Throughout the Castle Point Borough Council Local Plan process, sustainability of potential Housing sites has been measured, calculated, interpreted and used to fit solutions for housing growth across potential sites across the Borough.
The inconsistencies indicated by the different versions of the Local Plans and supplementary documents will leave the current Local Plan vulnerable at the Examination stage.
A developer of a preferred site will align with the latest findings, whilst a developer of a proposed site, now overlooked in the current Plan iteration will release legal minds in objection!
The focus and weight of the sustainability issue has always been seen as an issue, particularly by residents of Canvey Island.
Whilst serious weighting is applied to access to public transport, cycle paths, schools, employment and shopping areas, score highly to justify housing growth on Canvey Island, some potentially more serious issues are diminished by the weighting scoring system.
Flood Risk, from both Tidal and Surface Water are major future Sustainability issues for Canvey Island. Indeed they should work as Constraints against development.
The Local Plan 2016 states:
Flood Risk: A number of development sites are located on Canvey Island, and therefore require appropriate flood risk mitigation to be employed in their development to avoid risk to people and property. Given the extent of flood risk defences on Canvey Island it is anticipated that the additional mitigation will be sufficient to ensure people remain safe in the event of a flood, particularly when development policies are read alongside the requirements of policy CC2.
Policy CC2 states:
Policy CC2 aligns with the TE2100 Plan. This policy seeks to maintain and improve the extent of flood defence protection on Canvey Island in order to respond to the threat of climate change. This policy approach has been taken due to the size of the population on Canvey Island (40,000) and the risk that increased flood risk would pose to people and property.
However the TE2100 scheme at present is purely aspirational.
So where does the promotion of new housing growth in a Flood Zone sit Sustainability wise? The House Insurance FloodRE scheme will not cover housing developed since January 2009.
Any new development on Canvey Island must be supported by proof of “Local Need” and be raised above potential flood levels.
This would be difficult, if not impossible to achieve given Canvey’s high water table, without subjecting neighbouring land and properties to off site flood risk!
The recent press suggestions that The 2 Top Tier COMAH sites on Canvey also present are higher hazardous threat than presently perceived, also adds doubt where sustainability of new housing development is concerned.
A far more cautious approach to housing distribution within Castle Point and Canvey Island in particular is required.
Sustainability is an important issue, but where issues may threaten the ability of residents to finance and acquire mortgages on future properties the results of the CPBC Sustainability Assessments require viewing proportionately.
Access to public transport, cycle paths, schools, employment and shopping areas, should register far less impact and weight alongside where People and Properties safety and well being are concerned!