Residents Update

As residents may be aware, the Community Group has raised concerns over recent months about the lack of accountability and governance in relation to the site-wide management company. Neither residents nor our own management company sit on the board of the site-wide organisation and as such decisions can potentially be taken unilaterally (including changes to site-wide service charges) which may impact on residents.

Due to continued lobbying by the Community Group, monthly meetings have been set up to facilitate better communication in relation to site-wide matters. The meetings include as attendees each of the developers, the land owners (and their agent), a Community Group representative, a Croudace residents representative and DJC Property Management.

Whilst this does not give us any formal voting rights, it does mean we have a voice at the table and can receive information that may impact us. The first formal meeting was held on Friday 1st February and the key points of discussion are summarised below.

House Builders Update
Marden Homes will begin works for Phase 4 (around the main lake) in April and expect to be onsite for circa 18-20 months. There are ongoing discussions about access and due to concerns flagged by residents, Marden will forward a plan (awaiting sign off by Council Planning) which explains how they will manage the site. This will include where works traffic will be routed, where contractors will park and how the site will be cordoned off. This will also confirm whether the bridle path that runs past the lake will be closed. Once the plan is received, it will be made available via the website.

Home Group are accelerating their build and the first residents are due to move in towards the end of February. Marden Homes will be beginning Phase 6 (around the smaller lakes) in June. Bellway are due to have their last completion in March and will be off-site soon after this.

Public Open Spaces
As part of S106 planning conditions, Marden Homes have responsibility for the construction of the public open spaces. Work is due to start imminently and this will include a pathway to enable safe passage to the retail units on Essex Regiment Way. The completion of the open spaces to the North of where Homegroup are building will dovetail with the completion of Phase 6 and as such these areas are unlikely to be accessible to us for some time.

All of the open spaces will eventually facilitate easy pedestrian/cycle access across the entire development, up to where the new David Lloyd club will be located (subject to planning approval). We are liaising with the landowners agent to determine whether residents can have any input to the design of the open spaces.

Public Artwork
As part of S106 planning conditions, one of the developers has provided a sum of money to the City Council to fund public artwork. It is unclear what form this will take or where the art will be located however we are liaising with the landowners agent to determine what the council has planned, what the timescales are and whether residents can have any input.

Bus Service
All stakeholders are aware of the issues experienced with the bus service. First Bus have agreed to send a representative to the next meeting to explain their plan for improvement. There is consensus that First Bus need to be robustly held to account by all stakeholders especially as the service is currently funded by developers.

Nursery Site (Bellway)
Bellway have a responsibility to prepare the land identified for the nursery prior to leaving the site however they have no responsibility as part of planning to build it. In fact it would appear that Bellway flagged to the council early on that they had no intention to build the nursery as this was not their area of expertise. At present no developer has taken on the project and the council has been made aware of the position.

David Lloyd Club
It is likely that a formal planning application will not be made until June/July however there appears to be widespread support for the idea. David Lloyd will be represented at the forthcoming Little Waltham Parish Council meeting on Tuesday 5th February where they will explain more about the plan and give the public an opportunity to ask questions.

As always, feel free to send feedback or ask questions via the website 🙂

Bus Service Update

Please find a summary of action taken so far in relation to the Channels Bus Service. Rachel Fennell collated this information for the Chair of Little Waltham Parish Council who has been giving evidence to the Inspector in relation to the proposed Chelmsford Local Plan.

It appears that assertions have been made by the representative from Essex County Council who deals with roads and infrastructure claiming that the buses serving the Channels Development are a great success!

The Chair of the Parish Council was, through the information provided, able to challenge and evidence the poor public transport and access issues at the recent open meeting on the Chelmsford City Plan. We understand the independent Inspector was very interested in the evidence and will use this when considering the content of his report.

Nevertheless, the document provides a concise summary of everything that has been done so far and makes clear the work that is on-going to ensure the bus service is fit for purpose.

We have also recently received confirmation that as part of S106 planning requirements, we will have: “high quality bus stops incorporating shelters, seating, timetables and real-time bus information“.

With thanks to Rachel Fennell who has been leading on the Bus Service issues on behalf of residents 🙂

Bus Service Update

As all residents will be aware we have been experiencing an unreliable and unacceptable service from First for the 51 bus and as a result Rachel has been keeping a log for the last 3 months of cancelled and delayed buses as notified by residents of the Bellway Channels Estate.

She has forwarded the ‘Bus Log’ to First with her complaint on multiple occasions, both personally and in the name of the Community Group. Unfortunately no response has been received and we are aware that other residents have also complained themselves. Bellway, who provided significant funding to ‘pump prime’ the service, has also contacted First and at the time of writing has received no response.

Our local MP, Kemi Badennoch, has been advised and we have tried to involve Bususers.org (Alternative Dispute Resolution Body) and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, who we are still to hear back from.

The Residents Community Group has however made some significant progress with a contact representing the company which undertook the original procurement of the 51 Bus Service on behalf of developers. An investigation is due to take place and the ‘Bus Log’ will be used as evidence in this process. Once this investigation has taken place and we have more information to share, we will provide a further update.

Going forward it is imperative that we keep recording when a bus is cancelled or delayed by over 10 minutes at any designated stop so that we have evidence of continued failures.

We have tried to simplify this process and as such if the bus is cancelled or delayed please can you contact Rachel using the form on the Channels Residents Community Group website. Due to the number of occurrences currently being flagged, it will be far easier for her to track than via social media where posts quickly become lost in long news feeds.

www.channels.community/51-bus

As a final note, whilst we are aware just how frustrating this issue is, we do not want to jeopardise our chances of reaching a resolution and as such please be mindful that berating the bus drivers is not likely to help our cause. Please be assured that the Community Group is making progress on your behalf and we will provide updates accordingly.

Channels Residents Community Group