Category Archives: Uncategorized

Canvey Island supressed Housing Numbers, Thorney Bay ploy to deceive Local Plan Examiner and to Trash Canvey’s Green Belt?

It is Long Overdue that Castle Point Council officially recognise Thorney Bay for what it actually is and is becoming, instead CPBC Cabinet continue to deceive!

Identified in previous CPBC daft Local Plans as a Housing Site capable of delivering 600+ dwellings (now indicated to be just 510), and also highly likely to feature as such imminently in the next local Plan as similar.

Whereas in reality the owners are currently converting Thorney Bay caravan park, into a Park Homes site, Sandy Bay, capable of accommodating 1,000+ park homes!

So what you may add, well, the difference is 400 Extra dwellings that should be included in the Housing figures allocated to Canvey Island.

Sandy Bay, according to CPBC, requires not to be put through the Planning Process, therefore allows CPBC to hide from the Local Plan Examiner the details of the numbers of dwellings, actually being developed.

This apparent “blindness” of CPBC is very convenient as they continue to fight to include the Dutch Village and the Triangle Green Belt sites as preferred Housing Development locations, in their protection of the North of the Borough.

This deception by CPBC can be seen in a document due to be presented for consideration by CPBC’s own Cabinet by cllr Stanley during next week’s meeting on the16th October.

The Equality Scheme Review 2019 – 2023, with a Foreword by ceo Marchant, contains evidence on the levels of Deprivation amongst Canvey Island residents.

Thorney Bay is identified as remaining a key deprived area. The CPBC Cabinet will be asked to note a Report that is out of date. Painting a picture of:- attracting a wave of migrants of low income from elsewhere in south Essex and east London.

Whereas in fact, the Sandy Bay site is rapidly becoming an area for fairly affluent adults, downsizing and with resultant savings.  

If it were not for the imminent emerging Local Plan, this Cabinet Report could be dismissed as a tired, and lazy piece of work by CPBC officers, instead it can only be thought of as a cunning piece of deception to mislead a Local Plan Examiner.

How else could it be explained?  

In Castle Point, 12,821 households were identified as experiencing one dimension of deprivation, a further 7,949 households were identified as experiencing two dimensions of deprivation, and a further 1,620 households were identifies as experiencing 3 or more dimensions of deprivation.

There are variations in the level of deprivation experienced across Castle Point. On Canvey Island, there are four neighbourhoods (Lower Super Output Area – LSOA) with levels of deprivation in the bottom 20% nationally and one neighbourhood with levels of deprivation in the bottom 10% nationally. Meanwhile, there are two neighbourhoods in Boyce and St. James wards that are within the 10% least deprived areas in the Country.

Thorney Bay Caravan Park

Caravans previously used as holiday accommodation at Thorney Bay Caravan Park are rented as residential accommodation. Due to the relatively low cost and ease of access to this accommodation it has proved attractive to those on low incomes. Additionally, it has attracted a wave of migrants from elsewhere in south Essex and east London. This has resulted in the rapid creation, since 2006, of a low income, vulnerable community including many families with children. 

The Census 2011 reports on the dimensions of deprivation can be reported at the lower super output area level.

For Lower Super Output Area 011E, which mainly covers the occupied part of the Thorney Bay Caravan Park site, the proportion of households experiencing 2 or more dimensions of deprivation is higher than elsewhere in Castle Point and the England average. Furthermore, the proportion of households experiencing no dimensions of deprivation is far lower than the Castle Point and England averages. It is therefore clear that this area, mainly incorporating Thorney Bay Caravan Park, is more deprived than elsewhere in Castle Point. 

Particular issues of deprivation can be found with regard to unemployment, which at 9.5% is significantly above the Castle Point average of 5.2%. There are also issues around housing with 14.6% of households in this area reporting that they have no central heating compared to 1.7% of households in Castle Point as a whole.

There are proposals to redevelop the caravan site for traditional housing, which whilst preferable to the residential use of caravans, will see residents of this vulnerable community displaced, and potentially made homeless as a consequence.

Sandy Bay: the Echo

Advertisements

CPBC Local Plan Members, Inspector sends a Timely reminder, development on Canvey’s Green Belt does not constitute Very Special Circumstances nor Pass the Sequential Test!

