Category Archives: Uncategorized

Housing “Master-Planning” or “Disaster-Planning”? Castle Point Council Local Plan and, How Many Homes were we Told to Expect? Possible Bad News for Mainland Residents!

The Golden Ticket, that the Castle Point lead group of councillors believed would save them and their latest Local Plan from the ultimate criticism, “Master-Planning” of their desired Housing Sites, looks likely to be De-Railed before reaching the first Hurdle!

Master-Planning was sold as the Saviour of the Green Belt, provider of localised Green Space and less Dense Housing, by none other than the CPBC leader himself! Aimed at keeping the Annual Housing delivery to a level that suits (whom?).

Well, some possible Bad News for Mainland Residents.

I say that advisedly, as Canvey Island Green Spaces and Green Belt, has always been on the Lead Group’s Radar, chiefly as a means of protecting the politically sensitive areas in the north of the Borough.

Unfortunately, all may not be quite as rosy as the lead group hope. OR, could it be that they have had an alternate Plan afoot, ever since the actual beginning?

Lichfields have released a paper named “How Many Homes? The new Standard Method.”

It refers to the standard method of calculation of the required number of dwellings that was introduced in 2018, and almost as soon as the method was implemented, it was announced that it would be changing. The Government’s new method of calculation will be compatible with boosting Housing Supply quickly, and aims to deliver a New National Total of Housing of 337,000 dwellings per Annum – far beyond the 270,000 that the current approach should have achieved!

The Current Approach, used by the Controllers at Castle Point Borough Council, by which they seek to deliver 352 Dwellings per Annum (dpa), higher than their identified  Housing Need of 342 dpa.

However Lichfields research identifies that under the Government’s new calculation methodology the new Target Total for Castle Point will in fact be 386 new Dwellings per Annum!

So, all of you Residents, already disappointed at CPBC’s proposed wrecking of the Borough by means of their Local Plan, can feel truly disappointed as the likelihood is that the current target of Housing Delivery will, in the Government and Planning Inspector’s eyes, leave the Borough with an Annual Housing shortfall of 44 dwellings per year, or another 660 dwellings over the Local Plan term!!

Note that we Castle Point residents are used to an average of 160 dwellings per year being developed, over the last 3 years. The new target will see a 240% increase in House Building activity in the Borough!

So either those controlling Castle Point Council will have to identify new “Shielded” Green Belt sites, or our leaders “Master-Planning” dream, goes out of the window! Identified sites will need their Housing Densities reviewed or more Green Belt sites released!

Those of us on Canvey Island well, we are densely urbanised already, have the prospect of the OIKOS expansion, doubling the sites capacity with jet fuels and all that the site’s hazard and delivery logistics involve, the Calor Gas terminal, potential of Surface Water and Tidal Flood Risk continually being undermined by the attitudes and planning by the lead group at CPBC.

Castle Point and its Residents have certainly been Snared by their own Lead group of Councillors, with their day dream of belonging in the Big Boys League of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA).

This group (ASELA), eager to get their hands on Government monies as part of the Thames Gateway scheme, have a vision for the area, which appears to be alien to the desires of Residents. They have caught us Residents up, as have our Borough’s lead group, in a web of Development, Regeneration and lack of Infrastructure funding, all in the name of progress and a desire for polished egos of those seeking to climb the slippery pole.

Castle Point Residents should beware what we are being dragged into, a Tiny Fish in a Big Pond has little future, usually ending as a Big Fish’s Supper!

Post kept purposely truncated to maintain certain councillors attention span.

Lichfields report can be found HERE.

Tiddler

Copyright: everyday-angler.blogspot.com

Pay Up and Shut Up! Canvey Islanders Under Representation yet Again! Irregular Planning Practises elsewhere and the CPBC Peer Review smokescreen/Cover-up.

As a sign that all is not as it should have been at Castle Point Borough Council, a further Two more committees have been formed. This is firstly to expedite the Local Plan process and secondly to likely cover up for the appalling criticism contained within the CPBC Planning Improvement Peer Challenge undertaken by Local Government Association (LGA) in co-operation with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS)!

The two CPBC Local Plan panels were introduced in the recent CPBC Council meeting agenda as;

Firstly, “Appointment of Local Plan Delivery Board The Local Plan Delivery Board provides Members with the vehicle to be involved in the delivery of the local plan, master planning and essential infrastructure. The Local Plan Delivery Board is to be formed of 9 members, including the Chairman of the Board. The membership of the Board is to be cross party with 6 Conservative Party Group members and 3 Canvey Island Independent Party Group members.”

The second committee, “Appointment of Development Management Committee The Development Control Committee is reconstituted. The Development Management Committee is to comprise of ten members reflecting the political balance of the Council.”

Despite what a CPBC local councillor claimed on a mainland facebook site, the Local Plan Delivery Board, DOES NOT reflect the Political Balance, nor does it even attempt to!

As the Canvey Green Belt has stated before on this Blog, Canvey Island is Under Represented by the number of Ward representatives across the Castle Point Council! The particular Blog Post can be found HERE, should anybody wish to refer, or challenge!

However, the CPBC Lead group, appear to delight in their continued unfair and unbalanced control of Canvey Island Residents by, in the case of the newly formed Local Plan Delivery Board, appointing 66% of the committee as Mainland ward representatives!!!

This despite the 2011, now out of date, Census figures revealing Mainland residents making up 56.3% of the population, whilst the Island population being 43.7% of the Borough.

Even the 6 : 4 split, whilst nearer the population balance, may be considered out of date due to the Borough’s population growth since the 2011 Census, coming chiefly through growth on Canvey Island.

The Danger is, I gather, that these committee members will be meeting with Developers, likely ahead of the Local Plan Examination.

This leaves the potential for the Local Plan, ahead of a fair and unbiased Examination, to appear to be more advanced and Sound than it really is!

Those areas likely to be harmed by this Back Room schmoozing, will include the whole of West Canvey and the Jotmans Farm area. Areas selected by the CPBC Lead Group as being less politically sensitive.

So before cllr Johnson, or any other mainland representative, weighs in again with the The individual party membership of any Council Committee is based on the number of seats each party has on the Council. Castle Point has 41 Ward Councillors, 24 Conservative, 16 Canvey Island Independent Party and 1 Independent” argument, let them answer the question, “why wasn’t cllr Blissett, the sole Conservative Canvey ward representative, elected onto one of these committees”?

The distribution of Residents per Ward in Castle Point is wrong, it is out of date and out of line with the Population Distribution.

The Local Plan Examining Inspector will have to be somewhat blinkered to not see that the “irregular” approach that CPBC take from the whole Local Plan process, since the Core Strategy days, is questionable and Blighted by “Local Factors!”

Whether this approach to the Local Plan, via the late creation of these two committees, will prove successful in also Covering Up the appalling criticism of Castle Point Council’s Planning activity, they will have to keep their fingers crossed.

Admittedly CPBC have done well to keep it well out of the Echo Newspapers front pages!

However, irregular planning practices are not unknown in other local authorities, as this LINK will highlight.

Canvey Ladies

The “Canvey Ladies”, present their 10,500 signature Petition at No.10 Downing Street. Equal Representation for Canvey Island

Castle Point finally agrees to greater London status. The East End to reach Southend, Growth and Development on it’s way!

If anybody was in doubt that the steam-rollering of Castle Point, would be the result of our borough council jumping into the pond with the big fish of Southend, Thurrock  and Basildon  councils, then hold onto your hats.

The formation of the ASELA group of south Essex councils in their desire to get hands on government funds will result in development like we have never seen since the end of the war.

This and an extra layer of government bureaucracy.

Why this news should be released late friday, during the covid pandemic appearing to cause a delay in lockdown easing one can only guess.

Where this will lead who knows, but the drive for power and the egotism of the local council leaders appears to go against the wishes of some local representatives

Here, the statement

“Proposals submitted to the Government today (Friday, 31 July) could help bring greater prosperity and vital infrastructure to South Essex and enable it to achieve its potential as an economic powerhouse for not only this region but the whole of the UK.

A prospectus detailing how an ambitious growth agenda could be delivered and proposals for the future of local government in South Essex have been submitted.

Chair of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “We are making clear to Government that Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock councils are working together, that South Essex works and that it works for the whole nation. We are a natural economic corridor encompassing three international ports, an international airport and currently contribute £17.9bn to the national economy.

“We are asking the Government for a significant amount of taxpayers’ money to be invested in South Essex to tackle the infrastructure deficit we have had to live with for decades and for the powers to make decisions locally that will improve the lives of our residents, now and in the future.

