The likely approval of the business development proposal at Roscommon Way by the Castle Point Council Development Committee indicates a remarkable upturn in the employment and prosperity prospects for the locality.
Senior committee members have expressed their views that the importance of this business proposal is almost crucial to the local economy, to the point that outstanding concerns over loss of green belt, flooding issues and the possibility that the extra vehicle movements are tolerable.
The conclusions to the planning process should be creating excitement rather than concern from residents.
Perhaps therefore, it may be appropriate to take time to reflect on the situation. There is a Local Plan emerging, albeit with some difficulty; There is improvement in the UK’s employment figures; Castle Point desires to remain linked to the Thames Gateway development catchment.
However, there is a further more practical test of the local economy’s fortunes, rather than the assumptions of our local decision makers.
Nearby, the area known as “Land opposite Morrisons, Northwick Road, Canvey” also has a proposal before the Castle Point Planners.
This additional site is also being proposed by the same developers, Inner London Developments Limited.
The planning documents for this proposal reveal a cautionary note, the proposal appears to be a further renewal of an Outline consent previously renewed during 2005.
This raises obvious questions; if the local economy is in such a reasonable state and Canvey is a desirable business development location, why hasn’t this development shown any progression over the previous 10 years, and why would a developer seek to add to its land portfolio rather than making some development progress on land already approved for development?
Is this a case of land banking, is this a case of adding aspirational “good news” support to the troubled Castle Point Local Plan?
It has already been considered by Castle Point consultants within the Retail and Employment assessment, that Canvey may not be the area in most urgent need of the Borough’s business development.
Why then would it be considered that special circumstances exist to warrant releasing green belt land outside of the developed area at Roscommon Way, whilst land with outline permission situated almost opposite, remains undeveloped?
There appears to exist the potential to fast track land with business development permission over to approval for Housing development.
Whilst there is no foundation in thinking that this is an ulterior motive, the possibility exists that a future change of use might occur.
After all how many car showrooms, storage and distribution units does Canvey Island require?