• Infrastructure, Housing and the ‘Outsiders’

    As landowners eye the potential rewards for putting forward their land for development, we are still faced with a lack of infrastructure to accommodate further housing needs.

    Have we been blind to the ‘unlocking’ of land in here in the Rochford District with ‘bigger’ infrastructure investments taking place right beneath our noses? Crossrail is due to commence in December 2018 and there are the second Dartford Crossing plans.

    These major infrastructure projects have the potential to unlock our District to people who can’t afford to live in London but want to be able to get from ‘A to B’ in reasonable times. Will this put further strain on the supply of ‘affordable housing’ and is this a challenge our ‘local’ residents will now face as they try to compete for the same properties?

    Some might argue that this competition already exists and I would agree to a lesser degree, but we could see a further deluge of ‘outsiders’ coming into our areas. Our housing policies must be robust to ensure that those who already live in our district are not priced out.

    Will our district be able to cope with this housing crisis in the years to come? This is something that we need to work hard on to ensure that the District prospers for all.

     

  • Some Success with Sanctuary Housing

    Sometime ago I wrote about Sanctuary Housing and there slow response to dealing with tenants complaints/requests. Well, last week I have finally heard back from Emma Keegan, MD of Sanctuary Housing, that finally after a painful 6 months, Sanctuary Housing have completed the work they promised a resident.

    I’m not so sure what the hold up was but I’m pleased that the resident has finally got a result.

    A final word from the tenant….

    Lets hope with your interest, they actually do something about how things have been allowed to get although I doubt it very much.!

    It seems the tenant has lost all faith in Sanctuary, but I will continue to work on behalf of residents to make sure Sanctuary provide the service to ALL their tenants and hold them to account should they fail to deliver. Speaking with other Councillors, it would seem that we are not the only ones to be shining a spotlight on Sanctuary Housing.

    Watch this space!

  • Not Such A Sanctuary for Some

    On Tuesday night I attended RDC Review Committee. One of the items (which I will post more on shortly), involved Sanctuary. Emma Keegan, MD came under fire from Tory Cllr Shaw for it’s poor performance for maintenance of its property portfolio. Silently, I could not avoid agreeing with Cllr Shaw about Sanctuary’s lack of responsiveness. Yes I too have had to make multiple attempts at getting problems resolved with SH. Are we in a unique situation here in Rochford District? I asked my ‘friend’ Google – oh it seems we are are not alone! This post, tells a tale of woe and even takes us in the direction of a dedicated Facebook group.

    Well, if SH are deliver us the promised 500 affordable houses lets hope they do a better job of building them, than it appears they have done of maintaining them.

  • The Definition of Affordable?

    It’s something I’ve had many conversations about and I’m sure other Councillors have also had thoughts about but I’ve never really got a clear answer. What is the definition of ‘affordable’ when it comes down to new housing developments. I found this definition on the Government’s website

    Affordable housing is social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. From April 2012 affordable housing is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (prior to this the definitions in Planning Policy Statement 3 apply). Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

    So that clears that up.

    The short answer is if you want to know how affordable housing is defined, don’t ask me! I’m going to admit I’m beat on this one, but I will ask about and see if someone can give me a clear explanation on it. Watch this space!

  • More Houses…Have the Developers Finally Won?

    Rayleigh Town Council Planning Committee

    Last night’s planning committee meeting was a full evening with numerous big applications being discussed.

    What did strike me as odd was the lack of public interest…. we had 2 delightful older ladies come along to make representation on one of the applications and one member of RTC that was attending as a member of the public –  that was it, no other members of public! 120 new dwelling tabled for development in Rayleigh that nearly 20% of the West Rayleigh development and not a soul to make representation….. I’m curious to know, have the developers finally beaten the people of Rayleigh into submission or has the public become so disillusioned with the decision-making process that it’s almost a foregone conclusion that in as little as 10 years from now Rayleigh could become another concrete jungle?

    I really thought (or hoped) the lack of turnout at the recent local plan consultation wasn’t a sign of things to come and tried in my own mind at least to put it down to a result of poor publicity and bad timings or maybe it’s true that the people of Rayleigh have just given up on the future of their town?

  • From the Echo Newspaper

    Echo Newspaper

    The article discusses more development on London Road in West Rayleigh and the rebuilding of  a care home.

  • Dispatches reports: The Great Housing Scandal

    As high house prices and many properties with 'out of reach' rental costs, does this mean more Rochford residents will be forced on to the housing register and is this a ticking time bomb for Rochford District Council?

