Castle Point Green Belt development-Damned if you do-Damned if you don’t!

Just to add further to the upheaval that appears to be occurring behind the scenes of the Castle Point Council Local Planning process, news contained within a recent Amber Valley Council announcement gives opportunity to reflect.

The importance of a 5 Year Housing supply appears paramount to Local Plan processes.

Confusion and frustration are introduced when work on sites selected for development within Local Plans, fails to materialise.

This can lead to sites reserved for development at later dates are promoted prematurely. And sites removed from Local Plans and considered protected, become the subject of Planning Appeals.

On one hand the value of Land Banking would be valued in developers accounts sheets and on the other a Local Plan becomes the opposite of its intention; a free for all of un-planned development.

The fact that in Castle Point very little of the promised infrastructure is likely to materialise, little may be made of a haphazard development approach if the above scenario was to unfold.

An emerging Plan for Castle Point may include a new “village” site being proposed. This in itself should through developer contributions assist in new access infrastructure. The issue of Essex County contributing a proportion of the access funding needs clarity.

Other less large sites, should they come forward would only affect traffic wise less strategic junctions, these would be unlikely to receive funding despite what our Local Plan may aspire to!

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I will make no suggestions as to the merits or the folly of our councillors having approved the daft New local Plan despite it being the best possible at the time. What it clearly did, as well as officers behind the scenes being motivated to encourage developers to invest time and money in preparatory work on sites in a Flood Risk Zone, was to expose a large number of Green Belt sites that our local authority deemed suitable for development.

Having put on record these intentions may allow a scenario to develop similar to that at the Amber Valley district and lead to an amount of land banking and unfortunate development in  areas within Castle Point.

Readers will have their own opinions as to the future outcome and the rights and wrongs of the next stage of the local process.

It was timely that as this article was posted Greg Clark,Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,  tweeted a reminder that “Local councils answerable to local people, rather than central government.” All well and good until local decisions are challenged through the Planning Appeals process.

However it is clear residents, those being involved at least, have indicated a preference for a new approach from our local authority. Whether there will be a price to pay in the long run, will be one of a few consequences residents appear willing to take, and face that risk.

Derbyshire local plan withdrawn over housing delivery glitch

by Planning Portal Content Team

A Derbyshire planning authority has withdrawn its local plan from public examination after announcing it could no longer demonstrate a five-year supply of sites which would deliver the council’s objectively assessed housing need as set out in its draft Core Strategy.

Amber Valley Borough Council, a semi-rural local authority, has taken that draconian step after telling the planning inspector examining the strategy that discussions in the past month with relevant land owners and site promoters had revealed that fewer homes than originally anticipated would be available over the five years to 2020. Some 310 fewer dwellings were involved, the council reported.

The council told the inspector: “it will not be practical to achieve a demonstrable five-year supply through the identification of further sites for housing development without revisiting its overall strategy for housing growth. It anticipates that the process of reviewing the growth strategy and reaching a conclusion as to an alternative approach, including appropriate public consultation and engagement, will take at least 12 months”.

Alan Cox, Leader of the Council, said: “I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many.

“Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the borough that have been given planning approval by the council, the council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed.”

He added: “The council remains fully committed to establishing an up-to-date local pan for Amber Valley, which will provide a robust set of policies and proposals to support housing and economic growth in the borough, whilst at the same time safeguarding and enhancing the environment.”

View more information

Roger Milne

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One response to “Castle Point Green Belt development-Damned if you do-Damned if you don’t!

  1. Editor I feel that this may highlight the points that you make, the following are extracts out of the document from which Full Council were to be briefed supposedly before making the decision as to how to vote when considering the draft NLP for adoption

    AGENDA ITEM NO.12
    ORDINARY COUNCIL
    9th December 2015
    Subject: Draft New Local Plan

    6.2 With a Local Plan in place the Council will be able to advance the case for greater investment in the Borough, and improved infrastructure. A plan will allow the Council to direct development to the most appropriate locations with the attendant benefits from growth. It will also give the Council greater ability to resist unwelcome development in inappropriate locations. The Borough will be master of its own destiny.

    The Council needs to make progress with a New Local Plan. The
    Government, in publishing the Housing and Planning Bill on the 13th October
    2015, has made it clear the requirement for local planning authorities to
    produce statutory development plans by 2017.

    7.3 The Draft New Local plan will be assessed at independent examination by a planning inspector against the four tests of soundness in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework, one of which incorporates a test as to whether the plan is positively prepared, based on a strategy which seeks to meet needs where this is consistent with meeting sustainable development.

    7.4 The evidence supporting the Draft New Local Plan supports the strategy
    selected, which seeks to meet the needs of the Borough so far as is
    consistent with the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework when
    taken as a whole.

    7.5 Any attempt to remove sites that is not supported by evidence will result in the Council’s approach to meeting its housing needs being found unsustainable.

    7.6 This in turn could put the entire plan at significant risk with the Council being faced with the prospect of either a finding of unsoundness or having to
    withdraw yet another development plan document after examination.

    This does seem to promote a few comments.
    For instance:-
    6.2 You need to apply for funding for infrastructure before it will be considered unfortunately the funding for the completion of the Roscommon Way was not applied for.
    Why has the Authority produced a plan where the most inappropriate areas for development have been included ?
    If a Borough has no resources to defend planning appeals it is not in a position to declare that it is the master of its own destiny.

    7.3 Development of flood plain is not sustainable. where a plan actively seeks to put people at risk from Hazardous sites and flooding ramifications it cannot declare that it is positively prepared.

    7.4 The plan seeks to justify by way of constraints that it cannot meet its objectively assessed housing needs and yet ignores the significance of flood risk as a constraint.

    7.5 This is a declaration that Green Belt Sites cannot be removed from the plan

    7.6 The evidence base provided in support of the plan is considerably out of date, the NPPF requires that this plan should be continually reviewed in order that for it to be based on up-to-date evidence. This fact alone will prove to be the downfall of the New Local Plan as it is reliant upon unsound out of date evidence.

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