Castle Point Council know best – Env. Agency and the drainage study of little consequence!

Castle Point Planning Authority can never be accused of failing to disappoint!

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The Development Committee meeting met on Tuesday to consider a three dwelling development on the site of council owned garages at St. Christophers Close, Canvey Island.

Whilst this project should be supported, replacing what has previously being a problem location, with family homes, the committee chose to ignore the Environment Agency’s response.

St. Christophers Close was affected by the flooding of July 2014.

The Environment Agency were consulted and for the first time for some years placed a “Holding Objection” against the proposal.

Despite this the officers recommended Approval!

The EA’s objection could be lifted if certain obligations were met through an improved Flood Risk Assessment.

A new Flood Risk Assessment was produced but as the committee meeting was on Tuesday and the EA had not finalised their response, the officers convinced all but 4 of the committee members that the EA’s objection was certain to be lifted, even though there were 7 days remaining for the EA to make their response.

Obviously changing from a concrete based garage area to housing with some garden area “should” improve drainage. However garages do not do not have access to water supply nor do they create waste water.

Would the “improved” drainage (assuming the garage area was not already linked to the drainage system, if not, why not) actually result in enough of an improvement to result in less flooding once the new dwellings were built.?

It appeared that some committee members were of an opinion that over development in urban areas had no effect on the flooding.

Officers, the ward member and the mainland members thought otherwise and approved the development scheme.

Local Residents may feel aggrieved as they also were denied 7 remaining days of their opportunity to object.

Very little is known, especially by Castle Point Council officers and cabinet, of how Sustainable Urban Drainage performs on Canvey Island, that is clear.

Whilst the Canvey Integrated Urban Drainage study is being conducted by the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority, who by the way, were not consulted, councillors appear to be taking a position where they know best.

Unfortunately for many Canvey Islanders they have learned a very expensive and distressing lesson.

The garages are CPBC owned land, the Application had another week to run and could quite easily have been carried over to next month’s meeting.

Canvey Island Town Council objected ahead of the drainage study, so

why the hurry to approve?

The decision at the very best can be described as being somewhere between, insensitive and disrespectful!

For the record cllrs Blackwell, Anderson, Watson and Varker whilst supporting the principle of the development voted against it at this stage.

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3 responses to “Castle Point Council know best – Env. Agency and the drainage study of little consequence!

  1. cllr simon hart

    You fail to report that it is only approved, if the EA remove their holding objection, which is what some of those who voted against this proposal wanted and said so in the chamber.

    • Thanks Simon, and the failure to delay until the period for residents to submit or object had been completed can also be explained I assume.
      The officers notes point out, that the SUDS hierarchy of on-site management of surface water through infiltration, has not been followed.
      This point, the officers suggests, is added as a condition.
      The EA noted that CPBC have not commented on whether the Sequential or Exception tests are considered to be passed.
      Could it be that the EA, in raising a Holding Objection for the first time in many years are now becoming cautious where CPBC decision making is concerned. After all CPBC having approved and continuing to work with a flawed SWMP, plus the reasoning behind the flooding, have a poor track record where flood risk is concerned.
      Editor

  2. Castle Point Council needs to take note of the evidence and stop adding to the surface water drainage problems facing the community of Canvey Island.
    The recent Essex County Council Flood Investigation Report concluded inter-alia that, :-

    “The flat topography of the island, combined with the densely developed urban areas and covering of open watercourses has created an exceptional reliance on the designed drainage system. In addition, a large amount of Canvey’s drainage system was designed prior to the introduction of national design standards and is therefore likely to be of lesser capacity than new infrastructure. Older drainage systems may have been sufficient at the time of construction, but increased development and subsequent pressure on the already strained drainage system has meant that in some locations the capacity is not sufficient to provide effective drainage and mitigate flood risk.

    As a result of this, some areas of the island have suffered from a history of surface water in more moderate events than those of 20th July 2014 and 24th August 2013, and flood alleviation options should be investigated.”

    In desperation the Planning Authority are looking for a solution to their chronic under-delivery of housing, housing-needs being a significant aspect in delivering a sound New Local Plan.

    There is nothing sound in the site selection process that is clearly aggravating the already critical drainage problems of Canvey Island, consequently adding to the flood risk consequences.

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