    Many areas of public land in the UK was earmarked to fulfil the land shortage needed for new homes. However Dispatches investigates public land being sold for below it's 'real' value and how it's been badly managed.

    If you do wish to apply for social housing in the district you can do here. 

  • Could This Help Rochford Meet Our Affordable Housing Crisis?

    welcome-to-our-home-1205888_1920

    I often hear the argument made that we need houses that are affordable. Today I came across this article from the BBC which discusses a village which has been built by a private company, which is entirely powered by the sun. It’s an interesting article and in my opinion is very thought provoking.

    It seemly addresses a number of issues when it comes to affordability, profitability and sustainability. The article suggests that land is released by the council exclusively  for affordable homes to be built due to the high cost of land. These developments could also see a 4% return on the investment. Perhaps our council would do well to consider this sort of scheme to help house our first time buyers and those struggling to get on the housing ladder?

  • 47 New Dwellings for London Road – Approved

    Last nights development committee discussed the application for 47 dwellings on London Road (15/00736/FUL). The officers report can be read here. 1500736FUL (208 downloads)  This application have been previously deferred for clarification on a number of points.

    • The location and type of pedestrian crossing, taking account of the speed limits on the A129 London Road.
    • What Highway improvement measures would be provided in respect of the additional developer contribution of £50,000 over and above the cost of the proposed pedestrian crossing.
    • Clarification of the proposed flow rates and the opportunity to seek improvement to the rate to improve local resilience against flooding and better details of attenuation arrangements.
    • The drainage details relating to conditions 7, 8,10,11, 12 and 13 to be submitted with the application for Members’ consideration.
    • Details of the surface water drainage scheme /underground drainage plan to be made available to the Committee.
    • Condition 13 to be amended so that it be required that the yearly maintenance logs be submitted to the local planning Authority annually.
    • Off street parking spaces to be provided clear of the street.
    • The road layout to be built to adoptable standards and clarification of whether the road layout will be adopted. (NOT ADOPTABLE)
    • Dormer windows with flat roofs to be revised to provide pitched roofs.
    • Clarification of the proposals to spend the contribution of £45,000 in respect of Little Wheatleys play space and whether instead this contribution might be used to fund a school crossing patrol for a temporary period of time.

    Off to a shaky start due to the technical issues in the council chamber (no projector, so no plans available), the meeting commenced nearly 30 minutes late. There was about 10 visitors in the public gallery.

    The council officer (Mike Shranks) gave his opening report on the planning application and how the issues had been addressed that concerned the members at the last committee meeting. Once we had heard the report (with no visual aids), the officer asked us to ‘trust’ his words – speakers were invited from the public. The applicants agent spoke first. We then heard questions from committee members. These ranged from clarification on the proposed crossing, off street parking, whether the road was adoptable and the proposed drainage system.

    The proposed drainage system consumed most of the discussion, with Cllr Stanley taking a lead on the flooding issues asking whether the design of the system was adequate to accommodate the flooding issues that West Rayleigh has seen in recent years. I asked whether upstream flooding had been taken into consideration and was assured by the officer it had been.

    I also made it clear I was not convinced the proposed crossing was adequate and safe for pedestrians being in a 40 mph zone.

    Proposed Crossing Site

    Proposed Crossing Site

    I questioned as to why the new estate would not have its own play area, with a £45,000 contribution for the Little Wheatley’s play area, once the money runs out the tax payer will bear the full burden of additional maintenance.

    Land will be taken from Rayleigh Sports & Social club for the proposed alleyway at the back of the development.

    20160921_184731The report also makes mention of cycle routes (I see none of them in this area, in fact very few in Rayleigh). Finally I raised the issue of safety as the report proposes that the developer will widen the footpath in front of the development to 2m, however the London Road footpath is wholly inadequate on the North side (in my opinion) and is less than 2m wide.

    Finally Councillor Mountain spoke up and reminded members that this application was again before the committee to gain clarification on the reasons the application was previously deferred – he then moved for approval for the application. The vote was taken with all members approving apart from myself and Cllr Stanley abstaining.

     

  • Infrastructure first before mass development – it’s almost common sense…

    Today the Echo News reports that campaigners are asking Basildon council to force developers to provide the infrastructure to support the homes before any development is commenced. Surely this is almost common sense?

    Asking developers to put their hand in their pocket is truly shocking, and even before they’ve seen any return on their investment but surely this is what entrepreneurship is all about? If they argue their business plan won’t support this type of development then perhaps they will have to look at reducing the profits they expect to return to their shareholders.