“This increased funding will allow South Essex to play a leading role in the country’s post COVID-19 crisis recovery by improving the wealth of the nation by attracting significant private sector investment in new employment opportunities.

“The ambition outlined in the prospectus will see South Essex contribute an additional £15 billion to the UK economy and create 100,000 new jobs by 2050.

“We are not looking at taking powers away from any of the six local authorities and local sovereignty will be maintained. Member councils will not give up the powers to make vital local decisions, like planning. Instead we are looking at the best way we can work together to ensure that we can have a significant positive impact on residents’ lives in the future and that some powers are devolved from Westminster to South Essex. With local government reform being a big part of the national recovery process, it means the time is now and the place is South Essex. ”

In the Cold Light of Day, Canvey Island’s sole purpose in the Eyes of Castle Point Council, is for Development, Come – What – May!

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his attempt to reverse the impact of Covid-19, promised massive funding for Road Infrastructure development and a Stamp Duty holiday to kick start the economy.

This could have implications for the Castle Point Local Plan, with the area’s requirement for new Highway Infrastructure to support CPBC’s desire to release strategic Green Belt sites for Housing Development.

Canvey Island and its Residents are in a particularly vulnerable position, not only is the intention to greatly increase the Island’s population, remove Acres of land from the Green Belt for development, but also to develop housing at Jotmans Farm which will vastly increase traffic congestion at the South of the borough!

Castle Point Council’s draft Local Plan, quite rightly, draws criticism from Essex County Council! It notes; “A total of 24 Strategic Housing Site Allocations (HO9 – HO32) provide 3,719 new homes supported by infrastructure. The key sites requiring master plans, or to be phased to secure key infrastructure are listed below:

HO9 Land West of Benfleet, Benfleet (850);

HO13 Land West of Benfleet, Hadleigh (455);

HO20 The Chase Thundersley (340);

HO23 Land east of Canvey Road (300)

HO24 Land West of Canvey Road (196)

HO25 Land at Thorney Bay Caravan Park (510)*”

Essex County Council, “as the Highways and Transportation Authority maintain objections in principle to two site allocations in the Draft Plan – HO9 (land west of Benfleet) and HO13 (land east of Rayleigh Road, Hadleigh)”!

Note that 3 of the CPBC Local Plan “KEY” Development Sites are on Canvey Island, an area that should be protected by 4 different forms of Development Constraints!

The CPBC Local Plan “suggests” that sites will only be developed should there be no 5 Year supply of Housing Land available, thereby allowing the Island’s Flood Risk Sequential Test to be considered as Passed.

The Local Authority know Full Well that development is well underway at Thorney / Sandy Bay, and that ALL other small Canvey development sites are Sequentially approved on the “Nod”!

The mainland residents are equally unhappy with their Ward Representatives for giving their backing to this Local Plan, and all of the Borough’s Residents need wake up to the Essex County Council’s position regarding New Road and Highway infrastructure improvements.

“Whilst ECC supports the concept new transport infrastructure and a third access to Canvey Island and Roscommon Way Phase 3, there is no ECC funding for these schemes. It needs to be understood that these schemes will require external funding from Government and developers rather than an assumption these unknown cost pressures will be addressed by ECC.”

On Castle Point’s Green Belt, Essex County Council note; “The Draft Plan states that the Green Belt evidence was updated in 2018 and reviewed in 2019, resulting in changes to the green belt boundary, including the release land for 14 sites for development and the removal of specific schools from the green belt.”

Taking advantage of the Government’s changes to Planning Guidance, CPBC are happy to weaken the Green Belt Boundaries protection across the Borough. Did we really Elect this Council to do this?

CPBC have steadfastly refused to take an active position where land requisition is concerned, rather than buying into the mainlanders desire to see the area known as the Blinking Owl brought forward, Canvey Islanders desire to see a Regenerated High Street, they have instead purchased the Canvey Island Knightswick Centre!

Despite this Local Plan saga stretching into 3 decades, we are likely to end up with a Local Plan intended to degenerate our Borough.

