC .
    The acid test is how many of those Rayleigh Ward Councillor’s vote for the benefit of the Rayleigh electorate and how many obey the Whip and vote for their Cabinet masters – ADMIN , can we establish a listing of all RDC Councillor’s and which represent Rayleigh Wards
    please? ( well in advance of the next planning meeting )….thanks – JIM.

  • Rayleigh Action Group are calling for a full enquiry into the processes being conducted by Rochford District Council in the matter of Planning and procurement of equipment and services. This request is prompted by the fact that we now understand that most major parcels of land chosen in the Core Strategy were in some way connected to past and serving Tory Councillors. Of course, that could be coincidental but our enquiries are still in progress because discovering land holdings and connected interests is made more difficult due to less that helpful records of Members Interests at various stages of their time serving the public. One enterprising former Chairman simply wrote ‘see previous years disclosures’ in his slot for ‘members interests’. After six years the previously noted records are no longer available so identifying his ‘Interests’ is somewhat problematic. Other Members quote companies they are connected with but the details of their activities are not recorded. e.g. Could they or their families be landowners or are they benefiting by being providers of services to the companies engaged in tendering for contracts with the council e.g. I.T provision or equipment, building works, logistical or professional services etc. Without full disclosure by those serving the district in their ‘voluntary’ capacity this is a concern that should be addressed. I suggest a full detailed list be provided similar to that required from Members of Parliament with notated ancillary business interests past and present. The annual expenses returns for claims connected to attendance on the various County , District , Town and Parish Councils (many are engaged in several at the same time all drawing expenses according to their role) does not provide any facility for disclosure of external benefits that might accrue due to insider knowledge of Council business.

    • A full and independent enquiry is surely the only way to:
      – ensure the integrity of RDC has not been compromised. How can this decision possibly be trusted.
      – assure that both RDC core strategy and this specific planning application are valid.
      – to start the process of restore any form of public faith in RDC and local councilors.
      Unfortunately I dont think we will get this, as I do not really believe that RDC, or local councillors actually care at all about any of the points above at all. They will work so that the rules and regulations in place to ensure that the public are involved and that there communication strategy is “compliant”, but it still will be what they want, not what the local residents want. Double speak. Still I guess RDC planners and our councilors will get to keep the cloth on their backs at our expense.

  • Thanks Ian – So the key to winning a vote on the re-submission of the Countryside proposal for Land North of the London Rd is :-

    There are 10 non-Tory votes around the District ( LD/ UKIP/LAB / IND & Green ) plus 13 Rayleigh / Hullbridge Conservatives – who
    are directly impacted by this issue, and it is how they vote that will determine the Future of Rayleigh/ Hullbridge , namely –
    J Lumley -Grange Ward
    A Vale – Hullbridge
    D Merrick -Lodge Ward
    I Ward – Lodge Ward
    C Roe – Central Ward
    M Spencer – Central Ward
    J Mockford – Sweyne Ward
    C Pavelin – Sweyne Ward
    D Sperring – Trinity Ward
    J Griffin – Wheatley Ward
    J Lawmon – Wheatley Ward
    R Dray – Whitehouse Ward
    S Smith – Whitehouse Ward

    And just like the Saturday afternoon pay for parking issue , all they have to do is vote against or abstain to save Rayleigh/ Hullbridge.

    • Problem is Jim, the District Council has already taken the decision not to defend the appeal on the original application. So the original application is very very likely to be passed on appeal.

  • Why then is there a re-application made by Countryside , surely that has to come to committee in a set period of time , ie:- before the Appeal comes to fruition ? – or is this going to be yet another manipulation of the system by RDC?. Circumnavigating the planning approval process like this makes a mockery of the Councillor’s role ( acting on behalf of the electorate ) , why would I bother to vote anymore?.

  • In the Echp today;

    Mr Francois said his opinion on the proposal is the same as it was prior to the election.

    He said: “I argued at the General Election that major housebuilding should only proceed in the constituency if the necessary infrastructure is provided and I haven’t changed that view.

