The overall scale and complexities of the evidence base contained within the Glebelands Green Belt proposal reduces any comment by the untrained mind, such as my own, simply an opinion.
Hence the 6 week period allowed for the developers and their legal team to digest the decision and to consider making an Appeal.
Residents should be aware, and perhaps the Council could explain, how rare it is for the Secretary of State to over turn an Inspectors Appeal decision.
The Canvey Green Belt Campaign’s opinions of the Secretary of State’s decision, for what they are worth, follow:
Residents of Castle Point enjoy and wish to see protected the Borough’s Green Belt, of that there is no doubt. Our MP, Rebecca Harris, responded by requesting the SoS take into account the residents wishes and over turn the Appeal.
In over-turning the Appeal the SoS commented “With the publication of the NPPF, he (SoS) is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it. The Secretary of State does not disagree that, apart from its GB status, the present appeal site has no overriding constraints.”
In a nutshell if Glebelands was not designated Green Belt the site would be allowed to be developed.
Where there will be a major dispute is on the SoS’s opinion that Castle Point Council can achieve it’s programme for the adoption of the Local Plan (LP).
Recently there has been discussions between Council Officers and Councillors on the proposed sites for development within the LP.
It is accepted that the large sites will all need to be in the Green Belt.
The Officers held an individual meet with the Mainland Lead Group and a separate meet with the CIIP Group.
A source informs me that there was “vigorous” opposition to what the Officers considered needed to be achieved at the Mainland meeting.
Voices were raised and Officers opinions challenged.
The Officers will recognise the Glebelands Appeal Inspector’s opinion as actually being advice on our Local Plan.
The historic housing development achieved in Castle Point, over the last decade or so, he (Insp) described as “grossly inadequate.”
He went onto destroy the housing land supply that Castle Point suggested was available. The Inspector’s considered view was that in fact, rather than a 5 year supply, which cllr Smith assured us was sound and capable of protecting Castle Point from developers, there is just 0.7 year’s supply available.
Remember for a Local Plan to be adopted it will require the approval of a Planning Inspector.
The tone of the Mainland Councillors meeting with the Officers appears to demonstrate that they are prepared to again dig their heels in against committing to Green Belt development in their own wards.
The Local Plan progress is being undertaken against a back drop of UKIP local poll success.
The SoS decision to over turn the Planning Inspector’s decision appears chiefly to be in response to our MP’s intervention.
The local party will recognize that Rebecca can retain her seat in Parliament, if necessary, without having to rely on votes from Canvey residents.
Yet again the option of an even higher percentage of actual builds development being allocated to Canvey Island will appear even more appealing to Castle Point Council!
If the Mainland Councillors were unwilling to nominate development land on the Mainland when the requirement was for 200 new dwellings per annum, then
the extra 200+ per year will surely see them directing these towards Canvey Island Green Belt.
If this was to be the chosen route, dictated by political self – preservation, then the Local Plan process is doomed to drag on for years.
The wilderness is where Castle Point is heading, with no growth, there will be limited funds for local improvements. The schools, health services etc will all receive decreasing budgets.
Almost symbolically the major road improvement A13 / A130, at Sadlers Farm, appears to be designed to allow for commercial vehicles to by pass our Borough!