‘Allo, ‘Allo, ‘Allo, what’s Going on Here Then? Castle Point Brownfield Register applying pressure on Green Belt Development? Every Little Counts!

Why, if there is such a Desire to Protect Green Field Land in our Borough, is Castle Point Council’s Brownfield Land Register nothing short of Paltry?

2017-12-16

Despite, yet another, “cross-party Member Working Group” having been established by cpbc cabinet to prepare and consult on the Brownfield Register prior to its publication the outcome of the working work, is a List of just 20 sites capable of yielding upwards of 254 new Dwellings across the whole Borough!

This Register doesn’t even indicate 1 Year’s worth of sites towards the Borough’s Housing Need!

AND yet, we learn via news in the Echo, that cpbc were in receipt of a Planning Proposal for the Benfleet High Road, Police Station site two weeks prior to the Council meeting in which the Brownfield Register was considered and approved by members!

The police station site was not recorded in the Brownfield Register, nor was the proposed housing numbers added to the total!

The cpbc meeting’s Agenda paperwork also indicated;

“This report provides the Council with a summary of the work undertaken following that resolution and recommends that Part 1 of the Castle Point Brownfield Land Register be published.

It also explains why there no sites to be carried forward into Part 2 of the Register which would then have benefited from “Permission in Principle”.

With typical cpbc Lack of Transparency little explanation as to why none of the, Castle Point Brownfield sites with potential for development, were entered into Part 2 of the Brownfield Register, those the “working group” considered able to grant Permission in Principle.

Whilst those sites listed in Part 1 of the Brownfield Register mainly have yet to receive development applications, the reasons given as to why no sites were even considered for Part 2 and given permission in Principle for development appeared to be down to;

(cpbc) “must also carry out consultation, notification and publicity in accordance with regulations”

And that,

“Furthermore, Canvey Island is within Flood Risk Zone 3a, and as such planning applications for residential development normally require a Flood Risk Assessment. Advice is awaited from the Environment Agency as to if and how the Council could go about addressing this requirement before proceeding to consider any sites on Canvey Island for inclusion on the Part 2 of the Register”

The reliance and the preference for Canvey Island as the part of the Borough preferred for Land released for Development, appears clear!

However past record suggests that cpbc will not allow Flood Risk of any type to be a Constraint to development where Canvey Island is concerned.

Unusual then that work on Part 2 of the Brownfield Register was not undertaken.

The question as to why the Police Station site in High Road Benfleet had not been entered onto the Brownfield Register, part 1 or part 2, especially as the police have indicated they will no longer have use for it with their drive for cut-backs, may seem especially puzzling.

An explanation may lie in the Agenda paperwork which announced;

“A Government grant of £14,600 was received late in the last financial year (2016/17) for Brownfield Register and “Permission in Principle” work.

This grant has not yet been allocated and could therefore be applied to fund the consultation costs”

Every little £ Helps indeed, especially when it appears not to be ring fenced monies.

The cpbc Brownfield Register indicates possible development sites capable of developing between 1 and 54 dwellings, in direct contrast to a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) which indicates that local authorities “Brownfield Land Registers are failing to record smaller sites that could collectively accommodate nearly 200,000 new homes across England.”

It appears that cpbc have, with the minimal amount of work and effort, undertaken a process to fulfil a commitment as required by Government, rather than an exhaustive effort to indicate preferred sites for development.

On the face of it the Register due to inconsistency and scope provides ammunition suitable to be used to suggest that Castle Point Green field and Green Belt land is required to fulfill housing needs.

Yet another cpbc Local Plan Assessment lacking effort and commitment?

The full CPRE report can be read by following the Link below:

CPRE LINK HERE.

Photograph: Copyright Google Earth

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4 responses to “‘Allo, ‘Allo, ‘Allo, what’s Going on Here Then? Castle Point Brownfield Register applying pressure on Green Belt Development? Every Little Counts!

  1. Editor
    It is difficult to understand why the Brownfield Site Working Party, some of whom are also on the Development Control Committee, were unaware that the Environment Agency would have concerns with regards to flood risk development implications on Canvey Island.
    Planning officers expect committee members to read all, in particular a Statutory Consultees response, documents placed on the Councils Planning Portal, so as to be able to question arguments for or against the granting of planning applications. Clearly in some cases this has not happened or even worse that the warning with regards to flood risk is being ignored.

    What is it that the CPBC Planning Regime don’t understand about flood risk being a viable constraint? Incidentally it will not go unnoticed that not all of those brown-field sites identified as being developable, are subjected to the risk of flooding.

    Having actively sought to develop the bulk of the Boroughs local planning needs disregarding its flood risk constraints, will consequently have ramifications when the Authority protests that its housing needs cannot be realised because of green belt constraints. Footnote 9 of the NPPF does not grade flood risk lower than green belt as reasons for constraint.

    The listing of minimum numbers of dwellings per brown- land sites is designed to mislead at best, when it is most likely that the larger Admiral Jellico site on Canvey will be planned for the maximum of between 45 and 50 flats.

    CONSULTATION
    Where will this money go?

    “A Government grant of £14,600 was received late in the last financial year (2016/17) for Brownfield Register and “Permission in Principle” work.
    This grant has not yet been allocated and could therefore be applied to fund the consultation costs”

    It would seem that should this money be directed towards the consultation process required to re-evaluate the Canvey Island Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. it would be money well spent. Given that the Island has a residual risk of its sea defence failure, has experienced two significant surface water flooding events, has been declared a critical drainage area and has experienced a huge land raising activity in what was previously a surface water collection area for onward disposal of flood water over the sea wall.
    All of this since the SFRA document completion in October 2010 making it essential that this evidence based piece of work be urgently updated.
    It will then and only then be possible to adequately review the CPBC section of the South Essex Surface Water Management Plan FINAL document April 2012 to allow for some element of functional credibility to be applied to Canvey Island flood risk response issues.

  2. As I have mentioned on several occasions, I have no confidence in CPBC’s ability to restrain development on Green Belt land on Canvey Island.

  3. The Brownfield Register is not the be all and end all , it does not stop any site in the SHLAA or site not in the SHLAA buu a Brownfield sure from coming forward. It is a method of promoting the most likely sites to come forward, but any sites including Brownfield register sites would still have to under go the planning process.

    • Thanks Simon for your input, appreciated as always. Surprising therefore in that light, that Benfleet police station was not recognised as being likely to come forward, and thereby included in the Register part 1 and using the funds provided undergoing consideration for part 2, especially as it appears the development proposal was likely received at the time by cpbc.
      The housing numbers in the list would have received the appropriate lift accordingly.
      Editor

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