Just Like That! The sleight of hand with Green Belt and Flood Risk at Castle Point.

Once again in a “Now you see it, Now you Don’t” fashion, Castle Point officers reveal their manipulative stranglehold on Local Plan issues.

Previously, during the Core Strategy process they absentmindedly posted a draft copy of the Castle Point Strategic Flood Risk Assessment on the CS Portal. Due to the sensitive and revealing nature of the content, this was quickly removed. Not before the Canvey Green Belt Campaign had secured a copy though!

Tommy Cooper

Just Like That!

Amidst criticism from the Examining Inspector and much embarrassing delay a new Final copy of the Risk Assessment, adulterated by CPBC officers with the compliance of the Environment Agency, was belatedly published.

Now, as the decision approaches regarding whether the daft New Local Plan is worthy of publication or not, a further slip up emerges.

Posted on the CPBC Planning Portal was correspondence from the Pegasus group regarding how they felt the lack of a positive decision on whether to proceed with the current Local Plan at December’s council meeting, may impact upon the Secretary of State’s decision making. They felt a delay in the Local Plan process should be brought to the SoS’s attention.

In response a solicitor at CPBC must have been asked for how she viewed the situation.

Remember, and the webcast is still available to view, two amendments were proposed, in effect halting debate during the December Council meeting, that both needed further research and officer advice before discussion.

The first amendment of cllr Stanley suggested that the Land Availability Assessment was further investigated by our councillors. (?) This was seconded by Cllr Smith who suggested he would sooner have any Plan in place even though it was unpopular with residents as it would keep the Housing numbers lower.

The second amendment of cllr Dick’s, seconded by Cllr Skipp, went further and proposed that all “virgin” Green Belt sites were removed from the Local Plan and consideration given to the housing numbers available following this suggestion.

In the meantime there will obviously be much pressure brought to bear on councillors by officers keen to progress with getting a Local Plan in place.

This pressure on councillors is typified by the CPBC solicitor’s response to the aforementioned letter to the Planning Inspectorate and the SoS.

She wrote;

This is not my recollection in relation to Cllr Dick’s motion, whilst the Mayor said that it would require further advice from officers, my recollection was that decision in relation to publication and submission to the SoS was deferred to enable members to review the sites in the SHLAA, it was not to consider Cllr Dick’s motion to remove all the green belt sites.

I think we need to respond by writing to PINS and Pegasus. The difference is the 2 motions is critical. One we can live with the other we can’t.

In black and white you can see an officer giving an opinion that goes against the Planning Guidance that we have been led to believe has been issued allowing local authorities to protect Green Belt land. It goes further as it states that officers, legally, cannot “live with” the desires and wishes of the residents that employ them.

I am sure that Local Plan’s are not a life or death issue, so it appears a somewhat exaggerated statement to make.

Clearly a move to remove Green Belt from the Local Plan Housing land supply would be most unpopular with developers. This is however no reason to not test out the Government intentions with the Planning Guidance that appears to say Green Belt land can be protected if so desired.

A simple slip of the computer mouse has brought this to residents attention. That it was quickly removed shows the skull-duggery and pressure officers will be exerting on councillors to preserve the daft New Local Plan. The question is what are our councillors made of, are they brave enough to support residents wishes or will they crumble under pressure?

One thing is clear. We, the Canvey Green Belt campaign group, said previously beware what you vote for, to councillors that claimed they had only voted to send this daft New local Plan to consultation.

That was in January 2014, 2 years on and nothing so far has changed!


7 responses to “Just Like That! The sleight of hand with Green Belt and Flood Risk at Castle Point.

