The Reading Room was built in 1885 in Church Lane for the public by the lord of the manor for locals and farm workers to provide somewhere for them to read news papers and other material. In 1895 it had 40 ordinary members. Vestry meetings were held there from 1906 to 1910. It is at the centre of the village and has been used over the years for parties, village meetings, hand bell ringing, sports and entertainment. It was used by the Sports and Social Club for many years. The villagers purchased the property from the estate of H. Benyon in 1964 for the cost of six pence per household to cover the cost of £20 (negotiated down from £2000) plus expenses. It is a building of historical importance to the village with a wonderful interior and is in keeping with the other buildings locally, a link back to the by-gone age of benevolent land ownership.
Planning submission has been put in to Havering council application 1989 (click on link) to have a change of use of the building from a community amenity to a 2 bedroom residential property – we would like to bring this building back from the brink once more, and revive it’s use in the advancement of local community development, of the arts, culture, and the local heritage.
Continuing from the previous consultation the Department for Transport (DfT) has launched another consultation process on the New Thames Crossing. With the tarmac from the widening of the M25 and the paint of the white lines from introduction of the new so-called “free-flow” toll hardly dry and the chaos caused by work on the A13 junction it cannot be believed that appropriate time and analysis of the affects they have had on traffic and congestion.
The DfT seems to be pushing very hard for the worse possible of all options, Option C, cutting across the end of Church Lane and very close to Norman Church and barn conversions with elevated sections running down the middle of all the green belt land all the way from Tilbury. The entire area will be blighted by this unnecessary and expensive tar and cement white elephant.
Read the details that DfT are prepared to make public here.
Below is a summation by our local expert of the Appeal Decision for the Kennels 30 “Rabbit Hutch” houses development application that had already been soundly dismissed by the local council. Most people with a grain of common sense having read the reasons for the council’s decision would have realised that the application didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning if it went to final appeal with the government. However as the say, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.
Appeal Decision – The Ockendon Kennels North Ockendon RM14 3PT
Decision on Appeal: DISMISSED (i.e. APPLICATION FAILED).
Factors the Planning Inspectorate considered whether it was:-
Inappropriate development in the Green Belt;
Acceptable form of development having regard to its flood zone location;
Whether the development makes adequate provision for local infrastructure and affordable housing;
Effect on the character and appearance of the area; and
If the development amounted to inappropriate development whether this amounted to very special circumstances to justify it.
Inappropriate development of the Green Belt
The development of the Green Belt is governed by the National Planning Policy Framework it is material to any development. There have to be very special circumstances for any development to be approved.
There are limited exceptions allowing development. Linda Jeffries considered that the redevelopment of what was a brown field site would not have a great impact on the openness of the Green Belt land. Whilst the Inspector agreed the Kennels could be considered brown field land Linda Jeffries still needed to demonstrate that this development would not have a great impact on openness and the purpose of the Green Belt.
The volumes of the existing properties were far smaller than the proposed buildings. The footprint of the buildings would significantly exceed that of the existing development.
The Inspectorate indicated that although there was some screening due to the footprint and volume 30 dwellings would still have significantly greater bulk, mass and height compared to the existing buildings on the site. The new buildings would need parking spaces, fencing which would further erode the openness of the Green Belt which was not acceptable.
The Inspector indicated that the development of these new buildings is isolated from built up areas so the development would encroach into the countryside. The Inspector indicated that this is the reason the Green Belt was development to stop such inappropriate development.
Flood Zone Location
The area has a low flood zone area.
The new development has not consulted with the Environment Agency in connection with any potential risk with regard to flooding so the Inspector could not reach a fully informed conclusion.
Local Infrastructure and affordable housing
Where there are more than 10 new properties built 50% must be affordable housing to reflect Core Planning Principles.
Linda Jeffries indicates that the proposal would bring “much needed low cost housing to the area”. This is directly contradicted by the fact that there is no s.106 agreement in place – no indication that she has any mechanism to ensure that the legal requirement concerning affordable housing is in place.
Effect on character and appearance of the area
Linda Jeffries said that for the existing properties in the area there was no rigid style and setting the new buildings she proposes back from the highway would not impact on the area.
The Inspectorate recognised that the dilapidated buildings would be removed but that the new development would mean that the proposed scheme would detract from the character of the area and would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area.
The Ockendon Wildlife Trust was recognised as having no suitable and realistic mechanism.
Linda Jeffries argued that the dwellings would exceed the standard building regulations and energy performances. There was no technical evidence to support this.
The housing development was considered by the Inspector to be inappropriate development applying the stringent national planning policy tests which the Inspector was required to apply.
The Inspector considered that any factors that might be in favour of the development were outweighed by the very substantial harm by reason of inappropriateness of the development and there were no special circumstances justifying development of the Green Belt.demonstrate that this development would not have a great impact on openness and the purpose of the Green Belt.circumstances justifying development of the Green Belt.