Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and Inspector highlight Contradictions in our local housing policies.

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris speaking in Parliament during a debate on Immigration expressed concerns that;

“In Castle Point we have a shortage of housing, a shortage of space for housing, and, most acutely, a serious shortage of affordable private rental accommodation. Hard working families must wait for accommodation, sometimes for months and months.

Evidence provided during the Jotmans Farm Appeal revealed that in Castle Point;

” Affordable housing supply over the period 2001 – 2014 was just 110 homes with no homes provided in 8 out of the 13 years during this period.  In 2014/15 a further 55 units were provided largely thanks to the Kiln Road site.

The average rate of affordable housing provision since 2001 is just 11.8 per year.
The latest available SHMA (the 2013 update) identifies that Castle Point requires 2,900 affordable homes over the period 2011 – 2031 – the equivalent of 145 homes per year or 73% of the emerging draft New Local Plan housing target. “

However during the considerations of a local Castle Point Planning Appeal on 4 detached chalet / houses in Hilton Road at the rear of Morrisons, in part of the old Silver Jubilee car park, the Inspector contacted Castle Point Council as he felt they may wish to take advantage in the change of Planning policy.

He recorded;

“Further to: the High Court’s judgement in West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2015); and the subsequent change to the national policy for seeking affordable housing obligations,

I have sought the views of the Council and the appellant as to whether this change has any relevance to the appeal development.”

LocalGovernmentLawyer website reported on the actual case and published;

The Planning Court has issued a key judgment on affordable housing requirements for small scale housing sites and vacant building credit.

The practical implications are of immediate effect to developers’ negotiations, writes Jenny Wigley.

In the wide ranging judgment of Holgate J in R (oao West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) [2015] EWHC 2222 (Admin) handed down on 31 July, the High Court has quashed the policy changes announced in Parliament on 28 November 2014 which directed decision makers not to impose affordable housing contributions or other tariff style infrastructure contributions on housing proposals for ten dwellings or fewer.

Allowing the claim by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council, the Court has quashed (i) the relevant parts of the National Planning Practice Guidance, (ii) the Secretary of State’s decision to adopt the new policy by way of Written Ministerial Statement and (iii) the Secretary of State’s decision on 10 February 2015 to maintain the policy.”

The Planning Inspector considering the Castle Point Council, Silver Jubilee / rear of Morrisons housing Appeal revealed that our local authority, when asked whether they would like to consider the possibility of requesting an Affordable Homes allowance;

” The Council has not responded and accordingly I can only take the Council’s position to be that the policy change has no bearing on this case.”

It would appear extravagant of our local authority to dismiss the opportunity to explore, under the Inspector’s guidance, the potential for some affordable housing provision, however small it may be.

The historical shortfall, the predicament of those in need of affordable housing as revealed by our MP and the causes, are not for us to point out.


One response to “Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and Inspector highlight Contradictions in our local housing policies.

  1. Caravans in residential use provide a considerable number of affordable homes within the Borough of Castle Point Council. Unfortunately all of these types of dwellings are within the Zone 3a Flood Plain of Canvey Island and a large number sit within the consultation distances of the Calor Gas LPG Storage Establishment. Caravans are considered when being used as dwelling to be at the most vulnerable when considering flood risk and industrial accident ramifications similar to that of Buncfield.

    Unlike ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation which can be monitored through the building regulation records, it is necessary to monitor the residential use of caravans through Census records and Council Tax records. Both sets of data indicate that the number of caravans in residential use increased in the period 2001 to 2011 by around 775 units (174%). This increase primarily occurred on the Kings Park and Thorney Bay sites.
    The increase in units at the Kings Park site was previously included within the housing completion figures. However, the Inspector’s report for the Glebelands appeal sought to remove these figures from past supply. This was an interesting conclusion given the recent enactment of the Mobile Homes Act 2013 which recognises Park Homes, such as those at Kings Park, as an important part of the housing supply for older people. Additional primary evidence collected on relation to this matter indicated that many of those living at Kings Park chose to move to the site for reasons other than affordability. It is not possible to draw similar conclusions for Thorney Bay Park as the response rate from this site was insufficient. However, it should be noted that the occupants of caravans at this site are included within the population figures arising from the Census 2011 and are therefore reflected in any ONS Population Projections and CLG Household Projections prepared using this data.
    Since April 2011, the number of people living within caravans in Castle Point has continued to increase. Initially, the increase was rapid, with the number of units increasing 15% between 2011 and 2014. However, since 2014, the rate of increase has slowed. Just five additional caravans fell into residential use, according to Council Tax records in 2014/15. This potentially does not reflects the further capacity of Thorney Bay to accommodate significant numbers of additional caravans, despite the plans for this site to be redeveloped for traditional residential homes.
    Whilst the total number of people living in caravans is difficult to establish it is known to be significant, presents complicated issue for the Castle Point Council. Caravans do not represent high quality living provisions especially for children and the elderly as there are issues with winter warmth and over-heating in summer associated with such accommodation. This can have implications for service provision, in particular healthcare schools and all the other services that sustain a reasonable quality of life.

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