“The mantra is often: There can be no change to the Green Belt – look somewhere else. However the need to meet housing need means that Green Belts should not be preserved without a rational review of their purpose set against the need for change.”
With the Government announcing renewed intent to solve the housing crisis by launching a Home Building Fund. In a press release Sajid Javid states
That’s why we’re taking further action ahead of a Housing White Paper later this year. The launch of a £3 billion Home Building Fund will:
- provide £1 billion of short term loan funding – this will be used for small builders, custom builders, and innovators, delivering 25,000 homes in the short term
- it will also provide £2 billion of long term funding for infrastructure – this will be used to unlock a pipe line of up to 200,000 homes over the longer term – with the emphasis on developments on brownfield land.
However, as is often stated, the Urban parts of Castle Point are tightly Constrained by the Green Belt. Hence the difficulties for cpbc in producing a Local Plan. It is clear that the cpbc Local Plan2016 has highlighted that one persons precious Green belt is another persons developable land.
The Green Belt review within the Local Plan2016 process will be scrutinised by the Planning Inspector. He will be looking to see the supporting evidence should land that better fulfils some of the 5 Purposes of the Green Belt if it were to be selected for development ahead of sites that fulfils less of the Green Belt Purposes.
“The big issue
The most immediate issue for the Green Belt is the maintenance of the purposes of the Green Belt set against the under-provision of housing across many parts of the country, where the capacity to accommodate sustainable development in urban areas is often insufficient to meet the housing requirement.”
Alongside this it is difficult to argue against the Government’s desire to “want to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live and that means we’ve got to build more homes.”
Green Belt as a Constraint on Housing principle, has been set out beyond any doubt by the Hunston High Court judgment in St Albans. This section of the judgement is worth quoting;
‘Having identified the full objectively assessed needs figure the decision maker must then consider the impact of the other policies set out in the NPPF. The Green Belt policy is not an outright prohibition on development in the Green Belt. Rather it is a prohibition on inappropriate development in the absence of very special circumstances.
It is entirely circular to argue that there are no very special circumstances based on objectively assessed but unfulfilled need that can justify development in the Green Belt by reference to a figure that has been arrived at under a revoked policy which was arrived at taking account of the need to avoid development in the Green Belt.’
This raises the inevitable question for the Castle Point Plan-making process, having conceded that Green Belt will be developed through the Local Plan2016, should more weight be awarded to the parts of the Green Belt that have been selected to be released over, the most likely parts of the Green Belt that developers are ready and willing to commence early development on?
On the one hand it appears we have a Localism lead site selection process, over an urgent National need to “want to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live” meaning “we’ve got to build more homes.”
It may be a case that by hurrying through the publication for Examination of the Local Plan 2016 cpbc officers may have invited criticism from an Inspector that a level of unfairness towards those residents living near the Blinking Owl site H11, as they were unaware of the plans to bring this site forward during the Consultation process.
Many Castle Point residents feel that the area is too overcrowded and congested already. The Local Government Association however,suggest that “It might seem odd, for instance, as the designation of Green Belt implies, that at some entirely arbitrary point in the evolution of a town, it should not grow any more.”
The Fact is though that the cpbc Housing Need development Numbers unpopular with residents, are already under scrutiny.
The Local Plan2016 Examination Inspector already has declared an interest in some of the content and processes of our Plan!
He has requested explanation of the local authority’s efforts to comply with the Duty to Co-operate.
He has also asked, “What is the rationale for reducing the housing requirement from 4,000 in the Draft Local Plan to 2,000?”
Presumably this was not self evident in the Local plan2016 supporting documentation!
The fear is that the Duty to Co-operate can lead to Local Plans to stumble at the very first hurdle.
We as Residents are left with a more obvious question, why was the Planning Inspector’s written enquiry not explained as to the consequences and an update announcement made public at last weeks cpbc Full council meeting?