Tag Archives: ASELA

An Open Letter to Castle Point Councillors. Before your Decision on your Local Plan and the Green Belt Development, please consider the Alternatives.

Dear Councillor,

It is apparent, through conversations with Castle Point Councillors
and Residents, that the draft Local Plan 2018 that you are due to consider
Tuesday evening is giving serious cause for concern.

Tuesday evening’s Agenda Item 4 at Paragraph 4.9 indicates
that you as Councillors must, for the sake of this Plan, intrinsically accept “Growth.”

As you will be aware, this small Borough has various Constraints on Development, such as Flood Risk, from both Tidal and Surface Water, Green Belt and the Hazardous Industries. As well as parts of the mainland, the whole of Canvey Island is designated a Critical Drainage Area,  

Others may also consider traffic congestion and housing market forces are also relevant Constraining factors.

 The draft Local Plan’s Housing Strategy for 15 year Plan
period indicates a total of 5,295 dwellings, or 353 dwellings per annum, a
figure far beyond previous completions. Taking into account current short to mid term market forces, these numbers set an unrealistic Target. The Objectively Assessed Housing Need is calculated by the Government national fixed formula and not related to local needs.

 Green Belt is to be given Substantial Weight of Protection
against Development, whilst requiring evidence of “Very Special Circumstances” before allowing development.

 Flood Risk, of which Canvey Island is a Zone 3a area, requires the area must be Sequentially Tested. However officers have applied the Sequential Test to Canvey Island in isolation, rather than the whole of the Borough. Furthermore the Planning Framework suggests that failing that, the Test should incorporate areas further afield, ie other local authority areas. An
indication that we are NOT advocating that Canvey Housing Need need not be transferred to the mainland, an area with its own issues.

It has been suggested that the area to the North west of the Borough, around the Blinking Owl site should be included within the Plan and
ahead of some of the sites already included, despite officers indicating that it is unviable at present. However it is apparent that with CPBC’s partnership within the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, this site is highly likely to become strategically adopted as a Housing Development site within their Plans for the ASELA area.

A Loss for CPBC’s Local Plan due to being a Gain for an
ASELA strategic Plan!

Many of you Councillors will be uncomfortable with the proposals
for Housing Development included within the proposed CPBC draft Local Plan 2018 document.

 In light of the potential impact upon the Borough by a strategic ASELA Plan, the Constraints on Development in the Borough, the above average Previous Completions Housing figure proposed in this CPBC Local Plan, and the apparent fact that the Secretary of State, rather than enforcing Intervention, appears to be generous in recognising Castle Point Council’s difficulties in achieving an agreeable Local Plan, we call for you as our representatives to:

Reject this draft Local Plan.

And to instead Amend to propose a constructive and open debate with the input of all members under guidance of a Planning Inspector, in the hope that an amended document can be achieved acceptable to all Residents, Councillors and Inspector alike.

Kind Regards, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group.

Green Belt, Brexit, General Election, Government Intervention. What could be delaying the next Castle Point Local Plan?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, facing Castle Point Council!                 

Whilst working tirelessly, no doubt, behind the scenes in producing a further Local Plan draft, the key decision in its production will be Timing. That is, when to put the Local Plan before the full Council for consideration, and when to release the Housing Sites selected.

Potential Reaction from Residents, can be considered a crucial Factor, what with the potential Fall Out should Residents be asked to attend the likely imminent General Election Polls. There is no doubt that Brexit and the turmoil, I was going to write, “inside parliament”, but as it remains closed at the time of writing, had better change to, turmoil on the political front, is undoubtedly affecting CPBC’s advancement of their Plan.
Despite being supposedly under pressure to speedily produce an adoptable document, otherwise Government Intervention will be implemented, and Green Belt Land being left “vulnerable to speculative developers(since 2009?), CPBC appear confident working at their own pace of production. Rumours suggested that late Summer would see a Plan emerge, but now Autumn nears and still no sign.

In the light of no information emerging it seems reasonable to speculate which Housing Sites may be included, given certain rumours currently going around the Borough.

Given that Canvey Island’s Green Belt has been selected for Development in every single one of CPBC’s draft Local Plans, that is with the exception of the 2016 version, which left the Rails at the Duty to Cooperate stage, it would be a waste of time and energy worrying about which of the Island’s sites will be included for development in the latest forthcoming Local Plan.

The mainland is a different matter, as what Housing Development is to be proposed for the south of the mainland part of our Borough will directly influence, to the detriment, the Traffic Flows and Congestion getting to and from Canvey Island!

Jotmans Farm and Land between A130 and Romsey Road, is identified for 940 new dwellings all due to be serviced by a roundabout with a Junction intersecting Canvey Way!

Canvey Way, Sadlers Farm and the Waterside Roundabout needs no explanation as to their chronic effects upon the everyday life of Canvey Islanders. Sadlers Farm, sold to us as being a potential relief to congestion issues, in fact turned out to be the exact opposite whilst also affecting for the worse, commuter traffic heading for the Tarpots junction and Benfleet.

Those wondering why the south of the Borough appears to be the favoured development and regeneration areas will be puzzled by the apparent overlooking of sites towards the more central parts of the Borough. CPBC identified sites with a potential to realise 1,100+ dwellings around Daws Heath and Rayleigh Road areas.

The previous draft Local Plan 2018 in its Green Belt Housing Site Selection, identified 455 dwellings at Land East of Rayleigh Road with other sites allocated medium to small numbers of dwellings, other than the Chase area off Kiln Road, already partly developed through the 1998 Adopted Local Plan.

This despite the Castle Point Council Briefing paper for the Members Conference of September 2011 identifying capacity for many more dwellings on sustainable dwellings in the Green Belt on sites in the middle part of the Borough.

It appears that even now, Local Factors are influencing Green Belt development site selection, as Canvey Island and the Jotmans Farm area are receiving no such protection.

Green Belt development remains a volatile topic at Local and National levels. Should illogically preferred sites continue to be protected through the influence of “Local factors”, then it would be fair to assume that a new draft Local Plan will also be the subject to opposition and criticism through to its Examination stage.

The A127 Nevendon Interchange is receiving Government monies to improve traffic flow, talk is of consideration of removing the Fortune of War roundabout to also improve flow. And yet still no word of reconsideration of the North West Thundersley site, Blinking Owl, with the potential for 1,200 dwellings with the opportunity to put in new infrastructure to best suit the needs of commuters with Government funding via ASELA, The Association of South Essex Local Authorities!

Whether it’s the Brexit and possibility of a General Election issue at National level, or Green Belt and the Local Plan with its allegedly imminent Intervention threat at Local level, No, I really can’t think why the next issue of CPBC’s Local Plan is so slow in Emerging.

Canvey Island – Congestion – 3rd Access Road – Daily Commute – No Sign of Relief as Major Infrastructure improvements remain, Aspirational!

Have you wondered why London hasn’t an Eastbound Motorway similar to the west of London.

East houses the business and production areas along with the urbanised towns, almost merging with each other, whereas to the west is a lot more land space and the holiday routes.

On the A127 it is difficult to measure the traffic level.

What I mean is that it is distorted by being just 2 lanes and has purposely retained slow down mechanisms, namely the fortune of war roundabout, and the poorly, and the economically designed short slip roads, which slows down traffic flows often to a Halt!

Chelmsford is looking after the mid and north of the county routes, intentionally leaving the south and thameside local authorities to seek other funding streams which are barely forthcoming.

Hence the piecemeal patchwork upgrades to the a13 and the lack of improvements to the a127.

Is it a deliberate ploy by Essex County Council to segregate us from them, in the knowledge that Thameside areas under the will of “The Association of South Essex Local Authorities” intends to become more and more intensely urbanised, acting as a buffer to keep mid and north essex leafier and more better funded off the back of us!

The “improvements” on the local major arteries have been piecemeal and catastrophic. The A127 being basically neglected for the last 40 years as for the A13 we need only to consider the sections of lane widening such as now only just commencing at Stanford at the same time as the seemingly continual repairs to the substandard construction of the Sadlers farm Junction.

Locally the incomplete Roscommon Way, the 2nd phase being completed to vastly reduced lifetime standards, whilst the continually promised 3 road off Canvey Island, remains after all of this time an “A”spiration. (Is that what they mean by an “A” road?).

Meanwhile Parliament got in on the act by holding a discussion on the road infrastructure of Essex in Westminster Hall.

Speakers included Priti Patel, Mark Francois, Graham Stringer chair, James Duddbribge, Will Quince, Rachel Maskell, Jesse Norman Min of State Dept of Transport.

Some of the debate included, with no names attached to quotations, but you will note the early emphasis on Mid and North of the County, and you can contemplate this as you sit in your nearest Traffic Jam, in the clear Knowledge that Nothing Will be Done Soon to Improve the Situation!:

“Over the past decade there has been a 25% increase in the number of enterprises across Essex. In 2010, that number stood at 61,540. By 2018 it had risen to 77,365.”

“it is not only individuals who depend on our transport sector, but businesses and everyone else. Essex has a strong advanced manufacturing and engineering sector that employs over 50,000 people in over 4,200 companies.”

“In the county of Essex, farming alone is worth over £400 million to our economy and employs over 8,000 people.”

“every year enough wheat to make 1.3 billion loaves of bread, enough barley to make 280 million pints of beer, and 150 million eggs. We also grow outdoor vegetables on 5,000 acres of land, so roads and transport are important”

we have 66,000 professionals in Essex, so it is important that we continue to grow and support them. We have a dynamic academic and educational sector, with Writtle University College, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Essex”

“We have over 1,000 acres of port-adjacent, tri-modally connected logistics and distribution sites, which are the backbone of our economy, ​and we are connected by road, rail, sea and air to global markets. We have four major seaports—London Gateway, Tilbury, Harwich and Purfleet—with a fifth major port, Felixstowe, just over the border in Suffolk. There are also six port-side rail freight terminals and three key tri-modal logistic sites at London Gateway and the London distribution park.”

“our airports: Stansted, which is the UK’s third largest air freight hub by capacity, and Southend airport. Those airports are not just growing, but experiencing considerable passenger growth and, in the case of Stansted, benefiting from private sector investment to the tune of £600 million.”

“One statistic says it all: it is not surprising to learn that Essex is the local authority with the second-highest traffic level in the country, with 9.68 billion vehicle miles in 2017 alone. That is 2 billion miles more than in 1997, and if the unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea are included, the greater Essex area has the highest traffic level by distance, with 11.2 billion miles.”

The Minister must understand that our main arterial routes—the A13, the A127 and the A12—are bursting at the seams.”

“The Government want more house building in south Essex and the rest of the county. I make it plain to the Minister that he has to pay for the infrastructure if he wants those houses built. If the Government will not come up with the money, for instance to make the A127 the M127, they can forget their housing targets.”

“Chairman “I remind Members that, although this is not a well-attended debate, interventions should be short, brief and to the point.””

The case for investment in the A12 and the A120 is compelling”

A12 “below standard slip roads and capacity problems which can result in tailbacks.”

“Minister, if this were legislation, I would suggest a very simple amendment: delete “A” and insert “M”. I refer, of course, to the A127. We want it to be a motorway. When I say “we”, I do not mean me, or a collection of a few random individuals; the whole of Essex wants it to be a motorway. In November 2018, a group came together—the south Essex A127 taskforce—led by Councillor Mike Steptoe, who is both of Essex County Council and deputy leader of Rochford Council. That group included Essex, Southend, Thurrock, Rochford, Basildon, Castle Point, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Malden, Havering, Transport for London and Highways England.”

