A sensational piece of evidence due to be presented at the Glebelands Application Appeal suggests that there may well not in actual fact be a Green Belt within the whole of Castle Point!
This is, of course, contrary to popular opinion, however Fox Land and Property Ltd, the Applicant, suggest that as Green Belt Policy GB1 of the Local Plan has not officially been saved, then there may well not be a local Green Belt to defend!
Should this be the case the need for “very exceptional circumstances” to be proved will be un-necessary and all of our Green Belt will be left open to development!
Fox suggest that although the GB boundaries are clearly marked on the 1998 Local Plan proposals Map, the Map itself reflects policy it does not in itself create policy.
It appears that no development plan policy in the Local Plan defines Green belt boundaries in Castle Point.
The Appellant notes that no Green Belt development plan policies were alleged to have been breached in the first reason for refusal in the decision to refuse the Application planning permission at the Castle Point Development Committee meeting in April 2012.
The Development Committee Members and Case Officers can be held responsible for this over sight.
Whether or not the existance of the Green Belt can be proven and accepted as fact by the Planning Inspector, only time will tell.
The implication though is that due to a gross piece of incompetence by CPBC Officers and Cabinet the whole of the Green Belt, that Castle Point residents hold dear, has been put in jeopardy due to a lack thoroughness!
Green Belt Campaigners have put their heart and soul into defending land they hold dear, Councillors have aligned themselves alongside the campaigners yet allowed this lapse in policy making to go un-noticed.
There is another issue here, one of expense.
Not only was the Core Strategy withdrawn after £500,000 of public money had been “invested” but now residents are to fund the Appeal process. Quite rightly we should put up a defence but lets at least insist on the basics having been covered first and foremost.
This is public money yet again being wasted in times of austerity due to poor working practises.
The Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group pleaded with the Council to not take the original failed Core Strategy to the Planning Inspector. We were aware that it was unsound and the Inspectors letter of May 2010 justified our belief! We took comfort from the feedback we received when professionals reviewed our Core Strategy submission and others even plagiarised whole parts of it.
With the possibility that the Inspector may uphold Fox’s claim that there may actually not now be a Green Belt in Castle Point, who is going to take responsibility?
All except one CIIP member, Cllr Anderson, of the Castle Point Council voted to withdraw the Core Strategy, rather than proceed with the Examination, thereby identifying its inherent flaws. At its (CS) demise the Cabinet and Officers reinstated the old 1998 Local Plan.
Confidence is questioned, Members of this Authority must take responsibility for the possibility of such an error, consider their capabilities and consider their positions.
Answers are required and urgently!