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CPBC Peer Challenge “Positives,” Yet to include being “Upfront about its strategic growth” and being Receptive to Growth within the Green Belt!

“I would encourage everyone to read the report”

ceo Castle Point Borough Council 

The invite could not be resisted, however the “Positives” in the cpbc Peer Challenge  Report, appear to be more difficult to find.

Yes the Budget controls are seen as a “Positive” in these austere times, as does the performance from the somewhat reduced staffing levels.

Essex FRS

In this 3rd look into the Peer Report, we highlight another area in which this “Positive” report appears not so rosy.

If this section of the Peer Review does not cause concern as to where CPBC is heading then nothing will:

” 4.2 Leadership of Place

Many senior internal and external partners provided clear evidence of CPBC’s strong leadership and commitment to South Essex Vision 2050.

This positive approach must continue to ensure the work is strategic and proactive.
Partners proposed a number of issues to strengthen that leadership and commitment further and asked CPBC to:

Be upfront about its strategic growth – CPBC needs to demonstrate that it is fully considering all potential growth options and with partners be planning for accommodating its fair share.

Be receptive to some plan led growth in the green belt. As part of the South Essex 2050 work, all of the partner Councils will need to consider the potential for growth within their green belt.

For CPBC, where possible, it will need to illustrate that such growth can be achieved even if only on a small scale as part of the wider growth agenda.

Effective partnerships require ‘give and take’ and we saw that the Council’s leadership were receptive to this.” 

We all need to wake up to what is going on here!



At Castle Point the “narrative around the potential that development can offer” doesn’t really Cut It, with Residents!

Having had the opportunity to read the review document you would have noticed that the primary task of the peer team was initially to consider the following five components believe to be critical to councils’ performance and improvement:

1. Understanding of the local place and priority setting
2. Leadership of Place
3. Organisational leadership and governance
4. Financial planning and viability
5. Capacity to deliver.


Runnymede Towers

In addition to these issues CPBC, it would seem, specifically asked the Peer Team to /review/provide feedback on strategic housing and environment, including open spaces.
The response outcome is:-

“New residential development inevitably creates concerns around loss of green space, and whilst such space undoubtedly offers amenity and possibly wildlife value it very often offers very little by way of recreational opportunity for local people. It’s important to remember that new neighbourhoods can introduce valuable, accessible open space and recreational and green infrastructure opportunities if designed well, entirely new assets.

It’s therefore vital that the council engages all of its skills and experience in maximising the potential gains from this process, and this means involving those who will be responsible for the future management of new sites. The council should therefore aim to create an alternative narrative around the potential that development can offer beyond meeting housing need alone.”

It would seem questionable as to why this additional task was specifically included, knowing how emotive the subject of developing Castle Point’s green belt has become.

The Peer Team’s response reads very much like part of a developers planning application argument as to why a parcel of green belt should be developed.

It is not unreasonable that those of us dedicated to the preservation of the Borough’s green belt and open spaces, will conclude that there could have been a sinister motive for this additional question to have been brought forward, knowing that its subsequent response will now be considered for favourable planning evidence

The Paddocks no plan, “Project”. Highlighted as an Example for Castle Point Council of How Not To introduce a Plan!

The Paddocks, seemingly a building close to Canvey Islanders hearts, and apparently for which there are no Plans to demolish and replace with a smaller version, with a Housing development on the site.


The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Interesting then that this extract should appear in the cpbc Peer Challenge Report;

“The Paddocks facility on Canvey Island is a clear example where an inclusive approach to developing the Centre will lead to joint ownership and subsequently better outcomes for the community it serves. The Peer Team heard how communities and their representatives are keen to be involved from the earliest stage to final completion, through improved communications and engagement, so that such developments can, where appropriate, be co-designed and fit for the future.”

Clearly the Peer Challenge team identified issues surrounding the way the Paddocks future had been “suggested” to Canvey residents, critically the Report noted:

“The Council would benefit from greater co-operation and joint-working between all councilors,(sic) celebrating the unique places they represent, but also working together to allocate time and resources equally between the different communities. This would involve communities affected by emerging projects from the earliest opportunity to create ownership of the issues, the journey and share pride in the outcomes. An example that could benefit from this more inclusive approach are the issues around the Paddocks Leisure facility. ” 

Whilst the Report was complimentary of cpbc’s handling of finances; “CPBC has sound budgetary processes in place as illustrated through its latest Statement of Accounts”, there appeared much that the Peer Team were critical of.

More to follow from us on the subject.

In the meantime, the full Report can be found HERE.



Canvey Island Air Quality, Road Infrastructure, Never a Constraint on Development! Why even ask our Environmental Health Officer?

In the light of UK Air Quality concerns following brexit from the EU, it is “interesting” to note how Canvey Island is considered by Castle Point council on the same issues.

Canvey will see much Business / Industrial development, alongside housing, during the next few years. Flooding and Green Space issues are given scant regard at the Planning decision-making stage.

Screenshot (12)

Land opposite Morrisons

Alongside this we can confirm, that Air Quality issues are also being covered up. In typical cpbc fashion, rather than receive an objection to a Planning Proposal, cpbc prefer now to not ask Air Quality questions!

On consulting our Environmental Health department of any concerns over the new Business Park at Land Opposite Morrisons Northwich Northwick Road, Canvey Island, an Objection to the proposal was sent to the cpbc Planning Department.

Obviously cpbc did not want this response so now, prefer not to seek further advice or opinion over Air Quality, where new planning proposals are concerned! Consequently the Land opposite Morrisons proposal was Approved, whilst Air Quality remained Unaddressed! Because its on Canvey?

The cpbc Environmental Health officer commented on the 28th January 2016;

I have had the opportunity to view the above planning application and would like to make the following comment.

This Service currently objects to this application on the grounds of ‘increase of traffic’, and the effects which this would have upon air quality, a topic which is of Public Health significance.

One of our diffusion tubes (CP02 – approximately 500m from the proposed development), deployed for the purpose of measuring ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, has consecutively recorded higher than average levels of the pollutant, a pollutant which is produced as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.

The degradation of the air quality in this area has arisen as a result of elevated levels of congestion and has been of increasing concern to this Service. If this pollutant should exceed an annual mean of 40μg/m3, as set by the European directives, this Council shall be required to submit a detailed assessment to the department for environment food and rural affairs (DEFRA). If it is identified that the directives are not being complied with, this Council may be required to implement an air quality management area (AQMA).

It is the opinion of this Service that if the proposed development was permitted at the current time there would be an adverse impact upon the local air quality, with initial impacts during the construction phase. It is believed that the air quality would deteriorate further following occupation by new businesses, regular delivery vehicles and visitors to the site.

This Service agrees with the design and access statement that this particular area is well connected for business, boasting “direct usage of the A130, which heads north to the A13 and west towards the M25 and London”, however the current road infrastructure, particularly those leading onto and off of the island cannot facilitate traffic movements which would not have a detrimental impact on the local air quality.

This Service would like to state that it is supportive of sensible and sustainable development and advocates business within its borough, however this cannot be at the cost to health of its residents.

Concerns raised in Parliament and across the UK on Air Quality following our parting with the EU will have little consequence to those decision makers at Castle Point council.

There decisions will though impact upon the Health of Canvey Islanders!

MP’s warn of UK “Poisonous Air” Emergency

MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s “poisonous air” in an unprecedented report from four Commons committees.
The Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees want a new Clean Air Act, and a clean air fund financed by the motor industry.
They are also demanding a faster phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – currently set for 2040.
The government said air pollution had improved significantly since 2010 but there was “more to do”.
MPs have been frustrated by the response from ministers, who have promised to publish a comprehensive clean air strategy later this year.
Their report says: “Air pollution is a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20bn annually.
“It is unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air.
UK air pollutants continue decline
Government loses clean air court case
Reality Check: Are diesel cars always the most harmful?
“Despite a series of court cases, the government has still not produced a plan that adequately addresses the scale of the challenge. Nor has it demonstrated the national leadership needed.”
The report – the first time that four committees are thought to have collaborated – urges the Treasury to take greater account of the costs of air pollution when setting tax and spend policy, after tax changes by the former Chancellor George Osborne left a Porsche driver paying the same tax as the owner of a low-pollution Prius.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News that a clear air fund worth £220m had already been set up by government, paid for by changes to vehicle taxation.
“In addition, vehicle manufacturers are funding scrappage schemes to get the older vehicles off the road,” Mike Hawes said. “Other sectors must also play their part in improving air quality.”
The government has called for evidence on pollution from other sources such as wood stoves, coal fires and smokeless fuel. It is also looking at the use of cheap agricultural red diesel in food delivery vans.
But Greenpeace said the car industry could not continue to be allowed to “shake off its responsibility” for the pollution crisis the UK was facing.
“The public was missold highly polluting diesel cars by manufacturers who knew road emissions were many times higher than in the lab,” said its senior political adviser Rosie Rogers.
“It’s high time manufacturers felt the heat, and contributing to a clean air fund is a good start.”
Consumer products ‘affecting air quality’
London’s January air ‘best in 10 years’
Scrutiny over wood and coal fires
The government’s long-term target of abolishing cars driven only by petrol and diesel by 2040 is regarded by environment groups as a red herring. They point out that India has made the same pledge – but for 2030.
It is most unlikely, they say, that manufacturers will still be making UK cars deemed unfit to drive on India’s roads after 2030.
The chair of the Environment select committee, Neil Parish, told the BBC government should work with councils to tackle pollution hotspots where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are breached, some of which are very small.

By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst

Persimmons seek Change of Use of Canvey Island Green Belt Land, with Stable Block for just 3 Horses, whilst Profits impress and Residents unaware!

On first glance it might be puzzling to explain why Canvey Island should be the first choice for Persimmon Homes to expand their successful business interests into the world of Equestrian pursuits at the Dutch Village on Canvey Island!

Persimmon’s profits more than triple over five years to £782.6million in 2016.

And yet they have registered a Planning Proposal with Castle Point borough council;

18/0118/FUL | Erection of stable block with adjoining hay storage/tack room and associated landscaping, formation of access track together with the change of use of land.

Persimmon, this mighty developer, seeks to enter into Equestrianism with a 16+ Hectare site for just 3 horses!


Riding Roughshod through Planning Policy

Quite obviously the Change of Use of Land is tactical manoeuvring in preparation for their challenge to the next cpbc Local Plan, Housing Supply and its interpretation of Green Belt Policy.

Either way, should the Dutch Village site become developed with the anticipated 300 dwellings, the infrastructure issues on Canvey Island will be exacerbated.

Health Service, traffic, recreation and Flooding issues will all be worsened, affecting each and every Canvey Island and South Benfleet resident!

The Change of use of Land, should signify a warning to all of the Borough’s Green Belt site neighbours, many of the Borough’s GB sites have some Built Development on them.

CPBC needs to be working on a Red Line to define where GB land changes from their pristine, cherished “virgin” sites to, GB with limited development, before finally becoming Previously developed Green Belt with the same lack of protection as Brownfield sites.

The KEY to ANY Canvey Island development must be that it is, APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT!

Castle Point council must respond in the correct manner to this application. We should all make our thoughts known to the council officers, otherwise Green Belt Policy will be undermined and Canvey Island and Sth.Benfleet residents will suffer.

The Link to the Application to view documents and to make comment is HERE.

Reasons to Object or comment upon could include:

Green Belt Development

as a whole, it should be considered that the proposal represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The NPPF identifies that such development may only be permitted under Very Special Circumstances.
NPPF Paragraph 83 instructs “Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan.”
It can be argued that the “Change of Use of Land” should also only be considered, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan rather than by individual applications.

“All permanent stables and field shelters will require planning permission and, if the land is not in use for the keeping of horses, an application is unlikely to be acceptable.”

The term Very Special Circumstances implies that a desperate “Need” for this facility must be Obvious and Proven, or that there are very few similar facilities in the area.
It should be noted that there are many similar facilities in the local area.

The “facilities are small scale” indeed accommodating a maximum of 3 horses only. This will have no tangible impact on any suggested unmet need for such facilities, even if such need were proven to exist.

The applicant refers to the Purposes of the Green Belt and notes ‘to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas’;
The applicant points out that their intention is to construct “buildings in the Green Belt will give rise to built development”

Archaeological Features

The field abutting the proposed Stable Yard contains the Roman Saltern, a scheduled Ancient Monument, 260m south east of Great Russell Head Farm. This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance.

Proposed Access

The current access is on a busy dual carriageway, Canvey Road.

The design plans indicate the intention to “set back” the gated entrance 6 metres from the footpath. Whilst this “pull in” may make the actual entry to the field somewhat safer, other Canvey Road field entrances, with similar “pull in”design, have been the subject of serious “Fly Tipping” problems. This has been notably recorded at the entrances to the Canvey West Marsh RSPB site, directly opposite.

Vandalism and the protection from Harm of Horses

The Stable Block would likely act as a “magnet” for vandals being, unlit, housing unattended animals over night, out of sight of passers-by view thereby “secret”, and of wooden construction, containing feed and bedding, all potential fire hazards.*

*Extracted from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group’s 4 page Objection document.

Illustration with apologies to Thelwell

Persimmon approach the First Hurdle for Canvey Island’s Dutch Village Green Belt Development! CPBC Censorship!

Persimmon have Housing Development plans for Canvey Island. However they appear happy to play the Long Game.

Plans have been registered with Castle Point Council for Stables for 3 Horses at the Dutch Village. This will include the “Change of Use of Land” as it is Green Belt.

Their Application stresses the stables will be “Built Development”.

We have covered this in a previous blog post HERE.

For those concerned or wishing to make comment we thought it might be helpful to make public our Grounds for Objection as registered with Castle Point Council, these should be visible below for you to see:-


Runnymede Towers

Please be advised WE DON’T HAVE TO MAKE COMMENTS VISIBLE TO OTHER RESIDENTS on  the Castle Point website. This may be due to us not wanting others to know what Residents think or just us choosing to Censor information.

Anyway we don’t care, cos the legislation says we don’t have to! Editor.

“As prescribed in article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order, local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. There is however, as you correctly stated, no legislative requirements for any comments received as part of that consultation to be available to view online.

The Castle Point website does however show the number of comments that have been received on any application so the level of public interest can be clearly identified. We are not alone in this approach, it is commonly adopted by a number of authorities, our neighbouring authority of Basildon being one such example.

We have been working in this way for some time now and we certainly have no evidence to suggest that this is in anyway deterring people from commenting. Indeed we have an application which is currently open for consultation that has received 135 comments to date, demonstrating I believe that the community remain fully engaged in the process.

Planning guidance states that officer’s reports should include the ‘substance of any objections, contain technical appraisals which clearly justify the recommendation and should have a written recommendation for the decision to be made’.

Comments received in respect of a planning application can only be considered if they are, what is commonly known as, ‘material planning considerations’. Comments which are not material cannot be considered in the determining of a planning application and any such comments will not therefore be referenced in a report by an officer nor should they be considered by members at Committee.

The information you have appended below your email is indeed an ‘extract’ from a much longer report however I should point out that it omits to make reference to the consideration of all relevant objections in more detail throughout the body of the report, which more fully explain how the objections have been considered against planning policies and guidance.

Development Control Committee can, and often do, make a decision which is different from the officer recommendation and this will often reflect a difference in the assessment of how a policy has been complied with, or different weight ascribed to relevant matters.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Regards, Castle Point Borough Council”

Are Castle Point Councillors booked in for Castration? Are Nimby’s going into Extinction alongside Dinosaurs? CPBC Planning, 2018 version!

With Castle Point council indicating no Development Control meeting scheduled for March 2018 and confusion over the April meeting, there could be an indication that all is not well where Planning is concerned at our local authority!


Luckily our local newspaper, the Echo, has not picked up on this as cpbc may well have been made to reveal some difficult reasoning as to, not only, what is behind these meetings being cancelled, but also why Residents involvement in the Planning Process is being censored!  (see the link HERE.)

Clearly there is a move to apply a level of Autocratic control over planning in Castle Point, whether this has come from instruction from the Government department or the back offices of Runnymede Towers, we await answers!

There is either plotting being undertaken to prevent Government Intervention in Castle Point council, and / or the cpbc Development Control committee are seen by the cpbc officers as being the Root of the Problem!

Previously the Regional Spatial Strategies were the root of all problems where Housing Need numbers were concerned, causing Castle Point council to put forward Canvey Island Green Belt as the only sites that should be unconstrained by the GB policy!

Now it appears that the Joint Spatial Plan, supposedly emerging via the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), is the New Driver behind the next New Local Plan.

However this appears less Open and Transparent, as little feedback from meetings and works carried out is made public.

Is it a case of if our representatives are cut out of the equation and work is carried out by officers and the Leader and his close colleagues, more planning is likely to be Approved and successful in Castle Point?

Where you might ask, the ECHO, and our local representatives, is the Castle Point council response to the Government threat of Intervention that was due to be delivered by the end of January?

In November 2017 Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State wrote to Castle Point Council to instruct:-

“The February 2017 Housing White Paper set out that we will prioritise intervention where:

* the least progress in plan-making has been made

* policies in plans had not been kept up to date

* there was higher housing pressure; and

* intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating Local Plan production

My decisions on intervention will also be informed by the wider planning context in each area (specifically, the extent to which authorities are working cooperatively to put strategic plans in place, and the potential impact that not having a plan has on neighbourhood planning activity).” 

Now in March 2018 Sajid Javid follows up with further pressure on local authorities with these instructions, as interpreted by the BBC News:-

“Nimby councils” in England that fail to build enough new homes, or allow them to be built, could be stripped of planning powers, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has warned.
Councils will be told how many homes a year must be built and inspectors will step in if that does not happen.
Mr Javid told the Sunday Times he would be “breathing down” the necks of local authorities to ensure targets are met.
However, Labour accused the government of “eight years of failure on housing”.
On Monday, the government will announce an overhaul of planning rules in an attempt to increase the rate of house building in England.
‘Market prices’
A new planning policy framework will contain new rules to determine how many homes councils must build – taking into account local house prices, wages and key worker numbers.
Higher targets will be set for areas where house prices outstrip annual earnings.
House price calculator: Where can I afford to rent or buy?
Your biggest financial decision – in charts
Reality Check: How does renting a home in the UK compare?
“For the first time it will explicitly take into account the market prices,” Mr Javid told the Sunday Times.
“If you are in an area where the unaffordability ratio is much higher you will have to build even more. It will make clear to councils that this number is a minimum, not a maximum.”
He said councils would also be held to account on house-building promises they make.
Mr Javid said councils that fail to meet targets will be stripped of the right to decide what is built within their boundaries, with inspectors making decisions instead.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the government would “release more public sector land” to facilitate more building of homes.
She added: “We’re saying to councils you’ve got to take local communities into account, you’ve got to ensure you’ve got a proper plan for your local area. If you haven’t got it the government will intervene.”
Nimby – short for “not in my backyard” – is a term that originated in the US but became popular in the UK from the 1980s to describe people who routinely object to any proposed development near their homes that might affect property values.
It is not often applied to towns or councils as a whole but Mr Javid said his new rules were designed to stop “Nimby councils that don’t really want to build the homes their local community needs” from fudging the numbers in their area.
“We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution,” he added.
Mr Javid also revealed plans to build up to five new towns between Oxford and Cambridge.
“Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” he added.