Rochford leader dismisses suggestion of merger with Southend Council as “tittle-tattle”

A merger between Southend and Rochford Councils could be sparked by the construction of thousands of new homes, it has been suggested.

Rochford District Council’s local plan outlines areas where about 5,000 homes could be built up to the border with Southend at Great Wakering.

A further 5,000 homes could be built adjacent to this development on green belt land on the Southend side of the border at Bournes Green Chase if Southend’s local plan is adopted.

Ron Woodley, deputy leader of Southend Council, said the creation of such a large conurbation could mean the merger of the two authorities.

He said: “It could lead to Rochford and Southend becoming one council if building on both Southend and Rochford join in terms of housing. It could become one council for the Rochford and Southend East constituency.

“There would be one set of officers and one chief executive to form a partnership. Whether that’s a good thing or not is open for debate.”

Cllr Woodley added: “I think it is all the more important that we don’t build on green belt at Bournes Green as it may be the only green space between Rochford and Southend.

“Our position is it should be a community park but if we are forced to build on it we could be forced into a partnership arrangement to form one council or Rochford and Southend may decide that that’s the way they want to go.”

Simon Wootton, leader of Rochford District Council called the possibility of a merger “speculative tittle-tattle”. He added: “There are no such discussions at the present time. I have no vision or foresight of what the Government might announce in the future but it’s certainly not on the cards now or in the foreseeable future.”

If the Rochford District Council local plan is approved homes could be built from Great Wakering through to Rochford with Wakering adjoining Shoebury and St Luke’s ward. West Shoebury would only be separated from Rochford by the Bournes Green Chase land.

Development sites earmarked in Eastwood would use Southend roads as access routes as would those to the east of the borough where access to large developments would be through Poynters Lane, Bournes Green Chase, Eastern Avenue and Shopland and Sutton roads.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter