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.
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!
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