The Felstead / Catherine / Downer Road development proposal, considered by the Castle Point Council Development Committee, masked many underlying concerns
Are Mainland development proposals addressed differently to Canvey Island proposals?
The previous meeting of the committee considered a proposal for a block of flats, the second on the same site, at Leige Avenue, Canvey Island.
CPBC officer introducing the Felstead Road proposal suggested that the proposal was an over development of the site and that there was inadequate car parking spaces and access issues. The officers gave eleven reasons for recommending Refusal.
Previously the very same officer, when introducing the Leige Avenue, Canvey proposal, considered that the proposal whilst indicating less car parking facilities than both CPBC and Essex County Council’s standard requirement and an access road that is too narrow for emergency and refuse vehicles to manouvere in, was worthy of a recommendation of Approval!
Fortunately the Committee disagreed with the recommendations and voted to Refuse granting permission.
The Felstead Road site is, according to the 1998 Local Plan, in Castle Point’s Green Belt.
The draft new Local Plan has only recently consulted with the Borough’s residents and businesses so as to consider making any necessary adjustments prior to publishing a final document for consultation and approval by the Council, ahead of Examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
Therefore we believe the proposal was considered under the conditions existing, the 1998 Local Plan.
Being a Green Belt site, and the CPBC officers suggesting that the necessary special circumstances were not existing to recommend allowing Approval, then the principle of development at this stage was another reason for Rejection of the proposal.
Recent judgement by the Secretary of State offered opportunities for reasons to Refuse.
Would using these reasons have compromised CPBC in the Appeal cases raised by the Glebelands and Jotmans Farm developers due to a lack of a 5 year supply?
An opportunity may have been missed by Councillors wishing to protect Castle Point’s Green Belt.
The address made by Felstead Road local resident A. Thornton, backed by the campaign group led by his wife, raised issues worthy of a response from officers as way of explanations to their concerns.
We consider it unworthy that no direct response was forthcoming, and disrespectful to local residents.
As a backdrop to all of the considerations last night, was the Fox Land and Property Appeal to the Courts, that the Glebelands Judicial Review hearing result was unsound.
FLP remain convinced that the “saving” of the 1998 Local Plan, and in particular policy GB1 (the Green Belt policy), undertaken at the withdrawal of the Core Strategy was incomplete and incorrect.
The question remains, does the Green Belt exist in Castle Point.
A High Court judge will have the “final” say.
In the meantime the proposed developers of Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and Felstead Road, by coming forward with their proposals, in effect hope to determine the locations of the CPBC Local Plan’s 5 year housing supply.
From an outside viewpoint one could not blame them following the disastrous and incompetent handling of the withdrawn unsound Core Strategy.
Ahead lies the Borough local Elections. This allows a possibility of a new council likely to make a fresh attempt at protecting Castle Point Green Belt, assuming one exists.
A delay would be caused in the Local Plan’s progress whilst a new approach is considered.
Developers will object to this, however it is not Castle Point Council’s fault that the elections have arrived at this stage of the Plan’s progress.
Local Plan’s across the country are taking time to produce, ours should be no different as it is important to get correct.
CPBC officers would by rights take an even handed approach to plan making, development proposals whether on the mainland or Canvey Island.
The Core Strategy, drawn up by officers, was exposed by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign as being influenced by political “Local Factors.”
Recent development committee officer advice appears inconsistent to the detriment of the quality of housing development on Canvey Island.
These factors lead to challenges and Appeals on local decision making, whether the Local Plan or development applications.
It is local residents that ultimately end up picking up the costs of these challenges via legal and officer costs.
Residents were reassured that a “war chest” is available to defend these Appeal challenges.
The required purchase of a “number” of Canvey town centre flats for council tenants has come from monies released from the previous sale of Council properties (?) otherwise the money would require returning to central government.
It would be interesting to know the true state of Castle Point Borough Council’s forward finances.
However, the council’s stand against the type of proposed development at Felstead Road is welcomed.
Photograph courtesy wikipedia.org