FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
New housing is greatly needed – and numerous sites have been and are being earmarked throughout the Dengie. The problem is that, all too often, the existing residents and the owners of the new homes are the victims of ‘smash and grab’ raids – the houses go up, the developers move on with their profits, but the improvements in the infrastructure are woefully inadequate so everybody suffers for decades thereafter
You may remember that the Infrastructure Group commissioned a report from an infrastructure/transportation/planning consultant. It was so hard hitting that it has brought about a rethink. Countryside and Essex County Council (ECC) have to prepare a new Traffic Assessment (aka a ‘network microsimulation’ model.)
Whilst we may have won an important battle , we haven’t won the war. The developers have been allowed several months to come up with strategies whereas we, the public, will only be allowed 3 weeks from the time the new documents are released to submit a riposte. We therefore have to be ready to hit the ground running. As always with these Traffic Assessments it is a case of ‘garbage in/garbage out’ – but the realisation that any model that is prepared by the developers will be subject to peer scrutiny by our consultant, means we have reduced its ability to be too liberal with the inputs – or, to put it another way, too economical with the truth.
We have, therefore, had another meeting with this consultant to update him and ensure he is ready to react instantly when the new documentation is released.
If we’re not careful, healthcare, education, drainage (etc) … and particularly highways and transport will all be affected . A recent report on BBC Look East made it clear that part of the healthcare problem in Essex has been the result of the unprecedented level of building here without concomitant improvements and expansion of NHS provision.
Moreover, the roads approaching South Woodham from the east and west, which are the main routes in and out of the Dengie, are already very busy and have a poor accident records. The planner’s current proposals will cause gridlock.
Unfortunately, human nature dictates that once they’ve escaped the logjam many drivers will speed up to get to work on time or avoid arriving home later than expected. This can only exacerbate the current situation on the roads in the area and increase the number of serious collisions.
To date, the planners have managed to turn a blind eye to all infrastructure implications for residents in the area.
We think the three local authorities, ECC, CCC and MDC, should start talking to each other. Whilst acknowledging the need for new housing, whatever final number is approved, a bit of joined up thinking is needed in order to provide the necessary infrastructure for the totality of the development (as opposed to considering each application independently.)
With regard to highways we are asking that there should at least be an adequate alternative to replace the current South Woodham by pass (B1012) that will be turned into an urban street (with half a dozen signalised pedestrian crossings and additional roundabouts) running through a residential area.
So to go back to the tight timetable again:
- The Town and Parish Councils affected have 21 days to respond (Article 25)
- The public can get as little as 14 days, but if a ‘Public Rights of Way’ is affected this must be at least 21 days.
- However, “early and timely engagement between developers, statutory consultees and local authorities at the pre-application phase is important” so the Town Council must seek to encourage this.
- Re-consultations are sometimes a bigger issue, with only 14 days allowed.
We’ll stay on the case fighting to increase the pressure for much needed improvements in infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Group – www.w-i-g.co.uk