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Layer de la Haye Parish Council has considered the sections of the Preferred Options Local Plan relating to our village and has discussed it with the residents of our village at an open meeting held on 9th July. We support the view of our residents that the planned development outlined in the Local Plan is unsustainable at present for the following reasons, which contradict the statements contained in section 6.177 of the document:
* our primary school is at capacity and cannot accept all the children in the village. Contrary to your statement that the EEC school capacity report indicates that the school will have a capacity of three places available in 2020, the EEC's funding prediction forecasts that this will not be the case.
* the village GP surgery is operating at capacity.
* the village has a small general store and a farm shop, but not a post office as stated in the document.
* we have a very limited bus service. Two routes were to be withdrawn but will now remain due to EEC subsidies.
In addition, the site selected, 106, scored badly against some of the key assessment criteria taken from the Draft Strategic Land Availability Assessment Framework - Housing (SLAA) published in July 2015 and the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) framework
Distance to frequent service bus stop - R
Distance to primary school Distance to GP -A
Distance to 'super-market' -A
Distance to play area -A
Distance to public open space - A
Distance to Stanway / Colchester - A
However, if development in our village is deemed necessary to comply with the North Essex Authorities Shared Strategic Plan policy SP2 'Meeting Housing Needs' despite the concerns we have mentioned, then we understand the selection of site 106 because of its size and location. Our comments on the contents of Policy SS12 relating to this site are as follows:
1. you state up to fifty new dwellings, and bungalows and small family homes will be encouraged. In initial discussions forty two new dwellings were mentioned, and we would favour this lower number. We will forcibly push for bungalows and small family homes with the developers as dwellings of this nature are the only types of homes which would be beneficial to this village.
2. EEC Highways have dismissed your original suggestion that access to the field for construction traffic should be via the Folley, and your policy suggests a single access point via Hawfinch Road (not 'Hawthorn' as stated in your policy) and Greate House Farm Road. In our view this point of access is totally unsuitable for construction traffic, as a site visit would evidence: the roads are narrow, with several bends and junctions and residents frequently park cars along the roadside.
3. you list a safe pedestrian access to the village. We are concerned that children already have to cross the busy High Road to access the school and play area, and the EEC have now withdrawn funding for a school crossing patrol officer to assist parents and children crossing the road.
Elaborating on each of these points in turn:
1. We have held a meeting with the landowner and her agent to exchange views on the proposed development, and it was accepted that a mix of two and three bedroom houses and bungalows would be the most suitable approach for the village and to provide local affordable housing for local people. Discussion then centred on the affordable housing element of the development, and for this to be a rural exception site to give local people first refusal.
We should repeat that there is almost unanimous opposition to this development taking place. As well as the practical concerns already stated about the surgery, school and so on, our residents feel that a major development of this kind could be very detrimental to the character of the village. One way of reducing its impact would be for Colchester Borough Council to enforce through planning policies on this site, and/or Section 106 agreements, that the number of homes can never be increased and that over-development of smaller homes into larger ones is not permitted. Layer de la Haye, like many rural communities, suffers from smaller properties being bought by builders or developers and turned into much larger properties.
We would very much like to support the idea that part of the site becomes a rural exception site. We have an RCCE Housing Needs Survey that shows a need for around eight small properties of up to three bedrooms each to accommodate the needs of our residents and their families. Another way in which CBC could make the development more acceptable to our residents is if we can together create a scheme in which 'local houses for local people' is seen as a beneficial outcome of the development. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Colchester Borough Council to discuss this in more detail at the earliest convenience.
2. Highways Dept. have acknowledged that the Folley is not 'fit for purpose' in its current state and would require a significant improvement to bring it up to standard. However, we doubt they have considered what the cost of repairing the estate roads will be when the project is finished and several hundred tons of building materials have been transported over the estate roads, which would have never been designed for that amount of traffic. The concrete is cracking and breaking away already and kerbs will be dislodged as lorries mount them to negotiate round parked vehicles.
We suggest making The Folley one way while construction takes place. When you consider the logistics of moving lorries through the village, the easiest route is to access the site via The Folley on to the field to deliver material and then return via the Folley to Malting Green Road and onto the village crossroads and return towards Colchester. This means all the road junctions could be taken giving the drivers reasonable vision of the turnings and providing the safest route for all HGV's.
HGV's coming from Colchester turning left at the village crossroads would have to go wide to turn into Malting Green Road and, in most cases, travel on the wrong side of the carriageway to negotiate the turning unsighted, both on the High Road and Malting Green Road. They would also cut across the space alongside the Forge where there are no kerbs and the footpath comes to an abrupt end.
The proposal put forward by Highways is not the safest route into the site due to turning limitations at the crossroads, the lack of suitably wide pavement opposite the Fox pub used by all the children walking to school from Malting Green Road, and roads on the estate unsuitable for carrying maximum weight HGV's. It is the cheapest solution they can put forward; offering no solution at all.
When the build took place at Abberton Reservoir time restrictions were placed on HGV movement which limited movements during peak times at the school. It would be appropriate for this to be controlled on this occasion.
In summary we want to retain the rural and pleasant aspect of the Folley but believe that it would be the most suitable access route for construction traffic while development is underway, and it would need to be one way during this time as it is quite narrow. We also discussed the possibility of the Folley having an entrance to a cul-de-sac on the new development which would serve just a few of the new houses, but again we would want to limit any changes in appearance to the Folley.
3.An important aspect of the proposed development is that the infrastructure to support the additional housing is agreed beforehand. We would like to see a new children's playground constructed on the new development to safeguard children from having to cross the High Road to access the existing play area facilities. An additional need would be for the two estate roads, Hawfinch Road and Great House Farm Road, which would carry all the additional residential traffic to the new development, to be tarmacked to reduce the high noise level resulting from concrete roads. The village does have other needs which may be covered by Section 106 funding and need to be discussed at the appropriate time.