Coombes Farm 2 - updates will be posted on "More Rochford" Blog
June 2011 - Colonnade have withdrawn their Appeal against planning refusal. The Government was shortly to review the Planning Application but this will not now happen. This is obviously great news but so long as Colonnade own this land there is the risk of future attempts to build. Please note, this will be the last update on this website, however I will ensure that @jamesbowker on Twitter, or my More Rochford Blog is kept up to date with any developments.
3rd February 2011 - Anyone who is interested in the latest developments on Coombes Farm should follow the link below, to the correspondence between Iceni Projects, Rochford District Council, and the Government Inspector responsible for the continued core strategy hearings which have taken place this week. Iceni, on behalf of Colonnade, has presented a Freedom of Information request to the Council for all documentation relating to their evidence base and audit trail in reaching their conclusions on, in particular, the location of housing requirements in the years ahead. The number of documents requested seems ridiculously lengthy and indicates an increasing desperation on Colonnade's part, especially since their efforts to make further representations at the Core Strategy were rebuffed by the Government Inspector. Iceni has threatened to legally challenge the Core Strategy, if found to be sound, if time is not allowed for it to present what it considers to be further crucial evidence. In addition to the Core Strategy hearings, the High Court will, on 7th February, give its Judgment on whether the new Government's decision to abolish Regional Strategies before passing its Localism Bill can be taken into consideration in planning decisions made in this "void" between old and new legislation.
6th December - A Councillor has today forwarded me the linked letter advising that Coombes Farm will have to be redetermined, possibly involving a Planning Inquiry re-run, following the Government's incompetence in relying on intended legislation not passed by Parliament to make final planning decisions. We will update this site when we are clearer about what will happen next and with Residents support we will continue our fight.
On 10th November 2010 the High Court found in favour of Cala Homes, which challenged Eric Pickles' decison to revoke regional strategies without legislation. This was one of Colonnade's arguments in challenging the Government's refusal to allow development at Coombes Farm. The Government says the High Court decision changes little as its Localism Bill should be passed in 2011 which will allow Local Councils to decide house building targets. This assertion is subject to a further High Court hearing in January 2011. In the meantime, Colonnade has successfully had the Planning Inquiry decision quashed, due mostly to aforementioned issues. It's worth remembering that Christine Thorby, the Govt Inspector, who refused Colonnade did not refer to these issues - supplementary comments by the Secretary of State have got us into this mess - so we remain optimistic that, eventually, the future of Coombes Farm as a green space will be preserved.
The Govt Inspector's recommendation that Colonnade's appeal be dismissed has been accepted by the Government. Rochford & Stambridge residents should be proud of their active stance against Colonnade's horrendous plans. We now have the fruits of our labour. Full decision can be viewed here
Link to video from recent photo shoot
Evening Echo article 16th April 2010
What's happening ?
Colonnade proposals to obtain outline planning permission to concrete over Coombes Farm with 326 dwellings were unanimously defeated by Rochford District Council on 19th November 2009.
However, on16th December, Colonnade lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate. This means that a Government Inspector will review the proposals together with the Council's decision and others who wish to make a contribution.
The Public Hearing will start 13th April and will run for up to 3 days. Anyone can elect to speak, and anyone can attend. We realise this this will be a big commitment but we hope as many people can attend as possible to demonstrate to the Inspector how strong local feelings are on this development.
"Residents Against Coombes Farm" ("RACE") have finalised presentations to address the Inquiry. There are many issues of concern. The land is agricultural, green belt - still actively farmed. A national footpath leads through it and on to the 23 mile Roach Valley Way, incredibly popular with both residents and visitors. Locals will also know that the site is prone to flooding and lies directly beneath the flightpath for Southend Airport, the Government recently sanctioning its expansion. And how will the local infrastructure, including the ancient road system cope with the demands of up to 1000 new residents ? Will Stambridge be absorbed by Rochford ?
The Inquiry finished on 16th April. A comprehensive site visit took place involving walking both the formal & informal paths, as well as the perimeter & Rochford centre & Purdeys Ind Est.
The Council's decison - refusal and reasons can be accessed here.
Grounds for appeal Link to Rochford District Council's record of appeal
All generations !
A walk of support
28th Jan 2010
Coombes Farm in the Evening Echo
4th Feb 2010
Despite our pleas, the Public Inquiry venue has been confirmed as the Civic Suite, Hockley Rd, Rayleigh.
5th Feb 2010
Link to Colonnade's Statement of Case, which sets out their "grounds for appeal" in more detail
13th Feb 2010
The Council & Iceni Projects have signed a Statement of Common Ground, the purpose of which is to enable the Planning Inquiry to focus on the issues which are at dispute. What concerns us is that the Council "agrees" that there will be no significant impact on the road system or local infrastructure ! It appears the Inquiry will focus on green belt legislation and the Council's ability to meet house building targets.
19th Feb 2010
We are commencing our most comprehensive newsletter and poster delivery exercise !
3rd March 2010
We've printed off extra newsletters / posters for additional deliveries to Stambridge. We're also pleased to confirm Mark Francois MP will be lending his support by attending the photo event. There has been other positive developments which, for obvious reasons, we cannot include here but suffice to say we have a strong argument to take to the public inquiry. See you on the 13th March !
15th March 2010
In the Evening Echo
Great show of support March 13th 2010