It should have not passed the notice of those concerned at the potential loss of Green Belt on Canvey Island and Castle Point the number of major players that have submitted representations into the Local Plan consultation.
Representations have been received from Persimmon, Barratt Homes, Martin Dawn, Morrison’s, Redrow, Strategic Land Group, Gladman, Argent Homes, Countryside Property etc
What may have gone un-noticed, especially by mainland Green Belt campaign groups, is the potential opportunity lost by Castle Point Council by failing to complete the Core Strategy process.
At that time the RSS housing need figures were relevant, 200 dwellings per annum.
Figures now submitted by developer representatives suggest the Objectively Assessed Need could exceed 500 dwellings per annum.
There was a stage during the Core Strategy when the Inspector, examining Castle Point Council’s plan, offered the Council representatives the opportunity to alter the plan so as to release enough development sites to satisfy the 200dpa RSS figure required.
The Core Strategy was considered unsound by the Inspector fundamentally due to the local authority’s strategy of selecting the Land East of Canvey Road, Dutch Village site as the single large housing development Green Belt site, backed by brown field sites. A strategy that the Inspector accepted as being driven by “Local Factors.”
This was rightly criticised as the Dutch Village is in a Flood Zone 3A and many of the Brown Field sites were unlikely to be forth coming.
At this point the Council were given the opportunity to alter the list to include more realistic and sustainable sites for development.
This opportunity was discussed at a Councillor Conference during September 2011, and subsequently, rejected!
Now, nearly 3 years down the line, fresh information and projections are being suggested by developers’ consultants that claim the housing need numbers are far in excess of the previous levels, that Castle Point Council rejected achieving.
Instead of attempting to reach the RSS figures, 200 dwellings per annum, Castle Point now finds itself struggling to justify limiting the dwellings per annum numbers as low as 200dpa !
Future Employment potential affects the housing projections. However residents will be aware that Castle Point has failed to attract many businesses outside of the service sector, supermarkets, sandwich suppliers, replacement window suppliers and car breakers.
Hardly the type of employment that alone will support house purchase mortgages.
Submittors to the Local Plan consultation suggest that CPBC need to show evidence of attempts towards the “duty to co-operate” with other neighbouring authorities, willing to take on some of our housing need if CPBC persist in limiting capacity to the 200 dpa limit.
Inward migration needs to be accounted for and much of this is expected to come from London Boroughs.
However, London is clearly not planning to supply housing to satisfy its own need, covered in a previous post here. Unless the approach has not been made public it appears that London has not contacted Castle Point Borough Council under their own “duty to co-operate” requirement, to ascertain whether CPBC is able to accommodate some of it’s housing need as are some of our neighbouring Boroughs in criticising us.
To finish this post it is only correct to return to the initial point raised, if the CPBC had fulfilled it’s obligation under the Core Strategy for 200 dwellings per annum, they / we would not be facing this fight to prevent, at a minimum, double the number of new builds in the Borough.
If it is failed to be proven 200 dpa is a reasonable number given the constraints in the area and cansidering that 200 dpa was an option available during the Core Strategy, who will be held accountable?
Will the residents feel that it is worth fighting the housing need numbers all the way, if at the end the numbers are found to be inadequate?
The residents have been told to fear CPBC being put into designation.
I have not the knowledge on local authority matters to consider the dangers.
What is apparent is that without a Local Plan initially the Green Belt boundaries would remain intact.
Only those developers actually in a position to proceed with their proposal would be likely to file an application.
An Inspector would give approval or rejection on merit.
However, this is more likely to be approval if numbers are not reaching Objectively Assessed Needs which brings us back to one of my original points, why have Councillors allowed Castle Point to be faced with possibly finding space for 500 dwellings per annum, when the opportunity to settle for 200 dpa was available to them 3 years ago.
Hopefully we can have put in place a new Local Plan with no release of Green Belt, if not, then only suitable sustainable sites being added to the supply.