Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group note that the Thorney Bay housing development proposal moves on apace!
With a raft of outstanding issues it finds itself included in the next Development Committee Agenda.
However it appears to be one step forward and a massively important step back as far as information is concerned.
Previously the “In Principle” Application status was considered by the Committee for 600 dwellings, residential dwellings plus 300 static caravan replacements.
The latest consideration by the Committee will be for actual Outline permission for simply “Dwelling Houses and Residential Institutions.”
The Officers description of the Proposal reads: “Whilst a figure of approximately 600 dwellings is referred to in a number of the supporting documents, this is not a figure that is for consideration at this stage.”
By the way, not surprisingly they recommend Approval, it is on Canvey Island after all!
The “supporting documents” are what the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive have been consulted on.
So the obvious question that we hope will receive a satisfactory answer at the Development Committee meeting next week is “why have the numbers been removed?”
Recently, approval has been granted for 101 The Point. This much criticised proposal was passed by the same Committee allowing 99 dwellings, mostly flats, to be developed.
Previously it had been considered suitable for just 50 dwellings.
At committee it was criticised by both Mainland and Island councillors for being an over-development.
Now having seen this, times 200%, proposal pass committee, it would be unreasonable to expect other Canvey developers to be restricted to reasonable density levels.
So by removing numbers from the Thorney Bay paperwork the option to increase numbers is apparent.
Is this an attempt to hoodwink the Environment Agency?
The EA have been asked to consider the development as an improvement on numbers of people at risk based on “calculated” numbers in residence on the caravan park compared to the numbers likely to reside in 600 dwellings.
The EA again make a point in their latest submission that this information is being witheld.
They have been asked to accept the proposal will lead to less people residing in the housing development than the caravan park.
Now supposing the developer were to apply the, times 200%, principle and expect to deliver 1200 dwellings plus residential institutions.
This may fall foul of the EA’s considerations of less people at risk of flood, however it would allow the Council to persuade the Planning Inspector that the site shows a nett gain rather than a loss for the benefit of the new Local Plan Housing provision.
However if that is the case what implications would that have on the Green Belt on the Mainland?
The only large sites indicated for development on the mainland are Kiln Road 150 dwellings and Felstead Road up to 200 dwellings. It is noticeable that Felstead Road is no further forward with its assessments than the scoping report stage, appearing to have stalled since last summer in complete contrast to the Thorney Bay proposal that appears to be receiving a lot of the Council’s time and attention.
The Core Strategy Inspector was highly critical of CPBC for its balance of growth being skewed towards Canvey Island. So how would the new Local Plan Inspector view a 1200 dwelling site on the Flood Zone at Canvey Island whilst only two very much smaller sites are indicated on the Mainland.
It is quite possible that Jotmans Farm and Daws Heath far from being protected would be threatened by development in order to balance the level of growth.
I would have thought that it would be quite reasonable for these mainland developers to expect a sympathetic hearing when their applications go to Appeal should Thorney Bay progress with the large numbers seemingly possible.
In our last Post we mentioned how London Boroughs were looking to re-house their tenants on housing benefits outside of London at reduced rental costs.
A large estate of Flats at Thorney Bay would fall nicely into providing a provision for these people whilst serving to supply a large part of the so called local need.
We have all heard how protective the Councillors are of the Borough’s Green Belt. Lets hope they insist the proposal is sent away to comeback with the numbers re-instated in the interest of openness and transparency!
However will these concerns stop the Mainland Group at the Development Committee from raising their hands as if joined at the wrist when the Chairman calls for a vote?
We shall see!