Monday’s Canvey West Neighbourhood Meeting held specifically to discuss the New Local Plan and it’s implications for Canvey Island, was fairly poorly attended. However this did allow for some extensive questioning of the Officers that presented.
A major concern is that despite extensive submissions on the previous Core Strategy, none of which had any impact on the Final Document, we are now expected to believe that our input on the New Local Plan will not be dealt similarly. Of course we will continue to make objections should the Local Plan not be to Canvey’s benefit.
Castle Point Officers publically distanced themselves from Councillors by admitting last night that the Core Strategy, in which Canvey would have faired so badly, was the work of the Councillors. Officers are allowed only to give guidance. The Officers would have been professionally embarrassed by the Planning Inspector’s verdict on the Core Strategy Document that was presented to him for examination. Recalling the sequence of events leading to its withdrawal, during examination the Inspector wrote to recommend the documents withdrawal due to it being unsound. The Council chose to apply their own interpretation of his remarks and soldier on. His instruction was clear that too much development was proposed for Canvey and green belt release was required on the Mainland. A Councillor conference was held at which mainland green belt areas and Thorney Bay were considered. Council Leader Mrs Pam Challis announced in the Echo that Mainland Green Belt is required to meet the housing numbers required. This caused a response from mainland residents who banded together to let their local Councillors know their feelings. With the prospect of a revolt at the next local elections the Councillors voted to belatedly withdraw the “unsound” document.
The process of creating a New Local Plan has commenced with us being told that the Council start with a “clean sheet”!
However in the meantime Applications are either lodged, pending or expected for Thorney Bay 600 dwellings, Dutch Village Fields (East of Canvey Road) 311, Town centre 400, Canvey Supply at the Point 100, the old Castle View School site 50 – 100.
On the Mainland Applications have been received for Kiln Road and Glebelands totally 315, this equates to a 80:20 split against Canvey should these all be approved. Exactly what the Planning Inspector found unsound about the previous Core Strategy. This does help the Council in their dilemma though, as should these all be approved by the Development Committee it will constitute a ten year supply of housing. A type of “Planning by Default”. This will make the New Local Plan a very easy document to compile, the damage to Canvey already having been done!
I believe there is a good argument against development of the Dutch Village Fields, however I have no doubt that if the proposal is turned down this time the land from the Dutch Village up to Waterside Farm will be removed from the Green Belt in the New Local Plan.
Your response to the New Local Plan Residents Questionnaire is vital, Flood Risk, lack of Canvey Green Belt amenity, Hazardous Industries and access / egress issues are paramount, please take the time to make the Council clear or Canvey will again be the dumping ground. If you have mislaid or not received a questionnaire please let me know and I will arrange for more copies.
For the New Local Plan process to be fair it will require Mainland Councillors to put principles ahead of their fixation with retaining their ward seats. The Mainland Green Belt Campaigners are making their selves heard and this puts pressure on their Councillors. In turn Officers are pressurised to find a need for development on our Flood Plain. The Press are a means of highlighting our plight, please make the effort to get a letter published. Alternatively there will be a meeting at the Paddocks soon to let the Council know your feelings. I will let you know when this is.