Tag Archives: Castle Point Borough Council

To Intervene or to Not Intervene, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, as Simple Minded and Disobedient Canvey Folk suffer, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.

Much will be read and disclosed over the next year or so, when it will be wondered whether the June 2018 decision by Castle Point council, to rush into a Local Plan schedule, with the prospect of a New Local Plan approved by Council for publication by November followed by submission to the Inspectorate in April 2019, or alternatively to face the prospect of Government Intervention, is the best path to tread, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

And so it was, when the cpbc chief executive, the council leader and his deputy, stated the case for cpbc seeking to retain control of its Local Plan making, rather than allow Intervention from the Government Planner.

The councillors and residents were not permitted an address from the Government chief planner, choices and their consequences were expressed only third hand delivered by the cpbc triumvirate.

But whilst keeping control of the Local Plan process is in the very best interests of parts of the mainland, is it also in the best interests of Canvey Island, a reasonable question to ask?

Harking back to the Core Strategy we exposed a Plot by the “Ruling” mainland party to sacrifice Canvey’s Dutch Village Green Belt site, as the sole Green Belt site released for development, so as to appease their mainland concerns and allow publication of a cpbc Core Strategy, local plan!

We remember well, the mainland residents Green Belt campaign group, during the council Task and Finish group meeting, standing to address council members confirming that they agreed and supported the Plan “in its entirety!”

Where was the “united” Borough then?

When the Core Strategy was rejected by the Examining Inspector due to the unreasonable Housing Growth Distribution and the Dutch Village site being, a Green Belt site within a Flood Risk Zone, the cpbc ceo made sure that the Dutch Village remained within the list of Green Belt sites for development, whilst adding some mainland sites to meet the Housing Need of the Borough, within the 2014 daft Local Plan!

Of course the retention of the Canvey Dutch Village site, despite the Inspector’s opinion, meant that one large mainland site would be saved from development.

Now by returning to the 2014 draft local Plan as a starting place for the 2018 Local Plan, concerns return as to whether it is intelligent and responsible for Canvey residents to put their faith, as we are being told and advised so to do, within the “Ruling” party’s successful motion to Control the 2018 local Plan.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

The threat has been delivered and something terrible may still apparently happen!

We are reminded that the Dutch Village site is owned by Persimmon, implying that this would speed the process through Planning resulting in an early supply of Housing, For The Borough!

Meanwhile, the more lucrative development sites elsewhere in the Borough would, following this logic, remain undeveloped for longer, especially when the ongoing development of approximately 900 Sandy Bay Park Homes, also on Canvey Island, are put into the equation!

This may encourage some conspiracy theory, has the call for sites from cpbc entailed dealings between officers members and developers as to which site or sites would be released in which order, specifically if the developer were to agree to initially focus on Dutch Village first?

As it stands in practise cpbc focus on applying constraints on development in the so called “virgin” Green Belt areas of the Borough. Canvey Island Flood Risk is also applied to the constraints so as to limit numbers, but that constraint is applied to housing Need numbers across the whole Borough, rather than Canvey Island in particular!

Making cpbc’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test simply contrived and, a Farce!

But can Canvey residents be certain that the Government Planner would apply to Canvey Island, the supposed Constraints on Housing Development such as Flood Risk, the threat to what remains of its Green Belt and the Hazardous Industrial sites any less fairly than the cpbc “Ruling” party and officers?

Especially going by their proven Local Planning track record!

Under Cllr Riley’s regime Canvey fared better than during any of the previous attempts at Plan making.

Now Cllr Riley has been side lined by the Triumvirate now in control, and previously chiefly responsible for the 2014 daft Local Plan, despite two of them apparently also claiming to support the 2016 Plan’s attempt to constrain the borough’s Housing Numbers!

To mainlanders these thoughts may sound pessimistic and overly cautious, however being fed rumours and not having the access to decision makers that some residents appear to have, however furtive, leads to a lack of an Open and Transparent Local Plan process.

Faith in Leaders must be Earned, Blind Faith is a dangerous option.

PLANING-APPEAL-SIGN

 

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Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

Are you sitting Comfortably?

Then I’ll begin –

“The (Canvey Island) application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding. Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development.

However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.

Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.

Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt.”

So says the cpbc Planning Officer as the latest attempt to convince residents, councillors and, no doubt the Planning Inspectorate, that castle point council’s approach to the application of the Flood Risk Sequential Test is morally sound!

July 2014photo3

Going back just 10 years things were different and the Environment Agency held a more cautious and responsible stance:-

Extract from the Echo June 2008
“DEVELOPERS seeking to build new homes on Canvey are being forced to think again because of growing fears about flooding.
The Environment Agency is resolutely pursuing its policy of recommending refusal of plans to build new homes on the island because Canvey is below sea level and therefore on a flood plain.

