To Rochford District Councillors charged with deliberating on the Outline planning Application 15/00362/OUT Applicant Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd.
To Rochford District Councillors charged with deliberating on the Outline planning Application
15/00362/OUT Applicant Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd.
From Linda Kendall 4 Lubbards Close Rayleigh Essex SS6 9PY
This is an open letter to the District Councillors who are being ordered by the RDC Executive and Planners to accept the Outline Planning Application for 500 dwellings from Countryside Developers on Land North of London Road / Rawreth Lane who are ‘ in control of’ land largely owned by a Mr. Cottis and partly the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brentwood.
Following the intervention of Mark Francois MP and your refusal of the granting of OPP on this site on the 29th January 2015 it is a matter of record that you have been put under intolerable pressure by the salaried staff of RDC to reverse that decision. I will leave each of you to reflect on the tactics being used to thwart your views and that of the public concerned in this matter. I hope you have the courage to stand your ground and take a serious view of what you are being cajoled into accepting at the 30th September Committee meeting.
a) A new application that virtually identical to that submitted and roundly refused in January.
b) A plan that ignores the main tenets of RDC own Core Strategy in that, ‘all necessary infrastructure must be insitu before any development is considered or granted ANY permission’.
Outline Planning approval will mean RDC are liable for any subsequent claims due to flooding etc. in the surrounding area. See. Paragraph 4.38 page 4.14 of the officers report which gives clear notice of this from the Environmental Agency. I refer you to Environmental Agency v Bromley Council where the authority were held liable for damage caused by an inappropriate planning approval. The costs RDC could face when damage is occasioned due to acceptance of this application, without the necessary major infrastructure requirements, will PALE INTO INSIGNIFICENCE the threatened costs of the Appeal entered by Countryside that you have been currently told will not be defended. This is an affront to the democratic process of this council.
The decision of those responsible for the development of the Core Strategy were obviously unaware of the problems that exist in this area. That is a matter that should concern each and every one of the Committee. The Officers charged with this responsibility failed and are now seeking to steamroller their proposals through Council with the introduction of ‘secret meetings’ that prevent scrutiny of their schemes from the public. Are some simply covering their own backs and encouraging you to ‘rubber stamp’ the clear errors of judgement previously undertaken in your name at a cost of £2.6 million to the tax-payer?
c) The unilateral decision to extend the site designated in the Core Strategy by 9.8ha, to accommodate roads to the proposed development is, I consider, ultra vires as it has been adopted on Metropolitan Green Belt without any public consultation as required under the NPPF. Confirming this decision will make vulnerable every greenbelt site across the country to creeping development.
d)You will have noted within the said report that these plans have been universally rejected by every STATUTORY CONSULTEE including Anglian Water. In this immediate District the following can be noted although not exclusively, the Rayleigh Town Council (who has the Districts Planning Portfolio Holder on its Committee), Rawreth Parish Council, Hullbridge Parish Council, Hullbridge Ratepayers Association, Sport England, the Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club and the local Member of Parliament Mark Francois. Add to this the thousands of local residents who have objected in droves.
Can every one of those noted be SO WRONG? Why would any of them object if this benefited our district? Please reflect on that when making your decision.
Promises of ‘Jam tomorrow’ in regards to flood and road improvements that are yet to be approved and should not play any part in your decision on this application. Any recently suggested road improvements on Rawreth Lane /Hullbridge Road are on land in private ownership, that is yet to be adopted or considered. They refer to further developments in Hullbridge, not this application.
You may have received many messages regarding aspects of the application report. It would be possible to forensically examine every 122 pages of the report, furnished by RDC just three days ago, recommending approval but that would be pointless because the above passages negate all the other considerations in their entirety.
On a personal note I want to explain the following :- I could formulate a book on the situation I have become embroiled in the past 33 months since I sent in my January 2013 objection to the Allocation Document. At that time I had little knowledge of the objection process on planning; it took me hours working out how to register etc. Perhaps each of you would like to read that initial simple plea of a local resident, requesting that the entrance to the town she valued, should be protected by those trusted with her vote to undertake to do just that.
It was not a political act. In January 2013 I did not belong to any political organisation having abandoned my party of choice 20 years previously due to national politicians deceit on the British people concerning the UK membership of the EU. The letter was not a terribly well formulated objection. I knew nothing of the seriousness of the manipulation of the processes within RDC that I have now discovered to my utter disgust and dismay. You will see I was unaware of planned Industrial complexes and Travellers Sites. I had no group or circle of supporters, it was a personal objection. Finally, for the benefit of any doubt you may have, I have never applied for any planning permission, on any land, whatsoever despite the repeated suggestions to the contrary. Shame on those that have resorted to such ‘below the belt’ activity to try to discredit me even twisting facts to suit on BBC Radio Essex. If you bother to reflect on this you might just understand my feelings towards those that have tried to malign my name and attempted to distort the facts in my message.
