Tag Archives: Basildon Council

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

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

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

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

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

Carving

Canvey Island on the Menu

BEWARE! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* LINK to Jotmans Appeal decision

 

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Canvey & Castle Point Council, No Plan-Better than a Bad Plan and Forever Watching this Space!

So, Castle Point Council are being threatened by the Government in the form of Secretary of State for Communities and local Government, Sajid Javid.

As you will by now know cpbc are named among the 15 local authorities, along with our cooperative neighbours, Basildon, accused of failing “the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes.”

The SoS went on to give the 15 local authorities an “opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances, by 31 January 2018, which, in their view, justify their failure to produce a Local Plan.”

The next step, should the Government department be unsatisfied with the reasoned response, would be Government intervention.

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Will this concern those in control of cpbc though? And besides what implications would enforcing an autocratic local planning system have on the democratically elected borough council?

simonicity blogged;

The February 2016 technical consultation proposed that authorities identified for potential intervention would be given an opportunity to set out exceptional circumstances why that should not happen:

“What constitutes an ‘exceptional circumstance’ cannot, by its very nature, be defined fully in advance, but we think it would be helpful to set out the general tests that will be applied in considering such cases. We propose these should be: 

• whether the issue significantly affects the reasonableness of the conclusions that can be drawn from the data and criteria used to inform decisions on intervention; 

• whether the issue had a significant impact on the authority’s ability to produce a local plan, for reasons that were entirely beyond its control.”

We can assume that those 15 authorities will now be looking very carefully at this passage. 

A political decision to intervene is one thing but what would then be the legal process to be followed?

Let me take you back to the early days of the cpbc Core Strategy (CS), ( I know I have been told that that process is long since dead and buried, but this is the Canvey Green Belt Campaign blog and we shall reflect on whatever we wish)!

That particular document (the CS) also stalled, until the cpbc officer in charge, along with his ceo, met privately with Lead Group members, and others with an interest, and came up with the bright idea of offering to Sacrifice Canvey Island Green Belt to development, whilst mainland Green Belt was removed from the CS.  That was, if the Lead Group would prefer and in return would vote in favour of moving the CS forward for publication!

So progress was made, more easier, when the Daws Heath and Hadleigh Hands Off Our Greenbelt Campaign representatives, spoke up to add their full-backing behind the Core Strategy document at the Council meeting to decide Canvey’s fate and approve the document for the next stage!

No wonder the Talk of Independence for Canvey Island is stamped upon, especially whilst the Island is so valuable to the mainland, if it was a burden it would be a different matter!

Fortunately for some, unfortunately for others, that document came crashing down around cpbc’s ankles. A disregard of Flood Risk (sound familiar?) and a poor choice of (Canvey) Green Belt, and the influence of “Local Factors” was the Inspector’s finding, and away cpbc went to start again.

So Ms Challis OBE and her henchmen organised a Councillor Conference during 2011 that split members into groups so that they could select mainland green belt sites to add to Canvey Island Green Belt sites, and following that a further Local Plan document emerged.

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Her battle cry then was “watch this space!” Well I can confess, we have been watching this space, and a b****y hard job it has been, staying awake!

The draft New Local Plan went down like a stone on the mainland, despite it “only” being a consultation document, with councillors losing seats, voted out by disgruntled and concerned mainland residents.

We have to remember the influence the 2016 EU Referendum had on our local politics.

So when cpbc issue a response to Sajid Javid’s letter, by the end of January, we expect him to be informed of the progress being made by cpbc and our neighbour’s as to the good progress being made in the Duty to Cooperate and that the cpbc Local Plan vers.IV is in place, un-examined.

And we would also expect a extra little note pushed under Sajid Javid’s office door, explaining to him not to take the electoral balance in Castle Point for granted!

Autocracy has a place but, not it appears anywhere near Runnymede Towers Castle Point.

No Plan better than a Bad Plan, now where have we heard that before?

 

 

Castle Point Council Named & Shamed, Yet Again – this Time by Sajid Javid

Unwelcome Attention is directed towards Castle Point Council, yet again!
This time by the Government Minister Sajid Javid as he addresses the UK’s Broken Housing Market.

Once again the Borough’s Local Plan process, or should we say endless saga, is in the Government spotlight!

