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Canvey Island Nimbyism? RTPI attack on Ageism amounts to Stereotyping – who else to “Watch this Space”?

Protest against Green Belt development in Castle Point, is definitely not the sole domain of Canvey Islanders.

Whilst we feel we have more to protest about than most, despite being considered to be “not living in the Real World”, even by some of our own representatives, it cannot be argued that issues facing Canvey Island are not unique.

Whether it be the fact Canvey Island is the most densely urbanised part of the Borough, the removal of Canvey’s Rapid Response Vehicle, the 3rd access Road saga, the broken drainage system, the Roscommon Way Racers, lack of street lighting on unadopted roads, or living alongside 2 major Hazardous Industrial sites, concerned Canvey residents are often greeted with a “them again?” luke-warm welcome!

But that is not to exclude our mainland neighbours who are equally willing to object against planning issues where Green Belt and other supposedly worthy development proposals are concerned.

Now it appears it has been recognised that the majority of those willing to get involved in the planning process are of a certain age group.

“Currently, the majority of those who engage in planning are over 55 years. Response rates to a typical pre-planning consultation are around 3% of those directly made aware of it. In Local Plan consultations, this figure can fall to less than 1% of the population of a district. Yet planning decisions are based upon this sample.
Well-managed consultations start early, seek a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers to engage, but they too frequently fail to engage with the younger age groups – yet we are planning their future. What other organisation would base important decisions on this level of response without checking to see if it was ‘representative’. Yet this is what happens in planning decisions.”

So says Sue Manns, the Regional Director of national planning consultancy Pegasus Group, in an article for the Royal Town Planning Institute. Pegasus being the planning group involved in the Jotmans Farm development Inquiry.

The article appears to suggest that through the lack of engagement with a “younger” consultee audience, modern development plans struggle to be adopted through the objections from those more senior amongst us residents.

“We need to start a nationwide conversation around the spatial impacts of technology change, embrace young and dynamic thinkers and those who see change as exciting, and let’s rebalance the objection-driven engagement culture which has dominated planning over the past 50 years.”

Whilst Canvey residents may not be considered by cpbc, and perhaps Sue Manns, to be dynamic thinkers, they would be wrong in their assumption to consider us as not recognising change when it is exciting, as long as it is realistic!

The cpbc promise of the grandly titled “Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan” is a case in point. Unfortunately scepticism was well founded, as the lack of tangible progress alongside the failure to incorporate the proposed Dutch / seaside architectural features into new proposals, has led to blandly designed and cramped Flatted and Retail developments to pass approval!

 

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Building materials to reflect the overall palette, drawing on the Dutch, Coastal Town and Art Deco influences to create a scheme with a unique identity.
Colours should be vibrant to establish the new retail area as a destination. Shop front improvements along Furtherwick Road should be designed with the distinctive features of an English Seaside Town.

With prose being used, similar to that above, to encourage support for aspirational design schemes, it is hardly any wonder that Sue Manns has identified a failure of the industry to engage with a younger audience in planning consultations. The lack of younger generation involvement may be true, but that is not a reason to support the thought that adult and senior views should be ignored simply to support any particular development plan that may indeed, not be suitable for a particular area.

We on Canvey Island have seen the value of “local knowledge” within the Plan making process!

When the 2009 cpbc Core Strategy attempt at a local plan was published the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, through “local knowledge” recognised the attempt to mislead the Examining Inspector with its “inappropriate housing site selection” policies, which “commits to Green Belt release in an area of potential high flood risk”, as well as it being obvious he would not be “convinced that maintaining the current distribution of development across the Borough is justified given the existing constraints”.

This despite cpbc officers being party to the clear intent of the mainland lead group to allow themselves to be influenced by, and produce a local plan driven by, what the Inspector politely described as “Local Factors”!

In this light, of course we HAD to get involved, despite being within the age bracket that Sue Manns and her planner colleagues have an issue with!

Committing to attending a 2 week Examination following production of a lengthy consultation submission is not achievable by all, however when your own local authority have schemed and approved such a discreditable document, it must be challenged and exposed for what it was. Not everybody is in a position, or willing to commit to taking part in plan making process, as it bound to require taking unpaid leave or using holiday periods. Something those with young families for instance may be unwilling or unable to commit to.

Perhaps Planners and developers would prefer that no residents, whatever age bracket they fall into, take part in the planning process? One thing we did find was that the Examining Inspectors appear to welcome local input!

The feedback from our Referendum equally challenged Sue Mann’s assumption that a younger demographic would automatically give the different response that she and her  planner colleagues would hope for, by achieving “a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers”.

Castle Point council gave evidence, indeed if it can be considered of value, that they extended their consultation to specifically target established groups of youngsters as part of the Core Strategy consultation.

