Green Belt housing development, Flood Risk and fairly applying constraint considerations!

The Green Belt Test!

Bear with me.

Canvey Island, as current Borough residents should know by now, is in a Flood risk Zone. Canvey is at or below sea level and reliant on sea defences to prevent flooding.

However there are lengths of the sea wall where over topping is possible, there are also areas where the sea “wall” is in fact a clay embankment, and there is also a possibility that at some stage the defences could be breached leading to a “catastrophic” inundation!

Canvey Island is at Actual Risk of Flooding.

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

Canvey is also served by a “complex drainage system” that failed to prevent severe household flooding during the rain storms of August 2013 and July 2014.

Despite these issues there are people who promote development on Canvey, simply so as to add numbers to the BOROUGH’s overall housing total.

The more houses built the less demand on Green Belt development is the motivation.

Fair enough you may say, until you consider the requirements to pass the Sequential and Exception Tests for development in Flood Zones.

CPBC Officers consider:

For residential housing to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it would need to be located within that settlement. Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding. Under the circumstances it is considered the proposal passes the Sequential test.

The proposal must then pass the Exception Test.

The proposal must demonstrate that the development provides wider sustainability benefits to the community that outweigh flood risk. In response to this in a very broad sense, the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.

 “The continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement,” statement is never applied to mainland development proposals. This seems contradictory and not a tad, unfair.

Questionable reasoning that makes it almost impossible to oppose development on Flood risk grounds, yet has led to the density of urbanisation that itself adds to the intensification of flood cause and damage.

Wouldn’t the possible loss of the Deanes School, due to falling residents of a school age, have led to social blight in the Deanes area?

Isn’t housing development also strongly opposed  in that part of the Borough due to the potential loss of Green Belt? Wouldn’t some new housing accommodation for young families have supplied the necessary pupils, so as to stop Essex County Council from considering keeping the Deanes school open unsustainable?

images

Just imagine there was a Green Belt Sequential and Exception Test, how might that read as an officer’s response to a housing development proposal?

CPBC Officers consider:

For residential housing to serve the community of the Deanes School area, it is considered that it would need to be located within that settlement. Since the settlement of the Deanes School area is located entirely within the Green Belt it is not considered that there are reasonably available alternative sites within the area. Under the circumstances it is considered the proposal passes the Sequential test.

The proposal must then pass the Green Belt Exception Test.

The proposal must demonstrate that the development provides wider sustainability benefits to the community that outweigh Green Belt loss. In response to this in a very broad sense, the continued development in the Deanes School area is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.

If this “reasoning” was used there would, quite understandably, be a reaction at the Polling Station.

However there appears little inclination amongst many of the Lead Group members to apply the same reasoning where flood risk is concerned.

Flood Risk is a CONSTRAINT!

The constraint should be applied, exactly in the same way as Green Belt is sought to be used as a constraint. This does not mean there is a need to direct housing on to the mainland if, as it should be, the flood risk Sequential Test is applied correctly and Canvey were to receive less housing development!

What you would definitely not expect is for a Canvey Councillor to “call in” a proposed development, in a previously flooded area, for planning committee members to consider, AGAINST officers recommendation!

Advertisements

3 responses to “Green Belt housing development, Flood Risk and fairly applying constraint considerations!

  1. Steve Sawkins

    The Sustainable Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping report New Local Plan January 2012 stated :- amongst other statements. that.

    “Flood risk, particularly as the level of hazard it poses will increase over time, has significant implications for the borough. At present the entire population of Canvey Island live at risk of flooding. Many of these homes are bungalows and therefore residents would be unable to move to a higher level if a flood event was to occur. The Environment Agency has set out plans for managing flood risk in the Thames Estuary in the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan (TE2100). For Canvey Island this proposes a policy of maintaining and improving the flood defences in order to promote the existence of a sustainable population”.

    Clearly the safety and sustainability of the community Canvey Island is totally dependent upon Government funding coming forward in a timely manner.

    Castle Point Council have no control on the Governments purse and yet they are quite comfortable in allowing for the increase of population being put at risk and indeed it insists that further large scale housing development is necessary to the sustainability of its community.

    Something is not making sense here.

    • Thanks Steve, you raise a very good point. Worse still I believe you simplify the matter, as I understand the sea defence upgrading will need supporting by funding from other agencies such as possibly the local flood authority and developers. Sea defence funding has been raised during the Thorney Bay original development proposal when a sum of £100,000 was suggested by the EA on the basis of 600+ dwellings and the length of sea wall serving the site.
      During the later proposal for 113 dwellings on part of the site, I note that this realised just a 40+ number of new dwellings allowing for the number of static homes being replaced. this implies that the figure of £100,000 based on 600+ dwellings will be disputed when the developer can prove that the increase in the number of dwellings is far less than claimed by Castle Point Borough Council.

  2. Steve Sawkins

    Again taken from the above mentioned Appraisal document the issues of housing needs linked with the Thorney Bay Caravan site is highlighted.

    The comment made is as follows :-

    “As a result of the difficulties for people on low incomes to find accommodation, a number of households have resorted to living in caravans at Thorney Bay Caravan Park. The caravan park has also attracted low income families from further afield including East London. This accommodation is far from ideal, failing to meet the decent homes standard due to the poor levels of thermal insulation. Given the implications of climate change people living in these homes are more at risk of the health effects of extreme heat, extreme cold and flooding. There are also social consequences associated with large areas of low cost accommodation occupied by low income families that need to be considered including child welfare, crime and employment ”

    The trend to utilise this types of accommodation is a never ending scenario in that as soon as a deserving case is rehoused, then simply a new problem arrives by the take up of the available caravan dwelling. The council needs to recognised, as a matter of urgency, that the need for affordable decent homes is a Borough problem, and not exclusive to the fundamental social requirements of Canvey Island. The quicker that this situation is tackled the quicker it will be resolved and the impact for the New Local Plan can be realised.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s