Canvey’s Dutch Village Green Belt fields have been saved from Persimmons latest attempt at development of Equestrian Stable block, hay storage, grazing and exercise facilities.

Having taken the proposal to Appeal, the Appeal has been Dismissed on Grounds of Flood Risk AND Green Belt!

This is all part of their long term aim of circumventing the planning process to develop 300+ dwellings through the Castle Point Local Plan.

In what MUST serve as a Timely Reminder to those Castle Point Councillors who meet on the 22nd October to pass the next version of a daft Local Plan, the reasons, and clear interpretation given by the Appeal Inspector should be used as Direction to Think Again, before releasing what little remains of Canvey Island’s Green Belt!

The Appeal Inspector, in considering a 2 horse Stable Block with paddock and grazing land, found:-

 “The construction of the stable block would result in a built development where there are not presently any buildings.  The development of a new building (and associated paraphernalia) would inevitably lead to the loss of openness.  This is particularly the case as the site has no other buildings or development on it.

“Furthermore, it would also lead to a loss of Green Belt openness and would impact on the Green Belt purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment contrary to the Framework.”

“A flood risk sequential test should not take into account the need for such facilities as such but should concentrate on whether the suggested location is appropriate having regard to other available sites.”

“In this case, the Appellant has justified the limitation of the sequential test area to Canvey Island on the basis of the local need from Canvey Island and the desirability to have such facilities in proximity to the owner of the stabled horse(s). It has also been suggested that the ‘mainland’ is around 3 miles away. However, the Council consider there is a more direct route to Benfleet via the B1014. On my journey to/from the appeal site, I travelled along both routes and I agree with the Council that the route via the B1014 is a quicker and a more direct route. To my mind, this indicates that sites away from Canvey Island should be considered as part of any overall sequential test assessment. Given that the information provided to inform the sequential test does not consider other sites away from Canvey Island, this presents a significant omission.”

“….in the absence of a comprehensive sequential test it has not been demonstrated that the proposal would not present an unacceptable risk in relation to safety and flood risk. Consequently, the development would be contrary to the flood risk aims of the Framework.”

“the very special circumstances necessary to justify the development do not exist and the proposal would conflict with the Framework.”

Green Belt balance;

“I have concluded that the proposal would be inappropriate development and would have an adverse effect on openness.  The Framework indicates that inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.  Therefore, substantial weight should be given to the harm to the Green Belt.  Very special circumstances to justify inappropriate development will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.”

It was not so long ago that Brandon Lewis, issued a written ministerial statement saying that unmet housing need was not in itself likely to constitute a very special circumstance.

It was encouraging that the Planning Inspector took note of the submission of the Canvey Green Belt Campaign and referred to points made by us in reaching his decision. We live to fight another day.

However the CPBC councillors participating in the meeting to decide the fate of Canvey Island’s Green Belt should note, they will be held Totally Responsible, should they agree a Local Plan that includes development on the two valuable Green Belt areas on the Island.

To capitulate to the officers, leader of the council and Government Interventionists, is to Betray Castle Point Residents, according to the Inspector considering the Persimmons Appeal, un-necessarily!

The full Appeal decision can be found HERE.

The Dark Art of Burying “Bad News Story’s” and Reviews – Castle Point Borough Council Style!

Apparently, according to whispers, the October meeting of Castle Point Council will be held to consider the next version of the Local Plan containing the Housing Development proposed for Canvey Island and the rest of the Borough. This may be considered an opportune time, what with the proposed Brexit date of the 31st October, plus a threatened General Election.

Councillors should also be looking out for an opportunity to give their opinion on a damning Peer Review of Castle Point Council’s Planning department and committee, that was published early Spring this year, but kept secret from Residents! It would appear “Timely” for CPBC to slip in mention of this disastrously critical Peer Challenge Review during the same Ordinary Council Meeting held to consider the newest Local Plan, especially if the Plan is equally distasteful, as Time restriction would mean discussion of either or both would be truncated!

We first mentioned the CPBC Peer Challenge into Development Committee matters during July 1st 2019, having anonymously received a copy of the findings.

Since then Castle Point Council have remained silent, hoping Residents and Councillors will simply forget or not care!

Are there two different report copies of the same Investigation Review report into Castle Point Council Development Planning? That is the question we find us asking ourselves after copies were sent to the Echo newspaper, and anonymously to ourselves over the weekend.

Unlike the Echo’s version, ours appears as though a more Critical Report, would be hard to imagine than that produced following the Peer Challenge review into Castle Point Borough Council Planning! With Headline Criticisms seemingly jumping from every single page it appears that CPBC officers and councillor heads should be hung in shame.

Whereas, the Echo report on the same Peer Challenge review, gave the impression of a low level of criticism of our local authority, even played down further by the CPBC ceo!

That our Local Authority (CPBC) finds itself in an “incredibly challenging position”, can only be described as a massive and polite understatement, whilst  the CPBC leadership attempts to distance itself from its Planning department and Development Committee in an attempt to maintain a self implied level of competency.

The report uncoveredKey concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC (Development Control Committee) of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice

we found a widespread perception concerning weaknesses in probity in relation to planning decision making. Such is the level of concern amongst the Executive Management Team (EMT) that two statutory letters have been sent to Members concerning inappropriate behaviour.”

For clarity, Probity noun“the quality of being honest and behaving correctly

This is an appalling accusation to have been made! Fortunately no individuals were named in the Report, however this leaves a smear against all members until those accused are identified, a gross unfairness for our representatives.

 Other criticisms appear to have led to a change in the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman, as can be seen in the latest Development Committee Agenda papers on CPBC website.

Significant weaknesses exist in the operaton (sic) of the Development Control Committee (DCC). Key concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice.

However, the new development committee Chairman cllr. Dick and new Vice Chairman cllr. Sharp have both strongly held views on severely limiting development numbers, especially on Green Belt. Whilst we, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, support this as a policy, whether CPBC will be left open to criticism and exploited by developers etc, at appeal or Local Plan examination stage may be another matter, that only time will reveal!

The criticism of cllr. Hart, ex chairman may appear harsh, having been promoted to the position comparatively recently. It is apparent, whilst holding fairly strong views, he has put in appropriate effort  and appeared to clearly take his role seriously, however direct criticism is aimed through the report at him.

Given cllr Hart’s apparent efforts, much of this criticism perhaps should be directed at council officers in the level and quality of training being offered to him and the other committee members.

However there has been, over recent years, use made of the “adopted” policy of approving development on, so called non-“Virgin” Green Belt land. Two proposals of which were granted on Canvey Island, one for a bricks and mortar built equestrian centre and one for a residential care home, both sites on Canvey Island west ward.

Whether  these transgressions from the 1998 Adopted Local Plan, with its protection of all Green Belt land, as directed within Planning Guidance unless exceptional circumstances suggest otherwise, would form part of the criticisms raised, is not made apparent.

The Report continues; “We found incidences of a significant breakdown in relationships between some Members and senior officers relating to the culture of policy plan making and planning decision making at Castle Point.” “The perception of probity issues” “in itself is a serious leadership issue which needs to be tackled at a senior level. It was our impression from the peer review that these dysfunctional relationships are badly affecting morale, draining capacity and leading to negative and defensive behaviours that are getting in the way of productive joint working and acting as ‘one team’.”

That there is / has been “significant breakdown in relationships” comes as no surprise, as incidents have emerged anecdotally and in the press, over the course of some years. What is apparent is that senior officers and party leaders have had ample time to address these issues in the interests of the Borough, developers and residents. The ambition of working as “one team” is all too rare in politics of All Levels these days!

The criticism above will add to the apparent uneasiness with the perceived unfair representation of Canvey Island residents. The implication is that some development committee members have their own Agendas and that, of the number of decisions made during planning meetings, too many go against the advice of officers for unsubstantiated reasoning!

“There are significant opportunities for the Council to address these issues and recast the DCC to a Strategic Planning Committee with potentially a smaller more focussed group of well-trained Members with key competencies and behaviours to judge development against the development plan and material planning considerations.”

“Recommendation 2 . Address the issues identified and reconstitute a new modernised strategic Development Management Committee with a strategic focus – including a review of size, composition, behaviours, skills and complete modernisation of processes. Political leaders from all parties should ensure that Members with the appropriate skills and behaviours are appointed to the Committee.”