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Castle Point Council is included within a “select” band or 15 local authorities found incapable of progressing past the “Duty to Cooperate” stage of the Local Plan process!

An Official Letter from the Minister is being sent!!!

Residents wonder whether the letter from the Minister will ever see the light of day, where residents are concerned!

Not that this will have any impression on those controlling cpbc.

Once again Canvey Island residents will be left puzzled by the apparently informed and dedicated team, in charge of creating the Local Plan vers.IV and their lack of constructive progress.

To receive such a letter from their own government appears to be an indication of very strong criticism.

The possibility of Government Intervention looms Clear and Large!

If, as we are assured, the policies within cpbc Local Plan vers.IV are in tune with Government policies, why then was the important Duty to Cooperate part of the process so Badly Neglected?

Another reason for those considering the issue of Independence for Canvey Island to wish to be disassociated from Castle Point Council?

“Interesting” to note that Basildon Council, who attended the Castle Point Local Plan Duty to Cooperate public meeting to add their criticisms, were also Named and Shamed!

The Ministerial release reads:-

On 7 February we published our Housing White Paper in which we made clear that the housing market in this country is broken, and the cause is very simple: for too long, we haven’t built enough homes. We have identified three systemic problems: not enough local authorities planning for the homes they need; house building that is simply too slow; and a construction industry that is too reliant on a small number of big players.

Up-to-date plans, including local plans, are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications. At present too few places have an up-to-date plan.

On 21 July 2015 we made a Written Ministerial Statement to the House on this same subject. At that point 82 per cent of authorities had published a Local Plan under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 regime. Today that figure stands at 92 per cent.

In the 13 years that have passed since the 2004 Act received Royal Assent, over 70 local planning authorities have yet to adopt a plan and of those 27 authorities still have failed to reach the publication stage. I am particularly concerned about the 15 local planning authorities that have recently either failed the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes, the public timetable that all local planning authorities are required to put in place.

I am therefore writing today to the local planning authorities of:

Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.

These letters will start the formal process of intervention we set out in the Housing White Paper. We set out that we will prioritise intervention where:

  • the least progress in plan-making has been made
  • policies in plans had not been kept up to date
  • there was higher housing pressure; and
  • intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating Local Plan production

We also made clear that decisions on intervention will also be informed by the wider planning context in each area (specifically, the extent to which authorities are working cooperatively to put strategic plans in place, and the potential impact that not having a plan has on neighbourhood planning activity).

I am writing today to give the local authorities the opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances, by 31 January 2018, which, in their view, justify their failure to produce a Local Plan under the 2004 Act regime. I will take responses received into account before any final decisions on intervention are taken.

The remaining authorities who are not making progress on their plan-making and fail to publish a plan for consultation, submit a plan to examination or to keep policies in plans up to date are on notice that consistent failure to make sufficient progress will no longer be tolerated. My Department will begin formally considering the case for intervention as deadlines are missed.

We will also bring forward the important provisions we legislated for earlier in the year through the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017. I will shortly lay the Regulations under section 12 to prescribe that local planning authorities must review their plans every five years.

We will also shortly be commencing Section 8 of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 which will place a requirement on all local planning authorities to have plans in place for their area which set out their strategic policies. Those strategic priorities are set out at paragraph 156 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

As we set out in July 2015 we recognise that production of Local Plans is resource intensive. On 19 October 2017 we laid the regulations which, subject to approval of both Houses, will bring forward our White Paper commitment to increase planning fees by 20%. This delivers on our commitment to increase resources for local planning authorities where they commit to invest the additional fee income in their planning department. All local planning authorities in England have given this commitment. We will shortly announce details of the £25m of funding to help local authorities plan for new homes and infrastructure in their area that we announced in the White Paper.

We have, and we will continue to, support local planning authorities in plan-making, through the Planning Advisory Service, with support from officials of my Department and the Planning Inspectorate.

Where local planning authorities continue to fail to produce a plan to provide certainty to their community on where future development will be brought forward, we will use our intervention powers to ensure plans are put in place.

The Minister’s Full Speech can be accessed HERE

Blinking “Ell, Green Belt to suffer? Castle Point Council miss out Again on Government Hand Out!