Castle Point Council is taking those recommendations to heart and rejecting applications for new homes, leaving some developers in limbo.
The council has pledged to continue upholding the Environment Agency’s recommendations until the results of a Government-initiated inquiry into flood plains publishes its findings.

The Government appointed Sir Michael Pitt to carry out the study, following catastrophic floods in Hull after heavy rainfall in June and July last year. It is likely the final report expected, this summer, will recommend tighter restrictions.

Ray Howard, Castle Point and Essex county councillor, said local authorities were reluctant to ignore the Environment Agency’s advice, while they are waiting for the results of the Pitt Report.
Mr Howard has received many letters from people struggling to build on Canvey.
He said: “It’s a big problem that needs to be looked at. We can’t have a blanket ban for building here.
“I believe Canvey is unique, as it has the best flood walls and flood water drainage system in the country.

“The flood plain rules should be relaxed for us.”

Last week localised flooding on the island, caused by heavy rainfall, affected hundreds of residents on the island.

But Mr Howard is convinced it is well protected against severe flooding from the Thames Estuary.
A total of £34 million was spent rebuilding Canvey’s sea walls in the 1970s and 1980s.
A further £6 million was spent last year on 14 giant pumps, spread around the island to force water back into the sea if the walls are ever breached.
Mr Howard said: “The reason Canvey is always considered high-risk is because of the 1953 flood.
“But back then the only sea defences were soil walls, built by the original Dutch settlers.”
The 1953 Canvey flood claimed the lives of 58 people.

Despite Mr Howard’s insistence that Canvey is well protected, the Environment Agency refused to budge from its policy of objecting to all new homes on flood plains.
Spokeswoman Rita Penman insisted the Environment Agency could not relax its planning guidelines for Canvey,

She said: “Although Canvey is well defended, the current understanding across the country is that if there are other areas not on the flood plains, they should be developed first.

“This is in the interests of everyone’s safety. We are therefore unable to recommend approval for any new developments on Canvey at the present time.”

Even if the Government report clears the way for new homes on flood plains, insurers are warning hundreds of thousands of homes built in high-risk areas may not qualify for insurance.

Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurers’ director of general insurance and health, said: “Poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable”

Disappointing then, that following the Summer Flooding of 2014 the cpbc chief executive officer should point out that the Canvey Island drainage system – was never intended to be able to cope with Tidal Flooding of the Island!

But of course the findings of the cpbc Scrutiny Committee’s meetings to discuss the flooding and its consequences, during which the ceo made the admittance, has never been published, despite the flood occuring 4 years past!

To enforce the Association of British Insurers position, above, the Flood Re scheme to guarantee affordable house insurance against flooding does not cover houses built since January 2009.

Has Caveat emptor, been anymore appropriate?

I have been reminded by a sceptical mainlander that, “IT IS HARD TO FOOL PEOPLE, BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOOLED.”

The short EA video below may give you some insight as to the sensibility of those that propose and support the over development of Canvey Island and whether the drainage system could ever be made capable of alleviating Flood Risk!

The EA expert’s explanation of how the drainage System is designed to work, appears to be far different to the practical experiences during 2013 and 2014 and the isolated Flooding incidents during other periods!

Admiral Jellicoe replaced by 40 Flats – whilst Canvey Island being sold off for 30 Pieces of Silver?

So a proposal that the Admiral Jellicoe public house on Canvey Island is highly likely to be demolished and replaced by 40 Flats has been lodged with Castle Point Borough Council.

Admiral Jellicoe

Admiral Jellicoe. Luke Baker Photography.

This is “timely” news as cpbc will be evaluating the next move forward with their new draft Local Plan2018 at Wednesdays special council meeting. Work is also imminent on the Brownfield Land Register, which will give Permission in Principle for Housing sites across the Borough to meet the Housing Need required of the cpbc Local Plan.

The Housing Need is likely to be set around 342 dwellings per annum.

Currently the Brownfield Land register reads as a paltry supply of a minimum 264 dwellings.

This Supply List appears somewhat misleading as the entry for the Admiral Jellicoe site indicates a minimum of just 15 dwellings, 25 less than the planning proposal applies for!

This misleading figure causes concern as the previous draft Local plans have carried a figure for Thorney Bay of 600 dwellings. This is 33% less than the intended figure, quoted by the Sandy bay site manager, of 900 Park Homes!

How many other discrepancies are contained within the figures for Canvey Island?

Whilst our esteemed councillors consider the new Local Plan2018 Housing Growth Distribution and the numbers they perhaps should consider their morals as they allocate Canvey Island’s proposed Housing Numbers.