The Report is dated April 1st, 3 months have now passed by with no official, acknowledgement nor announcement to Castle Point Residents. It says much of the Arrogance and Control of the heads of CPBC that they desired to keep this Report, despite being funded by Canvey and mainland Residents, should be kept secret from us all.

In response to the report sees Castle Point Council development committee continuing with a similar membership set up to previous, ignoring the suggested opportunity to respond to the Peer Review team’s specific recommendation to stream line the committee size and uplift the competency levels by maintaining the committee membership numbers and by including 4 new members with no previous planning experience, three of these as substitutes.

“At present the area is producing less than half of the homes required. Without the adoption and development of large scale master planning sites in the Local Plan, the planning system is not able to deliver on meeting identified corporate priorities such as affordable homes, new schools, better integrated health facilities, enhanced access to green space, safe walking and cycling routes and improved highway infrastructure. Currently while approximately 100-150 homes are built each year the Borough is missing out on intergrated co-ordination and delivery that can lead to wider community gain and is essential for building sustainable communities.”

The so called “wider community gain” is a Never – Neverland dream, with very few Affordable homes being accrued as a percentage of market priced Housing developed, due to Developers Viability arguments. Even then facilities, agreed via S106 agreements, will generally only amount to on-site improvements. Whereas, there is a requirement that funding for improvement of the Canvey Island Sea Defence will need to come from localised sources. It was deemed desirable that development within the Borough should be reasonably expected to contribute to such Sea Defence funding. Castle Point Council have sought not 1 Penny from any developer. Given the scale of development in Canvey west ward this is a travesty and is storing up major financial issues for the future!

“Developers and house builders, we spoke to told us that presently they are avoiding investing in Castle Point despite what they saw as the area’s obvious locational advantages. They saw making large scale investment decisions in Castle Point just too risky based on this situation.  This is of significant concern and of reputational damage to CPBC and needs to be address urgently.”

Developers have the means of presenting their case of point in a way that Peer group planners and councillors would more likely agree with, rather than object to. There are clear Development Constraints, whether Green Belt or Flood Risk, to be taken into account, something that the likes of Persimmon, with their Land Bank portfolio in mind, would care little about.

Officers have worked to engage with Members throughout all stages of Local Plan development yet there remains a deep rooted predilection to revert to a well-used Member statement that the Local Plan is the officer’s Plan. This is incorrect and it is crucial that all Members own the Local Plan and are responsible for what happens as a consequence of it.”

This, as Canvey Island residents should all be aware by now, is Un-True, The Local Plan Task and Finish Group work, now conveniently eradicated from the CPBC Local Plan Archives, would indicate their work on the specific Canvey Island Constraints on development, Hazardous Industries and Flood Risk both Tidal and Surface Water, was ended abruptly by a senior officer. Members were led to believe they had agreed a further complete meeting on the Topics, instead none was organised and officers and the Leaders went ahead and published “their” Local Plan!

I wonder whether that point was put to the Peer Challenge review Team!

Regarding the number of Planning Proposals that have been overturned by the CPBC DCC the Peer review group stated; “It is important to note that in the last two years the vast majority of DCC overturns have been in situations where officers’ recommendations have been to refuse housing development in the green belt whereas the Committee has agreed to allow development.  If non-material matters are being considered in relation to the decision making it potentially throws(sic) doubt on the validity of the debate and decision-making process.”

Surely there are mechanisms in place to address this issue, however on the one hand the Peer Challenge Team identify a lack of development approvals, and then they suggest that the Development Committee members should not be granting approvals against officer advice. Housing Delivery numbers would be even lower in that case!

“we see an important opportunity for the wider political leadership and opposition party to develop a coherent long-term growth vision for Castle Point. This needs to contain a stronger narrative around the benefits of growth for residents,”

“Current delivery against target is only at 48 per cent and Castle Point is the joint 10th worst council out of the 343 other councils in England on this measure. Previous housing targets were in the region of 250-280 dwellings per year with delivery in the area of only 100-150 dwellings a year. The Local Housing Needs requirement raises the target to 370 dwellings per year while the non-approved Local Plan aimed for 350 dwellings per year.”

