Category Archives: Flooding

Canvey Island Flood Risk Zone a Valuable Commodity both Financially and Politically! Caveat emptor an appropriate Back Stop?

SO, those accountable for the Castle Point’s regeneration, sustainability and growth agenda are seeking congratulations for the huge swathes of development of Canvey Island! The completion of this long term project seemingly being very advantageous to some current councillors and predecessors.

Convinced of the apparent sustainability of Canvey Island, investors of commercial and residential developments are completely reliant upon Environment Agency recommendations. Clearly the EA recognise that the Island’s sea defences are in need of further improvements, if only to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate.

Claims that there is no need for concern, or that Canvey already has substantial sea defences, will not be helpful in formulating a business case for the funding of the inevitable improvement requirements.

CPBC’s failed bid for central government funding for the £24,500,000 needed to address the deficiency in the current drainage network, and fund capital projects to dramatically improve the drainage infrastructure across Canvey Island, is a clear indication that flood risk is NOT a priority issue.

CPBC have, on more than one occasion, been reminded by the Environment Agency that it is incorrect to assume that the maintenance of the flood defences is programmed as part the Thames Estuary (TE) 2100 Plan. To proclaim that the sustainability of Canvey Island is secured, for the foreseeable future, when that is simply not the case, may be questioned at a later date.

The TE2100 Plan provides for a flood management strategy for the whole of the Thames Estuary, and includes recommendations regarding necessary maintenance and improvements programmes to the engineered defences along the Thames Estuary. The final decision on these programmes will be made by Defra and future funding streams, however, at this time no funding is guaranteed!

In the knowledge of the consequences of a significant risk of flooding from a variety of events, to then subsequently continue increasing the population of Canvey Island, needs some explanation. To actively seek to increase those numbers of residents, including those that are “more vulnerable”, without having a viable emergency evacuation plan, may well be catastrophic!

For CPBC Local Plan to repudiate up-to-date flooding predictions, and to then persist with the continued development of historically designated land and brown field sites, within an already significantly urbanised and populated flood plain, possesses no logistical justification.

It has previously been stated by CPBC and supported by the EA that the delivery of new development must not be considered in isolation from the drainage issues in the Borough and that existing conditions should be improved and not exacerbated. Canvey Island is at the highest Risk of Surface Water flooding, with a high probability of Surface Water flooding across the Borough as a whole.

Inappropriate development, effectively removing space that served as water dispersal areas, will have consequences.  Site selection criteria, as well as a Flood Risk Assessment, should be used to identify whether broad potential future locations for development represent the most appropriate choices in terms of flood risk.

CPBC have argued that without a Local Plan, the level of detail used to inform decisions of a strategic nature may not be as robust, especially regarding cumulative impacts. In addition, policy content can be used to set conditions on developments or determine their refusal in areas of flood risk.

I would argue that the Plan has always been to develop the zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island regardless of any serious consequences.

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Further Signs of Erosion of Canvey Island Sea Defence. Environment Agency with Repair, Access issue.

Canvey Island Sea Defence continues to cause the Environment Agency a problem.

Sea Defence location Labworth

Pictured above is the latest signs of wear, requiring inspection and repair by the EA. This time in the Labworth seafront area.

On enquiring the EA attendee confirmed, that there is a problem.  

It was also mentioned that the ground, land side of the sea wall, was too soft for a crane needed to dig out the seaward side of the wall, so as to make repairs, due to the water getting under the wall.

No acknowledgement is indicated by Castle Point Borough Council, the CPBC Development Committee and Planning officers, Essex County Council nor the Lead Local Flood Authority, to the levels that tidal water seeping under the Sea Defence, influences the height of Ground Water Levels on Canvey Island!

Residents of Canvey Island left to Face the Risks, whilst Castle Point Council, Fail to Develop an Adequate, operable Emergency Plan!

38,459+ Residents living on Canvey Island, seemingly oblivious to the everyday Risks and potential Harm facing them!

Whether the Risk is Tidal from the Estuary, Surface Water flooding or from the Hazardous Industries on the Island, a suitable Emergency Plan involving the Residents is essential.

