Castle Point Council have issued notice that the Planning Inspectorate has appointed Mr David Smith BA (HONS) DMS MRTPI as the Planning Inspector to conduct the independent Examination of the submitted Local Plan.
The Canvey Green Belt Campaign wishes Mr Smith well in his undertaking and hope that he fairs better than his predecessor Mr P.Crysell, who undertook the CPBC Core Strategy, and who was later declared, by a Lead group councillor, dead to us!
Co-incidentally Mr Smith previously worked on the Rochford District Local Plan 2013 version when that was submitted for Examination.
Mr Smith made some interesting remarks in his summing up in regards the Rochford Local Plan;
” It considers first whether the Plan’s preparation has complied with the duty to co-operate, in recognition that there is no scope to remedy any failure in this regard”
“The starting point for the examination is the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan.”
Of the first requirement the Castle Point officers will themselves be in a difficult position. I believe the Local Plan process commenced in 2007, if not before, ample time for the CPBC to have established and recorded record of the Cooperation between Castle Point and the neighbouring local authorities.
However CPBC have been criticised by the neighbouring authorities for their apparent lateness in fulfilling this requirement.
So the CPBC officers “holier than thou” position will be for them to justify ahead of the Local Plan Examination.
Similar questions were raised within the St Albans Local Plan. There the Inspector decided the way to resolve the apparent doubt within the Duty to Cooperate requirement was;
“In order to test the evidence I propose to hold an Initial Hearing Session at which the Council’s approach in relation to the Duty to Co-operate will be discussed. At this stage I intend to invite representatives of the nearby LPAs who have submitted representations; the County Council and the Home Builders Federation.”
The second point Mr Smith referred to “the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan” is more contentious. Officers apparently consider the CPBC Local Plan2016 unsound, and yet they have been party to publishing it and submitting for Examination.
They now owe the residents of Castle Point a committed defence of the submitted Local Plan, as they attempted with the far less sound Core Strategy! And this commitment will be tested as the St Alban LP Inspector also commented;
“In terms of the delivery of the proposed growth, there is insufficient clarity and detail regarding the associated infrastructure that is required, how it will be provided and what the consequent implications may be in terms of viability. I have seen the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (INFR 001 and 002) but note in Appendix 5 of the SLP that there are a significant number of projects (for example in relation to highway improvements) where costs and funding are unknown. In these circumstances there is uncertainty regarding the consequent implications for the viability of the Council’s proposals.”
This has implications within the CPBC Local Plan in the case of Policy H11 Land at North Thundersley, the Blinking Owl area. Whether the CPBC officers commitment during Examination in Public can be relied upon, is for the Council Lead group members to consider.
It would make sense for those Lead councillors to form a representative group to attend the Examination sessions to defend the Plan.
Mr Smith’s decision was that the Rochford Plan was unsound and identified modifications to the Plan so as to make the Plan sound, this process appears to be ongoing.
Most interestingly is that two Parishes in Rochford, Canewdon and Wallasea felt in December 2015 that despite the need for Local Plan’s apparently needing completion by early 2017, it was worthwhile entering into a Neighbourhood Plan process.
A pity that Canvey Island town council felt a Neighbourhood Plan, indicating how Canvey residents vision for the Island’s future, was too late and not worthwhile. Canvey may well now find it difficult to suggest positive Policies advantageous to the Island during the Local Plan Examination process.