Tag Archives: Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group

Persimmon Homes Refused Permission for Change of Use of Land, and to Build on Canvey Island Green Belt!

Persimmon Homes have again been Refused Planning Permission for a Change of Use of Land and the Erection of a Stable Block on Canvey Island Green Belt, to the rear of the Dutch Village Estate, the Cornfields.

This latest attempt follows a previous Application, also Refused. It is seen to be an attempt to establish a Built Development on Green Belt land, ahead of the CPBC Local Plan!

Despite CPBC Planning Officers giving Scant regard to Residents objections;

“The site is private land, the only public access is a footpath which runs along the southern edge of the land. Any use of the site for recreational purposes is unauthorised.

o Access for fire engines is not a planning matter

o It is noted that some objectors are concerned for the Roman Saltern (ancient monument) on adjoining land if it is used for grazing or turning out horses, but the application site does not include the land containing the Saltern, this would need to be the subject of further planning permission

o The highway authority has been consulted on the proposed development and has raised no objections on the ground of traffic safety. The conditions requested by the highway authority would be imposed on any permission granted where reasonable and necessary

o Any other relevant planning matters are discussed in the evaluation of the proposal”

….was all CPBC officer’s had to say in response.

The CPBC Case Officer Concluded;

“My Recommendation is Refusal for the following reasons”

 1 The proposed development is situated within an area of Green Belt as defined in the Council’s Adopted Local Plan where inappropriate development is only permitted in very special circumstances. The proposal, by reason of the provision of a new building and area of hardstanding, would not preserve the openness of the Green Belt and is therefore considered to constitute inappropriate development. No very special circumstances to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, have been demonstrated and the proposed development is therefore contrary to government guidance as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.  

2 The proposal seeks to provide a stable facility within Flood Zone 3, an area identified at risk of flooding. There are considered to be sequentially preferable sites available for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding, and the proposal does not meet the requirements of the sequential test. The proposal is therefore contrary to government guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance.”

Canvey Island Town Council’s, local Residents’, and the Canvey Green Belt Campaign’s 7 Page objection, as well as the Environment Agency’s response, are hidden from Public View on the Castle Point Borough Council’s Planning Portal!

However, The full Planning Officer Report can be found HERE. �

Riding Roughshod through Planning Policy

“A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing” or in the case of the Castle Point Green Belt, Apparently Not!

“A little learning is a dangerous thing;  

drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: 

there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, 

and drinking largely sobers us again.”

Apparently this may not be the case, was the suggestion in the event of the “leak” to the Echo Newspaper, of what appears to be a part of the recording of the Planning Inspector’s training session for Castle Point Councillors as they deliberate the new Local Plan.

The “failed” motion put to Castle Point Council yesterday requested an enquiry as to who had leaked content of the “private” training session to the Echo.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign (CGBC) would have welcomed the enquiry as it had been suggested at Councillor level, that we were responsible for this deed.

Canvey Green Belt Campaign group totally refute this accusation.

The suggestion possibly stemmed from the Echo printing the CGBC group’s name in the same article and quoting from our Blog posts.

The fact that a section of the Inspector’s training session was leaked allowed, what appears to be a mechanism to stop development on Green Belt, to possibly have been extracted out of context.

Castle Point resident campaign groups have been offered hope, a lifeline that our Green Belt will remain as is.

Basildon and Rochford residents have been disturbed to learn that the recording extract implied Green Belt in their Borough has been released for development un-necessarily.

On the other hand the leak of partial information warranted a response to balance the information. Together this has allowed inflammatory headlines.


This forced Castle Point officers into a situation where they considered they had no option other than to release a statement clarifying the situation.

It would be reasonable to consider that this action of the officers alone merited some type of enquiry as to the source of the leakage.

Clearly this is unfair, but by not holding  an enquiry, residents may well feel there has been some level of cover up.

Cllr Stanley during the debate said that the leak has led to information coming out in a more structured way.

This is debatable, from the Echo we have learnt, from the recording:

Mr Holland added: “We will not impose that (green belt development) on you, we will never go to an examination and say to an authority you must use green belt land to accommodate your development. It is your decision.”

“I want to be absolutely clear. If a local authority wishes to amend its green belt or use some of its green belt land for development, that is a decision for the local authority. It is not a decision which the planning inspector will impose on a local authority.

“It is purely your decision if you want to use green belt land or not and the National Planning Policy Framework is very clear.”

Going entirely by the leak above,  Castle Point councillors will be entirely responsible for any loss of Castle Point Green Belt to development!

The Echo also printed, from the enforced release by CPBC officers so as to add the necessary “structure to the release of information” and to reflect some balance:

However, Steve Rogers, Castle Point Council’s head of planning, said if the council did not find land to build 4,000 homes in the next 20 years, the Government would not pass their plans.

He said telling the Government they didn’t want to build on green belt would not convince them to lower the number of new houses needed.

Mr Rogers said: “Castle Point does have a number of physical constraints which do limit the amount of housing that can be constructed.

“But, regrettably, green belt is not a physical constraint in the same way as areas at risk of flooding.” “Green belt is a creature of policy.

“It is the council’s policy to choose to approve an area of land as green belt.

“The council decides if it continues with that designation, but if it does it has consequences.”

Mr Rogers spoke after an attempt by Tory councillor Andrew Sheldon to spark a debate on Mr Holland’s advice was blocked by committee chairman Norman Smith.

It is very unusual at this stage of Local Plan making for officers to release statements of this nature.

We consider that whilst CPBC deserve residents support in the attempt to protect Green Belt during the Local Plan process, it is folly to lead them along whilst only providing part knowledge.

The intricacies and difficulties for our local authority in it’s Plan making are apparent and CGBC are aware of how the legally binding Planning terminology can easily mislead.