The old Adage “we are safe from the Sea” is bunkum, as Castle Point Borough Council’s own evidence Highlights!   

 “Given the risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing. These include:

• The need for an emergency plan to be in place;

• The need for sea defences to be maintained and improved;

• The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower;

• The need for existing homes to be made more flood resilient, and include areas where people can remain safe in the event of a flood;

• The need for new development to incorporate design elements that make them safe in the event of a flood for occupiers;

• The need for building techniques to be used that enable easy restoration in the event of a flood.” (1)

Further CPBC Local Plan Evidence Documentation enforces the issues;

10.4 Tidal and fluvial flooding poses the most significant flood risk to the Castle Point Borough, in particular Canvey Island and Hadleigh Marshes. The topography and location of watercourses on Canvey Island means that the whole island is at risk from tidal and fluvial flooding. Although much of the Island is protected by the presence of defences, the island is still at residual risk of flooding if the defences were to fail or to be overtopped.

10.5 In the event that a breach in the existing flood defences was to occur, or a failure of one of the existing flood barriers (residual risk), significant depths of floodwater would be experienced on Canvey Island and the southern portion of the mainland.  Given the low lying nature of these parts of the Borough, floodwaters would propagate rapidly across Canvey Island thereby reducing the time for warning and evacuation of residents. (2)

During the Local Plan Intervention fiasco, CPBC informed the Secretary of State of particular physical circumstances of the Borough, considered to be legitimate constraints as to why the Authority could not provide for its Housing Development Needs.

“Of the urban areas of the Borough, Canvey Island, with approximately half of the Borough’s population, is defined by the Environment Agency as Flood Risk Zone 3a, being at or below sea level.

Further land is likely to be required on Canvey Island by the Environment Agency for improvement to existing sea defences in the lifetime of a Local Plan, further restricting opportunity for development

The Health & Safety Executive require significant exclusion areas to be maintained by the Local Planning authority around two top-tier COMAH sites on Canvey Island’s Thames Estuary frontage”, (3)

Direct Recommendations detailed within the CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment state:

“The majority of the sites will rely on the provision of adequate emergency planning measures to mitigate the residual risk of tidal flooding in the event of a breach in the tidal flood defences.

It is therefore strongly recommended that the suitability of locating more residential accommodation on Canvey Island and the capacity of the existing egress routes off the island is further discussed with the Emergency Planning Team at Castle Point Borough Council and/or Essex County Council prior to site allocation” (4)

Remarkably, CPBCs Development Control Committee has taken responsibility, (having only aspirational resolutions for the various preventative requirements), for successfully seeing-through Housing developments at Canvey Island since January 2012.

In doing so exposing an increased number of residential and commercial population to Residual and/or Actual Societal Risks.

Emergency Plans supporting increased development on Canvey Island are seemingly only “Generic”, where by dealing with a wide range of possible scenarios such as for example Influenza Pandemics, with no “Specific Plans” that relate to a particular emergency.

Specific Plans are a detailed set of arrangements designed to go beyond the generic arrangements, when the latter are likely to prove insufficient in particular cases such as breaching of flood defences or total LPG tank failure. (5)

It would appear that CPBC have not considered the value of Specific Planning in relation to Canvey Island, if they have, they have not included the involvement of the community in the production of specific planning for viable emergency incidents.

Editor, I will leave the reader with an opportunity to provide a Rationale as to how our local authority, Castle Point Borough Council has managed “Residual Risks” via its Local Planning strategy.

Document References

  1. The CPBC Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report, New Local Plan January 2012
  2. Castle Point Borough Council New Local Plan 2018 Technical Evidence: Summary Document June 2018
  3. CPBC Response letter to Sajid Javid 31st Jan 2018, regarding why Government Intervention in the Local Plan process was unnecessary.
  4. Revised Castle Point 2018 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment
  5. Chapter 5 Cabinet Office Revised Emergency Preparedness. Definitions of “Generic” and “Specific” Emergency Planning.