I ask. ‘Why would they feel the need to do that’? Perhaps you might just ask that question yourselves. It is the one question that has motivated me over these many tiring and costly months. Who are they trying to protect? Who stands to gain? Why?
You all have been given a very precious gift, the right to decide this districts future, it is your duty (I know that is an old-fashion concept to some) to do the right thing by those that honoured you with that gift. It is hoped that you will not bow to threats and pressure and have the courage and integrity to represent the people of this area in a manner they ought expect.
Meanwhile, following any decision taken, I will persist in a call for a Full Public Enquiry into the methods and manipulation used in the formulating of RDC Local Plan which has proved so divisive and controversial. I am sure the chief architects concerned have questions to answers to as to their rationale for taking the appalling decisions they did at the beginning of this process. Those questions will not dissipate on the 30th September 2015, in the Council Chamber, whatever the outcome of this application.
On this page you will find some video footage of the the planning meeting. The public turnout for this was overwhelming and just goes to show how these plans are vigorously opposed by the residents of Rayleigh and Hullbridge.
Before I make a statement concerning the High Court Judgement handed down today at 5.12pm I wish to simply say ‘THANK YOU’ to all my family who have supported me throughout and offer a massive thank you to all those who have supported me and the Rayleigh Action Group, in any way.
I want to particularly thank the small team that has repeatedly stepped up to help in so many ways. Besides those that attended our meetings in their thousands, there were teams delivering leaflets across Rayleigh, someone kindly provided our printing for free, others helped by producing posters, standing with posters to boost awareness in demonstrations, making the effort to attend the High Court, hosting our posters on their properties, standing in the High Street and at the station raising the profile of our group and by supporting us in too many ways to list. Above all, by giving their time.
I must not forget the many contributors to the plea for financial support that to date has raised £8700. This will help towards my expected costs of £55,000 that I will now be required to pay as the case concludes. When Patricia Putt and I called our initial meeting costing the sum of £120 I could never have imagined where this journey was to lead. This whole programme has made great demands not only on my finances but also on my time. I have tried to expose the many controversial aspects surrounding the full seven year progress of the Local Plan. I still believe a full enquiry is necessary to establish whether conflict of interest has played any part in the choice of greenbelt food producing farmland when areas of brownfield and degraded green sites are readily available. There is a 38degree petition on this webpage calling for such an enquiry.
RAG Judgement Analysis
This evening my Legal team, Richard Buxton Environmental of Cambridge, forwarded the Judgement of the High Court, in the matter of the challenge to RDC Allocation Document Sadly for the residents of Rayleigh and Hullbridge my private legal challenge, supported by 10,000 residents of Rayleigh and Hullbridge, has failed. Rochford District Conservative controlled council can proceed with the disputed Local Plan that will destroy the greenbelt entrance to our town.
Mr Justice Keith Lindblom did find RDC had not complied with aspects of the SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment), in that they failed to consult with the public affected under this provision of a European Directive. Despite this failure he found the harm caused, to me the Claimant and by extension the people of this district, that it would be disproportionate to quash the Allocation Document.
To expand on the above Rochford District Council’s evidence to the court they stated that just 195 residents from a possible 33,000 in Rayleigh, made representations on one consultation process. Of these, 194 objected and rejected their proposal and just one individual supported their submissions. The programme continued unabated. This simple fact establishes the fact that the ‘consultation’ exercises, on which RDC have expended £2.1 million pounds of public money (confirmed by a Freedom of Information request in July 2013), are simply a total waste of public money at a time when essential services are being slashed to save precious resources.
The Judgement makes clear that the Judge accepted there is now established major opposition to this Local Plan. This is evidenced by both the petition collated by Brian Carleton of Hullbridge Action Group and the list of 5062 residents connected to the objection produced by Rayleigh Action Group in 2013. Despite this he has refused to quosh the disputed Allocation document, which will serve to destroy swathes of the green belt across our area, as it conforms with the RDC Core Strategy, adopted in 2011. Despite clear evidence that the public were oblivious to the many proposals he found RDC had acted in compliance with their STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (SCI). Produced by RDC Officers and RDC Councillors. It is becoming increasing evident that RDC have no legal requirement to take account of any public opposition to the plans they put forward. Any ‘Consultation’ appears to be an exercise in useless public relations that has no effect on eventual outcomes. This is evidenced by the results of actual ‘consultations’ as presented in evidence to the court by RDC where the overwhelming majority of those who did respond rejected RDC proposals.