Of the CPBC Local Plan, Essex County Council state on the subject of the “Blinking Owl” site; “– amongst  improvements and alterations to be delivered: the A127 Growth Corridor Strategy; “The Draft Plan notes that some landowners have promoted the above site but, as there are multiple landowners in this area, there are currently no comprehensive development plans that are deliverable. Additionally, there would be a commitment and significant investment in infrastructure given the site is significantly constrained by a lack of appropriate access and risks to the strategic network, as well as other infrastructure requirements to support growth in this location”.

3 decades of negative “inactivity” by CPBC!

Will Residents sit by as these 3 important large Canvey Island sites, jump to the Front of the “6 Key Site” List for Development, whilst ECC have indicated Highway infrastructure flaws with 2 of the mainland sites ?

The Castle Point Borough Council Councillors, who have put their name to this Local Plan, need to examine their conscience and reason for support, as this Plan is Sequentially and Soundly Inadequate and Harmful to our Borough!

smiff

Less than 1 month to have a Say, Another Consultation for Canvey Island Residents, ahead of an Increase in Population and Under Resourced Infrastructure!

“Have your say on the future of South Essex”

Yet another Government Quango with yet another Survey to accumulate the thoughts of the Residents,  businesses, voluntary sector organisations in South Essex!

SE2050 propose; “Through this survey we want to hear your views on South Essex as a place to live, to visit, to work, or to run a business – what makes the region distinct and special for you. We want to explore how South Essex might change over the next 30 years; what we might be able to achieve together; and how we can focus our efforts and direct investment towards the things that matter most.”

This is to add to the Castle Point Borough Council Local Plan Consultation and the South Essex Plan Consultations, supposedly informing the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA).

South Essex Today: what makes the region special?

“While each individual town, village, coastal or rural area in South Essex is special in their own way, we want to hear your views on what makes the South Essex region distinct from other parts of the UK. Think about:

  • What is South Essex famous for? What makes it distinct from other places?
  • What do you see as the region’s biggest strengths? What makes South Essex a great place to live, to visit, to work or to run a business?
  • Which regional developments or achievements over the past decade make you most proud and why?”

Canvey Island has become an overspill for the London Housing deficiency with suspicions remaining that outside boroughs still relocate residents on their Housing Lists, into the local area. The Island has become more and more overcrowded, resulting in congestion and under resourced Services. All the while CPBC and ECC cutbacks have led Canvey to become more untidy, with drainage issues and a lack of Building Control.

The result of SE2050 will no doubt be more funding for our Local Government Partnership, more Housing, higher Population levels, possibly more Roads, more Hazardous Industrialisation, more pressure on Health Services and more Congestion, all in an area with Surface Water Drainage issues and an Un-funded Sea Defence Improvement scheme!

“What’s the Point” you will say? Well don’t have Your Say, and you will allow your name to be Used in Support of the Scheme.

The SE2050 Survey LINK.

The SE2050 Website LINK.

SURVEY CLOSES 31st JULY 2020

Note: this SE2050 is not to be confused with the SE2050 who are a community of progressive structural engineers!

Public Information Zone OIKOS

The Elderly Continue to be Viewed as an Increasing Problem. New Household Projections appear to Support CPBC Local Plan!

Coronavirus and shielding of clinically extremely vulnerable people in England: 9 June to 18 June 2020

Commenting on the findings, Tim Gibbs, Public Services Analysis Team, Office for National Statistics, said:

“We see a continued trend in clinically extremely vulnerable people following the government guidelines, as the proportion of people who report completely following the shielding guidance remains just over 60%. Their main support has come from video or phone calls with family and friends, the ease of prescription deliveries, and food deliveries or food boxes.

“Overall, the data paints a reassuring picture, showing us that despite the extra guidance in place for the clinically extremely vulnerable, over half (60%) of the shielding population report no change in their mental health since being advised to shield.

However, we recognise that the coronavirus pandemic and shielding has had an impact on the mental health of some of the shielding population.”

Main points

  • Of the 2.2 million clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people, 63% reported completely following shielding guidance.
  • The government, as well as communities, have provided support to enable CEV people to shield; the support mechanism that most people who had not left their home since receiving shielding guidance or in the last seven days found helpful was video or telephone calls with family and friends (74%), followed by prescription deliveries (59%) and food deliveries or food boxes (56%).

