We are writing again to counter the misinformation circulated in Taylor Wimpey’s recent “August 2023 – Update.” Their document may have been delivered to your letterbox or encountered on social media.
PART 2 will further address the questions you have raised, as presented by Taylor Wimpey, allowing you to discern who is genuinely spreading misleading information!
The following two responses are to be read alongside Taylor Wimpey’s “August 2023 – Update”. The relevant sections from Taylor Wimpey’s document are presented before Our response.
Have you explored any alternative plans which would retain the bund and trees/hedge growing on it?
41 TPO-protected trees on the embankment are not ‘trees/hedge’ – this exemplifies Taylor Wimpey’s continual misleading tactics. Tree Preservation Orders exclusively apply to trees – the nomenclature speaks for itself. Last year, Southend Council Tree Officers conclusively established that these trees do not fit the characteristics of a hedgerow. While a hedgerow typically displays closely arranged and intentionally cultivated interlocking crowns, the embankment trees stand as distinct entities, widely spaced, and have naturally matured as individual trees.
During the initial consultation period in May 2022, Taylor Wimpey held a public exhibition and asked residents to fill out feedback forms. Despite resident feedback urging proactive measures to address climate change instead of the proposed demolition, suggestions like relocating the apartment block to the northwestern site corner to preserve trees and the embankment and repurposing an existing building for social housing were dismissed without meaningful explanation. Notably, when queried about the embankment’s fate during this public exhibition, a Taylor Wimpey staff member misleadingly claimed it would be “reshaped.” This deceptive behaviour characterises Taylor Wimpey’s approach to community engagement.
In March and April 2023, resident representatives met with Taylor Wimpey staff, Sam Caslin (Planning Manager) and Rob Piggott (Land Manager), to explore the possibility of preserving the trees and embankment through the relocation of the block of flats. Following these discussions, the sole justification presented was that decreasing housing density would adversely impact Taylor Wimpey’s profits and, therefore, be undeliverable.
The only other reason that surfaced was during the Development Control Committee’s planning determination meeting in July 2023 and reiterated in Taylor Wimpey’s subsequent update delivered to residents in August. Taylor Wimpey staff claimed the “proposal has not been subject to any technical or design due diligence in regard to aspects such as road and parking standards, and there are a number of technical reasons why these proposals are not deliverable.” Apart from concerns about profit, this inadequate statement is Taylor Wimpey’s only response regarding the potential relocation of the block of flats.
Furthermore, it is essential to note that we fully understand that the resident supplied plan drawings are not comprehensive planning proposals; this attitude is condescending at best. Instead, these drawings reflect the residents’ earnest requests for Taylor Wimpey to diligently explore relocating the block of flats to preserve the trees and wildlife habitat. However, there has been no evidence of such consideration throughout the planning process, and the housing layout has essentially remained unchanged.
Another feasible location would be southwest of the site, where the intended ‘wildlife area’ is proposed. All three locations would save the established trees, embankment, and wildlife habitat.
Overall, the experience of public engagement and consultation has been a meaningless spectacle, culminating in a ‘democratic’ sideshow known as the Development Control Committee, where residents and concerned Councillors’ voices are disregarded, and decisions are predetermine between Southend Council’s Planning Department and Taylor Wimpey behind closed doors.
As raised by Councillors that attended the East Beach Residents’ Association Public Meeting on 29th July, this situation is a result of the deficiencies in national planning policies that disproportionately favour profit-driven developers. This issue is a systemic one that affects the entire country. We are acutely aware of the dual influences at play here: the Planning Department, a technocratic extension of central government, and the potential legal ramifications from Taylor Wimpey if their profit-hungry appetites aren’t satisfied.
However, urgent action is needed from our local representatives who have the courage to take meaningful action – like opposing developers such as Taylor Wimpey and their wanton destruction of our urban green spaces, trees and wildlife habitats. Regardless of their political affiliations, they must advocate for a significant overhaul of national planning policies to genuinely put local communities, trees and wildlife at the heart of planning decisions before irreversible consequences prevail. Otherwise, our children and the biodiversity we share our planet won’t be around to ‘never forgive you’.