My opinion remains that RDC have not acted in the best interest of the people they serve. Our roads will become increasingly gridlocked, many residents will face increased risk of flooding, our services will become further stretched. The Core Strategy decisions are thus enshrine for the future including every proposal sanctioned in that document, don’t forget the removal of Rayleigh Town Sports and Social Club grounds are still an integral part of that plan. Further to place both a Heavy Industrial complex and huge Gypsy and Traveller site in this vicinity will be an error of judgement that will devalue the homes of the hard-working families that have chosen to live here. I do not believe democracy is well served by the decision of the High Court as it will further erode the trust ordinary citizens have in those that are charged with protecting our interest. It is a sorry day for us all.
Mr Justice Lindblom recognised some failures of the RDC legal team. He has confirmed an agreed wasted costs order against RDC to the sum of £ 11,815.20 which includes the fees due for their failed challenge to the requested Protected Cost Order. The action to prevent the PCO would have halted the hearing. It would have had the effect of silencing the huge protest that emerged when local residents became aware of the full implications of RDC future plans for the district.
My legal team have reserved the right to appeal the Judgement but I have made it clear I am not in a financial position to fund such a challenge. I have done all I can and hope you will all perhaps appreciate that to be the case.
We are receiving many queries regarding the outcome of the legal challenge to the Rochford District plans which will lead to the building on the ‘greenbelt’ farmland between London Road and Rawreth Lane. A decision was expected imminently but we now understand we must wait until mid-December before any Judgement will be handed down by the High Court. As soon as it is available our supporters will be advised immediately.
Meanwhile please accept our thanks for the continuing support for our fund-raising appeal towards the massive £50,000 legal bill faced by our Chairman Linda Kendall. Thanks also to those permitting the siting of our current posters on their properties and the businesses helping us in this exercise. They are very effectively spreading our message to everyone that passes through our district.
RAYLEIGH, RAWRETH AND HULLBRIDGE RESIDENTS DO NOT WANT THE HUGE HOUSING ESTATES (CURRENT FIGURE is 1379 HOUSES), INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AND 22 PITCH (will accommodate 44 CARAVANS) TRAVELLERS SITE ON THE GREENBELT ENTRANCE TO OUR TOWN. We will not have our homes devalued by these flawed proposals. We refuse to be grid-locked on our roads and for many to be subject to fear every time it rains in case flooding occurs. We are the people of this district and demand we are listened to by the organisation that takes our Council Tax to provide us with a SERVICE. We employ these people they are not our masters!! See our 38 degree petition asking David Cameron to intervene. Every local Parish Council, Rayleigh Town Council, over 10,000 people and now (belatedly due to an impending election we suspect) our MP are joining the chorus started by Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government, in demanding the protection of our greenbelt. Rochford District Councillors must listen.
We currently have a poster campaign to try to keep everyone aware that the Rayleigh Action Group is continuing the fight to protect our neighbourhoods from total urbanisation.
Many thanks to those hosting and fixing the posters and to the very few who have helped in this process. We must thank Gordon Toal for his time and Stevie Turner for siting some of our posters for us. Especial thanks goes to the Annwood Estates team of Jan, Mick and Rob who provided the materials, paid for the prints and labour. Thanks to James for his work and help producing the artwork.
The main object of this campaign is to encourage our residents to object to the first OUTLINE PLANNING PROPOSAL 14/00627/OUT put forward by Countryside Properties for 500 houses off London Road and Rawreth Lane.
We are awaiting Mr Justice Keith Lindblom’s decision on the case against Rochford District Council regarding the alleged failure to truly consult with the residents of Rayleigh, Rawreth and Hullbridge. The case was heard, and concluded on the 3rd October 2014, at the High Court of Justice over an extended period due to RDC’s legal teams personal difficulties and due to the production of a substantial volume of further evidence on the perceived final day of the hearing in June this year. The case concerns the huge programme of developments that RDC have chosen to blight our part of the district with over the next ten years. Those familiar with the details are aware of the inequitable balance of development this particular part of Rochford District is to be subject. Many other areas are virtually untouched by the schemes put forward by RDC Officers and Councillors who appear to have scant connection with our part of the district. Currently the first of these developments on our precious GREENBELT, for 500 houses (read a thousand cars, no upgrade in main drainage or roads), has been presented to RDC in the form of an OUTLINE PLANNING PROPOSAL from Countryside Properties on land off London Road and Rawreth Lane. Countryside Properties have presented this proposal as a company in control of land allegedly owned by three landowners named on the application a Mr. Cottis , a Mr. Levy and the Roman Catholic Doicese Of Brentwood. We would urge every resident across the district to consider objecting to this proposal (every adult member of a family is eligible so multiple objection from each household is possible). The Application can be accessed on RDC website under the Planning Application no. 14/00627/OUT. MAKE SURE YOU DEFAULT FROM THEIR PRE_SET COMMENT OPTION AND GO TO OBJECT TO ENSURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD. It is not too late.