Household projections for England: 2018-based

Commenting on these findings, Andrew Nash, Population and Household Projections, Office for National Statistics said:

“The latest household projections show a continued rise in the number of households in England, at a level closely in line with what was previously projected. There continues to be much variation across age groups, regions and household types. We project the majority of household growth over the next 10 years will be because of an increase in older households without dependent children, particularly those where the household reference person is aged 75 years and over. This shows the potential impact of an ageing population on future household formation.”

Today’s report is an indication of the future number of households in England and its regions and local authorities. The data is used for planning in areas such as housing and social care. Household projections are not a prediction or forecast of how many houses should be built in the future. 

Main points

  • The number of households in England is projected to increase by 1.6 million (7.1%) over the next 10 years, from 23.2 million in 2018 to 24.8 million in 2028; this level of growth is very similar to the 2016-based projections.
  • Growth in the number of households is fastest where the household reference person (HRP) is of older age; 64% of the total growth in households is accounted for by households where the HRP is aged 75 years or over.

Text: Copyright Office for National Statistics Pic: Echo Newspapers

Castle Point Council could not possibly make the same mistake as Brentwood Borough Council, and fail their Local Plan Duty to Cooperate requirement?

The confidence that Castle Point councillors have in their Unpopular
Local Plan being successful, despite Residents concerns, is allegedly based
upon their work being overseen by the Government Intervention team.

CPBC, being part of the ASELA group of neighbouring local authorities, will be initially judged on their Local Plan process via their Duty to Cooperate work. This may prove interesting as another of the ASELA group is
Brentwood Borough Council, who have just received an Initial Questions letter from their Local Plan examining Inspector. (1)

Now bearing in mind that Duty to Cooperate work is reliant on the efforts of all of the participating Local Authorities, and given that during the disastrous CPBC examination meeting on our own Duty to Cooperate
document during 2016, Brentwood BC and indeed all of the other Council’s had officers in attendance, it is surprising to us laymen that Brentwood’s efforts don’t pass muster!

The Examining Inspectors wrote; “the information within it is not sufficient for us to assess whether the duty to cooperate has been met. We therefore require further information.

The DtC Statement indicates that the Council aims to produce statements of common ground or memoranda of understanding to provide clarification on discussions relating to strategic matters and the duty to cooperate. Can the Council direct us to these within the evidence and clarify whether they have been duly prepared in accordance with national planning policy and guidance on cooperation matters? If they have not been prepared and submitted can the Council explain the reasons for this and confirm when these will be available?”

“Section 8 of the Duty to Cooperate Statement identifies those organisations that have been involved in the preparation of the evidence base and/or the Plan. However this provides limited details on exactly how and when these organisations have been involved in the process, on what strategic matters and what the outcomes of discussions have been”

Castle Point Borough Council being one of the “organisations”
which have been involved in the Brentwood LP process, of which Brentwood have supplied No Evidence “on what strategic matters and what the outcomes of discussions”.

This would be very interesting to learn how this alarming blow will be received by CPBC.

Whilst the Brentwood Examiners state; “In relation to the strategic matter of housing what discussions have occurred with adjoining authorities around meeting any unmet housing needs including gypsy, traveller and travelling showpeople,” it would be relevant in CPBC’s case in particular with reference to Canvey Island to identify the effort put into seeking land
outside of the Borough available to allow development outside of the Flood Risk Zone 3A areas.

The Brentwood Examiners have been able to identify the council’s preference to release development sites which are not the most highly rated within the Sustainability Assessment, and have asked for Brentwood BC to “provide a succinct topic paper on the SA process, listing in chronological order, the growth distribution options that have been considered and how they have influenced the Plan during its preparation.”

A hint in the reference above, that the Inspectors considered that Sustainability issues alone, may not have been allowed the greatest weighting, within the Brentwood BC final Housing Site selection process. Something very familiar to Castle Point residents!

The Brentwood Examiners continued “The topic paper should also explain why some sites are deemed to be ‘constants’ within the options set out in the SA; how existing national designations, particularly the Green Belt has been considered;”

Can we read into this that, equally, Flood Risk and Hazardous Industrial sites should also have been given more serious consideration in the case of Castle Point’s Local Plan?

An interesting aside, especially where Canvey Island is concerned, is that contained within the Inspectors queries to Brentwood BC is the question;

“ Are there any neighbourhood plans in preparation within the borough and if so, what stage have they reached?”

