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Friday, 25 November 2011

D-Day for Hall Road


Plans to build 600 houses on land adjacent to Hall Road and Oak Road will go before Council on 18th January 2012.

In addition to the new homes, Bellway Homes have included a new primary school, new cycle and footpaths and a public "open space" - whatever that means.

There will be two access points to the new estate, one involving the construction of a new roundabout along Hall Road.

This is a preferred development site and is included in the Council's recently Government sanctioned Development plan or "core strategy".

But the land is green belt, and coupled with the prospect of increased traffic congestion and the increased strain on local infrastructure, this will not be welcome news for many residents.

More details can be found on the Council's website, including how you can attend the Council meeting where this application will be decided. You can access this by clicking on the title of this post.

With "Christmas Tree Farm" in Hawkwell being decided just before christmas (see post below) and Hall Road just after, you have to wonder at the timing of two of the District's most significant, and substantial, new housing schemes - both on greenbelt - for many years.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas Tree Farm's Last Christmas (Updated 7th & 16th December)


Plans to build an estate of 176 houses in Hawkwell on land near Rectory Road and Main Road will go before Council on 15th December (UPDATE: Planning Officers are recommending approval). A slightly larger scheme was rejected last year, but this area has been earmarked as a site for development in the Council's core strategy, despite it being designated green belt.

Click on title to read Officers' recommendation in full.

UPDATE: 16th December - Councillors refused the planning application, largely due to concerns over design including garden size. Expect to see a revised application in the new year.

Baroque - Another new bar. Discussion


I'd be interested in comments on the prospect of another Bar opening next month.

You may have noticed the rapid transformation of the old car showroom at the bottom of West Street into "Baroque" a bar/club that surely will be targeting the younger generation who have have, up to now, generally headed straight into Southend or Leigh for their entertainment.

They plan to open before christmas and are interviewing for new staff on Thursday, 24th November.

Will the Bar enrich Rochford's night economy? Provide an alternative from the existing pubs? Or do you think it may spread Rochford's already strained spending power too thinly? Or if you have any other comments, it would be good to get a healthy debate going.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Southend Airport progress



Aerial photos taken a couple of months ago showing clearly the quick progress being made.
courtesy of "wannabe pilot" from aviation forum

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rochford's stylish new venue


We popped in to Rochford's newest drinking and eating venue last night and were very impressed. A modern, stylish bar with pleasant, smiling staff, and a restaurant area to the rear and on the first floor. The menu, with a daily specials board, offered a truly lip smacking range of European dishes covering all tastes.

The Owners explained that tea and coffee will always be readily available, a lunch menu will complement the evening menu, in all ensuring a busy destination throughout the day.

This really raises the "bar" for the Rochford area, and will definitely be a shot in the arm for the local economy. Whilst it's a venue in itself, I can also see the local Indian and Chinese Restaurants benefiting as visitors will choose "The Grey Goose" as the perfect Rendezvous point.

Their website (click on the title of this post to link) includes details of their lunch and dinner menu.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rochford Square - traffic flow measures

Essex County Council has authorised a swap in exit and entry points to the Square to improve traffic flow in West Street. The measure will be accompanied by a beefing up of the "No Stopping Zones". Presumably, the aim is to reduce the frequent queuing of traffic, waiting for a parking space in the Square. Currently traffic is often blocked or restricted, in particular buses entering the Square, sometimes to such an extent that traffic flow along South/North and East Streets is affected.

Wasn't this the previous arrangement for entering and leaving the Square?

Anything that helps the situation must be welcome I guess, but if the present arrangement had simply been enforced, surely we wouldn't need any changes?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Coombes Farm 2

Iceni's fresh attempt to concrete over Coombes Farm prompted a great show of familiar faces last night as the "new" plans were displayed at the College in Rocheway.

Posters were handed out asking why, if Councillors, Planning Inspectors, and Residents had all said "No" to previous attempts to build, Iceni were trying again.

Cynically presented as a different scheme and even re-named "Land South of Stambridge Road", representatives from Iceni were left with no illusion about the undiminished strength of feeling against any plans to build.

The Council has ruled out any development at Coombes Farm for at least the next 15 years in their local development plan (its "core strategy"). These plans have now been endorsed by a Government Planning Inspector, so Iceni would have to mount a successful Judicial Review to overturn the core strategy to stand any chance of success. I don't however doubt for a moment that they will try, given their past threats of legal action at every stage of the planning process.

This Blog will detail all aspects of the residents campaign to save Coombes Farm.

Once a planning application is submitted it is likely a residents meeting will be arranged to establish a common approach to fighting the proposals. This time, it would be great to get even more people involved including some of our younger residents.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Concreting Over of Rochford


I'm very worried about how Rochford will look in just a few years time as Developers line up with immediate plans for well over 1000 houses in the area, many of which will be on green belt.

The Government has failed to allay fears that new planning legislation will retain protection for the Green Belt, as it contains an overriding "presumption in favour of growth".

It's increasingly obvious that this is the Government's plan to stimulate growth. Build. Build. Build. Who can afford to buy all these homes, and what mortage funding will be available appears to be a question that will be addressed at a later date.

Within Rochford area the following schemes look likely to go before Planning Commitee within the next few months;

Hall Road - 600 houses
Rectory Road/Thorpe Road, Hawkwell - 175 houses
Stambridge Mill - 100 homes
Brays Lane - 100 houses (already agreed provisionally)
Coombes Farm (Stambridge Rd) - 260 houses

All these sites, except Stambridge Mill, are green belt designated.

The Council is an invidious position. Central Government forces Local Councils to produce Local Development Plans that demonstrate that a supposed future demand for housing can be met.

Rochford has extremely limited land left for development, and has been forced to surrender some green belt to comply with Government demands. Of course, Developers also prefer green belt as it provides a blank canvas and avoids expensive demolition and redevelopment costs.

Yet, if the Council doesn't produce a plan, it leaves itself open to Developers taking control of the planning agenda. With deep pockets for top ranking Barristers, costs which Local Authorities can ill afford to match, Developers can often successfully use the Legal System to get the outcome they want, a new housing estate of ticky tacky houses on land which was often previously cherished by the neighbourhood.

I learn today that the Council's Core Strategy (its Local Development Plan) has finally been approved by the Government and will formally be adopted by the Council in December.

This should help to defend against development schemes not forming part of the Council's plans, however most of the schemes listed above ARE included in the Development Plan.

I wish I could conclude this post on a positive note, but right now I can't help but think of a future where Southend and Rochford increasingly merge into one urbanised mass.