Thanks for upsetting my residents Mr Pickles

Westwood avenue replaced signWestwood Avenue residents have their current MP Eric Pickles and his communities department to thank for dumping TWELVE houses in their back gardens after a five year fight came to a crushing end a couple of weeks ago.

For five years or more, I have fought with residents to stop this development and have halted a number of inappropriate developments of three, four, five houses and these have all been refused and upheld.  But TWELVE well, that’s fine, according to Mr Pickles’ jolly old team!

We know that this will be a nightmare for residents in Westwood Avenue, Elm Way, Manor Way, west Park Hill and Westway as well as those in Kavanaghs Road that will have it to view from their back windows too.  The additional cars, the proximity to the railway and the sheer over-development is going to cause problems…we have seen it all before.

It’s unbelievable that the Tories have today put out an election leaflet claiming to be against over-development but look at this, Rollason Way, Clements Park and Highwood Hospital….all on their watch and see who is really protecting our town.

Planning recommendations week ending 2nd April 2015



In #Brentwoodwest this week there is a recommendation in Kings Chase and an update on the proposed takeaway on Warley Hill:

Please note THIS IS NOT yet a decision – I am able to refer to planning committee now.


Recommended for REFUSAL

If you have any issues with the above officer recommendation then please get in touch with me as soon as possible. The deadline for referral is midday on Monday 13th April 2015 to refer the above item to the Planning Committee for further discussion.

PLUS some good news from the other side of Warley Hill in Warley ward:


Recommended for REFUSAL

This is going to be a relief for residents in Brentwood West and Warley – a takeaway next to the already difficult Tesco store would have caused a nightmare for residents.  The summary also contained a letter from my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Jill Hubbard, working on behalf of residents as you will find our lot do:

A letter of objection has been received from Cllr Hubbard which, in summary, raises the following concerns; concerned about the access; the service road behind the houses in Warley Hill should not be used. The lives of residents have already been affected by Tesco. It is hazardous and residents suffer from cars parking outside their houses, leading to congestion and dangerous traffic incidents. This proposal would make this situation worse. Cars would be a constant nuisance and source of noise close to gardens, residents would be affected by cooking smells and littering and there is already a Fish and Chip Shop opposite Brentwood Station. There are considerable parking problems further down Warley Hill due to the restaurants and take-aways.

For more information on the planning process, please see my advice here.

Parking Fees reduced!



one hour successParking charges to go down under the Accord Administration!

With the Lib Dems, I can’t remember a time when we weren’t fighting to make parking fees more reasonable!  Now we have done it – and the Tories voted AGAINST our plans!

We pulled this off by being fair – we introduced an overnight parking charge of £2 to capitalise on the TOWIE visitors.  This has yielded around £60,000 in income which has meant we can do the following:

  • Reduce the all day car parking fee from £10.50 to £8.00

  • Introduce a new Saturday workers fee of £4 in Westbury Road Car Park

  • Introduce a new £30 weekly charge in the William Hunter Way Car Park

This will take around ten weeks to introduce once it is advertised and consulted upon.

It is unbelievable that the Tories voted against on the basis that we hadn’t reduced it enough, despite them voting for a 117% increase in the one hour charge in 2012 (and that includes current Brentwood West Tory Cllr Will Russell, who’s up for re-election in May).

It’s also interesting to see that another Tory scaremongering activity didn’t come true.  Back in 2011, two days before I lost my seat, they put out a leaflet in Brentwood West saying that, should a night time charge be introduced then people would be forced in to the side streets to park and, therefore, we would all be wading around in “rivers of vomit”.  Yes, they put that on a leaflet and people believed it!  So, watch what they say when it comes to May’s elections!  It turns out not to be the case, so just as well no one opened up a Wellies Shop in anticipation.


Councillor candidate news

I am delighted to announce that Brentwood West resident, charity worker, carer and artist Alison Fulcher will be our candidate for the May 2015 ward councillor elections.  Alison would join County Cllr David Kendall, Cllr John Newberry and me working for local residents as your local councillor and continue the work of The Accord administration.  I am sure you will welcome her to the team.

