Castle Point Council, their need to display Openness and Transparency Failure and how to Discourage Residents Participation!

Now I know a lot of people, both of Canvey Island and the mainland, take very little interest in the day to day affairs of castle point council.

But when they do, they like to think that their issues and points of view are given some respect and consideration.


Runnymede Towers

Of late there has been a decision made to change the council’s Planning Procedure. This has involved the authority’s control of the Planning website.

Officers have decided to not publish comments or notice of petition of objection, or general comment in the list of documents.

We believe this will have a discouraging effect upon residents who are affected by local development, whether housing or business.

So now, only the developers paperwork and drawings and the agency consultees, such as Environment Agency and highways etc, are the only comments considered worthy of making public.

We believe that castle point borough council have a duty to embrace localism, and to actively display openness and transparency through their work.

We thought this important to challenge, as this will affect every resident at some time or another.

We wrote to the castle point borough council chief executive, the Leaders of both political parties and the Development Committee Chairman;

Dear Development Committee Chairman,

In your capacity as Development Committee Chairman.
We have noted that it appears that a decision has been taken to not publish, comments and objections raised by the community on planning proposals, on the cpbc website planning portal.
This is concerning, as residents may feel that no interest, or concern, is being indicated over a particular Planning Application. This in turn may well deter objection being raised or general comments being entered, through self-doubt or embarrassment that points of concern may be irrelevant.
This appears to amount to cpbc seeking to discourage community engagement with residents in local planning matters and of not acting transparently.
Generally the time to comment on planning proposals is early on in the planning process. Comments posted on the cpbc planning portal, offer committee members adequate time to view, at their own convenience, relevant community points raised, and to judge the level of public concern and feeling, so as to prepare themselves if any of the residents points were of enough weight to be considered important when it came to decision making.
Currently it appears that residents comments are severely edited and condensed into a clinical form and presented via Agenda paperwork in a 3rd hand fashion. Worse still officers, whilst we acknowledge that they should address issues raised, indicate their opinion directly following in the agenda paperwork, almost discouraging members from giving issues raised by residents any weight.
In fairness we have copied in below the very latest proposal brought before the committee.
Disregarding the merits of the proposal, the community comments are condensed into the following text. No indication of the strength of opinion, nor numbers commenting.
We believe the practise of withholding community comments from the website, whilst no doubt legally permissible, is a form of censorship, fundamentally in conflict with localism, and as such a matter that should be discouraged and urgently be reconsidered by council members.
Would you please consider this through the cpbc official complaints procedure.
Representatives of; Friends of Bowers Road, Jotmans Farm group, Canvey Green Belt Campaign.

Example of Current cpbc Practise:
Agenda paperwork extract
Public Consultation
Neighbour notification and site notices – letters of objection and a petition have been received covering the following points:
o Overlooking of nearby properties
o Parking at the rear of adjoining gardens
o Additional on-street parking
o Restricted width of access, unsuitable for large vehicles
o Loss of parking for adjacent commercial unit
o Additional traffic
o Rise in crime/antisocial behaviour
o Smells or nuisance from vermin from bin store especially as bins are emptied fortnightly
o Insufficient capacity in the service road due to the need for vehicles to service commercial premises on London Road o Is there a business case for the development?
o Does the proposal represent best value for the council?
o Possible closure of access while services are laid o There may be more suitable sites for the development
Comments on Consultation Responses
o Concern over crime and antisocial behaviour are based on unfounded assumptions about the behaviour of the future occupants of the building.
o The applicant has been questioned about the loss of a parking space for 122 London Road. Their response is: “To our knowledge there is no loss of parking. We understand there is a garage used by 122 London Road and the development will not inhibit access to that garage. If the owner was previously parking on council owned land outside that garage then he or she was doing so without permission from the council.”
o The conditions suggested by the highway authority will be incorporated into any grant of planning permission where reasonable and necessary o Any other planning matters are dealt with in the evaluation of the proposal

And the official response from castle point borough council read;-

Good afternoon and thank you for your email.
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.
Diane Logue LLB (Hons)
Transformation Manager (Planning)



Castle Point and Canvey Island NHS Consultation attracts a Very Poor Turnout, Despite Housing increase to be imposed on our area! Keep Well Folks!

So yet again Castle Point Residents and Representatives  resisted the opportunity to hear the plans, and have their say on the proposed changes to the local National Health Service in our area.

Perhaps not surprising given the scheduled start being 2.30pm.

Entry was by ticket and many seats were taken by NHS representatives, some on hand to answer questions, a few local councillors and other residents from outside of the Borough. There may have been 60 or so Castle Point residents in attendance.

In Consultation terms this could be used to suggest that because just .06% of the local population attended to indicate concern at the NHS changes, the remaining 99.04 % could be considered to be in favour of the proposals!

This was a Consultation meeting and the possibility that this would fulfil a tick box exercise cannot be discounted.

However it was an opportunity to hear and speak to those in charge of the reorganisation of the NHS services that WILL AFFECT US ALL!

Whilst we sat through the expected politically driven challenges to the reasons for change a few facts were available as explanation to where we are now and the reasons for change.

Canvey Primary Care Clinic


What could not be challenged was that the frontline staff were dedicated to do their very best in very difficult circumstances, and needed support.

On first appearances Canvey Island and Castle point are in one of the better positions, being midway between Basildon Hospital and Southend Hospitals, with Chelmsford being less easily reached.

This changed when patients suffering from a Stroke were concerned. The plan was for Castle Point patients to initially be taken to Southend for initial treatment  and assessment. However if it was necessary for the patient to receive specialist care, they would have to be transferred by ambulance back past Castle Point to Basildon Hospital, where the specialist team is to be based!

Basically the plans entail all 3 hospitals to have access to standard A and E facility but the specialist centres would be based in one of the 3 Hospitals, with reliance on ambulance ferrying between locations.

The issue is with a lack of funding meaning services needing to be centralised. A lack of covering specialist staff, who will be based at the specialist hub location of their expertise.

The lack of staff is due to a lack of specialists choosing to work for our Mid and South Essex Commissioning Group. London rates of salary are better and the pressure of work within the group is seen as another reason.

The lack of ambulance staff, we have to remember the scenes of queueing ambulances outside Basildon and Southend A and E departments, is another obstacle to be overcome, but this does not appear to be a reason to stop these major changes.

Care in the Home was also spokem of as being a major means of relieving pressures in the Hospitals but little convincing explanation as to how this would be achievable financially.

Canvey Island is likely to see the centralisation of GP facilities being based at the Paddocks site!

Now when we concern ourselves with infrastructure problems we can now add the NHS as being one of the major concerns, especially in the shadow of the future Housing development threatening the area.

View these NHS restructuring plans alongside the prospect of the extra Housing Development intended by our local and national authorities, and YOU decide the impact upon this part of Essex!

“South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) May 2017
Turley and Edge Analytics were appointed by the South Essex authorities of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which objectively assesses the need for housing across the South Essex housing market area (HMA). The final report was published in May 2016.
The SHMA concluded that there was an objectively assessed need (OAN) for 3,275 – 3,750 dwellings per annum in South Essex over the period from 2014 to 2037. This uplifted the then ‘starting point’ of the official 2012-based household projections by circa 30% through a demographic adjustment to take account of anticipated growth pressures in London”

Equivalent to a total of up to 86,250 new dwellings by the year 2037.

Multiply this by 2.3 persons per dwelling equals an increase in population in our area of 198,375 persons.

A Link to NHS Consultation is available HERE


Canvey Dutch Village Green Belt under Fire, yet Again! The Cowboys set to take advantage – More Canvey Island Development by Stealth? Jotmans Farm beware!

In a crude attempt to negate supposedly protected Green Belt land on Canvey Island, a Planning Proposal has been received by Castle Point planners!

Persimmon, withdrew their long standing proposal to develop 300 dwellings on the Canvey Dutch Village, now a new proposal is shown as being received.

This time, no doubt an interim measure, for an equine facility, we assume in the current local climate as a move towards their real desire to develop over, the Dutch Village Green Belt site.

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 for the keeping of horses. Installation of width restriction barrier to discourage unauthorised motorcycle access and main entrance gate alterations. | Land East Of Canvey Road And South Of Great Russell Head Farm Canvey Island Essex

The timing could not have been better, whilst Castle Point council remain under threat of Intervention from the Government Secretary of State, due to the failure of the Local Plan Duty to Cooperate requirement and the subsequent  withdrawal of the latest version of the cpbc Local Plan!

CPBC’s gamble to play with technicalities by differentiating between Green Belt and previously developed Green Belt will be tested, at Canvey Island’s expense.

The site served up to save mainland Green Belt, the Blinking Owl site, is not considered deliverable within Local Plan terms. So, the more previously developed Green Belt land in the Island part of the borough, the less required to be found elsewhere in councillors eyes.

Additionally it will be interesting to learn how this proposal for equine use can be Rejected, as a very similar application was granted in the Green Belt, by the Castle Point development committee, for Canvey west ward councillor J.King in January 2017!

cpbc officers applied the following logic, so as to overcome the Special Circumstances to allow development in this instance;

Sluice farm, Haven Road. 16/0433/FUL

“The Planning Authority defines a ‘very special circumstance’ as one which is unique to the site or, at the very least, incapable of frequent repetition. Very special circumstances need not be a single matter, but may result from a combination of matters which individually may not be considered very special, but which in combination, when viewed objectively, may be identified as very special.
Whilst the proposal will result in inappropriate development in the Green Belt which will have an impact on the openness of the Green Belt, suggesting that permission for the proposal should be withheld, the NPPF openly encourages the provision of opportunities for outdoor recreation, improved biodiversity and improved landscape. The proposal will provide opportunities for countryside recreation which would be consistent with the Government objective of seeking to provide positive uses within the established Green Belt.
It is considered that this factor, coupled with the limited harm to the strategic function, character and appearance of the Green Belt provide very special circumstances which weigh in favour of the proposed development.”

At the time, we were bewildered by the development committee’s eagerness to apply this logic, but……..

In contrast, where the supply of Housing is concerned, as in the Jotmans case, the Secretary of State concluded;

“The Secretary of State has considered carefully whether these considerations amount to very special circumstances which clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm. The Secretary of State has taken into account the extremely low housing land supply, and the withdrawal of the dNLP. This increases uncertainty about the future delivery of housing. He has also taken into account the Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Government’s policy 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’.”

You can see the obvious danger where cpbc are concerned, apparently the provision of Stabling for Horses provide the Very Special Circumstances necessary to permit green Belt Release, whilst the provision of allegedly much needed Housing, in a borough with a chronic under supply of housing, doesn’t!

Or is it simply a case of Canvey Green Belt requiring a different level of Special Circumstances? We will be interested to learn the position our representatives will adopt and their logic in doing so.

We can imagine the wringing of hands and the apologetic faces, whilst they state that their hands are tied and that they can only consider the application before them!

Who knows the Canvey equine Green Belt proposal may be a ploy by Persimmon, so that when they resurrect their Jotmans Farm proposal, as they most certainly will, they will then be able to suggest that with a new equine facility on Canvey, there will be an abundance of equine stabling and facilities in this part of Castle Point. Jotmns Farm campaigners be warned!

It appears  however that for now, the Castle Point cowboys may be getting themselves a new Ranch!

“The Natives are restless, and seem desirous of fighting”, The question is, or are they?


Image: Courier Litho. Co., Buffalo, N.Y.

CPRE confirm Brownfield Housing Site Registers mean Less Green Belt Release! How does Castle Point fare?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England have issued a report claiming that in the South East of England there are enough Brownfield development sites to supply 132,263 deliverable homes.

Additionally they consider that the sum of all local authorities Brownfield sites Register indicates a supply of 1,052,124 homes – this could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published, confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.

“More than two-thirds of these homes (are) deliverable within the next five years. Many of these sites are in areas with a high need for housing.
This means that three of the next five years’ worth of Government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified, easing pressures on councils to continue releasing greenfield land unnecessarily and preventing the unnecessary loss of countryside.”

Before Castle Point Green Belt campaigners get too excited, we should remember that our local authority’s contribution, as shown on their Brownfield Register is a List of just 20 sites capable of yielding upwards of 254 new Dwellings across the whole Borough.

Unfortunately, unless we have missed an announcement, there is no Part 2 to the Castle Point Brownfield Register, the Part that grants Permission in Principle to develop.

This appears the “Fault” of Canvey Island, how Unreasonable of the place!

CPBC Agenda paperwork explains; “Furthermore, Canvey Island is within Flood Risk Zone 3a, and as such planning applications for residential development normally require a Flood Risk Assessment. Advice is awaited from the Environment Agency as to if and how the Council could go about addressing this requirement before proceeding to consider any sites on Canvey Island for inclusion on the Part 2 of the Register”

Once our local representatives remind the Environment Agency of Canvey Island being a “Special Case”, the usual service should be Resumed!

Of course now that cpbc have entered into a pact with our neighbours, Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock Councils, or ASELA, perhaps pressure on Castle point Green Belt will ease.

Within Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, in particular, there may be more Brownfield opportunities for Housing Land supply to be identified. Castle Point being a small borough,  heavily constrained by its Green Belt, compared with these three ASELA members may be able to persuade them to take some of cpbc Housing Needs.

It would be interesting to learn what Castle Point may be able, and willing, to offer in Return!

The Link to the full CPRE Report can be found HERE.

Taking the Pee over the Paddocks? CPBC Chief Executive makes clear – we have No Plan!

So, what is it about “there are no plans for the Paddocks” that Canvey Islanders cannot understand?

Castle Point Council cabinet members and committee chairmen have each spoken out to reassure residents that there are NO plans. All to no avail, so now this rumour appears to have become such a sensitive issue that it has become important enough for none other than the cpbc chief executive to go to the Echo newspaper to also assure the community that “there are no plans for the Paddocks”

So what is behind these concerns that people are getting their knickers in a twist over?
The cpbc cabinet January meeting agreed to “note the opportunities afforded by a careful analysis of the wider site area”.

Also to “note the preparation of a detailed business case for a new community hall on the Paddocks site.”

Definitely NO plans mentioned there then.


“Fear not, for I have a plan!”

The agenda paperwork went onto state;  “The conclusion of feasibility work reveals that the Paddocks Community Centre building has reached the end of its design life and is beyond economic repair. Operationally, the facility has limited flexibility, does not meet modern hire requirements, is energy inefficient and costly to run and it suffers from periodic recurrent anti-social behaviour issues.

The feasibility work shows however that it is possible to construct a new community facility immediately to the south-east of the existing building.”

” it would be possible to re-configure the car parking layout across the whole site, to provide an indicative capacity of approximately 380 spaces.
This compares to an existing car parking capacity at the site of approximately 200 spaces.” – “Car parking managed by the Borough Council.”

The last of the “free” car parking spaces in Canvey Town Centre!

Beginning to sound a little more like a plan now though?

The Canvey Comes Alive! Regeneration project with its Masterplan for the Town Centre and surroundings had a different Vision just some 9 years ago;

Paddocks Quadrant
This area will be a hub for the community, based on the retained health centre and an improved Paddocks community building.
Improve and expand the existing Paddocks community building
Community uses in the Paddocks including arts and culture, and café at the ground floor
Retain and improve the setting of Cisca House
New residential blocks fronting onto Long Road
Green the environment by creating a parkland setting
Retain and enhance the memorial gardens
Improve the children’s play space
Create new green pedestrian connections through to Long Road and Furtherwick Road

It appears that the Paddocks was considered in a maintainable and restorable condition at the turn of the decade. Some will note the aspiration to improve the play area and that the residential Flats have come to fruition since.

However cpbc appear to have a record of failure where maintenance is concerned. The Paddocks is a 70’s building, so not yet 50 years old. And yet considered not economically viable to maintain!

Would a “New” Paddocks be self-maintaining? Or would it be like any other asset, only of value if it receives the upkeep required?

So, perhaps Islanders should investigate the meaning of the word “plan”;*

plan – Noun

a set of decisions about how to do something in the future:

a type of arrangement for financial investment:

a drawing of a building, town, area,

plan – Verb

to think about and decide what you are going to do or how you are going to do something:

to intend to do something or that an event or result should happen:

Possibly then we can deduce that the cabinet members, the committee chairman and the cpbc chief executive officer may have been using “plan” as a Verb rather than a Noun!

If this is to be the case I would have thought they could have insisted that the Echo should use a capital P, as in Planning Application, when we are told that there are no plans for the Paddocks!

We are easily confused and oh so Easily Misled, us Canvey Islanders!

sarcasm – Noun

the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:


Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation Report was carried out to consider what Risk the subsoil and water table might have on development structures, such as Housing.

It found;

Geotechnical Risks*
Poor bearing capacities of the low strength / loose soils;
Aggressive ground and groundwater conditions
Shallow groundwater (possibly under tidal influence)

The High Water table found on Canvey Island is well known to residents, however what was surprising is that this water consisted of a level of saline, or sea water, content!

In effect our Sea Defence is incapable of stopping Tidal Water from penetrating UNDER the sea wall.

If these influences can be found 1 kilometre from the sea wall, how much more damaging are they to the Sea Defence itself?

The constant changes via the ground water saturation and drying processes, and the less than stable subsoil beneath the Sea Defence foundations will over time, challenge the longevity of the structure. Whilst the effects of the Tide itself is more obvious!


The effects of the more frequent passing of larger and larger transport vessels along the Thames, requires monitoring, as does the constant dredging.

As recently as September 2017 we were reassured that these Sea Defences are “well maintained”, and whilst these images probably indicate superficial damage we have learnt that the Environment Agency have identified some areas of the Sea Defence causing them serious concerns!

The Environment Agency are known to have carried out surveying inspection works and are considering what steps are required to maintain the integrity of the Canvey Island Sea Defence.

*Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials

Castle Point Leader drops Gov. Minister Green Belt Bombshell! Whilst Canvey is Carved Up and expected to put trust in behind closed doors meetings!

It would appear insensitive, lacking openness and transparency and disrespectful for Canvey Island Town Council, as representative of the largest Town in Castle Point, to have not been invited nor allowed representation, in even an observational capacity, at the “collaborative” local area Planning meetings being undertaken by cpbc,  Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend–on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County Councils.

These meetings fall under the umbrella of work “to create a vision and sense of place for South Essex through the Association of South Essex Local Authorities”.

More fundamentally it is the South Essex Local Authorities attempt to fulfill their failed efforts to Cooperate within their Local Plan processes.

During last weeks cpbc Special Council meeting, we heard from the ceo that both the Local Plan work and the work of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, or ASELA for short,  are Intrinsically linked.


Canvey Island on the Menu


If you find yourself at the Dinner Table, without having received an Invitation,

It is very likely that you will be forming part of the Menu!

With Canvey Island currently supplying the largest sites of both Housing and Business Development in Castle Point, it is requiring almost foolhardy trust, given the previous track records, for Canvey residents to simply accept their interests are being represented to the best of cpbc Leader and officers ability!

The Leader said during the Special Council meeting that up until ASELA commenced working, cpbc was considered as “small fish” amongst south Essex councils. Off the bottom of the list, and having to fight tooth and nail to keep, schemes such as, Fairglen Interchange in the frame.

In effect Islanders are having to put our trust in Cllr Riley’s word, in reporting back to his confidents at cpbc.

Remember that no updates of work achieved or fulfilled have been made public, nor updates on how any agreements will impact upon the intrinsically linked Local Plan, with its Housing Need and Distribution of Housing Growth causing concern to many.

With Cllr Riley’s calling for trust in council members and residents alike, it was most surprising then to hear him state during the council meeting, that he himself held no trust in the Government’s Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, of whom he claimed, he didn’t “believe the minister cares whether we build on our green belt or not”!

In fairness to Cllr Riley his concerns may have some “legs”, as despite the SoS dismissing the Jotmans Farm, Benfleet development Appeal, he did so only on the day of the commencement of the Period of Purdah ahead of the General Election 2017! *

Residents may remember that the Jotmans Appeal was conducted during September 2015, so the decision was with the SoS for likely over 18 months awaiting his decision. No doubt he would have had in mind the progress being made with the cpbc Local Plan before making his decision, however since then he has reacted by placing cpbc on his list of 15 most local authorities likely to face Government Intervention! More recently, Sajid Javid’s ministry has been renamed to that of “Housing, Communities and Local Government”!

In the meantime, we wonder what Wheeling and Dealing goes on at these ASELA gatherings, Canvey Island residents with no representatives present, if we were informed, would learn 3rd hand at best!

* LINK to Jotmans Appeal decision