What the Canvey Green Belt Campaign witnessed however, was perfectly clear. By calling on residents at their homes and putting to them our Referendum question, it was absolutely clear, that the loss of yet more Canvey Green Space to the Borough’s Housing Need was indisputably opposed across generations!

Planners may begin to achieve the respect they crave if they were more driven by an local area’s actual needs. Aspirational architectural computer imagery with green spaces screening dense urbanisation deceive nobody.

Equally the promises of Affordable Homes, later challenged as being unviable, is a deception we are getting more and more familiar with, especially in the light of Green Belt release and sky high housing prices.

RTPI and Sue Manns, nice try, but must try harder!

ps Lets not feel too much sympathy for the industry: “The chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon has insisted he deserves his £110m bonus because he has “worked very hard” to reinvigorate the housing market.” (Guardian)

A link to the Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan can be found HERE.

The full blog post by Sue Manns can be found via this LINK.

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Entrapment for Canvey? Castle Point Local Plan 2016 consultation health warning!

Amidst threats, encouragement and plain suspicion residents ponder responding to the Castle Point Local Plan 2016 Consultation.

The 8 page full colour brochure sent to residents as part of the information pack is in itself “interesting.”

Councillors voted to sign-off the latest version  of the Local Plan under the “veiled” threat from the council chief executive that;

“Any attempt to remove sites that is not supported by evidence will result in the Council’s approach to meeting its housing needs being found unsustainable.
This in turn could put the entire plan at significant risk with the Council being faced with the prospect of either a finding of unsoundness or having to withdraw yet another development plan document after examination.”

” Failure to produce a statutory development plan places the Council at risk of intervention by the Secretary of State. Where the Secretary of State thinks that a local planning authority are failing or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of a development plan document, he or she could intervene and produce a statutory development plan for the authority.”

The literature sent to residents contains clear indication of the rift between councillors and officers.

Officers have a duty to assist and guide councillors towards a Local Plan that reflects the achievable aspirations of residents. Of course they must have regard of National policy, housing need and constraints.

Councillors believed the constraints did not receive true weight, officers have a duty to use evidence to apply policy AND physical constraining factors into the Plan and evidence base.

The ambiguities in the Residents Consultation brochure, if nothing else, indicate a lack of commitment to the cause.

For instance;

Retention and protection of 2,734ha of Green Belt. The maps indicate just 2,687ha.

Housing, 2,000 new homes. The maps identify just 1,720 new homes!

Transport, proposals that improve the east-west connections on Canvey Island. Is this reference to the cycle path alongside Somnes Avenue?

If not then added to the aspired-to provision of a new road between Northwick Road and Corringham, the completion of the Roscommon Way, and the widening of Somnes Avenue, we are entering the realms of Fantasy Island!

Canvey Islanders and those residents bordering Jotmans Farm need also beware entrapment as they respond to the Local Plan 2016 consultation!

The “proposal” to dual the northern section of Canvey Way!

The scheming, because that is what it appears, to include this “carrot” was to be supported by the potential delivery of 800 new dwellings at Jotmans Farm.

A glance at the mainland map reveals no such Housing Development proposal! The proposal for a 265 dwelling development at Jotmans is currently awaiting the decision of the Secretary of State. There is no such, part-dualling of Canvey Way included as a condition in this current proposal, AND the housing proposal does not form part of the Local Plan 2016.

The delivery of infrastructure comes at a price. Jotmans residents may be tempted, indeed this brochure actually encourages them, to respond through the consultation, to agree the idea of the part-dualling of Canvey Way. Why else would the dualling be included as part of the Local Plan brochure’s aspirations for the mainland, rather than for Canvey?

We would suggest you would be signing Jotmans Farm’s “death warrant” as Green Field land!

Likewise Canvey residents responding demanding the illusive 3rd Road, a £ multi million investment.

Are we honestly expected to believe that a 3rd Road, plus Roscommon Way, plus Somnes Avenue AND Canvey Way widening will all be delivered within the 15 year lifetime of this Local Plan?

Perhaps Canvey Island’s (Para 4.7) “wider issues associated with the education and skills of residents” will prevent consultation responders from seeing the direction that aspirational responses may potentially allow officers to view the opinions of residents!

Respond to the consultation by stating no development unless better access to the Island, and you can be sure that large scale housing development is what you are supporting. Highway improvements are outside of Castle Point Council’s control!

14874722-Mousetrap-with-free-cheese-sign-entrapment-concept-Stock-Photo

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign encourages all Castle Point residents to respond to the Local Plan 2016 consultation, just be aware as to how a Planning Inspector may interpret your responses!

Following week 1 of the consultation, 7 persons have responded.

To view the full consultation evidence, responses and Local Plan2016 click on this link HERE.

Pic copyright: http://www.123rf.com

Canvey Islanders spoilt for choice: New Access route, Dualling of Canvey Way or Magic Roundabout Mk II

As Canvey Islanders, we must really be considered Gullible, by the Castle Point Council Lead Group of Councillors!