Why does the bund need to be removed?
Taylor Wimpey’s flawed assertions range from misleading to absurd and would almost be comical if their destructive plans were not so grave. They denigrate the embankment, dismissing it as ‘man-made,’ while simultaneously extolling their own proposed ‘man-made’ wildlife area with its ‘man-made’ beehives, excavated ground holes (hibernacula), and stacks of logs with holes drilled in them (bug hotels).
Of course, the curved embankment and the mixed line of mature maple and hawthorn trees atop were created and planted by humans. As Southend Council’s Tree Officers acknowledged, this human-made feature contributes to the local landscape. Locally known as the ‘big hill,’ it has been a favourite spot for children for decades, used for sledging during snowy winters and as a play and relaxation area during summer holidays. It remains uncertain how Taylor Wimpey’s proposed flat ‘man-made’ wildlife area represents an improvement over this wildlife habitat and amenity space.
Taylor Wimpey’s notion that the embankment serves as a “defensive landscape feature which divides Shoeburyness in two” is utterly absurd. The embankement (shown as a green line below) length is no more than about 90 meters, and its height is approximately 4.5 meters, hardly comparable to the span of the Shoebury’s intersecting railway – raising the question of whether the ‘August 2023 – Update’ author has even bothered to visit the embankment at Campfield Green.
Taylor Wimpey goes on to state that the embankment “does not allow for any routes or permeation through the site.” Of course, this is currently the case; Cantel Medical’s perimeter fence is situated on top of the embankment on the south side of the trees.
Taylor Wimpey’s proposed landscape scheme appears flat and visually unexciting compared to the vibrant green spaces within the Shoebury Garrison conservation area. The embankment’s bunker-like appearance will serve to connect the site to its surrounding landscape and military heritage. Furthermore, the gentle curve of the embankment will provide a soft contrast to the proposed built structures when observed by residents from Campfield Road, much as it has done for the existing industrial buildings over the decades.
In addition to the capability of the 41 trees to capture, store, and filter harmful air pollutants and particulate matter, the embankment also plays a crucial role in assisting with dispersion. When airborne particles collide with the embankment, concentrated clouds of tiny particles disperse and become diluted by the surrounding air, thereby reducing the risk of human inhalation.
Moreover, residents during the public consultation suggested a new pedestrian connection and pathway from Chapel Road through the site to Campfield Road. This proposal envisions a small section of the embankment being removed where it meets the brick wall boundary at the rear of Horseshoe Crescent. Once again, this highlights Taylor Wimpey’s lack of diligence in reviewing resident feedback during the consultation periods.
Regarding contamination, Taylor Wimpey’s consultant, GB Card & Partners, suggests that the source of the site’s groundwater cyanide contamination could possibly be located beneath the embankment. However, there are no detectable signs of contamination on the embankment, a fact supported by their own report, which states, “A soil investigation undertaken on the bund itself in the north-east of the site in September 2022 indicated that the bund is unlikely to be the source of cyanide contamination, as cyanide in all tested samples was below the laboratory limit of detection.”
Competent research submitted during the public consultation has shown that more likely areas require investigation for the source of the site’s groundwater cyanide contamination, which are easily accessible for a cable percussive rig. Despite this, there has been no response from Taylor Wimpey staff regarding why these areas have not been explored. Furthermore, there is no visible evidence of any investigations using a cable percussive rig in the publicly accessible Campfield Green area northeast of the embankment, where the more probable source of contamination might be located.
We hope the responses so far have helped provide a clearer understanding of Taylor Wimpey’s intentions and misleading behaviour. Please remain cautious of any so-called updates from Taylor Wimpey. As noted on social media, they are Tolkienesque orcs attempting to portray themselves as knights in shining armour, but the reality is that they are in Shoeburyness to DESTROY, MAKE PROFIT, and MAKE OFF back to Mordor – to plan their next war on communities, trees and wildlife.
PART 3 will be posted in the next couple of days …