The A127 carries more than 75,000 people every day.”

“we need to make sure that all incremental improvements to the A127 do not stand in the way of a future motorway—developments such as the Fairglen interchange between the A130 and the A127 need to be motorway-proof.”

“Although right hon. and hon. Members have extolled the economic opportunities for their areas and discussed the housing developments that are putting pressure on the infrastructure, which is clearly under severe pressure and needs to be redressed, I urge the Minister to take a more strategic view of how we develop our transport infrastructure. The reality is that we need to plan not just for the next decade or two, but for the long term.”

In December 2014 the Government launched the first road investment strategy, which outlined how more than £15 billion is to be invested in our strategic roads between 2015 and 2021. That is the biggest upgrade to strategic roads in a generation, and it will be exceeded in RIS2 from 2025, which is of the scale of £25 billion.”

“To zero-in on Essex, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham pointed out that the first road investment strategy includes the widening of the A12 between junction 19 at Chelmsford and junction 25 at Marks Tey, where it currently joins the A120.”

“Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,”

“That this House has considered transport infrastructure in Essex.”

The complete debate can be read via this LINK.

Photograph: Yellow Advertiser

Canvey the Answer to Castle Point’s Problems, now were in the Sights of Thurrock Council. A 3rd Access Road plus our own Railway Station? Don’t be Fooled!

Canvey Island long the Dumping Ground of local problematic development issues, has now fallen under the Radar of our “friends” in Thurrock!

The new Thames Crossing scheduled to be located within Thurrock, is proving understandably unpopular. So in an attempt, no doubt, to carry favour with the Thurrock electorate the local councillors, ignoring the financial impacts to the scheme, are seeking to have the Crossing moved further along the Thames to Canvey Island!

In turn, Castle Point Council’s eternal aspirational political golden nugget, the 3rd Canvey Island Relief Road, to Manor Way Thurrock, is kicked into touch!

So much for the Cooperation so highly lauded by CPBC and the other “band” of 6 South Essex Council, under the banner of ASELA, or “The Association of South Essex Local Authorities”!

This group of 7 local authorities, joined to plan a strategic approach to Development and Growth across the region, are also expected to assist each other in producing Local Plan’s.

The Duty to Cooperate being a major contributory factor as to whether a Local Plan may be successful or a failure. CPBC having already fallen at that hurdle may be more sensitive and aware of the Duty to Cooperates importance than most.

If such strategic issues such as the new Thames Crossing and a new access road to Canvey Island can prove to be such pitfalls and failure issues, then the other important issue of seeking assistance for taking some of CPBC’s Housing provision will appear to be likely to receive an absolute rejection from our neighbouring local authorities!

This Cooperation, or the lack of, is not apparent from the CPBC website, where a statement reads:

Councils across South Essex have agreed a common approach to supporting the development of housing and key infrastructure over the next twenty years.
The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) – which is made up of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock Councils – has drafted a ‘Statement of Common Ground (SCG)’.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council and Chair of ASELA, says: “We are working collectively and across our district borders for our vision for South Essex’s future.
“This is not just about providing more housing, it’s about much more than that. It’s looking at developing new and improved transport links and roads, new health, medical and care facilities, schools and creating business and skill opportunities across South Essex to support a growing economy. All of this needs to be part of the proposals very early on.”
“The Government is looking to local authorities to prepare Statements of Common Ground as part of a new Local Plan process, and more specifically, to provide the main evidence to demonstrate that strategic planning matters have been dealt with effectively and the legal provisions of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ have been met. ASELA have been a national pilot for the new process and are the first collective of local authorities to reach this stage of the new process.

Reads well, but not so cooperative in practise between our local Thurrock councillors. it appears!

Thurrock councillor Peter Smith has claimed the crossing should be on Canvey instead. “I am not an engineering expert, but when we talk to the public and fellow councillors, they keep saying further east, towards Canvey on the Essex side.
“At that distance on Canvey, it can go straight under in a tunnel. That would alleviate the impact to the (Thurrock) local people.”

