Canvey Point Development Application Decision
As predicted (this article could have been written a week ago) the Point development Application was approved at last night’s Castle Point Council’s Development Committee meeting.
There was only one surprise, in that cllr Govier of the majority Mainland Group displayed the conviction and conscience to speak out against the Application.
Clearly safety issues remained, the “Emergency Planners” last minute comments, supposed to appease emergency and evacuation planning issues, simply raised more questions than answers.
However Committee Members after giving “due consideration” and in their infinite wisdom agreed that the increase in population can be coped with in an emergency, despite warning from the Fire and Rescue Service that they have not the adequate resources. Once again the well-being of Canvey Island residents is further jeopardised by our Local Authority.
The local residents’ concerns over the clear over development of the site was discussed but found acceptable by the Committee. Of the Mainland majority Group, only three ventured to speak as the Application was discussed. Cllr Govier spoke strongly against the over development, Cllr Hart suggested the four storey buildings be reduced to three so as to limit the density, but was told by the Chairman that they were not in the business of negotiating, they were there to judge the Application as presented, and Cllr Hart added no further.
Cllr Norman Smith, as expected. was the sole speaker in favour of the proposal.
Although there was £27,000 to be allocated “to the Libraries” out of the 106 agreements, there was no call for sums to be allocated to the necessary sea defence improvements.
Amazingly no Councillor, or Officer for that matter, referred to the independent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment paid for by Castle Point residents and undertaken by experts in the field URS Scott Wilson. Their report on this site recommended a dwellings capacity of 43 units in stark contrast to the approved capacity of 99! They also considered the suitability of the site for development, out of a high, medium or low rating, as Low!
The vote produced the expected majority in favour of Approval as cllr Hart voted with the Majority Mainland Group.
Only cllr J.Govier abstained.
The Environment Agency had indicated that the Emergency Plan needed approval by local Emergency Planners, to this effect they produced a document that can only be described as “suspect and incomplete” but one which Senior Officers were happy to accept as sound!
The Highways Agency having objected to the previous Application, withdrew that objection on this application. This indicates that Officers, at the request of the Cabinet are cajoling outside Agencies to comply with the politically driven aims of Castle Point Council.
The Council’s need to provide evidence of a 5 year housing supply in time for it’s December defence against the Glebelands Appeal has taken precedence over sensible urban planning. Four storey blocks of flats, with flats built into the roof, will dominate the area and set a precedence for future development on the nearby industrial land and elsewhere on the Island. Ninety nine dwellings is clearly not an appropriate number for the size of the development area, however every one on Canvey means one less on the Mainland and politically that is less volatile.
The projected rush of Applications by developers feared by the Mainland group of Councillors at the withdrawal of their flawed Core Strategy has in effect worked in their favour. Through negotiated tactics they have managed to bring forward Applications that have resulted in over 700 dwellings for Canvey Island whilst only 150 are planned for Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley!
Now that the Authority have the way to approve development outside of the control of the Planning Inspectorate, once Green Belt starts to be identified for development growth within the new Local Plan we can expect Canvey’s Green belt to be amongst the very first to be allocated.
Whilst the Labour Leader calls for “one Nation”
we would willingly settle for “ONE BOROUGH!”