THE THURROCK Thames Gateway Development Corporation (DC) have given conditional approval for the building of hundreds of new homes next to the Aveley By-pass.
At a planning meeting packed with local residents, the DC unanimously voted to “mind to approve” the Barratts Development.
Their decision will now be sent to the Secretary of State for approval as the proposal is to build on “Green Belt” land.
A number of objections were made to the proposals based on noise, pollution, traffic, school places, electricity supply, family housing and foul sewage.
The crux of the proposal appeared to be that Thurrock is falling way behind in its supply of affordable housing as targeted by the East of England.
A representative from Barratts detailed how they had met several of the objections.
He said: “The benefits outweigh the harm. The area is a zone 1 flood risk which is the lowest risk.
“Any flooding problem has been centered on the Purfleet Pumping Station. We are also in discussions with the relevant parties regarding the habitat.”
Barratts have committed to the development of a community centre in the area.
The DC detailed that 85% of the housing would be dwelling houses, a departure from the more flat-centred developments of the past.
The decision has come as a blow to the campaigners led by Aveley and Uplands Councillor Wendy Herd.
“ I was disgusted with decision to approve plans. Many residents turned up to the meeting in the hope members of the planning committee would throw out this application, what they in fact witness was shocking!
Only three members could be bothered to even raise their hand to support it, the rest had no interest in the process and abstained then again why should they worry they don’t live in the area and still get paid an obscene amount of tax payers money.
The unelected quango totally disregarded reports from Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, East of England Regional Assembly ( EERA ) who all mentioned the land was never identified for development and if developed sewerage systems would be unable to cope with foul water flow and be liable to flooding.
The Wildlife Trust and Natural England made specific mention of concerns regarding loss of habitat.
Residents concerns fell on deaf ears and green belt policies of the land was all but torn up!
The councillors will support the residents and appeal to the secretary of state. This body should not be given sweeping controls to rip up green belt land and devastate established communities.”
You sometimes wonder if the democratic processes are clearly explained to people. Did the 25 residents who turned up to the meeting, think that they would have a “Jimmy Stewart’ experience where the Chair Will McKee would suddenly stand up and say “Hey you are right, tear up the plans and do as the locals say”
It was not a public meeting but a meeting held in public.
Does the unelected quango argument stick? In many ways they are a decision making process outsourced by central government to professionals with decades of experience charged with creating a new landscape in Thurrock.
David Cameron has promised a “bonfire of the quangos” but sources close to the Tory leader believe that DC’s will be part of his plans up to 2014 and beyond.
A new landscape is coming. Belhus Chase changes to the Ormiston Academy in September. Over the next five years a gleaming new school will emerge with unheralded opportunities for the students of Aveley.
The football club continue to thrive as they start a new season in the Ryman Premier and have hopes themselves for a new stadium.
One way of looking at it is that this is an opportunity for a thousand people to come to Thurrock and bring their skills and sense of involvement in the area.
Aveley has a keen sense of identity harnessed by its local councillors and community forum led by Rev Alan Field. The community spirit harnessed by the memorial to Nicky Mason (who fell in Afghanistan last year) is testament to a fine village.
But the challenge of any community is to harness change and like it or not, Thurrock is in the same place that areas such as Harlow and Crawley were post war.
It may be time for the DC-bashing to stop. Thurrock Council Chief Executive Bob Coomber has called for an end to officer-bashing from councillors which was most evident in planning meetings. Perhaps it is time to stop demonising the DC as some form of evil empire.