A better and more clearer example of a DOGMATIC approach, would be hard to find, and not suggesting the Duty to Cooperate is going too well, is it?

Of course a new Thames Crossing proposal for Canvey Island has been considered, and dismissed I must add, some years before.

Once again the promised, aspirational benefits to be bestowed on Canvey Island, despite the Crossing’s route being the most expensive, were to be beyond local residents dreams.

“Metrotidal Ltd believes that the capital cost of the plan will be £2–4bn, with the tunnelling part of the project thought to cost around £1bn. The tunnel is expected to be formed from concrete tubes immersed in the bed of the estuary along a trench dredged across the Thames.”

“and will give Canvey Island its own railway station for the first time and a third road access off the island.”

It would appear on that note a very good place to end the Blog for this year 2018, and to thank One and All for reading, following, contributing and supporting the Canvey Green Belt Campaign cause.

To everyone of you we Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Links to the previous Thames Crossing, Canvey Island proposal, the press coverage of the Thurrock Councillor’s call for Canvey Island to be used for the new Crossing are below;

Canvey Crossing Link.

Thurrock Councillor’s Rant Link.

Should anybody wish to take part in the Thames Crossing Consultation, time is fast running out to do so as the consultation closes on the 20th December, the link is HERE.

Meanwhile to our Thurrock Councillor friends we extend a friendly:

Harvey Smith

Castle Point Local Plan clear hints that Green Belt and Greenfield Land to be sacrificed! Household Projection and Development Delivery doubts mean it’s time for local MP’s involvement?

The Outlook is Bleak for Canvey Island and Castle Point residents, regarding the levels and locations of the raft of new development, both Housing and Business, planned for the borough!

Conversations between “informed contacts” over the Local Plan have confirmed an extremely pessimistic outlook, especially where Green Belt, safety, commuting, policing, health services and general Infrastructure is concerned!

The likely proposed Housing Need numbers will propose eating into the Green Belt and green fields. This will quite rightly raise residents concerns and focus thoughts as to whose Housing Needs are being fulfilled.

this especially following the latest Household Growth Projections being lower than previously estimated. The most recent effect of this has prompted the North Herts local authority to revisit their Housing Need projections at the behest of the Local Plan examining Inspector!

The latest housing projection figures have emerged as being significantly lower than the proposed number of homes to be built in the North Hertfordshire Local Plan, with the district council criticised for “sweeping the numbers under the carpet”. Article may be viewed HERE.

The question raised is whether the substance of the Government’s drive for 300,000 new builds per annum, is to match actual Housing Need, or to fulfil an aspiration.

In the case of the North Herts Local Plan the Inspector has suggested that the LA’s Housing target should be revisited despite the suggestion the Housing Minister, having commented on the general subject;

Kit Malthouse acknowledged the impact of this (Household Projection levels being lower), and advised plan-making authorities should not “take their foot off the accelerator”

Surely if the Policy of Green Belt and its permanence, plus other accepted physical Constraints are to have any Credibility at all, an aspirational drive for a Housing Target that is beyond Need should be challenged.

Is this not time for our MP Rebecca Harris, to not be asking and providing answers ahead of the Castle Point “Special Council” meeting, part of the rigid Government Timetable set only to avoid Intervention?

A Local Plan solely drawn up to a rigid Timetable, rather than being supported by the latest Evidence Base documentation, Risks being found Unsound!

“In July 2017, the Leaders and Chief Executives of the South Essex Authorities (Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County Council) initiated an approach of collaboration to develop a long-term place-based growth ambition.
South Essex Joint Strategic Plan.

It is set to deliver a minimum of 90,000 new homes and 52,000 new jobs by 2038.”

Note the date July 2018, well ahead of Household Projection changes, Castle Point leader and ceo, have fully engaged on behalf of Castle Point in this venture, that has also set Housing Figures ahead of the Household Projections, knowing full well that we will not see Highway Infrastructure improvements in the Borough.

