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40 Firs Road, West Mersea, CO5 8JS
September 10, 2016
Planning Policy, Colchester Borough Council
Rowan House, 33 Sheepen Road, Colchester, CO3 3WG
Dear Planning Committee
I have two main concerns regarding the proposed sites for development on Mersea Island, and I use the title Mersea Island as it would be the entire island that would be affected by the two large developments proposed.
The first objection is due to inaccuracies in the Local Plan itself.
The second objection is that the infrastructure (roads, water, sewage) on Mersea Island is already at capacity and will need serious upgrading to cope with hundreds more people.
I have provided your paragraph number & comment:
Policy SG1: Colchester's Spatial Strategy
* . Mersea is not easily accessible and only needs one mishap (bus in ditch, high tide, or road works) to stop everything in best gridlock style.(more info further on)
2.69. Although the plan for Mersea, in particular the larger site proposed, accessing through Brierley Paddocks, mentions the provision of better pedestrian facilities to access the main services such as the primary school, grocery shops, and the surgery, not many people walk from Seaview Ave to the village now. Will there be a school bus circulating on the island to deliver children to the local school? More anecdotal evidence points to children attending school from the caravan sites, although this is denied by official bodies.
employment opportunities: There are very few opportunities for employment on Mersea Island unless one is prepared to be cut back to minimum or 0 hours off-season. The areas quoted in the Local Plan have extremely low turnover in staff and one must assume that most new house-owners will have to commute off the island, along with the majority of income earners currently on the island.
2.71 The authorities will need to work with the NHS: facilities. Mersea Island already hosts above average elderly population, and that, as well as with year round residents on some of the caravan sites, the doctors' surgery is struggling, at their own admission.
There are very few employment opportunities on the island, other than seasonal work for the tourist industry.
* reduce the need to travel:
New build homes will result in more vehicles pouring onto East Road, either to exit via Dawes Lane, which is grossly inadequate for existing commuter and school-run traffic, or to travel westward into the village centre, again along East Road. Cyclists using East Road are risking their lives as the road is too narrow for busy traffic and cyclists together. A separate cycle path would need to be created to get people into the main services and facilities area, away from the roads.
Secure infrastructure to support new development:
Widen and footpath East Road, full length, provide off-road parking for all residents, widen and footpath Dawes Lane; widen and road mark East Mersea Road;
develop mini-roundabout junctions at Dawes/East Road, Dawes/East Mersea Road, MillRoad/East Road & Uplands,/ Mill Road/Colchester Road, and Barfield at Tescos. These are all very dangerous junctions.
Promote of healthy lifestyles: The Glebe can support any field sports that new residents might need, but if people desire any boating activities, the parking nearer the centre for sailing is inadequate now. The Coast Road is suffering from the successes of local businesses who have become nationally famous for their quality and visitor experience value.
3.9 West Mersea is a thriving village, set amidst beautiful landscapes and coastal areas which will be protected and enhanced for the enjoyment of all: Please protect Mersea Island as one of those areas of beauty. Mersea needs enhancing, not stuffing. The island is already an international visitor destination, struggling to cope with a population that has swelled greatly in the last 10 years, through infill building, enlargement of existing small houses, and the changing of the occupancy rules on the caravan sites.
4.20 To develop a list of settlements considered to qualify as 'sustainable'... jobs
there is no concentration of jobs in Mersea unless you are in hospitality industry,
Do both proposed building sites qualify as being within 400m of a bus stop?
* ; Is the lower end of the Brierley Paddocks site subject to flooding due to climate change?
* Proximity to community facilities with good accessibility being judged for most as judged as a distance up to 400m including;
* it would be accurate to say that there are no community facilities as close as 400m
* % of people who travel less than 2km to work ;
* on the island, housing east of Mill Road is over 2 km from the employment areas. Most existing employment on the island & even to Peldon, would be in excess of 2 km
SP5: Place Shaping Principles ...
* Create well-connected places that prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport services above use of the private car;
* Currently, there are many elderly drivers on the island, as there is inadequate public transport services on the island. Yes, there are buses in & out of Colchester, but there are no such buses for people to go grocery shopping on the island. Many elderly rely on volunteer services or pay for taxis to get about.
