Latest Government heavyweight pledges Castle Point’s Green Belt protection!

Good to hear from afar that Castle Point Green Belt is receiving close attention.

Rebecca Harris (MP) has arranged for not only a “private” training session for our councillors from a senior Planning Inspector,but also visits from the environment minister, plus Eric Pickles and more recently William Hague.

Quite clearly the message is that there is NO obligation to develop Green Belt!

And yet a mixed message is being sent the the lead group of councillors, suggesting they lack faith in the Planning Guidance, whilst they research further development prospects at the Blinking Owl site.

Already they / and officers have identified what they considered “deliverable” sites at Jotmans Farm, Dutch Village, Glebelands, Castle View old school, and Felstead Road. Two of these sites being Appealed by developers this Autumn.

By investigating the Blinking Owl site’s deliverability adds to the list of  threatened sites.

Deliverable sites will have willing developers available.

The Local Plan examination is an opportunity for developers to state their case for inclusion into the housing list, residents only have so much say, as do councillors leading upto the examination stage, as witnessed during the Core Strategy.

This implies that Housing Need cannot simply be ignored. By taking the strategy they are, it appears senior councillors may be conceding that 200 dwellings per annum maybe the future delivery for Castle Point.

It may well be that the Blinking Owl leapfrogs to the top of the list, but the mixture of annual housing need and developers being ready and able to provide homes will surely test Planning Policy to the limit.

Sustainability ratings and Green Belt function will be the true test.

With the reassuring pledges from Government are most welcome from Government, we will welcome the opportunity for Rebecca Harris to say “I told you so!”

However Councillors seemingly going through the motions of identifying GB land surely sends out mixed messages that un-nerves residents.

If the research into the Blinking Owl Green Belt site for development is the councillors fallback position they will need good evidence to stop a free for all land rush.

Let us hope that the Local Plan, following the “consultation” version, is worthy of Rebecca’s efforts.

Link to Echo report HERE


6 responses to “Latest Government heavyweight pledges Castle Point’s Green Belt protection!

  1. Councillor Neville Watson

    All these Ministers coming down to Castle Point is nothing but to save our MP i am afraid that is not a planning material consideration, for all the photo Opportunities there is going to be a scorpions bite after the banners are taken down and the Ministers go back to London, then what is left? thanks you editor for all the amazing help you have given to all sides of the community but i think the residents have worked it out long ago there is nothing left but a lot of pain.


    • Thanks Cllr Watson.
      Only time will tell, unfortunately.
      It cannot be denied, as much as some tell otherwise that there is a need for homes, however there is no guarantee that the current pressure influenced by migration will continue as overseas issues settle down or alter, as they inevitably will.
      What local authorities are being asked is to set 20 year plans set to current needs. Projections are all well and good but their reliability is questionable. What we can be assured of is that over the last 5 – 6 decades Canvey has supplied many homes, supplied without planning and thought as to the infrastructure requirements and road layout capable of supporting such increase, this remains unaddressed. Drainage is an obvious example, and yet during development proposal consideration this remains unconsidered.
      Currently, as expressed through local planning policy there is an intent to continue the development and urbanisation of Canvey Island. Planning Policy expresses this as a “need” within development proposal casework. Until policy makers and development committee members address this policy approach then I am afraid that Canvey Green Belt will inevitably be lost!
      Yes I agree that Castle Point is a focus for political attention and subject to many promises from all sides, the deeds are what deserves attention

  2. Looking back at the evidence that supported the abandoned Core Strategy it is easy to recognise how disjointed the NLP has become. We were so close to a sound plan that with a little assistance from the residing Planning Inspector could have been found sound and indeed acceptable.

    Instead political bias became entrenched with each councillor seeing a problem for themselves and not a resolution for the betterment of the Borough.

    This has resulted in the semblance of developable sites that are not only inappropriately putting additional people at risk, as identified within the Core Strategy documents, but are completely unacceptable to those with green belt issues.

    The sad fact is that the decline of the Planning Inspectors generous offer of assistance in the making of adjustments to the Core Strategy that clearly should have moderated housing development on Canvey Island, has had the outcome of the catastrophic mess that we see today.

  3. Shame that negativity gets in the way of seeing the benefit of support arranged by our MP.I.But that is the luxury of opposition. I dont care who comes to all parts of Castle Point or which party they come from if it helps the process. If it is electioneering better that that just doing nothing I am still waiting on ideas and policy from others. We still have many hurdles and what has been a long fight will no doubt have many twists and turns shame that some give the impression power at any cost more important than finding a workable local plan. I understand this is a Canvey green belt site and rightly here to fight for Canvey for Canvey but those involved in the process on all sides of the chamber surely should understand it is a Castle Point local Plan and you begin to wonder who really wants what for their residents.

  4. Thanks Graham, always happy to approve your input, however I thought that CGBC post was actually positive in regards to Rebecca’s efforts. The element missing from the Echo coverage at the Dutch Village site, in what may or may not have been an electioneering exercise with W.Hague and Castle Point Green Belt campaigners, was a representative from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group. In the same way that “sometimes it’s what’s not said that is more important than what is actually said” possibly “sometimes it’s who is not in attendance that explains the reasoning behind a gathering.”

  5. Editor
    I have a great deal in common with Graham Sayers comment about wondering who really wants what for their residents ?.

    Sadly it has often been identified that self interest has played a critical role in the governance of Castle Point Council. This aspect being no more strongly emphasised when there is a danger of a councillor becoming unseated because his or her residents are in danger of losing their bit of green field.

    Never have I seen the same level of concern given towards safety issues emanating from flooding, hazardous sites or living conditions at Thorney Bay Camp from any mainland councillor.

    So yes Graham I strongly agree with you this should be a Borough Plan dealing with Borough issues.

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