Local Plan – Continued

Following the motion in the Local Plan Committee, TDC offciers arranged for the PBA consultants who carried out the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs (OAHN) study to meet with interested parties. Sadly, all they did was to present the report that they had previously submitted. I phoned the TDC Planning Officer (Cath Bicknell) and she confirmed that she had no further actions planned to discharge the Local Plan committee motion. So I wrote the note below to her, copied to the Chairman of the Local Plan Committee (Neil Stock [Con], also Leader of the Council):

I understood from our phone conversation on Monday morning that you feel no other actions are necessary to deliver against the motion at the last local plan meeting to seek a lower dpa figure from PBA. The meeting with the PBA consultant last Thursday was a repetition of the contents of the last PBA report. As such it fulfils neither the letter nor the spirit of the motion “to go back to the authors of the above-mentioned study to investigate the matters raised by the Committee in respect of figures and assumptions in the study and to explore the possibility of revising its conclusions with a view to setting lower housing growth figures for Tendring”.

The PBA consultant did highlight some of the many opportunities to achieve a lower DPA target figure. These include:

  • Define a different HMA:- Possibly Colchester and Tendring. Different consultants?
  • Population forecasts:- I believe that we were told that the revised approach to the UPC left a flat trend between the censuses. So, investigate the data/maths in detail to understand how a flat 2001 – 2011 trend becomes a 280dpa figure on a 5 year trend and 479dpa on a 10 year trend.
  • Demographics :- At some point in the process, possibly prior to getting to 479dpa, PBA have taken into account; increased migration from a larger UK population, smaller households, longer lives. We should see the data/maths for these. Increased UK population is down to international immigration, which does not come to Tendring, and there is no data to support a decrease in household size during the plan period. Longer lives is [presumably] correct, but offset by people working longer. We should see the data/maths.
  • Housing restriction:- The consultant was very keen that there was evidence a restriction in housing supply, in the face of the house price facts and ignoring affordability data. Indeed contradicting their own report. Failing that he said we would pick up a 10% or 20% uplift because there had been a gap when we did not have an approved plan in place. The rationale for this stance on uplift requires further investigation.
  • EPOA jobs adjustment:- We need to see the data/maths on this. It may very well be that there is a need for more people to maintain the working age population, but this does not all have to be done in dpa. A fall in unemployment would be welcome.

No doubt other opportunities to deliver a lower dpa from the OAHN study will emerge.

Please could I ask that Tendring DC now engage in a material way to achieve a lower dpa figure for the Local Plan. I recognise that a great deal of the details will be undertaken by TDC officers. However, I, and I am sure others, are more than willing to engage in this process and wish TDC officers to be fully transparent about any meetings, questions and answers.

If you feel that a meeting of some (or all?) of those copied on this email with TDC planning officers would help, then I am sure that can be arranged. Would you be able to advise as to whether a motion at the next Local Plan Committee (or full council?) would help to move this forward?

I have constructive responses from both. Let’s see how this turns out.


Clacton police station will remain open! Three cheers for that. UKIP, and Douglas Carswell in particular, has lead the fight to keep it open, though it is fair to say that this campaign has had broad-based support.

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex and the Chief Constable for Essex have now published their proposals for policing in Tendring in this flier; District – TENDRING 2015 10 . The highlights are:

  • Clacton police station to remain open.
  • Front counter of Harwich police station to close.
  • 13 of the current 26 PCSOs will go.

Over the whole of Essex, PCSOs are being reduced from 250 to 60 and the police estate is being reduced from 25 stations open to the public to 10.

Clearly this is a significant reduction in the police presence. The proposal for Tendring states that the new Community Policing Team; “will not deal with low level non-policing matters such as long-term neighbourhood disputes, low level anti-social behaviour and parking issues, but will work alongside partners, for example the local authority and Community Safety Partnership, who will address these matters.” I am not aware that Tendring DC has plans, or resources, to pick up this responsibility.

It is clearly a good thing that Clacton Police station is no longer under threat. However, it has to be worrying that the Essex PCC, conservative Nick Alston, has been so invisible since he was elected back in 2012. On Wednesday 11th November 2015 he will make his first major public lecture since he was elected. His role is to represent the views of the people of Essex to the Authorities, especially the Essex Chief Constable and the Home Office. Instead he seems to have been captured by the machine and reduced to representing the views of the authorities to the people of Essex.

Given the level of opposition within Essex to these cuts, I would have expected Nick Alston to have reservations about these proposals. If he does, we do not know that they are. And that really is not good enough. Maybe he agrees privately, since he is not standing again at the next election in May 2016. That will be an opportunity to elect a PCC who will be more visible, and clear that their role is to represent us to the authorities, not the other way around.