The Council Officers, working at the behest of the Castle Point Borough Council Cabinet, stated whilst considering recent development Applications, that Councillors have expressed a desire to protect the Greenbelt, also that the NPPF endorses this ideal.
They also stated, so as to offer evidence in support of their decisions to recommend Approval of the Thorney Bay 600 dwellings + 300 “static homes”, the Point 99 dwellings, both on Canvey Island, plus the Kiln Road 150 dwellings Applications, that there is only space for a further 392 Non-green field dwellings available within the next five years.The relevance of five years is this will form the most important part of the new Local Plan.
The Authority has identified that an ageing population is a financial problem for the Borough, and that something must urgently be done to allow youngsters to remain to live within the towns that they were raised. Indeed Cllr Stanley, Boyce ward, went to lengths to explain that development was important for young families to be attracted to Canvey so as to support the two senior schools so that they did not become undersubscribed in the near future.
With these reasons in mind I reviewed the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which identified the 392 non-green field available sites so as to check their locations.
Surprise, surprise 295 of these are to be found on Canvey!!!
That is 75% of the Borough’s Brown field available sites are on Canvey!
Benfleet has space for 63, Hadleigh 31 and Thundersley a grand total of 3!
The assumption must be made that, as the Thorney Bay and Canvey Point developments have been approved solely to serve the needs of Canvey Island residents, the regeneration needs of the three Mainland towns are being severely neglected by the Castle Point Council.
Surely, with the serious lack of any large development over the last forty years the schools in Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley should be showing the similar under subscription of pupils that Cllr Stanley is so concerned about for Canvey Island.
Too often, when it suits them, the Cabinet identify the Borough as being split between Mainland and the Island. It follows that if the Mainland towns are to have their figures merged so as to identify the housing needs of the Mainland part of the Borough, rather than three individual towns, the loss of identity between the three towns would, by definition imply a reason that the Green Belt boundaries between the three towns serve little purpose, and as the Planning Inspector examining the Core Strategy identified, may require being re-drawn.
This would allow the release of some larger sites for the much needed purpose of housing and consequently, the apparent much needed affordable housing for Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley. There appears to be no alternative unless the Mainland towns are to be allowed to degenerate.
This of course is simply circumstantial whilst the Cabinet exert their selfish control, Canvey Island can be identified as the sole growth area in the Borough and providing funds, via the 106 financial agreements with developers, that can be distributed Borough-wide, rather than being concentrated in the areas close to where development causes most disruption.
Once again I quote Cllr Partridge when he said “Go away Mr Inspector, we don’t want you here!”
Let Mainland residents carry on living in their own little 1950’s dream world.