Estates Update

Committee members met with Bellway executives on Wednesday 15th August to discuss the Estates Report which was submitted to Richard Burrows (Essex Divisional Managing Director) in July. The session lasted well over 3 hours however it was time well spent as it was a chance to meet all Bellway representatives responsible for Phase 1/2 and to fully convey residents’ concerns.

The Estates Report is a robust document and the time spent preparing it and collating supporting evidence has paid off as Bellway did not dispute anything contained in the report.

There was an acknowledgement that there have been failings by Bellway, DJC Property Management and indeed by the Channels (Chelmsford) Management Company Ltd which has been set up to ensure that the estate is appropriately looked after. Nevertheless it was clear that Bellway genuinely want to resolve the issues and ultimately deliver a development that is line with the original vision for the area.

It is important to note that the Estates Report was also reviewed by the council and a number of planning breaches have been identified. Bellway received a letter from the planning officer on 7th August stipulating a 2 week deadline for receipt of a response and this must include a timeline for remedial action to be undertaken. The planning officer has additionally set a deadline for remedial action to be completed in a number of areas.

Whilst there was an element of discussion as to the root cause of the issues, the more important goal was to focus on our required outcome i.e. that all identified issues will be made good at no cost to residents. Bellway has given that undertaking and will provide a full schedule of works (requested no later than Friday 24th August) so that residents can be kept informed of the improvements that will be made and when.

The schedule of works due on 24th August should therefore cover remedial action timelines for all issues, irrespective of whether these have been highlighted by our report and/or the council planning officer. Committee members will collate a detailed list of every issue across the development (also no later than 24th August) and this will be cross-referenced to the Bellway schedule of works to ensure nothing is missed.

The remedial work will be taken forwards jointly by both Bellway & DJC Property Management depending on which areas of land have been formally handed over however the Committee will closely monitor all progress to ensure the end result is in line with expectations.

This is an excellent result and I would like to thank all of the Committee members for their hard work in reaching this stage. The website will be updated regularly so that residents are aware of progress however do not hesitate to contact the Committee via the website if you have any queries.

If you believe there to be new issues that need to be flagged, then please do continue to log concerns.

Andrew Wright
Chair Channels Residents Community Group

Future Channels Development

Residents will be aware that there has been some confusion in relation to Planning Notices that have been posted around the Channels site recently. The Notices linked to a submission by the landowners to amend S106 planning conditions which required the continued provision of an 18 hole golf course adjacent to the site.

In the absence of robust information as to what this would mean for residents, I met with Ptarmigan Land (who work with the landowners to develop and sell land) in an attempt to clarify the position. The information below is high level however it does make clear the position as conveyed to the Community Group.

The diagram below shows three key land areas. The area within the red boundary represents the current Channels development and includes all phases of building that were originally planned. The darker blue boundary represents land that was identified as part of the original master plan and is where the 18 hole golf course was to be re-provided. The lighter blue areas belong to the landowner and part of this land (Little Channels) is where new golfing & leisure facilities are proposed to be situated.

It is important to note that part of the original master plan was always to create large areas of landscaped parkland within the original development boundary. The image below shows the areas that will be developed and the Community Group Committee does have access to detailed landscaping drawings which make clear the extensive work that will be undertaken for the benefit of residents.

It is also important to note that the land to the North & North East of the original development boundary has long been identified for potential future housing as part of the North Chelmsford Area Action Plan. Whilst original planning conditions (approved over 6 years ago) required the continued provision of an 18 hole golf course, it seems that it was always likely the land would at some stage be required for housing development.

Taking this into account, and given the fact that the landowners have provided comprehensive information to support the fact that provision of an 18 hole golf course is no longer a viable business model, it would appear that future development to the North & North East is inevitable. The landowners have additionally provided detailed plans of how they wish to develop Little Channels into a different type of golfing & leisure complex.

As it stands if the S106 planning modification is granted, it does potentially pave the way for some housing development although to some extent this was always identified for the general area anyway. There is additional road infrastructure planned as part of any future development (including the North East Bypass) and it is probably the impact of this infrastructure not happening which should be the biggest concern for residents.

The proposed parkland is currently part of the remaining golf course. If the S016 modification is not granted, the parkland will still become available however this may take far longer. If the S106 modification is granted, work can begin much sooner and residents will have access to large areas of managed parkland, walking & cycling trails all of which should start to be accessible from Spring 2019.

Although the window for commenting on the planning submission has closed, all of the documents including the covering statement and proposals for new facilities at Little Channels, can be found here.

Andrew Wright
Chair, Channels Residents Community Group