Tag Archives: Blinking Owl

Castle Point Local Plan Intervention – No Exclusion Zone! Are we being Misled ahead of May elections, or are we in Safe Hands?

The fear of Government Intervention over Castle Point Council, hangs over the Borough like some big Bogey Man in a Nightmare!

maco

I have seen it quoted on social media that “No Housing” is not an option for our Area.

The Secretary of State, having read cpbc’s explanation as to why they were amongst the 15 local authorities causing him most concern over their Local Plan replied, “In terms of the intervention criteria, Castle Point appears to have failed to make progress on plan-making, the policies do not appear to be up to date and there is high housing pressure. 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 yet the cpbc leader Cllr riley suggests under the Echo introduction – NOT a single house in Castle Point should be built until plans for infrastructure has been in put in place, a council leader has claimed – despite the threat of government intervention looming over his head.

“We have never had the infrastructure contributions we should have had in Castle Point, and we are now in this position.” “They go hand in hand and we have been prioritising the infrastructure, and I think most of our residents would appreciate that.”

The previous attempts at a Local Plan, first saw Canvey Island basically stitched up to provide the Dutch Village Green Belt release for the Borough’s Housing Supply, then the Challis, Stanley, Smith 2014 Plan to again promote the Dutch Village release but this time to also include contentious mainland green belt sites.

There followed a massive reaction from Green Belt campaign groups on the mainland that came to a head at the local elections which saw a rise in ukip voting with the unseating of the then cpbc leader Cllr Challis.

Since then a 2016 Plan has been found to fail the Duty to Cooperate. Criticism has also been aimed at the lack of proposed Housing Numbers contained in the Plan. With some members of the Lead Group apparently suggesting that the officers failed to note the wish amongst some council members that the Blinking Owl should be released from the green belt so as to contribute to the Housing Supply.

This is an isolated site that is in need of infrastructure which may be what Cllr Riley had in mind.

The timing of the press response alongside the lack of information from cpbc as to the procedures of the Local Plan and the Intervention, may be an invite to speculate that Intervention is more likely than not.

What you make of the competency of the Local Plan makers is for you to decide.

Local Plan making is expected to:

“Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. They should address the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change.”

“Local Plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where. Only policies that provide a clear indication of how a decision maker should react to a development proposal should be included in the plan.”

“Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the area in the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver: ● the homes and jobs needed in the area;”

“the provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development; ● the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, ”

“Local planning authorities with Green Belts in their area should establish Green Belt boundaries in their Local Plans which set the framework for Green Belt and settlement policy. ”

” When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.”

Given the concerns of some Castle Point Residents and Green Belt campaigners fearing that Intervention would remove local interests, concerns and input from the Planning process, it is good to hear this official message regarding the current situation:

From the Horses Mouth:

“Castle Point has failed to convince the Secretary of State that they are doing enough to get a Local Plan in place.

A final decision is still to be made and will be made once the Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain has provided the Secretary of State with further advice on the current status of Local Plan production and what can be done to speed it up.

If intervention were to occur then a Local Plan that meets all of the necessary legal and procedural requirements would be produced which would include consulting with members of the local community.” 

Link to the Echo article is HERE.

Advertisements

Fake News and the Paddocks, Canvey Island! The Viability of a 2 Storey Community Centre, acting as a Flood Refuge remains a Secret!

Let Canvey Islanders be clear, any fake news that concerns Cllr smith  regarding the Paddocks’ future, has stemmed from his own vague comments during the last Canvey Island community meeting!

The fact is the Paddocks community centre has been, for many years, left to deteriorate through lack of maintenance funding! That a municipal building should last just 5 decades indicates a scandalous and incompetent decision making administration that has been responsible for the centre!

Let’s be clear, the fundamental driver behind the Paddocks proposed rebuild is releasing space for more Housing!

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Castle Point council’s intent for the WHOLE Paddocks site is clear, as stated in the cabinet agenda paperwork;

“The conclusion of feasibility work reveals that the Paddocks Community Centre building has reached the end of its design life and is beyond economic repair.”

“The Paddocks site on Canvey Island is an important community asset, and it is therefore entirely appropriate that the condition of the asset and its potential are regularly reviewed.”

“The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.”

The move to alter the Paddocks site has 3 purposes.

First, and most important to cpbc, is the release of Canvey land for more Housing development to satisfy the Borough’s Housing Need.

Secondly, the intent of the local NHS group to close all GP doctors facilities and centralise into the Paddocks Health Service facility.

