Tag Archives: Basildon Council

Our Neighbours, Basildon Council, in the hot seat and under scrutiny!

Basildon Council’s contencious published draft Local Plan is covered in a BBC News article.

Claiming government pressure has raised the number of homes included yet seemingly ahead of the duty to cooperate compliance work Castle Point Council have apparently been working on.

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Copyright: Google Earth

Despite an alleged imposed increase in housing numbers in the region of 30%, the local authority claim a reduction of those intended for the Green Belt by the previous administration.

Surprisingly the Wickford Leader feels that few of the housing numbers, if any will be built within the first 5 years.

Either Basildon has a very sound 5 year supply or this could be a stumbling point.

Let’s hope that their race to beat the Intervention threat of the Secretary of State has been worthwhile, even if Castle Point Council could not rise to the challenge!

The full article is available via this Link.

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Castle Point Local Plan Mk 5, written by Basildon and Essex Councils, will Leave us Far Worse off than being “Hung Out to Dry”!

The Nasty Intervention men from the Ministry are due to visit Castle Point Council this week!

Just to avoid any accusations that we are misleading you, we reproduce faithfully the wording in the Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s letter to cllr C.Riley

“My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting Essex County Council to prepare a Local Plan for Castle Point and with the neighbouring authorities on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan”

From this single sentence it is clear to assume that “Houston, we have a Problem!”

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Of course it would have been helpful and in the interests of Openness and Transparency, something that cpbc should be looking to emulate, to have seen exactly what Cllr Riley and the cpbc chief executive wrote in response to Sajid Javid’s threat of Intervention in our Local Plan process.

But it appears you will remain none the wiser!

Rushing-through a Local Plan is something that Basildon Council consider themselves adept at.

The “driver” in their move to adopt their own Local Plan at the recent council meeting, coincidently just a couple of days ahead of the Government’s Intervention letters being distributed to the 15 local authorities concerned, was, as expressed by a Basildon Senior Planning Official;

it is clearly expressed that the unmet need of neighbouring authorities should also be taken into account when setting the housing target.

This is relevant given that Southend-on-Sea and Castle Point (within out housing market area) experience quite significant physical constraints and are unlikely to be able to meet their housing target without breaching rules around flood risk and/or nature conservation – ie. 20,480 would be the least Basildon would be expected to deliver.”

Quick, Pull up the Drawbridge!

Although we can expect Basildon to be found out by their Examining Inspector if they haven’t specific proof that they have considered thoroughly Southend and Castle Point’s request for them to consider taking some of Castle Point’s constrained housing shortfall, assuming a request was made!

The thought that Essex County Council will also get involved in our Local Plan, when they view the Road Infrastructure on Canvey Island and the mainland as being acceptable is frightening to say the least.

ECC would likely support the Jotmans Farm proposal in the knowledge that the transport survey reveals;

“4.4 Site H14 – Land West of Benfleet:
By way of summary, the following key findings can be reported with regard to the appraisal of a potential link road between Benfleet and the A130 Canvey Way, as reported in this chapter:

The operation of the Sadlers Farm junction (Junction 1) is predicted to be comparable, in either scenario without or with the link road, with the results reported within the ‘amber’ range in all cases. When considered in further detail however, slight improvements to the operation of the junction are expected with the introduction of the link road, in both the AM and PM peak hours (although the results would remain in the ‘amber’ range);

The operation of the Tarpots junction (Junction 8) is predicted to be very similar, in either scenario without or with the link road, with the results reported within the ‘red’ range in all cases. Whilst in overall terms, a change in performance is not expected, improvements are predicted to occur at the junction for vehicles turning left from the B1006 onto the A13 and for vehicles turning right from the A13 onto the B1006;

The proposed roundabout junction on the A130 Canvey Way (Junction 21) is predicted to operate within its capacity threshold, within the ‘green’ range of results, allowing for its implementation with the link road. Further work to cost and design the link road and junction will be required, should this scheme be promoted further; and,

The junctions of Wavertree Road (Junction 22) and Jotmans Lane (Junction 23) are predicted to operare (sic) within their capacity thresholds, within the ‘green’ range of results, allowing for the implementation of the link road. Further design work will be required to consider how these existing junctions, and the roads they serve, should be treated with regard to their integration with any link road in this area should it be promoted further “ *

No mention of the backing up of Traffic onto Waterside Roundabout and across Canvey Island this new junction on Canvey Way will cause!

The assessment of highway access to the Blinking Owl site drew negative scoring;

“To support the full development therefore, one or more other access points would need to be put in place, which would be expected to require significant highway works and amendments to the existing network.”

