Posts Tagged ‘Development Control Committee’

Government Minister must approve extension of runway

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

THE expansion of Southend Airport will not go ahead without the approval of a Government minister, it has been announced.

Even if Southend Council approves the plan to extend the runway across Eastwoodbury Lane, it will still need the go-ahead from Government Minister John Denham.

Mr Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will either approve the plan or call it in for a public inquiry.

The council’s development control committee is meeting today to discuss the plans. If the committee refuses the application, the plans are dead. [Not strictly true, as the airport could appeal the decision.]

But if it is approved, the decision is put on hold until the Secretary of State decides he will not intervene or he decides to “call in” the application.

This means there would be a public inquiry about the plan, chaired by a Government planning inspector.

The Secretary of State is not required to reach a decision with any specific timescale, but aims to deal with it “as quickly as possible”.

Anti-expansion pressure group Stop Airport [Extension] Now welcomed the news.

Spokesman Denis Walker said: “The direction means it’s much more likely there will be a public inquiry and that’s good news.

“This is what we’ve been asking for ever since the planning application was submitted.

“Leaving this decision to Southend Council means there wouldn’t be proper scrutiny of it.

“Without a public inquiry, there would be no cross-examination of evidence or full scrutiny in public.

“This major decision would be left entirely in the hands of a process designed to approve extensions to houses.”

Inquiry delay would be ‘frustrating’

THE leader of Southend Council said he is concerned plans to expand the airport could be delayed by the Government’s decision.

Tory leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “There was always the possibility the Government would issue the directive, therefore, it doesn’t come as a great surprise.

“Obviously, the application will still be considered on its merits by the development control team.

“Hopefully, the Secretary of State reviews the situation promptly and decides as quickly as possible to call the matter in if the committee approves it.

“If it’s called in for a public inquiry, it would lead to a significant delay which the airport organisers would find very frustrating.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Southend West, Peter Welch, said he welcomed the Government’s decision.

About John Denham

JOHN Denham is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Denham, 56, has been Labour MP for Southampton Itchen since 1992 and has been the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government since June.

He recently hit the headlines for claiming class was a more significant factor in 21st-century Britain than race.

Lib Dems cleared to land votes on Southend runway

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

OPPOSITION councillors have been given the all-clear to vote on crucial plans to expand Southend Airport following an investigation.

Last month, Tory councillor Tony Cox called for the Liberal Democrats to be barred from voting on the planning application to extend the airport’s runway.

Mr Cox intervened because he feared Lib Dem councillors had already made up their minds over the plan, which their leader Graham Longley had announced his party was opposed to.

Mr Cox was worried that if the Lib Dems vote on the Stobart Group’s £30million development plans, then Southend Council could face legal action by the airport owners and a judicial review of its decision.

Strict rules govern councillors, which prevent them being for or against any planning application before it is heard.

However, John Williams, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, looked into the issue and has now agreed Lib Dems can vote.

Mr Longley said: “What the borough solicitor said is that none of my statements show predetermination and I’m obviously pleased.

“It’s disappointing councillor Cox didn’t feel the advice I gave him at the time about this was correct. He’s spent ratepayers’ money unnecessarily.”

However, Mr Cox, who represents West Shoebury, said: “It would have cost the council thousands of pounds if the matter had gone to judicial review, so it needed clarifying.

“I think he should have known better than to make the comments he did. I still think he has predetermined the issue, but the legal department said otherwise and I have to go with that.”

The airport’s expansion plans will be voted on at a meeting of the development control committee today.

Demonstrators oppose runway extension at Southend Airport

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

PRESS RELEASE

For: 20th January 2010
Demonstrators oppose Southend Airport runway extension

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
Demonstrators gather on the steps of Southend Civic Centre prior to the afternoon’s Development Control Committee meeting. This meeting will decide whether to approve a planning application to extend the runway at Southend Airport.

When: 10:30am, 20th January 2010
Venue: Southend Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea
Contact: Denis Walker, Press Officer, Stop Airport Extension Now – denis@saen.org.uk

At 2pm on 20th January, Southend Borough Council’s Development Control Committee will meet to decide whether to grant planning permission for a longer runway at London Southend Airport. Airport owners, Stobart, want the extension to enable growth of the airport to two million passengers per year.

However, on Monday, the Government Office for the East of England issued an Article 14 Direction to Southend Borough Council, requiring them to refer the application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham MP. This Direction prevents the Council from issuing their decision on whether or not to grant planning permission until the Secretary of State has had the opportunity to consider whether the application is one that he should call in for his own determination.

“This is welcome news,” said Denis Walker, Press Officer for SAEN – the campaign group formed to oppose the lengthening of the runway at Southend Airport. “Ever since the planning application was submitted, we have been calling for a Public Inquiry to investigate it properly and this is the first step to getting one.”

