Councillor Sharp kindly contributed to one of our previous Blog post’s regarding the somewhat controversial business development at Roscommon Way, Canvey Island. Link to Post HERE.
He felt that “The principle (of development) was something that could not be refused.”
Interestingly the principle of development in the district and local interpretation was queried earlier in the development process.
As early as June 2015 the Environment Agency commented that;
“If no Land Raising were proposed on site, the proposed compensatory storage would not be required, and the development on the site could be sequentially considered and located outside of the fluvial flood plain.”
Aside; Note to CPBC Planners the use of the term “Flood Plain”!
Despite this suggestion of principle by the Environment Agency only the developer’s and Castle Point Council’s apparent determination to continue with the venture on this preferred site led to the Environment Agency offering the “golden nugget” of lifting their objection subject to condition!
This despite the intention of Land Raising on the site by some 60 centimetres!
Furthermore, and like lambs to the slaughter the CPBC Development Control Committee pushed through the planning permission for the two large scale employment sites on Canvey Island on the recommendation of Planning Officers, without realising the consequences to the Boroughs Green Belt. The NLPs supporting evidence identifies that the argument that the boroughs land availability assessment without Green Belt allocation will support the objectively assessed housing needs of 200 per annum, is in direct conflict with its employment needs strategy.
Developers knowing that the Councils own evidenced base documents provide the basis for greater numbers of housing units to support the provision of employment opportunities will gratefully argue the case.
Employment & Retail Needs Assessment
Castle Point Borough Council
“It is also important to note that most of the demographic/housing led demand estimates result in a negative requirement for employment space in future compared with the current position. This largely reflects an ageing population, which, for the modest increase in housing proposed, produces a lower number of working age residents and hence a lower demand for future jobs and employment space. It is understood that Castle Point Council may be inclined towards a scenario based on 200 dwellings being built per annum. If this were the case, it would imply less employment space being needed in future and fewer local workers to support economic growth in the borough
The Borough’s two allocated sites South of Northwick Road and Roscommon Way appear reasonably suited to meet future needs although their proximity to the Thames estuary, relative remoteness and potential drainage issues may deter development.
Over 90% of the borough’s allocated employment land is in Canvey Island with limited supply elsewhere to meet future demand.
A specific issue considered was how the borough could achieve economic growth even if the Council plans for a modest rate of housing growth (e.g. 200 dwellings p.a.). This approach would result in a future decline in local labour supply and may constrain growth of local firms. It should still be possible to attract some firms and facilitate growth of others locally by providing good quality, accessible employment sites close to areas of demand within the Borough and taking steps to encourage development on these. However, success may be more difficult to achieve if there are constraints on labour supply and it is likely to result in higher levels of in-commuting to fill any new jobs created.”
The question is if we can see the bigger picture why the Planning Committee can’t is questionable,
OR CAN THEY?
Recent proposed Planning changes made easier the ability to allocate approved business development sites over to Housing. Access to Canvey continues to be an issue for business investors, despite the development committee vice chairman’s assurances that he has little problem in getting to his workplace, distributors find more easily accessible areas to invest outside of the Borough!
If a lack of investment, or requirement saw the Roscommon Way site difficult to attract businesses to, the possibility of a Flatted Housing Development would be a distinct possibility! A case of killing two birds with one stone, getting past the Sequential Test and off-setting growth towards the southern part of the Borough, or Canvey Island for the sake of our less sensitive souls.
It will be argued that the site(s) mentioned were set aside for development purpose within the 1998 Local Plan. What is however most relevant is that the 1998 Plan was produced prior to the detrimental information revealed within the 2010 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and the surface water flooding events during 2013 and 2014.
Whether it is the responsibility of the CPBC development committee to research the more important contributions on the CPBC Planning Portal, or simply rely on the advice and interpretation of the “professional” officers is a matter of conjecture.
What is apparent is that advice and direction by CPBC’s own consultants is not being acted upon, the resultant effect being development directed towards Canvey Island despite constraints.
What implication to the mainland and Borough might this hold during the examination of a Local Plan?