Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
MP: "The last thing I want is another Dale Farm here"
7:30am Thursday 12th September 2013 in Echo News
Speaking at a planning inquiry yesterday to discuss the site and 772 proposed homes in the Rayleigh and Rawreth, Mark Francois, who represents Rayleigh and Wickford, said he had received lots of correspondence from constituents raising concerns about a travellers’ site on the Michelin’s Farm site, by the A127 Canvey turn-off.
Such was the turnout from residents of the town against the plans, the inquiry, headed by Government inspector David Smith, had to be moved from a small office at the Civic Suite in Hockley Road, to the main Rochford District Council chamber, in order to accommodate everyone.
Speaking to a packed chamber, Mr Francois said: “Anything to do with travellers in this part of the world resonates quite strongly. People are understandably touchy about it after Dale Farm and the history of that site.
“If there is going to be a site of this type, wherever it may be, then to my mind it must be municipally run and highly regulated, andcan’tbe allowed to govern itself.”
Mr Francois added: “We need to learn from Dale Farm. The last thing I want is another Dale Farm in my constituency.”
The inquiry heard Essex County Council had agreed in principle to fund the travellers site, which would be the sole legal site in the district, and would accommodate 15 pitches.
This would mean the relocation of travellers on sites such as Cherry Hill Farm, near Rawreth, and the merger of traveller families, which residents fear could lead to trouble and disturbances.
Linda Kendall, of Lubbards Close, Rayleigh, representing the Rayleigh Action Group, called on Rochford Council to explain to people why the site could cost an estimated £2.5million of public money, particularly during times of austerity.
Mr Smith asked the council, in the event of the site at Michelin’s Farm proving unsuitable, whether a Basildon Council proposal to relocate it to London Road, by Swallows Aquatics, would be acceptable.
Sam Hollingsworth, the council’s planning team leader, said this site would be inappropriate and unfeasible, due to it being under electricity pylons and located close to local businesses.
Mr Francois and Mrs Kendall both echoed their disapproval with the possible relocation.
One resident at the meeting, Dave Lemmey, 61, of Cheapside East, said the turnout showed how united the town was and how many people were against the proposals for more houses and the relocation of the travellers’ sites.
Mr Lemmey added: “Why do they need to develop this part of the town with so many new properties? The infrastructure just won’t be able to cope.”
Mark Francois MP
Road would eat into green belt
THE access road to the proposed site for 550 homes in Rayleigh and Rawreth could eat into more of the town’s green belt, a planning inquiry heard yesterday.
The site, known as north of London Road, has been allocated 550 homes, while a further 220 are planned for Rawreth industrial estate.
Potential developer Countryside said it intended to build an access road to the new homes site, outside of the area of the proposed development.
It would lie to the west of the site, towards the A1245, and connect it with the London Road.
When government inspector David Smith asked if this was an inappropriate road, Kevin Coleman, representing Countryside, said: “A road in the green belt would be inappropriate development.
“It’s something we have discussed with the council.
“We would be happy that the access could happen, but not without planning proposals.”
Sam Hollingworth, team leader of Rochford District Council’s planning team, acknowledged that this was a possibility and something for the planners to explore.
Residents complained of a total lack of communication from the council on the proposals for development across the district.
Rayleigh Action Group, which opposes plans for the town, said that in an online petition it ran, only 2 per cent of those who responded were aware of the plans, before the group formed in July.
But Mr Hollingworth reiterated that the council’s free newspaper – which is delivered to every house in the district – had on numerous occasions published details of the plans, as well as details being made available online.
Members of the Hullbridge Residents' Action Group
Residents pack meeting to show opposition to housing
MORE than 350 residents crammed into a community centre for a meeting held by the Hullbridge Residents’ Action Group.
They heard work the group had done ahead of the planning inquiry had uncovered an almost unanimous opposition to theproposed developments.
After knocking on the door of virtually every home in Hullbridge, the group said 98 per cent were against the plans to build 500 homes.
The meeting also revealed the lack of support given tothegroup by the village parish council.
Brian Carlton, group member and spokesperson, told residents the parish council has refused permission to allow the group to advertise meetings on its notice boards, and how one member was cut off when speaking about the proposed developments at a recent parish meeting.
Acknowledging the large turnout on Monday night, Mr Carlton said: “I can’t get over the numbers. This proves we are not a small, silent village.”
Mr Carlton, a chartered surveyor, estimated the developments would cost more than £230million, with another £16million having to be spent on infrastructure improvements.
He said: “A developer is not going to put their hand in their pockets for that cost. They are a business and nothing will persuade them to give out a freebie.”
Showing their contempt for the Essex County Council’s highways department, laughter cards were held up in the hall when its view the village would cope with additional traffic was repeated.
Mr Carlton also referred to the core strategy – the document that outlines the future development of thedistrict – as the “core tragedy".