The next Green Belt Planning proposal in the firing line, within the Castle Point boundaries will likely be the Dutch Village fields, or Land East of Canvey Road.
There has been a disposition taken by Development Committee members that suggests Green Belt development is considered contrary to their approval. Despite this Canvey residents may feel a tad uneasy as the Dutch Village was CPBC councillors choice through the Core Strategy as the preferred development site for release from the Borough’s Green Belt AND remains as disposable through the Local Plan process to now!
Whether or not their position will change only time will tell and it is apparent that every vote may count once the proposal reaches the Development Committee for consideration.
Following Twitter and conversation has been struck up between “M” and a committee member.
Points have been raised regarding the lusty defence of “virgin” Green Belt at Jotmans farm and previously Glebelands. However those following the Jotmans Inquiry may have noted the reliance on the Adopted 1998 Local Plan, now considered out of date, but also the fact that the local Plan appears to have been dragging its feet and that the 0.7 years worth of a 5 year housing supply has dwindle to between 0.4 and 0.5 years worth!
Should the Jotmans Appeal be upheld what pressure / onus would be placed on the Development committee in their decision-making following consideration of the Land East of Canvey Road.
We have seen before councillors regretting to have to make “difficult decisions,” remember the Core Strategy and the adoption of the New Local Plan for consultation!
We have heard hints that the rainy day fund to fight planning appeals, isn’t actually allocated and set aside money according to officers.
Whilst it may be all well and good committee members giving encouragement to Twitter Poster’s it should be remembered there is a fine line between encouragement, the endorsement of an MP’s position and a stand point that the 1998 out of date Local Plan ensures protection, and Pre-determination!
If a councillor is disposed to lean towards protection of Green Belt in general, all well and good. On the other hand there is a need for housing in the Borough, if this cannot be found then it may be suggested that he / she is failing in part of his / her duty as a councillor.
No doubt the Dutch Village fields supporters will need every vote possible from the development committee, we would not like to see decision makers, who maybe likely to lend support, be disqualified from participation.
As noted earlier in this guidance note, the common law permits predisposition but nevertheless it remains good practice that, when being lobbied, councillors (members of the planning committee in particular) should try to take care about expressing an opinion that may be taken as indicating that they have already made up their mind on the issue before they have been exposed to all the evidence and arguments.
In such situations, they could restrict themselves to giving advice about the process and what can and can’t be taken into account.
Councillors can raise issues which have been raised by their constituents, with officers. If councillors do express an opinion to objectors or supporters, it is good practice that they make it clear that they will only be in a position to take a final decision after having heard all the relevant arguments and taken into account all relevant material and planning considerations at committee.
LGA guidance 2013