What Happened Last Night

There was a special meeting of the Development Control Committee last night – arranged to decide the Hullbridge Road golf club application . (This was at Chris Black’s suggestion). Quite a lot of councillors weren’t able to attend.

The key factor was the amount of earth that would be delivered to the site for “reshaping” the golf course – the applicants had said there would be about 46 trucks a day – for three years.

The meeting began with Mr Shane Murphy , the applicant, speaking in support of the application, and one objector, Mr Russell Forde, speaking against. Councillors learned tow significant things:

1) The applicants now said they would move all the earth onto the site in 15 months, rather than 3 years. This would mean even more truck movements in the short-term, and the earth would be in a big pile until the reshaping was finished (after about 3 years).

2) The objector, Mr Forde, was very persuasive when he said that the application didn’t comply with national Green Belt purposes – but he also said that he was there as a planning consultant on behalf of other golfing interests – he wasn’t acting as a local resident!

The first member to speak was veteran councillor Rosemary Brown from Hullbridge. She expressed many concerns but didn’t move refusal.

Chris spoke next and didn’t move refusal either. Instead he asked for conditions about time limits, a ban on the golf course lorries using Watery Lane / Beeches Road, and payments to be made for providing a footway / bridle way along Hullbridge Road and better lighting in Rawreth Lane. Chris said that he thought there would be so much income from taking away the earth from building sites that this was a “license to print money” – but we couldn’t refuse it just because it was going to make a profit. It was difficult to find reasons for refusal. He also added that some residents in Rawreth Lane were worried about vibration from the lorries affecting their homes, and that it was extraordinary that Hullbridge Parish Council hadn’t made any comments at all about the application.

Hockley Councillor Keith Hudson said he had become very unhappy about the application after hearing Mr Murphy had said that all the earth would arrive in only 15 months instead of 3 years. He was very concerned that they were already planning to do things differently to what they had said in the application.

There were several other speakers, and then the crunch came. Were we going to pass it with lots of conditions, or were we going to refuse it and see the applicant go to appeal? Hawkwell Councillor Heather Glynn moved that it be refused for being 1) Contrary to our District Plan and 2) Damaging the residential amenity of nearby Hullbridge residents.

Heather won the vote, and it is now refused – let’s see what happens next.