Category Archives: Flooding

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.

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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”!

 

 

Canvey Island Flood Event “Cover Up”? CPBC willing to withhold information, so as to develop Canvey Island!

A recent addition to the Castle Point Borough council’s Local Plan Evidence Base is the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 2018 Update covering South Essex.

The document, apparently is too large to be downloaded from the cpbc Local Plan website, so we downloaded from the Rochford council website instead!

Of note, and the Canvey Green Belt Campaign did make it known to councillors, Canvey Island had no Historic Flood Events, up until 2011, recorded by Castle Point council except the 1953 Tidal Flood. This despite local knowledge confirmed that there is a Surface Water Drainage issue across Canvey Island!

This information we made available whilst the cpbc cabinet discussed and adopted the Surface Water Management Plan during 2012. Little wonder then that cpbc and their partners, were totally unprepared for the Canvey Island Floods of 2013 and, worse still, 2014!

Those living on Canvey Island at the time would have been well aware of a serious Surface Water Flooding Event during 1968. Previous localised Flooding causing more regular problems had also taken place on the Island on more frequent occasions.

None of this was recorded, nor recollections sought, when cpbc gave information to URS Scott Wilson as they compiled the 2011 Surface Water Management Plan for South Essex.

Now it is evident that cpbc have allowed, one can only think for convenience sake, the South Essex Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to be published and adopted for inclusion in the cpbc 2018 Local Plan evidence base, with the same Flooding Event omitted!

The South Essex SWMP (2012) states that there are 26 recorded flood events from Castle Point Borough Council, the Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Parish Councils and the Highways Agency. The source of flooding is unknown and these records are shown in Appendix A Figure 5.3. Where available, updated flood incident records held by the project stakeholders, including Castle Point Borough Council, ECC, the Environment Agency and AWS, have been provided to support this Level 1 SFRA update.

Records of Flooding included within the document indicate:

1968 “Fluvial flooding from the Benfleet Sewer” Following this event, structural flood mitigation measures were undertaken along the watercourse to improve the standard of protection against flooding including the construction of the bunded washlands area.

Again in 1987 Flood recorded in Hadleigh

For Canvey Island, during these decades, Nothing Recorded!

So despite the Canvey Green Belt Campaign making it known to cpbc that Canvey Island had suffered Flooding incidents and that the 2011 Surface Water Management Plan incorrectly omitted a record of these events, Castle Point Borough council have allowed a new Assessment to be undertaken without correcting these errors!

Not only that, but the Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage Study, undertaken following Government departmental advice, was not used as an informative for the South Essex Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, despite being signed off in April 2018!

5.4.2 Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage Study
The Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage Study (IUD) has been undertaken setting out how surface water drainage should be managed and maintained on the island. The study was not available for inclusion in the Level 1 SFRA; however, the study should be used to inform the Level 2 SFRA and site specific FRAs.

We can only conclude that these omissions and flaws can only be explained by them being deliberate to support the desires of  Castle Point Borough Council to distribute a large level of Housing Development onto the Flood Risk Zone and Critical Drainage Area of Canvey Island within their latest 2018 Local Plan process!

The 1968 Canvey Island flooding was not an insignificant event as much as cpbc may wish it was. These photographs act as proof:

Sandra Davis Photo

copyright: Sandra Davis

Jacksons Photos

Copyright: Jacksons Photos

More information on the 1968 Flooding has been collected, along with many interesting photographs that can be found on the Canvey Island Community Archive. Their website can be found via this LINK.

 

 

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?

I have been reminded by a sceptical mainlander that, “IT IS HARD TO FOOL PEOPLE, BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOOLED.”

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!

Canvey Island, Flooding, Over-Development, Local Plan, draft NPPF Consultation and the National Flood Forum. Unrest Grows!

Canvey Island, is synonymous with Flooding.

rebecca_harris_mp_flood_free_homes

Despite the tragedy of 1953, the major Surface water Flooding of 2014 and other similar events, Canvey is cynically treated as a “Special Case”. This is so that Housing Development, Park Home expansions can continue unabated.

These new homes are sold to unsuspecting buyers, with little reference as to the likely problems in obtaining House Insurance against Flooding on New Builds, since January 2009.

