Uncanny how simple and fair decision making appears beyond the efforts of CPBC!

Uncanny,* is the only way to describe the number of occasions that, just prior to important decision making on Local Plan issues, disasters occur, whether local or elsewhere,  as if to remind Castle Point councillors of their responsibilities towards residents.

These uncanny phenomena, gas, chemical explosions and flood events are usually at other persons expense or misery, however some are close to home.

This Christmas, peoples homes in the North of England were subject to “un-precedented” flooding, causing untold damage to property and possessions, whilst also endangering life.

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Next year at the end of January Castle Point councillors will meet to be encouraged to re-consider their apparent views on the daft New Local Plan. Following the December council meeting our local leaders were given homework, the undertaking of study of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA). The document that lists all land that owners have expressed an interest in developing.

Much of this land will be in a Flood Risk Zone 3 area at Canvey. Much of this local land will also be susceptible to the type of surface water flooding, seen currently in the North of England, due to the chronically broken drainage system on Canvey Island as well as some inappropriate areas on Castle Point mainland.

If the Alarm Bells haven’t started to ring by now for some of our councillors, it darn well should be after the many warnings accompanying their inappropriate and unsound decision making of the past.

The councillors are being led by the nose to visit the SHLAA document by Lead Group members, whilst in the process being denied access to The Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage study results and the Calor Gas site safety report. Our councillors appear content to make a Local Plan housing decision, with the potential to deliver a catastrophic impact upon existing and new residents, in the knowledge of their being denied access to these two most important Evidence Documents!

Almost from day one of their Plan making process, 2007c, the local authority’s intention is to release the Dutch Village as the sole sacrificial Green Belt site for Housing in the Borough!

Never mind that the areas serves to keep other development dry in times of wet weather and that to comply with drainage requirements, will require Land Raising, thereby further adding to local flooding issues. According to very many of our councillors, this appears to be by the by! The area’s release for development serves a political purpose!

Outrageously, the lead officer guiding councillors through the Local  Plan Task and Finish work went unchallenged when he stated surface water drainage was not a constraining issue on site selection of Housing land in the Borough! If not following Canvey’s flooding during 2013 and 2014, then it should be!

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

Canvey’s drainage system appears to require investment of £24,000,000, the figure arrived at following the “incomplete” Integrated Urban Drainage (IUD) study, uncannily exactly the same amount requested from the Government prior to the IUD study’s commencement.

This enormous sum, is not available.

Similar massive investment is required on Canvey’s sea defences.

These enormous monies are also yet to be secured.

The emerging Local Plan, as well as the Core Strategy and daft New Local Plan, highlighted these issues as Constraints on Housing Development. Then will apply the constraints across the whole Borough’s Housing Need numbers, rather than in the areas liable to flooding.

A rumour has emerged in west Canvey, from an apparently very well informed source, that an agreement has already been reached to develop Canvey’s Dutch Village. Personally I am slightly sceptical without seeing evidence, as any final decision would fall upon the responsibility of the CPBC Development Committee. Although somewhere along the line Persimmons have been encouraged to commit to a lot of research submission material on the scheme.

But, we have long since thought, how convenient it would be if an agreement could be reached by the local authority with the developer to commit to developing the Dutch Village whilst they show a keen interest in Jotmans Farm!

Despite the Dutch Village being an inappropriate site for development it fulfils the politically awkward function of protecting an alternative Green Belt site in another location!

As the New Year approaches let us hope for the Borough’s residents sake our local representatives realise what impact their decision making has had in the past. The over, and unsuitable development has added to the drainage, traffic congestion, hospital backlogs and multiple other issues for our Borough. Let us hope a New Year brings a fresh new look at our daft New Local Plan, that utilises the apparent constraining protection brought forward by the Government and more importantly views development on Flood Plains foolhardy.

A Happy New Year to you all!

*Uncanny, def; strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way !

Top photo credit; Reverend Andrew Brown

 

 

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7 responses to “Uncanny how simple and fair decision making appears beyond the efforts of CPBC!

  1. Sometimes I wonder whether the editor or writer of this blog actually believe what he writes … The last thing that happened at the council meeting in December was that members were sent away to reach a decision on what should or should not be in the draft local plan ……
    All contentious green belt sites were suggested to be withdrawn ( somethings have been saying for a very long time) this will include the Dutch village . I have to say I am getting a little frustrated about this Canvey versus the mainland nonsense that is fostered by this site .
    If the voting is supportive ( and this means the Canvey Independant Party must be seen to vote with the majority of the mainland cllrs ) all these contentious green belt sites will fail to appear in the new plan.
    The new plan will be provided by sites taken from the SHLAA , evidenced by the Same officers , and adding up to numbers agreed by those officers ,
    Please stop creating disharmony and talk to all members you know to achieve what we all want .. A workable and acceptable local plan that will pass inspection .. I believe it is possible but only if all pull together ….

  2. Thank you for your input Cllr Sharp. Any inaccuracies will happily be re-edited, once received. Interesting that now the Borough is expected to act in a united fashion, shame this wasn’t the case historically a Plan may have emerged ages ago. I also believe councillors should act on a united front this time around, but only in the full knowledge of what is being denied them.
    Editor

  3. Having gone through this SHLAA document I tend to agree with the developer’s Barrister who during the Jotmans Farm Appeal identified that this Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment had not been prepared so as to establish a realistic assumptions about the availability, suitability and the likely economic viability of land to meet the identified need for housing over the plan period.