It truly does appear that Castle Point council and Residents, will one way or another, have Development, Housing Numbers and its Delivery foisted upon Us!

Government have claimed it is for local authorities to decide their own Housing Need and Delivery, well this Local Government Association inquisition of Development Committee and Council members, albeit self imposed by CPBC heads, have done a grand job of suggesting that Westminster, the civil service and Developers retain the whip hand!

Once again we wonder whether this “challenging,” Planning Improvement Peer Challenge, will be disclosed ahead of the next Council meeting to consider the Local Plan 2019?

Of course we must bear in mind that this “challenging” report is the opinion of invited outsiders, indeed included in the text appears a series of questions raised by CPBC themselves. An invite to condemn, to which, no doubt, CPBC members will most likely disagree and rightfully have their own opinions.

The Peer Review team consisted of: • Paul Barnard – Service Director, Strategic Planning & Infrastructure Plymouth City Council; • Cllr Dale Birch – Conservative Member, Deputy Leader & Planning Committee Member, Bracknell Forest Council; • Julie Baird – Assistant Director for Growth, West Suffolk Council; • Stephen Barker – Principal Consultant, Planning Advisory Service; and • Robert Hathaway – Peer Challenge Manager, LGA associate. And it was made clear that further support is available from the Planning Advisory Service and Local Government Association, suggesting that perhaps CPBC are not currently best equipped on an officer level.

This blog post has been constructed in good faith under the assumption that the report received is in fact a correct and unaltered version of the original. Should this assumption turn out to be incorrect we will happily alter or retract the relevant parts in the copy above.

copyright: Google

Green Belt, Brexit, General Election, Government Intervention. What could be delaying the next Castle Point Local Plan?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, facing Castle Point Council!                 

Whilst working tirelessly, no doubt, behind the scenes in producing a further Local Plan draft, the key decision in its production will be Timing. That is, when to put the Local Plan before the full Council for consideration, and when to release the Housing Sites selected.

Potential Reaction from Residents, can be considered a crucial Factor, what with the potential Fall Out should Residents be asked to attend the likely imminent General Election Polls. There is no doubt that Brexit and the turmoil, I was going to write, “inside parliament”, but as it remains closed at the time of writing, had better change to, turmoil on the political front, is undoubtedly affecting CPBC’s advancement of their Plan.
Despite being supposedly under pressure to speedily produce an adoptable document, otherwise Government Intervention will be implemented, and Green Belt Land being left “vulnerable to speculative developers(since 2009?), CPBC appear confident working at their own pace of production. Rumours suggested that late Summer would see a Plan emerge, but now Autumn nears and still no sign.

In the light of no information emerging it seems reasonable to speculate which Housing Sites may be included, given certain rumours currently going around the Borough.

Given that Canvey Island’s Green Belt has been selected for Development in every single one of CPBC’s draft Local Plans, that is with the exception of the 2016 version, which left the Rails at the Duty to Cooperate stage, it would be a waste of time and energy worrying about which of the Island’s sites will be included for development in the latest forthcoming Local Plan.

The mainland is a different matter, as what Housing Development is to be proposed for the south of the mainland part of our Borough will directly influence, to the detriment, the Traffic Flows and Congestion getting to and from Canvey Island!

Jotmans Farm and Land between A130 and Romsey Road, is identified for 940 new dwellings all due to be serviced by a roundabout with a Junction intersecting Canvey Way!

Canvey Way, Sadlers Farm and the Waterside Roundabout needs no explanation as to their chronic effects upon the everyday life of Canvey Islanders. Sadlers Farm, sold to us as being a potential relief to congestion issues, in fact turned out to be the exact opposite whilst also affecting for the worse, commuter traffic heading for the Tarpots junction and Benfleet.

Those wondering why the south of the Borough appears to be the favoured development and regeneration areas will be puzzled by the apparent overlooking of sites towards the more central parts of the Borough. CPBC identified sites with a potential to realise 1,100+ dwellings around Daws Heath and Rayleigh Road areas.

The previous draft Local Plan 2018 in its Green Belt Housing Site Selection, identified 455 dwellings at Land East of Rayleigh Road with other sites allocated medium to small numbers of dwellings, other than the Chase area off Kiln Road, already partly developed through the 1998 Adopted Local Plan.

