Category Archives: Dutch Village – Vermuyden Gate

A Tactical Withdrawal, temporary Reprieve? What is going on at Castle Point Council and its Local Plan?

In a letter from Castle Point Council, dated 31st May 2017, we learn of the latest developments in the Persimmons proposal to develop the Dutch Village Green Belt;

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Proposal: Erect up to 275 new homes and retail/community facilities (use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C2 and/or D1) with new roundabout junction onto A130 Canvey Road, associated parking, open space, ecological enhancements, landscaping, drainage and flood mitigation measures (outline)
Location: Land To The East Of Canvey Road Canvey Island Essex

 

I refer to my consultation letter in respect of the above application and write to advise you that the application has been withdrawn and the Council will not therefore take any further action in the matter.

 

I thank you for your interest in the proposal and I will ensure that you are consulted again if a further application is submitted in the future.

 

Yours faithfully,

S Rogers

Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods

Canvey Island, Dutch Village, Green Belt development Refused, but don’t mention the “F” word

A Unanimous decision to Refuse the Dutch Village, Holland Avenue Green Belt planning proposal was decided upon by the Castle Point planning committee last evening.

Objections from both the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority, made the decision fairly obvious, although with CPBC you can never be certain.

At last the area was given the Green Belt recognition and respect that has been overdue. Previously the area had been the first in line for release for development. The Local Plan2016 shifts focus onto previously developed Green Belt, land that already contains a level of development, as that which is preferred for housing supply.

The fact that the Holland Avenue site is Green Belt within a Flood Zone should have offered more protection from development than most in the Borough, however logic doesn’t always prevail.

The reliance upon our “impregnable” sea defences, which by the way can do little to halt water seeping under them, and our “broken” drainage system, should result in a Sequential Approach to development. If similar development areas outside of the flood zone are available, then development in the flood zone would be Refused.

However using the overly simplistic logic, that Canvey is a “Special Case,” due to Canvey Island being a developed area it must follow that it must be continued to be developed!

The officers report offered no other reasoning nor explanation, than that!

A case was offered by us that the development in a flood zone, Sequential Test decision was challengeable, as was the Exception Test, which was actually mentioned as being failed in the officers report. We asked that both Tests should be recorded as Reasons for Refusal, most disappointingly councillors allowed this to slip the net!

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Members agreed that the access to the proposed site was inadequate, hardly surprising considering the condition and specification of the approach road, which we must add past planning administrations had allowed approval.

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Thankfully the “F” word wasn’t uttered by development committee members although in this instance we mean the “Flood RE” word.

Consideration should be given by as to whether the development committee can be assured that housing development in a Flood Zone will be able to obtain flood insurance over the life time of new dwellings.

The Flood RE scheme, which guarantees affordable insurance to such new dwellings, excludes all development built since 2008!

Therefore, as in the case of Canvey homes flooded in 2013 and 2014, insurance premiums and excesses are open to the market forces, meaning insurance premiums and excesses if offered, are extortionately high.

Whilst the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group made this point in representation, the issue received no consideration.

This is quite incredible as we hear that funding is neither identified nor allotted for improvements for the sea defence nor improvements for the drainage system.

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Non-discussion will not exempt Castle Point Council from blame. A head in the sand attitude towards this evidenced Risk is a gamble. A gamble with residents and future residents, financial assets and well being. A gamble with the socio-economic stability of Canvey Island.

We welcome and endorse the committee’s decision, but  will continue to press for a realistic approach to local planning matters.

A link to the committee meeting can be reached HERE.

Holland Avenue, Jotmans farm – residents and CPBC are being Manipulated!

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The Castle Point Local Plan2016 has, in response to perceived residents wishes, selected to release less electorally sensitive land for development of housing and industrial uses.

Rather than chance a policy of “No Green Belt” release for development, the Local Plan seeks to release areas that officers feel may lead an Inspector, on Examination, to find makes for an “unsound” Plan.

