Chelmsford NAG Public Meeting Broomfield Community Centre
September 6th 2007
Standing room only with many people outside listening and watching through opened windows and doors – we estimate that about 250 people packed the Community Centre last night, Sept 6th to hear extended presentations and discussions relating to Chelmsford’s Development plans up to the year 2021.
Extensive delivery of flyers in the last few days invited residents in Broomfield, Gt and Lt Waltham & Chatham Green to hear updates on the Local Development Framework for Chelmsford. Out meeting, called at very short notice due to delayed publication of the Borough’s North Chelmsford Area Action Plan, considered:
• The upcoming Examination in Public relating to the Core Strategy. Starting in the Council Chamber on September 11th at 10:00AM, this is an absolutely crucial process that will enquire into the ‘soundness’ of the Borough’s plans. NAG is attending.
• The detailed plans that are site specific relating to the proposed location of about 6,000 new houses in North Springfield. This is the North Chelmsford Area Action Plan.
• The by-election also to be on Sept 11th caused by the untimely death of a sitting member for this Ward.
Mr. Roger Cole, a completely independent chairman, introduced speakers Peter Loose, Chairman of NAG and Mike Marriage, NAG Committee member who took the packed house through a 30 minute detailed presentation of the Core Strategy and the North Chelmsford Area Action Plan concluding with the logical case for all new houses to be located north of Boreham on the WWII Airfield. A written survey gave about 97% support for NAG’s case. (see end for details)
Responses from Candidates in the local Ward By-election as well as continuous questioning from the audience ensured a massively informative, good natured meeting lasting for about an hour and a half.
NAG’s essential case is that the initial public consultation leading to the LDF Core Strategy is biased to such an extent that it is fundamentally flawed. NAG shows evidentially that Boreham Airfield is an excellent site for development but that has never been submitted to the public for consultation. We showed that by excluding the area of Boreham Airfield, (or Great Holts or "north of Boreham") Chelmsford Borough was acting against the advice of their professional consultants, Entec. In their 2004 report, Entec ranked Boreham Airfield very highly on a range of sustainability criteria. In fact it received higher ratings that any other site in the borough, including the current proposals in North Springfield and Broomfield!
NAG further showed that even accepting the LDF Core Strategy, there are no options offered in the current public consultation for the location of some 5,000 new houses adjacent to Beaulieu Park. It is a Hobson’s Choice consultation.
NAG shows that there is no need for the proposed highway across the Chelmer Valley to serve the needs of a now downsizing Broomfield Hospital.
Responding, Cllr Neil Gulliver, Planning and Development, explained that he was in sympathy with NAG in respect of the Chelmer Valley Highway and that he is not personally in favour of it. (Note - the NCAAP does call attention to the need for a Cross Valley road.)
A simple written survey was prepared for the meeting asking four questions with yes / no answers. The results are unambiguously decisive:-
1. Do you feel you have been adequately consulted and informed by Chelmsford Borough Council’s consultation process? (yes 6: No 120)
2. Do you feel you have been consulted on all viable options for houses in north Chelmsford? (yes 8: No 118)
3. Are you in favour of a bridged-highway across the Chelmer Valley? (yes 7: No 118)
4. Do you support Chelmsford NAG’s campaign to locate the many thousands of “North Chelmsford” new houses north of Boreham ? (yes 121: no 4)
Chelmsford NAG takes no party political position and does not discuss the politics of members at any time. However we felt every candidate should be given an opportunity to respond to NAG’s case at our public meeting. Two candidates, Dr Reza Houssain for The Green Party and Malcolm Taylor for the Lib Dems attended and gave clearly focussed responses to NAG’s position. There was wide divergence of opinion from the Candidates. Written statements were requested from all non-attenders. Jim Webb, Labour & Charlie Cole, UKIP each provided a statement that was read out in full to the meeting. The Conservative Candidate, Mike Steel tendered his apologies but did not provide a statement. Candidates took part in the public discussion.
Armed with such strong local community support for the democratic process to be seen to be fair, NAG will press ahead and defend its submissions to the Examination in Public starting September 11th. Our submissions call for a wider public consultation to include north Boreham or Boreham Airfield.
NAG is at pains to point out that we have no interest in any developer. Though we now find common cause with much of the Prudential Development plans for north of Boreham, NAG only arrived at this position following extensive examinations of as much public domain material as we could access from several developer proposals in the time we as volunteer non-professionals had available.
Further info fromChairman NAG (Peter Loose)
Chelmers, Lt Waltham. CM3 3LX
Tel: 012453 62 295