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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Another new bar for Rochford and planning news (Updated 30th Sept)

With the pub trade suffering, and many of Rochford's bars empty through the week, it may be surprising to learn that two new bars/restaurants are likely to open before christmas.

At 68-72 West Street, opposite the Marlborough Head, and at the corner of Union Lane, a Government Inspector has recently overturned local Councillors' refusal to grant permission to convert the existing disused car showroom into a bar/restaurant (The Councillors went against the Council's planning officers, who recommended approval back in April 2011).

Work is already underway, and the Owners expect to be trading before Christmas.

There is only so much spare cash to go round, so it will be interesting to see if this new venue can differentiate its offering without sucking the limited business away from nearby pubs.

Separately, the New Ship's refurbishment (East Street, Rochford, opposite the "Taste of Raj") appears complete and I'm told more news about opening date, and offering will be available within the next month.

UPDATE: I walked past the New Ship this morning and a notice in the window invites applications for Bar Staff, Waiting Staff, Cleaners, and Commis Chefs - drop a CV in or telephone 01702 544797.

Turning to other planning news, this month the Council gave outline permission for 100 houses at Brays Lane, Rochford. This scheme is likely to proceed quickly unless the Government decides to intervene.

No news yet when Stambridge Mill will go before Planning Committee, but full demolition of the existing structures could take place very soon.

Rochford's revised core strategy (its development plan for the area for the next 10 - 15 years) is now likely to submitted to a Government Planning Inspector in October and, assuming no final hitches, could well be in place by Christmas. Rochford's approach contrasts starkly with nearby Castle Point, which has decided, for now, to abandon attempts to get a development plan in place.

The point of the Core Strategy is that it provides a Council with control over where development in its locality will take place, as controversial as some upcoming schemes may be. Castle Point's approach means that housing schemes will be decided on a case by case basis, and Developers will undoubtedly exploit what they see as a weakness in the decision not to get a plan in place.

Call me a cynic, but Castle Points' decision may well be politically motivated. When Government Planning Inspectors overrule a planning refusal to tarmac greenbelt land at Daws Heath, local Councillors can pin the blame at Whitehall.

I'm glad Rochford hasn't adopted this approach with the core strategy, although I have little doubt there are a number of individual schemes which Councillors refuse in the knowledge they are likely to be agreed on appeal. In fact, the new West Street bar/diner mentioned above is perhaps such an example.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Brays lane - 100 houses planned

The Council is holding an extra planning meeting next week to vote on plans for a housing development near The King Edmund School at Brays Lane. Full info can be viewed by clicking on the Title Post. An application for 150 homes was submitted last year, but withdrawn. The site is on green belt, but the Council believes there are exceptional reasons why planning permission should be granted. See also my post from 9th July 2010.
EDIT: This Application has since been approved

Friday, 2 September 2011

Southend to Salisbury by steam

Not a post about Rochford, but I know that many local residents were on board for a one off steam train journey from Southend Central to Salisbury on Wednesday 31st August. Averaging 30mph, but with occasional spurts above 75mph, we were hauled by a 60 year old locomotive called Britannia along the c2c line to Barking, then diverting round the North London line, and eventually joining the main South West line near Feltham. The loco, famous for pulling George VI's funeral train in 1952, has been fully restored, and re-entered service this year. It hauled a hotch potch of ancient rolling stock ranging from old "standard" second class to full silver serviced pullman class, complete with fine dining and champagne (the closest we got was oggling through the window - too expensive). The journey took four and a half hours each way and, apart from a short delay due to a signal failure at Basingstoke, ran to time. The take up appeared to be close to 100%, and it was great to see so many onlookers, some looking more surprised than others, along the route. When we pulled into Southend at 10pm, the final destination, a crowd of youngsters did not seem to notice that it wasn't the usual type of loco and rolling stock that runs between Fenchurch Street and Shoebury these days, and couldn't understand why they couldn't board for Shoebury! Steam Dreams, the company that runs the services known as "Cathedral Expresses" plan further trips from Southend, the next being Winchester on 10th December.