A Unanimous decision to Refuse the Dutch Village, Holland Avenue Green Belt planning proposal was decided upon by the Castle Point planning committee last evening.
Objections from both the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority, made the decision fairly obvious, although with CPBC you can never be certain.
At last the area was given the Green Belt recognition and respect that has been overdue. Previously the area had been the first in line for release for development. The Local Plan2016 shifts focus onto previously developed Green Belt, land that already contains a level of development, as that which is preferred for housing supply.
The fact that the Holland Avenue site is Green Belt within a Flood Zone should have offered more protection from development than most in the Borough, however logic doesn’t always prevail.
The reliance upon our “impregnable” sea defences, which by the way can do little to halt water seeping under them, and our “broken” drainage system, should result in a Sequential Approach to development. If similar development areas outside of the flood zone are available, then development in the flood zone would be Refused.
However using the overly simplistic logic, that Canvey is a “Special Case,” due to Canvey Island being a developed area it must follow that it must be continued to be developed!
The officers report offered no other reasoning nor explanation, than that!
A case was offered by us that the development in a flood zone, Sequential Test decision was challengeable, as was the Exception Test, which was actually mentioned as being failed in the officers report. We asked that both Tests should be recorded as Reasons for Refusal, most disappointingly councillors allowed this to slip the net!
Members agreed that the access to the proposed site was inadequate, hardly surprising considering the condition and specification of the approach road, which we must add past planning administrations had allowed approval.
Thankfully the “F” word wasn’t uttered by development committee members although in this instance we mean the “Flood RE” word.
Consideration should be given by as to whether the development committee can be assured that housing development in a Flood Zone will be able to obtain flood insurance over the life time of new dwellings.
The Flood RE scheme, which guarantees affordable insurance to such new dwellings, excludes all development built since 2008!
Therefore, as in the case of Canvey homes flooded in 2013 and 2014, insurance premiums and excesses are open to the market forces, meaning insurance premiums and excesses if offered, are extortionately high.
Whilst the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group made this point in representation, the issue received no consideration.
This is quite incredible as we hear that funding is neither identified nor allotted for improvements for the sea defence nor improvements for the drainage system.
Non-discussion will not exempt Castle Point Council from blame. A head in the sand attitude towards this evidenced Risk is a gamble. A gamble with residents and future residents, financial assets and well being. A gamble with the socio-economic stability of Canvey Island.
We welcome and endorse the committee’s decision, but will continue to press for a realistic approach to local planning matters.
A link to the committee meeting can be reached HERE.