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