Alison Fulcher


Alison has lived within the Brentwood West ward with her family for several years, attending senior school at the Brentwood Ursuline High Convent School (1982-1989).

Alison has considerable experience within the care sector and wishes to contribute this knowledge and experience in her potential role as Councillor. Her past experience includes working alongside patient experience groups for Community Healthcare Services and Inclusion Support work for the local charity The Frontline Partnership.

Having studied Fine Arts as a mature student – Alison has combined her own Art practise with her care work experience. Alison has also supported and run Sensory Art projects, community drawing and drama workshops within schools and community venues within the local area.  Further to this experience Alison is a media representative for the national charity Gingerbread and works for a well-known Humanitarian Charity in Brentwood.

If elected Alison, following the example of the Accord, will support cross party collaboration. Listening to residents’ concerns and needs with an awareness of local business and charitable support with a keen willingness to find a solution wherever possible – her promise of relentless hard work and commitment will ensure that she is worthy of your vote and a potential Councillor for keeps.

Allison hopes are that residents will contribute their views and opinions freely as she has done and wishes to see Brentwood’s future shaped in a way that represents the community as fully as possible.

Alongside priority issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour and care in the community whilst paying close attention to the needs of local businesses Alison would also like to see the cultural needs of the community continuing to be met – believing that this is an important way of bringing together community and engaging those sometimes feeling more isolated.

16 Westwood Avenue: appeal against refusal

I have received a letter telling me that the applicant has appealed against the refusal of the development at 16 Westwood Avenue.  As I recall, this was recommended for refusal by officers and was duly refused.

The council will, of course, defend its position strongly and there have been previous refusals on this site.

If you wish to make your views known you can do so by writing to The Planning Inspectorate, Room3/09, Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN or by writing to the council.  The reference is H1515/A/14/2228457.  Three copies must be sent and the deadline is 23rd January 2015.

I hope the planning inspector holds up all the objections made so far.

Brentwood’s future: The most important consultation ever


Today is the launch of the Strategic Growth Options Consultation – it might sound dull but it really is something you should read, consider and engage with by completing THIS response paper.

Listed in this consultation are all the sites to be considered for development because Brentwood Council is required to meet local housing needs. Evidence, from central government, suggests that need is around 360 new homes per year, or 5,500 new homes over a 15 year period. The capacity of brownfield sites in urban areas over 15 years is 2,500, some 3,000 short of total need and we have to find places to build them.

Please be absolutely clear that this is NOT necessarily where we, as the administration, WANT to develop and in some cases it would be good to see them totally and finally disregarded as sites for development.  Although many Tory councillors will say differently as they accuse of us of trying to build in your back yard.

One clear example of this is Hopefield Animal Sanctuary…over my cold, dead body (and those of Cllr Aspinell, Newberry, Carter, Quirk, Mynott, Sapwell and many more) will anyone build anything here but the Tories are now whipping up a storm and saying that that is what we want.  That’s not true.  I will be making my own very strong representations on this one and this site will, I hope, be rejected as a development site.  However, we leave this, or any inappropriate site, off the list for consideration and it is open season for any developer for fifteen years because it is left in a developmental abyss of “no status” and we cannot argue effectively against a housing proposal.

If a site has been considered and rejected as part of our local plan, that has more chance of holding up against a planning permission appeal.