Castle Point Borough Council, the Authority that uses Canvey Island Flood Risk as a Constraint to Limit Housing Growth, across the Whole Borough!

Canvey Island residents lay claim that they are treated unfairly by Castle Point Council. In turn CPBC claim they are being treated unfairly by the Government, by being threatened with Intervention due to their Tardiness with producing a Local Plan!

Apparent outrage from the CPBC leader and chief executive, at those Councillors brave enough to Reject the draft Local Plan, did not disguise the fact that the emerging Plan deserved closer Scrutiny and Challenge from Councillors, than those Reasons given for their votes of Rejection during the December Council Meeting.

Whether the Failure of the Local Plan 2018 is due to CPBC Incompetence, or whether some perceived levels of Immorality, or political corruption, is involved in the selection of the Canvey Island Green Belt sites for Housing Development, especially in the approach to the application of the Sustainability Tests involved, we leave the Reader to decide.

As you are probably aware, the whole of Canvey Island is regarded as being in Flood Zone 3a. Housing in this Zone is considered as being Vulnerable development.

The whole of Canvey Island is also considered to be a Critical Drainage Area.

For ease and to avoid confusion wording highlighted in Blue are those of CPBC whilst wording in Red is official Government Guidance.

The Castle Point Local Plan 2018 version at Paragraph 17.4 states “planning policies should take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, taking into account the long-term implications for flood risk, coastal change, water supply, biodiversity and landscapes and policies should support appropriate measures to ensure the future resilience of communities and infrastructure to climate change impacts”

Typically though, of CPBC, and despite their Officers and some members,  insisting that the NPPF should be “Read as a Whole”, the Local Plan 2018 version Craftily fails to include the final, and most Important part of the NPPF text of the above Paragraph 17.4.

That is; “ , such as providing space for physical protection measures, or making provision for the possible future relocation of vulnerable development and infrastructure.

CPBC Sequential Test Page 2

This Local Plan Evidence document almost immediately sets out to justify, carte blanche, large scale Housing development on Canvey Island.

Bear in mind that Housing and Residential care Homes are considered to be a “More Vulnerable” uses of Land in Canvey Island a Flood Zone 3a area.

“The NPPF recognises that following the application of the sequential test, it is not always possible, consistent with wider objectives, for certain development proposals/requirements to be located in lower ‘flood risk zones’. It therefore also sets out a test that needs to be passed if certain types of development are to be exceptionally allocated in a local plan”

Exception Test

All of the Canvey Island Housing Sites are considered by CPBC to Pass the Exception Test, “This site has significant positive impacts related to the sustainability objective concerning the provision of housing, including affordable housing.”

Affordable Housing being considered practically Unviable on all Housing Development Sites, even those not requiring the Surface Water Management measures, and Sustainable Urban Drainage schemes, and Raised Floor Levels that are now required on Canvey Island.

Additionally the CPBC Sequential Test found that, NONE of the 9 Housing Development Sites allocated for Canvey Island is considered to be “Within a Potential Surface Water Flooding Hotspot”, whilst 4 of the Mainland Housing Sites were within a potential flooding Hotspot !

Clearly the evidence found in the Reports, on the Canvey Island Summer Flooding 2014 and 2013, has been discounted, ignored and will be hidden from the Government Chief Planner and Planning Inspector examining the Next CPBC Local Plan!

Groundwater Flooding

“All the deliverable and developable sites assessed in terms of their risk of groundwater flooding were found to be appropriate for development, at least in this respect.”

We would ask CPBC “what Tests and Reports  were their Assessments based on?”

Once again only certain Mainland Sites were considered to be “Within an Area Susceptible to Groundwater Flooding”, NONE of the Canvey Island Sites allocated for Housing Development were considered to be affected!

This goes Against common local knowledge AND written evidenced Reports to be found on CPBC’s own website!

Recommendations

“Subject to other considerations, it is recommended that when selecting sites for development in the New Local Plan, preference is given to those sites within the highest preference ranking groups over those in lower groups. This will reduce the exposure of new development to flood risk.

