Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wake Up Canvey Islanders, decision making by those unaffected, could cost you Dear!

“You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media.

Or you can build barriers galore.

But in the end, neither will provide adequate defence, the Dutch say.”

During a time when it has never been made more clear of the responsibilities poorly thought out advice and decision making by local authorities will eventually lead to the scrutiny such decision making deserves, a clear message, during this dry warm spell is issued via an article in the New York Times. So, those cpbc decision-makers claiming to be “living in the Real World,” climate change denyers, bent on over-crowding Canvey Island, take note of those living behind THE best sea defences in the World!

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“From a Dutch mind-set, climate change is not a hypothetical or a drag on the economy, but an opportunity. While the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris accord, the Dutch are pioneering a singular way forward

It is, in essence, to let water in, where possible, not hope to subdue Mother Nature: to live with the water, rather than struggle to defeat it. The Dutch devise lakes, garages, parks and plazas that are a boon to daily life but also double as enormous reservoirs for when the seas and rivers spill over. You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media. Or you can build barriers galore. But in the end, neither will provide adequate defence, the Dutch say.

And what holds true for managing climate change applies to the social fabric, too. Environmental and social resilience should go hand in hand, officials here believe, improving neighbourhoods, spreading equity and taming water during catastrophes. Climate adaptation, if addressed head-on and properly, ought to yield a stronger, richer state.

This is the message the Dutch have been taking out into the world. Dutch consultants advising the Bangladeshi authorities about emergency shelters and evacuation routes recently helped reduce the numbers of deaths suffered in recent floods to “hundreds instead of thousands,” according to Mr. Ovink. Mr. Ovink is the country’s globe-trotting salesman in chief for Dutch expertise on rising water and climate change.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. “You can say we are marketing our expertise, but thousands of people die every year because of rising water, and the world is failing collectively to deal with the crisis, losing money and lives.” He ticks off the latest findings: 2016 was the warmest year on record; global sea levels rose to new highs.

He proudly shows off the new rowing course just outside Rotterdam, where the World Rowing Championships were staged last summer. The course forms part of an area called the Eendragtspolder, a 22-acre patchwork of reclaimed fields and canals — a prime example of a site built as a public amenity that collects floodwater in emergencies. It is near the lowest point in the Netherlands, about 20 feet below sea level. With its bike paths and water sports, the Eendragtspolder has become a popular retreat. Now it also serves as a reservoir for the Rotte River Basin when the nearby Rhine overflows, which, because of climate change, it’s expected to do every decade.

The project is among dozens in a nationwide program, years in the making, called Room for the River, which overturned centuries-old strategies of seizing territory from rivers and canals to build dams and dikes. The Netherlands effectively occupies the gutter of Europe, a lowlands bounded on one end by the North Sea, into which immense rivers like the Rhine and the Meuse flow from Germany and France. Dutch thinking changed after floods forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate during the 1990s. The floods “were a wake-up call to give back to the rivers some of the room we had taken,” as Harold van Waveren, a senior government adviser, recently explained.”

“We can’t just keep building higher levees, because we will end up living behind 10-meter walls,” he said.

“We need to give the rivers more places to flow.

Protection against climate change is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, and the chain in our case includes not just the big gates and dams at the sea but a whole philosophy of spatial planning, crisis management, children’s education, online apps and public spaces.”

Extract from New York Times. Link to complete article;  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/15/world/europe/climate-change-rotterdam.html?_r=0

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

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

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

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

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

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

The development committee Agenda paperwork indicates officers advise :

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

This despite :

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

Of the Health and Safety Executive’s comment;

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

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

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

Health and Safety Executive  No objection.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We make no apology for over-simplifying these issues but for anybody interested the webcast and recording should be available via;  https://castlepoint.gov.uk/webcasting

The meeting Agenda papers are available via; https://www.castlepoint.gov.uk/agendas-minutes-library

 

A Tactical Withdrawal, temporary Reprieve? What is going on at Castle Point Council and its Local Plan?

In a letter from Castle Point Council, dated 31st May 2017, we learn of the latest developments in the Persimmons proposal to develop the Dutch Village Green Belt;

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Proposal: Erect up to 275 new homes and retail/community facilities (use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C2 and/or D1) with new roundabout junction onto A130 Canvey Road, associated parking, open space, ecological enhancements, landscaping, drainage and flood mitigation measures (outline)
Location: Land To The East Of Canvey Road Canvey Island Essex

 

I refer to my consultation letter in respect of the above application and write to advise you that the application has been withdrawn and the Council will not therefore take any further action in the matter.

 

I thank you for your interest in the proposal and I will ensure that you are consulted again if a further application is submitted in the future.

 

Yours faithfully,

S Rogers

Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods

Now Claim Canvey Island as being a “Special Case!” Before CPBC Local Plan Revision!

Canvey Island – and – “The Special Case!”

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

Now, finally, a Court Ruling, relevant to Canvey Island that ALL RESIDENTS should now be seeking answers from those Castle Point Council members, who have long been purporting that, WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS CONCERNED – Canvey should be treated as a “Special Case!”

Shrugs, fob offs and “yes I know” are now no longer sufficient!

Answers are Due Now!

Since the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the pair of leading cpbc officers, by leading their lesser minnows around by their noses, have recommended Approval of many inappropriate housing proposals for Canvey Island, some on Green Belt and ALL in a Flood Zone!

This under the officers insistance that the NPPF “must be read as a whole”.

Reading the NPPF as a “whole” is fine, PROVIDING it is being read correctly in the first Place!

Below is the relevant court ruling that should arm each and every Canvey Island councillor, and those members with the social conscience to stand as Borough councillors, in a position to influence Planning decisions and Local Plan making, with the tools necessary for a just society.

Yet again we, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, reproduce and draw your attention to Paragraph 14 and Footnote 9 in particular;

14. At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
For plan-making this means that:

● local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;

● Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless: – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.    9
For decision-taking this means:

10 ● approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay; and

● where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission unless:  – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.    9

Footnote 9 Reads;

9          For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

The Court Ruling taken directly from the Local Government website Reads:

William Eichler 11 May 2017

Court delivers landmark ruling strengthening hand of local planners

Court delivers landmark ruling strengthening hand of local planners

A council in Cheshire has secured a ‘landmark ruling’ from the Supreme Court that will better protect green areas from speculative housing developments.

Cheshire East Council, along with Suffolk Coastal Council, argued guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was being applied incorrectly.

The case arose from an application by Richborough Estates to build 170 homes on green gap land between Nantwich and Crewe at Willaston, which Cheshire East rejected.

However, the case went to court because the developers argued – drawing on the wording of the NPPF – that in some circumstances relevant policies for the supply of housing should be treated as ‘out of date.’

This they claimed included green gap land protection.

The judges upheld the developers appeal, but ruled that their specific argument was not legitimate.

The court judgement stated: ‘No one would naturally describe a recently approved green belt policy in a local plan as “out of date”, merely because the housing policies in another part of the plan fail to meet the NPPF objectives.’

Cheshire East Council said the judgement strengthened the hand of all local authorities seeking to protect green gap, green belt and other special sites.

‘This is a landmark ruling, achieved by Cheshire East, which will benefit planning authorities and town planners up and down the country,’ said council leader Rachel Bailey.

‘I am proud that this council had the courage to pursue this action.

‘This means that we can now better protect our local communities from speculative, unsustainable development by ensuring a proper approach to the application of planning policies.’

Neighbourhood Planning Bill passes into law

Neighbourhood Planning Bill passes into law

The House of Commons and the House of Lords have agreed on the wording and provisions in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, which has now received Royal Assent.

The bill became law on 27 April 2017.

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The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 contains new powers for the government to direct two or more local authorities to develop joint plans. County councils will also have the power to prepare plans where districts do not have one.

It also includes restrictions on powers to impose planning conditions, including on local authority use of pre-commencement conditions, which now require written consent from the developer to be enforced.

On Friday 28 April, Parliament approved the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No2) Order 2017, which will see permitted development rights that allow demolition of buildings used as class A4 “drinking establishments” will cease from 23 May 2017.

The regulations meet a requirement in section 15 of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 that a development order incorporating pub protection measures in the act be brought forward as “soon as reasonably practicable”.

3 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

It is unfortunately too late to save the KING CANUTE but a Neighbourhood  Plan if taken up could prevent other public houses on Canvey Island becoming blocks of flats.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! or cynical! Jotmans Farm Appeal decision Overturned! To Castle Point Residents Relief!

A decision that can only be described as A-m-a-z-i-n-g  for the residents of  Jotmans farm, as they will be relieved to hear that the Secretary of State has overturned the Planning Inspector’s decision to grant planning permission for the initial 265 dwellings proposed by Persimmon’s!

Jotmans Lane Tank.JPG.gallery

Despite the Secretary of State considering that Castle Point Council have only identified 0.4 years Supply of the necessary 5.0 Year Supply of Deliverable Housing, which he considered as “falling well short of expectation”!

The SoS “further agrees with the Inspector that the proposal would bring forward market and affordable housing in an area where there has been a longstanding failure to provide sufficient new housing, and that in view of the prevailing housing supply situation in Castle Point, that carries very substantial weight in favour of the scheme.”

And that he ” agrees with the Inspector that the ecological benefits attract significant weight in favour of the proposal.”

However in relation to Green Belt issues the SoS considers “The proposal would represent inappropriate development in the Green Belt of a significant size. It would permanently reduce openness, and conflict with several of the purposes of designation. These harmful impacts on the Green Belt attract substantial weight.”

Then using Planning rules more intended for Travellers “unauthorised sites” than settled dwellings the SoS applies great weight to the rule that “subject to the best interests of the child, personal circumstances and unmet need are unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances”.

This “Good News Story” for cpbc, despite the obvious response from cynics that the Secretary of State’s release of the decision of an Appeal held on the 11 September 2015, during the very same week of an announcement to hold a General Election, is conveniently “Timely”, Green Belt campaigners will take some comfort, albeit possibly temporary.

The fear remains that with a new 5 year term of government the likelihood of a Legal challenge in light of Castle Point’s chronic lack of a 5 Year deliverable Housing Supply, may yet be our undoing!

Canvey Island residents must therefore remain concerned that, in the eyes of the majority of cpbc development committee members, Flood Risk does not act as a Constraint on development, making this part of the Borough more liable to growth as has been the case over the previous 4 decades!

In the light of this decision, the actions of CPBC to Withdraw its Local Plan2016 and to Archive the Plan document and Evidence Base, must be of some concern!

The hope now is that similar ruling and defence of Green Belt will apply across Castle Point, congestion will not be increased and the Local Plan2016 may be resurrected.

The link to Secretary of State’s decision and Inspector’s report is below.

Jotmans Lane Castle Point 2216062 (1)

Photograph courtesy; Echo newspaper

“Smoke Filled Rooms, Dodgy Housing Site Selection Processes and Failed Local Plans,” sound Familiar?

Yet another Local Plan is halted in its Tracks. In an Inspector’s Note, reminiscent of that sent to Castle Point Council during 2011 when Mr P.Crysell stated, amongst other concerns; 

“I consider there remain serious shortcomings in the (CPBC) Council’s Plan.” “These are firstly, the approach in relation to the Green Belt; secondly, the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough”

“I have reservations about the methodology employed and the way in which it appears to have been used, leading to inconsistent and inappropriate site selection.  For example, the Council’s own Sustainability Appraisal is unclear as to why the most sustainable Green Belt site was discounted.”

“I consider it would be difficult to endorse a strategy which commits to Green Belt release in an area of potential high flood risk at Canvey Island yet fails to identify more than a token amount of land on the mainland where flooding is not a significant issue.”

The Shropshire Star commented of the Telford and Wrekin Local Plan;

“It is pretty clear that a ‘smoke filled’ room process occurred behind closed doors with Cllrs where political rather than policy issues dominated – something the post 2004 Act changes was designed to eliminate.”  Shropshire Star

Evidence had emerged of a similar smoke filled room meeting in the CPBC Lead Group rooms, during which Canvey Island Green Belt was sacrificed so as to progress a Core Strategy document bent on protecting mainland Green Belt at all costs!

Of the Telford and Wrekin Local Plan the Inspector commented;

Housing Site Selection Methodology

 7. You will recall the concerns that I raised at the Matter 8 hearing session in respect of this matter.  While I accept the need for a Plan’s evidence base to be proportionate, it is also the case that all parties need to understand why certain sites were allocated and why other sites were not allocated.

 8. In that context, I sought to examine the methodology that the Council has employed in selecting the 17 housing sites proposed for allocation in the Plan.  Unfortunately, the commentary set out in the Council’s (pre-hearing) written answer to my question in respect of this matter2 and in section 5 of the Housing Delivery Technical Paper3 contain only a brief summary of that process.  Indeed, the latter document states (para 5.6) that ‘the site selection or rejection reasons for each individual site can be found in the Integrated (Sustainability) Appraisal Report (2015)’ (the IA).

 9. However, Appendix X of the Integrated (Sustainability) Appraisal Report4 comments that ‘the IA findings are not the sole basis for a decision; other factors including planning and deliverability, play a key role in the decision-making process’.  Bearing in mind the position set out in Housing Technical Paper as described above, this suggests to me an element of circular reasoning.  

 10. Clearly, the detailed selection of sites for allocation involves an element of planning judgement.  However, that judgment needs to be both explicit and transparent.  In short, there needs to be a clear ‘audit trail’ that shows how the final decisions were arrived at, and what factors were taken into account in making such decisions.

 11. In response to my questions along those lines at the Matter 8 Hearing session, your officers offered to table working spreadsheets that would give more information about how the Council reached its decisions in this regard.  I accepted that suggestion and allowed other parties the opportunity to make representations accordingly.  However, the document that was subsequently produced5 was not the working spreadsheet that had originally been offered.  Instead it represents a commentary, apparently prepared after the event, that seeks to apply planning considerations to some (but not all) of the sites that were considered at the ‘strategic fit’ stage of the site assessment process.  I have now been advised that the Council is unable to find the spreadsheets that were apparently referred to at the hearing session.

12. The evidence that has been submitted since the hearing session is inadequate for several reasons.  First, it does not represent the actual selection exercise, as it was prepared after the event.  Second, comments are only given on a number of some 315 sites considered at the ‘strategic fit’ stage of the assessment.  Over 200 sites are missing.  This represents a substantial gap in the evidence base.  While the Council comments that the sites listed are only those that scored 5 or above in that exercise, it is clear that some sites with a lower score were also assessed – and indeed subsequently allocated in the Local Plan.  Clearly, an additional sieving exercise had taken place prior to the one that is presented in the new evidence.  Third, it is clear from the comments made in this document that a number of sites that scored highly against the ‘strategic fit’ criteria were then discounted on the basis of their existing use.  It is unclear why these were not screened out at the earlier site assessment stage, at which the site’s development potential was considered in terms of various factors – including use.

 13. I note the Council’s responses to the specific comments made by representors in respect of this additional evidence7.  For the avoidance of doubt, the present note does not seek to comment on the detailed scores that have been assigned to specific sites in the IA.  However, I share a general concern raised by some parties in respect of strategic fit criterion 2 (promoting sustainable urban extensions) that it is not immediately clear why some large sites (notably those that have been allocated) were given a positive score in respect of that criterion while other large sites – also adjoining the urban area – were deemed to not comprise a sustainable urban extension.

16. Drawing these matters together, and noting that some further comments are yet to be submitted by the Council, it appears likely that I will reach a finding that the housing site selection exercise underpinning the Local Plan is flawed.  Such a finding would call into question my ability to reach a finding of soundness on a Local Plan containing these site allocations.

13 years on from the 2004 Act, that the Shropshire Star referred to, appears to have resulted in very little impact!