“The planning application was submitted part way through the consultation process for a Joint Area Action Plan to determine the future of the airport and its environs. We argue that until this Action Plan is finalised, any decision to extend the runway is premature.”

ENDS.

Notes to Editors

“Stop Airport Extension Now” (SAEN) was formed to campaign against the runway extension at Southend Airport. The group is not opposed to the Airport itself, which has co-existed with the residents of Southend for many years. SAEN is against the runway extension, which would lead to a massive increase in flights and destroy the lives of the people living, working or going to school anywhere near the flightpath.

For further information:

  • Contact Denis Walker, Press Officer SAEN (Stop Airport Extension Now), denis@saen.org.uk
  • Visit the SAEN website – http://saen.org.uk/

Is runway approval a foregone conclusion at Southend Airport?

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

As soon as Stobart submitted their planning application to extend the runway at London Southend Airport, some people said that the outcome was a foregone conclusion. They could be accused of being cynical, but the evidence is now mounting that they were right.

Firstly, there is the evidence of the second phase of Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP) consultation, which ignored the majority of respondents to Phase 1 and nominated the least popular proposal as the Councils’ preferred option.[1] The full analysis of the Phase 2 consultation will not be published until after the Development Control Committee have made their decision. Were it not for SAEN’s[2] Freedom of Information request, which was only granted on appeal to the Information Commissioner, not even the raw numbers of objectors and supporters would be available[3] and yet they show that well over three quarters of respondents opposed the runway extension.

Then there is the evidence of the shambolic state of the planning application file where legitimate objections were being discounted for no discernible reason, objections and invalid responses were being counted as support and supporting comments were being counted twice.[4] There was even one example where a respondent had supplied nothing more than their name and address and was counted as supporting the application.

We now also have the evidence of the Officers’ Report[5], published on 13th January, which recommends that the planning application be approved – in many cases solely on the evidence of the Airport owners with no independent analysis. The report is biased in its analysis of the comments received. It says that “strong support has been shown by a number of local employers” and names seven examples, six of which are in the aviation industry. No details are provided about companies that objected to the planning application.

The Officers’ Report refers to “The Planning System – General Principles”[6] which “advises that unless the proposed development is so significant it would prejudice [a Development Plan Document, such as the JAAP] a refusal on prematurity grounds should not be necessary.”[7] However, the extension of the runway at Southend Airport is the central tenet of the proposals detailed in Phase 2 of the JAAP consultation. A decision to approve the planning application would therefore prejudice the JAAP. This means that the planning application must be rejected to allow the JAAP process to run its course. The Report acknowledges that the development under consideration in the planning application is “significant”[8] then immediately goes on to dismiss it as “only one aspect of the development of the airport…” and proceeds to advise Councillors that “It is not considered the proposal should be refused on grounds of prematurity.”[9]

The Development Control Committee meets to decide the planning application at 2pm on Wednesday 20th January at Southend Civic Centre.

ENDS.

Notes for Editors

[1] “Despite some support, the majority of respondents were opposed to Scenario 3. There was significant opposition to Scenario 3, particularly, but not exclusively, from members of the public.” – Analysis of responses to Phase 1 of JAAP Consultation, page 15: http://www.rochford.gov.uk/PDF/JAAP_%20issues_and_options_summary_consultation_response.pdf

[2] “Stop Airport Extension Now” (SAEN) was formed to campaign against the runway extension at Southend Airport. The group is not opposed to the Airport itself, which has co-existed with the residents of Southend for many years. SAEN is against the runway extension, which would lead to a massive increase in flights and destroy the lives of the people living, working or going to school anywhere near the flightpath.

[3] http://www.rochford.gov.uk/pdf/JAAP_representations_summary.pdf

[4] SAEN’s concerns have been outlined in a letter to the Council at http://www.saen.org.uk/2010/01/errors-in-planning-depts-handling-of-the-planning-application/ For privacy, the letter has been edited to remove the names of respondents. The planning application (ref 09/01960/FULM) comments files are available to view at Southend Borough Council by appointment. Call the Southend Borough Council Planning Department for an appointment on 01702 215328

[5] http://minutes.southend.gov.uk/akssouthend/images/att16846.doc

[6] http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/147396.pdf

[7] Point 4.1.35 of [4]

[8] Point 4.1.36 of [4]

[9] Point 4.1.37 of [4]

For further information:

* Call Denis Walker, Press Officer, SAEN (Stop Airport Extension Now)
* Visit the SAEN website – http://saen.org.uk/

Planning Dept Report now available

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The report by Council Officers has now been published and is available on the Southend Council website.

SAEN’s analysis to follow…

I’ll not be brainwashed over airport decision

Monday, January 4th, 2010

I object to being called a “stooge” by Mike Hansford (Dec 18).