DCLG have announced a short list of areas in which support is to be given to develop Garden Villages.

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.”

This a contentious issue in Castle Point as it was expected that the possibility of the area commonly known as the “Blinking Owl” site could be developed.

The area is Green Belt, although not “virgin” Green Belt, and was muted as an opportunity to both protect the more favoured parts of Castle Point’s Green Belt whilst also going someway to meet the Housing needs (OAHN) of the Borough. This potential project is “opposed” by Essex County Council and may require further consultation of the Local Plan if it were to be followed up with.

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It is interesting to note that in neighbouring Basildon, the Dunton Village has received Government backing despite strong opposition from local residents, over 1,600 have registered with the Facebook campaign group.

In contrast, Brentwood MP Eric Pickles welcomes new “garden village” for Dunton Hills, saying it will “meet the needs of the local population”.

The possibility of whether Castle Point Council had made enquiries into the qualification for funding for a garden village was commented upon on social media ( a risky business locally) by two cpbc councillors;

Cllr Sharp questioned “did castle Point put a bid in ….?????”

 Cllr Dick responded “I do not think do (sic) but they had the same opportunity as Dunton.

Cllr Sharp then stated “frustrating we had the ideal site as you know”

Dependent on the further progress of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 there appears a further opportunity to prompt cpbc to seek funding;

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.”

The problem may be the failure of Castle Point Council in including the “Blinking Owl site within the 20 year Housing Supply within the Local Plan.

The full Government announcement reads;

The first ever garden villages, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, have been given government backing.

In an expansion of the existing garden towns programme, these smaller projects of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes continue the government’s commitment to support locally-led development and make sure this is a country that works for everyone.

The 14 new garden villages – from Devon to Derbyshire, Cornwall to Cumbria – will have access to a £6 million fund over the next 2 financial years to support the delivery of these new projects.

This money will be used to unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.

The government also announced today (2 January 2017) its support for 3 new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston – and a further £1.4 million of funding to support their delivery.

Together with the 7 garden towns already announced, these 17 new garden settlements have the combined potential to provide almost 200,000 new homes across the country.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:

Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.

New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.

New garden villages and towns

These developments will be distinct new places with their own community facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas. The 14 new garden villages are:

  • Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon
  • Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire
  • Deenethorpe in East Northants
  • Culm in Mid Devon
  • Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire
  • West Carclaze in Cornwall
  • Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex
  • Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire
  • Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside
  • Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath
  • Bailrigg in Lancaster
  • Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area
  • St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria
  • North Cheshire in Cheshire East

In addition to funding, the government will provide support in terms of expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms.

Due to the high level of expressions of interest submitted in July 2016, the government has made an additional £1 million available this year for further development of other garden village proposals.

The government may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages.

A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes. Garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.

By 2020, more than 25,000 housing starts are expected in garden villages, towns and cities supported by the government. Homes are already being built in several locations, including Bicester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Ebbsfleet, Aylesbury, Taunton and North Northants.

The new garden projects will also have access to infrastructure funding programmes across government, such as the new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at this year’s Autumn Statement.

Eyes of Developers, councillors and Planners have a Duty to focus on Castle Point!

Castle Point council are probably aware of the Inspector’s decision as to whether the Duty to Cooperate on strategic matters has been complied with. The decision should be made public next week.

The Duty to Cooperate “places a legal duty on local planning authorities, county councils in England and public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of Local and Marine Plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters.

The duty to cooperate is not a duty to agree. But local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination.

Local planning authorities must demonstrate how they have complied with the duty at the independent examination of their Local Plans. If a local planning authority cannot demonstrate that it has complied with the duty then the Local Plan will not be able to proceed further in examination.

Local planning authorities will need to satisfy themselves about whether they have complied with the duty. As part of their consideration, local planning authorities will need to bear in mind that the cooperation should produce effective and deliverable policies on strategic cross boundary matters.”

Castle Point representatives pointed out that through the Thames Gateway and South Essex Partnerships cooperation was underway between neighbouring authorities. Whether the areas of cooperation, and the levels of strategic success were satisfactory  in important areas, will be decided by the Inspector, Mr David Smith.

