Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

Are you sitting Comfortably?

Then I’ll begin –

“The (Canvey Island) application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding. Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development.

However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.

Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.

Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt.”

So says the cpbc Planning Officer as the latest attempt to convince residents, councillors and, no doubt the Planning Inspectorate, that castle point council’s approach to the application of the Flood Risk Sequential Test is morally sound!

July 2014photo3

Going back just 10 years things were different and the Environment Agency held a more cautious and responsible stance:-

Extract from the Echo June 2008
“DEVELOPERS seeking to build new homes on Canvey are being forced to think again because of growing fears about flooding.
The Environment Agency is resolutely pursuing its policy of recommending refusal of plans to build new homes on the island because Canvey is below sea level and therefore on a flood plain.

Castle Point Council is taking those recommendations to heart and rejecting applications for new homes, leaving some developers in limbo.
The council has pledged to continue upholding the Environment Agency’s recommendations until the results of a Government-initiated inquiry into flood plains publishes its findings.

The Government appointed Sir Michael Pitt to carry out the study, following catastrophic floods in Hull after heavy rainfall in June and July last year. It is likely the final report expected, this summer, will recommend tighter restrictions.

Ray Howard, Castle Point and Essex county councillor, said local authorities were reluctant to ignore the Environment Agency’s advice, while they are waiting for the results of the Pitt Report.
Mr Howard has received many letters from people struggling to build on Canvey.
He said: “It’s a big problem that needs to be looked at. We can’t have a blanket ban for building here.
“I believe Canvey is unique, as it has the best flood walls and flood water drainage system in the country.

“The flood plain rules should be relaxed for us.”

Last week localised flooding on the island, caused by heavy rainfall, affected hundreds of residents on the island.

But Mr Howard is convinced it is well protected against severe flooding from the Thames Estuary.
A total of £34 million was spent rebuilding Canvey’s sea walls in the 1970s and 1980s.
A further £6 million was spent last year on 14 giant pumps, spread around the island to force water back into the sea if the walls are ever breached.
Mr Howard said: “The reason Canvey is always considered high-risk is because of the 1953 flood.
“But back then the only sea defences were soil walls, built by the original Dutch settlers.”
The 1953 Canvey flood claimed the lives of 58 people.

Despite Mr Howard’s insistence that Canvey is well protected, the Environment Agency refused to budge from its policy of objecting to all new homes on flood plains.
Spokeswoman Rita Penman insisted the Environment Agency could not relax its planning guidelines for Canvey,

She said: “Although Canvey is well defended, the current understanding across the country is that if there are other areas not on the flood plains, they should be developed first.

“This is in the interests of everyone’s safety. We are therefore unable to recommend approval for any new developments on Canvey at the present time.”

Even if the Government report clears the way for new homes on flood plains, insurers are warning hundreds of thousands of homes built in high-risk areas may not qualify for insurance.

Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurers’ director of general insurance and health, said: “Poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable”

Disappointing then, that following the Summer Flooding of 2014 the cpbc chief executive officer should point out that the Canvey Island drainage system – was never intended to be able to cope with Tidal Flooding of the Island!

But of course the findings of the cpbc Scrutiny Committee’s meetings to discuss the flooding and its consequences, during which the ceo made the admittance, has never been published, despite the flood occuring 4 years past!

To enforce the Association of British Insurers position, above, the Flood Re scheme to guarantee affordable house insurance against flooding does not cover houses built since January 2009.

Has Caveat emptor, been anymore appropriate?


The short EA video below may give you some insight as to the sensibility of those that propose and support the over development of Canvey Island and whether the drainage system could ever be made capable of alleviating Flood Risk!

The EA expert’s explanation of how the drainage System is designed to work, appears to be far different to the practical experiences during 2013 and 2014 and the isolated Flooding incidents during other periods!


3 responses to “Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

  1. Steve Sawkins

    I am sure that a Planning Inspector would question the logic within this evidence document provided by CPBC
    “New Local Plan Sequential and Exception Tests for Housing Site Options”
    ‘November 2013
    The following conclusions have emerged from this sequential and exception test and assessment of flood risk from other sources:
    1) Based on the agreed housing target of 200 homes per annum, there are sufficient deliverable housing sites within flood risk zone 1 in Castle Point that no additional sites should be allocated in flood risk zone 3a during the first five years of the plan. However, if objectively assessed need is assumed to be higher (346 per annum based on SNPP 2010), additional sites in flood risk zone 3a would be required.
    2) During the remainder of the plan period there are sufficient developable sites within flood risk zone 1 to meet the agreed housing target without utilising sites in flood risk zones 2 and 3. However, if objectively assessed need is assumed to be higher (346 per annum based on SNPP 2010) then additional sites in flood risk zone 3a would be required.
    3) The capacity of flood risk zone 1 is however close to the agreed housing target. Therefore, if one or more sites in flood risk zone 1 cannot be included within the New Local Plan for justifiable reasons, or if sites do not come forward in flood risk zone 1 due to the changing aspiration of landowners, then sites within flood risk zone 3a would be required to meet the agreed target of 200 homes per annum.
    4) The exception test has been carried out for all sites in flood risk zone 3a to show their relative merits. The Exception Test indicated that land adjacent to the Prittle Brook and within and immediately adjacent to the existing urban area on Canvey Island would pass the exceptions test. These sites would bring about wider sustainability benefits to the community, and would be able to remain safe over their lifetime through the design of development to be flood resistant and resilient, and also through the implementation of the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan.
    5) Land to the west of Canvey Road was not considered to pass the Exception Test because the negative impacts of development (including flood risk) did not outweigh the positive benefits to the community.
    6) In terms of surface water, risks can largely be avoided through the installation of sustainable urban drainage techniques which prevent an increase in flood risk both within the site and to properties nearby. There are however two sites in flood risk zone 1, where efforts will need to be made to avoid flood risk through the location of development within the site.
    7) In terms of groundwater, there are only five sites which are susceptible to groundwater flooding. It is possible to avoid risk on two of these sites through the location of development within the site. The remaining three sites, located within flood risk zone 1, are susceptible to groundwater flooding across the entire site and would require mitigation and flood resistant and resilient design to go ahead. They are not therefore preferable compared to other sites in flood risk zone 1.

    CPBC has and will continue to give greater weight to its Green Belt constraint that its flood risk constraint despite, footnote 9 NPPF indicating otherwise.
    The reliance upon the aspirational TE2100 sea defence programme continues to be misplaced. The Critical Drainage issue ignored.
    Having already misled one Secretary of State that this authority can successfully get a 3rd local plan through its examination within a timely manner I very much doubt that the newly appointed minister in post will be as gullible.

  2. Business as usual then, watch them all head for the hills should there ever be a catastrophic event, never will so many fingers have been pointed in every direction but their own

  3. Steve Sawkins

    I agree with you Neil
    Emergency planning for Canvey Island resulting in a “Stay Put” policy because escape is not an option seems questionable when considering recent tragic events. Putting more people at risk through inappropriate development could have consequences.
    Corporate Manslaughter is a possiblity via the Civil Contingencies Act

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