On September 30th the Conservative District Council finally pushed through the application from Countryside Developments for 475 houses between London Road and Rawreth Lane.
This was despite fierce opposition from local residents, Lib Dem Councillors, Rayleigh Town Council, Rawreth Parish Council, Sport England and the Rayleigh Action Group.
An almost identical application was brought back to Council on 30/09/15, Councillor Black supported by fellow Lib Dem Ron Oatham again proposed refusal on grounds of highways, drainage and flooding, lack of school capacity and insufficient sports pitches.
INFRASTRUCTURE – CAN WE REALLY COPE?
There will be some improvement: London/Downhall Road junction, probably something at the Rawreth Lane / Hullbridge Road junction and some money for drainage and mini football pitches.
However we don’t think this is enough – this is simply the kind of infrastructure that we have already needed for years!
9 YEAR BATTLE FOR RAYLEIGH!
2006 –District Council prepared ‘Local Development Framework’. In one informal meeting councillors were asked where they thought future development should go, many Conservative Councillors wanted ALL development to go into West Rayleigh.
2007 – Officers proposed 1800 new homes in Rayleigh, 1000 for Rochford/Ashingdon, 400 for Hockley/Hawkwell and 500 for ‘smaller settlements’. The Tories support these figures and go out to consultation. But the exhibition in Rayleigh is hidden away – inside the Windmill for just 3 hours on a Sunday! Lib Dem Councillor Ron Oatham (pictured), complained forcefully. The Council relented and provided a better exhibition for our town. Local Liberal Democrats delivered thousands of leaflets throughout Rayleigh to publicise this vital public consultation. There was a big response, but only 1% of the public supported 1,800 new houses in Rayleigh. The Tories backed down and reduced the Rayleigh figure to 740!
2009 – The Core Strategy is voted through by the Tories 23-4 (all 3 Lib Dem Councillors and 1 Ratepayer vote against), and Lib Dem Councillor Chris Black is accused of being a NIMBY by the Conservatives. After this vote it was always going to be an uphill struggle to change things.
2010 and 2011– The Government Inspector signs off the Core Strategy. The public were now very angry – there were big public meetings at the Grange Community Centre and in Hullbridge – but as the months went by the issues dropped out of the headlines.
2012 – District Council Officers quietly work on the ‘Allocations Document’ mapping out the new developments. The Lib Dems become increasingly concerned that important infrastructure and amenities issues are being overlooked. The Lib Dems voted against saying there was no traffic study for the developments, inadequate open spaces and bullying of Rayleigh Sports and Social Club by the Council. But of course the Conservatives voted it through, with just one Tory abstaining. Perhaps the Conservatives were thinking the public had lost interest.
2013 and 2014 – Public Anger In early summer the Rayleigh Action Group became active, they opposed many of the Council’s plans and were active at the Inspectors’ inquiry, and a last ditch legal case was mounted by a resident. But the Allocations Document still went through.
2015: January – Lib Dems reject the Planning application with the support of other parties. September – almost the same plan returns to the Council and is passed by Conservatives plus one independent, Lib Dems fiercely opposing the development and voting for refusal.
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