Despite our local Castle Point councillors confidence that the latest version of the draft Local Plan 2020, Castle Point BC’s rationale and indeed competence, in putting together reasonable and logical Local Plan assessments remains questionable, as illustrated in November 2015 when they stated; “it is considered that flatted developments within the Benfleet area will become viable in the future.
It is not thought that flatted developments on Canvey will become viable
however due to the additional costs associated with flood resistance and
resilience.”
[2]

The continued development of many Flatted development schemes has disproven this point so many times over!

Even disenfranchised Mainland residents must take some comfort from this.

Public Information Zone OIKOS

(1) http://www.brentwood.gov.uk/pdf/01062020114535000000.pdf

(2) STRATEGIC HOUSING LAND AVAILABILITY ASSESSMENT UPDATE November 2015

Castle Point Councillors crafty Local Plan process deceives Residents! Forgive them, for they know not why they raised their hand!

Residents, and quite possibly some councillors, may not have been aware of what implications were involved, following the result of the Castle Point Council vote on the Local Plan during October 2019.

It has been confirmed that councillors will be allowed no further consideration on any changes to the Local Plan following the public Consultation.

So, any Residents hoping that their Responses, or Petitions would have any effect on the current draft Local Plan, will be disappointed.

Those Residents struggling to conform with the CPBC official Local Plan Consultation response form, will also be frustrated!

Your Time and Effort counted for Nowt!

For Residents and most of their Representative’s involvement in this most opaque of Local Plan process, can now be considered, well and truly Over!

Unless there is a cause for a Major alteration of the Local Plan, the Plan with any minor alteration carried surreptitiously, will be heading directly, without further ado, to the Secretary of State for his examination.

(CPBC 2018, in response to; “Residents Opinion Does Not Matter”) wrote; “In line with Government directive, local authorities carry out public consultation in order to gather information on what aspirations the community has for their area. CPBC has prepared and undertaken the public consultation in line with requirements.

The outcome results of the consultation will form an integral part of the evidence base which shall, among other documents, help in preparation of a successful Local Plan for the borough.”                                                               

CPBC Councillors at their 22nd October 2019 Meeting Voted, and by a majority Approved, that all minor amendments should be undertaken without the need for their further Approval or consideration, following this part of the Motion!

“This report seeks the Council’s formal agreement to the new Castle Point Local Plan and its associated documents and seeks the Council’s consent to proceed to consultation on that plan and thereafter submission to the Secretary of State for examination.”

Residents Frustration and Anger at those councillors in Support of such a dereliction of Responsibilities, is totally understandable!

And to think how Residents were reminded and placated by Councillors assuring us that this is only a Draft Local Plan we voted in Favour of!

Not wishing to offend, this particular Blog Post has been deliberately truncated, so as to retain the attention span of any residents or ward representatives unable to maintain focus.

CPBC sought your views through the Local Plan Consultation and have dealt with as they saw appropriate!

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents not only affected by Covid-19, but also by a lack of Leadership and Guidance. CPBC Silence, is Golden!

Deaths in Castle Point, due to the Coronavirus Covid-19, according to the ONS Map issued at the end of April indicate a total of 33 residents as having lost their lives.

Despite the slightly smaller population of 38,459  living on Canvey Island, compared with 49,552 residents on the mainland, Canvey Island residents appear to have fared worse at the hands of Covid-19.

Deaths amongst Canvey Island residents amount to 20, whilst 13 mainland residents have passed away, despite the population balance.

The reasons are unclear at the moment why this maybe, but the Urban housing density on Canvey is by far greater than that of the mainland. The open spaces on the mainland, contrast the major employment and retail areas on Canvey which may go some way to explain the in-balance in the distribution of fatalities across the Borough, when compared with the population spread.

Equally the access to, or lack of, working from home that some employment provides, whilst deprivation in certain urbanised areas and general health reasons, may also contribute.

What there is clearly a lack of, which can only be described as a Silence, is communication of advice and information from our local authority, Castle Point Borough Council!

Canvey Island, as residents should be aware, is never too far away from a potential “calamity”, whether from Surface Water Flooding, Tidal Flooding, or an Accident at either of the 2 Top Tier COMAH sites!  

In the event of a Catastrophe or a major Emergency, it would likely be the CPBC chief Executive that would assume the role of “Gold Command.” The ineffectiveness of this position during the Summer Floods of 2014, was clearly apparent. With the Environment Agency unable to reach the Island to re-set the Pumps, the non existence of access to “sand” bags, with a broken drainage system, and residents left to their own devices following the inability of the emergency call centre, situated outside of the Borough, to cope with the level of calls for assistance, “Gold Command” appears an exaggerated title.

