News & Information
Mainly local news and information:
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Local Comments and Info from Vice Chair Alan James
A Good News Facebook Post from Adrian Eves
After a very long Planning Committee meeting tonight, I’m sure residents will be interested to know that the planning application for 8 flats on the corner of Southend Road and Great Eastern Road in Hockley, has been refused.
I am pleased to see that Eldon Way Industrial Estate continues to be used for business. OC Motor Repairs of Sheffield is the latest business to move onto the estate and provide additional employment for our area. They now occupy units 27, 28 and 29, the location of the proposal of flats and shops that was turned down by Rochford District Council. The units have been knocked into one and refurbished to a high standard inside and out. This means that approximately 50% of the estate has now been refurbished, pointing to a bright future for the area.
Hockley Library Update
Essex County Council put forward proposals to change the way Hockley Library works using volunteers or possibly even close it. An e-petition and a book raid was organised by supporters. We do not believe using volunteers is the way to run this vital service. Modern libraries are constantly evolving with the times including young and older group activities. The computers are always in use including for unemployed users that now need to use the internet to find a job. We have been informed that a decision will be made by ECC in September.
A quick summary of our meet with the Head of Planning & Development for Essex as a whole - subject Local Plans & Joint Strategic Plan (South). As with all Councils cuts have taken their toll, his department is at staff levels 40% below what they were , he therefore did understand our own big concerns with RDC capability limitations. He also acknowledged that some Councils are performing better than others and that a Seminar on 'best practice' will go ahead this Summer. He confirmed our view that a Garden Suburb would be much more likely to attract Infrastructure funding because of the economy of scale. He cited Beaulieu Park ( Chelmsford Council ) as an example that will achieve it's bid for £218 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund recently. He supported our view that the Joint Strategic Plan ( South Essex Alliance) is important as it will influence the various Local Plans (inc RDC) and will be out for Public Consultation in September '19 ( issues & options ). He went into some detail of the overall philosophy which we will feed back in the next AGRO meeting ( TBC ); to be clear this will be in parallel with the development of the ( now late ) RDC ' New Local Plan ' - this might be a good thing if we can use the then known Joint Strategic Plan to ask all the right questions.
All for now - Jim H / Jim C
Hockley Residents Association
Unfortunately the Hockley Residents Association, serving the community for 64 years, has wound up due to administration issues. The good news is that Hawkwell Residents Association, 25 years old this year, has agreed to step in and continue the Hockley meetings as a sub committee. I will continue to chair these meetings on a monthly basis using our usual room GG27 in Greensward Academy Creative Arts Block next to the main car park and Lynda Sharp has agreed to be vice chair in case I am not available.
The next meeting will be on 14 May 2019 at 7.30pm. The Hockley Residents Association sub committee AGRO (Action Groups Resisting Overdevelopment) meetings will also continue as they do now in our Greensward Academy room but as a Hawkwell Residents Association sub committee. The meetings will normally be chaired by chair Jim Hall or vice chair Jim Cripps.
In general residents attending these meetings will not notice any changes and I will continue to send out info to about 150 residents on my email list. If you would like to be added or deleted from this list please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org These meetings are run by people like you on a completely voluntary basis. The Hawkwell Residents Association is not affiliated to any political organisation, all residents are welcome to attend these Hockley meetings.
I'm sure like me you would want to keep Hockley and Hawkwell as nice places to live in and have some influence on any future changes. Please contact me to join us or to find out if we can help you with any local issues you may have in Hockley or Hawkwell. For detail of all meetings please see the www.hawkwell-hockley.co.uk “Events Calendar” page.
We have concluded our research and come to some conclusions (not good news). So on the 4th April we will resume our meetings in order to explain - all welcome, 19:30 to 21:00 at Greensward Academy, Creative Arts Block, near main car park, usual room.
Regards, Jim Hall & Jim Cripps
AGRO - Action Groups Resisting Overdevelopment
Originally formed to monitor & influence via input into the Rochford District Council (RDC) "New" Local Plan, we now need to revise our short-term objectives due to the ever increasing delays in producing that Plan. The fact is that the next stage of the process (Preferred Options) is already 6 months late but the recent resignations of the lead RDC planners will now extend the delay and the next opportunity to input is now probably 1 year away. We will continue to monitor and report the situation but intend to turn our immediate attention to mitigating the impacts of the previous Local Plan, now emerging with the construction phase getting up to speed. 10 years of Site Construction Traffic on local roads for a start. In keeping with this we intend to reduce our current monthly meetings to quarterly meetings until there is tangible progress on the New Local Plan. We would encourage our regular audience to monitor this site for future updates and meetings - our next meeting will be on 11 April 2019. We are both contactable via the private message facility or AGRO website.
Regards, Jim Hall & Jim Cripps
We have had a number of complaints about inconsiderate neighbours. Dogs that are put out in gardens to bark incessantly. Probably the reason the owners are not bothered by the noise is that they go out and leave them to bother their neighbours. Back garden bonfires that cause plumes of smoke to drift into neighbours windows when garden waste can now be recycled. Please think of your neighbours before you do anything that most residents would consider antisocial.
I thought you may be interested in the answers to my questions to RDC Councillor Ian Ward that were not actually answered by him but by someone in his department called Natalie Hayward.
The issue raised in Question 3 – the temporary one-way system for the gas pipe replacement - is no longer an issue but highlights the way district and county councils do not work together.
Q1 As I said in the meeting, I am a bit confused with the Local Plan. As I believed the current plan took us up to 2025 and the new plan from 2025 to 2037 but Terry stated before you arrived that the new local plan is just a revision.