Thirdly, the desire to draw up a believable Local Plan for the Borough. This Paddocks scheme will in effect provide Brownfield Land for Housing development. The fact that it will assist in defending the equivalent number of housing units on Green Belt land should by its suggestion, be supported. The fact that the site is in a Flood Zone and a Critical Drainage Area however, indicates a level of cynicism.

The fact that cpbc prioritise development on Canvey indicates their lack of moral fibre. However be in no doubt, cpbc having made a decision to place housing development in a flood zone ahead of mainland sites may well satisfy a Local Plan Examining Inspector.

It is no coincidence that cpbc have seized upon the possibilities at the Paddocks is no coincidence, given the silence over the release of the Blinking Owl site in the north of the Borough. Plans for the Blinking Owl site appear to have stalled, which is most surprising as the recent Essex County Council Highways announcement of intention to upgrade the Fairglen Interchange and the Government’s Consultation on Strategic and, more relevant to Castle Point, Major Road Network.

Screenshot (9)

The lack of backing for the Blinking Owl site should concern mainland residents, especially as Basildon Council have increased the potential of the Dunton proposed development to 4,000 dwellings. If Basildon can achieve development in a new area, why are cpbc so reticent?

The precedent for the type of housing intended for the Paddocks has been set by the height and number of storeys of the Flats next door in Long Road. The number of dwellings will evidently need to be enough to support the building of new community centre in place of the Paddocks.

One thing is clear, a new community centre SHOULD be of two levels, so as to act as a much needed Safe Refuge area from flooding for the many bungalows and for the less able and elderly residents living  nearby! Any proposal for a community centre of a single level should be Rejected as a matter of Planning Principle.

It will be interesting to learn the viability of a suitable new Paddocks scheme and the necessary level of new housing to financially support the proposal!

At the moment the extended NHS services in the Paddocks grounds, the new housing development and the loss of the free town centre car parking spaces and the children’s pool and activity area appears to be receiving more support from cpbc members than the Hadleigh Town Centre Regeneration.

These are not our words, but words of someone far more influential in the process of Local Plan making, words which cpbc ceo and consulting officers appear willing to allow cpbc members to ignore;

I have concerns with the approach in relation to the Green Belt; and the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough

As we now know, Green Belt remains a Constraint, whilst Flood Risk is disregarded.

Canvey Island remains and will continue to be the most densely Urbanised part of the Borough, whilst the status quo of the balance of Power continues at cpbc.

 

 

 

Garden Villages Funding Criteria, Castle Point Council joins in the Debate-Sort of!

Further news on the failure of Castle Point Council to investigate the possibility of applying for Government funding for a “Garden Village” within the Borough to bolster the Local Plan2016’s housing supply.

A cpbc  “spokesperson” told the Echo the “Blinking Owl” site “did not meet the criteria for funding.”

No explanation was expressed as to what that funding criteria might be.

Interestingly a Basildon councillor has commented on social media regarding the successful allocation of funding for the “garden village” proposed at nearby Dunton.

Basildon Cllr Andrew Schrader wrote; “Firstly, what has happened here is that Brentwood Borough Council made an application to the ‘Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns & Cities Prospectus’, which was issued by the Government back in March last year. This invited expressions of interest to be submitted to the Homes & Communities Agency for funding.

Now, in February of that year, Basildon Borough Council had objected to Brentwood BC’s proposals for the new village (then called Dunton Hills Garden Village) in response to their Draft Local Plan. Basildon BC’s objection centred around the lack of evidence to support the proposals – Brentwood had no input from Essex Highways; there had been no Green Belt Review, etc.”

It appears that similarly to the “Blinking Owl” proposal, Dunton is not supported by Essex County Council Highways and furthermore, unlike Castle Point BC, had not been subject to a Green Belt Review.

We wonder what thecriteria for funding” that the cpbc spokesperson referred to might be that excluded a Castle Point bid?

Having said that we should point out that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have not taken a position on this subject as it is a sensitive mainland matter. Previous post on this matter can be read HERE.

Essex FRS

Meanwhile Andrew Lainton posted in his Blog the following regarding Housing Numbers and the reaction from ministers, cpre etc;

The most contentious issue is a plan to force councils to increase the number of homes in the local plans that they are required to produce.

The prime minister still remembers, according to people familiar with the debate, the reaction from the shires when the coalition sought to overhaul the planning system five years ago through changes to the national planning policy framework (NPPF).

“You have to remember that Theresa May is MP for quite a leafy home counties seat where people are probably not very gung-ho about new homes being built,” said one official, while a senior Tory MP said: “It’s not just May who has issues with this, other senior ministers are very concerned. They just can’t speak out because they are ministers.”

