With a healthy mixture of Blue Sky thinking and Nimbyism Castle Point Council have a long standing record of “regeneration planning” for Canvey Island. Aren’t we Lucky to have such thoughtful decision makers?
Within an out-of-date Planning document, dated 2007 we learn how our Borough Planners wishing to respond to an employment growth led scenario accept that Castle Point, being an out commuting area, may need to look for some local business development sites.
Reverting to their automatic tunnel-visioned position, they commissioned Report to support, and ONLY, investigate development sites on Canvey Island, where else?
Assuming that there is no space on the mainland, they can then justify making space on Canvey. Canvey green space is different to mainland green space, firstly it is less politically sensitive and secondly it is at or below sea level. Furthermore some of it, despite being exactly environmentally sensitive as neighbouring land, doesn’t have the all-important GB label attached to it, therefore far more suitable!
Castle Point Council have a policy that ignores applying the Sequential Test to the Borough.
Therefore with a brief to produce enough claptrap, bluff and bullshine the commissioned report, that 38,000 Canvey residents helped finance, publishes a document that helps protect mainland land and further urbanises Canvey.
Canvey Island is situated within the Thames Gateway Growth Area as a consequence of which there is a sophisticated- and developing- policy and strategic context and a huge array of strategic plans and documents that are helping to shape development and regeneration activity.
We have aimed to identify how the proposed development can respond to its setting by leveraging its unique features and converting them into opportunities for creating an environmental exemplar.
This type of occupier would possibly be attracted by Canvey Island’s locational characteristics (such as security and seclusion);
I am relieved they mention Canvey Island as the reader may think they were referring to some other Utopia!
Development at Canvey Island could help to reduce out-commuting, promote inward investment and advance the environmental objectives
Referring, in comparison to Basildon and Thurrock the Report stated “But both areas currently have relatively high levels of vacant floor space, whereas Castle Point has only 11,270 sq m, less than one tenth of either Basildon or Thurrock.”
Using standard measures, our analysis of Castle Point and Canvey Island provides a good case for intervention through specific employment initiatives and further investment. There are high levels of out-migration and commuting outside the area in order to access better opportunities and higher incomes. Reversing this existing pattern would help to retain younger, economically active people and drive up levels of prosperity.
CPBC and the authors appear to suggest that for Canvey Islanders to be leaving the area for employment may be a bad thing, whereas mainland residents are aspirationally more suited for the outside world.
However there is always that age old chestnut, future road improvement promises, to fall back on. Useful in an era of strict strategic austerity where funds are even unavailable for correcting the drainage issues that flooded out so many Canvey Island (and mainland) homes during 2013 and 2014!
The Report states:
as a precondition for achieving regeneration and additional development”. Several major road upgrades are mentioned as well as improvements in rail and bus networks and improved access to Canvey Island is identified as a longer term objective….. The use of the term ‘precondition’ relating to improved transport infrastructure is noteworthy. Not only is improved connectivity of Canvey to the wider sub-region important to sound spatial planning, it is also likely to be a factor influencing investment decisions by commercial developers and occupiers.
There is the answer to those of you that labelled Roscommon Way as the “Road to Nowhere,” it actually provides “improved connectivity of Canvey to the wider sub-region”!
This identification of land on Canvey Island to support urban intensification appears to be the “golden thread” that runs through Castle Point Council policy making.
In the case of the Thorney Bay development it demonstrates the “local” preference to protect unavailable mainland areas whilst a site within a Flood Risk zone and within the hazard ranges of the Calor Gas site is suitable for people to be investing in property.
Such is the background that will make any Local Plan making an extremely difficult process.