The Government Inspector, David Smith, has issued his report on the District Council’s proposals for housing including the 500 earmarked for Hullbridge. The report is his final conclusion after making an interim report late last year and it is based on his study of the plan and also the evidence from participants at the public hearings in the autumn of last year. The report can be read here.
A lot of people are going to feel very disappointed with the report which proposes only a few changes most of which are either minor or unhelpful and includes no changes to the overall figures or any significant infrastructure improvements. We have picked out a few points ourselves.
On building within the Green belt he says
16. Many representations argue that the housing developments proposed are wrong in principle as they would, amongst other things, intrude into the Green Belt. This includes the sites at Canewdon, Hullbridge…. However, the CS considered the need for housing within the District until 2025 and confirmed how this would be distributed across a number of different areas. It also accepted that Green Belt land would need to be allocated for residential development. So the broad approach to the location of new housing has already been definitively settled by the process of examining and finally adopting the CS. There is no overriding evidence to justify fundamental revisions to it.
Broadly this seems to say as policy states we “need” more housing and there is little spare land other than Greenbelt they have to build on Greenbelt.
Infrastructure is acknowledged in the report but gives little comfort to readers despite the Inspector admitting in point 25 that
there is no technical information about the impact of additional traffic. Furthermore, there is no other assessment to contradict the Highway Authority’s position that the network as a whole should be able to cope
But he goes on to accept that because County aren’t worried and, because they have had the plans and the proposals are in the Core Strategy, it isn’t a problem.
With regard to Watery Lane the Inspector has at least recognised some problems and says
There is particular concern about Watery Lane which is narrow and twisting and provides a link to major routes to the north. It is apparent that there is a difference between the Highway Authority’s view of its status within the road hierarchy and the actual level of use of a well-known ‘short cut’. Watery Lane
is also vulnerable to flooding but development would provide an opportunity for this to be mitigated. The concept statement should be modified to include
reference to raising the highway and ditch maintenance to ensure satisfactory highway conditions (MM52). CS Appendix H1 and paragraph 3.188 of the RASD also refer to improvements to the Hullbridge Road junction which might involve a dedicated turning lane.
There really should not be any disagreement about the position of Watery Lane as it is listed as a PR (Priority Route) link road. However at least the Inspector has taken on board representations made by ourselves, and others, about this important link.