  1. Editor I well remember the concern that we had with regards to the Draft Strategic Flood Risk Assessment prepared by Scott Wilson for CPBC and the delay that took place before the amended document appeared for consultation.
    This concern prompted the following correspondence with Andria Copsey the LDF Programme Officer at that time:-

    “Dear Andrea,
    It has been some time now that the (SFRA) update, prepared for by Scott. Wilson , has been available to Castle Point Borough Council. We were made aware that it had been forwarded from the Council to the Environment Agency for comment and analysis. The document has now been back with Castle Point for further consideration and work for at least two weeks. This we find inconsistent as amendments referring to flood risk issues have already been presented for submission in the amendments schedule dated September 2010.
    At the Local Development Framework Core Strategy meeting held on the 7th of October 2010 at the Castle Point Borough Chambers, Mr Steve Rogers, Head of Regeneration and Homes stated the Environment Agency was sympathetic to the statement that Canvey Island was a special case, in need of regeneration culminating in substantial development being justification for building on Zone 3 Flood Plain.

    This statement caused comments from Councillors that the Environment Agency had been pressurised to change its policy resulting that Canvey Island’s flood plain can now be made available for development before other more suitable sites elsewhere in the Borough.

    We find the Councils argument challengeable, with the extensive delay of availability of evidence based documentation frustrating. In the interest of transparency and proper practice we would appreciate an investigation culminating in the copies of:- 1. Scott Wilson’s revised document. 2. Any comments and amendments to this document recorded by the Environment Agency and 3. The amended document of Castle Point council, with particular reference to all aspects of emergency flood plans and evacuation procedures, being provided for scrutiny, without any further delay to allow appropriate time for examination and preparation of representation.
    Thank you for your assistance with this matter.
    Steve Sawkins
    Canvey Green Belt Campaign.”

    We found that the amendments involved amongst other issues the withdrawal of a whole chapter identifying with that fact that Canvey Island was at actual risk of overtopping of its Sea Defence.

  2. Dear Editor
    Following Ms.Parsons letter to the Inspector.
    I have written to Robert Wordsworth (PINS) and the Secretary of State and copied in Brandon Lewis & Rebecaa Harris.
    Re Update of Policy-making situation – letter from Nicky Parsons Regional Director Pegasus Group
    “I am made aware, that Nicky Parsons has recently written to you to “Update both yourself and the Secretary of State on the Progress of CPBC Local Plan” and reported to you her interpretation of the events of December 9th 2015.
    People have precedent over Profit.
    Whereas, I understand Ms. Parsons Frustration, this is not simply about the Appeal site but has far reaching consequences for the Local Community, so it is vitally important that the right decisions are made.
    I would like to offer further evidence as to why, Castle Point, which is a Greenbelt Borough, is having difficulty coming to terms with a plan which designates large areas of Greenbelt for Development and which the local community is desperately opposed to.
    It is evident to us, that this plan has not been drawn up in Consultation with the Community, rather it has been the work of The CEO; The Planning Dept. & other Officers of the Council, who are not elected officials and who do not have to declare an interest.
    Councillors, not hitherto privy to the facts, have through their local campaign groups, been made more aware of local feeling and as a consequence, were not prepared to vote the plan through blind on the night of December 9th.
    Councillors Norman Smith & Jeff Stanley, fearing they would lose the vote, entered the amendment to defer the vote, in order to give them more time to persuade Councillors to vote their plan in.
    Let me assure you, that we all want a Local Plan in Castle Point but not development at any cost. It has to be a Local Plan which has been consulted fully with local Communities and is to the benefit of all. We understand that this is the only way we can stop speculative applications such as this being submitted and how we can defend our precious greenbelt and protect our communities. The People of Castle Point are committed to this and our help and assistance is offered to see this realized by early 2017.
    Many of local Campaign Groups would welcome the opportunity to consult with the Inspector, to rewrite a local Plan which addresses “Local Need” and safeguard our Greenbelt. Greenbelt which the Government tells us is a valid constraint and which we can protect.”