All so that the expectations of a New Local Plan are fulfilled.

The Castle Point Council Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, undertaken by Scot Wilson to comply with the demands of the failed Core Strategy in 2010, identified Canvey Island being “At Risk” from Flooding!

Consequently a Reason had to be “invented” so as to permit all, from Small to Large site Housing Development on Canvey. CPBC’s officers, at the behest of certain councillors, cosied up to the Environment Agency and the Strategic Flood Risk assessment was Distorted to permit continued over development!

Since then no developments are Rejected in principle by cpbc on Flood Risk grounds. CPBC claim that for development to serve, and the continued growth of Canvey Island, the development MUST be ON Canvey Island. As though Castle Point is a massive Borough divided by language barriers and with miles of sea between us and the mainland!

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has recently been consulted upon. We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group, have monitored the submissions, especially where Flood Risk is concerned.

We found that the group known as the National Flood Forum have submitted comments that identified issues most relevant to Canvey Island.

And that if our local authority “Ruling Party” and our new leader, are unwilling to truly represent Canvey Island Residents, at least the National Flood Forum have quite capably stated OUR Position

We make no apologies for this being a long read, but we ask you to at the very least skim through it and allow the relevant issues trigger something in your mind, if you were affected in 1953, 2013, 2014 or have been concerned or affected by Flooding at any stage.

The NPPF Consultation has closed, however we have failed to discover a published response to the consultation from Castle Point Borough Council, perhaps one of our councillors may be able to direct us to the document, if it exists.

The National Flood Forum’s submission the draft NPPF consultation, with highlighted passages of some significance to Canvey residents, reads:

The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding. We do this by:
1. Supporting people to prepare for flooding
2. Helping people to recover their lives if they have been flooded
3. Working with government and agencies to ensure that they develop a community perspective when addressing flooding issues

As part of the flooded community, the National Flood Forum is a charity that supports communities to tackle the things that matter to them; creating hope and reducing the fear of flooding; helping people to work together to reduce flood exposure and its impacts, both physical and emotional. Over 300 flood groups are affiliated to the National Flood Forum and this response has been developed from their many comments.

The National Flood Forum regularly deals with a range of scenarios:
1. New developments that have flooded or which are likely to flood because, for example, SuDS measures are at capacity under normal weather conditions, or sites have been built on areas that are waterlogged
2. Developments which have apparently caused flooding elsewhere, or are likely to
3. Planning applications and decisions that do not make use of local knowledge of flood risk issues
4. Development planning that does not make use of local knowledge

The result is that people become extremely fearful of the future, distrustful of those in authority. This can appear as either apathy or combative behaviour.
“We had a housing estate built up in Eyam and they concreted over a large natural drainage point. And that’s in the Peak Park which is supposedly highly regulated. It’s a shambles. If you have a lot of money you can do what you want.”

Caterham Flood Action Group are also angry:
Hey “To briefly explain, our community has been blighted by surface water flooding for over twenty years, development has continued, responsibilities have been fractured, affecting maintenance (tantamount to neglect) of the delicate drainage infrastructure leaving residents in fear of precipitation.

On the 7th June 2016, after campaigning and complaining for almost two decades, the great storm wreaked havoc, destroying homes, devastating families, trapping our vulnerable and elderly neighbours for hours without power, as rivers of raw sewage flowed into our homes, through the streets of Surrey across the administrative border into a London Borough (contrary to the draft London plan, Policy Si12 B, which states ‘Boroughs should co-operate and jointly address cross-boundary flood risk issues including with authorities outside London’).

The CFAG must question if measures really are in place to guarantee that councils on the edge of the London Basin are considering the quality and capacity of the infrastructure ‘downstream’.

Paragraphs 154 – 163 of the Draft NPPF are an improvement on previous versions. But Caterham Flood Action Group, and others, do not believe that the Draft NPPF addresses their concerns that people will be put at risk of flooding.

In particular, policies and guidelines need to be much more ambitious if we are to create places that people will want to live in, that are adaptive to the future (such as being able to absorb more development) and where people feel safe.

