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We have grave concerns about the proposed building of 350 extra homes, meaning approx. 1000 extra residents and 700 extra cars, in West Mersea for the following reasons:
Firstly, the impact on roads and road safety. We believe that the S278 transport assessment of these builds needs to interrogate the impact of potentially 700 (and more over time) cars on:
* East Road, an already busy road linking East to West and linking residential areas with the centre of the village. Wellhouse estate and 10 residential roads all feed into the same half a mile stretch of road that these two proposed estates will also feed into.
* the village itself considering the increased traffic as the island is now an all-year round holiday destination
* the safety on Queens corner which at peak times is already a bottleneck
* the Strood and Mersea Road
* the flood/emergency evacuation plan; trying to evacuate another 1000 residents across one road.
* the building of Bradwell B Power Station; proposed building in the Dengie has recently been shelved due to concerns about Bradwell B.
Secondly, the impact on community infrastructure. This was highlighted again this week when ECC Council Leader David Finch said that the council are aware of the issues around a lack of school places, pressure on health services such as doctors and inadequate roads so recommends that all infrastructure is improved PRIOR to building. We therefore wonder whether the Community infrastructure levy would take into account:
* the need for more school places and the building of teaching spaces to accommodate them at the two local schools (Mersea and Langenhoe) which are already full, as with the Council cutting costs (in response to Govt cutbacks) there is no money to fund these teaching spaces
* lack of places available at both the doctors and dentists. For e.g. the doctor surgery is currently trying to shed patients to ease their patient lists.
* the inevitable increased pressure on emergency care, in particular the Air Ambulance as the Strood is covered regularly by the tide making ambulance/paramedic response to emergencies impossible.
* the pressure on parking, in particular at the Tesco express, Spar convenience store, the Co-Op and high street car park which are all regularly full with lines of waiting cars.
* community safety as we have no police presence, which is essential, as other small communities/islands who have been developed have shown, and there is no County funding to facilitate this.
Thirdly, a lack of confidence in the council to ensure that the developers, given the issues with their previous building on the island (roads too narrow, lack of parking meaning that roads are too busy to enable emergency vehicles to access homes safely and no green space as homes are crammed together) will build homes and environments that enable healthy, safe and accessible living for residents at all points of their lives.
ECC Chief Executive, Gavin Jones, recently said that the council should ensure that all building should meet the needs of our community needs throughout their life such as homes for care leavers, the elderly, young families, extended families and couples and the last build on the island certainly did not meet these needs.
Fourthly, how the Council will ensure the Govt's pledge that housing stock should ensure that our children can get onto the housing ladder through affordable housing is carried out considering the higher than average cost of property on the island. In the previous development 'affordable housing' was still beyond the young people/young families of the island many of whom move away as they cannot afford to live near their families.
Fifthly, environmental impact. for example:
* the impact of 1000 extra residents on the already overstretched, old sewerage system which, as we understand it, failed recently near one of the proposed sites.
* impact on the growing red squirrel population which are now transiting across the proposed sites to roads such as Seaview Avenue and Fairhaven Avenue.
And lastly, the numbers of residents in the current community is misrepresented as there are many people now resident on caravan sites who have 12 month seasons despite the fact that this should not happen. As we understand it, an example of this in 2016 was a one bedroom flat in Colchester that was found to have 6 people registered as living in it but they were living in caravans on the island and jointly renting the flat. We have had people, whilst in the local shops, proudly tell us how they have sold their home in other parts of the county & country and now live on a few of the caravan sites on the island. This misrepresentation has an effect on the planning considerations and subsequent pressure on the island.