I am one of the 17 members of Southend Council’s development control committee who will make a decision on the airport.

My decision will be made on the planning application and the data submitted with it. I will consider this alongside the various planning control policies and guidance documents that Southend Council has.

I will, of course, take into consideration the many emails, letters and phone calls that I have received from both objectors and supporters of this application.

My answer to these people has been the same – I have noted their views, but am unable to comment as to my own persuasion.

The training I have received over the years is from external agencies as well as internal.

There is no brainwashing.

I will make my own decision based on facts.

It is a pity that, although Mr Hansford is entitled to his opinion, it would be better to be based on facts, not ignorance.

Mike Grimwade
Councillor, Prittlewell Ward
Eastwood Old Road

The Church and Eastwoodbury Lane

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

So, another week and another topic! If you have not already begun a letter-writing campaign to the officers of the Developmental Control Committee, this may be the topic that gets you started, because to some, it will be the most emotive of all.

In 2002, the CAAG (Church and Airport Action Group) campaign was successful in protecting St Laurence Church from demolition due to the aim to expand the airport and extend the Runway End Safety Area. This current application to extend the runway accepts that the church is still there, and it shows clearly on all the plans as an obstruction. The CAA has yet to venture its opinion on whether it will still be an ‘acceptable obstruction’, but anyone who lives near or passes by the church must wonder why the houses opposite the church have to be demolished, whilst the church is allowed to stay where it is! Perhaps they are hoping that the vibrations from aircraft, warming up their engines next door, or landing heavily mere yards away, will cause the old building to demolish itself, and save the airport having to do it.

So the church will become a very noisy place to worship, at least; it is not a redundant church, but a building of great antiquity, which is used throughout the week by a number of people for a variety of purposes. There is no question of stopping the aeroplanes from using the runway whilst services take place and no question of the parishioners moving somewhere else. The church has stood there for a thousand years, and it is believed to have been a centre of worship even before that. When the airport began as an aerodrome in wartime, the planes had a short take-off and were nowhere near the church at any time; the problem now is the size of the aircraft they want to put there will once again threaten the fabric of the building itself.

Now, supposing that you live to the east of the church and wish to attend services; there is at the moment a short distance to walk, but in the future they envisage, a walk of about a mile will get you to the church.

Which brings me to the last point; what right do these people have to shut off an ancient right of way? You will note that throughout the last few months, they have been using the word ‘diversion’ rather than closure of Eastwoodbury Lane. The village of Eastwood, which has been slowly eroded by Southend Borough Council for years, once stood all around the church, and there were thatched cottages in Eastwoodbury Lane until the second part of the Twentieth Century. One was pulled down because ‘ the doorway was too low’ ! The name itself is indicative of its purpose – it is the way you go in order to bury someone at the church.

So, sorry about the history lesson, much of which you may have known already, but if you have time this week, sbc-dcc@saen.org.uk is the place to send your letters. One letter will reach all 17 of the committee who will decide on the future of the airport. Mine goes off later this evening…

Regards,

Kiti

Share your environmental concerns

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Hello Everyone!
Thank you to those who have contacted us with their ideas and letters to Councillors on Night Flights and Noise. Don’t forget that one e-mail can now be sent to all members of the Developmental Control Committee at one go by sending it to sbc-dcc@saen.org.uk. Thank you.

Now this week I would like us all to concentrate on the environment. It is a huge subject, and no doubt you will have your own ideas about which part of the environment is dearest to your heart!

Just a few ideas from my postbag:-

  • The Nottingham Agreement signed up to in June, 2008.
  • Climate Change and what Southend Council should be doing about it.
  • Noise Pollution by day and night.
  • Air Pollution by day and night.
  • Local amenities affected by the above.
  • Aviation Industry pledge to curb emissions.
  • Lack of monitoring for Nitric Oxide, nItrogen Oxide, Sulphur Oxide, Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Monoxide near the airport or contributory roads.
  • Stench of aviation fuel.
  • 24,000 die each year in Britain as a result of air pollution (Lib-Dem figures)
  • Dumping of fuel over Rochford before landing (not confirmed)

Last Thursday, Rochford Council said that there would too much pollution in Rochford if a development of about 260 houses was allowed to go ahead – they then passed a motion allowing 53,300 planes to pass through Southend Airport, right on their doorstep!

That should be enough to get you started! Remember to focus on local issues and by all means send a copy of the letter to your own Councillors to keep them in the picture, if they are not on the Developmental Control Committee. Keep writing – and thanks again.

Kiti

Further information

Rochford Council supports expansion, probably

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Rochford District Council’s Development Control Committee met this evening to consider their response to the planning application to extend the runway at Southend Airport. The planning application has been submitted to Southend Borough Council as the land affected is in their jurisdiction, but Rochford District Council is a consultee as the decision affects residents of Rochford too.

