The announcement of the application of the proposal to develop part of Jotmans Farm will come as a blow to Benfleet residents.
The application can be viewed on the CPBC planning portal, reference CPT/122/13/OUT.
The plan is for 265 dwellings within the Borough’s Green Belt, subject to the Glebelands Appeal Inspector’s ruling as to whether the Borough Council has correctly saved the Castle Point Green Belt as part of a Local Plan policy. There is a possibility that, if the ruling goes the wrong way, then the Green Belt may not actually exist.
Jotmans Farm proposal is not identified as being amongst the Council’s preferred 5 year housing supply in the new Local Plan.
By identifying a 5 year supply residents were promised by lead group councillors that the Borough’s Green Belt would remain “safe”. Clearly this may well not be the case as both the Glebelands and Jotmans Farm developers feel the current situation is challengeable at Appeal.
By identifying a challengeable 5 year Local Plan housing allocation the situation arises that Developers are now designating their own preferred sites. Jotmans, along with Canvey Island sites will immediately add to traffic problems. Jotmans Farm development via Tarpots and Canvey Island via Waterside roundabout, prior to the inevitable extra usage of Sadlers Farm.
By Castle Point Councillors indecision, rather than sites being selected closer to the main arterial roads in the Borough, sites coming forward are in inappropriate areas.
Reading some of the Jotmans proposal submission it is clear the intention is to go straight to Appeal, once it is turned down by the Development Committee. In the meantime the Council will struggle with producing a Local Plan.
The Council will now be scrutinised as to their wisdom in rejecting the Core Strategy Inspector’s offer of assistance when he offered it.
Be in absolutely no doubt that decision-making in these circumstances is a difficult and thankless task but if local factors are at the root of influencing decisions then we can expect more, not less, of these proposals and the fault will lay firmly at the door of our own local authority.
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