Whilst, the 3rd quarter 2018 New House Builds numbers are 15% up on last year, much of this may be influenced by Housing Association involvement in large projects.

Housing associations are involved in a number of big London developments, including Swan Housing Association’s £300m project in Poplar with 1,500 planned homes, half of which are slated as affordable.
Developer Countryside Properties and London & Quadrant (L&Q) Housing Trust have teamed up to redevelop the former Ford factory site in Dagenham with up to 3,000 homes, half of them affordable. Housing associations also play a big part in the north-west of England, where L&Q has gone into partnership with Trafford Housing Trust in Manchester.
Full report HERE.

Castle Point appears to hold more appeal to developers of Market Priced Housing, rather than Affordable builds.

Generally speaking the target of 300,000* new builds per Annum, apart from being an unsubstantiated target, also appears to be out of reach, at least for this year. Whether this is down to the economic background, especially where the current high deposit required for a mortgage is concerned, or the doubts over the Building Industry workforce in the uncertainty over Brexit**, is concerned should not influence to great an extent, the cpbc Local Plan.

What must be considered is how will releasing Green Field land affect the Borough without improved Infrastructure first, as we were promised.

CPBC leader cllr smith said;

Any development has to have infrastructure and that is the whole point of us having control of our plan. All of these issues will be taken into account, when we put forward our plan.” “Roads and the number of homes built are being considered because if we do not do something about it now, the Government will.”

Now it appears, following feedback, there may be little gained by Castle Point Borough council avoiding Intervention!

smiff

  • More about falling short of the 300,000 target by 50,000 HERE
  • More on Brexit and Building workforce HERE

 

 

Canvey Island Dutch Village Estate “doers”, Get the Job Done! In the process they Embarrass the local authorities! Time to streamline local Council officialdom?

The treatment of Canvey Island residents, fronting and affected by the many Un-made Roads on the Island is nothing short of Shabby!

Whether it be the original developer, the old Canvey Island Urban District Council, Castle Point Borough Council, or that fine hierarchy that is Essex County Council, all have shunned responsibility where the situation of road maintenance and improvements are concerned!

20180824_113426

Even protracted legal discussions between ECC and CPBC have failed to reach a final decision on who should be responsible for changing the street light bulbs.

It is common knowledge that frontagers of these roads are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the road surfaces, however why have so many of these roads been granted permission to be constructed in such a temporary fashion?

Permission for the substandard access roads would have been granted in the first instance, across many developments by the local authority, we assume that a financial “contribution” for the roads eventual making-up would have been levied upon the developer.

It would appear that these funds may have been put into reserves by the old Canvey Island UD Council. These funds would then have been absorbed into the coffers of the Castle Point borough council when it was then formed.

Essex County Council is the Highway Authority.

Government have given legislative guidance that:

“Section 230 of the 1980 Act empowers the ‘street works authority’ (i.e. the county council or unitary authority) to order the frontagers to carry out repairs to a private or unadopted road which are “needed to obviate danger to traffic”. The legislation also allows the authority to carry out the work itself if the order is ignored and to recover the expenses incurred from the frontagers.

Section 230 of the 1980 Act may only be invoked where repairs are needed to obviate danger to traffic. In other cases a highway authority may decide that a private or unadopted road should be made up under the Private Street Works Code (PSWC), set out in sections 205 to 218 of the 1980 Act.”

There has long been friction and complaint in the instance of the Dutch Village Estate roads. Many approaches have been made through official and direct channels for action to be implemented. Residents on the estate both of the unadopted and adopted roads wished to just have a reasonable and safe surface to access the estate whether on foot, by vehicle or by mobility vehicle means.

Given that, as further above, it is likely that monies were held and passed on between the two local authorities and that the ECC as Highways Authority have the authority to have the works carried out and collect the funds to pay for the improvements.