    “I objected to Countryside’s proposals as the local MP some time ago because they lacked infrastructure guarantees – and that still remains my view as well.”

    What Mark Francois needs to do now is set out in detail EXACTLY where, with factual expert evidence, where the guarantees on infrastructure are lacking and, again with factual expert evidence, what the consequences would be. Members of the Council voting again on the re-submission will need this information.

  • Absolutely – I also believe individual Councillor’s ( who have a vote – unlike the MP ) need to , one after another, highlight the shortcomings – and let us not forget there is only one issue at this time as all matters are reserved other than access, which means
    other aspects Flooding / Schools / Infrastructure in general can be challenged as and when submitted. So right now the issue is Traffic –

    The Countryside traffic assessment did’nt include the impact of Construction traffic at all – years of it ( co incidents with other sites ).
    The Countryside proposed “road works” are not intended to happen until 2-5 years into the building programme ( coincident with the
    peak Construction traffic serving 2 other adjacent sites in the same Allocations Document ( Hullbridge & Rwareth Ind Estate ).
    The Countryside traffic assessment did not include Hullbridge Rd / Downhall Rd .
    Essex County Council have been negligent in aiding and abetting this proposal by looking the other way in respect of existing local traffic
    problems – that feature daily in the local media ( some District Councillor’s are also ECC Councillor’s by the way ).
    All the foregoing would have significantly changed the findings on queuing / right hand turns ( accross traffic flow ) and environmental
    impact – which was’nt even assessed despite high levels of emissions already existing in and around Rayleigh.

    And the Chairman on the night should not be telling Councillor’s “not to keep repeating the same issues ” – like he did last time , if they
    They are valid issues then each Councillor should reiterate them until someone listens.

    We , the electorate , don’t have a voice unless our Councillor’s speak up for us and Rayleigh.

  • Rayleigh Action Group want our MP Mark Francois to head up a call for a FULL PUBLIC ENQUIRY into how RDC managed to get unsuitable sites through in their CORE STRATEGY that now do not stand the test of suitability/sustainability. They have expended £2.6 million pounds (last FOI asked for by Richard Lambourne) on this process. WHY and HOW did this happen? WHO is responsible?

  • Jim Cripps @ Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 08:08 above

    I see, Jim, that there has been no response to your posting but I do hope that you have put this argument direct to all Members of The Council by way of legitimate lobbying because not many may visit this site and I am sure that Members wish to be aware of all issues before making a decision in due course.

    In pursuance of the legal requirement that I do not pre-determine in any way the Re-Submission Application by Countryside and keep an open mind in respect of the cases put by Countryside, RAG and individual residents I have put the issues and questions you have posed to the Council where I have asked for Statutory Consultees to be questioned further in order that I have the fullest brief.

    Regards, John Mason (Member for Hawkwell West Ward)

    • As promised I have asked questions about these issues of Rochford District Council.

      The answers from RDC are in the BLOCKS and purple text.

      Q. “there is only one issue at this time as all matters are reserved other than access, which means other aspects Flooding / Schools / Infrastructure in general can be challenged as and when submitted.”

      Q. Is that correct?  Can ” Flooding / Schools / Infrastructure in general can be challenged” again when a detailed or Full Planning Application is submitted?  Or are Members fettered in any way by either the previous planning application (refused),  the Decision of Council on 23 July or this re-submitted planning application?

      The current application (15/00362/OUT) is outline with all matters reserved meaning that the matters reserved i.e. access, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance are for consideration at a later date in a Reserved Matters application if outline planning permission is first granted. Other material planning considerations such as highways, flood risk, ecology, infrastructure etc are all matters that must be determined at the outline stage, if the outline application is accepted in relation to these matters then these are not issues that could be raised as a reason for refusal in the later Reserved Matters application(s).

      Q “So right now the issue is Traffic” – Is that correct?

      Traffic/highway impacts is a matter that would have to be considered at the outline planning application stage.

      Q “The Countryside traffic assessment didn’t include the impact of Construction traffic at all – years of it ( co incidents with other sites )”.Why was this not assessed?  Has ECC been asked as a Statutory Consultee?  ECC Highways have been consulted on the outline planning application as a statutory consultee.