Significant Highways works are not something Essex County Council appear eager to spend money on in our part of the County, despite the site appearing to be able to yield 2,000 plus dwellings!

Our County Authority deem the partial upgrade of the Fairglen InterchangeA127 / A130 as a major investment programme, albeit a partial scheme.

This junction typifies the short-termism and cost saving highway infrastructure schemes developed in this Country!

“ Essex County Council has carried out extensive survey work at the Interchange. In summary this shows”;
“• High levels of congestion • Three major roads joining at one location leading to traffic conflict”
“Current traffic flow data shows that the A130 arm from the north of the Interchange has reached its maximum capacity. All other arms of the roundabouts of the Interchange are close to capacity. Highest traffic flows are recorded on the A127 westbound in the morning peak and eastbound in the evening peak. This also results in congestion in the links between the roundabouts at the Interchange.”

And they (Essex County Council) propose? “Short term improvements”!

As far as Essex CC are concerned Somnes Avenue, Canvey Island was recognised as possibly benefitting from a proposed widening scheme, although it appears the cycle lane was of more importance, and the Woodmans Arms, Rayleigh Road, Thundersley is in need of an improved flow scheme!

It is of No Surprise then to have heard cllr Bill Dick when referring to the Hadleigh Regeneration Scheme and the redevelopment of the Library building, say that he considered Essex County Council had “Hung Castle Point Out to Dry”, where funding was concerned!

Castle Point Local Plan, in the hands of Basildon Council and Essex County Council would be a disaster in the Making, for our Borough!

For the Record, from the contact we have had, and the observations of them in carrying out their workload, we have found Planning Inspectors to be very fair minded. However they have made clear that their job is not to allocate development sites, only that local authorities have been reasonably fair and correct in their site selection process.

This has NOT always been the case in the previous versions of Local Plan’s by Castle Point council!

* AECOM Transport Evidence for the New Local Plan Phase 2 November 2015

Basildon Council Stick 2 Fingers up at Whipping Boy, Castle Point and its Green Belt! Now “Watch this Space!”

Government Intervention. Canvey Island and Castle Point residents will now have to listen to the Borough’s decision makers feigning shock as to how badly they have been treated by the Government’s secretary of state Sajid Javid and his announcement of his intended Intervention in the cpbc local Plan process.

Harvey Smith

Feigning shock, as it is apparent that through contact and advice with the Government, cpbc would have been warned that their “feet dragging” had tested the SoS’ patience too often and for too long!

Glebelands SoS decision June 2013:

In the Secretary of State’s view, whilst the now withdrawn CS was in preparation, there were no real drivers to ensure that the Council pressed ahead. With the publication of the NPPF, he is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it.”

Jotmans Planning Inspector conclusion April 2017:

“However, events have not borne that out positive view. The Draft New Local Plan is currently sidelined and it is very obvious from elements of the Council’s case that there is no political will to take it further forward. In arguing that the proposal at issue is premature, the point is not that it would be premature in terms of the Draft New Local Plan but premature in terms of a different Draft Local Plan that takes a different approach to the provision of housing.”

Reading like a demand for a naughty child’s parents to attend a meeting with the Headmaster the SoS Letter to cpbc Leader Cllr Riley appears to be an illustration of total incompetence by our local authority:

” I gave you the opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances by 31 January 2018, which, in your view, justifies the failure to produce a Local Plan under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 regime.”

” the submission accompanying your letter of 31 January 2018. The Council has failed to meet its deadline for publication of a Plan between January – March 2018, in accordance with your July 2017 Local Development Scheme. There has been a consistent failure to produce a Local Plan since the last Plan was adopted in 1998. The Council has failed to meet milestones in published Local Development Schemes at least five times since 2004 and two failures to take a plan through examination.”

” Given that your Council has said it will not produce a Local Plan until after the Joint Plan has been produced and that the Joint Plan is not due to be submitted until 2020 it appears possible that Plan production could be accelerated through intervention.”

And Damningly:

” the other constituent authorities of Basildon and Brentwood are proposing to submit plans ahead of the Joint Plan”

Equally scathing was the SoS’ consideration of the Basildon Local Plan, HOWEVER, it appears Basildon representatives had their ears open!

In the SoS’ letter to Basildon council he writes:

… your Council still remains without an up to date Local Plan which undermines public confidence in the plan-led planning system.

Therefore I will hold you to account for your Council’s actions. Your Council needs to continue to meet your published timetable.

I will continue to monitor your progress closely and any further significant delays in meeting your timetable will cause me to have considerable doubt as to whether your Council is doing everything that is necessary in connection with the preparation of its Local Plan.

