Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wickford North Green Action Group meeting

I went to the public meeting organised by the Wickford North Green Action Group meeting last night to oppose the proposed development on the Barn Hall site. It was an excellent event, with Councillors from Basildon and Chelmsford as well as the very capable organisers of the Action Group all speaking and fielding questions from the audience. The hall was packed and the local opinion was very clear, with the exception of a few chaps from the so-called Wickford Action Group who oppose development in Wickford Town Centre but seem a bit ambiguous when it comes to the Green Belt, I know it sounds like the People's Front of Judea vs. the Judean People's Front but bear with me here. Our view, that is the Conservative administration's view is that to meet the government's housing targets we can either concrete the Green Belt or build on brownfield, and we choose the latter. There are very legitimate concerns about roads, schools and healthcare provision, but that does not change that central policy, so I am very pleased that local people have organised to fight the Barn Hall development.

The highlight for me was when an elderly member of the audience told us how he and his neighbours had organised to fight, and win, against an earlier attempt to encroach on the Green Belt in Wickford, opposing then Chairman of Planning on Basildon Council ex-Councillor David Harrison, who is now a leading light of the Wickford Action Group. It was actually very moving and the Chairman of the current campaign spoke of the torch being handed to a new generation of community activists.

So, the planning application will be heard in October and any appeal against a possible refusal would be heard in public in the New Year, but as the Wickford North people said, one battle at a time. If you oppose the development then make sure you write to Basildon Council and tell them so. Local opinion matters, and if people decide to stand up for their community then they can make a difference.


Anonymous said...

Cllr Horgan

I take exception to being called the ‘So-called’ Wickford Action Group, we never address you as so called Local Councillors, do we? You never once in your piece refer to the Wickford North Green Action Group as the ‘So Called’ group and nor would I expect you to just because we do not agree with you does not mean we do not deserve some respect, after all we are standing up for what we believe in and we did take 30% of the vote in Wickford last May, that’s a lot of people who support what we are about.

We oppose the massive amount of flat building in the high Street without any infrastructure to support it, not the idea of a Masterplan. So far 351 flats have been approved with no infrastructure so obviously more are needed before we get any infrastructure; we were told at the outset 466 flats would be built we are now told 650 when will this figure stop going up (along with the height of the buildings!). Wickford does not need five and six storey buildings in its High Street no more than Billericay does.

You have never answered my question you quoted in the press that Billericay does not need a Masterplan because it has got a more settled community than Wickford, please explain what this means.

One last thing you are factually wrong the land that falls within Basildon District Council at Barn hall is NOT ‘Green Belt’ as you well know it is land of special reserve the only land that is ‘Green Belt’ is the land that falls within Chelmsford Borough Council and you know this and you know the reason why Basildon Unlike Chelmsford , Castle point and Rochford did not get its Local Plan adopted THAT is why this land is under threat, I do not always agree with Ray Ride but on this occasion he has got it right.

When I challenged you on this you denied this and then screamed
And sat down hardly the way I would expect a Local Councillor to act!

Alan Ball
Wickford Action Group

Anonymous said...

Councillor Horgan - Unless you can provide factual evidence, would you kindly remove the inaccurate statement regarding my term as a member of basildon Council. My record is clear during my term as Chairman of Basildon Council's Planning Committee during the 1970's that I always firmly opposed development in the Green belt, often to the dismay of local developers.It is very easy to produce "hearsay" comments and publish them without any foundation whatsoever. i look forward to your deleting them from your blog together with an appropriate apology.

David Harrison

Steve Horgan said...

Mr. Harrison, I accurately reported the comments from a member of the public as any of well over a hundred people present, including some of your friends would attest. If your position is that you never supported any development in the Green Belt during your tenure as a Councillor and that the other gentleman was mistaken then of course I accept that.

Steve Horgan said...

Mr. Ball,

The reason why Barn Hall is under threat is fundamentally because a government inspector designated the land as a 'Special Reserve' for housing in the 1990s and then more recently another government department totally changed the local plan process while Basildon District Council was in the middle of it and thwarted our attempt to redesignate the land as Green Belt. That other Districts were at a different point in the local planning cycle is irrelevant and I would note that your view that Basildon District Council is culpable in this is not shared either by Chelmsford Borough Councillors or the Wickford North Green Action Group.