Category Archives: Thorney Bay

RECOMMENDATION, – CAUTION! No, the Continued Development of Canvey is Necessary!

In March, this year, Castle Point Borough council cabinet addressed what at the time was one of the hottest topics facing the UK. Termed by our own government as our “broken housing market” invitations went out to consultation on the white paper.

Little can be found, via a general internet search, of castle point council’s response.

Following the “successful” approval of 113 dwellings on Canvey Island, 30% of which fall within what is known as the Calor Gas Hazardous middle zone by the development committee, we were soon all feeling appalled at the scenes of disaster at Grenfell House in Kensington.

Whether it is correct to connect any possible similarity between poorly located housing and a disaster through whatever reasons that come to fruition in a tower block, may be arguable.

However an early suggestion as to the tragedy at Grenfell House suggests “the organisations responsible for maintaining standards in the building industry have been advising contractors not to take the regulations too literally.”  *

Whilst this claim requires some substantiation, the application of the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive’s advice where Canvey Island development is concerned, as applied by Castle point council, equally is in need of some serious scrutiny!

We, ourselves are used to being called scaremongers, but quite possibly so were some concerned residents near Buncefield, and those users reliant of the rail line through Dawlish, where the section of sea wall collapsed under the rail track in 2014, may have also been grateful of a more cautious approach to safety.


Damage to the railway at Dawlish in Devon

The lack of brownfield land in Castle Point is obvious. It is also reasonable to expect Green Belt to be protected.

However Canvey Island is subject to perverse considerations by Planning Officers, no doubt instructed from above, or to put another way, from back offices and corridors!

Housing on Canvey Island must pass the Sequential and Exception Test (Look it Up yourself!)

This allows development in areas that NOBODY can guarantee safe for the development’s lifetime. You would have to be Psychic!

The excuse, sorry, reason, given is:

“In a very broad sense the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.”

Strange, I have never heard or seen any concern of social and economic blight used to support a Reason to Support development where the mainland is concerned! Remember Deanes School??

But Canvey, don’t forget, is a “Special Case!”

Soon a Brownfield site list of local authority owned land will be compiled, just imagine it; the Paddocks, Canvey police Station, the old council building now Health Centre Long Road etc etc.

It is clear why Canvey is so often selected for development over mainland.

The Island is unsustainable as it is, so to it will be argued is the mainland, but Canvey is the council’s preferred choice.

On 7th February 2017, the Government published a White Paper concerning housing related matters, entitled “Fixing our broken housing market”.

Cabinet Agenda Item7a March 2017:

CPBC intention to respond to “Fixing our broken housing market” Government Consultation on Housing White Paper

The report identifies the problem as threefold – first, not enough local authorities plan for the homes needed, secondly house building is too slow, and thirdly the house building industry is too reliant on a small number of large concerns.

4.4 The report then analyses these issues and brings forward proposals to address them in four chapters;

  1. Planning for the right homes in the right places
  2. Building homes faster
  3. Diversifying the market
  4. Helping people now

Chapter 1 – Planning for the right homes in the right places – brings forward eight proposals;

“Maintaining existing strong protections for the Green Belt, and clarifying that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements;”

“Giving communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning”

“Making more land available for homes in the right places, by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land, regenerating estates, releasing more small and mediumsized sites, allowing rural communities to grow and making it easier to build new settlements;”

In addition to those general comments the Cabinet is recommended to allow more detailed responses to the 38 questions posed by the White Paper to be issued by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader of the Council by the deadline of Tuesday 2nd May 2017.                        (abridged version)

Given cpbc’s previous History where development is concerned, we are left to wonder how seriously the government will take our local authority’s consultation responses. As I have said previously, a quick search for cpbc’s official response fails to be found.

*BBC Newsnight Policy Editor Chris Cook.

Photo: Network Rail Media Centre

Dates, Canvey Islanders won’t even Notice! Thorney Bay’s, on its way!

