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?
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”
“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:
Photograph: Copyright Google Earth