Tag Archives: affordable housing

Castle Point’s “Surgeless” Supply of Affordable Housing an Examination concern? Brighton indicate the way with Transparency!

Nearly 5 Years after Castle Point Council were promising a “surge” in the supply of Affordable Homes in the Borough, through the Echo newspaper;

Norman Smith, cabinet member for economic development and business liaison, said: “It is very disappointing that affordable homes are not being built in the borough for those wanting to find a home in the borough.
“But following the approval of recent planning applications, in terms of affordable housing, I do not think it will be long before we start seeing a change.”

This “good news” story came in the wake of; “Castle Point is suffering a major shortfall in housing as no new affordable homes have been built for almost a year.” *


Disappointingly for those in need of such housing, the latest published cpbc Annual Monitoring Report fails to indicate any such expected / promised “Surge” in Affordable Housing Supply in Castle Point having been forthcoming;

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%, but significantly below the housing market requirement for affordable housing identified in the South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2016 of between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum.”

“The indicates that provision in line with OAN would require between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum across the housing market area to be affordable in order to meet the need for affordable housing.”

We trust that the Affordable Housing Supply does NOT include that of Caravans, of which the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report states;

“Since April 2011, the number of people living within caravans in Castle Point has continued to increase. Initially, the increase was rapid, with the number of units increasing 16% between 2011 and 2014. This fell in 2015 and 2016, but this increased to 124 additional caravans falling into residential use, according to Council Tax records in 2016/17.”

“The number of people living in caravans is still significant, and presents an issue for the Council. Caravans do not represent high quality living accommodation as there are issues with winter warmth and over-heating in summer associated with such accommodation.”

Developer David Wilson Homes is constructing 150 new homes on land off Kiln Road, a development which will see the provision of 53 affordable homes.

AND YET; castle point council planning portal reveals Kiln Road developer and the Council have signed a S106 Agreement to provide just 14 affordable dwellings in the first phase of 71 new homes!
A supply of just 20% affordable.

The success of development in Kiln Road is unmistakeable and lucrative. Over 2 years ago it was publicised that homes selling for up to £600,000 were being bought off-plan, such was the demand.

The developer claiming that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme meant that purchasers only need a 5% deposit and that the development is suitable for families and first time buyers. **

This when the refused Glebelands developent was offering 30% Affordable Housing Supply and the daft New Local Plan was proposing 25%, as the requisite for the mainland area!

The defenceless castle point council whose planning department and committee agreed that viability was an issue in the supply of the required Affordable Housing at Kiln Road, will face this issue as a major hurdle if and when their Local Plan eventually reaches Examination by an Inspector, their previous historical supply being unsupportable.

In contrast Brighton City Council aim to achieve more. They are now expecting developers to make public their Viability Assessments on Affordable Housing Supply alongside development proposals.

Setting their expectation levels far higher than those of castle point council, Brighton CC admit;  “This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.”

The Brighton and Hove City Council statement reads;

“Property developers could be made to publicly disclose detailed financial information in cases where they say they cannot meet affordable housing targets set out in Brighton & Hove’s City Plan.
At present the city council requires developments of over five or more residential units to provide a percentage of affordable housing – unless it would make a scheme financially unviable. All schemes over 15 units should provide 40 per cent affordable housing.
Currently developers submit viability assessments to the council which are then independently assessed by the District Valuer Services (DVS). The viability information and the independent assessment are currently not disclosed to the public in order to protect commercial confidentiality.
This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.
Now the authority is proposing to insist that developers show their sums in applications falling short of the affordable housing target. It would require a full Viability Assessment submitted up front with the rest of the application information.
Councillors are being asked to approve the new requirements in a report to the tourism, development and culture committee on 11 January. The proposals set out in the report are in line with the need for more openness sought by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently proposed government consultation paper.
A public consultation on the issue was held in the autumn. The majority of respondents felt the measures would lead to greater transparency, understanding and trust in the planning system. Broadly, developers were concerned that commercially sensitive information could be disclosed and this had the potential to hinder development in the city.
Committee chair Cllr Alan Robins said: “In many cases there may be perfectly good reasons why a developer cannot meet 40 per cent. For example a council might want them to pay for other things such as a new leisure centre. But sometimes developers might be trying their luck by raising viability issues. Either way, it could be beneficial for the public to have the same information as councillors on the planning committee, so that everyone understands why a given amount of affordable housing was accepted or rejected.”
If approved, the new requirements would come into force early this year.”


