Canvey Island residents will now be receiving their invitations to take part in the Castle Point Local Plan2016 consultation.
Some concerns have been expressed via social media as to how the Plan will impact upon residents daily life.
The Local Plan2016 is at the stage where residents and developers and consultee agencies will expect their input to have an impact upon the final document following Examination by a Planning Inspector.
“Following the consultation, the New Local Plan will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. Representations will be considered by a Planning Inspector alongside the published Plan.”
In other words, your final opportunity to have some input.
There is no rush to respond.
It may therefore be of interest at this early stage for some who have not followed the Local Plan2016’s progress so far to learn of the background influences that have been exerted in reaching this stage.
Most relevant maybe the consideration of the Castle Point Borough Council Chief Executive, expressed in Council meeting agenda paperwork, in which he expressed these concerns to councillors;
To re-consider the Draft New Local Plan at this stage exposes the Council to the risk of unwelcome development, “planning by appeal”, and potential Government intervention.
6. Risks and Corporate Implications
6.1 Members are referred to the report before Council on 9.12.2015, which were restated on 27.01.2016, which sets out the serious legal, reputational and financial risks at Sections 7 to 9 of the report of 09.12.2015 in failing to take forward a sound Draft New Local Plan. These sections are attached as an Appendix.
6.2 The Council is advised that there is a substantial risk that a Draft New Local Plan amended in the form of either Motion is unlikely to meet the four tests of soundness as set out in paragraph 182 of the NPPF, which are:
Positively prepared – the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development;
Justified – the plan should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence;
Effective – the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities; and
Consistent with national policy – the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.
6.3 In addition the Council has a statutory duty to comply with the Duty to Cooperate to ascertain whether the Council’s neighbouring authorities are able to take some of the Council’s unmet housing need. A draft New Local Plan which seeks only a limited ability to meet its housing need will not sit well with neighbouring authorities who are seeking to release green belt sites to meet their own housing needs: to expect those authorities to release even more of their green belt to meet the Council’s unmet need is unrealistic.
Conclusion & Next Steps
7.1. It is clear that Members recognise that the draft New Local Plan needs to be progressed and as a general principle Members oppose the use of Green Belt sites for housing development giving priority to the protection of the Green Belt above meeting the objectively assessed housing needs of the Borough.
7.2 As stated previously Motion 1(the removal of some Green Belt sites for housing development) is unclear, inconsistent and contradictory suggesting that it is acceptable to leave certain Green Belt Sites within the Draft Local plan but excluding others. Council is reminded any attempt to remove sites that is not supported by evidence will result in the Council’s approach to meeting its housing needs being found unsustainable.
7.3 Motion 2 the removal of all Green Belt sites for housing development presents the least worst option in that it is a clear unambiguous policy statement that the Council’s priority is the protection of the Green Belt and the Council will not allow the use of any green belt sites to meet its objectively assessed housing needs.
7.4 If Council is minded to direct that the draft New Local Plan is amended to reflect either of the two Motions then it is recommended that the Council directs that the Draft New Local Plan be altered to remove all Green Belt housing sites to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting the Borough’s objectively assessed housing needs.
Of course the Chief Executives idea of unwelcome Green Belt development may well differ from councillors and residents.
That the councillors decided to press ahead with Motion 1 (see above) was their prerogative, as councillors make the decisions.
What we can be sure of is an interesting time ahead.
Only following the Inspector’s consideration will we learn whether councillors have been astute or foolhardy!