Blinking “Ell, Green Belt to suffer? Castle Point Council miss out Again on Government Hand Out!

DCLG have announced a short list of areas in which support is to be given to develop Garden Villages.

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.”

This a contentious issue in Castle Point as it was expected that the possibility of the area commonly known as the “Blinking Owl” site could be developed.

The area is Green Belt, although not “virgin” Green Belt, and was muted as an opportunity to both protect the more favoured parts of Castle Point’s Green Belt whilst also going someway to meet the Housing needs (OAHN) of the Borough. This potential project is “opposed” by Essex County Council and may require further consultation of the Local Plan if it were to be followed up with.


It is interesting to note that in neighbouring Basildon, the Dunton Village has received Government backing despite strong opposition from local residents, over 1,600 have registered with the Facebook campaign group.

In contrast, Brentwood MP Eric Pickles welcomes new “garden village” for Dunton Hills, saying it will “meet the needs of the local population”.

The possibility of whether Castle Point Council had made enquiries into the qualification for funding for a garden village was commented upon on social media ( a risky business locally) by two cpbc councillors;

Cllr Sharp questioned “did castle Point put a bid in ….?????”

 Cllr Dick responded “I do not think do (sic) but they had the same opportunity as Dunton.

Cllr Sharp then stated “frustrating we had the ideal site as you know”

Dependent on the further progress of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 there appears a further opportunity to prompt cpbc to seek funding;

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.”

The problem may be the failure of Castle Point Council in including the “Blinking Owl site within the 20 year Housing Supply within the Local Plan.

The full Government announcement reads;

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.

In an expansion of the existing garden towns programme, these smaller projects of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes continue the government’s commitment to support locally-led development and make sure this is a country that works for everyone.

The 14 new garden villages – from Devon to Derbyshire, Cornwall to Cumbria – will have access to a £6 million fund over the next 2 financial years to support the delivery of these new projects.

This money will be used to unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.

The government also announced today (2 January 2017) its support for 3 new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston – and a further £1.4 million of funding to support their delivery.

Together with the 7 garden towns already announced, these 17 new garden settlements have the combined potential to provide almost 200,000 new homes across the country.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:

Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.

New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.

New garden villages and towns

These developments will be distinct new places with their own community facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas. The 14 new garden villages are:

  • Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon
  • Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire
  • Deenethorpe in East Northants
  • Culm in Mid Devon
  • Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire
  • West Carclaze in Cornwall
  • Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex
  • Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire
  • Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside
  • Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath
  • Bailrigg in Lancaster
  • Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area
  • St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria
  • North Cheshire in Cheshire East

In addition to funding, the government will provide support in terms of expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms.

Due to the high level of expressions of interest submitted in July 2016, the government has made an additional £1 million available this year for further development of other garden village proposals.

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.

A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes. Garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.

By 2020, more than 25,000 housing starts are expected in garden villages, towns and cities supported by the government. Homes are already being built in several locations, including Bicester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Ebbsfleet, Aylesbury, Taunton and North Northants.

The new garden projects will also have access to infrastructure funding programmes across government, such as the new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at this year’s Autumn Statement.

2 responses to “Blinking “Ell, Green Belt to suffer? Castle Point Council miss out Again on Government Hand Out!

  1. So glad I kept my old copy of The Essex Protector (Aug 2007), and Peter Marett’s article, ‘Green Belt: safe or not?’ at

  2. Editor you highlight a very pertinent point in that an opportunity to develop previously developed green belt in preference to other areas constrained from development has been missed.

    This is highlighted by the following evidence:-
    New Local Plan: Housing Capacity Topic Paper

    Specialist Advice
    “Maldon District Council sought assistance from the Planning Advisory Service in May 2013 with regard to their Local Plan. They were provided with advice by Keith Holland, Assistant Director for Development Plans and Major Casework at the Planning Inspectorate.

    He confirmed to Maldon District Council that the Government is taking an uncompromising line on promoting housing growth, and that the Council must explore all reasonable options to meet objectively assessed needs for housing within the Local Plan. Where ‘local’ (artificial) constraints exist, the Council must plan positively to ensure that every reasonable attempt to overcome the constraints has been investigated. Otherwise the Plan is likely to be found to be unsound. Therefore, infrastructure constraints, such as the capacity of the highway network, the capacity of local schools, or the visual impact of growth on landscape in the District is highly unlikely to provide sufficient justification for not planning to meet objectively assessed needs for housing. ‘Critical’ (fixed) constraints, such as sewerage constraints that cannot reasonably or viably be overcome, or lack of available land for development due to flood risk and / or national / international environmental designations could potentially provide adequate justification.

    This advice to Maldon District Council is relevant to Castle Point, as it provides an indication of what can and cannot reasonably be taken into account when seeking to determine whether the capacity of the borough constrains growth”

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