  3. Thank you for your input Sharon and I applaud you for your initiative in contacting the PINs, I am certain you will find them fair and open to residents views.
    It was interesting last night to also note some members of the CPBC Development Committee, under the chairmanship of Cllr Hart, show some caution where development on a large undeveloped green space at Canvey over flooding issues. I believe this recognition at last marks a possible turning point.
    There appears a common bond between the political factions in the Borough that Green Belt is worth protecting. If the factions believe it possible to forge an agreement to reject the current emerging Local Plan, then it should be within reason that a further agreement that the Sequential Test should be re-applied, this time correctly as the NPPF expects, Borough-wide!
    I believe that the Canvey ward councillor representatives will be doing their residents a disservice if they were not to insist this correct application of the Test as part of the rejection of the emerging Local Plan, that residents are so against.
    CPBC’s own sustainability assessments continue to artificially weight Green Belt over Flood Risk, by the inclusion of two valuation GB categories as opposed to one Flood Risk category.
    Our obsession with Green Belt protection, as worthy as it is, must therefore be tempered whilst our local authority disregard the threat that flooding has caused in the south of the Borough.
    That CPBC, through the emerging Local Plan and Planning advice, suggest that development on Canvey Island’s Green Belt within the Flood Risk zone is necessary for the continued regeneration of Canvey Island, stands little scrutiny. That argument suggests that a densely developed area cannot thrive unless even more development is allowed!
    Other areas in the Borough suggest otherwise.

  4. I have been shown this e mail from a senior legal officer and am appalled at the suggestions within the initial mail which as you say was very quickly adjusted / removed .

    I watched the council meeting referred to and it is quite clear to me and anyone else who wishes to view it that the motion from Bill Dick insisted that all virgin green belt were removed from the plan …..
    That is the wording which will be used and pursued by those members who wish an ACCEPTABLE plan be put in place .

  5. Reblogged this on and commented:

    It further emerged at January’s Castle Point Development Committee meeting that during the pre-meeting briefing councillors and officers should look to Maximise the Housing capacities achievable on each development site.
    If this is so, this signals an end to the championed “Master Planning” scheme that was supposed to act as the sweetener for residents to accept the daft New Local Plan!

  6. Jotmans Farm
    The Appeal Site is in St. Mary’s Ward. Granting this Appeal will set a precedent for the release of the remaining Greenbelt in this ward and the Borough as a whole.
    The release of the land in the DNLP equates to 100% of the Greenbelt in St Mary’s Ward. This Greenbelt performs several of the functions set out in the NPPF but is also a plays a vital role in mitigating the effects of Air & Noise pollution, acting a buffer between existing developments and the A130 Canvey Way, with its endless flow of traffic. It is fundamentally a Green Lung, the removal of which would have a detrimental effect on the land, the local community and wildlife.
    We cannot continue to ignore the significance of Air pollution on Human Health and the Environment.
    Global Warming

    In recent years, the UK has witnessed flooding not seen in our lifetime.
    This Christmas & New Year the North of England and parts of Scotland have been hit by the worst flooding in living memory.

    From December 2013 onwards the Somerset Levels suffered severe flooding as part of the wider 2013-2014 Atlantic winter storms in Europe and subsequent 2013–2014 United Kingdom winter floods. The Somerset Levels, or the Somerset Levels and Moors as they are less commonly but more correctly known, is a coastal plain and wetland area of central Somerset.

    The Levels are a low lying area around 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 m) above mean sea level (O.D.) which have been prone to flooding from fresh water and occasional salt water inundations.

    The Comparison with Canvey Island and Jotmans farm, which shares a similar topography to Canvey is unmistakable. The recent flooding on Canvey Island, should be warning enough but is anyone listening?

    The NPPF states that new Developments should not increase the risk of flooding to existing developments. Clearly there is substantial risk of flooding at Jotmans Farm and Canvey Island.

    UK weather: Why the recent devastating floods will become the new normal


  7. I thought that as Canvey is mostly below sea level at mean time, this would confirm that until housing on stills was being carried out all building in Casle Point would HAVE to be on the mainland.

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