Rochford Council was, it seems, anticipating trouble as there was a police presence at the venue. By the time your correspondent arrived, the meeting hall was already packed and so the remaining members of the public, of which there were over thirty, had to brave the cold and listen to the meeting through a loudspeaker outside the building. A steward providing copies of the documentation estimated that there were 70-100 members of the public present inside the meeting.

From outside the meeting, we were left lacking a number of significant pieces of information, most notably the results of the vote which was conducted by a show of hands only. Members of the public outside the meeting were not given copies of the maps being discussed.

Hopefully, someone who was inside the meeting room can furnish us with more details so that these can be added.

No doubt, minutes of the meeting will be available in due course on the Rochford District Council website.

Night flights and noise

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Dear Councillor,

I am writing to you as a member of the Development Control Committee with my thoughts on two topics; night flights and noise from aircraft.

The current limit on night flights is 915 per month, and we are told that IF the extension is allowed to go ahead the figure will drop to 120 per month. This figure does not mention what type of aircraft we can expect to hear, whether they will be in a regular pattern, or whether aircraft which register below a certain number of decibels will be included in this number or simply added to it. Also, when London City Airport is closed for fog, or from sheer weight of numbers of flights, Southend airport will be used, will the airport have to say “Sorry, we have used out Quota – go and land somewhere else!” or will we in fact have more than the quota landing here?

It seems also as if the Airport and Stobart want to sound as if they are doing us a favour by ‘reducing’ the number to 120 when that is far more than are currently flying at night!

Southampton Airport has 10 night flights each month, and London City none at all as far as I can ascertain. If we are to model ourselves on Southampton, why should we not have the same controls as they have, and if London City doesn’t need night flights because there are already plenty of night flights operating from Heathrow and Stansted to cater for people from this area, via the excellent X30 coach service, then why should be having night flights at all.

Furthermore, if people are not travelling at night, then the flights will either be for Maintenance and repair or for cargo. Since we have Mr A Welch’s word that the Stobart Company is not interested in extending their cargo base here, then that only leaves maintenance planes which surely are able to fly in during daylight hours, so I repeat, why 120 night flights per month?

Remember, your decision will not only affect those living under the flight path in Leigh and Southend, but those in Rochford as well, since there is a move to direct as many flights as possible in the other direction to the one generally used at present.

My second point is the noise from aircraft during the day. At present, this is fairly low-key compared to the amount of noise generated in the past, particularly during the Sixties and Eighties. I must begin by saying that at that time, most people were used to the sound of planes locally and did not realise the potential impact of continual noise on health and well-being. If I may quote from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology ‘Postnote’ (June, 2003)

  1. current aircraft noise can affect the quality of life of half a million people living close to UK airports
  2. increases in air traffic could outstrip technological progress in making individual flights quieter and so worsen the noise climate around many of the UK’s airports over the next thirty years.
  3. As a result, more people could be affected by sleep disturbance, annoyance and possible health effects.
  4. Aircraft noise could constrain airport expansion unless substantial noise reductions are made.

Noise studies have been made and substantiated. Children at Blenheim School have their lessons constantly interrupted by the noise of planes at present, as the school, with its 450 pupils lies directly under the flight path. They no doubt live close to the school and their sleep pattern is directed by the night flights. I know from experience that it can be a difficult school to teach in – could the reason be that these children are stressed by outside influences as well as having to cope with the National Curriculum?

And yet, the only noise study that the airport has undertaken has been simulated by a computer, generating an estimate. There is no such thing as a ‘quiet’ aeroplane, and we stand to be bombarded by night and day.
Much has been said about people living under the flight path from choice, but as a Councillor, perhaps you might like to find out how many Council properties lie under the flight path at Southend or Rochford. People who have no choice about where they live will have been directed to these areas, where perhaps others would choose NOT to live.

Many of you on the Development Committee have chosen to live in Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness, some distance from the airport and its problems. Perhaps if Boris Island gets under weigh, you too will be facing the problems of noise from aircraft and night flights with no restrictions. Will you choose to move house then?

Those who do hear the planes flying over their houses are not impressed by the idea that during peak times, there could be a flight every seven-and-a-half minutes, be it small noisy Cessna, maintenance flight or commercial flight.

Those who have moved here in the last fifteen years have only ever known a small quantity of flights, and those of us who have lived here for a long time deplore the idea of having to move because the noise makes life intolerable.

Remember, your decision will not only affect those living under the flight path in Leigh and Southend, but those in Rochford as well, some thirty thousand houses, with occupation in excess of 75,000 people. Is this something you want to be responsible for, or do you feel that the Government should call the application in…?

Sincerely Yours

Kiti Theobald