Canvey Paddocks, down with the old and up with the new – decision. No mention of Flats, Housing development nor Kiddies Paddling Pool!

The inevitable Axe fell upon the Paddocks Community Centre, the fatal blow delivered by Castle Point cabinet on Tuesday 16th October 2018.

Following an overwhelming business and cost based case, put by cllr Stanley, standing in for cllr mumford, it became quickly and obviously apparent that the fate of the existing building was inevitable.

It is at this stage Canvey residents must remember how during last winter cllr smith explained during the last Canvey Community meeting, (these meetings are getting rarer), how a new build would be financed by Housing or Flatted development on the Paddocks site.

Also to be remembered are these points from the January 2018 cpbc cabinet agenda:-

A.  “The conclusion of feasibility work reveals that the Paddocks Community Centre building has reached the end of its design life and is beyond economic repair.”

B.  “The feasibility work shows however that it is possible to construct a new community facility immediately to the south-east of the existing building. This could potentially provide a reception area, café and seating area, kitchen and servery, WCs and a flexible meeting space sufficient to accommodate three separate hall each 15m by 10m, or one larger hall measuring 15m by 30m.”

C.  “The new layout would also allow the future redevelopment of the Paddling Pool facility for enabling development with potential access from Clifton Road to the west.”

D.  “Finally it would be possible to re-configure the car parking layout across the whole site, to provide an indicative capacity of approximately 380 spaces. This compares to an existing car parking capacity at the site of approximately 200 spaces.”

E.  “The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.”

With the climate surrounding the cpbc Local Plan and the desperation to seek every last meterage of space suitable for Housing, the fate of the Paddocks was decided long ago. The economic approach of withdrawing routine maintenance from the Halls, by those who pull the purse strings at cpbc, have crudely engineered an approach that has led to the demise of the Paddocks!

Our Roving Reporter followed last night’s proceedings and gave this feedback:-

Following the Castle Point Corporate Peer Challenge in February 2018, the peer’s report mentioned the Paddocks proposal:-

“The Paddocks facility on Canvey Island is a clear example where an inclusive approach to developing the Centre will lead to joint ownership and subsequently better outcomes for the community it serves. The Peer Team heard how communities and their representatives are keen to be involved from the earliest stage to final completion, through improved communications and engagement, so that such developments can, where appropriate, be co-designed and fit for the future”

So much for community earliest stage engagement as to what was their preferred option. Cllr Smith was given a clear indication, when trying to take over a Canvey forum meeting at the Paddocks earlier in the year, as to what the community actually wanted. When pressed to do so, he stated that there would be no houses on that site, from that we should now expect to see blocks of flats. Cllr Smith promised a comprehensive consultation, little did we realise that we were going to get an opportunity to select what floor covering should be used in the foyer area.
It stands to reason now that the Paddocks site will undergo substantial housing/flatted development, not of the communities choosing, in order to pay for a new facility.
The inevitable loss of free car parking and the kiddie’s paddling pool was not highlighted in the presentation. Why was there no basic site plan drawings displayed on the excellent facilities available for exactly that in the Council chamber. It would then become quickly apparent how much of the site will be lost to development, particularly how much of the necessary car parking space would be lost during and after the whole of the site construction period.
Community hall designs are fairly standard, based on the desired occupancy factor, there is no need to engage with expensive consultants. This is very much a step in the dark, trust me I am a councillor moment, not very reassuring given the contradiction despite the well-orchestrated Cabinet presentation, and the failure to respond to some very direct questioning.
Bullied into this situation, we are now expected to feel grateful that our community hall, being in such a dilapidated state of disrepair, was not just shut down.
Noticeably cllrHoward was given no reassurance that the size of the “new” Community Centre would match that of the current facility.
It would not be unreasonable for Canvey Islanders to disengage from any consultation process altogether, what’s the point we will only get the facility that the council deem to be sufficient under the prevailing financial circumstances being dependant on the viability of a developer’s contribution.
After all the council track record of securing Sec 106 agreements is at best lamentable.

CPBC Webcast of proceedings, item 7c at approximately 59 mins 30 secs into the recording, can be viewed HERE.