It is recommended that housing sites on Canvey are only allocated as a means of providing flexibility to the housing land supply. If sites on Canvey are included within the New Local Plan, a sequential phasing requirement should be applied within their allocation policy to ensure other sequentially preferable allocated sites are brought forward first. Additionally, requirements in the allocations policies should include the provision of flood resistant and resilient design.”

Quite clearly the Housing Development Site Allocation process, of Castle Point Borough Council, applies considerably more Weight on Green Belt protection over that of Flood Risk. The local authority Actively Chooses to adopt this approach despite some sites on Canvey Island being both Green Belt, within a 3a Flood Risk Zone and a Critical Drainage Area!

Government Guidance in the NPPF continues to point out;

“11. Plans and decisions should apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

 For plan-making this means that:

b) strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas, unless:

i. the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area, see Footnote 6

Footnote 6 The policies referred to are those in this Framework (rather than those in development plans) relating to: habitats sites (and those sites listed in paragraph 176) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a National Park (or within the Broads Authority) or defined as Heritage Coast; irreplaceable habitats; designated heritage assets (and other heritage assets of archaeological interest referred to in footnote 63); and areas at risk of flooding or coastal change.”

“Incompetence”, perceived “Political Immorality”, or a “Corruption of Facts”, you decide, if not the Examining Planning Inspector most certainly will!

Canvey_060309_1

Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

 

2014 Canvey Flooding – 3 Years On, and still only a Glossy Brochure offered to prevent a repeat, but offering this as Evidence in support of Housing Development in CPBC Local Plan, REALLY?

3 Full Years on, and little improvement to the Drainage System on Canvey Island, means it worthwhile updating and re-posting this blog.

Ironically it is included as part of the Castle Point 2018 Local Plan Evidence base! A document full of promises and an insight that proves Canvey Island was always intended as THE Housing Growth Area in the Borough, no matter what other mainland sites were introduced.

How CPBC can consider that a Glossy desk top published “brochure,” full of empty promises, you will recognise them in the text below, to fund a complete overhaul of the Canvey Island drainage system, is fit to be considered as Evidence Base to support such a Bad Local Plan as the latest 2018 version, is anybody’s guess!

We will leave you to make of it what you will.

And we all thought that the bid to Government for the necessary drainage improvements was for the good of the existing residents and properties of Canvey Island that were affected so badly during the 2014 flooding!

“With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.

It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.”

As we have always maintained; no improvement of infrastructure without even more development on the most densely urbanised part of our Borough.
It strikes us that the development is / was intended whether drainage, flood defence or road network improvements were to be forthcoming anyway!

Of course the distribution and allocation of any money allocated from Government may well find itself replacing / overlapping money already contributed by residents within the Council Tax allocation as Essex Highways state;
“Defects on the (Canvey) highway drainage system will continue to be addressed as resources permit.”

Screenshot (23)Canvey Island Integrated Drainage Model brochure!

The fancy multi agency Brochure, minus the graphics reads:

“Through this bid we ask central government for £24.5m, which will be used to address the deficiency in the current drainage network, and fund capital projects to dramatically improve the drainage infrastructure across Canvey Island. This investment will feed into an already comprehensive programme of works which will be delivered over the next ten years. Some projects which will be covered by this funding include:
• Property level protection from surface water flooding for 40,000 people and 15,000 homes.
• Improving the drainage infrastructure at recognised pinch points, identified by the Integrated Urban Drainage Study (IUD), to take excess rainwater from the centre of the island to the pumps located around the island.
• Increasing the storm water storage area on the island, providing areas where excess rainwater can be stored.
• Increasing the storage capacity of Canvey Lake, and re-profile the surrounding area to provide additional storm water storage capacity.
• Utilising new technology innovations to enable a much more reactive approach to deal with heavy rainfall, such as advanced weather warning systems (Rain Gain) and automatic weed-screens.
• Increasing community resilience through enhanced education, awareness and local volunteer programmes.