    The evidence is so fragmented that it is impossible to assume that each of these criteria have been satisfied . There are no dates as to when each site was reviewed and no evidence provided that would substantiate that the sites are still available or that the site owners are still intending to develop.

    Which of these site will actually remain in the final plan is of course still debatable an example being the lack of infrastructure to support the Thorney Bay site remains an issue.

    The misunderstanding that constraints can be used to prevent the fundamental requirements of the provision of the Boroughs Objective Assessed Housing Needs without conclusive evidence as to why it is materially impossible is a huge misgiving.

    When we break this down firstly is it REALISTIC :- having worked on this now for a considerable amount of time only the officers have been privileged to preplanning consultations, so it is feasible that they may believe that a certain elements of the plan are realistic. However should, as is perceived , senior Cabinet Members have intruded into the process it is inevitable that some of the reality would have now become challengeable..

    Are sites AVAILABLE ? again a question for the officers to answer especially with regards to those site that have been considered to be spade ready for the first five years. The remainder may only be aspirational for the longer period and by purely granting planning permission will encourage Land Banking which is not a guarantee that they will ever come forward.

    SUITABILITY:- This is the clear cut issue, can a development on a flood plain become suitable by the introduction of securing flood mitigation measures. With the obvious issue being Suitable to who.?
    The suitability of large areas of development land will always be the deciding factor for the developer to contend with and will obviously be strongly linked to the economic VIABILITY. Green Belt Land by the very fact that it is desirable will always attract economically viably locations for development.

    The NPPF 159 policy specifically refers to LAND TO MEET THE IDENTIFIED NEED FOR HOUSING OVER THE PLANNED PERIOD.

    There are two issues here:- The plan does not intend to provide for the Boroughs identified housing needs particularly for those types of dwellings deemed to be affordable. Infact the evidence indicates that it has fallen short by about 50%. By introducing an argument that considers that Green Belt is the Boroughs only constraint that cannot be mitigated for and expect to convince the Planning Inspectorate that this is acceptable for not providing for the Boroughs HOUSING NEEDS not only makes the plan UNSOUND but also shows those who vote for its acceptance have not understood the purpose of having a plan.

  4. Margaret Robertson

    Is it not possible that if said councils STOPPED rehousing ‘off the Island people’ onto Canvey there WOULD be enough room to house our own citizens. I know of one single mother (as a result of not wanting her baby and her to be with a violent partner) who is moving from relative or friend to relative or friend with said baby – now child – and has the council saying “well at least you have a roof over your head” – callousness rules ok – the child needs a settled environment not a portable cot in whatever space it will fit. And then there’s my own daughter who is 52 and in iffy health who has been told that when she has to move out of her flat – the rental of which is way above what she can earn and has run out of what little money she had to supplement it – that she has to be ‘homeless’ before they will house her (selling up her furniture she’s kept since her marriage broke down with no hope of affording more) and she’s lived on the Island most of her life. They are not the only examples of hardship the policy of our local councils are callously causing by their giving Canvey properties to non Canvey residents.

  5. Bill there is historically a them and us situation regarding the Mainland and Canvey Island, why is it in both failed plans to have emerged over the past 3 years that Canvey will see the largest of the development? both plans rejected by government officials due to the flood risk on Canvey, thankfully, but with a double edged sword, because as well you know without a local plan the door is wide open to developers.It then leaves the Council to fight appeal cases when these plans are rejected. Why is it that its taken so long to put this local plan together? wasting I’m told over £500.000 on the first draft, (daft), plan and another £250.000 on the second draft, when you add this to the legal bill fighting appeal cases in court it adds up to a tidy sum, so maybe it is the Councillors that should be held to book for not being abler to put together a local plan in the last 3 years and still counting. It is truly disgraceful the amount of money being wasted on plans they know will not work.

  6. If you build on flood plains without first putting the infrastructure in place then expect the consequences. We have been repeatability warned by the scientists that climatic changes are inevitable and we are experiencing the very results they predicted and no one in authority is taking a blind bit of notice, Canvey Island is an example of a disaster waiting to happen,

  7. Peter you make a very strong point.

    We have been constantly told that the Sea defence protecting Canvey Island is the best in the Country. I would suggest that developers encourage by CPBC have for far to long taken advantage of this perception. Those responsible for the consequential urbanisation of our Island need reminding that the sea defence is there because it is needed, without it the Island would flood.

    Flood defences reduce the risk of flooding, but do not eliminate flood risk completely. The reduction in flood risk that the defence provides depends on the standard of protection (SoP) and the performance and reliability of the defence. Defences such as ours need continual maintenance and improvements so as to maintain such a level of protection.

    Flooding may still occur in defended areas if the defence is overtopped or breached, the possibility of which has been identified within the Castel Points Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 2010, or if flooding occurs as we know full well, as a result of non-fluvial sources such as groundwater flooding or poor drainage. Development behind defences should therefore be planned with due regard to the flood risk in the defended area, failure of which the guidance tells us may have catastrophic consequences.

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