Policies need to be translated in to action and many of the concerns from Flood Action Groups are that even the existing policies are being ridden over roughshod, with no recourse for affected communities.

The National Flood Forum strongly refutes the notion that flood risk can be outweighed by the economic benefits to the community and does not reflect the absolute misery flooding problems can cause to those involved.

The current wording in the draft NPPF virtually establishes that flooding is acceptable and provides opportunities for those who wish to find loopholes to do so. If development impacts even on a handful of households/properties, then it’s not a benefit to the community. For example, words such as “safe” in paragraph 154 are ambiguous. Whilst no one can ever be without flood risk, the wording here and in wider guidance needs to reflect community perspectives on safety, risk and what it means to feel resilient.

Data from the Association of British Insurers shows that 50% of insurance claims for properties flooded during the winter of 2015/16 were from areas that had not been identified by the public or private sectors as being at risk of flooding. In previous years the figure was sometimes higher (80% in 2007) and never lower, indicating that our understanding of flood risk and the flood risk maps available only cover a proportion of the risk. Surface water, groundwater and combined risks in particular are poorly understood.

For these two reasons greater stress should be placed in the NPPF on the rigour that is required to assess flood risk through all forms of Food Risk Assessments.

The biggest complaint from Flood Action Groups across England is that people’s local knowledge about their area is ignored, resulting in poor decisions about their future. People frequently have knowledge about their local area that professionals do not; details about previous flooding incidents, underground drainage, old drainage systems, etc. Modellers will frequently say that their modelling work simply produces useful tools and does not represent the real world exactly.

It will often lack local information to put in to the model and the parameters through which the model works will have limitations on the accuracy of what results. However, in the planning system models are often regarded as the absolute truth in the decision-making process and other evidence ignored. Communities regularly complain that this is the case. This can include information about local drainage patterns and historic flooding incidents through to the routes of major flow channels, groundwater levels and sea level rise. Therefore, development plans and planning applications should demonstrate how they have listened to local voices and how those views have been taken in to account in developing proposals. In particular they should demonstrate how triangulation has occurred between modelling, local knowledge and other forms of evidence to arrive at the most reasonable answers.

Paragraph 156) demonstrates an improved level of ambition, but not significant enough if we are to tackle flood risk seriously. The example from Shipston in Warwickshre below illustrates the point:
“The NPPF requires new developments to achieve ‘flood neutrality’ as a minimum i.e. that water run off post development should be no worse than the pre-developed site.
We work with our Town Council and the developers in negotiating better than flood neutrality at or before the planning stage and have had some success in getting their drainage strategies to achieve betterment – in most cases within the range of 25/40%.
With modern SUDS systems, their creative application and a willingness to meet improved objectives this is perfectly achievable at relatively low, if any, ‘on cost’ and of course the whole concept of betterment is essential with the increasing pressures brought about by adverse climate change trends and as a community support programme by developers.

We are concerned that the present policy is simply not ambitious enough and consider that a policy of betterment should replace the current ’neutrality’ policy.
Further, whatever the policy, specific local ground and geological conditions should be taken account of when determining the adequacy of drainage strategies by the LPA’s.
In our area Warwickshire clay is the predominant soil type and is almost completely impermeable so a literal ‘greenfield’ site in this area will already have a pre-existing high level of surface water runoff.

Further, should such ‘greenfield’ site have been used for grazing it will be highly compacted making the situation even worse.
Even further, should the site be sloping down to other developed areas great care needs to be taken to design a drainage strategy that absolutely reduces run off compared with the pre-existing situation.

Finally, the requirement that developments of less than 10 dwellings do not need LLFA oversight in giving guidance to the LPA (if different) should be reduced as it seems clear that developments of 9 or less are deliberately introduced perhaps to circumvent properly qualified scrutiny.
At present, it appears that the LPA’s simply have to check that a drainage strategy meets the NPPF guidelines which, in the circumstances described above, would likely be completely inadequate.

Once new developments are built to inadequate drainage standards in their specific local context there is no going back so this consultation is a once off opportunity to address the issue and build better resilience for the future into such developments.”

