Castle Point Local Plan Consultation? Some Tweaks possible but – All we have left is a Fall!

“With the sites named in the draft Local Plan document means that developers are coming whether we like it or not!”

The status of the Castle Point Local Plan has received some social media attention of late, mainly by councillors excluded from the process by their various interests, in, what appears, an unfortunate attempt  to “point score” during the lead up to the Election

There is much emphasis being made on the Plan’s status of being in its consultation stage, as though residents should have no concerns.

A few points should be realised;

Firstly, we believe this is not, as is being suggested, entirely an officers Plan.

There is nowhere to hide behind this claim. That much was made clear during the full council debate on whether this Plan was worthy of sending out to consultation.

The new Local Plan was made clear to councillors and residents, publically, as being the result of extensive work, and the responsibility for its format rests with ex-Leader P.Challis, ex-deputy J.Stanley, cllr N.Smith and officers!

Introducing the Motion, on whether the Plan should be adopted for taking forward to consultation stage, cllr Smith emphasised that “no stone had been left unturned” during work carried out by members and staff and that “ a lot of time had been spent by councillors looking at every conceivable (housing) site in the Borough, both brownfield and greenfield.”

He went on to say that ““we” know if we put a Plan together that we and residents like, it won’t get passed by an Inspector. The alternative could lead to 700 new dwellings per annum being imposed on us.”

Cllr Smith felt they were left between a “rock and a hard place,” and would love to listen to residents who, apparently, wanted no houses at all.

However, this was the best Local Plan possible and “following consultation some “tweaking,” will need to be done, and was prepared to work with that.”

Arthur-Daley-FT

Further warnings followed, as without this Plan we (our Green belt) was defenceless, and that they had worked extremely hard on a Plan that would have “least effect on the Borough.”

“Councillors had got to make a hard decision, residents won’t like it but we have to do it!”

Cllr Stanley seconded the motion adding, “this was the most comprehensive piece of work during his time at the council.”

This Plan contained “the best set of options!”

The Plan sets out realising 200 new dwellings per annum, the alternative being nearly twice as many, 346.”

“They” had looked at the Borough Map countless numbers of times.

The Plan would release a “stream of developers contributions for schools and infrastructure.”

This Plan will protect us and only “release 4% of the Borough’s green fields as development and 4% as amenity space.”

Greenbelt-challenge_S_01

Cllr Sheldon, one of the Local Plan’s strongest critics, complained no solution (alternative option) had come from either side of the council chamber. However he went on to “apologise to his own residents, We failed (to come up with alternatives) and this is why we are in the position we are today!” “We stood up for green belt, but we didn’t succeed.”

“The viable sites in the document meet 98% of our housing need.” “With the sites named in the document means that developers are coming whether we like it or not!”

This was, unfortunately, the most relevant sentence spoken!

This Plan allows us influence, all we have left is a Fall, when you are in that position, all that matters is, how you Fall.”

“This is a vote, nobody wants to make.”

“The sites included in the consultation document meet 98% of the Borough’s housing need, even with the expansion of Jotmans. Master planning is the key to controlling) what goes there will have the smallest effect on house prices.”

“we fought and we failed.”

Cllr Smith ended the debate by adding “we haven’t built starter homes, the reason why we are an aging population.”

As the sites identified come forward the part  local councillors will play, will be to become “involved in master planning to prevent intensification” of the housing sites.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group having been put through the experience of the Core Strategy process realised there was little purpose in wasting too much time and effort on making lengthy submissions on the consultation of such a Borough-wide unpopular Local Plan. Our submissions were made so as to allow us to make “full representation” at the Plan’s Final stage, if and when it is reached!

If, as is suspected, the New Local Plan’s consultation process was an exercise in delaying tactics to protect both Jotmans farm and Glebelands at Appeal, then only the intervention of the Secretary of State, stopped this tactic from total failure.

We are getting to the point where “delaying” maybe a better form of defence than “master planning,” with developers being able to prove that affordable homes make development unviable, so to will master planning with its spacious layouts!

For councillors, especially those excluded from the process, to continue to score points by suggesting this is just a consultation, not a plan, insults residents, as the exercise was a very considerable drain on our resources.

The consultation Plan has led to the identification of the most sensitive,(politically and environmentally), sites in the Borough.

By voting to support the Plan for consultation implies support and agreement of the evidence base. This will be most difficult to over turn, when suggested by developers legal representatives at Appeal and examination stage of the Plan.

The meeting to adopt the Local Plan for consultation was held in January 2014, leaving plenty of time since to have stopped the process and commenced work on an alternative. The new administration at Castle Point attempted to move this as a motion at the last meeting prior to the elections, but it was postponed.

Whether the residents are being strung along or taken for fools,  or indeed that the re-working of a Plan is a difficult yet possible process, remains to be seen. But it is clear that much damage was done by the approval of the new local Plan for consultation.

Advertisements

10 responses to “Castle Point Local Plan Consultation? Some Tweaks possible but – All we have left is a Fall!

  1. Editor
    Thanks once again for your research of the historical facts and the promotion, hopefully, of a frank debate.

    Your entry has the flavour of the old time men’s hair dressers.
    “Some Thing For The Weekend Sir”.

  2. Councillor Neville Watson

    Dear Editor.
    Thanks for a great article i would like to make clear on the night of the vote all Canvey Island Independent Members voted against the Motion.
    thanks Councillor Neville Watson

  3. Cllr Sheldon has circulated by email a response to the Blog post. Whilst it is a shame that he did not respond directly via the comments facility I feel that the content of his email contains enough factual content to warrant adding to our Post comments. I hope that he has not considered the Canvey Green Belt Campaign members to be politically biased. I am happy to approve comment from all sources as long as facts rather than politics are the key notes, as many Island residents will be aware from comments they have supplied. Cllr Sheldon writes:

    With a local government election as well as a general election around the corner I am surprised the authors, who I have a great deal of respect for, decided to write an article with such a political undertone.

