Castle Point Councillors were extolled the virtues of “Master Planning” at the Council meeting that voted through the Local Plan draft for consultation.
Master Planning we were told was a cast iron means of controlling the lay out, amenities, protection of the environment and the softening of the urban edges of the Green Belt indicated for development within the Local Plan.
As compensation for the loss of Green Belt.
Master Planning will also, so we are led to believe, give CPBC the power to limit the number of dwellings developed on each of the development sites.
For instance, Glebelands, received an application for 167 dwellings.
CPBC refused permission for the proposal to go ahead and, whilst the examining Inspector disagreed, was supported by the Secretary of State.
Now the Local Plan draft indicates Glebelands as a site for future development.
However the 167 dwellings site target has been reduced by CPBC to allow just 100 dwellings.
An indication of the benefits of Master Planning!
The Local Plan whilst recognising the need for housing growth and the release of Green Belt land so as to support this growth, will at least allow control of the appearance of the Borough to the satisfaction of its residents.
However the controlling of development site numbers will affect the supply of affordable homes.
Clearly 20%, the new lower aspirational target, of affordable homes from new development in the Borough, will be less if sites fail to reach an optimum delivery target.
The proposed 167 dwelling development at Glebelands could realise 33 affordable homes,
whereas a “Master Planned” development of just 100 dwellings will realise just 20 affordable homes!
The historic supply of affordable homes in Castle Point should be a cause for concern once the Local Plan reaches the Examination stage.
The “Master Plan” approach of the Local Plan will be tested for soundness.
Master Planning, by CPBC should also be regarded as an actual threat to the Borough’s Green Belt!
Limiting Green Belt development sites to less than the optimum number of dwellings can be considered a waste of Green Belt land.
A 40% reduction of dwellings on a development site, as in the case of Glebelands, will only lead to more Green Belt sites having to be released to make up the housing numbers, 200 per annum, required to be supplied in Castle Point.
40% is an interesting statistic.
Councillors have threatened residents that if the Local Plan is not supported, a Planning Inspector will impose a housing target of 346 dwellings per annum.
Interesting then that 346 dwellings less 40%, is roughly equivalent to 207 dwellings, the number that CPBC are suggesting is sufficient to support local need!
I have an uneasy feel about the urgency, and the bullish approach in the way the Local Plan is being promoted to the residents.
There is a likelihood that during Examination an Inspector would offer his assistance to CPBC officers in taking the Local Plan forward.
He would then suggest how more housing could be accommodated within identified sites.
The “blame” would fall squarely on the Planning Inspectorates shoulders.
More in depth evidence is required on housing need and the capacity of the Borough’s infrastructure to cope with it to support the Local Plan.
The signs do not look good for the success of the plan nor for the residents peace of mind.
Politics has once again infiltrated Castle Point Local Planning!