The following sites are listed as Brentwood West, but you may want to look at the list for those near you that are in other wards that adjoin West (namely Brentwood North, Brentwood South, South Weald, Warley) and anything else that might be important to you:

  • Land north of Highwood Close, Brentwood
  • Land north of Highwood Close including St Georges Court, Brentwood
  • Brentwood railway station car park
  • Land at Honeypot Lane, Brentwood
  • Westbury Road Car Park, Westbury Road, Brentwood
  • Site on corner of High Street / Western Road, Brentwood (Former Napier Arms)
  • Land adjacent and rear of 207-217 Crescent Road, Brentwood
  •  18 Westbury Drive, Brentwood
  • Land at Crescent Road (open space), Brentwood
  • Victoria Court, Victoria Road, Brentwood
  • Hubert Road Industrial Estate
  • BT Offices, London Road, Brentwood
  • La Plata Grove, Brentwood
  • 14-16 Westwood Avenue, Brentwood

I also think it is worth pointing out these, in South Weald ward that are near West (but not all of them in that ward):

  • Land rear of The Bull Public House, Brook Street, Brentwood
  •  Land adjacent 50 Spital Lane, Brentwood
  • Brook Street employment area
  • Academy Place, Brook Street/Spital Lane, Brentwood

and these in Warley ward that are near West (but not all of them in that ward):

  • Former Mascalls Hospital, Mascalls Lane, Warley
  • Land adjacent to Carmel, Mascalls Lane, Warley
  • Land adjacent Hill Cottage, Warley Road, and Mill House, Mascalls Lane, Warley

Once again, please be absolutely clear these are not our intended or favoured sites – they are for consideration and we need your input so we can reject those that are just WRONG!

As an example, let’s look at 14-16 Westwood Avenue.  To my knowledge, there have been four recent attempts at putting an inappropriate development here.  There is no way I want this to be a development site so I will ensure that my feelings are known based on the work I have done with residents in Westwood Avenue.  That being done, should it be rejected as a site for development, it makes it much easier to say NO next time a greedy developer tries to build half a dozen houses there.  If it is not included – open season….we stand no chance.

My views on the other sites are varied – some may be appropriate and some certainly aren’t.  I am not here for my personal opinion though – I am here to represent you and to form a view based on weighing up the views of the people I represent.  So please let me know what you think and let me argue for you but, the most important thing you can do is to take part in this consultation and make sure you get the Brentwood you want in the future.

I am here for advice and discussion if you need me – the consultation ends on 17th February 2015.

William Hunter Way consultation – a reminder

whw sign


Over the weekend, each household will receive a letter addressed to whoever is on the council tax account about the William Hunter Way consultation and here’s why…

On 1st September 2014, after the failure of the former Tory administration’s town centre development (along with eight wasted years and hundreds of thousands of pounds) the Accord administration launched a very genuine consultation – developed in consultation with local residents – that would go to every household in the borough.  It was initially launched online with a paper consultation planned to go through every door.

All was going to plan until a couple of weeks ago when we started to get calls and emails from residents to say they hadn’t received the consultation paper – what’s worse is that this was in areas very close to the site such as Wellesley Road, Weald Road, Gerrard Crescent and huge areas in Warley.

We hoped this would right itself but, with a week to go until the consultation ends in the past week we were still hearing this from our residents and a lengthy conversation on confirmed our worst fears.

On Saturday Cllr Russell Quirk, chair of the William Hunter Way Working Group (WHWWG), called an urgent meeting of this group tonight (6th October).  Councillors Quirk, Baker, Mynott, Sapwell and I met with officers at 7pm to discuss how this was going to be sorted out.

And sort it we did.

  • The deadline for the consultation is to be extended to 5th November 2014.
  • Every resident on the council tax register will now receive a letter reminding/informing them to complete this important survey
  • They will be able to complete it on line or have a survey sent to them
  • We will ask for further help from the Brentwood Gazette, Brentwood Weekly News and Phoenix FM (which may include taking out advertisements)


I am so pleased that we have been able to find a way to promote this consultation further at this late stage.  What’s better is that these “belt and braces” actions still keep us well within budget for the consultation project and assures residents that we have done everything we can to make sure every one of them has an opportunity to give us their views on the future of their town.

Make no mistake – this is important as it is about the long term future of the town which is why we are not taking it lightly.”

However, even with this unfortunate series of – now solved – problems, officers have confirmed that with well over 2,000 responses already this is the best response for a Brentwood resident consultation since records began.