Para 158 a) contains an assertion that where there is no other option it is acceptable for a development to take precedence over people’s lives, however traumatic the outcomes might be. This is simply not acceptable and should be deleted. Developments that put people or their neighbours at a significant risk of them being flooded should not be built, whatever the pressure for new housing. Areas in Flood Zone 3, where there is significant groundwater (such as permanently within 150 cm of the surface) or significant drainage limitations should not be built on.

Where there are wider societal benefits identified, the risks of any new development should be transparent, so that businesses, infrastructure providers can make judgements about the level of risk that they are prepared to accept.

Para 160 – footnote 41. The site-specific flood risk assessment should triangulate modelling, local knowledge and other evidence. The assessment should proactively seek out local knowledge and demonstrate how this is used to develop an overall assessment. Guidance should be updated.

A common failing of current developments is that drainage plans are developed after the site layout has been determined. Retrofitting a drainage plan to a site can be difficult and lead to inferior results. Drainage plans should be submitted for all outline planning applications and should detail measures to manage water during the construction phase. The example from Charlton Flood Action Group, Worcestershire below illustrates the point.

“The Plan [South Worcestershire Development Plan] does not make any reference to the Environment Agency designated “Rapid Response Catchments” of which the Merry Brook is a very High risk one.
To minimise future flood risk in these particular vulnerable catchments we believe the plan should make reference to these Catchments and further that when any development/planning application is being agreed in these catchments that the conditions of planning should require that:
• Any flood prevention schemes should be put in place prior to the development of houses and other infrastructure being commenced. (During the last few years the development of the housing estate at Hampton, Evesham was commenced with top soil being stripped off the land. Those living in Charlton noticed that the water levels in the Merry brook increased far more quickly due to water running draining off the site. It was only when we started complaining that thought was given to installing the retention ponds and there was then a further delay until weather conditions were suitable).
• That in these catchment areas the water run off levels should be half the normal levels allowed. This should be achieved either by reducing water run-off levels or where this is not possible by the developers installing recommended schemes suggested by the Environment Agency – such as ponding on water courses.
• That all suggestions recommended by the Environment Agency should be installed. (At the Hampton development the Environment Agency had suggested that some ponding take place on the Merry Brook to help reduce water flows. This suggestion was totally ignored).
• That on small / single developments where planning consent is being sought that water run-off be considered and reduced to a minimum. Should there be a small water course running through the site then ponding/other means to reduce the flow should be installed.
• That any work on Highways in Rapid response catchment areas should also involve the installation of measures to reduce the flow of water into water courses.”

161 a) It is difficult to imagine situations where “overriding interest” applies. This clause should be removed, otherwise it will be used to push through inappropriate developments. The overriding concern must be for the wellbeing of people.

161 e) There is some confusion amongst Risk Management Authorities as to which organisation should comment on this aspect of planning applications. This needs clarification
Note 42 does not adequately cover the risks posed by surface water, ground water and combined sources. With at least 50% of flooding incidents involving surface water, this aspect needs particular attention to ensure that people are kept safe, whereas the focus of attention in the guidance is on fluvial flooding because that is where the better evidence base is. Surface and groundwater risks are often highly localised, but the trauma that is caused can be significant because often there is no scheme available that meets benefit cost criteria for investment. Rapid response catchments pose a particular risk. The result is that people continue to suffer without the prospect of ever escaping from the threat. In addition, the National Flood Forum’s experience is that people are increasingly finding it difficult to sell their home, restricting their ability to change employment, move closer to family, etc. Therefore Note 42 should explicitly refer to areas of high surface water and ground water risk, combined sources of flooding and rapid response catchments. The quote from the Food Action Group in South Woodford Ferrer, Essex, illustrates the point:
“We are currently doing our best as a voluntary group to try to alleviate a recurring fluvial/sewage flood in our local area. We are now in 2018 and still do not appear to be able to assist the residents of our town to have a better quality of life. Funding issues and OFWAT regulations leave local residents baffled as to what they can do to resolve this horrendous flood and sewage discharge situation. These flooding events appear to be occurring every 2 years (2012-2014-2016) ….surely this can’t be right? We do understand that funding is a problem but by working together we should be able to come up with a solution for these poor people living with the prospect of a significant flood every time there is a heavy rain fall.”