Development Committee

 

Castle Point is the smallest of the neighbouring Boroughs and therefore may not be expected to take lead responsibility in setting strategic cooperation agendas. By implication, should their duty to Cooperate be considered to have Failed, it could also be considered an indictment of the efforts of Essex County Council, the Unitary Authority that is Thurrock Council and Rochford, Basildon and Southend Councils.

Rose Grogan a barrister with 39 Essex Chambers and a specialist in planning and environmental law wrote, in March 2016;

“One particular issue is the question of how to get local planning authorities to engage with one another on the issue of housing.

The government’s answer to this in 2011 was the creation of a ‘duty to cooperate’ in the Localism Act. At the time, it was hailed as a better alternative to regional planning, removing an unnecessary layer of policy while still setting the framework for strategic planning across local authority boundaries.

On its face, the duty appears to provide a much-needed framework for addressing strategic planning problems. Local authorities are required to cooperate with one another on cross-boundary issues, and face having their plans found to be unsound by inspectors, leading to considerable delays in bringing forward a plan if the duty is not complied with.

There are cases where inspectors have found that a local authority has not discharged the duty: Central Bedfordshire, Aylesbury Vale, and Hart District Council are three examples. These local authorities barely engaged with their neighbouring authorities, and so it was a clear case of failing to discharge the duty.”

In practice, however, the duty to cooperate has been the subject of criticism, in particular because it is a duty of form, not substance. In some ways, the criticism is justified. For a start, it does not require agreement. All that is required is evidence that attempts have been made to cooperate.

A further criticism is that the duty is all stick and no carrot, there is little positive incentive for neighbouring authorities to cooperate, and the enforcement of the duty currently depends on inspectors taking a robust approach. What is not clear from cases where local authorities have fallen foul of the duty is whether the threat of unsoundness had any impact on their decision to go about cooperating (or not) in the way that they did.

Surprisingly, there have been very few challenges to inspectors’ conclusions that the duty has been complied with. The courts have therefore not had the opportunity to bolster the duty, nor do they appear interested in doing so. Very early on, the courts confirmed that the test on review is whether an inspector’s decision was rational, and the court will not embark on a more searching analysis of whether the duty has in fact been discharged.

Without a requirement that local authorities reach agreement, the duty will continue to fall short of achieving the ultimate aim of getting local planning authorities to meet housing need.”

“Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.” George Patton Jr

The Gloves are Off, the Duty to Cooperate works both Ways! Castle Point – Thames Gateway!

“Seconds Out – Round 1” – Would have been an appropriate opening introduction to the Castle Point examination into their Local Plan Duty to Cooperate process.

The meeting was attended by 5 of the local authority neighbours, half a dozen councillors, a handful of residents and a group of developer’s representatives.

It was noticeable that the Thurrock council representative adopted a particularly aggressive position in pointing out apparent flaws in the cooperation work undertaken by cpbc.

Claims were made that meetings to discuss areas such as a joint local plan for the Thames Gateway area had been undertaken, and claims were disputed as being un-evidenced.

CPBC officer Rogers, it must be recognised, acquitted himself professionally and was able to support his statements and generally produce the necessary evidence to support his points-made as and when required.

Whether or not enough cooperation has been undertaken will be the inspector’s decision alone, the agreement and success of cooperation is not necessarily the deciding factor. Given the levels of inter-borough ill will individual cooperation between the 5 local authorities on non strategic issues is apparently unlikely!

The concensus between the Basildon, Thurrock, Southend, Rochford and Essex county authorities was that Castle Point should have re-consulted them once the decision was taken to lower the local plan Housing Delivery from 200 dwellings per Annum down to 100 dwellings.  They felt a delay on publication of the cpbc Local Plan2016 should have followed.

Perhaps in hindsight, delaying publication of the LP2016 for 1 month, until the negative responses were received in writing, may have proved evidentially worthwhile!

However, our neighbours have indicated that they are also unlikely to be able to fulfil their own Assessed Housing Needs, therefore it can be argued that delay would have been fruitless as no assistance with adoption of some castle point Housing Need would be forthcoming!

It is a fact the Castle Point is in a position of being required to push ahead with the local plan process, not simply to comply with the Government’s requirement to complete by 2017, but are expected to by the Secretary of State following promises made during the Glebelands development Appeal inquiry. During which it was considered premature to find in favour of the developer as good progress was being made in the local plan making process.