The approach we have taken to partnership working on the island is unique, and we believe this model allows more efficient and collaborative approaches to address the problems facing local residents. We commit to continuing this vital work and with additional government funding we can do so much more to help protect our community, protect our economy and protect our Canvey Island.

The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

The plan recommends that the defences are further improved to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate. Over the period of the plan, the Environment Agency calculates that the potential economic benefits of implementing their preferred option of flood prevention across the Thames Estuary is in the region of £200 billion when compared to doing nothing.

The majority of benefits of flood risk management in the Thames Estuary are economic; namely the avoidance of damage to property, infrastructure, transport and business investment.

Within the Government’s Autumn statement last year, it was announced that the government ”has published its six-year programme of investment in flood defences, allocating the £2.3 billion capital funding provided at Spending Round 2013. It has also allocated an additional £60 million to the Thames Estuary Asset Management scheme beyond 2021, subject to business case and local partnership contributions.”

Our ask
Securing the future of the Thames Estuary
To find out more about our plans to better protect Canvey Island, or to contact us, please visit http://www.canveyflood.co.uk.

Canvey Island is the largest town in the Borough of Castle Point, comprising around 40% of the borough area, with a population of 40,000 people. Canvey is home to both the largest town centre and area of employment (Charfleets Industrial Estate) in Castle Point Borough, and is a key contributor to the local economy.

Canvey is separated from the mainland of south Essex by a network of creeks, and the reclaimed island sits around 1m below sea level at high tide, making it incredibly vulnerable to flooding from both sea and surface water.

The island has a rich history of agriculture and shipping, and was one of the country’s fastest growing seaside resorts for over forty years until the North Sea flood of 1953 devastated the island, killing 58 islanders and leading to the temporary evacuation of the 13,000 residents.

Modern sea defences now protect Canvey, with a 3.2km high concrete sea wall spanning the island’s coastline, and a series of high powered pumps built into the local drainage system.

However, on 20th July 2014, one of the most extreme rainfall events ever seen in Essex hit the island and overwhelmed the drainage network, causing widespread flooding to over 1,000 homes and businesses, and severe disruption to the local infrastructure.

These floods served as a harsh reminder of the island’s vulnerability to flooding and highlighted the ever-increasing need for further measures to protect the island’s environment, community and economy.

Since the July 2014 floods, Anglian Water, Castle Point Borough Council, Essex County Council and the Environment Agency, have formed a multi-agency partnership and have been working collaboratively on a strategy to better protect Canvey against future flood events; providing long term security for residents and businesses across the island.

To date, the group has seen great success and over £1.7m has been spent delivering a comprehensive maintenance, repair and cleaning scheme across the island’s drainage network. Along side this, a website and two community newsletters have been created to raise awareness of the ongoing work. We have now developed a long-term strategy which, with support from the government, Canvey Island is home to a tight knit community with a diverse demographic make-up.

A range of organisations have helped to deliver community infrastructure improvements over recent years; helping to increase the service offering of the island, and address some of the societal challenges faced by some pockets of the community. will deliver increased protection and security for the people of Canvey.

This new infrastructure includes; a new healthcare centre, two new secondary schools, a new vocational college, works to improve the quality of the public realm within the employment area, and the construction of the second phase of Roscommon Way, providing access to new employment land to the south of Charfleets Industrial Estate.
Protecting our community • Protecting our economy • Protecting our Canvey

CANVEY ISLAND
Introduction Strategy Protecting our Economy CANVEY ISLAND

Canvey Island is home to a tight knit community with a diverse demographic make-up.
A range of organisations have helped to deliver community infrastructure improvements over recent years; helping to increase the service offering of the island, and address some of the societal challenges faced by some pockets of the community.

PROTECTING OUR ECONOMY
With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.
It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.

We want to see more community support schemes take root on Canvey, and we appreciate that we have a role in making sure the necessary support infrastructure is in place to allow this to happen. The loss and devastation caused by flooding is tremendous and multifaceted, ranging from the social distress and disruption caused, as well as the monetary losses experienced by private individuals, businesses and the government. This includes financial costs borne by the national economy in the form of school closures and work days lost; repairs to infrastructure, including utilities and roads; inability of businesses and consumers to operate during floods; and public sector emergency response costs.