      On the matter of construction traffic RDC has raised this with the County Council and await their comment which RDC will be forwarded in turn.

      Q “The Countryside proposed “road works” are not intended to happen until 2-5 years into the building programme ( coincident with the peak Construction traffic serving 2 other adjacent sites in the same Allocations Document ( Hullbridge & Rawreth Ind Estate )”. Why is this the case? Has ECC been asked as a Statutory Consultee? ECC

      Highways have been consulted on the outline planning application as a statutory consultee. The timing of the delivery of highway works is something that would be agreed in the s106/planning conditions if outline planning permission were granted. Highway works might be phased if this is considered appropriate in light of the fact that the development of the site would be phased.

      Q “The Countryside traffic assessment did not include Hullbridge Rd / Downhall Rd.” Why is this the case? Has ECC been asked as a Statutory Consultee?

      ECC Highways have been consulted on the outline planning application as a statutory consultee. Transport Assessments usually assess junctions close to the site, the further from the site the less the impact as traffic dissipates across the network; the Hullbridge Road (Hambro Hill) /Downhall Road junction is sufficient distance from the site such that traffic reaching their from the site has already dissipated significantly onto the highway network and this junction was not therefore a junction assessed in the Transport Assessment.

      Q” All the foregoing would have significantly changed the findings on queuing / right hand turns ( accross traffic flow ) and environmental impact – which was’nt even assessed despite high levels of emissions already existing in and around Rayleigh”.Why is this the case? Has ECC been asked as a Statutory Consultee?

      ECC have been consulted as a statutory consultee and will advise whether they are satisfied with the level of detail and method of the submitted Transport Assessment. The Council’s Environmental Protection Team have been consulted on the application with respect to Air Quality.

      Both the consultation response from ECC Highways and the Council’s Environmental Protection Team will be set out in the report on the application when it is presented to the Development Committee.

      • Thanks John.I’m not sure how traffic is meant to ‘dissipate’ before the Hambro Hill /Hullbridge Road / Down Hall Road junction, , unless it dodges through Exmouth Drive and Teignmouth Drive.

        • Jim has sent me an e-mail suggesting that I raise further questions of the Council in the interests of ensuring that I am fully briefed before the Development Committee Meeting (whenever that might be !!).

          I have done so including asking ECC Highways to comment further on the sort of issue that you have also raised above. But I did not specifically refer to Exmouth Drive and Teignmouth Drive so I will leave it to you to raise this with the Council as Ward Member but I hope the above has already assisted you.

          I don’t know when the Council will reply to me again but if they do I will post it here with your permission.

          • John, thanks for taking an interest in this. Too many other members have assumed during the Core Strategy that the traffic problems in West Rayleigh would somehow sort themselves out…

          • Your Comment “Too many other members have assumed during the Core Strategy that the traffic problems in West Rayleigh would somehow sort themselves out…” has triggered another thought.

            Do you think that it is conceivably possible for a Highways infrastructure funding requirement in the Section 106 for the Hullbridge (Malyons Lane) Planning Application could have an effect on the nearby North of London Road Re-submitted Planning Application?

            I believe that you are involved in both by virtue of being Ward Members on North of the London Road and you join Ward Members for Hullbridge given that the “Hullbridge” application spans two Wards?

            Am I right in that?

          • But you did not answer the preceding question “Do you think that it is conceivably possible for a Highways infrastructure funding requirement in the Section 106 for the Hullbridge (Malyons Lane) Planning Application could have an effect on the nearby North of London Road Re-submitted Planning Application?”

            Any information on this possibility?

          • John – the main possibility is to get the Hullbridge application to help fund the proposed improvements at the Rawreth Lane/ Hullbridge Road junction. In fact if they DON’T include funding, it probably won’t ever happen 🙁 I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in the officers report on this.

          • I understand that ECC Highways as Statutory Consultee has Recommended as follows. Prior to first occupation, Highway works along the Lower road, Hullbridge Road and Rawreth Lane Corridor shall have been provided entirely at the Developer’s expense. This includes the: i) Provision of a ghost right hand turn at the junction of watery lane / Lower Road with associated infrastructure . ii) Provision of a roundabout at the junction of Rawreth Lane and Hullbridge Road with associated infrastructure.