This despite the Castle Point Council Briefing paper for the Members Conference of September 2011 identifying capacity for many more dwellings on sustainable dwellings in the Green Belt on sites in the middle part of the Borough.

It appears that even now, Local Factors are influencing Green Belt development site selection, as Canvey Island and the Jotmans Farm area are receiving no such protection.

Green Belt development remains a volatile topic at Local and National levels. Should illogically preferred sites continue to be protected through the influence of “Local factors”, then it would be fair to assume that a new draft Local Plan will also be the subject to opposition and criticism through to its Examination stage.

The A127 Nevendon Interchange is receiving Government monies to improve traffic flow, talk is of consideration of removing the Fortune of War roundabout to also improve flow. And yet still no word of reconsideration of the North West Thundersley site, Blinking Owl, with the potential for 1,200 dwellings with the opportunity to put in new infrastructure to best suit the needs of commuters with Government funding via ASELA, The Association of South Essex Local Authorities!

Whether it’s the Brexit and possibility of a General Election issue at National level, or Green Belt and the Local Plan with its allegedly imminent Intervention threat at Local level, No, I really can’t think why the next issue of CPBC’s Local Plan is so slow in Emerging.

New Housing Development in Castle Point, where does the Money Get Spent and where are the Benefits?

As from December 2020, Castle Point Borough Council will be required to make public where and how the monies raised from granting New Development has been allocated and spent.

This new disclosure of so called Developer Community Infrastructure Levies (CIL), applied to raise funds and improve neighbouring areas, and supposedly in Canvey Island’s case make provision for future Sea Defence Improvements, is supposed to make more transparent where funds are actually spent.

With Developers and Local Authorities targeting Green Belt and Greenfield sites for Development over Brownfield profits are at a Premium for Developers. There is no reason, except pitifully poor negotiations by local authorities for these Developer Community Infrastructure Levys, to make a real difference and improvement to areas.

Across the housebuilding industry operating margins are twice what they are in America

Last month (February 2019) Persimmon, Britain’s largest housebuilding firm, posted profits of £1.1bn for 2018, its highest ever.

Recently Barratt Developments revealed a cunning plan which involved lowering the pitch of its roofs, which should reduce the number of tiles required.

A calculation by Neal Hudson of Resi Analysts, a consultancy, suggests that residential land prices are currently about 30 per cent below what one would expect given their historical relationship with house prices. With land prices held down, many builders have seen rising margins on each house that they sell. ( The Economist )

Now, the UK Government issue an instruction from Housing Minister Esther McVey on Developer Community Infrastructure Levies, proposing that it “will allow residents to know how developers are contributing to the local community when they build new homes”, and “The rules are designed to support councils and give greater confidence to communities about the benefits that new housing can bring to their area.”

Looking deep into the legal jargon we find that part of a most lucrative development By Redrow Homes at Kiln Road, Thundersley have produced some surprising CIL funding;

Construction of 71 No. dwellings and associated access roads | Land North of 201-219 Kiln Road Thundersley Benfleet Essex SS7 1RS

S 106 Agreement requirement reveal that the Developer, Redrow Homes Ltd, amongst other issues agrees to provide: Affordable Housing; 14 Dwellings of which 3 are 1 Bedroom Houses, 3 x 1 Bedroom Flats, 9 x 2 Bedroom Flats and 2 x 3Bedroom Dwellings.

These 14 of the 71 dwellings to be supplied as a Mix 50% for Affordable Rented Housing and 50% Shared Ownership.

Education Contribution: Essex County Council to receive £66,701 towards Early Years and Childcare Contribution, in Cedar Ward.

Highways Contribution: £75,000 towards improvements at Victoria House roundabout  and Woodmans Arms mini roundabout.

The usual so called Residential Travel Information Pack, a booklet containing info on bus, train travel, cycling, walking, taxi travel, car sharing, community transport and possibly an interactive CD Rom that takes each resident into livetravel sites! Scratch Cards and Vouchers that are expected to “secure a modal shift from private car” onto more sustainable methods of Transport!