Canvey Islanders, it is said, haven’t the nous to have a cynical thought cross their little minds.

Firstly, following the Election announcement on the very last day prior to the period of Purdah commencing, the Jotmans Farm Appeal Inquiry was Rejected by the then Secretary of State, thereby saving important mainland Green Belt from development.

Secondly, tomorrow, 6.6.2017, just 2 Days prior to the General Election, castle point council development committee will decide the Recommended Approval “first phase” of the Thorney Bay vast green field development, on Canvey Island.

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

This so called first phase at Thorney Bay amounts to 113 new dwellings.

The development committee Agenda paperwork indicates officers advise :

It is not considered necessary for Members to visit the site prior to determination of the application.

This despite :

To the north of the site is the Local Wildlife Site (LoWS) Thorneyfleet Creek, which comprises a water body with Common Reed and rough grassland; beyond this is residential development. To the east is Public Open Space, in the form of a grassed area and children’s play space. To the south and west is the wider expanse of the Campsite. A water treatment works lies to the west of the wider site and beyond this is the Calor gas terminal. To the south is the Canvey Island Sea Defence, beyond which is the River Thames.

Of the Health and Safety Executive’s comment;

..more than 10% of the housing development area lies within the (Calor Gas Hazardous) middle zone….and HSE Advised Against Granting Planning Permission.

The HSE then go onto excuse the proposed development layout, stipulating that castle point council must not in future use the self regulating facility, instead be referring any future development directly to the HSE!

The Case Officer comment, which will no doubt be pointed out to the planning committee members in the Agenda Paper states; 

Health and Safety Executive  No objection.

As far as potential flooding is concerned, especially as the site is directly reliant on the Canvey Sea wall Defences;

Environment Agency  No objection: following the receipt of a revised FRA, subject to conditions and the satisfaction of the LPA that the proposal will be safe for its lifetime

It should also be noted, should the are become flooded yet again that responsibility has been relieved of the Leal Local Flood Authority (Essex CC.);

It is the applicant’s responsibility to check that they are complying with common law if the drainage scheme proposes to discharge into an off-site ditch/pipe. The applicant should seek consent where appropriate from other downstream riparian landowners. 
The Ministerial Statement made on 18th December 2014 (ref. HCWS161) states that the final decision regarding the viability and reasonableness of maintenance requirements lies with the LPA. It is not within the scope of the LLFA to comment on the overall viability of a scheme.

But of course the Rumours emanating from CPBC is that Thorney Bay will become a Park Home site, So None of these Rules Will Apply!

1,600 static caravans could quite easily become 1,000+ Park Homes, and there is the next Local Plan’s 5 Year Housing Supply.

Let existing Canvey Island residents and future property owners be warned!

We make no apology for over-simplifying these issues but for anybody interested the webcast and recording should be available via;

The meeting Agenda papers are available via;


Thorney Bay, change of Use Over-Heard on the Canvey Grapevine! CPBC Local Plan issues?

It started as a Whisper, became a Rumour and has now reached Conjecture level on the Canvey Grapevine!

Thorney Bay, the apparent answer to the Castle Point Council’s Local Plan dreams, has become the subject of unconfirmed speculation. With the humiliating Withdrawal of the cpbc Core Strategy in 2011, it was considered “timely” by cpbc officers that Thorney Bay, despite it being sited within the Hazard range of Calor Gas and within a 3A Flood Zone, should come forward to provide a Housing Development of some 600 dwellings plus sheltered accommodation.

Thorney Bay then became the Backbone, the largest single development site, of Castle Point council’s daft Local Plan and surviving the GB sites cull to remain as the spine of the Local Plan2016, 5 year Housing Supply!

The Thorney Bay proposal passed in Principle by the cpbc development committee, whilst in the following months / years a 1st Phase proposal has gained Health and Safety Executive’s permission and is apparently overcoming the Flooding Objections to the fundamental requirements of the Environment Agency and the ecc Lead Local Flood Authority.