This comment has come to my attention today, care of Andrew Lainton’s Decisions decisions decisions blog:

“A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said the government had “no plans or policy” to relax “the strong protections that prevent inappropriate development” on greenbelt land. The Tories’ planning policy means it is up to councils and local people where to build new housing.

Err what about the planned intentions below, by the Chancellor announced in the Autumn statement and consulted on in Dec 2015 then to relax controls on previous developed land in Greenbelts removing the ‘predominantly open’ test.  Which would for example allow 100% of Garden Centres / Former research institutes, religious institutions, schools and hospitals, including there garden grounds, to be developed?

The DCLG must either correct its “misstatement” to the FT, or announce the weakening of Green Belt policy has been dropped.”

Given that the Local Plan2016 “supporters” wish the Green Belt land known as H18 the Blinking Owl site (land that has some current residential and industrial usages)  to be released as Deliverable and Developable, whilst protecting the Bowers Road area (land that has some residential usages), indicates that we may face some protracted legal examinations.

It may be suggested that CPBC having conceded that Green Belt is required to be released as housing supply, developers will protest that they are available and able to supply housing in their preferred sites.

There appears there will be a clear conflict between where the local policy makers wish development to take place, and when, and where developers are in place to develop alternate sites.

Whilst the Jotmans Farm Inquiry currently rests with the Secretary of State, decision originally due mid-March, it is now announced that CPBC believe the Holland Avenue GB proposal is ready for consideration. Developers appear to be attempting to lay down markers that their proposals should be weighed against local policies.

The clear indication is that this will introduce further extended Local Plan examination of not only must Green Belt be released, but also, where!

Brownfield land in the Green Belt 50.

We are firmly committed to making sure the best possible use is made of all brownfield land that is suitable for housing, to reduce the need as far as possible to release other land.  This could potentially include some brownfield land that sits within the Green Belt that already has buildings or structures and has previously been developed.  
51. We are committed to protecting the Green Belt, and are maintaining the strong safeguards on Green Belt set out in national planning policy.  These policies set a high bar against inappropriate development in Green Belt, while recognising that some parts of the Green Belt contain living and working communities that need to thrive. National planning policy sets out that most development in the Green Belt is inappropriate and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

52. Only 0.1% of land in the Green Belt is previously developed brownfield land suitable for housing, often with structures or buildings in place.  Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of such land – where this would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development – is already deemed not inappropriate.

53. Since introduction of the initial exception site policy for starter homes in March 2015, we have given further consideration to the potential release of brownfield land in the Green Belt as part of our overall approach to delivering 200,000 starter homes. The Autumn Statement 2015 set out that we will bring forward proposals to amend national planning policy to allow for the development of brownfield land in the Green Belt providing it contributes to starter homes.

We propose to change policy to support the regeneration of previously developed brownfield sites in the Green Belt by allowing them to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land, providing this contributes to the delivery of starter homes, and subject to local consultation. We propose to amend the current policy test in paragraph 89 of the National Planning Policy Framework that prevents development of brownfield land where there is any additional impact on the openness of the Green Belt to give more flexibility and enable suitable, sensitively designed redevelopment to come forward.

We would make it clear that development on such land may be considered not inappropriate development where any harm to openness is not substantial.

54. Based on data from the 2010 National Land Use Database, we estimate that across England there were 500 to 600 hectares of brownfield land in the Green Belt viable for starter homes development and not on open land15. There is no data to indicate how much of this land has subsequently been built on (including potentially commercial or industrial units), or how much further land of this type may have become available.

Nine Reasons to Object to the Holland Avenue Green Belt Development

Holland Avenue, Dutch Village Estate, Canvey Island proposed development.

To object to the Council over this proposal, click on this LINK then simply click on “Make a Comment” on the right hand side of the Page you are taken to.

Reasons for Refusal.