Health Care: £23,000 to mitigate the capital cost to NHS England for the provision of additional healthcare services!

Surface Water Flood Contribution: £14,975 to the “Council.” CPBC!

Valerie Wells Wood, Benfleet: Pay £265,160 to Essex Wildlife Trust!

Regarding the Affordable Housing Contribution; The CPBC 2016 daft Local Plan stated “In Castle Point there is a need for at least 73% of new homes to be affordable, assuming delivery at 200 homes per annum.” and to achieve this figure “it is recommended 25% affordable housing provision is sought in Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley, and 15% affordable housing provision sought on Canvey Island.”

Note that the above example at Kiln Road CPBC agreed a figure of just 20% of Affordable Housing. An early Capitulation by our local authority!

Whether revealing the Sums collected from Developers and where and how they are distributed, no doubt hidden away in the CPBC Budget Reports, will be of benefit to Castle Point and Canvey Island Residents, we will hold judgement.

It has long been suspected that Developers do not fulfil their full contribution obligations, now CPBC may have to make public their failure to hold them to Account!

In the meantime more can be Read HERE.






“Canvey Comes Alive!” End of the Town Centre as we know it, or End of the Regeneration Dream?

The recent “acquisition” by Castle Point Council of the Knightswick Centre may well be the “Final Nail in the Coffin” for the Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration!

Having, as we have been led to believe, purchased the Shopping Centre for an alleged loan of £11,000,000 and with just £1,500,000 being apportioned to improve the Public Realm, it would be hard to imagine that CPBC, as the Knightswick Centre’s new owners, will be in a position to fulfil the promises contained in the Town Centre Masterplan Concept.

With the many empty shops and those let out to charities in and around the Shopping Centre the hope of the Town Centre Regeneration appears a distant Aspiration of the CPBC Local Planners. The Regeneration shop has now long gone after many years of being a drain on our Council Taxes, with it the hope of residents and the promises of pedestrianisation of that part of Furtherwick Road, green links to Canvey Lake, larger Supermarket and more car parking space.

Castle Point Council remain in the Stranglehold of Austerity, it would be hard to imagine justification of using Tax payers funds on regeneration of the Town Centre, whilst social and community services are in more need.

The likelihood will be more Flats, some already approved, less shops and as for toilet facilities, well CPBC haven’t the best of track records where that is concerned.

Large Brownfield development, such as Canvey Town Centre with its multi-ownership premises, being viewed as being less economically viable by Developers, whilst CPBC’s own policies focus and target Retail, Industrial and Business Development towards Canvey West’s green fields. An apparent confusion, or a lack of a cohesive Investment and Development Plan from Castle Point Borough Council decision makers!

It would be hard to imagine the Canvey Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan, once the sole “Good News” positive for Canvey residents within the whole long-winded CPBC Local Plan process, surviving to be included to the next draft Local Plan, not if the Plan is to be taken seriously anyway! Indeed any Positives as far as Canvey is concerned may be a very long and distant time in coming!

Let’s remind ourselves of what might have been:

Town Centre Knightswick

3.1.1 Masterplan Concept

The masterplan concept is based on the creation of a series of quarters.

Furtherwick Road Retail

Strengthen and enhance the existing main retail street of Furtherwick Road.

Shopping and Lifestyle • Provide a larger supermarket and an extended retail circuit featuring multiple retailers and a series of new public spaces

Masterplan Proposals

A summary of the proposals is as follows:

Strengthen the existing retail and significantly expanding the retail offer.

The Retail Core will be the new heart for Canvey Island encompassing Furtherwick Road (Central), the shopping and lifestyle and education and community areas.                                                              This location that will see the most change to regenerate and reinvigorate Canvey.                               As the main destination in the Town, this area will contain a rich diversity of uses interlinked by spaces and streets.

The supermarket enlarged and relocated

•east of the Knightswick Centre. Surface car parking consolidated with 400 spaces reprovided (sic) to upper levels.

Photo Courtesy: canveycomesalive

Castle Point Councillors Resolve, to be Tested Again, as Local Plan and its Proposed Development of our Green Belt and Spaces re-emerges!