  • Admin . Can you post the shocking revelations produced by SEEAGA (SOUTH EAST ESSEX ACTION GROUP ALLIANCE of 20 plus towns and villages that shows just what the Government are planning for Essex please? There are maps and figures. Due to health issues I may not be able to continue this battle much longer but we can’t let Essex become like a suburb of London similar to places like those over developed cities in the third world where a green field is a distant memory.

  • John above – yes I will be e mailing each Councillor the details nearer the time
    of the Development Committee meeting ( September sometime ? ) as I want it
    fresh in their minds when it comes to voting. Thanks – JIM.

  • Admin – given it is now September , when will we have a date for the planning meeting which will cover Land North of the London Rd ? , and when will the Officers report on the Countryside re- application be available ?.
    A review of that report is critical to pre-lobbying Councillor’s ( the last one
    provided a lot ammunition ) prior to the formal vote on Land North of the London Rd. Thanks – JIM.

  • Admin – it seems JM’s latest ( 1st September ) post is out of sequence 5 posts above , I know it is a thread form but it will get missed by most people like that.

    And what John has to say on the ECC Highways issues is important :-

    I believe the quote above relates to the Hullbridge site proposal not our North
    of London Rd , which is important thus –
    No road/junction works until 1st occupation, means 2-3 years into the Hullbridge development , which might not start until after North of London Rd,
    and as such precludes those road works for perhaps 3-5 years .
    Meantime Countryside press on with North of London Rd with ( by their own proposal ) no roads works until their 50th & 150th house occupation – so again
    3-5 years of Construction Traffic using Rawreth Lane / Hambro Corner / Hullbridge Rd exactly as they are now ( with no upgrading ).
    At 16:30pm today I walked to the Hambro Post Office and back – Rawreth Lane traffic was queuing from the junction back through the lights at both Downhall Park Way and ASDA junction. According to ECC Highways the traffic dissapates rapidly away from the junction !!! – they are clearly incompetent .
    BEWARE – this is a well orchestrated stitch up heading our way.

  • Are the Ward Members aware that there is a planning agreement in place in respect of determination of the re-submitted planning application?

    If so do we know what the current latest date agreed is?

  • Can admin now tell us what the RDC Planners have concocted with their Developer friends (who do not pay their salaries each month like us Council Tax payers, lest they forget) to get their programme of building through the ‘nuisance’ of the Council Committee?

  • Admin. Re The planners workload. If they weren’t spending millions of tax payers money doing self satisfying surveys, printing dozens of brochures and books that the public rarely see and having to revisit nearly every ‘scheme’ they put together it might be easier. In fact, we could have a cull and save a fortune to be spent on useful items . BTW not more pet cemeteries we don’t need at £25,000 a pop!!

  • Linda, I can’t speak for the planners , all I can say is how I will treat it.
    I’m assuming that officers will recommend approval, bearing in mind its basically the same as the original application that they recommended for approval.

    Once the officers report is available Ron and I will go into Rochford to discuss it in depth with senior planners.

    It probably isn’t possible to add to the four reasons for refusal that were given in January. So members have to look at those four reasons. If they think at least one of them is still valid, then they can consider refusal again. If they think none of them are still valid, they should presumably consider approval.

    If the committee does decide to go for approval then it needs to consider questions of infrastructure, and how to minimise problems during construction.
    Whatever happens now, because RDC isn’t defending the appeal, Countryside are extremely likely to get permission one way or another.

  • FACT – The North of London Rd proposal did not and (I suggest ) will not include long-term Construction traffic impact on their “Transport Assessment ”
    This is quite clearly negligent ( if only on safety grounds ) as the years of material ( muck ) removal from site – delivery of materials ( for building ) to the site and the daily ( 6 days a week ) toing and froing of the workforce is clearly the worst case that should have been considered – not the additional domestic traffic that emerges after the estate is completed.