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

 

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The Bell Tolls for the Paddocks, time for Canvey Island protesters to throw in the Towel?

No doubt scripts have been carefully prepared and are being rehearsed for this Tuesdays CPBC Cabinet meeting, so that the fate of Canvey’s, Paddocks Community centre, may be presented as another “Good News” story!

7.00 pm start time for those intending to attend.

The cabinet agenda item presents the case in such a way that clearly, the compiler of the “business case”, has been requested to balance the spend on the renovation and regeneration cost to meet, as near as possible, the cost of a very generous new build project! The list of new goodies can be seen below, whether they can be justified as being entirely necessary is doubtful!

As we indicated in the previous post, other Community Centres are available in other areas at far more reasonable costs than the £4,300,000 Castle Point council suggest.

However the £4,300,000 cost may just be inflated a tad by a developer hoping to develop Flats and Houses on the site and thereby avoiding a level of Section 106 agreements.* (see below)

The difference between renovation and a new build is just, £200,000!

It is good to see that Canvey’s own cllr mumford has the honour of presenting this agenda item to the cabinet. One wonders whether he has been handed a poisoned chalice, as usually “good news” stories are left to cllr smith to deliver!

* “Planning obligations, also known as Section 106 agreements (based on that section of The 1990 Town & Country Planning Act) are private agreements made between local authorities and developers and can be attached to a planning permission to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms.”

Informative extracts from the Agenda;

“The existing Community Hall, whilst being a well loved landmark on the Island, is not well used and is a significant financial burden which is currently underwritten by the general council tax payers of the Borough.

The Paddocks is the largest community venue in the Borough able to accommodate events for up to 500 seated attendees, but is rarely used to full capacity.

The net operational cost of the facility for 2017/18, excluding apportioned corporate costs, was in the region of £89k. This is budgeted to increase to £110k for the current financial year with an element of this increase being driven by additional security costs. Net operational costs are anticipated to average £165k pa for the period 2020/21 to 2029/301.

In addition to addressing repair and maintenance requirements identified through specialist surveys, this option includes the following remodelling works:

1. Various options to improve entrance to and egress from facility

2. New reception and office adjacent to potential new Main Entrance

3. Sliding/ folding division to Main Hall

4. Lift access to First Floor proposed from Main Hall/Third Hall Lobby

5. Accessible WC proposed adjacent to Main Hall and Lift

6. Second Hall accessed from Main Entrance and North-East Lobby

7. New bar facilities proposed to Second Hall – all halls to have bar facilities

8. Existing Second Hall converted to Third Hall and rentable Office/ Meeting space

9. Third Hall and Office/ Meeting spaces to be accessed from additional entrance and reception, for improved security

10. New stair at West End to proposed First Floor (subject to first floor structural assessment)

11. Stage Facilities upgraded in existing location

12. Main Bar Facilities upgraded in existing location

13. Rentable Meeting space accessed from main corridor

The final result would to all intents and purposes “feel” like a new facility.
Demolish existing facility and replace with a new, modern facility specifically designed to meet current and future requirements.

A new purpose built facility, capable of catering for and presenting a wide range of events and activities to maximise the venue’s commercial potential. A detailed design brief will be drawn up after the completion of a comprehensive consultation process and the appointment of a specialist scheme architect.

The precise configuration would require careful design to ensure that peak time demand could be accommodated.

A new build facility would present opportunities to influence through design, ongoing operational costs as well as environmental considerations, energy efficiency, maintenance and improved security in order that the new build is fit for use as a modern venue for many years to come”

All to be read with a straight face, and I am assured this is not a fairy tale!

Poisoned Chalice

Poisoned Chalice

 

The Paddocks, time to wave the White Flag? With the CPBC Number Crunchers setting Budgets and Procurement Costs, Residents may be Glad to see a New Hall at all!

Time for Canvey Island Residents to hoist the White Flag and Surrender on the Paddocks and the cpbc Local Plan?