Now then; Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once!

A little Bird has told me, and I must say there is little foundation, so to speak, for this to be considered information, but it could be that the development may not be going much further!

To me this would not be a surprise, I would have thought a more likely idea would be for the developer to follow the Kings Park, and remove the static caravans and replace with Park Homes.

The build cost would be far less, the speed of development would be probably twice as quick and success of the venture equally, if not more so, financially successful as Kings Park!

What’s to lose?

Park Homes and Luxury Lodges can easily reach an asking price of £300,000, the site is opposite Thorney Bay Road, and residents would likely be of an age not too concerned with, the daily commute.

Now that the Canvey Bay Watch team have created such an attractive area of the promenade and beach front, this forms another selling point for potential Park Home buyers. I would have thought that the Canvey Bay Watch team should soon be knocking on the site owner’s door for financial support, should this development rumour come to fruition!

Thorney Bay 1

Photograph courtesy: Dave Harvey

The question for cpbc is whether these Park Homes should count towards the official Housing Supply.

On one hand these Park Homes “are suitable for residential use throughout the year and are built to last at least 50 years”! (Omar park and leisure homes). Although whether 50 years lifespan is considered permanent is challengeable, however, their success is, and there are people desiring to own them.

The Planning Inspector examining the Glebelands, Thundersley, Appeal did not consider the numbers at Kings Park should qualify for inclusion in building numbers, but that may have been due to cpbc being unable to clarify how many caravans were replaced by Park Homes.

We do know that of the caravans at Thorney Bay the Inspector concluded;

“But that does not necessarily mean that the Households now occupying caravans would have chosen that type of accommodation, in preference to bricks and mortar.”

Well, “bricks and mortar” these Park Homes ain’t! But the appeal of Park Home life is generally popular across the UK, so if people are choosing to buy into this type of accommodation, then there is an argument for these dwellings to be included into the Canvey Island Housing Supply count.

With our “Broken Housing Market” leading to the apparent need to revisit Pre-Fabricated Housing, these Park Homes may well have some scope.

Whether or not any Affordable Home supply can be squeezed into the equation will be upto the negotiating abilities of cpbc, so we won’t hold our breath on that one!

What could be expected is for some Canvey Island “bricks and mortar” dwellings to become available, for local young families hoping to get on the property ladder, as older Canvey residents move into the Park Homes.

It may be doubtful , should the development come into fruition, whether the Housing Need in the mainland part of the Borough be part satisfied, as it will be difficult to argue that this type of dwelling satisfies the cross market “bricks and mortar” Housing Need. In fact it probably increases the pressure on mainland site supply.

I remind you this is only speculation.

As a reference, below, I include part of the text of the cpbc Report on Residential use of Caravan and Park Home Sites 2013.

“It is clear from both Census data and from Council Tax data that an increase in the availability of caravans for residential use resulted in an increased housing supply of the order of 800 homes in Castle Point in the period from 2001 to 2011. This increase was largely as a result of the change of use of Kings Park and Thorney Bay Caravan Parks from holiday use to residential use.”

“To date, the Council has only included those caravans registering for Council Tax at Kings Park within the housing figures for the period 2001 to 2011. However, given that caravans at Thorney Bay were included as homes within the Census 2011 outcomes, and this will be reflected in population and household data moving forward, it is appropriate that the housing supply figures for the period 2001 to 2011 are appropriately adjusted to include these homes also.”

“The change of use of static caravans from holiday accommodation to residential accommodation has made a significant contribution to housing provision over the last decade (2001 to 2011). Approximately, 800 additional caravans moved into permanent residential use over this time period, primarily on the Kings Park and Thorney Bay sites. This is supported by evidence from the Census and from Council Tax records.”

“However, whilst some of this provision has contributed positively towards the community, in particular at Kings Park, the nature of the provision at Thorney Bay has had negative socioeconomic consequences both for the surrounding community and for the vulnerable families who have found themselves living at the site.”