Whilst Castle Point have published a plan for examination, Thurrock, the most judgemental of neighbouring authorities, expect to submit theirs around 2020.

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Depiction by Sir John Tenniel.

Essex County Council representatives appeared most concerned about Highways issues. On the 2nd access to Canvey Island they revealed that they have not, as yet, been supplied with evidence of the Need for a new or improved access route! ECC claimed they have applied for funding to research the matter.

The barrister representing cpbc at this stage even went to the lengths to point out that the 2nd access route to Canvey, in particular the Northwick Road to Manor Way Thurrock, had been demoted to an aspiration, or “low-level” option, within the Local Plan2016 rather than a crucial piece of infrastructure!

This point should be explored as Canvey Islanders have long been fed the line that this is a priority  piece of infrastructure by castle point council!

No mention was made of the Roscommon Way final phase.

The reduction in the intended castle point Housing Supply was then used to suggest that not only the 2nd access route for Canvey Island but also the Woodmans Arms and A127 Fairglen interchange, meant that Government funding would not be released!

Interesting then that the news of this funding block was released in the press just days before this Local Plan meeting.

One can only assume that such major improvement as in the case of the Fairglen inter-change is being used as a lever by ECC as a means of over-riding the adopted Green Belt policy being sought for adoption by castle point council.

It was clear that Castle Point are no better or worse than other neighbouring authorities where cooperation is concerned, perhaps others should have adopted a less aggressive approach.

The inspector’s findings are intended for release by the 6th January 2017 at the latest. “Watch this space” – as Pammie would say!

Castle Point council’s Lack of Cooperation-Blame the Councillors! Updated

With “friends” like those local authorities neighbouring Castle Point, one may be tempted to question, who needs enemies?

Each authority responding to the Castle Point Local Plan2016 examining Inspector does so, critically.

Essex FRS

However in emphasising Castle Point’s failings these  neighbouring authorities underline their own shortcomings for; it takes 2 to Cooperate!

Planning Guidance changes emphasising that Green Belt land should be protected, have emerged since 2014. Given the response to the draft New Local Plan Consultation it would be unreasonable to expect the cpbc Local Plan 2016 should not reflect the consultation response findings, especially regarding Green Belt.

However the neighbouring councils collectively appear to be puzzled as to cpbc’s decision to adjust the Housing Supply Target, this while stating their own Green Belt acting as Constraints to their own Housing Delivery!

Throughout the responses there appears an underlying trend for either political conflict to be a cause of any failure to cooperate or officer / member issues to influence the responses.

Below are just snippets of our neighbouring councils responses.

Essex County Council response;

“The duty to cooperate (the duty) introduced by the Localism Act in November 2011, places a legal duty on all local authorities and public bodies (defined in regulations) to ‘engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis’”

“ECC’s role and responsibility is to use its best endeavours to assist and support local authorities in the two tier area to address strategic and cross-boundary matters and to work with adjoining authorities (including Southend and Thurrock) to engage and co-operate with other organisations for which those issues may have relevance i.e. Highways England”

ECC refer to; “The A127 Corridor for Growth – An Economic Plan 2014” as evidence of cooperation. This illustrates the importance of the A127 to all of the sub regions highway dependency however the “corridor for growth” budget appears to “by-pass” Castle Point!

“The formation of the Task & Finish Group is noted, however the outcomes of this Group and the Full Council decision in March 2016 to reduce the housing provision, do not appear to have taken account of advice and discussions with ECC and other neighbouring authorities.  ECC consider it was at this point when DtC engagement should have been under taken, to review the implications and consequences of the decision on the Plan in its entirety (including unmet housing need, infrastructure requirements, viability, deliverability and evidence).  These discussions did not take place and consequently  have not informed the submitted Local Plan.”

“The County Council would have expected to be engaged on the substantial changes to Local Plan, to enable a thorough re-evaluation of the infrastrucutre requirements, their suitability, deliverability and viability and overall implications on the delivery of ECC services.  Unfortunately there has been no engagement since the decision by CPBC on 23 March 2016 to reduce the housing provision by half and to submit the Plan for examination.”