Castle Point Borough council’s official newsletter delivered by their official bugle, the Echo newspaper, has softened the blow and hopefully for them, removed the fear of Residents demonstrating at the forthcoming cpbc cabinet meeting when their “plans” for the Paddocks Community Centre are made known to the public.

“The council’s new report estimated that a refurbishment of the hall would cost £4.1million, just £200,000 less than demolishing and replacing the building entirely.”

Another case of a local authority inviting estimators to skew potential costs to suit a pre-devised scheme so as to allocate Housing on local authority land?

For a less than 50 year old building to be allowed to fall into £4,000,000’s worth of disrepair, borders on criminal negligence!

A similar process is being allowed to occur at the Council building in Long Road!

Compare this to the costs of, admittedly a smaller community centre at Wisbech. Where a 2 Hall development has been completed for the cost of £1,100,000! More HERE.

Marshland Hall

But then again, Canvey Island is in a Flood Risk zone and will require the expense of a Refuge Area on a second floor.

However, in an early report to Cabinet CPBC proposal for a new Paddocks replacement Hall, the floor space indicated was only an overall function size of 15 x 30 metres, divided into one large, or 3 separate Halls of 10 x 15 metres. Full Capacity of: Standing = 900 persons  or Seated = 450 persons. Significantly less than current capacities.

The potential for extra Housing Numbers on Canvey Island cannot be resisted and obviously was the driving factor in the gathering of costings, where refurbishment is concerned, having withdrawn routine building maintenance from the budget many years ago!

The Plans for the Island that the CPBC Lead Group covet, were sown decades ago. The neglect of community buildings, the Paddocks and the accumulation of plots of land, the temptation to locate development on Canvey is indoctrinated in the thinking of the decision makers at CPBC.

Perhaps we should be thankful that it has not been suggested that just one community hall, Runnymede, should be enough for a Borough the size of Castle Point.

We assume the New Hall will be allocated an ongoing maintenance budget, otherwise the Paddocks site may just as well be turned over to Housing Development in its entirety now!

Now that the news of the planned demise of the Paddocks has already been fed to the CPBC Newsletter, sorry the Echo, the cabinet meeting’s Paddocks Item can be presented as another “Good News” story by cllr smith!

Meanwhile we can be left to quibble about what they mean by the word “Plan”, as in “there are No Plans for the Paddocks”!

 

Smallgains, the next Canvey Green Space Land Grab! Back Office decision highlights Flood Risk Denial in Support of targeting Housing developments onto the Island!

Despite officer reassurances that a Precedent had not been set, when a small grass “walkway” on Canvey Island was handed over to a “developer”,  CPBC planning portal reveals that a similar proposal, adjacent to 96 Smallgains Avenue, Applic. No. 18/0475/FUL,  has also been approved, this time via a delegated decision by Castle Point officers.

Why this never came before the development committee to discuss we can only wonder, especially as the proposal is for a miserably small 3 bedroomed dwelling!

The officer report describes the land, “The application site is a ‘green road’, examples of which are found across Canvey Island. These are former roads which have been closed to vehicular traffic, usually in the 60s and 70s.
Although long since closed to vehicular traffic, the land provides a pedestrian link between Giffhorn Road and Smallgains Avenue.”

This delegated decision is based on the “precedent” that all similar plots on Canvey Island are now available for Land Grabbing, first in gets First Dibs. What a wonderful Freebie for potential developers.

The officer report also discloses another anomaly, that of the way that Castle Point council “apply” the Sequential Test, in regard to Flood Risk, within the Borough.

I use the terms “apply” and “test” in the most loosest sense of the word!

In reality Castle point council’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island development proposals, really does warrant some close examination.

The local authority’s position on the application of the Sequential Test is clearly politically motivated. The position was adopted, not by Full Council, but as a small item during a Development Committee meeting.

This meeting and the adoption of the approach to Sequential Testing for Flood Risk, was also, prior to the Strategic Flood risk Assessment 2010, the 2013 and 2014 Summer Floods, and has not been reviewed since!

History now indicates that NO DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS FOR CANVEY ISLAND HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON FLOOD RISK GROUNDS.

