The devil is in the detail, is an idiom that Castle Point Council appear to rely on where development approvals on Canvey Island are concerned!
Far too often development proposal comments by consultees are taken at face value in the support of approval recommendations of the “professional” officers.
Rarely do development Committee members challenge the points of recommendation, simply because of a lack of alternative information.
Within proposal consideration for Calor and Oikos will often be the Health and Safety Executive comment; “Do not Advise Against”.
Within a recent appeal inquiry in Oxford a Do not advise against comment was made by the HSE in regard to a development near a Hazardous site.
However the local authority, UNLIKE Castle Point felt they should seek independent advice, rather than rely on untrained officers taking the HSE at their exact word. The advisor to the Oxford council considered that;
Do not advise against is not the same as saying planning permission must be granted.
Overall the HSE methodology is designed to identify sites where the HSE feels obliged to advise against planning permission.
However, their only other advice category of do not advise against is not equivalent to supporting the application being granted.
As already established it is quite legitimate for a local planning authority to take a different view on the merits of granting planning permission, so long as the HSE’s advice has been taken into account.
That the HSE disputed some of the advisors comments, was not disputed, what is relevant is that the local authority had attempted to seek objective advice that may not be available amongst local authority officers.
The development in question, is in a less significant Flood Risk Area than that of Canvey Island.
The local authority in Oxford have a shortfall in housing land and under estimated their Objectively Assessed housing need, as is likely to be found in the case of Castle Point’s local plan 2016.
Despite this and the fact that the site in question was for a great deal fewer dwellings than in the case of Thorney Bay, the Oxford local authority turned down the application.
Castle Point of course have approved in principle outline permission for 600 dwellings, a residential institution plus the retention of static caravans and included these numbers within their daft New Local Plan and Local Plan 2016!
This despite the developer having relied on quoting the CPBC’s previous consideration: “The most recent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) (2011) indicates a potential range for dwelling units for the site between 378 and 595”
All based upon them achieving a “do not advise against” response from the HSE.
The Environment Agency acknowledge an agreement with Castle Point council in which Canvey is to be treated as a Special Case where Flood Risk and housing development needs for the whole Borough is concerned!
Canvey representatives really do need to start reading the SMALL PRINT where planning proposals are concerned!
Footnote: Neither of the local Parish nor Town councils concerned in the Oxford case have given any indication that they intend to produce a Neighbourhood plan. No evidence was submitted of any preliminary works in this regard.