It could also be suggested that between the 3 local authorities some responsibility to contribute to the works is fairly obvious, having received developer contributions and having collected a proportion of council taxes towards Highways!

Instead all approaches, as you may expect from our local authority, were Rejected! Not just recently, but going back some many decades, so austerity cannot be upheld as a viable reason.

Many years ago MP Sir Bernard Braine intervened on a few residents behalf. When he did, Castle Point borough council jumped, to get Highways work implemented. Those days are long past.

It is only fair to note that Cllr.Howard has over many years shown support on unadopted Highways improvements, and endeavoured to assist in achieving some progress. However the local authorities controlling Canvey Island have collectively frustrated and failed the residents.

Contrast this with Cheshire, where many years ago the local council realised the predicament that homeowners had found themselves in and decided to take some action on the issue!

“It is proposed that Cheshire East Council should have a policy for dealing with urgent repairs to private streets where expenditure is limited to £500 in any one street in any one year and that the budget for repairs to private streets be limited to £5,000 per annum where overall budgets allow this. The budget shall be managed by the Highway Manager.”

Contrast this with Castle Point borough council’s almost prehistoric position indicated within the Adopted Local Plan thus:

POLICY T7 – UNMADE ROADS THAT IN ALL APPLICATIONS FOR THE INTENSIFICATION OF DEVELOPMENT SERVED BY UNMADE ROADS, THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK APPROPRIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY. 

Never has a Policy been more appropriately considered;  too Little, Too Late!

Cheshire recognised the difficulty of a group of individuals to organise themselves as a collective, given the usual fractured communities we find these days, and have taken an initiative to offer some recourse to residents with a dangerous or deteriorating road surface is concerned.

What it has taken, in the case of the Dutch Village,is a very determined, very small group of residents to organise estimates, financial contributions and works to resolve the implementation of a flat road surface that all will benefit from, whether emergency vehicles with seriously ill patients, residents and their visitors and, not least and ironically, Council Refuse Vehicles which have been responsible in no small part for a level of damage to the old road surface!

Some of the funding has come from nearby residents not financially responsible for the Road requiring repair, some residents, with responsibility may have not been in a position to contribute, others owning but letting out property, may not have proved contactable.

Little wonder that a Policy on these and similar Roads should be forthcoming from Castle Point borough council! It is long overdue!

Few would argue that an Unadopted Road tax precept could not be charged on Council Tax payers, either generally or specifically on frontagers of Unadopted Roads, so as to build up a Ring Fenced Fund for the purpose of repairs. After all Canvey Islanders are charged an extra precept for our Town Council, police etc.

Look at the photograph above, and ask whether it is fair for residents to be left to organise such work themselves, especially given the Flooding issues on Canvey Island.

This has been quite some undertaking as nowadays many residents lease their properties thereby not being the owners responsible. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign were happy to allow the use of their bank account. And without a Residents Association the “bringing together” of all of the loose ends deserves great credit to the residents organising this undertaking!

Especially as the short length of road concerned is costing some 10’s of thousands of £’s !

It occurs to us that what is actually needed is some type of collective responsibility in the form of an elected group with powers to implement improvements, general maintenance, contracting resources and planning for future issues.

But then we came to the conclusion that what we really need is a Council fit for purpose!

What these Dutch Village Residents will have achieved, has been done despite councillors and officers!

So perhaps with these heady days of strategic planning, with the likes of the grandly titled “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) or “The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”, both of which Castle Point council are an eager part of, it is now time to reduce the burden on the local tax payer and abandon the layers of executive “professional”officers at local authority level and reorganise a single authority for decision making across the region with lesser devolved powers implemented at a local level.

After all, in this instance the local authorities have failed, and continue to fail the people they are supposed to represent and carry out duties on behalf of, the Local Residents!

Despite the many unmade roads in the Borough, I cannot see many achieving what these Canvey Dutch Village Residents have achieved.

Hats off to them!

Daily Mail Photo

Responsibility for street lights on unadopted roads denied

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.