Since when did Canvey Island become the New Klondike?

Canvey Island, the only town with a Housing Crisis?

Well it certainly appears to be the ONLY town in the Borough of Castle Point to be!

Attracted by the apparent “open spaces”, according to the Echo, Canvey is now expected to be the answer to London’s Housing Crisis, as well as providing Housing for its own “Distinct Community”!

The latest Carrot dangled before local politicians is the £2,000,000,000 extra government funding to assist the country’s “Broken Housing Market”.

Whilst Thorney Bay has been the answer to many local authorities own housing problems, the regeneration of the site into Sandy Bay, now appears to mean these housing problems are now, solely Canvey Island’s problem!

The lack of Affordable Homes has been created by weak local authorities, as is castle point council, that have accepted “viability” as an excuse by developers to negate their conditional agreements to supply affordable dwellings. In Castle Point this was demonstrated when the Kiln road developer was excused affordable housing provision by development committee consent, even though houses were being sold for £600,000 each!

The impression given now by cpbc spokesperson is that the rehoming of Thorney Bay residents will be Canvey Island’s responsibility. Fair enough except that the current London influx means the crisis may not be Housing but Services and Transport.

The Borough have accepted Taxes from Thorney Bay, quite obviously re-housing IS a Borough responsibility! Why are Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley areas allowed to cower down behind Canvey Island? Why isn’t the stagnant population growth and ageing population a problem in other parts of Castle Point?

How far we are expected to believe the enormous figure of £2,000,000,000 towards affordable housing will stretch?

There are 326 in England alone, with Castle point being one of the smallest. Supposing the money was distributed evenly, which is unlikely, cpbc may receive £6 million.

If a Flat could be supplied at £150,000, this would attract a subsidy out of the £6 million of approximately £41 per dwelling !


Cpbc are energetic in attempting to receive their fair share of government grants, but their record in actually receiving the requested funds and infrastructure, such as the second access route for Canvey and the £24,500,000 on drainage improvements, appears less successful.

Until the Constraints, identified within the NPPF, are addressed fairly and evenly across the Borough, within the draft New Local Plan vers.III, then these appeals for Government Cash are quite correctly going elsewhere to more deserving causes. 

Perhaps cpbc members have cried Wolf, once too often!

Photo: Favim.com

Castle Point housing Growth issues not unique?

The number of affordable homes built in England in 2015-16 fell to its lowest level for 24 years, new data shows. There were 32,110 built, compared to 66,600 in the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This issue was highlighted, or should we say “low-lighted”, in Castle Point when the developers at the lucrative Kiln Road housing site were granted permission by the local authority to renege on the agreed delivery of affordable housing – claiming the level of delivery was unviable!

Further local housing problems will emerge with the slow reduction in local authority owned properties transferring into private ownership.

Castle Point Council explain that; “Most Council tenants are able to apply to purchase the property in which they live at a discounted price, this is called the “Right to Buy”.                                                                                                                                                                    If you are eligible to buy your home the level of discount you will receive will depend on your “qualifying period”, but the maximum discount you can receive is set annually at a nationally level. For 2014/2015 this is  £77,000.”

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

Whilst we await the neighbouring local authorities responses to CPBC Local Plan Examination Inspector’s enquiry as to the levels of cooperation with castle point council in the plan-making process the pressure to develop mounts.

It appears the problem will attempt to be handled by increasing urban densities and the releasing of open green space.

The distribution of employment and development across the UK and the control of population growth appears not to be an attainable answer.

