An estate agent in the forefront of local opposition to prevent a new housing estate says he is putting his community first.
A Casa Estate Agents, in Rochford, Essex, has bought 200 large signs opposing the 660-home development – which the boss admits would bring him valuable new business.
All but 80 of the prominent signs ordered from an estate agency supplier have so far been delivered and erected.
The signs carry the agent’s name, but the branding is subsidiary to the message: “Rochford says No!! to more houses. Enough is Enough”.
Estate agency signs are usually the subject of planning laws and restrictions, and council officers have been known to take a dim view of estate agency boards for example promoting school fetes.
It is also unusual for estate agents to come out fighting against the prospect of new business on their patch.
Hugo Rodrigues, 35, owner of A Casa, told EYE: “The signs are clearly not advertising properties for sale or to let. However, I have been half waiting for the council to get on its high horse to tell me to take down the signs.
“If they do I will simply cover up our name.
“People are surprised that an estate agent should be doing this and 660 new homes would certainly mean more business for us.
“But the community comes first. I have no other motive. The planned development is completely wrong for this small town.
“I live here and work here and want what’s best for the community and the residents.
Melanie English, organiser of the campaign, expressed delight at the firm’s support.
She said: “It’s ironic that an estate agent is opposing houses being built.
“They came forward and wanted to put the signs up.”
The fight against the new homes is based on traffic and environmental objections. A local petition against the development has so far raised 1,500 signatures.
Rochford Council describes the town as having its own charm, and being richly steeped in history.
The local newspaper story of the agent’s support for the campaign has raised some interesting – and hostile – comments.
One says “Tear down that illegal sign and let’s get those homes built, young families have a right to a home”.
Another poster agrees with that comment, saying: “It’s just another greedy estate agent concerned it will impact upon his business with more competition.
“Or it could be that he’s not involved or hasn’t a deal to act as the selling agent.”
A third says: “The estate agent thinks he is clever by getting his name all over the area . . . wonder why he didn’t just have 200 boards made without his estate agency on it.”
Yet another says: “Of course he doesn’t want them being built, lack of housing means he can continue to sell what housing there is, at artificially inflated prices.”