The cost of a future flooding incident on the island would be in the region of £274m per year in lost economic output, and up to £2.1bn in damage to residential property. With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.
It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.

Working together, we have developed an Integrated Urban Drainage (IUD) model, to establish a common understanding on the condition and ownership of the drainage infrastructure across the island. The output of this model will be used to develop a series of engineering projects, which will significantly improve the drainage infrastructure and provide property level protection across Canvey Island. The first phase of this project, jointly funded by Anglian Water and the Environment Agency, will be completed by early summer 2015.

What’s been done so far?
• We produce a regular multi-agency newsletter which is used to inform, update and educate residents and local businesses about the work currently being undertaken on the island.
• Anglian Water and Essex Highways are working closely through practical, enhanced maintenance work to repair, replace and improve the complex drainage infrastructure on the island, as well as mapping all of the drainage assets and the Surface Water Alleviation Scheme (SWAS) along the seafront.
• The Environment Agency has reviewed their maintenance, resulting in additional activities, including: extensive seawall repairs, de-silting, channel re-profiling and stand-by generator works. The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

The plan recommends that the defences are further improved to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate. Over the period of the plan, the Environment Agency calculates that the potential economic benefits of implementing their preferred option of flood prevention across the Thames Estuary is in the region of £200 billion when compared to doing nothing.

The majority of benefits of flood risk management in the Thames Estuary are economic; namely the avoidance of damage to property, infrastructure, transport and business investment.

Within the Government’s Autumn statement last year, it was announced that the government ”has published its six-year programme of investment in flood defences, allocating the £2.3 billion capital funding provided at Spending Round 2013. It has also allocated an additional £60 million to the Thames Estuary Asset Management scheme beyond 2021, subject to business case and local partnership contributions.”

The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

Canvey Island need for Housing to be “flood resilient and resistant” concerns, as UK New Homes ‘crumbling due to weak mortar’.

Canvey Island, with its “Need” for 1,400 New Dwellings within the next 15 years Local Plan period, may be more reliant on the building inspection service supplied by Castle Point Council, than is the case in other local authority areas.

Any new housing development proposed for Canvey Island, being classed as a Flood Zone 3a risk and also a Critical Drainage Area, is required to pass what is known as the Sequential and Exception Test.

The Sequential Test as indicated by CPBC, “the aim of the Sequential Test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest probability of flooding”,  and applied through the CPBC Local Plan process, should mainly see development distributed away from Canvey Island.

However, CPBC do not find this approach appropriate and continue to allocate development onto Canvey.

This sees a requirement that all new Housing “development is appropriately flood resilient and resistant” against the possibility of Flooding.

With current concerns raised about the possibility that Housing Insurance against Flooding, especially New Builds, may be impossible to purchase, a New Report has emerged adding to local concerns.

Some new large building estates have been constructed using a “using weak mortar” mix. The full extent of the issue has not yet emerged as “Gagging Orders” are alleged to have been imposed on some complainants.

13 Estates across the UK have so far been identified as being affected and one by Taylor Wimpey is highlighted in the BBC report below.

Building Control, operated by the local authority areas affected, should have identified the Mortar issue and have stopped the practise in its tracks, before too many houses were affected.

Currently Castle Point Council appear to “Outsource” Building Control rather than appoint their own specialist officers.

The outsourced company handling CPBC building Control is LABC.

Whether the monitoring carried out by LABC is predominately a “desk top” service as opposed to on site testing, we are unaware, perhaps some CPBC Councillors could enlighten us.

We must assume that their monitoring and site visits would throw up any flood resilient and resistant issues, given the Flood Risk issue and the need for Housing on Canvey Island to be “safe for its Lifetime“.

Should this “Weak Mortar Mix” sharp practise, be used on Canvey housing developments it could seriously undermine the flood resilient and resistant aspect of building protection in the event of Flooding.

Equally, it could leave the Flood Re Insurance protection scheme in jeopardy locally.