The possibility of parties promising to deliver the impossible is tempting.

A good dose of realism is what is required!

We have partly covered this issue in previous Posts links here and here

 “a little learning” is widely attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744).                     It is found in An Essay on Criticism, 1709.

Peer Review report’s hidden messages on Green Belt development and the disenfranchised electorate!

Wednesday evening will see the Cabinet “note” the response from the Peer review group that attended Castle Point Council recently. The response letter whilst embellished with typical congratulatory Council jargon acknowledges the work done by CPBC to put Castle Point on a sound financial basis.
Generally the letter allows scope for a positive spin to be put on the content.

Reading between the lines though reveals a more concerning message.
It is recommended that Councillors speak with a united voice to “celebrate the area”, ”political point scoring through the local media is not helpful.”
The fact that the Peer Review team’s attention should be drawn to this indicates political point scoring during the Peer Review process itself.
I assume this may refer to the Canvey Independent Group which itself was formed on the basis of residents feeling disenchanted with the local Council process.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group whilst working hard to maintain a non-political bias / leaning, was also formed due to a feeling amongst residents of being disenfranchised through the Core Strategy process.
An upbeat message in the letter is included concerning the 5 year housing land supply and the possibility that this will defend the Borough’s Green Belt from inappropriate development.

Fox Land and Property (Glebelands) and Persimmon (Jotmans Farm) beg to differ.

It is also noted that CPBC admit that future housing beyond the 5 year supply will be located within the Green Belt, whilst 3 Green Belt sites are actually included within the initial 5 year supply.

Councillors voted unanimously to refuse Green Belt development, their resolve appears to have crumbled.

Was it initial bravado?
Why are Councillors that previously vowed to defend our Green Belt now voting approvals?

We appreciate the difficulties, but avoiding political point scoring and speaking with a united voice appears easier said than done.

As the letter goes on to say “The council needs to continue to both acknowledge and work hard to engage with communities over the strength of local feeling while needing to make decisions which may be locally unpopular in the wider interests of the Borough.”
This can be interpreted as, continue to consult with residents, as consultation is worthless unless used as negotiation!

Engaging with communities over the strength of feeling and making unpopular decisions, may appear to be an opportunity to impose unpleasant policies upon the more weakly represented parts of the community.

How it should be interpreted is, if the Council had the desire to make honest, fair and difficult decisions they would have engaged with the Planning Inspector examining the Core Strategy when he offered his assistance in selecting sustainable development sites!

A full section of the letter is copied below.The section is un-cut so as not to appear out of context:-

“Local context, vision and priorities
Castle Point is a great place to live and the councils drive to make a difference to its people, its community, its environment and its local economy has delivered positive results.
The council has a good understanding of the communities of Benfleet, Canvey Island, Hadleigh and Thundersley, who benefit from living in the heart of the Thames Gateway, are well connected by road, rail and air and enjoy over 60% of green belt land.
The peer team saw many examples of partnerships delivering results, particularly on Canvey Island, such as the two newly developed secondary schools, Cornelius Vermuyden and Castle View, a brand new vocational skills campus, improvements to the seafront including a new bandstand and new public toilets, and the considerable refurbishment of
the Waterside Leisure Centre.
This is significant investment and the whole council should work together to celebrate the area. More will be achieved by speaking with a united voice and purpose for the long term benefit of the borough and decisions and communications should continue to be based on needs and evidence. Political point scoring through the local media is not helpful.
The peer team urge Members to refrain from this practice and to continue to work together for the benefit of Castle Point’s communities.
With three quarters of the UK predicted to own a smartphone by 2015 there are some significant opportunities to embrace the emerging and diverse communication opportunities available such as the use of social media and smart phone applications. Councillors, officers and their partners can use social media for a wide range of purposes such as a way to spark innovation, drive efficiency and engage in conversations with local people.
Going forward Castle Point should use its newly developing corporate plan to drive business in the changing context. The plan should: · Clearly state your ambition for Castle Point the place· Maintain strategic focus · Establish and articulate your key priorities
There is an opportunity to engage communities and stakeholders in the early development of the plan.
The Council has demonstrated its commitment to avoiding ‘predatory’ development and unwarranted loss of green belt by taking the positive approach of securing Council approval to a 5 year supply pending future adoption of the Local plan.at the end of 2014.
There is, as with many other local authorities, a challenge for the council to maintain this position. The council needs to continue to both acknowledge and work hard to engage with communities over the strength of local feeling while needing to make decisions which may be locally unpopular in the wider interests of the Borough.
Strategic partnerships
Future local government service delivery is facing major changes in response to significant austerity measures resulting in financial pressures. Castle Point Borough Council is in a strong position as a very well regarded partner who is seen as a leading player. The strong partnerships with your neighbouring councils of Rochford and Southend-on-Sea and within the wider Essex County in response to emerging challenges such as community safety,
public health & wellbeing and the troubled families programme provide opportunities for the council to further drive the leadership role within South East Essex.
There is a strong appetite for sharing services and collaboration within Castle Point with the council having solid foundations in place through the strong relationships already present and the joint partnership arrangements with Rochford through the local strategic and community safety partnerships. Further opportunities could also include exploring shared management and shared services with Rochford, who are similar in size and functions.
The council should plan for a range of alternative options for achieving a sustainable future, not just a single solution. As previously stated it should work to ensure the criteria for delivery partnerships are in place and through its leadership role set out the pace, timeframes and mapping for future partnerships.
The existing regeneration partnerships have influenced change and facilitated results such as the town centre developments in Hadleigh and Canvey Island with recent news that a £50million plan to transform Canvey Island town centre has moved a step closer after a developer was appointed for the project. This demonstrates a strong commitment to partnerships and demonstrates the council can deliver its vision.”