Something’s gotta give! Green Belt + Housing Supply, local Tug of War!

Development on the Green Belt appears to be in some sort of limbo at the present. Whether this will be maintained is doubtful.

Comfort appears to be taken by some campaigners in Castle Point, at the Refusal of the Appeal for development at Bowers Gifford, a site generally opposite west Thundersley, and Glebelands in particular.

Both Castle Point, and Basildon, are reliant on out of date 1998 Local Plans whilst preparation is made on new Local Plans.

That the Castle Point new Local Plan is taking an extensive preparation period cannot be disputed. Neither can the fact that a change in the political balance of the Castle Point local authority will require a further view of the draft Plan.

It is apparent that the Secretary of State, who has recovered for determination the Glebelands and Bowers Gifford Green Belt development proposal Appeals, considers that such release of Green Belt should be a decision taken within Local Plan making rather than through the Appeal process.

A link to the SoS decision and the Appeal findings is here.

These decisions may well influence whether Persimmon’s carry through their Appeal on the Refusal for development at Jotmans Farm.

That Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and the Bowers Gifford development cause varying harm to the Green Belt is generally undisputed.

Whether the necessary special circumstances to allow development in the Green Belt exist would depend on which angle the viewpoint is taken.

What is undeniable is that there is a need for housing development.

The question is how much and where should, or must, it go?

The major difference between the Glebelands and the Bowers decisions is that in the case of Glebelands the Appeal Inspector considered that the Castle Point refusal decision should be over turned, the opposite of the Bowers Inspector’s conclusion.

What both cases had in common was in the view of both Inspectors and the Secretary of State was a lack of a 5 year housing supply.

Remember the dire warnings given by CPBC cllr Smith threatening a development free-for-all if councillors didn’t approve a 5 year housing supply ahead of the original Glebelands proposal coming before the Castle Point planning committee!

Not only did the Appeal Inspector consider that cllr Smith’s 5 year housing supply merited just 0.7 years worth of housing for the Borough, but it was proposed that he will head up the Task and Finish group reviewing the Local Plan’s consultation responses!

The findings will have some bearing on the Castle Point Local Plan making.  One positive is that the Task and Finish Group’s meeting will be in public.

The draft Local Plan has identified Glebelands as an area that Green Belt could be released to make housing possible.                                         A Planning Inspector felt, at Appeal, the development proposal should be supported.

It will be difficult to retract these previous considerations.

FLP, who proposed development at Glebelands will now I assume take an active part in the Local Plan Examination so as to support their scheme.

Remember that FLP have also legally disputed the actual existence of Green Belt within Castle Point as there is an issue with the “re-saving” of the 1998 Local Plan, as a short term fix whilst a new Plan is developed.

The new administration at Castle Point may well have their own ideas as to where best to allocate housing land and the evidence base will require re-interpreting to support any changes from the 2014 draft version. It will be interesting to observe how the new Local Plan evolves from the draft stage.

Over the previous decade little house building has taken place in Castle Point. This may be due to the 1998 Local Plan’s protection of the Green Belt or simply the national financial situation.

What we can be sure of is that the recent viability of developing on Canvey Island has acted as a constraint on the number of homes developed within Castle Point, for past records indicate that if major large development does occur, then it occurs on Canvey.

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