“WOULD NOT ADVISE AGAINST” Is a phrase that is akin to music to Castle Point Planners ears!
So often does it extinguish any questioning by planning committee members of the extra conditional advice from the HSE, or the Environment Agency, or the Lead Local Flood Authority, when the committee consider Canvey planning applications!
At the Risk of being accused of Scare-mongering, and unlike some that “run with the fox AND hunt with the hounds”, we prefer to refer to our approach to development as being Cautious, when we refer to Canvey’s constraint issues.
The proposal for the first phase of the Thorney Bay Housing development, cpbc planning application No: 14/0620/FUL, to sit alongside existing caravans is progressing, albeit in an apparently unusual sequence. Given the obvious issue of the neighbouring Calor, Top Tier Comah site, one would have thought that Castle point planners would have made early use of the Health and Safety Executive’s online planning advice app.
It appears however that despite cpbc receiving the planning proposal on the 6th November 2014, no such enquiry was made to the HSE, until the 12th January 2017!
Whilst an initial use of the HSE planning app was made for the original “proposal in principle,” cpbc planning application No: CPT/707/11/OUT, of 600 dwellings plus residential care homes, lodged with cpbc as long ago as 2011, this resulted in an acceptance that 10%, or 60, of the total number of dwellings could be developed within what is labelled the hazardous “middle zone”.
The more “recent” application, for 113 dwellings, sought to use a proportion of the 60 dwellings allowed, sited in the “middle zone,” BUT at a much higher proportion, in relation to the latest planning application, of over 26% !
Rather surprisingly this did not appear to occur to OUR local authority that they might just possibly feel they should refer this percentage level to the HSE!
The developer may indicate the future development phases will have a much lower level of percentage dwellings in the hazardous “middle zone”.
They MAY also find in future these development phases prove unviable without similar high percentage rates, 26%, within the “middle zone,” and having set a precedent within the first phase who could argue?
This seeks higher density development across the whole site, something that would suit developer and the cpbc Local Plan authors equally!
It is somewhat reassuring that the Health and Safety Executive appear to have lost faith in castle point council and with their policy approach towards increasing new residents risk to the exposure to the Hazardous Site.
The HSE have dictated to cpbc that they no longer can take advantage of the HSE’s online Planning Advice App, they have decreed that in future, NOT ONLY ALL future Thorney Bay planning applications which propose development in the “middle zone” must be referred directly to the HSE, but that the 30 dwellings proposed within the current application, is the TOTAL number they will permit!
It appears that Castle Point Council have, at least where the HSE is concerned, used the “Canvey is a Special Case” card once too often!
For those with a more sceptical attitude, we suggest the same may also have led to the problems at Buncefield which led to the events recorded in this resident’s video recording below.
Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but in the meantime Caution may be the better option and it will be interesting to learn how the cpbc Local Plan Inspector views this approach, should the Plan reach the Examination stage and of course to observe the cpbc development committee’s consideration of the proposal.
Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.