Hockley Area Action Plan – Flawed?

Alongside the Consultation on the Allocations Document and the proposed developments within the District you will find one called Hockley Area Action Plan (HAAP) Pre-Submission Consultation.  This document has to conform to the Core Strategy and “will be used to guide appropriate development within the centre of Hockley and direct future public and private investment”.  In other words a plan for the future development of Hockley centre.

Hockley Residents are proud of their village and like its character and community spirit.  They also have voiced concerns over the highways infrastructure and congestion that currently occurs at busy times.  However when reading the plan it does make you wonder whether the planners and consultants have actually listened to those residents.

One of the more contentious issues would appear to be the proposal for a new supermarket of up to 3,000 sq metres (nearly six times the size of the co-op in Spa Road).  The concerns are that such a large supermarket would prove fatal to existing retail shops in the area, taking away trade rather than encouraging it and adding to traffic congestion.

In addition the document recommends taking away the current station parking (building houses on the land) and moving it to the development at Eldon way, but reducing the spaces available for the station use down to just 72, less than half of the current availability.  It appears that the Council has not modeled such a change or the impact on traffic flow and no Transport Assessment has been undertaken (as it hasn’t with other parts of the Core Strategy).

The SPA roundabout is a notorious bottleneck and the a budget of £2-300,000 to address this problem does not seem to be enough given a figure quoted in the Core Strategy suggests £2M may be nearer the mark.  The failure to have a Transport Assessment done for this plan is missing an opportunity to provide a long-term solution to the area.

This lack of Transport Assessment appears critical to us, as John and Christine Mason say

“As the HAAP is a proposal for strategic development then according to ECC this must be accompanied by a transport assessment, the scope of which must be agreed with the Highway Authority. …”

We are requesting that the Inspector rejects this Plan returning it to Council with the requirement to await the assessment of the strategic effect of the proposed strategic development on highways infrastructure in Rochford District.  This report would be produced by Essex County Council.

We have been speaking to Hockley Residents Association (who oppose the plan) about this and it is possible for all members of the public to comment on this proposal by following this link.  The closing date for response is 5.00pm on Friday 25 January 2013.