Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

The latest public “announcement” on the Castle Point council Local Plan will be made during the cpbc cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19th September.

Residents will learn exactly what cpbc spokespeople actually meant when they stated they must keep the Local Plan within the council’s grasp, rather than face Government Intervention and all that that entailed!

In a report compiled by the ceo D Marchant, that may more aptly be delivered by wearing the cloak of the Grim Reaper, members will hear in clear terms the penalties that will befall residents of Castle Point, if they were not to fall in line and endorse whatever local plan messrs Smith, Marchant and Rogers enforce into publication.

Obviously there will be the intention to release more Green Belt land than was previously agreed, otherwise there would have been little need to delay progress of the 2016 local plan.

Instead Bureaucratic measures by this miserable triumvirate have taken over what should have been a democratic and public exercise!

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.

We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

We are aware that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process.”

There then follows a further threat to Cabinet members, and other council members in attendance;

“In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.

Consequently as the Borough Council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications from the MHCLG are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted pursuant to the plan will be referred to the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than the Borough Council,”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG* the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale.”

*Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

BUT what if, this likely release of Green Belt and denser Urbanisation of previously developed land, fails to see Developers and Builders deliver the required Housing Needs of London and Castle Point?

It would be naíve to think that developers would build at a rate that would jeopardise the Market Price of Housing. What if the Governor of the Bank of England’s worse projection, a 30% fall in house prices following a bad Brexit, comes to fruition?

Will more land be required to be released because other developers have put forward alternative proposals to those in the Local Plan, which they suggest they are more able to deliver?

Government and local authorities cannot manipulate the market. previous delivery rates ARE relevant, especially when you remember that only Glebelands and part of Jotmans Farm have seen applications lodged and rejected in Castle Point for, a Total of 405 dwellings since 2010!

A cpbc Local Plan that proposes to Release anymore than the 100 Dwellings per Annum agreed by the local council in the 2016 local plan, will not only see protests by residents but will also likely lead to Polling day reaction.

We were promised Localism as the way forward in Plan making.

Instead we will likely see a Bureaucratic plan delivered by the leader of cpbc intended to satisfy the national government.

A Local Plan padded out with aspirational and undeliverable infrastructure and Sea Defence improvements AND a Plan that is Sequentially corrupt!

A new Report by  Lichfields warns of difficulties for local authorities in satisfying the Housing Delivery Test.

Lichfields write;

The housing delivery test (HDT) will become increasingly difficult to satisfy

“The HDT is a monitoring tool the Government will use to demonstrate whether local areas are building enough homes to meet their housing need. Based on the outcome of this monitoring, councils may be required to undertake further action in the near future.”

“In November 2018, the test will compare housing delivery (net additional dwellings plus communal housing) to housing need (the lower of the three years in an up-to-date local plan or household projections plus unmet neighbours’ need).”

The full Lichfield report may be read via this LINK.


2 responses to “Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

  1. Editor

    It was made abundantly clear at the Special Meeting of the Council held on the 6th June 2018, via the report prepared by Mr David Marchant-Chief Executive and Mr Steve Rogers- Local Plan & Regeneration Advisor, exactly what course of action that the Council needed to undertake, in order to retain its plan making process.
    The document, comprehensively compiled, contained a number of recommendation requiring commitment beyond that of a new local plan. Clearly councillors would have to have had previously discussed its message, which was evidenced by the voting pattern.

    Extract from AGENDA ITEM No3:-

    “The New Local Plan 2018 will need to provide policies and proposals to deal with high housing pressure. In 2017, the Government consulted on a standardised methodology for calculating housing needs, and this identified a need for 342 dwellings per annum in Castle Point. It is likely that the standardised methodology will become part of national planning policy/guidance through the new NPPF in summer 2018. Therefore the objectively assessed housing need (OAN) for Castle Point will be 342 dwellings per annum and previous evidence suggests that only approximately 100 dwellings per annum can be identified on brownfield sites. Whilst the plan must recognise nationally important physical and policy constraints, it is clear both from the evidence and from advice from the Chief Planner and consultants acting for the Secretary of State that some land in the Green Belt will need to be considered for housing”

    Most councillors voted to support all the recommendations put before them. In doing so, they agreed to a number of commitments including undertaking the 2018 plan making process. Others abstained and in doing so failed to prevent the outcome of any of the recommendations.

    We are informed that:-

    “The Leader of the Council together with the Chief Executive have been directly engaged in discussions with the Chief Planner on a number of occasions. Each time they have sought to assert the Council’s position that a new local plan can be prepared by the Council to an accelerated timetable without the need for direct intervention”

    It would seem that the council, now driven by a minority of Members and Officers, has for the time being succeeded in preventing the Government’s Intervention. Consequently and despite a consultation process, there are decisions that have already been made, such as the identification of the selected development sites. What will be of interest to local residents is the time scale within the plan allocated to each sites proposed for development.

    Otherwise complicit in the process, councillors perhaps knowing what’s going on behind closed doors still have the opportunity to change direction and elect for the more transparent, uncomplicated, unbiased process of intervention. Thus allowing for the formulation of a plan, which would then be acceptable to all as being fairly constructed.

  2. Editor
    We are informed that one of the many of CPBC aspirations, as detailed within the Draft Corporate Plan Vision is to:-

    “Re-develop the approach to Community Engagement with a review and implementation of a new approach to Neighbourhood Meetings and partnership with the Town Council and partner organisations including the County Council and Highways Authority, Health Services, and the Police.
    Rationale: There is a perception that residents are not sufficiently involved in decision making and that the borough and county council do not provide value for money and that resident views are not listened to. There is a need to address this situation with a refresh of the approach to community engagement”

    Is this before or after the completion of the planned development of the Borough beyond all recognition?

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