DESPITE THE WHOLE ISLAND BEING A CRITICAL DRAINAGE AREA AND A FLOOD RISK ZONE, 3A

In fact even more development is considered to be required, to actually sustain Canvey Island from so called “social and economic blight”.

This approach leads to carte blanche development approval by officers and the Lead Group on the development committee, whether the development proposal is for a single dwelling, a medium sized development or a large development!

Let’s consider what the NPPF and Government Guidance informs and instructs:

Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan.

As some areas at lower flood risk may not be suitable for development for various reasons and therefore out of consideration, the Sequential Test should be applied to the whole local planning authority area to increase the possibilities of accommodating development which is not exposed to flood risk.

More than one local planning authority may jointly review development options over a wider area where this could potentially broaden the scope for opportunities to reduce flood risk and put the most vulnerable development in lower flood risk areas.

And

Paragraph 158. The aim of the sequential test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest risk of flooding. Development should not be allocated or permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower risk of flooding. The strategic flood risk assessment will provide the basis for applying this test. The sequential approach should be used in areas known to be at risk now or in the future from any form of flooding.

And yet whether an application for development is Miniscule or Large, Sequential Testing on Flood Risk grounds on Canvey Island by Castle Point council reveals the same Approval Result!

Take these Applications as examples of the decidedly unscrupulous means that development on Canvey Island is promoted, pursued and decided!

Land Adjacent 96 Smallgains Avenue 18/0475/FUL  1 Dwelling House

8.29. The whole of Canvey Island is located in Flood Zone 3A. As Canvey Island is a self contained community with continued development needs, it is considered that there are no sequentially preferable sites available, and the proposal passes the sequential test

Application for 27 Dwellings, Canvey Island

“Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding that could accommodate the proposed development. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.”

Application for 600 Dwellings and Residential Institution, Canvey Island

Regarding the Sequential Test, “The wider sustainability benefits to the community of Canvey Island have been discussed, as part of the Sequential Test. Its continued development is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of this settlement.”

With regard to Sequential Testing of Business premises across the Roscommon Way area, in support of the expansion of Charfleets estate and Morrisons and the new Business Park sites etc, despite the unknown effects of built development on the drainage issues in this and across the rest of Canvey Island, the Sequential Test is considered to have been passed.

Despite the identification, through cpbc’s own Local Plan report evidence, of Business premises need and the better siting of such facilities being in the northern parts of the Borough.

The cpbc Sequential Test methodology is leading to population “Growth” for “Growths” sake, and Housing to offset the Borough’s Needs.

There is absolutely no evidence, nor remote chance, that cpbc and local Responders would be able to tend to the current population of Canvey Island in an Emergency. Proof of which was exposed during the 2014 Summer Floods failure to respond by the local authority and their “agencies”!

 

 

A Housing Gift Horse, Golf Course! Mainlanders can breath a sigh of Relief? Canvey Island to be flooded with a Sea of Concrete?

Following the Castle Point Golf Club (Canvey Island) operators issuing a message on social media, see below, the possibility for EVEN more Housing to be allocated to Canvey Island, through the Local Plan2018, becomes a distinct possibility!

The Golf Course, indicated as being within the Green Belt, has previously been mooted as yet another area that developers would like to see allocated for Housing. Despite it being next to the environmentally and ecologically sensitive Benfleet Creek area, and of course close by to one of the parts of the Sea Defence likely to be over-topped by Tidal Flood water!

The CPBC Local Plan2018 Technical Evidence summary document states only;

Golf courses
5.8 Both golfing facilities in the borough should be supported to ensure that sites are able to retain current members and users as well as, whereas appropriate, assisting them in capitalising on any untapped demand plus future demand generated from housing growth and population increases.

The possibility of the Golf Course capitalising on Housing Growth in other ways, had “apparently” not occurred to cpbc officers nor members.

Let the same business argument used by the owners of the King Canute and the Admiral Jellicoe public houses, of if the business and property are not viable, then other uses must be found, be a Warning!

Yet another Blot on the Canvey Island landscape beckons?