I will not hesitate to consider how to use the full range of powers Parliament has given me to ensure that a Plan is in place.

My officials will continue to engage with your officers.”

“My officials will continue to engage with your officers”! Quite clearly talks held, advice given and meetings have been held, between the Government officials and inspectors and Castle Point representatives.

There is no place for feigned shock and surprise.

Castle Point Borough Council Knew This Was Coming!

And sat on their Hands!

Why then is there not a Call for Heads to Roll?

Interestingly we noted within the cpbc Duty to Cooperate examination that, “Thurrock does not expect to make a submission until 2020”.

“And where are we in Castle Point left?

Even the most recent version of the cpbc Local Plan failed to include the “saviour” site, the Blinking Owl. With its previously developed element, close to strategic Highway routes and politically “barren”, enthusiastically promoted by mainland representatives and residents, in advance of more “precious” and “virgin” Green Belt sites as developable.

Unfortunately Essex County Council refuse to allow direct access onto strategic routes.

It is with Alarm then to read that Sajid Javid is intending that;

“My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting Essex County Council to prepare a Local Plan for Castle Point and with the neighbouring authorities on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.”

Now we likely see the loss of Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and the Dutch Village and all will be blamed on the Nasty Secretary of State and the Planning Inspector!!!

All so that Castle Point can be used as a Whipping Boy!

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In the meantime Basildon campaigners, officers and councillors have nothing to feel smug about

Basildon Council Spooked by the Government into hurrying through their Local Plan!

It appears that Castle Point have expressed to Basildon Council they will not be able to reach their Housing Needs, without breaching rules around flood risk and/or nature conservation.

Whenever has Flood Risk prevented Castle Point Council from approving development plans on Canvey Island?

With typical political divisive splits the towns of Billericay, Basildon and Wickford, reminiscent of the old Castle Point plan-making battles, narrowly managed to vote to approve their Local Plan.

This is despite the Plan appearing to be doomed to failure! Not because the development may be in the right, or wrong places, but questions remain over the Duty to Cooperate requirement. The DtC bringing failure to the Castle Point LP, also illustrated where Basildon may well fail!

With council officers warning members that BASILDON Council could be forced to build thousands of extra houses to make up for a shortfall in Southend and Castle Point, if its Local Plan is not signed off by the end of this year, the council appear to have panicked into completing the process.

Little Cooperation appears to be forthcoming! Pulling the Draw Bridge up early does not indicate that exhaustive exploration of cooperation, where Housing Need and Supply is concerned, has been completed.

And yet the formation of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) consists of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock councils, following the demise of the Castle Point Local Plan, is purposely intended to prevent future failure of the Local Plans requirement to comply with the Duty to Cooperate

Why then would Basildon rush into approving their Local Plan?

All is now clear, Buying Time!

The ASELA group of authorities had,  and probably still do, intend to adopt a strategic view of Planning and Housing allocations, across the Housing Areas.

Until ASELA agrees a Joint Spatial Plan, no small undertaking, the Basildon Plan will logically be judged to be Premature at the least, and Unsound at best.

But they have moved on in the process, something it appears cpbc were happy not to do!

Now there appears little option but to do so, and hurriedly! The Chief Planner and his appointed team will expect cpbc members to be compliant, otherwise expect exclusion!

Our neighbouring Boroughs, apparently willing to commit Green Belt for development, will expect Castle Point to commit the same. 

Government forcing its will on local authorities causes resentment.

Recently there has been the abolition of Labour’s centrally imposed housing targets and improved Green Belt protections laid out in the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework.

We have however a “Broken housing Market”!

Market forces dictate though that developers will NOT build at a rate that results in market prices falling.

Of course there is the small issue of local elections approaching in May, that may focus peoples attention.

Of course, we may have misunderstood the intentions of the Secretary of State’s letter to Cllr Colin Riley, the cpbc officers may have got it all wrong !

But the fact remains Castle Point published a Local Plan in 2016. Only the Duty to Cooperate was Examined. It has been assumed that the Plan itself would also have Failed. Must this assumption of Failure be correct?

If so on whose decision. The same people who have stalled updating the document through cooperation work that should have been taking place since January 2017, when the failing was announced!

There are questions requiring answers and we are not getting them.

We have been promised Localism and Neighbourhood planning, we are getting neither if the Government Chief Planner and Essex County Council are given control of our Local Plan.

Feel free to comment!

Coverage of Basildon concerns over cpbc and Southend Housing Needs can be read HERE.

Adoption coverage of Basildon’s Local Plan can be read HERE.

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

 

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.

Greenbelt-challenge_S_01

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.

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

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.