Reading the Task and Finish committee Agenda paperwork, it appears that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have shot ourselves in the foot! We made a specific decision not to submit comment on proposed housing sites within the daft New Local Plan consultation as we felt this would leave ourselves open to an accusation of being NIMBY to the detriment of our other comments.
Unfortunately Castle Point Council appear to wish to use localised comments as some sort of “scoring” defence. Luckily the Canvey sites received reasonable percentage responses from residents, compared with other sites, to balance this deficit.
Whilst we have little confidence in the Local Plan consultation process , the Castle Point Task and Finish group work may also be considered little more that a “tick box” exercise.
There has been some criticism of Castle Point officers over their involvement within the Local Plan.
The daft New Local Plan has indeed been called an “officers Plan.”
Whilst I would criticise their involvement in the Plan process as they are complicit, however, they have been required to produce a Plan to the requirement of the Controlling Group of councillors as part of their work requirement.
An officer’s report states that it is wrong to put more people at Risk of Flooding. Due to the need to supply 4,000+ new dwellings and a reluctance to release mainland sites the onus has been put on Canvey to make room for some large housing sites to alleviate the housing need, despite this meaning more people being put at Risk of Flooding!
Throughout the current Local Plan process officers have argued that the large site housing proposals will only come forward on Canvey if there are delays in the Borough’s other sites coming forward.
With the Borough’s other sites being opposed at every stage, it appears the likelihood is that Canvey sites will be required to be made available at the earliest opportunity!
The requirement is that the Sequential Test should be applied to prevent inappropriate development in areas such as Canvey whilst there are other available areas within the Borough or neighbouring Boroughs.
That the majority of Castle Point development sites are deemed to be constrained, must not be allowed to mean that sites within a Flood Zone are NOT constrained!
This is what the officers have been asked, at some stage, to provide the evidence to “reluctantly” release Canvey sites thereby increasing the numbers of residents subject to Flood Risk. Councillors may or may not be aware of how the NPPF and Technical Guidance have been manipulated. There is evidence that some councillors may not want to know!
Intensifying the site allocation issue has been the “brainwave” known as Master planning. Master planning leaves sites realising low housing numbers, meaning even more (Green Belt) sites being required for release to fulfil the required housing need!
Even developers object to CPBC’s Master planning approach, as should Green Belt campaigners.
This of course gives added reason for the supposed need to also release land in the Flood Zone, that by the way also happens to be part of our Green Belt!
Monday’s task and finish group meeting heard members enthuse over the proposal to develop a 3 storey, 60 room care home, that by the way will not form part of Castle Point housing numbers, adding to the number of vulnerable residents in a 3A Flood Zone within the Hazard Range of a COMAH site.
Tonight’s meeting will discuss, amongst other sites, the “intention” to develop over 700 dwellings at Thorney Bay, next door to Calor Gas. Members will be reminded they are effectively censored on what they may comment on this issue as there are pending development applications lodged with the council!
Whilst we agree this all may sound somewhat deranged planning, we should not be surprised. The officers compliance with the politically charged Core Strategy process, means that at least they are being consistent!
The Task and Finish group’s recommendations to full council, may prove interesting reading.