Castle Point “undeveloped” Green Belt protected for new Local Plan period!

Castle Point Conservatives have announced:

Minister confirms Green Belt can be protected!

The Government Planning Minister Brandon Lewis protectedMP confirmed once and for all that under this government the Borough Council does have the power to protect Green Belt in it’s local plan.

In a meeting in the House of Commons with senior local councillors and planning officers arranged by local MP Rebecca Harris, the Minister confirmed that Green Belt is a legitimate constraint on the level of housing that the council has to plan for and that they do not have to alter the borough’s Green Belt boundaries to accommodate more housing.

Castle Point Council has been constructing a New Local Plan since 2012 and is considering how much new housing the borough will need over the next fifteen years and where they should be built.

Council Leader Colin Riley said:

“This is exactly the reassurance we were looking for. As a Council we have to take into account all relevant planning law and policy when we make our local plan, but we can now explore the policies designed to protect Green Belt with confidence.

“As a council we are determined to construct a sound local plan that provides for our borough’s future whilst also listening to the concerns of the residents we are elected to serve.”

Local MP Rebecca, who arranged for the Minister to meet local Green Belt groups before the general election, said:

“Brandon repeated exactly what he said to local Green Belt campaigners a few months ago. Councillors and officers can now be in absolutely no doubt that they have the power to protect our borough’s precious undeveloped Green Belt in their local plan. They will need to alter the draft plan and argue their case well, but I am confident they can do it and I will give them every support.”

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3 responses to “Castle Point “undeveloped” Green Belt protected for new Local Plan period!

  1. Steve Sawkins

    Editor

    This is again a repeated good news story, the question is good news for who? Not all site will classify as not being in some way previously developed despite being shown on the Proposals Map as Green Belt.
    Previous inappropriate development on Green Belt may discount some areas from protection. Some Green Belt groups may find that their particular site by way of selective reporting fails to comply with any of the Green Belt functions.

    Whilst I welcome this compounding clarification, it only further promotes the question as to how has CPBC managed to formulate a draft New Local Plan that puts Green Belt at Risk?

    Even more disturbing is, how has CPBC managed to put it community at risk of losing its fundamental service as clearly identified within the following report?

    “AGENDA ITEM NO.7(b)
    CABINET
    17th June 2014
    Specific Financial Implications:
    7.5 There are a number of financial implications arising from this report. Should the Council decide to proceed to prepare a different Local Plan; resources will need to be identified to meet the costs of new documents and evidence. Work carried out with existing evidence, as referred to in paragraph 5.1, will have been abortive.
    7.6 Any new evidence to be collected is likely to incur a cost not less than that already spent(£184,000),together with new consultation costs (not less than £35,000). In addition to these costs, there will also be additional staff costs amounting to £31,000.
    7.7 The Council had previously established a specific reserve for local plan development costs, of £250k. By the end of 2014/15 only approximately £55k remains unspent. Any costs of developing a new plan above this amount would require additional budget, and would further reduce General Fund reserves.
    7.8 Should the Council decide to suspend work on the Plan, then there is potentially significant costs and resource implications to the Council in dealing with planning appeals. Any such costs would reduce General Fund reserves. The most recent calculation of the minimum recommended level of General Fund reserves, in the February 2015 Policy Framework and Budget Setting report, indicated a potential amount of £1.6m should appeals be found against the Council. (To clarify the position regarding reserves – No funds have been set aside to fight appeals. All that has been done is to quantify a financial risk that may materialise as a consequence of not having a local plan. Approval to draw from reserves would be required as each risk materialised. There is no approval to spend implied. )
    The Council does not receive any New Homes Bonus for any new houses allowed on appeal.”

    You are encouraged to revisit the whole of this report which can be found within the Cabinet Agenda dated Wednesday 17th June 2015.

    I have forward this submission in the hope that we can prevent all inappropriate developments where ever they may be within our borough and not only those that receives the strongest representation, without putting the borough at risk.

  2. Officers have been employed solely to get the Core Strategy through (remember how that went), which then seamlessly flowed into the Draft New Local Plan (that was derided locally). They were backed by previous leaders, executives and some councillors into steamrolling this through regardless of resident views because everyone else was misguided and all the government guidance was wrong! It’s laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

    All classified Green Belt and Flood Plain is a constraint to building and always has been. We were told by officers during meetings over the last 4 years it wasn’t.
    A Local Plan is for local growth needs only and doesn’t need to allow for inward migration. We were told by officers during meetings over the last 4 years that it did.
    I was there when The Planning Minister stated these facts earlier this year. I would have loved to have been there when ‘our’ team were informed of this by him this week!

    All those wasted £100,000’s was our money, directly in council tax or through our income tax through central government spending. Responsibility for this should be made public. Then funds should be made available to get this LP right for the whole borough.
    For the first time in years I’m hopeful that the wind in in the sails of the councillors who want the same as the majority of residents, sustainable development for local needs with adequate infrastructure.

  3. Councillor Neville Watson

    Good article Editor.
    I think the group who went to London came home with nothing new Ministers are reluctant to get involved after all the Minister could have to explain the policy in a court if it went that far, nice to hear from you Martin a good article.
    Neville.

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