Mr Javid has the backing of Greg Clark, business secretary, who as a junior minister led the reforms to the NPPF. Both ministers believe that tackling house prices is a crucial plank of the government’s attempts to help “just about managing” voters.

But Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that it would be “toxic” to force councils to increase their targets when local authorities are already struggling to meet existing goals.

“If this happens there will be a huge backlash in Middle England. People will not have faith in the planning system,” he said. “We will return to a situation where not enough homes are getting built but we still have lots of planning battles.”

Andrew Mitchell, the party’s former chief whip, recently threatened to use “all legal means” to block the government’s decision to let more than 6,000 homes be built on greenbelt land in his seat of Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands.

The development was approved despite a Conservative manifesto pledge to protect the greenbelt. Mr Mitchell has spoken of “anger and disappointment” in his constituency over the issue.

He argued that other MPs are likely to see Mr Javid’s white paper through the prism of that decision: “The Sutton Coldfield decision is likely to remove the benefit of the doubt from the government over greenbelt issues,” he said.

The NPPF obliged councils to draw up growth-focused local plans, including an assessment of housing need and evidence that they have five years’ worth of development land available. Authorities that fail to produce these targets face an appeal process which favours developers.

Local people are up in arms. They are not getting any infrastructure or any kind of gain from these developments and they see themselves as besieged by builders.

Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association

Ministers have also considered “punishing” such councils by excluding them from funding sources such as the New Homes Bonus or the recently announced Housing Infrastructure Fund.

One person present at a meeting between Gavin Barwell, the housing minister, and local councils said the minister had appealed to Conservative local authorities to support increased local targets for new housebuilding.

“There haven’t been any incentives for local authorities to support this . . . When you try to make the small local planning system bear this enormous obligation on housing, it’s like putting 20,000 volts through a small hamster,” he said.

Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association and Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “If you get into a situation with central government effectively imposing top-down targets, you are back to a situation where local communities will really resent these housing numbers.”

He cited the local example of the Vale of Aylesbury, which has twice had its local plans rejected by the Planning Inspectorate and hence has no current plan in place. “It’s open season for virtually any speculative housebuilder in the country to come in and stick in planning applications which are very difficult to refuse.

“Local people are up in arms. They are not getting any infrastructure or any kind of gain from these developments and they see themselves as besieged by builders.”

Housebuilding in the UK has recovered from its post-crash lows and data published on Tuesday suggest a rise in activity and in mortgage approvals. But annual housebuilding, at 189,900 in 2015-16, is still below the estimate of at least 220,000 new homes needed just for the market to tread water.

The white paper is expected to emphasise the importance of building on brownfield sites and moving away from a reliance on the big housebuilders and could remove some height restrictions on new buildings.

A DCLG spokesperson said: “Local Plans put power in the hands of local people to decide where developments get built in their area. Planning policy encourages locally led development and does not set national housing targets.

“Our White Paper, to be published this month, will clearly set out how we plan to build the homes this country needs.”

A.Lainton’s blog can be reached via this LINK.

 

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.

???????????????????????????????????????

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.

Castle Point Local Plan, a United Front? Canvey undefended and Neighbourhood Plans?

Castle Point Council have issued notice that the Planning Inspectorate has appointed Mr David Smith BA (HONS) DMS MRTPI as the Planning Inspector to conduct the independent Examination of the submitted Local Plan.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign wishes Mr Smith well in his undertaking and hope that he fairs better than his predecessor Mr P.Crysell, who undertook the CPBC Core Strategy, and who was later declared, by a Lead group councillor, dead to us!

Co-incidentally Mr Smith previously worked on the Rochford District Local Plan 2013 version when that was submitted for Examination.

Mr Smith made some interesting remarks in his summing up in regards the Rochford Local Plan;

” It considers first whether the Plan’s preparation has complied with the duty to co-operate, in recognition that there is no scope to remedy any failure in this regard”

and

“The starting point for the examination is the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan.”

Of the first requirement the Castle Point officers will themselves be in a difficult position. I believe the Local Plan process commenced in 2007, if not before, ample time for the CPBC to have established and recorded record of the Cooperation between Castle Point and the neighbouring local authorities.

However CPBC have been criticised by the neighbouring authorities for their apparent lateness in fulfilling this requirement.

So the CPBC officers “holier than thou” position will be for them to justify ahead of the Local Plan Examination.