A1 You are correct that the Council’s current plan sets the strategy and planning policies for the District up to 2025. However, as you will be aware, the Council has started work on a ‘new Local Plan’ to make sure our policies remain up-to-date and effective, and reflect the considerable changes that have been made to national government policy since our current plan was adopted. When this new Local Plan is adopted (expected in 2021), it will immediately replace the relevant parts of our current plan and set the strategy and policies for the District up to 2037. It is not unusual for a new Local Plan to be introduced prior to the end date of the previous Local Plan and in fact such reviews and updates are actively encouraged by the Government to ensure that plans are up-to-date.
Q2 Although there is a current plan a number of development have been approved that were never part of this plan, for example: 7 flats replacing 1 house at 1 Woodlands Road, Hockley. 7 flats replacing 1 bungalow at 1 Plumberow Avenue, Hockley. 1 House and 8 bungalows replacing 1 house at Milestone Close, Hawkwell. 37 Houses replacing a factory at Highwell Gardens, Hawkwell. Just to name a few, plus many other smaller developments. What is the point of a plan if all these additions are allowed, unless they are being included from future plan requirements?
A2 New housing is generally delivered in two ways. The first way is where areas of land are allocated for new homes in Local Plans (such as at Hall Road, Christmas Tree Farm, Pond Chase Nursery etc.). This is where the majority of new homes tends to be delivered - i.e. in a planned way. The second way is through what is called ‘windfall development.’ A windfall site is a site that was not identified at the time that the Local Plan was produced, usually because they became ‘available’ after the Local Plan was adopted. The sites you list are all examples of windfall development. Whether or not the Council grants permission for a windfall site will depend on whether it complies with the policies in the Council’s Local Plan. These policies cover aspects such as the visual appearance, minimum bedroom/garden sizes, number of parking spaces required and so on. If the proposed development complies with all these policies then the Council is duty bound to grant planning permission, even if the site was not specifically identified as an allocation in the Local Plan.
Q3 A planning proposal has gone in to demolish a pair of semi detached bungalows at 22 and 24 Southend Road, Hockley and replace them with 10 two bed flats. Apart from the obvious over development, we have heard that Great Eastern Road will form a one-way system for up to 18 months while gas pipe replacements take place in Spa Road. The last thing we need is that corner of Southend Road being redeveloped at the same time.
A3 The prospect of utility works in the vicinity of a development would not typically be considered a material consideration when the Council determines a planning application, and the management of the works and general highway safety issues are not within the Council’s remit or powers.
Q4 A couple of other thing that are causing a lot of concern are the rumours about Lime Court and the outline planning for 10 houses on Rowal Pindi Garden Centre.
A4 There is no application currently in to redevelop Lime Court but it was submitted to the Council as part of its Call for Sites process. There is no guarantee that it would ever be re-developed but if an application came in then the Council would be duty bound to consider it. At that time, you would be welcome to make a representation providing your comments if you have any concerns. An application for outline permission at Rowal Pindi Nursery being considered by the Council in due course. You may wish to make representations if you have not done so already for consideration by Council officers and Members.
Post Office Card Accounts
I have been informed by Nick who runs the Hawkwell Parade Post Office that all Post Office Card Account customers have already or will receive a letter from the Department of Works and Pensions. The letter reads as though they have to give up their account and have their pensions / benefits paid directly in to a bank account. The letter, although sounding like their is no choice, does not in fact say they have to give up their account. As far as the Post office is concerned the Post Office Card Accounts will be reviewed officially by the government in 2020. To date all card holders who have ignored the letter have been able to continue withdrawing their benefits in a post office branch without a problem. If you are concerned please take your letter when you receive it to your local post office as they will offer further advice.
It's good to see a number of Hockley buildings have recently been renovated. It's taken a while but how nice the old bakery is now looking, it's a pity the Ironing Parla next door doesn’t look as smart. The old Spa Pump House is also looking good, joining other buildings renovated in recent times such as Stibbards, Costa, Potters, Seemore Glass and Wells Legal. Unfortunately there are still a number of buildings not looking their best such as the Spa pub and Shuhag Tandoori but these are tough times for some businesses.
There are people that don’t like UPC windows especially in older buildings or they may not be allowed as the building is listed. Often the alternative is pealing paint work and in my opinion, with windows, distressed is not a good look.
I hope something will soon be done with the recently sold Walters & Stanton to improve the look of that building located in a very prominent part of our village and now surrounded by a temporary fence. I am not against the upper floors being turned into flats but I am not happy with the proposed loss of a shop and particularly the addition of a forth floor setting a precedent for the height of future developments in Hockley.
I hope to see more buildings being improved in future, as I'm sure we all want our village to look its best to draw in those all important visitors and shoppers.
Normally new homes sell quite quickly, so why have the two new detached houses that replaced the Shadhana Indian Restaurant at 200 Main Road Hawkwell been up for sale for more that 6 months? Could it be over-development with small overlooked gardens? Could it be being located close to the main road on a sharp bend where car headlights would stream through your windows? Could it be the driveway layout and lack of garages? Could it be the shed like plastic cladding that is probably going out of fashion like stone cladding did? Maybe they have been built to a substandard build quality? Or maybe its something else? I'm sure of one thing, if the price was right, someone would buy them!
Single Occupier Discount
Did you know that if you are the only person aged 18 or over living in your property that you may be entitled to a 25% reduction in your Council Tax? Maybe you are a young person just starting a life away from parents or maybe an older person that has sadly lost a partner. No matter what your situation, if you are living alone you should be able to claim. In certain circumstances you may also be entitled to claim when more that one person lives in your property. For more information visit the Rochford District website for details a: www.rochford.gov.uk/discounts-0 .