“Due to these issues there is support for proposals to redevelop a significant proportion of the site for traditional homes. However, it is the intention of the owner to retain a smaller caravan park of 300 caravans for residential use towards the west of the existing site.”

“Assuming that the proposals to redevelop this site as proposed for traditional housing are delivered in full over the next 10 years, then it is unlikely that the number of households living in caravans in Castle Point will increase further between 2011 and 2021. Indeed, as a result of the development of traditional housing over this period, it is expected that the proportion of households living in caravans will reduce.”

“However, should the Thorney Bay site not be redeveloped as proposed, then there is the potential for a further 800 caravans moving from transient use into permanent residential use. This will increase further the number of households living in caravans, and the associated socio-economic issues arising from this. It is therefore imperative that the Council work alongside the site owners to encourage and facilitate the redevelopment of this site in an appropriate timeframe.”

Video copyright BBC

Thorney Bay development to go ahead, through “Hell or High Water”?

Interesting times on Canvey Island, hopefully our representatives are aware of what may be being fashioned.

We, Castle Point residents that is, have an unpopular stalling Local Plan, no 5 Year Housing Land Supply and no adopted Housing Need figures.

Development on Green Belt is rejected and nearly half the Borough is in a Flood Risk Zone 3a area.

Following on from the disaster that was the Core Strategy a new list of preferred sites was announced, this included the encouragement of the awakening of the proposal to build on Thorney Bay, following which an application to develop was lodged in December 2011.

Currently the dwellings on-site are static caravans. An outline proposal for 600 dwellings and residential institutions was passed by the development committee.

This was despite the proximity of the Calor Hazardous Industrial site and the Flood Risk. The marginal betterment of protection from bricks and mortar being preferred to a caravan type dwellings being the reasoning.

The Local Authority are in a desperate position with the Local Plan due to the unpopularity of the selected mainland Green Belt sites identified for housing development. This position of desperation may appear to be leading the LA to be adopting a controversial position regarding development in the Flood Risk area that will set a precedent for future decision making.

An Environment Agency spokesman pointed out that less than 1 per cent of the total number of homes that were proposed in planning applications last year were rejected.

Most planning applications the EA protest to are resolved or dropped.

“Last year we responded to over 30,000 planning applications and enquiries. Of the 57,000 homes that were proposed, only 570 were built against our advice. Our advice to Local Planning Authorities helps to ensure that developments are safe and resilient.”

Extract from Louise Gray’s report for the Telegraph 2013. Remainder of report can be found via this LINK.

A planning proposal for part development of the Thorney Bay site was lodged in November 2014.

The Environment Agency issued a Holding Objection in December 2014 suggesting that the “issues are rather complex” and remain since the proposal was first lodged in 2011!

Since the EA’s December Objection, no updated reports on flood issues have been loaded on to the CPBC Planning Portal, however during late August a raft of information on the types of Housing and plans have been loaded.

Could it possibly be that Castle Point Council intend to approve the application for development despite and against the Environment Agency’s advice?

Paragraph: 044 Reference ID: 7-044-20140306

For any major developments within Flood Zones 2 or 3, or on land within Flood Zone 1 which has been notified to the local planning authority as having critical drainage problems, which are the subject of a sustained objection by the Environment Agency on flood risk grounds, the local planning authority (and applicants) should bear in mind the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, if the authority is minded to grant permission for the development. In such cases, the authority, the Agency and the applicant should try to agree what changes could be made to the application that would enable the Agency to withdraw its objection.  If the Agency concludes that it is unable to withdraw its objection and the authority is still minded to grant permission, the Direction requires the authority to notify the Secretary of State.

In this context, “major development” means:

  • in respect of residential development, the provision of 10 or more dwellings, or a site of 0.5 hectares or more;

We are all aware of the current relationship between Castle Point Council and the Secretary of State through the defence of our Green Belt.

