Maybe a reason why Castle Point Council appear keen to aspire to generate large industrial / business development growth on Canvey Island is contained in this paragraph from the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) document “Objectively Assessed Need and Housing Targets”;
“4.5 On balance, we would suggest that:
Future jobs belong above the line, because jobs impact on the demand for housing (many people want to live near their workplaces or new job opportunities), independent of any policy considerations. Albeit policy also plays a role, because job growth itself may be policy-led; and also because, as mentioned in the PPG, one of the reasons for locating housing close to jobs is to avoid unsustainable commuting.”
The PAS admit their advice note has no official status, but is based on existing good practise, their own experience and recommendations from Planning Inspectors.
Three large business developments the extension to Charfleets, Land South of Roscommon Way and the Northwick Road site opposite Morrisons are receiving encouragement.
The fact that the Northwick Road site was included within the out of date 1998 Local Plan, and remains undeveloped, may indicate the lack of actual business confidence in the area.
Despite the Nathaniel Litchfield Castle Point Employment and Retail Needs Assessment identifies that “it would appear difficult to achieve any sizeable reduction in out-commuting in Castle Point. However various approaches could help avoid the situation worsening. These would include providing some more immediately available industrial sites in the North of the Borough, near strategic roads and adopting measures to encourage their development and occupation.”
“It is not obvious that a new road access to Canvey Island could enable the area to benefit to a much greater extent from the major port and distribution development at London Gateway in Thurrock. The cost of such infrastructure would also need to be weighed against the scale of economic benefits likely to accrue to Canvey Island, and the extent of these do not appear likely to be major.”
The housing growth / business growth distribution across the Borough will be examined by the Inspector at Examination of the Local Plan, as it was during the Core Strategy and was found wanting.
If our local authority officers are responsible for our daft New Local Plan, why would they risk making the same mistakes?
The Local Plan is proposing to increase the development of business to justify the proposals encouraging large housing development in a Flood Risk area.
Canvey Islanders have for years been re-assured that no risk of surface water flooding exists, the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan was celebrated at Cabinet as proof! Likewise Essex Highways identify little capacity issues on the roads at the south of the Borough. Whilst Canvey is the most densely urbanised part of the Borough, it is suggested the infrastructure is able to cope whilst it is apparent; the same aspirational highway improvement promises are carried forward from the 1998 Plan to the current new daft Local plan version, primary / junior school places are at a premium, the drainage system is at breaking point!
Likely we will end up as a Sustainable Urban Drainage experiment.
During the ill-fated Core Strategy process it was clear that political factors were responsible. The Local Plan process provides less clarity, the driving factors work in less apparent ways. Almost as if dark forces are at work, in the corridors and the committee rooms of Runnymede.
Whilst we were promised more openness and transparency, residents’ apathy allows the Local Plan process to edge slowly towards the distasteful final stages whilst decision makers hide behind policies that promote less sustainable policies.
It appears that Canvey Island Green Belt is expendable.