I must say that following the approval of the Local Plan 2016 and the presentation of the magnificent Canvey Residents Petition, some of the criticism towards Canvey and its Residents is a tad unfair!
It appears that the petition has been seen as an attempt by Canvey, in effect to sabotage the progress of Local Plan2016.
Very disappointingly, it is suggested by some that the timing of the Petition’s organisation and its presentation appears to be wrong.
Wrongly, outsiders believe that we, Canvey residents, wish the Government to take over “their” control of the Local Plan2016!
Wrongly, they believe by not developing on Canvey, even more development will be moved onto the mainland.
I say wrongly, because there is no logic to the argument. If an area has development Constraints, that means less housing can take place in the Borough.
CPBC knew this when they acknowledged the Hazardous Industrial sites and Flood Risk as a Canvey Constraint.
What it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t mean, is for the constrained number not to be applied to the Constrained area, Canvey Island. CPBC have instead applied it across the Housing Need figure for the whole Borough!
For anybody questioning our logic regarding applying Constraints within the areas likely to be affected may wish to take a look at these two short Videos.
The first dramatic video gives just one person’s perspective of how he, his family and his home suffered the devastating effects following the Buncefield incident. Link to the Video HERE.
The other shows the complexity of the surface water drainage system on Canvey Island. Bear in mind this video was compiled prior to the flooding of 2014 and the knowledge of the broken infrastructure of the drainage system, as revealed through the Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage study, and for which there appears no funding for its improvement. Link to Video HERE.
This flawed drainage system is separate from another Constraint, that of the Flood Risk from Tidal sources.
Grateful that we are that the Dutch Village and the smaller old Castle View School Green Belt sites have been withdrawn from the intended housing supply, we know that this is as a by-product of the new housing site selection policy, rather than a priority of the Plan makers.
After all, the Dutch village and old Castle View School GB sites were THE Borough’s preferred development sites since the early days of the Core Strategy!
Which brings me back to the criticism of the timing of the delivery of the Canvey Residents Petition.
Back in 2009 the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group organised a Referendum over the course of a fortnight. The result a 99%+ vote of some 6,550, in favour of protecting Green Belt from development, delivered ahead of the CPBC SPDG group’s work on the Core Strategy, well before the decision to consult and finalise the Core Strategy document. The same Core Strategy document that featured only Green Belt on Canvey Island.
The response from and impact upon Castle Point Council, was exactly the same as the Residents Petition, IT WAS IGNORED!
Yes, maybe some Canvey residents did become aware of what was planned late in the day, but it wasn’t so long ago the same could be said of mainland residents.
The Residents Petition came from their frustrations, which emerged during a Local Plan information meeting arranged by Cllr Tucker, which was attended by members of the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group (CGBC). Residents felt they wished to create a Petition. The members of the CGBC group in the knowledge of our Referendum response and the way CPBC received it, felt a Petition was of little use (as it turned out).
Nevertheless this is what the Residents wanted as a means of expressing their feelings and CGBC group were asked to assist.
Ironically it was this request for assistance and the CGBC group using their contact details in setting up the CHANGE.ORG online version of the Petition that CPBC used in its claim that it was in fact a Green Belt Petition. Anybody reading the Petition would see that it is clearly not!
However by supporting the Residents Online Petition Cllr Tucker gave reason for CPBC to rule his exclusion from the Local Plan2016 debate.
Ironically if he hadn’t signed the Petition the current version of the CPBC would have never have been adopted, as it was on reliance of the mayor’s casting vote!
Canvey and its Residents would certainly have received criticism if that was how the Local Plan2016 had been progressed!
We do not wish the Local Plan2016 ill, it appears to be all that the mainland campaign groups desire. Development in areas that they appear to prefer, whilst attempting to protect areas held most dear.
But please allow others to have their own opinions even if they differ from yours. Several senior councillors, whilst voting in favour of the Local Plan2016 did so only after voicing no confidence in its ability to pass Examination.
Many across the chamber appeared, through the debate, to be manoeuvring themselves into a position where, if the Local Plan2016 were to fail, they can say “I told you so”!
Now that is a concern!
Following the years of failing to implement a Plan and the expenses and costs that have been incurred councillors should accept a level of blame.
The Local Plan2016 document is not THE final document, it has been voted to be sent out for consultation (now where have we heard that before?)
All residents and developers have the opportunity to have their say. If nothing else, the delivery of the Residents Petition, just ahead of the Local Plan2016 consultation, is perfectly timed to focus residents attention ahead of the consultation period.
For that we say to the Canvey Residents Petitioners, congratulations and well done Ladies, Gents and the participating Canvey businesses!