Even now during this current Pandemic, when it would be of most use, there does not exist an official list of the most vulnerable Residents in our borough, whether aged or infirm and in Need of Assistance, during this and any other critical period.

Now that our death tally has overtaken Italy, it is interesting to note the difference in the Italian local authorities approach to the way they keep their Residents informed of the situation. In Italy’s case a Mayor acts as spokesperson, informing residents of the number of cases or deaths from Covid-19 within the local authority area, reminding residents of the current expectation of what they are and are not allowed to do as far as movement etc is concerned, whilst encouraging residents to conform to the tightly controlled health restrictions.

On the other hand and in contrast Castle Point Council, maintain “Radio Silence”!

We learn that unless Planning applications are highly contentious, they are decided away from public gaze by officers. The Local Plan is being treated in similar fashion, residents being asked to respond to the Local Plan consultation, and despite having their Names made public, are not allowed to view what developers have submitted in the same consultation.

Openness and Transparency, appears not to be within CPBC’s remit, so long as residents have assisted in the local authority achieving the public involvement requirement.

“Our” Silent, Council Leader and chief executive appear content in the position they have achieved, residents lack of awareness of the dangers of the Pandemic, the Local Plan out of residents input, and no local press to challenge them.

The Echo, for the few Canvey Island residents still buying it, contains no local news, and no investigative journalism allowed where Castle Point is concerned!  

According to official figures Covid-19 has a hospital infection Total of over 3250 Essex Residents inffected. Taking the Castle Point total of 33 deaths into consideration, there may be a tendency to think locally, Risks are worth taking!

If there is no Leadership from local government level whether it be from our MP , council leader or chief executive, Residents should beware the Second Wave!

Compare our Castle Point Borough Council communications, with an Italian local authority;

CPBC: SILENCE, when I enquired as to the situation regarding Covid-19 Deaths and Contractions in the Borough, the response was a short and sharp, we don’t know!

In Contrast; an Italian Mayor’s update ⚠️
Good evening
A few minutes ago I received the communication of a new positive case in our municipality. Also in this case ASL activated quarantine with active surveillance and implemented all the planned health protocols. The person concerned is being treated at his / her home.
I express to the affected person and the family my concerns in this moment of difficulty, wishing them a speedy recovery as soon as possible.
These isolated cases don’t have to worry too much. Even in the presence of new cases, as happened yesterday and even today, I assure you that checks are careful and that all the contracts we had in the days before the verification of positivity are monitored.
Let’s keep our behaviours respectful, to the provisions they have given us that are the only ones that can prevent infections from spreading.
Today the distribution of masks sent by the region has started and will continue in the next few days. In our municipality they will be delivered by the Red Cross with which close collaboration is established.
I want to thank the President and all the volunteers who made themselves available for this important service to the area. With my next notice I will communicate the actual day of entry into force of the order of the President of the region that forces all to wear a mask in public places or open to the public.
From 20 pm the sanitisation of the area will begin, starting from the centre and to follow the other locations and villages identified in the municipal plan of intervention.
For all update news always follow the official channels of the Administration on the website and related facebook page.

The contrast between this and Castle point communication and leadership is obvious. That is why it can be seen that complacency is the latest concern in the fight against Covid-19.

The local distribution of fatalities are: Canvey Island North West  1, South West  2, Winter Gardens 3, Newlands 7, Leigh Beck 7. Benfleet 13 Total 33 deaths

Stay In – Stay Safe – Stay Well

Under the Coronavirus Radar, Secrecy, Lack of Transparency and Exploitation, Castle Point Borough Council’s idea of a Local Plan Process!

The Covid-19 Pandemic may have provided Castle Point Council with the perfect opportunity to distract residents from ongoing Housing Development desires across Canvey Island and the mainland. Whilst an apparent Blackout on Local Plan news and information leaves CPBC with a window of opportunity for avoiding accountability.

Residents who took part, in good faith, in the Local Plan Consultation have had their names made public, yet remain unable to view what major Developers have planned for the area, what OIKOS and Calor Gas positions are, what little Infrastructure monies are actually available via Essex County Council, and what the Environment Agency have funds for where improvements to Canvey Island’s sea defences are required, as their actual submissions remain secret!

