“Work” at Catherine Road, Benfleet will be a test to the claim, of the level of protection that a Local Plan offers Castle Point.
These photos were taken of work undertaken on woodland, currently within the Borough’s Green Belt as identified in the current Local Plan.
It would hardly be classed as coppicing!
The site sits close by land allocated for housing delivery within the emerging, but more importantly un-adopted Castle Point Council draft New Local Plan.
We are told by senior councillors that having a Local Plan in place offers protection to sites that residents consider unsuitable for development. This is possibly destructive action taken to promote this as developable. Whether councillors having sent the draft Local Plan out for consultation and then apparently having a change of mind during the December council meeting encouraged the owners to take action is open to conjecture.
This can only be viewed as an apparent destructive action by the owners and it will be interesting to see what ensues.
Devaluing a sites environmental credentials should not sway a Planning Committee or Planning Inspector, although it may add some weight.
The potential for recovery of the land to previous status would be harmed with the erection of the environmental barriers we are used to seeing on Canvey.
It will be most interesting to learn the opinion of the CPBC enforcement officer, who was apparently called to the site soon after work commenced and was informed the intention was to remove dead trees and dangerous branches .
Photo Credits; Heather Spicer and Neil Warren