It appears that 2 plus 2 is making 5 at the moment at Castle Point Council HQ.
This may be useful where Local Plan identification of potential housing is concerned but,…..
In this case a link has been dreamed up, regarding the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, the Echo newspaper a Canvey Councillor and the Planning Inspector’s Local Plan “private meeting” by certain Castle Point councillors!
It appears to have been suggested that a certain Canvey councillor has provided information or a video link to the “private meeting.”
Unfortunately this could not be wider of the mark and has no truth.
Fortunately we as a group are not so sensitive as some councillors at CPBC, and will not threaten legal action, as appears to be their way on occasions.
As we blogged at the time, local residents funded the “private meeting” it affects Castle Point residents directly and the content should be in the public domain.
To not allow public access generates not only lack of trust but causes undue concern, note Echo headline “Green Belt will be built on.”
We also considered that whoever did leak the meeting’s contents to the Echo at least aided the democratic process!
Since then the Council leadership have issued a statement and more unusually officers have also released a press statement.
Other campaign groups, even some outside of the area have responded, with alarm at the Echo articles, indirectly showing how little people are informed clearly on issues within the Local Plan process.
This brings me to a recent press release by the Redrow Chairman – We Need a Sensible Look at Green Belt Boundaries:
Mr Morgan also urged reform of the country’s greenbelt – the rings of countryside containing urban areas. “That doesn’t mean riding a coach and horses through greenbelt policy, it just means having a sensible look at boundaries that were drawn up 60 years ago and are hopelessly out of date,”
Now we all know that Green Belt is supposed to be permanent.
However whilst the National Planning Policy Framework condensed and replaced reams of planning regulation, the recent Echo article illustrated how terminology and planning is never straight forward.
Before going onto the next section of this post, I have included a reminder of the meanings of four words / terms:
definition: lasting for a long time or for ever
example: Mont Blanc has a permanent snow cap.
Definition: extremely important or necessary.
Fundamental: forming the base, from which everything else develops.
Extracts taken from the Government’s Planning Guidance Portal;
Protecting Green Belt land “The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence. Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.” “The general extent of Green Belts across the country is already established. Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan.”
And on Housing:
“Local Plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where.
Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the area in the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver:
the homes and jobs needed in the area;
should identify the scale and mix of housing and the range of tenures that the local population is likely to need over the plan period “
Local planning authorities should have a clear understanding of housing needs in their area.
They should: meets household and population projections, taking account of migration and demographic change;
address the need for all types of housing, including affordable housing.”
From the small extracts you will note where housing is concerned the Government makes use of the less decisive term “should.”
One could have expected, given the importance given to housing that rather than should, the Government would have used the word must.
But it doesn’t.
Whereas on Green Belt the more decisive and clear use of “permanent” and “fundamental” tends to feature.
Whilst this is not definitive, it is clear that to keep local residents in the dark over Local Plan and development matters, as far as what is expected from Castle Point Council is concerned, is not conducive to an informed public.
Access to a Planning Inspector’s visit would have gone some way to prevent this.
That being said, at least the current Local Plan process meetings are being held in public.