Castle Point Council’s intention to not be Open and Transparent with local Residents is apparent, when they say;

“The Pre-submission plan, associated evidence documents, together with all the representations made and the statement of representations will be submitted to the Secretary of State for an examination in public. We will contact you when the submission has taken place.”

I have contacted cpbc councillors to get this intention confirmed, or whether CPBC will allow residents to view the Consultation submissions, but alas have received no reply!

However, we have seen Essex County Council’s response to the CPBC Local Plan and they highlight certain areas of concern, especially for Canvey Island Residents.

Major development which CPBC intend for Canvey, the Dutch Village fields and the Triangle site, both Green Belt areas, are included in the Local Plan, despite them being Sequentially unsuitable due to Flood Risk.

CPBC openly disregard Planning Guidance by their desire to develop on Canvey Island, by “suggesting” that development will not take place until such time that there is no longer a 5 Year Housing Supply across the whole of the Borough!

The CPBC Local Plan is scheduled to cover a 15 Year period. A major site supporting the early part of the Local Plan’s Housing Supply is the contentious Jotmans Farm site, Prime Green Belt edging a built up area. the site is currently intended for 850 dwellings, this total protected by CPBC’s Master-planning day dream.

“The 24 housing site allocations are a mix of 12 brownfield sites within the urban area and 12 sites outside the urban area, including on Green Belt land, providing 974 and 2,745 new homes respectively,” of a Nett Total Housing Supply of 5,284

Canvey Island sites, “The site(s) can only come forward when the housing supply remaining falls below 5 years supply, in order to meet the sequential test for flood risk”

However the Jotmans farm site, known as, “HO9 Land West of Benfleet , Benfleet”, being the largest site off of the Island and “potentially” within the Local Plan, is expected to supply 850 Dwellings.

However, there is very little chance that Essex County Council or other Highway agencies will find Funding for the aspiration for a Roundabout and dedicated carriageway onto and along Canvey Way, from the Jotmans farm site to Sadlers Farm Junction!

This could be interpreted as there being little chance of Jotmans Farm, the Land west of Benfleet, being developed until, at the earliest the very latter years of the Local Plan period, or that Persimmons will introduce Development in Phased Stages of perhaps 250 – 300 dwellings per Phase, getting around the obligation to install an access road and junction off of Canvey Way. Or, even worse still for Benfleet residents with eventually the whole new Estate having access via the existing road network!

On one hand Castle Point Council actively promote Jotmans Farm and Canvey Island Green Belt sites, despite all of these sites requiring extensive Infrastructure improvements, and yet land at North West Thundersley is withheld / protected for exactly the same requirement; Infrastructure improvements!

“The Draft Plan notes that some landowners have promoted the above site but, as there are multiple landowners in this area , there are currently no comprehensive development plans that are deliverable. Additionally, there would be a commitment and significant investment in infrastructure given the site is significantly constrained by a lack of appropriate access and risks to the strategic network, as well as other infrastructure requirements to support growth in this location addressing matters such as water supply, drainage and energy infrastructure and community services, affecting the viability and likelihood of development in the plan period . The majority Of the land at North West Thundersley, the “Blinking Owl” site, highway improvements which would be required to support development at North West Thundersley are not currently funded, although initial discussions have taken place between ECC as the Highway Authority, landowners and developers. Fur- thermore, the government’s commitment to the Lower Thames Crossing, will have a significant impact on the strategic highway network (A13, A127, A130). ECC has advised that further development which affects the highway network will not be supported until fu nding for the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange is committed and in place. ECC ’s previous position on this site remains unchanged, namely that ECC would not support any new development and employment allocations until the proposed long term transport scheme for the junction is implemented; hence the safeguarding of the site is only supported subject to the prior implementation of the long term highway improvement scheme for the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange”

Canvey Residents should note where Essex County Council point out; “highway improvements which would be required to support development at North West Thundersley are not currently funded,

This is also the case where Canvey Island Sea Defence improvements against Tidal Flooding is concerned, these also being “not currently funded,” as the Local Plan supporters amongst Castle Point Council members know so well!

And yet land on Canvey Island continues to be EXPLOITED!

Despite Councillor denials, how true this Headline turned out to be!