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Seven-year fight to halt 2,785 homes has ended in defeat
CAMPAIGNERS against plans for 2,785 homes in Rochford lost their seven-year battle.
A Government inspector published a report giving the go ahead for the homes to be built across Rochford district by 2025.
The decision, after a series of planning inquiries, delighted Rochford District Council, which has been working on the plans for more than seven years.
The council wants to build 2,785 homes and a municipallyrun travellers’ site on the edge of Rayleigh.
The inspector made slight changes to proposals set by the council, and it now seems nothing will stand in the way of the developments. The official signing off of the plans is expected in February.
Some of the changes include the scrapping of proposed employment land south of London Road, in Rayleigh, and expanding the controversial site for 772 homes in Rayleigh by 30m for easier access. Action groups from Rayleigh and Hullbridge have been the most vocal against the plans, with 500 homes also planned for the village.
A protest petition in Rayleigh gathered more than 5,000 signatures, and canvassing in Hullbridge showed 98.4 per cent of residents didn’t want the village redeveloped.
The inquiries gave residents and developers a chance to challenge sections of the document outlining the locations for development.
Campaigners said the plans were unjust and they were not given warning that so many developments were planned for their doorstep, though they were available on the council website and published in the council’s free newspaper.
Keith Hudson, councillor in charge of planning, was pleased the inspector had indicated his support for the council’s approach.
He said: “We have taken a significant step towards providing certainty for our local community, identifying land for the development we are required to accommodate and ensuring the vast majority of our green belt remains protected. I understand that some residents may be disappointed by the inspector’s interim report.
“But it is important to have these plans in place to ensure we are not left vulnerable to predatory planning applications across the district.
“This is the situation some local authorities find themselves in when they fail to take the difficult decisions that this council has had to make.
“Non-action will leave their communities at the mercy of land speculators and predatory developers.”
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