However this case will be different, CPBC have just 0.5 years worth of the required 5 year Housing Supply, the majority of Councillors have voted in favour of development at Thorney Bay, Officers are in support of the proposal. Interestingly the Revised determination date is the 30th September 2015.

Will it be with the Secretary of State’s approval that such a large development in a crucially sensitive area will be given the Green Light?

Castle Point Council housing families in Thorney Bay caravans? A means of convincing the EA and HSE to not advise against development?

During this weeks Castle Point Council meeting (Dec 2014) it was interesting to note cllr Smith managing to turn a most serious debate on child welfare into a promotion to support the new proposal to develop yet another part of Thorney Bay (see below)!

Whilst other councillors were concentrating on making positive efforts to protect family members on Thorney Bay from coming under similar influences and dangers that befell children living in Rochdale, cllr Smith introduced housing.

He rose to state “we are actually housing families in caravans, … which are not insulated have gas fires and have condensation dripping off the ceiling.”

Firstly this statement is in direct opposition to the CPBC regeneration officer who has previously assured councillors and residents that Castle Point Council DO NOT house families in caravans at Thorney Bay.

Secondly, of course people deserve proper living accommodation rather than the box type dwellings on offer to those unable to provide themselves with better dwellings.

However cllr Smith appears to chose not to take heed of the warning of the Environment Agency who are concerned that residents in Flood Zones may in future be unable to obtain house insurance nor remember the words of  the then Sir Bernard Braine reproduced here.

For those with little time to read the full transcript here are some snippets that give reasoning that whilst people in Castle Point should not be forced to live in accommodation of this type they should also not be allowed to be in a position that they unknowingly purchase property close to a hazardous industrial site within a Flood Zone.

“ I asked the Under-Secretary of State If in the light of the known hazard posed by the terminal … and the risk of spillages of liquefied gas leading to the release of a gas cloud, he will set out the scientific justification for the Health and Safety Executive to recommend … the establishment of a cordon sanitaire around the installation limited to only 1 kilometre. The hon. Gentleman’s reply was astonishing. No doubt it was drafted by the Executive. It volunteered the information that Experience shows that the worst effects of a flammable gas cloud explosion would be unlikely to extend beyond a radius of 1 kilometre.”—[Official Report, 22 January 1979; Vol. 961, cc. 37–38.] The House will appreciate that the worst effects of that sort of disaster are death and destruction by fire on a catastrophic scale.”

I feel that the councillor must surely have been mistaken in what he said and the officer’s previous confirmation, that CPBC do not house people in inappropriate living accomodation,  as this could be construed as a justification for a housing development in a less sustainable area.

Residential development comprising of 89 detached dwellings and 24 flats, including access, landscaping and associated facilities                                      Thorney Bay Park Ltd Thorney Bay Road Canvey Island

Outline application for residential development comprising dwellinghouses (C3 Use) and residential institutions (C2 Use) and access including additional flood risk and highway information.                                                                                                   Up to 600 dwellings plus Residential Accomodation.                                               Thorney Bay Caravan Park Canvey Island

OIKOS gain permission for the importation and use of Butane on Canvey Island.

For a while now, the Castle Point Development Committee have assumed the role of the Hazardous Substance Authority (HSA).

It appears that Council committee members, charged with decision-making, have been offered no relevant training, simply expected to follow the “guidance” of officers.  On this basis they were required last evening to consider the change of consent granted during 2012 to OIKOS.

oikos.jpg-pwrt3Photo credit: Echo News

This would allow the importation, storage and blending of butane. The intention is to use the nearby Calor Gas jetty to unload the fuel, store and pump through to OIKOS as required.

For the first time the Council Agenda made clear that the HSA (committee members) were responsible for the decision.

The OIKOS representative also made clear that the area had been used for the importation of fuel for some 70 years (80 years according to the CPBC Agenda). The clear implication this underlines is that CPBC planning authority are responsible for allowing housing development near the site.

