We have written elsewhere of the problems faced by Cllrs John & Christine Mason in sorting out problems caused by the development of housing on Greenbelt land within their Ward. This extra work has prevented them putting forward anyone to stand in the Essex County Council elections.
They are however asking two questions of candidates in this election, the full article can be read here but basically they are asking what the candidates are going to do about the lack of highway planning in the County. Particularly they are concerned about the Councils piecemeal approach to traffic assessment around individual developments (the 500 for Hullbridge, 176 for Hawkwell, 600 for Rochford etc) rather than taking a strategic approach and looking at the traffic impact overall for all developments in the District (and County).
We have always argued that such a piecemeal approach, as favoured by Essex County Council, is wrong and will produce not only flawed figures but major chaos on our roads. By assessing the traffic impact of the Hockley Area Action Plan, for instance, without taking into account the additional traffic created by the development in Hawkwell of 176 additional houses the Council will be vastly underestimating both vehicle numbers and traffic flows. This is compounded for each development with 500 houses in Hullbridge being assessed by highways without reference to the 600 off of Rawreth Lane. The result will be roads, already struggling to cope, that will be severely overcapacity.
Cllrs John and Christine Mason have asked what candidates would do if elected. Cllr Michael Hoy is happy to assure them that he would insist on a county-wide Strategic Transport Assessment that takes into account all developments in each area and comes up with solutions to alleviate or remove any problems If solutions are not possible the District Councils should then be informed of this and their Local Plans adjusted accordingly, removing or reducing the developments if necessary. This is in fact one of Michael’s key campaigning points.
The other question concerns a new major road through the Rochford District, from Southend, bypassing the current road network.
It would not be acceptable for any solution to propose a new road, a requirement for a new road would immediately demonstrate that the area is over capacity in terms of development and would not be acceptable. A new road would attract additional developments and the only way a new road would be built is by funding from additional extensive house building on the Districts Green Belt.