An area may be in Flood Risk zone 1 but at very high risk from surface water. However, reference to Flood Zone 1 will frequently allow developers to push through schemes in very high surface water risk. The point is well made by Caterham Flood Action Group:
“The Draft NPPF supports small sites being identified, essentially promoting ‘garden grabbing’, to reiterate we’re aware of the need for homes BUT in a surface water flood risk areas, we can confirm this has had devastating results over the decades, hence the need for SuDs in ALL development and retrofitting (refer to 1.2). YET 71) resists ‘inappropriate development in residential gardens, where development would cause harm’… But as we’re technically in a ‘flood zone 1’, on paper there’s NO risk, therefore development is be permitted (refer to 3.3), hence the desperate need to ensure policy guidance is ‘joined up’”

163 Minimal operational standards for Sustainable Urban Drainage systems should go beyond normal and projected normal rainfall events, with or without taking account of climate change projections. Whilst systems are unlikely to cater for every eventuality, they should be designed to cater for abnormal events, occasions where soil moisture levels are full and a series of events over a short period of time.
In some areas SuDS schemes will be inappropriate due to high water tables or permanently waterlogged soils. It may be possible to pump dry sites, but this has carbon emission issues and pumps failure does happen. In these cases, it is especially important to have a full and detailed drainage plan.
Developments currently have a right to connect to sewerage and drainage infrastructure. The National Flood Forum experience is that this may place other people at higher risk of flooding and we deal with people whose homes may not have flooded for 40-50 years, but who suddenly find that they flood every couple of years or more frequently with sewage once a development takes place. Sewerage and drainage undertakings must have the ability to refuse to connect to new developments where appropriate infrastructure is not currently in place.

Many of the issues and concerns that people in communities have relate to the skillsets and resources in drainage and flood risk management in local authorities, particularly planning authorities. These are hugely variable. It is important that Lead Local Flood Authority and Planning authorities have a qualified flood risk managers and drainage engineers to support the planning development and control process. In many cases the lack of the skills to critically examine proposals and applications has led to a failure to spot problems or allowed poor design. Whilst not a consideration for the NPPF, it is a major component of the many failures to see it applied appropriately.

Enforcement is a concern for many communities. Where there is unauthorised development or where there are planning conditions, it is a common experience that these are not enforced effectively, leading to increased flood risk for occupants and/or neighbours. The quote below from a flood group in Essex illustrates the problem:
“As regards, unauthorised development, the local authority (XXX District Council) does not seem to have adequate staff to deal with this by planning enforcement.”
Communities have sometimes worked with developers to bring forward better designs, using their local knowledge. The willingness of developers to engage meaningfully with communities has been very variable, with markedly different approaches even within the same settlement. There should be an expectation in the NPPF for developers to work with communities meaningfully to develop better designs delivering multiple benefits, rather than just running a consultation.

Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation Report was carried out to consider what Risk the subsoil and water table might have on development structures, such as Housing.

It found;

Geotechnical Risks*
Poor bearing capacities of the low strength / loose soils;
Aggressive ground and groundwater conditions
Shallow groundwater (possibly under tidal influence)

The High Water table found on Canvey Island is well known to residents, however what was surprising is that this water consisted of a level of saline, or sea water, content!

In effect our Sea Defence is incapable of stopping Tidal Water from penetrating UNDER the sea wall.

If these influences can be found 1 kilometre from the sea wall, how much more damaging are they to the Sea Defence itself?

The constant changes via the ground water saturation and drying processes, and the less than stable subsoil beneath the Sea Defence foundations will over time, challenge the longevity of the structure. Whilst the effects of the Tide itself is more obvious!

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The effects of the more frequent passing of larger and larger transport vessels along the Thames, requires monitoring, as does the constant dredging.

As recently as September 2017 we were reassured that these Sea Defences are “well maintained”, and whilst these images probably indicate superficial damage we have learnt that the Environment Agency have identified some areas of the Sea Defence causing them serious concerns!

The Environment Agency are known to have carried out surveying inspection works and are considering what steps are required to maintain the integrity of the Canvey Island Sea Defence.

*Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials