Tag Archives: 2016 Local Plan

Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

The latest public “announcement” on the Castle Point council Local Plan will be made during the cpbc cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19th September.

Residents will learn exactly what cpbc spokespeople actually meant when they stated they must keep the Local Plan within the council’s grasp, rather than face Government Intervention and all that that entailed!

In a report compiled by the ceo D Marchant, that may more aptly be delivered by wearing the cloak of the Grim Reaper, members will hear in clear terms the penalties that will befall residents of Castle Point, if they were not to fall in line and endorse whatever local plan messrs Smith, Marchant and Rogers enforce into publication.

Obviously there will be the intention to release more Green Belt land than was previously agreed, otherwise there would have been little need to delay progress of the 2016 local plan.

Instead Bureaucratic measures by this miserable triumvirate have taken over what should have been a democratic and public exercise!

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.

We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

We are aware that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process.”

There then follows a further threat to Cabinet members, and other council members in attendance;

“In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.

Consequently as the Borough Council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications from the MHCLG are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted pursuant to the plan will be referred to the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than the Borough Council,”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG* the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale.”

*Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

BUT what if, this likely release of Green Belt and denser Urbanisation of previously developed land, fails to see Developers and Builders deliver the required Housing Needs of London and Castle Point?

It would be naíve to think that developers would build at a rate that would jeopardise the Market Price of Housing. What if the Governor of the Bank of England’s worse projection, a 30% fall in house prices following a bad Brexit, comes to fruition?

Will more land be required to be released because other developers have put forward alternative proposals to those in the Local Plan, which they suggest they are more able to deliver?

Government and local authorities cannot manipulate the market. previous delivery rates ARE relevant, especially when you remember that only Glebelands and part of Jotmans Farm have seen applications lodged and rejected in Castle Point for, a Total of 405 dwellings since 2010!

A cpbc Local Plan that proposes to Release anymore than the 100 Dwellings per Annum agreed by the local council in the 2016 local plan, will not only see protests by residents but will also likely lead to Polling day reaction.

We were promised Localism as the way forward in Plan making.

Instead we will likely see a Bureaucratic plan delivered by the leader of cpbc intended to satisfy the national government.

A Local Plan padded out with aspirational and undeliverable infrastructure and Sea Defence improvements AND a Plan that is Sequentially corrupt!

A new Report by  Lichfields warns of difficulties for local authorities in satisfying the Housing Delivery Test.

Lichfields write;

The housing delivery test (HDT) will become increasingly difficult to satisfy

“The HDT is a monitoring tool the Government will use to demonstrate whether local areas are building enough homes to meet their housing need. Based on the outcome of this monitoring, councils may be required to undertake further action in the near future.”

“In November 2018, the test will compare housing delivery (net additional dwellings plus communal housing) to housing need (the lower of the three years in an up-to-date local plan or household projections plus unmet neighbours’ need).”

The full Lichfield report may be read via this LINK.
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Local Plan – is it “Coming Home”, or Not? Roll up, Roll Up! Two Plans for the Price of just One – Castle Point’s Never had it so Good!

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents are being asked to add their opinions and thoughts to the latest Local Plan 2018 consultation process.

Town Centre
This is despite the fact that the Secretary of State, through the opinion of the Government’s Chief Planner, has yet to decide whether Castle Point council are deemed willing and capable of completing the Local Plan publication process themselves to the point of adoption!

The whole Castle Point Local Plan process is being carried out in a Rush under the threat of Intervention!

This despite the Secretary of State’s own office taking from 18 December 2015, when the Inspector issued his report into the Jotmans Farm housing Appeal inquiry, until the 21st April 2017, 16 whole months, to come to a decision. Apparently no hurry then to come to a planning decision, until an Election was imminent.

Residents entering the LP2018 process will note that there isn’t a Local Plan to actually consider, instead there are 2 !

Two Local Plans, from a single Evidence Base!

This shows, as Canvey Islanders should by now be aware, how “Local Factors” and politics can distort and manipulate the contents of Local Plans!

According to the cpbc Chief Executive officer up to 100,000 consultees are invited to respond, despite the 2011 population of Castle Point being just 88,011 and many of these being young children. this may lead to the Consultation response rate being skewed low! Previous response rates have been around just 12%

These Low response rates can lead to distortions of the “Feed Back” by the cpbc officers and our elected representatives. Previously, through these influences, we have seen Housing Growth directed onto Canvey Island despite Flood Risk being an issue, and the reduction of Housing Numbers, due to the concerns over Green Belt loss.

These influences on the Housing Growth have chiefly been in response to mainland residents concerns, indicated through the previous draft Local Plans consultations.

In recent times we have witnessed the pressure of residents and mainland councillors protest be successful in the prevention of the proposed Essex County Council closure of the Deanes school. This was strengthened by the cpbc chief executive’s supporting statement that there was to be a large Housing development site in the surrounding area, residents of which would be attending the Deanes to bring the attendance numbers nearer ECC expectations.

In contrast Canvey’s Castle View school, serving the most densely urbanised part of Castle Point and South Benfleet, was simply Closed!

A public facility closed, and sold off to a sectarian private enterprise.

The Paddocks, allowed to deteriorate despite money being available some years ago for improvements with a top up from CPBC funds, is now seen as a potential Housing development site.

If Canvey Island residents are tired of being dictated to, they must take the trouble to involve themselves in the Consultation.

This is crucial as, not only will a low response rate allow certain councillors to suggest that he, or she represents the “silent majority”, but will allow a potential disastrous Local Plan to emerge just so that it may appear CPBC are compliant with the 2 new strategic “Quango’s”, the “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) and the “Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”!

Dalliance with either or both will lead to major growth changes, both in population from the 90,000 dwellings across the area and traffic especially locally, with no infrastructure improvements. Canvey Island, purely due to its situation will always remain an outpost. However many people are managed to be housed here, little infrastructure will be forthcoming simply because we are in Austere times.

Infrastructure requires maintenance, ECC are not looking to spend more on maintenance!

For all of the Canvey Island Petitions and Referendum the past has proved that election words and promises are cheap, we need to accept that due to our location, the area is seen as Developable, whether Housing, Business or Industrial, yet little benefit or financial return is gained by Infrastructure improvements.

As it stands your Local plan consultation response, in the first instance, will be weighed against mainland responses.

If you  as a Canvey resident consider;

that Canvey Island has become over developed to the point that New Large Housing development sites are unviable,

that the Traffic Issues mean the potential congestion is unreasonable,

that Tidal Flood Risk is not taken seriously enough when distributing Housing Growth,

that the whole of the increasing Urbanised area of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area and the ever increasing development is putting too greater strain on the drainage system,

that the Road Access is inadequate for the current population, many of whom commute, and unsuitable and especially inadequate in the event of an Emergency Evacuation,

that in a severe Emergency, whether Flood Risk or Industrial, the sheer number of Residents on Canvey Island and the island’s location, mean that any response by the Emergency Services will be inadequate and a Danger to Life, despite responders best efforts,

that our Green Spaces and Green Belt are important to our well-being and should NOT be developed,

that our Town Centre is badly in need of Regeneration and Re-development and under serious threat from out of town shopping areas,

then you really should make the effort to Log onto the Castle Point council website and respond to the Consultation.

Otherwise it will be left to the Government, Council officers and the majority mainland representatives to impose on us “their” Local Plan.

To add your thoughts and concerns to the cpbc Local plan Consultation, log on HERE.

To view the documentation, log on HERE.

CPBC Local Plan capitulation on Green Belt Housing Growth – Canvey Island, Jotmans Farm and Glebelands Back in the Frame?

And so the time has finally arrived when the good people of Canvey Island and the Castle Point mainland get to see an inkling of what cpbc have-planned for us, in the way of development in the Borough!

Contained in the special council meeting agenda and looking like a speed writing composition time trial, is the Local Plan timetable required to satisfy the Government’s secretary of state, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire.

On first viewing the cpbc 2018 Local Plan could be renamed the Marchant Plan, after the cpbc chief executive (ceo), given the upset this is going to cause local Residents throughout the Borough!

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Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

Council members have been issued with an Agenda, which appears based entirely on the cpbc ceo’s interpretation of Government requirement, followed by a list of consequential threats if actions are not followed. Once again council ward members are getting this information 3rd hand.

Over the course of the next 12 months we will learn what the new leadership of the Castle Point borough council are made of. Whether Infrastructure is delivered in good time as per recent promises, or whether Housing land is released on the recommendation of the “professional officers” and requirement of Government.

The cpbc leadership itself will be judged by actions alone!

The new leader, representing 88,000 residents, was elected by just 1,241 voters.

His deputy we blogged of in April 2013 thus; During the debate during Council’s announcement of the 5 year Housing Supply, Cabinet Member cllr Stanley referred to the Borough’s silent majority of residents that may well be in favour of large scale housing development in the Borough.
If cllr Stanley is correct, the Council will need to communicate with, and motivate those residents, for it appears by the reaction against these proposals the new draft Local Plan 2014 will be unpopular.
The issue, especially for Mainland residents is whether they believe the Council have come up with a sound 5 year housing supply and whether they can come to terms and accept the sites selected.

During the recent 2018 call for sites, it is possible to see on social media that there were some mainland residents willing to travel onto Canvey Island seeking, what they considered to be developable sites to add to the cpbc register.

One commented “I drove virtually the whole of Castle Point (yes including Canvey) and listed plots that could be used for development where they had fallen in to rack and ruin” – “There was a lot!!!! More on mainland than Canvey by the way. The issue though is ownership and getting it sorted for development. Some would need compulsory purchase. They are ‘green’ spots but not Greenbelt.”

Very noble of him, but I would add he did so with absolutely no concern towards the other Constraints that should be applied when considering increasing the Housing Development, and Population of Canvey Island.

These people have some influence within the “Ruling” political party at cpbc!

Green Belt Campaign groups and Residents objecting to development, is recorded within the 2018 Local Plan paperwork as being a Threat!

Creating a High Risk to the Local Plan.

A Threat described as: “The Local Plan will tackle contentious issues that could give rise to significant public opposition. Whilst every effort will be made to build cross community consensus, there remains risk of significant public opposition to the Local Plan proposals.

Logistically this could cause a higher volume of work in the processing and analysis of representations than accounted for in the LDS timetable, which could set it back. To help reduce this risk, responses from the 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plan consultations will be used to assess public opinion. The 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plans will form the majority of the new Local Plan so previous consultation responses as well as updated evidence will help inform the Plan.

The first admission that the intention is to allow NO NEW Consultation Submissions! If you did not make a submission you will have No Say!

And that the intention is to revert back to the old daft 2014 Local Plan, the one that caused so much political disruption and saw 5 UKIP members elected onto the council to represent mainland wards, and also the downfall of cpbc leader P.Challis!

The Agenda paperwork includes these concerning passages:

“Assessment of all sites will be carried out in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as revised, and the National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) – “assessing the suitability, availability and achievability of sites including whether the site is economically viable.”

The new Local Plan will have a timeframe of at least 15 years: however the housing delivery policies and site allocations will have a shorter timeframe of between 5 to 10 years. This shorter timeframe for the housing policy elements will ensure an upturn in housing delivery in the short term.

In 2017, the Government consulted on a standardised methodology for calculating housing needs, and this identified a need for 342 dwellings per annum in Castle Point.

Therefore the objectively assessed housing need (OAN) for Castle Point will be 342 dwellings per annum and previous evidence suggests that only approximately 100 dwellings per annum can be identified on brownfield sites. Whilst the plan must recognise nationally important physical and policy constraints, it is clear both from the evidence and from advice from the Chief Planner and consultants acting for the Secretary of State that some land in the Green Belt will need to be considered for housing.

Since all South Essex authorities are constrained by Green Belt, concerns are likely to be expressed again by those authorities if the Council has not taken difficult decisions on some Green Belt release.

The most important issue to bear in mind is that the Secretary of State needs confidence that the Council will prepare a local plan. If he detects that there is an unwillingness to commit to an accelerated timetable to have a plan prepared quickly, or to commit to difficult decisions regarding the allocation of sites for housing (including those in the Green Belt), then he will direct that others (either a County Council, or consultants) prepare a plan for him, at cost to the Council. If that were to occur the Council will then play no further part in planmaking.

Notwithstanding this work, and acknowledging that the plan must recognise nationally important physical and policy constraints, it is nonetheless clear that some land in the Green Belt will need to be considered for housing. Informal indications from emerging evidence and technical assessments, as well as discussions with Ministry officials and consultants, suggest that the figure in the new Local Plan will need to be significantly closer to the OAN as a reasonable and appropriate target.

For this reason, sites indicated for development in the draft New Local Plan 2014 will need to be considered again. For the avoidance of doubt these will include all those sites identified in the draft New Local Plan 2014 for development.

It is highly likely that almost all suitable, available and achievable sites will be required for the plan, including those in the Green Belt, to achieve a target which is likely lower than the OAN but which would be acceptable at Examination.

The first contentious point will be to learn which councillors will be allowed to participate in the Local Plan meetings, for amongst the council members maybe land owners, property agents and those with registered interests that may be considered to influence decision making.

Next week’s meeting will be the first in which we will see whether constraints such as Infrastructure, Green Belt, Hazardous Industries, and Flood Risk are priorities or just sound bites to be shelved in succumbing to the ceo’s interpreted Government’s cpbc Local Plan!

Let’s have no councillor Crocodile tears, this Plan has been 11+ years in the making!