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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Coombes Farm makes the Independent

It comes to something when the Independent's satirist picks up the Coombes Farm story as an example of Eric Pickles' meddling - click on the title to see the reference in the penultimate paragraph. I'm not sure I like the hint of a derogatory reference to Essex folk or the Nimby branding, but it nevertheless supports my argument that our Secretary of State has acted like a dick.

Of course it is no laughing matter. Meeting some neighbours and fellow residents over the past few days, I've almost wanted to dip my head and avert my gaze. The fact the Coombes Farm Inspector's decision has effectively been cancelled, and we may be looking at yet another Inquiry is dismal enough information to swallow at any time of year, let alone in the week before Christmas. A Senior Councillor has explained that the High Court has technically quashed the appeal decision. The Secretary of State will now re-visit the submissions made by all parties and decide the best way to re-determine the planning application. I foresee this dragging on for some months yet, taking the time from when plans to build on Coombes Farm by Colonnade were first announced to nearly 2 years. I am reassured, though, that this is one planning application the Council and Residents are united against, however. And we will never give up.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Coombes Farm - Decision Quashed

The Planning Inspectorate will shortly decide whether a fresh Inquiry is required to decide the future of Coombes Farm. This follows the High Court's decision to quash the original decision due to it being found unsound, the culprit being the Secretary of State, and comments made regarding housing targets - see earlier posts. Clicking on the title will take you to the Evening Echo article.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Wish List for 2011 (updated)

Some quite dramatic changes, and some less so, could take place in the Rochford District in 2011, and this is a personal outline of some of these.

First and foremost, I want to see the uncertainty over the future of Coombes Farm removed forever. I remain hopeful that any legal challenges, if allowed to proceed, will not succeed.

By February 2011 the Council will have considered the planning application for 600 new homes at Hall Rd. The landscape as you drive into Rochford from the West could change forever and beautiful, high grade agricultural land will be permanently lost. Many will have seen the posters spaced along this stretch of road headlining these facts.

The planning application to redevelop Stambridge Mill is expected to be submitted in early 2011.

On a more positive note, I'm hopeful that the Roach Valley pathway will be improved in the Watts Lane stretch. At present high, ugly metal fencing protrudes unneccesarily towards the edge of the path, marking the permimeter of the Nevendon car salvage business. Cars tower into the sky, further degrading the environmental landscape. I understand, however, that Nevendon have agreed to remove the outer fencing shortly, which should offer some relief by the extra space created, plus the aesthetic improvement.

2010 was a sad year for pubs in Rochford with the closure of the New Ship and Old Ship, and The Kings Head and Rose and Crown being put up for sale.

The Old Ship has reopened as the Conservative Club, and work continues on the New Ship in East Street. Hopefully this will reopen in 2011 as a decent drinking and eating venue. I hope also for a good outcome for the Kings Head and Rose and Crown. These surely are opportunities to increase the choice and variety for both residents and visitors.

I hope we don't see the shops suffer in 2011. With "Sainsbury's Local" recently opening at the bottom of West Street this will surely put additional pressure on the wonderful Butchers, Bakers, Greengrocers and other retailers in the Square, and immediate streets around.

Rochford is such an attractive small town, and I strongly believe it wouldn't take much to get it on the tourist map. There isn't another town in South Essex which compares in terms of abundance of beautiful architectural gems of buildings.

Despite the dreadful economic climate there is no reason that 2011 cannot represent an overall, positive step forward for Rochford.

UPDATE 9th Feb 2011 - the Hall Rd planning application will not be discussed at the February planning committee (Development Control Committee), I don't know the reason for the delay.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cala Homes back to Court in January - Colonnade watches closely

The difference a year makes, this photo was taken exactly one year ago! Some things don't change of course, and closure still awaits so far as the future of Coombes Farm is concerned.

As outlined in my earlier post regarding Eric Pickles' letter being taken as a material consideration in planning decisions, a High Court date has been set for 17th January 2011 for a second round of Hearings. One can only hope that the Judge is fed up with it all and throws the case out, however I suspect this is wishful and churlish thinking! This is all about House Builders securing the legal argument to push through developments in the current planning legislation vacuum that currently exists, the Tories' Localism Bill is unlikely to become law for another year. Colonnade will be watching closely as a decision on whether they are allowed a High Court hearing of their own will be announced shortly.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Rochford Spectacular 4th December 2010

The Parish Council should be congratulated for staging this event, a vast improvement on 2009. I'm sure there will be some out there who snigger at these small town christmas festivals, but despite just about every type of adverse weather you can imagine there was a good attendance and people seemed to be genuinely enjoying theirselves. They are of course also an opportunity for local businesses to earn some extra trade. I smiled at the queue of young ladies, average age 8, waiting outside the Take That (tribute) Trailer waiting for autographs. Shame on the young lady who spoilt the illusion by saying "they're not the real Take That, you know!" Maybe not this year, but if the momentum continues what about 2011? Just one moan, I noticed one of the sponsors was Colonnade LLP - the owners of Coombes Farm. Shame on you, Rochford Parish Council, for accepting their money... how much was it though???

Friday, 3 December 2010

Worst (or best?) snow since '86?

Paglesham cut off, trains heavily delayed, refuse collections services suspended. But from what I've seen people and Councils are doing their best to battle on. I saw workers valiantly clearing the snow yesterday in the Square, only to be thwarted by a further deluge. Some buses and trains were runnning (the photo was taken on my tramp over to Leigh), and most people did successfully get to work - shops, business, and services were mostly running. The exception were the schools, allowing the children to enjoy the results of another battle between man and nature, where the odds will always be stacked against us!