In Castle Point Council, we must put our Trust!
Mortar problem

Hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.
There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK.
The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation.
The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.

One of those homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He says he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.
The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.

Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.
He complained to the homebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, and to the NHBC, the industry body that signs off and provides the warranty for most new-build houses.
‘Disastrous’
Under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand.
In severe weather areas such as Coatbridge, there should be even more cement in the mix to make it stronger and more durable.

Laboratory tests on samples taken from parts of Mr Fascione’s home showed the amount of sand was almost three times higher than recommended.
“I’m the guy who retired and decided to buy a new-build house,” he said. “I’ll never buy a new-build house again – never. It’s just been disastrous for me.”
After 18 months of complaints, the NHBC bought back Mr Fascione’s home at the market rate and he is living in alternative accommodation.

The organisation said it had done so because the performance of the company it had employed to repair the property had not been good enough and “in consideration of Mr Fascione’s personal circumstances”, not because of the original issue with the mortar.
‘Widespread and serious’
The Victoria Derbyshire Programme has heard about new build properties in at least 13 estates from Scotland to Sussex, built by different companies, with what appears to be a similar problem.

In one single estate in the Scottish borders, it is thought Taylor Wimpey has agreed to replace the mortar in more than 90 separate properties. The homebuilder says an assessment by engineers found “no structural issues” with the homes.
“This is both widespread and serious,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who has blogged about the problem.
“It cannot be explained away by the industry as a few isolated cases.”

Exactly why the weaker building material may have been used is unclear.
In some cases, the housebuilder may have simply used the wrong type of mortar. In other cases, errors may have been made mixing and laying the material on site.
Some construction experts also blame the switch to a new type of factory-mixed mortar, which might pass a different strength test in the laboratory but not always be strong enough in the real world.

Steve Turner, from the Home Builders Federation, said builders “generally have their mortar provided by large accredited suppliers… [who] have clear quality assurance and testing processes to ensure mixes are delivered as required.
He added that there were “very few instances we’re aware of where defective mortar has been used”.
“And in those instances where it has been used, there’s an obligation on the builder to fix the issues.”
He added that having spoken to “a number of builders in the past week, most have had no issues with mortar whatsoever – [and with] those that have, it’s on a very limited number of sites”.

Non-disclosure agreements
Faced with what could be an expensive repair bill, many homeowners have been told by their own solicitors not to go public until the issue is resolved.
In some cases, customers have ultimately had their houses bought back by either the homebuilder or the NHBC.
In others, it appears repairs have been made and compensation paid as part of a deal that involves the signing of a non-disclosure agreement or gagging clause.
One homeowner in the north-west of England told the programme: “The only comment I can make is no comment. I’d like to speak out but at the end of the day I have to protect my investment.”
A gagging clause may stop the property owner talking not only to the media but also to neighbours in the estate who may be facing similar problems.

“It’s going on, it’s just not being talked about,” says Mr Waller.
“Non-disclosure agreements should be banned full stop. If it’s all covered up, more victims are likely to be drawn into the net and make the same mistakes.”
An NHBC spokesman said it included a confidentiality clause in a “small number of rare circumstances” but declined to disclose the number.
He added: “We work with builders to help them improve the construction quality of the homes they build. However, it is the builder who is ultimately responsible for the quality of the new homes they build.”
Taylor Wimpey apologised to Mr Fascione for the issues experienced with his home.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering excellent quality homes and achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. On those occasions where issues do arise, we endeavour to resolve those issues as soon as practically possible.”

By Jim Reed
Reporter, BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme
6 December 2018

Smallgains, the next Canvey Green Space Land Grab! Back Office decision highlights Flood Risk Denial in Support of targeting Housing developments onto the Island!

Despite officer reassurances that a Precedent had not been set, when a small grass “walkway” on Canvey Island was handed over to a “developer”,  CPBC planning portal reveals that a similar proposal, adjacent to 96 Smallgains Avenue, Applic. No. 18/0475/FUL,  has also been approved, this time via a delegated decision by Castle Point officers.