* Provide streets and spaces that are overlooked and active, and promote inclusive access;
* a vast amount of West Mersea is built in cul-de-sac fashion, with single access roads. May areas are known to emergency services as hard, if not impossible, to get to e.g: Garden Farm, Cypress Mews, Hogarth Lane.
* Include parking facilities that are well integrated as part of the overall design;
* Mersea is already overloaded with people looking for parking, on a daily basis.
* water efficiency: our water system is pushed beyond its current design capacity and thus the pressure is very poor in many areas of the island.
6.215 West Mersea is a small coastal town located on an island on the confluence of the Colne and Blackwater Estuaries approximately 15km from the centre of Colchester Town. West Mersea is the larger of two settlements on Mersea Island, the other being the much smaller village of East Mersea
which hosts the largest caravan sites on the island - Waldergraves and Coopers Beach.
Early development in West Mersea was concentrated around the harbour and nearby oyster pits to the south west of the island. Development has since expanded to the north and west.
6.216 West Mersea is a District Centre : I challenge the claim that West Mersea is a Centre. By definition a centre is in the middle of a wider area. Mersea Island, and therefore West Mersea, is a cul-de-sac at the end of two roads only: Peldon road that leads through several small villages and can go through Maldon, or Tiptree; or Colchester Road that leads through Abberton and Langenhoe to Colchester. The 'services and facilities' so often mentioned throughout your Local Plan for Colchester, on Mersea Island, are at the END of a road. There is no through road. Everyone travels to Mersea on one road in and the same road out, across the Strood, which is occasionally brought to a standstill at High Spring Tides, or of there is a breakdown or accident.
It will be important to protect the function of the District Centre in Mersea : Adding 350 houses to the general populations of Mersea would not serve as "Protecting the function of Mersea" as we are already at capacity in many respects elaborated elsewhere in this text
6.217 West Mersea is considered to be a sustainable location for some housing growth. There are currently approximately 3,200 dwellings in West Mersea.
NOT TRUE. According to the CBC Taxation office, there are more like 3580 houses in West Mersea. Also, as most folk dwelling in the 6 caravan sites on the island also use the District Centre for their 'key services' one ought to include the 1400 static caravan sites on the island as permanent dwellings. This appears to suggest a number of people using the facilities is more like 10,000. (7000 people on West Mersea, plus 2.1 people in the average static caravan = 10,000).
The preferred sites could deliver an additional 350 houses over the Local Plan period. This equates to an 11% increase in the number of dwellings, a level which reflects the availability of existing facilities and services
The Plan is suggesting that Mersea's facilities and services could handle 350 additional dwellings, or approximately 735 people, or perhaps 700 more cars. As the number of dwellings is extremely UNDERstated in the plan, more housing will bump the population over the 10,000 mark. Our sewage system is built for 10,000 capacity. We are already pushing the limit, according to anecdotal evidence from Anglian Water. The water mains are both at full capacity and the water pressure has been abysmal all summer long. Now that we have 12 months occupancy on the larger caravan sites, we can look forward to more inadequate water pressure. What would be the impact of adding yet more dwellings to this situation?
* Include measures to promote environmental sustainability, including to address energy and water efficiency; and
o as mentioned earlier, our water system is pushed beyond its current design capacity and thus the pressure is very poor in many areas of the island.
* Protect the amenity of existing and future residents and users with regard to noise, vibration, smell, loss of light and overlooking.
Developer Contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy Policy
4.65 Forget playgrounds - put all funds towards improvement of water provision, sewage, and roads on & off the island in relation to the proposed sites
4.67 When infrastructure cannot be provided within, or is not appropriate to be located on, the development site itself, developers will be expected to make a contribution to the cost to provide what is necessary to support new development.
If the developers are not prepared to pay up front for road widening and improved road conditions leading from their sites to off the island, then they should not be allowed to build.