Westwood Avenue – refusal for 12 new houses

Westwood avenue replaced sign

I have just finished doing a lap of honour around my front room upon discovering that the crazy, unpopular and inappropriate application to build 12 houses in the place of 16 Westwood Avenue has been refused.

I say crazy because the developer was trying to make us believe that despite three houses being refused on the same site two years ago that this was entirely appropriate for the area.

Had it not been for the way the community worked together at the time – and I was pleased to offer them advice on planning grounds for refusal – then those refusal reasons would not have been laid down and documented for the future.  So this is a credit to their hard work in 2012 and shows what happens when a community comes together.

We are not out of the woods yet – it won’t be formally refused until 6th October and, of course, they can still appeal.

They can also put in another application but I am already making enquiries about changing the designation of this land as I see it as entirely inappropriate for development due to its proximity to the railway lines for starters.

Planning recommendations week ending 11th July 2014


In #Brentwoodwest this week there are applications in Kavanaghs Road and Westwood Avenue.

Please note these are NOT yet decisions – I am able to refer to planning committee now.


Recommended for APPROVAL


Recommended for APPROVAL

If you have any issues with the above officer recommendations then please get in touch with me as soon as possible. The deadline for referral is midday on Monday 21 July 2014 to refer the above item to the Planning Committee for further discussion.

For more information on the planning process, please see my advice here.

Not great news for Westwood Avenue…

Westwood avenue replaced sign

Developers and Tory councillors are not being kind to the good folk of Westwood Avenue and the surrounding roads.

8, 14 and 16 Westwood Avenue: back garden planning application

The developers have written to councillors to say they are now ready to submit their application demolish Number 16 and replace it with 12 new dwellings (5 two bed, 5 three bed and 2 three bed detached houses).Remember, we got a development of three four bedroom houses on the same site refused last year and it is incredulous that they are now looking to build TWELVE houses on the same site. It hasn’t, to my knowledge, been submitted just yet and I will let you know as soon as I do.  I can assure you that Cllr John Newberry and I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with residents in objecting to this proposal.A resident consultation will start once it is received, I would suggest some of the reasons to object could be:

  • The quality of life of those occupants living so close to the railway – especially in light of Crossrail.
  • Parking is at a premium in Westwood Avenue, Kavanaghs Road and the adjacent streets.  Twelve additional homes could lead to extra cars – not just from those who live there but from their friends, deliveries etc. leading to significantly increased car movements too.
  • The removal of your view on the evens side of Westwood and the odds side of Kavanaghs
  • Over-development of a small area and the pressure on local services
  • Access and egress and safety concerns of cars pulling out into an already heavily parked road.
  • The fact that Essex County Council have estimated a current rate of 540 car movements along the road each day and this will take it to around 600.
  • It will change the ambience of the area and open up the whole area to similar developments.
Just to clarify the process, once received officers will make a recommendation for approval or refusal.  This will go on a weekly list and councillors are able to refer this to committee and, at that time, the 15 members of that committee will make a majority decision.  If this should be recommended for approval, John or I will be referring it.

Speeding survey concluded: “does not qualify for speed restrictions” says Essex County Council (we disagree)

A message from County Cllr David Kendall on the recent speeding survey in Westwood Avenue:

“I am informed that the combined average daily 85 percentile speed over the seven days was 24.8mph. The Highways officers have told me that this speed does not warrant any traffic calming or speed reduction measures being introduced in Westwood Avenue as per the County Council’s speeding criteria. 
“I know this news will leave you feeling very frustrated but the County Council will only introduce speed reduction measures on evidence based statistics. On a more positive note Cllr John Newberry does have access to a speed watch camera that can be used by residents to try and deter speeding in residential roads. If you are interested in getting together to use this camera please let John know.
“I know some concerns were expressed by residents regarding where the speed survey wires were placed in Westwood Avenue and these were passed onto officers. If you would like to clarify any points regarding the speed survey please let me know.”A number of residents have elected to contact the Tory councillor, Roger Bass, direct to voice their concerns. Unfortunately, he does have a record of “binning” resident letters, but his contact details are here.