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The Allocations Plan: your questions answered

Issue raised Response to comment
Why were there no planning officers present
at the post-adoption exhibition?
The exhibition was held in different locations over a period of several weeks in order to inform as many people as possible. As such, it was not possible to provide Planning Officers to resource them without reducing the services we offer to the public. That being said, residents could contact Planning Officers by phone and e-mail for advice or guidance on the Allocations Document.
Why will only 35% of new homes be affordable housing? Prior to the adoption of the Rochford Core Strategy, the now revoked East of England Regional Plan concluded that of the new homes to be provided in the District 35% should be affordable. The Council appointed an independent consultant. The resultant report concluded that a target of about 30% would be appropriate. However a further report, prepared in 2008, suggested that 50% would be more appropriate. Based on the analysis, and taking into account the East of England Plan, the Rochford Core Strategy determined that a 35% figure was appropriate, reasonable and deliverable.
Why have no traffic
assessments been
carried out?
The Council worked closely with Essex County Council – the Highway Authority for the area – in drawing up plans and policies for new development.
The Allocations Plan requires applicants to undertake detailed transport assessments to inform planning applications. The findings of these assessments will then be considered by the Council before granting planning consent and an agreed package of highway improvements will then be provided alongside new development. No development sites will progress without the delivery of appropriate highway infrastructure improvements.
For further information see the Notes of the Meeting with Highway and Public Transport Representatives at Essex County Council (22 February 2012) available using this link
Respondents commented that the Allocations Plan will have a negative impact
on infrastructure and roads in the area.
The assessment of the impact of new development was carefully considered during the preparation of the Rochford Core Strategy and the Allocations Document. Furthermore, these concerns were examined in detail by the independent inspector who held a public examination to consider the objections and concerns raised to both documents.
The Council will require all planning applications submitted for development of allocated sites to include suitable proposals for the improvement and/or provision of infrastructure.
The principle infrastructure improvements required by the Council for each allocated site are shown in the ‘site capacity’ and ‘concept statement’ sections of the Allocations Document.
Why choose greenfield sites? Why not just use brownfield? The Council looked at all opportunities to bring forward brownfield sites for development. However, there are actually very few brownfield sites and the total amount of development required means that a modest release of land from the green belt for development was necessary.
It is also relevant to note that it is a statutory requirement set out by Government that the Council must seek to meet its objectively assessed housing need. At present this figure is 250 new dwellings per year until 2025.
Respondents stated that many of the allocated sites were located on the flood plain and asked why this was. This is categorically not the case and the misunderstanding perhaps arises from a peculiarity in the way land is categorised in terms of the likelihood of flooding occurring. All land is divided into flood zones and these zones are called ‘flood zone 1’, ‘flood zone 2’, and ‘flood zone 3’. These zones relate to the probability of land flooding. In fact, despite the terminology, land categorised as ‘flood zone 1’ is actually at least risk of flooding and is considered to be where housing development should always take place, unless there are compelling reasons to develop in higher risk zones. All development on allocated sites in the District will be on land that is categorised as flood zone 1, with one brownfield site exception. The only housing development site identified in the Allocations Plan which is at risk of flooding is Stambridge Mills (site BFR3), which is a brownfield site. However the Allocations Plan only allows this site to be developed for housing if adequate flood improvement measures are put in place alongside the site’s redevelopment.It is correct to say that small parts of several site allocations include land in flood zones 2 and/or 3, but crucially no housing will be developed in those areas, which will most likely be used to provide open space or be incorporated into the sustainable drainage system for the site.The main purpose of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) is to mimic the natural drainage of the site before development. This is achieved by capturing rainfall and allowing as much as possible to evaporate or soak into the ground close to where it fell. The remainder is directed to the nearest watercourse to be released at the same rate and volume as before development started.The Allocations Plan requires appropriate SUDS to be determined in consultation with Essex County Council (the approval body for SUDS) and the Environment Agency.The Allocations Plan also requires that a site specific flood risk assessment incorporating a surface water drainage strategy should be prepared for all sites.
Where will Rayleigh Sports and Social Club be relocated? Rayleigh Sports and Social Club forms part of a site allocated as being suitable for residential development through the Allocations Plan. However, the allocation of land for a particular use does not necessarily mean that it will be developed as such – it simply affects how a planning application would be determined to develop such land if one were to be made. The Council has not made any formal decision to develop the site currently occupied by Rayleigh Sports and Social Club for housing as part of Site SER1. In the event that the site were to be developed, The Allocations Plan requires replacement facilities of at least an equivalent standard to be provided.
Why does the exhibition material appear to differ from the material produced by Countryside in relation
to Site SER1-North of
London Road, Rayleigh?
Countryside is a private developer seeking views on their development proposals for SER1.The Council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement encourages applicants to carry out their own community involvement prior to submitting a planning application when proposals relate to major developments. It is for the applicant to decide how to undertake pre-application consultation. In determining an application, the Council will consider the consultation and the ways in which it has been included in the proposal.
Respondents commented that some of the land allocated in SER6, north of London Road, Rayleigh, was sold by the original landowner to the residents living on Ambleside Gardens. The respondents queried if this would mean the Council was
intending to acquire the land through compulsory purchase?
The Allocations Plan sets the land use of a particular area although this does not necessarily mean that the land must be developed if this is contrary to the wishes of the landowner.
If a party owns a section of land within the newly designated area and wishes to make a planning application to develop this land, the Allocations Plan will affect how any decision is made by the Local Planning Authority. However, the Allocations Plan does not require landowners to make a planning application if they do not wish to do so.
It is possible, for example, that the land in question can make up part of the green buffer which is required in that section of the site. The Council currently has no intentions of acquiring this land through compulsory purchase, or by any other means.
If residents object to the plan then why should it go ahead? The submission of representations to a plan is considered to be an important way to inform and shape the final plan. However, the Council is required by Government to prepare a development plan and part of the process underpinning this is an assessment of housing need. The Government says that local authorities must prepare a plan showing how the objectively assessed housing needs will be met. The Rochford Core Strategy seeks to achieve this through modest, sustainable extensions to the existing built up parts of the District. Whilst it is understood that residents may express a broad view that development should not take place, this is at odds with the Government’s demands of local authorities. Furthermore, if the Allocations Plan was abandoned, the housing requirement would still have to be met. No Plan would not mean no development. No Plan would, however, mean a lot less local control over where and how much development would take place and what infrastructure would be required to be provided alongside development.