So, word is out that the Castle Point Council latest Local Plan will be, again, considered by council members during late October 2019, or is at least scheduled to be. This may or may not be subject to there being a Parliamentary Election later around that time, which may bring some bearing on the scheduling.

As we are all aware the CPBC Local Plan is a sensitive issue not least amongst the Castle Point Electorate! Ructions were caused when the previous attempt to adopt a Local Plan was bravely thwarted by those council members refusing to inflict certain damage to the borough and Canvey Island, through the draft Local Plan’s level of and siting of huge development sites. This they did under extreme and unfair pressure from Government, the cpbc controlling group and senior officers, insisting that Government Intervention was imminent. The Planning industry’s thoughts on the Intervention topic, and how this threat appears to have subsided were previously covered HERE.

This lessening of the Threat from Government of Local Plan Intervention, should give some encouragement to cpbc councillors to come up with their own Local Plan in line with Residents expectations.

Residents will once again be looking towards the resolve of our Council Representatives to Protect the Borough’s Green Belt and from Over Development. The delivery of supporting Infrastructure is abysmal, any development appearing to only compound issues and problems such as medical services, highway issues etc etc. These issues, however, are not solely confined to Canvey Island, what did concern Canvey Island was the necessary improvements to its Drainage System, some £24,500,000’s worth of remedial work.

Infrastructure Costs should also include the required Improvements to Canvey Island’s Sea Defences, but of course these are not included, nor allowed for within the CPBC Local Plan and its distribution of Housing Development Sites.

The CPBC Corporate Plan acknowledges that Castle Point is :

“a small Borough covering just 17.3 square miles, and an estimated population of 89,700. We are located in South Essex at the heart of the Thames Gateway South Essex sub-region, between Basildon and Southend.”

“Just over 55% of Castle Point’s land is designated as Green Belt. As a result, most of the Borough’s population live within one of four towns Benfleet (22%), Canvey Island (43%), Hadleigh (14%), and Thundersley (21%).”

“Castle Point has a population density of 19.21 persons per hectare, the second highest district in the county and considerably above the 4.0 average for the whole of Essex. The population density map below shows the highest rates of population are in the centre/south east of Canvey Island and within the towns of Benfleet and Hadleigh, although there are also expanses of low population density. Just 51% of the Castle Point district is classified as green space, the lowest proportion in the county (the Essex highest figure is 93% in Uttlesford): green spaces are important for wellbeing, community cohesion and for wildlife.”

The CPBC Local Plan needs to Highlight and expand on this with a suitable Housing Strategy, one that Residents can be comfortable with for a Healthy and Prosperous Future and not be resigned to a continued deterioration of the area as we know it.

We need to think carefully as to how our wishes are being Represented!

Other local authorities are struggling with coming to terms with the pressures of imposed development levels and respecting their Green and Open Spaces. Castle Point Council and its members, Our Representatives, must not buckle under pressure from either Cabinet members nor officers, in the knowledge we are not alone in this difficulty.

Lichfields January Insight, “Planned up and be counted, (Local Plan-making since the NPPF 2012)” clearly highlighted the problems surrounding local authorities affected by Green Belt constraints on development. :

“The majority (63%) of the LPAs which benefit from an up-to-date plan are unconstrained by Green Belt, whereas by contrast, 59% of LPAs without a post NPPF 2012 Local Plan are constrained by Green Belt, with these authorities twice as likely to not have a post-NPPF 2012 Plan as none Green  Belt authorities.”

“The Government’s early 2017 deadline for Local Plan submission has been and gone, and in March 2018 the Housing Minister announced an intention to intervene in three (Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral) of fifteen previously-named authorities who were being closely watched. With the Government’s intervention threat still in play and the bite of NPPF 2018 in force from 24 January 2019, can we expect a new rush on Plan-making activity?”

“Green Belt Reflecting the Government’s manifesto pledge, the NPPF 2018 changes Green Belt policy. Under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, its role as restricting development is tied to where it provides a “strong reason” for doing so, whilst those plan makers releasing Green Belt have first to show they have examined all other reasonable options, including brownfield sites, optimising density, and meeting needs in adjoining authorities.”

This final point we wish to point is exactly how site selection should also be viewed where development within Flood Risk zones through the Sequential Test, rather than the CPBC, Canvey Island “special case” method!