Waterside Plan

With a clear majority following the recent local elections, a clear plan is emerging. Enthusiasm is being whipped up with promises of a multi-roundabout system at Waterside Farm, dualling of both Canvey Way and Somnes Avenue, the completion of the Roscommon Way plus a choice of a new main Island access route either from Northwick Road to Pitsea, OR to Stanford le Hope!

How well we are being cared for in these austere times.

The schemes are being plotted by the local  administration, put to their colleagues in control of the administration at Essex County Council and seeking funding from their colleagues as the elected Government. So should fall on sympathetic ears.

In theory Canvey residents’ wishes should be able to be satisfied.

rabbit_headlights_250_250

Just like Rabbits in the Headlights, we miss the bigger picture!

Whilst emphasis is focussed on Canvey Island, little consideration is given to our “mainland” neighbours.

Are we all supposed to forget that there are similar traffic issues on the mainland?

Is it not similarly difficult to travel through the Sadlers Farm / Tarpots area?

Is the traffic issue along Rayleigh Road between the Rayleigh Road and the Woodmans Arms Public House equally notoriously congested?

Also, what about the consternation of residents living near Jotmans Farm?

By rights funding would be sought as equally enthusiastically for improvements at these major traffic pinch points.

The difference is that Castle Point Council are actively supporting residents in preventing large scale development in those areas.

This policy is evidenced and can be traced back to the Core Strategy.

Aside from the most publicised road improvement schemes for Canvey Island, the single most important scheme in the Borough, for some mainland campaign groups, in the lead up to the Election was the proposed transport link that would open up the Local Plan development site H18, the Blinking Owl. However no good news story on this proposal has graced the pages of the Echo, so far.

It “should” be accepted that there are genuine constraints to large development on Canvey Island. The issues of Flood Risk and living in the shadow of the Hazardous Industries, introduce need for an evacuation plan.

Long since, the old “coloured route” signage for an organised emergency evacuation has been discarded in the knowledge that, in the event of a flood some parts of the route off the Island are likely to become inundated, and consequently impassable themselves. This scheme was replaced by the “Go in, Stay in and Tune in” plan.

This has more recently been refined into the “Be Aware , Be Prepared and Be Resilient” plan, whether this makes allowance for residents living in bungalows or static caravans is unclear.

This has jokingly been referred to as the “Stand Well Back” Emergency Plan !

The

The “Stand well Back” Emergency Plan!

An evacuation examination has been carried out as a paper exercise, the methodology used reveals the time required to complete an evacuation of Canvey Island in an emergency incident may take up to  19.7 hours*!

This should prove difficult therefore for CPBC to justify seeking to locate further large scale development at Canvey Island.

If the Local Plan wording aspires to seek funding for improvements to the road network of Canvey Island, an Inspector may just be persuaded that Canvey Island could absorb more housing and business development, and in doing so, losing large areas of Green Belt plus releasing what other Green Belt areas remain for future development. Previous CPBC administrations have worked under the premise that every dwelling built on Canvey Island, despite being in a Flood Zone, protects the equivalent on the mainland, see reference to Core Strategy above.

We Islanders truly are taken for being Gullible!

Many of these schemes were relied upon to support the out of date 1998 Castle Point Local Plan, and still remain an aspiration!

There is an alternative though!

One that will not upset our mainland neighbours on the Council.

In the Echo report on the Road improvement “option” for Canvey Island, long serving Canvey councillor Ray Howard correctly pointed out that most vehicles carry just one person.

The Office of National Statistics project that household sizes will fall in the short term.

From the recent 2.4 persons household size we will soon see a H/hold size of just 2.13 persons within the Local Plan period.

If there was to be no further large development planned on Canvey Island, implementing the legitimate constraints of Green Belt, Flood Risk and Hazardous Industries, the result would be a smaller population size for Canvey.

With the high number of single traveller per / car vehicles on the roads, a reduction in population would have a direct impact on the number of vehicles on the road at any one time thereby easing the levels of congestion.

The added bonus is that less people would be at risk and in need of assistance during an emergency incident.

This would have no effect on the rest of the Borough as they too can implement the local constraints affecting those areas.

CPBC claim, on the Islanders behalf, that “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.”

Is this true? Castle Point itself is one of the smallest local authorities in the Country, Canvey being just one small part. In national terms the continued development must be economically inconsequential.

The enthusiasm for Canvey road improvements is a smoke screen for other less palateable projects intended for Canvey, and to suggest that environmentalists are being obstructive, insults the intelligence of Canvey Island residents!

Fantasy, or do you see a picture emerging?

*Floodsite Evacuation and Traffic Management
Images courtesy of Echo Newspaper and civilsociety.co.uk