Southend council’s response;

“The Southend adopted Core Strategy makes provision for 325 dwellings per annum between 2001 and 2021. The strategic housing market assessment 2016 suggests an objectively assessed need figure for Southend of between 953 and 1,132 dwellings per annum.”

“Although officer meetings have taken place over a number of years, housing supply and distribution across south Essex are matters that have not been fully deliberated with all councils. It is considered that cpbchave not taken adequate steps to consider whether neighbouring authorities in south Essex are able to accommodate their own need or the unmet need resulting from the 2016  draft local plan.”

“Southend council contends the duty to cooperate has not been met inrespect to cpbc decision to publish the 2016 draft local plan.”

Rochford council’s response;

“The Council’s (Rochford’s) housing target in the adopted local development plan is 250 homes per year to be delivered up to 2025. The most recent South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) identified an objectively assessed (unconstrained) need for the district of between 312 and 392 homes per year.”

“in March 2016 CPBC then determined that, contrary to their own evidence and studies, which supported the 2014 draft plan, the Borough could only accommodate 100 homes per year – less than a third of their actual need (considering the lower end of the range in the SHMA). It is from this point in particular that CPBC failed its legal requirement in relation to the Duty to Co-operate.”

“Although officer level meetings have taken place for a number of years, housing need and distribution of need across South Essex are matters that have not yet been fully deliberated with all Councils at all levels.”

“CPBC contend that “strategic planning issues have been clearly and thoroughly examined and evidenced” which may be the case at the South Essex and Greater Essex levels. However the 2016 draft plan in its current form is not supported by robust evidence, and is not based on effective discussions with neighbouring Councils on if, and how, unmet housing need could be delivered elsewhere in South Essex.”

“There has been a clear failure in the Duty to Co-operate from CPBC since the decision was taken in March 2016 to pursue the current content of the 2016 draft plan. CPBC have not taken adequate steps to consider whether neighbouring authorities in the housing market area are able to accommodate their own need”

“The constraints in the Borough have not altered between 2014, when the Council considered it could deliver at least 200 homes per year, and 2016, when it took the decision that it could only accommodate 100 homes per year, without any change in the evidence.”

“A failure on CPBC’s part to set up an effective mechanism for openly discussing the reasons for this reduction at the earliest opportunity with relevant officers and Members;

“ A failure on CPBC’s part to explore the issues and opportunities with neighbouring authorities that would be inadvertently affected by this further, baseless under provision of need.”

“however, failure on CPBC’s part on this strategic issue is not considered to fundamentally undermine the historic joint working arrangements across South Essex authorities (and Essex County Council). The Council is committed to working with  neighbouring authorities on strategic, cross-boundary issues in the future.”

Basildon council’s response;

“Firstly, if I may, I would like to highlight that Castle Point Borough Council has been instrumental in establishing the current working arrangements for the monthly strategic planning officer group meetings between the five South Essex LPAs and Essex County Council.”

Whilst avoiding direct reference to Basildon’s own Housing Supply Target in comparison to their Objectively assessed Housing Need they state; “there are development requirements that the Council (Basildon) is unlikely to be able to meet within the Borough, and infrastructure that is unlikely to be provided without the assistance from other authorities.”

“Had Castle Point Borough Council continued with its principled approach, as set out in its New Local Plan 2014 to accommodate as much of its own development needs within its boundaries, whilst respecting strategic Green Belt gaps between Bowers Gifford and Benfleet, it is unlikely Basildon Borough Council would be in the same position as now; where it is maintaining a Duty to Cooperate objection to the Castle Point New Local Plan. At that time, the Council had accepted that Castle Point Borough Council had done all it could to accommodate its growth needs and would find it difficult to meet its shortfall.”

“What had not occurred up to that point, however, was that the mechanism/s had not been identified that would be used to facilitate how the wider South Essex Housing Market Area would address that unmet need in its future years, either within Castle Point (as part of an early review of the New Local Plan), or as part of the different local plan processes of other South Essex authorities (or further afield).”

“  Officer conversations did occur as prior to and during 2014 (as noted on Page 4 of the letter) to identify ways in which Basildon Borough could work with Castle Point Borough, through the Duty to Cooperate, to explore strategic planning and cross boundary matters”

“Basildon Council accepted, at that time, that given the physical environmental constraints present in Castle Point Borough, some of which are different from the Basildon Borough context (tidal flood risk in settled areas and proximity to major hazardous installations), that it was unlikely that enough land would be able to be identified within Castle Point to meet all of its development needs in full during the plan period.”