Golf Course

 

Dancing Queen? “PLEASE RELEASE ME” by Englebert Humperdink would have been more Appropriate, where Green Belt protection is concerned!

The morning following PM Teresa May’s Conservative Party Conference speech and her “dancing” onto the stage to the ABBA tune Dancing Queen, alarming figures regarding the Loss of Green Belt Land were released by the Telegraph!

So alarming that a far more appropriate song to take to the stage to would have been Englebert Humperdink’s “Please Release Me”!

Such is the level of Green Belt released for development during the last year, 12,000 Acres, we are at a loss to explain what the Government, Local Authorities and Developers now consider to be “Very Special Circumstances”!

GB Loss

T.May“Opportunity” for Developers some might suggest.

Certainly Nothing to make a Song and Dance About!

 

Info flagged up by: Basildon Residents Against Inappropriate Development (Dunton Garden Suburb)

Photo Credit: Guardian

Castle Point Local Plan, who is Playing whom? Time for a little more Openess and Transparency?

Castle Point Local Plan has been, and remains a Mess!

During March 2018, in Parliament regarding CPBC and the apparent need to Intervene in the Castle Point council Local Plan process, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced;

“In three areas, Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral, I am now particularly concerned at the consistent failure and lack of progress to get a plan in place and have not been persuaded by the exceptional circumstances set out by the Council or the proposals they have put forward to get a plan in place. We will therefore step up the intervention process in these three areas. I will be sending in a team of planning experts, led by the Government’s Chief Planner, into these three areas to advise me on the next steps in my intervention.
I have a number of intervention options available to me which I will now actively examine. As it may prove necessary to take over plan production, subject to decisions taken after the expert advice I have commissioned, my Department has started the procurement process to secure planning consultants and specialists to undertake that work so it can commence as quickly as possible.”

Given the apparent strait jacket position that the Government have clamped council members into, as they strive to avoid Intervention and handing the cpbc Local plan over to our less than sympathetic neighbours to produce for us, it could be expected that the Government’s hands would be more than spotless.

But no, complications have arisen by the admittance that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have found fault with the methodology of predicting Household Projection numbers and Population estimates.

Andrew Lainton on his Decisions Blog suggests;

“And now what will happen till at least March 2019, nothing, no one in their right mind will consult or submit, a local plan or JSP.”

Well, Castle Point are threatened with the wrath of the Secretary of State Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCHLG), should the Gov. Chief Planner find that cpbc are falling behind with the Local Plan timetable!

As recently as the 19th September the cpbc chief executive gave stern warning;

4.5 Ministry officials and their consultants visited the Borough Council in May to complete a “diagnostic check” of the position with local plan work. As a consequence of that visit and subsequent advice Castle Point Borough Council agreed a new Local Development Scheme (LDS) in June 2018, committing the Council to the preparation of a new Local Plan for the Borough on an accelerated timetable, as well as continuing to support the preparation of the JSP.

4.6 The accelerated timetable described in the LDS committed the Council to a Regulation 18 consultation in July and August, which has now been completed. Publication of the Local Plan for Regulation 19 purposes will take place in January 2019.

4.8 Whilst the Borough Council is on course to meet the milestones in the LDS, as discussed with the Ministry, it is at this stage timely to draw the Cabinet’s attention to the potential consequences should there be any deviation from those milestones or the agreed programme.

5.1 Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice. We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

The Castle Point Local Development Scheme (LDS) stipulates the tight timetable to comply with the SoS’ Intervention requirements requires the cpbc Local Plan to be published by January 2019!

AND YET:

Andrew Lainton stated;

“And now what will happen till at least March 2019, nothing, no one in their right mind will consult or submit, a local plan or JSP.”

Perhaps in the light of the Chinese Whispers that are going around the mainland, regarding secret Local Plan meetings at Castle Point council, a little Openess and Transparency is Long Overdue from officers and councillors as to where they are with OUR Local Plan 2018 and whether the recent Household Projection and Population revelations will affect the cpbc LDS timetable and the Local Plan’s Objectively Assessed Housing Needs!

Councillors, officers feel free to Update your Residents!

Bewildered PIC