  1. Proposal is contrary to the Emerging Castle Point Borough Council Local Plan
  2. Proposal is contrary to the Existing Castle Point Borough Council Local Plan
  3. Proposal is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework regarding Green Belt
  4. Sustainable Urban Drainage proposed scheme, is inadequate
  5. Increase in off-site Flood Risk to Neighbouring Properties
  6. Tidal Flood Risk. Development will increase the numbers of population at Risk of Tidal Flooding
  7. Loss of Amenity of an Informal Activity Area for children
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8. Loss of an important developing Wildlife Habitat
9. Inadequate Access via unmade Roads that will place increased liabilities upon existing    Residents
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Yet more Green Belt Development planned for Canvey Island!

Castle Point Council have received yet another application for development on Canvey’s Green Belt at a parcel of land at the Dutch Village.

This proposal in the name of Golden Circle Ltd intends to use the Dutch Village estate as it access via Haarlem Road and Dyke Crescent. Despite this and the implications, there is no intention to consult with the residents living along the “route” affected”

This appears to mean that, apart from the site known as the Triangle and the Castle Point Golf Club, pretty much all of Canvey Island’s Green Belt is planned for development, as the nature reserve is protected!

Plans can be viewed and comments made by clicking on this LINK.

 

Canvey Island, more like Fantasy Island! Persimmon put temptation in Castle Point’s way.

Persimmon’s proposal to develop  the Dutch Village fields has recently received added inducements to tempt the Castle Point council Development Committee members to support the scheme.

The inducements come under the guise of additional evidence in support of the Very Special Circumstances required to allow development, and come in the form of;

Safe Vehicle Access to Cornelius Vermuyden School

Additional Leisure services at Waterside Leisure Centre

A Pelican Crossing across Canvey Way (?) to the RSPB reserve

Lack of 5 year housing supply

Surface Water Drainage and Evacuation Zone

Public Open Space and Ecological Mitigation Land

Scheduled Ancient Monument Enhancements

Persimmon’s document draws attention to the existing surface water drainage problems on site and the possibility of “a major flood!”

In the circumstances the identification of the Dutch Village as site high on the list of sites suitable for development, appears questionable.

The offer of vehicular access to the senior school appears to encourage laziness of pupils and obesity due to lack of basic walking to school exercise. The timing of the submission of this latest inducement document is somewhat questionable. The Report refers to a meeting having taken place between Persimmon’s agents and CPBC during October 2015. As we are aware debates on the CPBC Local Plan took place during December 2015 and January 27th 2016, this additional Report was added to the Planning Portal (made public) February 3rd.

It could be questioned by some that if this information had become available just a few days earlier, one of the main supporters of the now rejected draft New Local Plan may have been required to declare an Interest given how strict the Interests consideration had been applied for the meeting, being a Governor of the School likely to benefit from the proposed new road access.

Persimmon’s Report acknowledges that unmet Housing Need is unlikely to constitute a Very Special Circumstance to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt, as Castle Point residents have learned through recent Planning Inquiries.

Despite this the report’s author then goes onto examine the meaning of the word “unlikely” and how the word suggests that there will be some rare occasions when housing need will constitute a Very Special Circumstance.

It may be reasonable also to suggest that if Green Belt land in the same Borough outside of a Flood Zone did not constitute the necessary Very Special Circumstances (VSC) to allow development, then Green Belt land inside the Flood Zone should also not be considered to constitute the VSC’s necessary!

The little used RSPB Reserve, has a badly sited entrance, likely to become more dangerous with the approval of the Business Development sites off of Roscommon Way. I have pointed out the dangers to officers on more than one occasion. The offer of a Pelican Crossing is inadequate and will remain a danger to youngsters attempting to cross the dual carriageway Canvey Road. Will this encourage more to attend the RSPB reserve, is questionable.

Development Committee members will be aware of the financial difficulties developers have in even providing the agreed level of Affordable Housing, following their agreeing to cut the requirement at the apparently affluent Kiln Road development.

The list of inducements at the Dutch Village may equally be difficult for the developer to supply.

These now include amongst others;

A new Roundabout access on Canvey Road

Sustainable Urban Drainage System

Affordable Housing contribution

A Pelican Crossing to the RSPB Reserve

In an area with lower market House Price Values than elsewhere in the Borough.