    As I am personally named and quoted in this article I would like to respond.

    Here are some facts the article failed to mention:

    1) A few months after the vote the government clarified the planning guidance stating unmet housing need was not a reason to build on the Green Belt
    2) When I have been pushing for this to be taken into consideration at the task and finish group meetings I have had absolutely zero support from both the CIIP and UKIP EVERY TIME! Why when they both put it on their local government manifestos to defend Green Belt I don’t know. Politics perhaps, because it is Conservative planning guidance lobbied for and obtained by our Conservative MP?
    3) Also a few months after the meeting quoted, senior Government planning inspector came and told the whole council that Green Belt, infrastructure and flooding were valid reasons to restrict development under the latest government guidance. A video of this meeting was also made public (only for the unnamed person who released it to be accused of stealing by Dave Blackwell).
    4) The draft plan is exactly that, a draft, not the finished product and several councillors are determined to change it and are indeed in the process of reviewing it.
    5) LAST TASK AND FINISH GROUP MEETING WE VOTED ON OUR WISH TO DEFEND UNDEVELOPED GREEN BELT. After the Canvey Island Independence Party decided not to abstain (despite one of their councillors saying they would) it was unanimous.

    Why this blog chose to run an article on revisiting the dark hopeless days when the game has changed and now we have more than hope, I can only speculate.

    Frankly I am surprised that this article, released on the same day, was not reviewed or at least mentioned!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11528903/Green-Belt-is-safe-under-us-until-2020-Conservative-manifesto-will-say.html

  4. Hopefully cllr Sheldon will forgive the CGBC group for posting their fears on how the Local Plan appears to be continuing to progress. We have previously covered the “inertia” building up with the Plan process. If the post has been perceived as being overly political, perhaps during these times we may be forgiven. I note other Green Belt campaign webpages being used for EU referendum issues by some Castle Point Councillors.
    The main point of the post is our fears that by sending for consultation, with a suggested likelihood of just some “tweaks” being required to make the document “sound,” the LA have taken Castle Point Green Belt boundaries into dangerous territory as far as Planning Appeals are concerned. The majority of your other points we have, hopefully fairly, covered in previous posts, it is difficult to “build in” all angles to particular posts without going off message. Likewise Andrew, I respect and acknowledge your efforts towards the Local Plan making process. Ed.

  5. Dear editor .In response to Andrew Sheldon email the government only came out with this advice about green belt because of the fear of tory mps loosing there seats .I have spoken to leaders of local council and they all say that after the election all council will be forced to get there local plan in place or the government will do it .If that is the case then let them as they say you don’t have to build on green belt what have we to fear .I think a government inspector working without politics to come up with a plan might be a better option .but that’s only if you can believe them and trust them with our greenbelt
    Cllr Blackwell

  6. As a resident who came into this arena to fight against the development of Green Belt on my own doorstep, I was, to begin with, naive of history and process and have come to rely on this blog to give a factual, unbiased and practical assessment if all things Green Belt in the Borough.

    I would like to add something that I feel has not been given the emphasis it deserves. From a resident and campaigners perspective, it feels that the results of the local elections had a major impact. The stronghold of Cllr Challis, Cllr Stanley and Cllr Smith under the influence of officers seems to have diminished and the new administration has been far more approachable and open to suggestion.

    Coupled with the new Government Guidelines that came forward which the new administration had to work with, it is a shame that in this new climate, more could not have been done by all to move forward on progressing/adapting an acceptable New Local Plan instead of playing on events from the past to justify a refusal to be part of the process.

    • Thanks Jacqui.
      We felt the need to regurgitate the proceedings, during the debate to agree to consult on the Local Plan, as much is being made of the Plan’s irrelevance. Indeed from some views being expressed elsewhere, they would have us believe, the only remaining relevance of the evidence and 255 page document is the single word “Consultation.”
      We are increasingly concerned not only with the slow progress in turning the “vessel” around, but also the damage the evidence base may well have done to the development sites and the Appeal process.
      Please be assured that we will not be selective of whom we pressurise come the results of the election.
      Ed.

  7. No Political bias ? The last statement as well as various comments in the blog are clearly politically biased . Andy Sheldon is right that changes to/ or clarification of elements of the NPPF which came after the DRAFT local plan was issued will have altered the opinion of those who will eventually make a decision on this matter .
    It was a draft local plan which went to consultation, these changes to the NPPF were pursuant to it and therefore will have a strong influence on what Is moved forward as a final local plan . Certainly all members whatever political colour they might be will be aware of this and hopefully support whatever goes forward.

    • Cllr Sharp,
      Thanks for your contribution.
      Privately of course we, the members of CGBC have a political bias, however I can assure you not necessarily for the same leaning, I hope you do not deny us this right.
      We work hard on this blog to keep posts in line with the aims that our group was founded upon.
      Posts have been, and will continue to be, critical of all sides at some stage. As no doubt we too have been criticised. Hopefully the wording in the post was a true representation of what was said on the night of the new Local Plan consultation adoption. If anything is amiss, we will be happy to update / edit.
      Ed.

  8. Sharon Ainsley JFAG

    Firstly I woould like to add a quote from Cllr Norman Smith, which was made at our Groups Meeting.
    Of the NLP, Indeed he did say “We left no stone unturned” but later added
    “We only looked at those sites Developers were interested in”
    Not so many stones investigated then?
    Further, I would like to add that this is far to important a matter for Grandstanding and mud-slinging. For the sake of Castle Point, can’t we please put our differences aside and join forces for the better?
    All this squabbling amongst ourselves plays right into the Master Planners Hands.

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