The proposal Case Paperwork stated: “The Calor Gas terminal has the ability to import and store butane. It therefore makes sense, and would entail least risk, for Oikos to import butane from Calor’s storage or the jetty at the Calor terminal, under the process consented by Calor’s  HSC” – “It considers that there would be less risk in the importing of butane over Calor’s Jetty rather than Oikos existing No 1 jetty, which is closer to residential dwellings at Haven Quays and to the Oikos’s offices”

However there was no supporting documentation from the Calor Gas Company that shows support for this application. Given that the Calor Gas Company are solely responsible for the activities undertaken upon its jetty, it would not be unreasonable for the HSA to be able to question representatives of Calor, as to what additional measures have been put in place to secure safe operation of it’s now shared facility.

It could also be considered that the safety benefits of using the Calor Gas jetty in preference to the Oikos No 1 jetty is negated by the additional risk imposed upon the existing large residential caravan development within the middle zone of Calor Gas hazard range.

 “Residual Risk   Page 1 Even after all reasonable practical measures have been taken to ensure compliance with the requirements there will remain a residual risk of an accident which cannot entirely be eliminated. HSC controls ensure that residual risk to persons in the surrounding area and to the environment is properly addressed by land use planning

 This is the first time that residual risk and land use planning has been given the appropriate weight with regards to Hazardous Sites, previously the HSA has not been consulted when dealing with planning application in or around hazardous sites.

In effect the HSA (CPBC Councillor committee members) are being asked to take account of the totality of effect emanating from a major incident at the domino sites of Calor Gas and Oikos.

It would not therefore be unreasonable for the HSA to question its ability to understand the complexities and dynamics needed in the process of adequately assessing the TOLERABILITY of RISK,  without having under taken the in-depth training in order to do so.

This point has now highlighted that previous decisions made within its capacity of Acting HSA may have been inappropriately concluded. There is a requirement to review and revise, as appropriate, COMAH site Safety Reports.

Unfortunately, it does not emphasis the significant importance that these documents have to the Planning, Emergency Planning and Hazardous Substance Authorities. Operators must present Safety Reports that include the severity of the consequences for the WORST CASE EVENT in terms of expected numbers of fatalities and serious injuries in their accident consequence analysis. Less severe injuries should also be considered.

Societal Risk consideration are implicit to the relation of the hazardous site in relation to off-site populations and the density and types of site population. (residential caravans)

This application cannot be treated in isolation give the combined use of the Calor Gas jetty. It is imperative that the HSA had all of the details contained in the Safety Reports of both Calor and Oikos before a suitable deliberation regarding the risk and tolerability of risk can be fully appreciated.

It is unlikely that any of the Officers or the members of the Acting Hazardous Substance Authority have viewed these document and although it is not expected that a full understanding of their contents could, without considerable training, be achieved, it would be relatively easy for the responsible persons to recognise those aspects that would give a clear indication of the expected hazard range and ramifications of a major incident emanating from the installation of Calor or Oikos.

It would not have been unreasonable for the HSA to have insisted that they have before them, last evening, all of the relevant documents made available in a timely manner for them to make the appropriate judgements.

The proposal for the use of butane was approved, with Canvey Island representatives requesting their names were noted as voting for rejection. The officer in summary made the point that OIKOS did not need the Council’s (HSA’s) approval to commence production.

The Out Line Planning grant to the Thorney Bay Site was not considered necessary to give due material consideration to the OIKOS application and that the situation of the fact that a considerable number of known caravan dwellings within the middle consultation distance of the LPG installation of Calor, has not warranted comment despite the recent advice forwarded to Castle Point Planning Authority from the HSE.

The development committee members are expected to rely on the submission of the HSE. Castle Point Council did not feel it necessary to engage with a consultant to cross check information.

There appears to be unanswered questions for Canvey Island residents to concern themselves with.

Disclaimer:Content observations of the author and correct as far as can be interpreted by lay person no responsibility is accepted as to the contents factual correctness and advice should be sought before reprinting