Similar questions were raised within the St Albans Local Plan. There the Inspector decided the way to resolve the apparent doubt within the Duty to Cooperate requirement was;

“In order to test the evidence I propose to hold an Initial Hearing Session at which the Council’s approach in relation to the Duty to Co-operate will be discussed.  At this stage I intend to invite representatives of the nearby LPAs who have submitted representations; the County Council and the Home Builders Federation.” 

The second point Mr Smith referred to “the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan” is more contentious. Officers apparently consider the CPBC Local Plan2016 unsound, and yet they have been party to publishing it and submitting for Examination.

They now owe the residents of Castle Point a committed defence of the submitted Local Plan, as they attempted with the far less sound Core Strategy! And this commitment will be tested as the St Alban LP Inspector also commented;

 “In terms of the delivery of the proposed growth, there is insufficient clarity and detail regarding the associated infrastructure that is required, how it will be provided and what the consequent implications may be in terms of viability. I have seen the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (INFR 001 and 002) but note in Appendix 5 of the SLP that there are a significant number of projects (for example in relation to highway improvements) where costs and funding are unknown.  In these circumstances there is uncertainty regarding the consequent implications for the viability of the Council’s proposals.”

This has implications within the CPBC Local Plan in the case of Policy H11 Land at North Thundersley, the Blinking Owl area. Whether the CPBC officers commitment during Examination in Public can be relied upon, is for the Council Lead group members to consider.

It would make sense for those Lead councillors to form a representative group to attend the Examination sessions to defend the Plan.

Mr Smith’s decision was that the Rochford Plan was unsound and identified modifications to the Plan so as to make the Plan sound, this process appears to be ongoing.

Most interestingly is that two Parishes in Rochford, Canewdon and Wallasea felt in December 2015 that despite the need for Local Plan’s apparently needing completion by early 2017, it was worthwhile entering into a Neighbourhood Plan process.

A pity that Canvey Island town council felt a Neighbourhood Plan, indicating how Canvey residents vision for the Island’s future, was too late and not worthwhile.                      Canvey may well now find it difficult to suggest positive Policies advantageous to the Island during the Local Plan Examination process.

.

Home Builders Federation Vindicate Castle Point Council’s Protection of its Green Belt!

Writing specifically about Castle Point Green Belt, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) representative has given both credence and support to Castle Point MP  Rebecca Harris, CPBC council leaders and the canvey island independent party, in their insistence that the Borough’s Green Belt need not be developed.

Suggesting it is not a decision for land owners or developers the HBF, in respect of the CPBC Local Plan2016, consider that;

“The decision to release land from the green belt, or not, or how much, is ultimately a political decision for the Council. The only thing we would argue is that if the Council exercises its legitimate political right to safeguard the green belt (so reflecting the wishes of its residents) it would need to amend the introduction to the plan and Objective 6 so that it provides a truer reflection of the consequences of this decision (see our representations above). As we have observed above, the requirement of 100 dpa is very much lower than the net affordable housing need which has been assessed to be 298 dpa, and the overall need of 400 dpa. The Plan would therefore need to be more honest and say that some households with housing needs will not be accommodated.”

So apart from the LP2016 requiring some alteration to inject some honesty, the decision to go ahead and submit the Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for independent Examination appears to be justified.

This may cause some temporary embarrassment to critics who have suggested otherwise.

Furthermore the HBF appear to be more than supportive of Cllr Dick and Cllr Skipp’s motion to include the release of the land known as the Blinking Owl site, or H11, within the sites available for release in support of Housing Supply during the Local Plan’s term.

The HBF recognise that H11 has, in local development terms, huge potential.

HBF suggests;

“Policy H11: Area of Search and Safeguarded Land – North West Thundersley
The policy is unsound in part 3 because it is unjustified.
As a rule we do not comment on site specifics.

However, in view of the size of the unmet need, we would question the appropriateness of part 3 of the policy which identifies 104.2ha of land for release from the Green Belt to support housing development post-2031.

If the land is suitable for development and capable of being developed for housing before 2031, then it could be released as part of this Local Plan to help close the gap between the housing need and supply.”

Good road access, infrastructure and amenities are required for such a large Housing Supply potential at the H11 site.

As Essex County Council have submitted evidence towards the Local Plan2016 consultation and have stated their opposition to making provision for the site’s road access, it is reasonable that they should be open to some heavy criticism if they are judged as being un-cooperative within the Duty to Cooperate!

 

The Blinking Owl – Canvey, giving our wholehearted support – the Price to Pay!

Last evening the Castle Point Local Plan Task an Finish group met to receive and consider updates on the site known as H18 the Blinking Owl.