**Chapel & Wakes Colne
6.123 Existing water supply and waste water infrastructure capacity issues in Copford would be compounded by development of this site. As a precautionary approach, development cannot come forward until there is sufficient water supply, network capacity, waste water treatment and sewage infrastructure capacity to serve the development. Where this cannot be demonstrated it will be necessary to seek further advice from Anglian Water.**
This caveat must apply to Mersea, too.
6.218. Quite. East Mersea relies on West Mersea for most of its services and facilities, including banking, medical assistance, post office, groceries and hardware. THIS PLAN MUST INCLUDE COMMUNITY OF EAST MERSEA and be presented holistically as Mersea Island.
Policy SS17a: Mersea Housing and Employment
Development of land at Dawes Lane, West Mersea will be supported which also provides for :
* Up to 150 new dwellings of a mix and type of housing to be compatible with surrounding development;
* Public Open Space and childrens play area to adjacent to The Glebe
* A single site access off East Road.
* See below - East Road is already very busy, but after two more developments are fed into it, travelling the road will become dangerous. Cyclists, horses and riders, and pedestrians are constantly moving along East Road, to and from Waldergraves Holiday Park. Customers turning in and out of The Fox pub can be hazardous at times.
Development of land at Brierley Paddocks, East Road will be supported which also provides for:
* Up to 200 new dwellings of a mix and type of housing to be compatible with surrounding development.
* An access via Brierley Paddocks to East Road
* and another down Seaview Avenue? 200 houses is a lot with only one access route.
* A safe pedestrian access agreed with the Highways Authority from the site to existing footways and to West Mersea to enhance connectivity
* if this access was made for cycles and horses as well, it would serve the community better; it's a long walk to the centre of the village
* Highways upgrades agreed by and compliant with the most up to date Highway Authority standards
* what might these upgrades consist of??
6.220 Yes. Please help us to do a better job of managing this tourism trade rather than cramming more permanent residents onto the island. The general feeling among residents on the island is that our infrastructure is already at capacity. Parking behind the Co-op, behind the Library and around Tesco is to capacity, frequently. Yorick road is blocked with continual parking from end to end during the summer, and to the Bowling Green off-season. Driving from east to west along Yorick road is a risky business as many drivers appear to forget that they are supposed to give way to oncoming traffic when their side of the road is obstructed. Locals know not to travel along Barfield Road & Kingsland Road at school delivery and pick up time. Also, on a fine day, year round, the Coast Road is a slalom of parked cars, pedestrians in clumps of family members, delivery vans, tractors, boats, cranes and launching trollies. Victory Road, St. Peter's Road, City Road, are all blocked up with visitors trying to park so that they can walk & enjoy the views.
6.222 Future development proposals will have to balance the need to protect the important natural and cultural assets at the coast against competing development pressures and the need to support wider socio-economic needs of the Borough's coastal communities.
This proposed development will tip the balance that is recognised already as fragile - many residents make a habit of trundling down Coast Road to explore the area, to sit and watch the sunset, to buy fish, to use facilities at 110 Coast Road.
6.225 There are 6 caravan parks on Mersea Island; Firs Chase, Waldegraves, Seaview, Coopers Beach, Fen Farm and Cosways.
6.226 The Council recognises the valuable contribution that these caravan parks make to the supply of holiday accommodation for visitors to Mersea and the rest of the borough. They are also an important element of the local tourism industry and their retention and improvement is generally supported.
As do residents; having the parks on Mersea is not an issue,. But they must be included in any equations whilst looking at developing Mersea island.
6.227 Caravan Parks can generate local impacts that need to be carefully managed.
Such as traffic & pressure on emergency services
6.228 applicants should consult with the Environment Agency at an early stage in the planning application process to ensure that sewage disposal options are fully considered.
I trust that the Environmental Agency has a chance to do a thorough and in depth investigation into the proposed impact of more permanent dwellings on the island.
6.230. What are mitigation measures? Park & Ride?
6.231 Extensions to existing caravan parks should not impact or
increase in traffic as site residents travel to and from work
I would appreciate acknowledgment of this letter.
Thanking you in anticipation of your taking the time to read this