Will Persimmon also be expected to contribute to the Sea Defence funding? Something that appears to have gone off of the S106 Agreement Radar of late!

 

Uncanny how simple and fair decision making appears beyond the efforts of CPBC!

Uncanny,* is the only way to describe the number of occasions that, just prior to important decision making on Local Plan issues, disasters occur, whether local or elsewhere,  as if to remind Castle Point councillors of their responsibilities towards residents.

These uncanny phenomena, gas, chemical explosions and flood events are usually at other persons expense or misery, however some are close to home.

This Christmas, peoples homes in the North of England were subject to “un-precedented” flooding, causing untold damage to property and possessions, whilst also endangering life.

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Next year at the end of January Castle Point councillors will meet to be encouraged to re-consider their apparent views on the daft New Local Plan. Following the December council meeting our local leaders were given homework, the undertaking of study of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA). The document that lists all land that owners have expressed an interest in developing.

Much of this land will be in a Flood Risk Zone 3 area at Canvey. Much of this local land will also be susceptible to the type of surface water flooding, seen currently in the North of England, due to the chronically broken drainage system on Canvey Island as well as some inappropriate areas on Castle Point mainland.

If the Alarm Bells haven’t started to ring by now for some of our councillors, it darn well should be after the many warnings accompanying their inappropriate and unsound decision making of the past.

The councillors are being led by the nose to visit the SHLAA document by Lead Group members, whilst in the process being denied access to The Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage study results and the Calor Gas site safety report. Our councillors appear content to make a Local Plan housing decision, with the potential to deliver a catastrophic impact upon existing and new residents, in the knowledge of their being denied access to these two most important Evidence Documents!

Almost from day one of their Plan making process, 2007c, the local authority’s intention is to release the Dutch Village as the sole sacrificial Green Belt site for Housing in the Borough!

Never mind that the areas serves to keep other development dry in times of wet weather and that to comply with drainage requirements, will require Land Raising, thereby further adding to local flooding issues. According to very many of our councillors, this appears to be by the by! The area’s release for development serves a political purpose!

Outrageously, the lead officer guiding councillors through the Local  Plan Task and Finish work went unchallenged when he stated surface water drainage was not a constraining issue on site selection of Housing land in the Borough! If not following Canvey’s flooding during 2013 and 2014, then it should be!

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

Canvey’s drainage system appears to require investment of £24,000,000, the figure arrived at following the “incomplete” Integrated Urban Drainage (IUD) study, uncannily exactly the same amount requested from the Government prior to the IUD study’s commencement.

This enormous sum, is not available.

Similar massive investment is required on Canvey’s sea defences.

These enormous monies are also yet to be secured.

The emerging Local Plan, as well as the Core Strategy and daft New Local Plan, highlighted these issues as Constraints on Housing Development. Then will apply the constraints across the whole Borough’s Housing Need numbers, rather than in the areas liable to flooding.

A rumour has emerged in west Canvey, from an apparently very well informed source, that an agreement has already been reached to develop Canvey’s Dutch Village. Personally I am slightly sceptical without seeing evidence, as any final decision would fall upon the responsibility of the CPBC Development Committee. Although somewhere along the line Persimmons have been encouraged to commit to a lot of research submission material on the scheme.

But, we have long since thought, how convenient it would be if an agreement could be reached by the local authority with the developer to commit to developing the Dutch Village whilst they show a keen interest in Jotmans Farm!

Despite the Dutch Village being an inappropriate site for development it fulfils the politically awkward function of protecting an alternative Green Belt site in another location!

As the New Year approaches let us hope for the Borough’s residents sake our local representatives realise what impact their decision making has had in the past. The over, and unsuitable development has added to the drainage, traffic congestion, hospital backlogs and multiple other issues for our Borough. Let us hope a New Year brings a fresh new look at our daft New Local Plan, that utilises the apparent constraining protection brought forward by the Government and more importantly views development on Flood Plains foolhardy.

A Happy New Year to you all!

*Uncanny, def; strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way !

Top photo credit; Reverend Andrew Brown