“Basildon Council does not dispute the engagement activities Castle Point refer to in its letter, in respects of councillors across South Essex having previously met to discuss, debate and consider strategic planning and cross boundary matters which affect wider plan-making in the sub-region.”

Referring to the political changes since 2014 leaving a “vacuum in meaningful and collective South Essex Member strategic planning engagement”, “Basildon Borough Council is therefore disappointed that despite the vacuum mentioned above, and in light of the significant change of direction the New Local Plan took following the conclusion of its Task & Finish Group process in 2015, there was no further “member to member” engagement arranged on the proposed change of direction, or its implications for the wider South Essex Housing Market Area by Castle Point Borough Council.”

Unfortunately, given Castle Point’s Full Council had already approved the Publication New Local Plan the day previous, it was too late for Basildon Council to then have meaningful and effective strategic planning discussions of the implications of such a change, which is the basis for its duty to cooperate objection.”

Thurrock council’s response, a most critical and hefty 27 pager;

“The Council (Thurrock) is generally satisfied that at this moment in time it will be able to meet its own development and infrastructure requirements without assistance from other authorities.”

“At its meeting on the 17th November 2016 the South Essex Members Group, Chief Executives and Leaders agreed to the high-level Memorandum of Cooperation (MoU) setting out key principles and a protocol on how the authorities should undertake the Duty to Cooperate.”

“Castle Point Council had also not demonstrated that it complied with the requirements of the Duty to Cooperate. Prior to publication of the draft New Local Plan in 2014 there had been no engagement with Thurrock Council on the local plan preparation, and no discussion or requests to consider any cross boundary matters of importance.”

“There have been no individual meetings or formal correspondence between Castle Point and Thurrock Council regarding any of the matters raised by Thurrock in its representations at the consultation draft of 2014 or the pre-submission stage of the local plan process in 2016. In particular strategic matters of cross boundary of significance between the two authorities of concern to Thurrock include the implications of Castle Point not meeting its OAN and the proposal for and safeguarding of the North Thameside Link Road (at Northwick Road).”

“Castle Point Council has not approached Thurrock Council with a formal request to meet any of its unmet housing need or to discuss the North Thameside Link Road.” END

Whilst these letters appear to reflect questionably on cpbc’s efforts towards cooperation with neighbouring authorities, following the publication of the Local Plan2016, it is clear that given the likelihood that the assessed housing needs will be fully met in individual Borough’s except perhaps Thurrock, there would appear little likelihood cooperation would be fulfilled. Given the lack of resources, the curtailment of cooperation meetings to discuss housing strategically may be justified.

Originally cpbc informed the Examining Inspector; “By 2013 the Council had drafted a plan which it believed complied fully with the Government’s NPPF, and published this in 2014. Guidance regarding the “Duty to Co-operate” was also published in March 2014, and the Council has endeavoured to fully satisfy its requirements.

There was considerable interest in the draft plan, with nearly 5,000 representations received, the majority of which opposed a planning strategy of releasing land in the established Green Belt on the fringes of the built up area in order to try to meet a proportion of objectively assessed housing need. However neighbouring authorities were generally supportive of that approach, while acknowledging that Castle Point would have extreme difficulty in finding land to meet its objectively assessed housing needs in full.

In its further considerations, the Council afforded significant weight to subsequent statements by the Planning Ministers concerning the Government’s determination to protect the Green Belt, and also to further refinements to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) explaining that objectively assessed housing needs would not necessarily need to be met in full where there are important constraints such as established Green Belt. Guidance from senior planning inspectors at the Planning Inspectorate in briefings to the Council also re-affirmed this approach.”

” as a consequence of the PPG issued in 2014 regarding the “Duty to Co-operate”, the Council initiated what have now become regular monthly meetings to discuss strategic planning matters with South Essex authorities.  As a result, there are well-established mechanisms in place for strategic planning discussions with key partners, at officer and Member level. Good progress is being made on a strategic planning framework for the area, with agreement already in place on strategic planning matters and the key issues which arise from these.”