“It is projected that the number of households in the UK will reach 32.5 million by 2036, an increase of 4.8 million (17.2%) from 2016.13 As figure 3 illustrates, this household increase is hugely variable by region across the country. It is even more varied by district. For instance in Tower Hamlets the number of households is projected to increase by 51.8% between 2016 and 2036 compared to Barrow-in-Furness where the number of households is expected to decrease by 4.9% over the same period.

Local authorities often face different challenges when providing viable and appropriate land for development. In Sevenoaks, for example, 93% of land is classified as green belt which heavily restricts opportunities for development in the local area. Similarly in areas such as Oxford and Cambridge development is restricted by local authority boundaries. Although there is a need and ambition to build new housing, central measures aimed at driving new housebuilding are often irrelevant in these areas as there simply isn’t enough viable land to build on. Councils are often left with available plots that are too small to attract a larger developer’s investment. These smaller plots could potentially be used to bring smaller and more innovative developers in to local authority areas or even be used by the council themselves to build more homes. Land supply is, of course, one variable in the housebuilding process.

But housing markets do not begin and end where one local authority meets another, so a more strategic view is needed.”

source; Localis



Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and Inspector highlight Contradictions in our local housing policies.

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris speaking in Parliament during a debate on Immigration expressed concerns that;

“In Castle Point we have a shortage of housing, a shortage of space for housing, and, most acutely, a serious shortage of affordable private rental accommodation. Hard working families must wait for accommodation, sometimes for months and months.

Evidence provided during the Jotmans Farm Appeal revealed that in Castle Point;

” Affordable housing supply over the period 2001 – 2014 was just 110 homes with no homes provided in 8 out of the 13 years during this period.  In 2014/15 a further 55 units were provided largely thanks to the Kiln Road site.

The average rate of affordable housing provision since 2001 is just 11.8 per year.
The latest available SHMA (the 2013 update) identifies that Castle Point requires 2,900 affordable homes over the period 2011 – 2031 – the equivalent of 145 homes per year or 73% of the emerging draft New Local Plan housing target. “

However during the considerations of a local Castle Point Planning Appeal on 4 detached chalet / houses in Hilton Road at the rear of Morrisons, in part of the old Silver Jubilee car park, the Inspector contacted Castle Point Council as he felt they may wish to take advantage in the change of Planning policy.

He recorded;

“Further to: the High Court’s judgement in West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2015); and the subsequent change to the national policy for seeking affordable housing obligations,

I have sought the views of the Council and the appellant as to whether this change has any relevance to the appeal development.”

LocalGovernmentLawyer website reported on the actual case and published;

The Planning Court has issued a key judgment on affordable housing requirements for small scale housing sites and vacant building credit.

The practical implications are of immediate effect to developers’ negotiations, writes Jenny Wigley.

In the wide ranging judgment of Holgate J in R (oao West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) [2015] EWHC 2222 (Admin) handed down on 31 July, the High Court has quashed the policy changes announced in Parliament on 28 November 2014 which directed decision makers not to impose affordable housing contributions or other tariff style infrastructure contributions on housing proposals for ten dwellings or fewer.

Allowing the claim by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council, the Court has quashed (i) the relevant parts of the National Planning Practice Guidance, (ii) the Secretary of State’s decision to adopt the new policy by way of Written Ministerial Statement and (iii) the Secretary of State’s decision on 10 February 2015 to maintain the policy.”

The Planning Inspector considering the Castle Point Council, Silver Jubilee / rear of Morrisons housing Appeal revealed that our local authority, when asked whether they would like to consider the possibility of requesting an Affordable Homes allowance;

” The Council has not responded and accordingly I can only take the Council’s position to be that the policy change has no bearing on this case.”

It would appear extravagant of our local authority to dismiss the opportunity to explore, under the Inspector’s guidance, the potential for some affordable housing provision, however small it may be.

The historical shortfall, the predicament of those in need of affordable housing as revealed by our MP and the causes, are not for us to point out.