Relief for the Dutch Village – the Cavalry have arrived!

It was without a little irony that photographs appeared in the Echo newspaper and social media, of William Hague, members of the local conservatives and mainland Green Belt campaigners meeting up for a photo-opportunity at the Dutch Village fields recently.

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Whilst Rebecca Harris’ efforts towards pressing the local authority into making headway, using recent Government Planning Guidance, with the Local Plan, the previous and current record of Castle Point Council indicates this Canvey site low on their list of protection priorities!

We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, acknowledge that some verbal messages have been forthcoming that this site may be lower down the list of sites initially being released for housing development. Well so it should be, it is Green Belt (constrained) in a Flood Risk Area (constrained) and serves as a valuable recreational facility to a somewhat deprived location!

Not so long ago it was CPBC’s preferred Green Belt development site.  The 2010 Core Strategy promoted the Dutch Village site alongside the old Castle View school site as the only Green Belt required for release.  The Borough’s  single most sustainable housing site, situated on Mainland, was excluded for no apparent reason, according to the Sustainability Appraisers Baker Associates, and CPBC representatives were content that only green field areas in Kiln Road and at Scrub lane were to be included in the Local Plan. Following consultation the Final Core Strategy document was presented for Examination.

Currently we hear that the consulted upon current draft Local Plan, that also includes the Dutch Village Fields, old Castle View school site and now other mainland Green Belt sites,  may be subject to withdrawal.

We will not learn whether this will actually happen until after May, and even then the two or even more, should Morrisons have their way, Canvey sites may remain promoted for housing development.  For them to be excluded would require a fair review of the Borough’s Sequential Test, something Cabinet and Local Plan Task and Finish group appear reluctant to approach.

We hear no condemnation of the previous leadership at CPBC’s work on the Local Plan.

The “hope” for mainland GB groups is that the Blinking Owl site, also in Castle Point’s Green Belt, will be deliverable enough to come forward during the local plan period. It appears that the argument that Castle Point is over-crowded and ill prepared infrastructure wise has been conceded and that Green Belt must be released. Let’s hope not, once again we will learn after May.

Decisions may rest with Appeal Planning Inspectors.

The photo opportunity appears to ask for Canvey residents support, this is absolutely fair enough. However if trust on local Green Belt issues is also being asked for at a local authority level, it will initially require residents to totally forget previous performance.

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3 responses to “Relief for the Dutch Village – the Cavalry have arrived!

  1. Editor, I make no apology for making reference to the Core Strategy Proposed Publication Document dated January 2009 which identified Land at
    East of Canvey Road in the following context

    “There was strong objection to the 400 units east of Canvey Road in particular, with Green Belt function, infrastructure capacity, flood risk and risks posed by the Hazardous Installations all stated as reasons for alternative locations to be given further consideration.”

    “Green Belt Function
    With regard to the Green Belt function of this land, it is an infill site that sits between the Cornelius Vermuyden School and the Dutch Village Estate. It does not therefore fulfil the functions of preventing urban sprawl or preventing the coalescence of neighbouring towns.
    With regard to countryside functions, the land is not used for agricultural purposes, is not an identified wildlife area and has no known pockets of nature conservation interest. Furthermore, it is not identified as public open space, although it is recognised that it has been used for recreation pursues by nearby residents. Additionally, the site is close to the new Country Park under development at West Canvey Marshes. This will be a substantial new area of open land, open for public recreation. This will compensate any loss of access to open space in this location and increasing overall access to public open space in this area.
    With regard to enabling regeneration, it is agreed that renewal of the town centre and seafront are priorities on Canvey Island. However, there is insufficient capacity in these locations to meet local housing need. Additionally, there is a need to secure improved community facilities towards the west of the Island, and the development of this site would therefore contribute towards social regeneration”

    Despite this site being identified on the Adopted Proposals Map as Green Belt, it would seem that who ever prepares any planning documents will, if not checked, always report in a manor that supports their aspirations. Although some times difficult, such aspirational endeavours will be consistently found to be challengeable.

    I am rather disappointed but not surprised that Canvey Green Belt campaigners were once again excluded from taking part in demonstrating the worthiness of saving Canvey’s Green Belt or any other meeting discussing the saving of the Boroughs Green Belt. We have a great deal of experience in this subject and can always find pertinent questions to pose to those in a position of having an influence.

    • Thank you Steve.
      Your reproduced section referenced “Green Belt function” illustrates the bias of the local authority, at the time of the attempt to deflect attention from sustainable sites.
      A school development had no detrimental effect on Green Belt function and is considered acceptable.
      It is foolish to suggest development here does not affect urban sprawl, in fact later and previous CPBC paperwork stated otherwise.
      It is not identified as public open space, yet is used as public open space!
      A large part of the site is used for agricultural use, providing winter sileage!
      “and has no known pockets of nature conservation interest” well of course it wouldn’t if a survey has never been carried out, as opposed to other GB sites that CPBC preferred to protect.
      Another case of CPBC publishing Reports and Assessment written with little regard for openness and transparency!
      Hence the difficulty in producing a Local Plan!

  2. I am a “Mainlander” as you insist on referring to us.

    I prefer GB Campaigner for Castle Point.

    As such I have never given my support to “The Blinking Owl Site”, as you well know Graham.

    I hold the view that Castle Point is over developed now. We don’t have sufficient Infrastructure to accommodate our Neighbours housing numbers, yet alone our own.

    Please don’t tar us all with the same brush. Many of us support the Canvey Campaign.

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