Why this never came before the development committee to discuss we can only wonder, especially as the proposal is for a miserably small 3 bedroomed dwelling!

The officer report describes the land, “The application site is a ‘green road’, examples of which are found across Canvey Island. These are former roads which have been closed to vehicular traffic, usually in the 60s and 70s.
Although long since closed to vehicular traffic, the land provides a pedestrian link between Giffhorn Road and Smallgains Avenue.”

This delegated decision is based on the “precedent” that all similar plots on Canvey Island are now available for Land Grabbing, first in gets First Dibs. What a wonderful Freebie for potential developers.

The officer report also discloses another anomaly, that of the way that Castle Point council “apply” the Sequential Test, in regard to Flood Risk, within the Borough.

I use the terms “apply” and “test” in the most loosest sense of the word!

In reality Castle point council’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island development proposals, really does warrant some close examination.

The local authority’s position on the application of the Sequential Test is clearly politically motivated. The position was adopted, not by Full Council, but as a small item during a Development Committee meeting.

This meeting and the adoption of the approach to Sequential Testing for Flood Risk, was also, prior to the Strategic Flood risk Assessment 2010, the 2013 and 2014 Summer Floods, and has not been reviewed since!

History now indicates that NO DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS FOR CANVEY ISLAND HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON FLOOD RISK GROUNDS.

DESPITE THE WHOLE ISLAND BEING A CRITICAL DRAINAGE AREA AND A FLOOD RISK ZONE, 3A

In fact even more development is considered to be required, to actually sustain Canvey Island from so called “social and economic blight”.

This approach leads to carte blanche development approval by officers and the Lead Group on the development committee, whether the development proposal is for a single dwelling, a medium sized development or a large development!

Let’s consider what the NPPF and Government Guidance informs and instructs:

Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan.

As some areas at lower flood risk may not be suitable for development for various reasons and therefore out of consideration, the Sequential Test should be applied to the whole local planning authority area to increase the possibilities of accommodating development which is not exposed to flood risk.

More than one local planning authority may jointly review development options over a wider area where this could potentially broaden the scope for opportunities to reduce flood risk and put the most vulnerable development in lower flood risk areas.

And

Paragraph 158. The aim of the sequential test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest risk of flooding. Development should not be allocated or permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower risk of flooding. The strategic flood risk assessment will provide the basis for applying this test. The sequential approach should be used in areas known to be at risk now or in the future from any form of flooding.

And yet whether an application for development is Miniscule or Large, Sequential Testing on Flood Risk grounds on Canvey Island by Castle Point council reveals the same Approval Result!

Take these Applications as examples of the decidedly unscrupulous means that development on Canvey Island is promoted, pursued and decided!

Land Adjacent 96 Smallgains Avenue 18/0475/FUL  1 Dwelling House

8.29. The whole of Canvey Island is located in Flood Zone 3A. As Canvey Island is a self contained community with continued development needs, it is considered that there are no sequentially preferable sites available, and the proposal passes the sequential test

Application for 27 Dwellings, Canvey Island

“Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding that could accommodate the proposed development. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.”

Application for 600 Dwellings and Residential Institution, Canvey Island

Regarding the Sequential Test, “The wider sustainability benefits to the community of Canvey Island have been discussed, as part of the Sequential Test. Its continued development is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of this settlement.”

With regard to Sequential Testing of Business premises across the Roscommon Way area, in support of the expansion of Charfleets estate and Morrisons and the new Business Park sites etc, despite the unknown effects of built development on the drainage issues in this and across the rest of Canvey Island, the Sequential Test is considered to have been passed.

Despite the identification, through cpbc’s own Local Plan report evidence, of Business premises need and the better siting of such facilities being in the northern parts of the Borough.

The cpbc Sequential Test methodology is leading to population “Growth” for “Growths” sake, and Housing to offset the Borough’s Needs.

There is absolutely no evidence, nor remote chance, that cpbc and local Responders would be able to tend to the current population of Canvey Island in an Emergency. Proof of which was exposed during the 2014 Summer Floods failure to respond by the local authority and their “agencies”!