Members heard that developers had been engaged in producing viability evidence and proposals to support what they believed could be achieved in terms of housing supply if the site was released from the Green Belt.

Some major issues were touched upon; Current open space compensation, access roads, number of dwellings.

The open space issue will impact upon existing residents and the suggested changes should require consultation.

The H18 area has been divided into two parts and a prospective developer offered the opportunity to provide schemes for each part. Both indicated possible major access points within their schemes.

Area known as H18, 1 and 2 showed a proposal to provide a slip road access onto the A127. From memory this was a version of a previously rejected proposal some years ago, so this may involve some serious further research.

The area known as H18, 3 and 4 proposed providing access onto the area of the existing A130 junction roundabout.

Whilst this second proposal was accompanied by revenue funding evidence, both schemes would require Essex County Council Highways agreement and assistance.

The number of potential new dwellings discussed ranged from below 600 up to the full potential of approximately 2,000.  A major development opportunity for the Borough, the first for many decades.

Once again the issue of Castle Point Council’s “Master planning” policy must receive attention. What greater example can there be of not developing to reasonable density levels causing more Green Belt sites to be released to compensate for this low density policy failing to achieve assessed housing need?

Arthur-Daley-FT

The issue of development on Green Belt release therefore requires some consideration. Brandon Lewis has recently confirmed that Green Belt is a constraint that may be used to protect from development. To then promote one Green Belt site for development over others will require some site selection explanation, not least that of sustainability and Green Belt function.

The accompanying explanation should also involve some watertight evidence, so as to be defendable under Examination from developers with alternate proposals for other Green Belt sites.

There is no doubt that if houses are proven to be necessary beyond that supporting Local Needs, and must be built, then site H18 appears well sited being situated in a position to make full use of the expensively upgraded A130. This main highway has the ability to take vehicles efficiently away from and to the Borough.

It will also be argued however, as does the Glebelands site!

Further investigative work on the potential  and possibility of site H18 was agreed upon by Task and Finish group members.

Whilst the Lead Group of councillors hold a working majority, I understand that amongst them, there remains support for the draft new Local Plan in its current form.

For H18 to be brought forward, the current version of the Plan would require some substantial alteration.

Whilst Cllr Dick gave his support and sought explanations, three of the four Lead Group members remained noticeably silent during the whole meeting, only at the very last moment did one of the three request clarification on a point.

This leads us to assume that support for this change of direction in the Plan process may need support from either the UKIP, Canvey Island Independent Party and / or the Independent councillors to be successful.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, given the evidence so far, believe that site H18 the Blinking Owl is of no benefit to Canvey Island residents.

Unless it was to take priority over the Jotmans Farm proposal, based specifically on traffic implications.

This may appear to be an unreasonable position to take to those whose primary concern is not the welfare of Canvey residents.

We would be looking for a major change in the Castle Point Borough Council’s approach to the Sequential Test before any support for Site H18. We make it clear that councillors, of whichever party, will be criticised if support is given to H18 whilst the Sequential Test retains its existing methodology and application.

CPBC’s approach is contained in this paragraph;

“Whilst applying the general policy of directing development away from areas at higher risk of flooding, it recognises that there are some areas around the Thames Estuary that are already substantially developed, and may require additional development to occur in the future in order to support the creation of sustainable communities”

The NPPF is clear, the Sequential Test should be applied Borough-wide.

Castle Point is a small Borough, to apply the Test under the selected criteria makes a nonsense of the true intention of the purpose of the Sequential Test!

In its most crudest terms it is implying that because we have already substantially developed Canvey Island, (remember this has only come about since the formation of Castle Point as a Borough), then we must continue to add to the levels of development!

Therefore we can only point out that H18 may well alleviate some of the pressure on mainland Green Belt sites and wish CPBC well in their aims.

For councillors to expect Canvey Green Belt Campaign group and Canvey residents support and backing for H18, then a re-visit of the flawed method of Sequentially Testing sites is an essential requirement.

We are not against the redevelopment of Canvey sites providing there is no increase in flood risk etc, so that local developers can continue to survive, and the redevelopment of single storey dwellings into two storeys is sensible.

What cannot be tolerated is the lengths that are gone to, to make badly sited proposals appear acceptable just to appease “Local Factors.”

Canvey Island has three Constraints to development, Green Belt, Flood Risk and the Hazardous Industries.

At the risk of receiving a barrage of complaint we say: CPBC, recognise this, apply this, and we will unreservedly give our support once it is recorded on paper.