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!
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.
Planning Portal Director