According to data published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) figures show that 11% of new homes were built within areas of high flood risk, up 9% from 2015/2016.

Castle Point Brownfield Land register indicates that of the minimum numbers identified, 264 dwellings, 43% will be developed on Canvey Island, a Flood Risk Zone 3 area and a Critical Drainage Area!

Compare this 43% with the 11% National Average and you might just begin to realise it may be overdue for councillors to consider their conscience as they allocate yet more dwellings onto Canvey Island.

And that 43% is without allowing for the actual proposed numbers referred to above!

“Geoff Offen, managing director at Future Climate Info pointed out that the figures show that more than one in 10 new homes were built on sea or river flood plains which are prone to flooding.
‘While the national housing shortage compels us to seek out more land across England and Wales to build homes upon, buyers of these new properties must be aware of the risks their new bricks and mortar face,’ he said.”

CPBC Agenda paperwork explains; “Furthermore, Canvey Island is within Flood Risk Zone 3a, and as such planning applications for residential development normally require a Flood Risk Assessment. Advice is awaited from the Environment Agency as to if and how the Council could go about addressing this requirement before proceeding to consider any sites on Canvey Island for inclusion on the Part 2 of the Register”

Cllr Riley letter to Sajid “it (cpbc) will bring forward Part 2 of its Brownfield Land register – the “Permission in Principle” The council has a clear indication of the technical work necessary to bring forward sites from Part 1 of the Register and would commit to and complete this work by summer 2018”.

However cpbc are aware that “Part two of the register is optional” and that “planning permission would not be granted until Technical Details Consent is applied for and approved by the Council.”

Presumably an in-house application of the Sequential Test will suffice!

Furthermore much appears to be being made of residents comparing Canvey Island with the mainland and how this is wrong as we should be viewed simply as “one borough,” as though division is weakness.

Perhaps having considered some of the above the “one borough” approach can be seen as less suiting to Canvey.

However quite rightly the claim is supported by facts that more development has taken place recently on the mainland.

Once again we must point out, “yawn,” that since Castle Point was formed the vast majority of population increase, 42%, has been directed onto Canvey Island.

All well and good until the population level is considered in light of possible emergency situations from flooding or Hazardous Accidents and the inabilities of responders in coping!

We are pointed to the very recent Housing numbers allocated to the mainland compared with Canvey Island and how the mainland has absorbed more.

We need first to accept that recent new housing development numbers in the borough have been very low, little more than 100 dwellings on average per year. We would suggest that nowhere in the Borough has had much Housing development, compared with other areas.

In fact in very recent times only 2014 – 2015, when 214 Housing Completions were achieved, stands out as an above average year for the borough and the distribution of Growth hardly supported the argument that the vast majority were delivered on the mainland.

Information for this 2014 – 2015 period indicates that 86 were completed at Kiln Road, whilst 50 at Long Road, Canvey Island and 30 at Lubbins Car Park, Eastern Esplanade, Canvey Island were the only sites realising over 14 dwellings!

Whichever Local Plan the cpbc councillors are “entrapped” into adopting, whether the 2014 daft Local Plan or the 2016 version, we will hear that Canvey residents should be grateful that more Housing is scheduled for the mainland compared to the Island.

However cpbc do not impose Flood Risk, nor hazardous Industries, as a Constraint on Housing Numbers. Sites are allocated to Canvey Island because of “The Borough’s Housing Need”!

Let us remember on the day of local Plan reckoning that not only will Housing Land be released on Canvey Island but also Green Fields allocated for Industrial and Business Use!

Of which: Land Opposite Morrisons Northwick Road Canvey Island Essex
Area 7.5 Hectares site, Roscommon Way Canvey Island Essex 2.24 Hectares site, Land South Of Roscommon Way Canvey Island 7.41 Hectares site, Extension to Charfleets Industrial Estate Canvey Island 7 Hectares site, Land for Employment South of Northwick Road Canvey Island 8 Hectares site.*

All on Greenfield Land, on land affected by a High Water Table made worse by tidal water penetrating UNDER the sea defences, something never heard considered during planning matters.

As a group and individually, we have nothing against any of the residents of the Borough, and are known to happily collaborate with other GB campaign groups, but if we cannot see a fair and decent Local Plan emerging we will be intent upon challenging!

The cpbc Brownfield Land register, Dated 1. 12. 2017, can be found HERE.

* Happy to correct details if found to be incorrect.

Canvey Island, Flooding, Over-Development, Local Plan, draft NPPF Consultation and the National Flood Forum. Unrest Grows!

Canvey Island, is synonymous with Flooding.

rebecca_harris_mp_flood_free_homes

Despite the tragedy of 1953, the major Surface water Flooding of 2014 and other similar events, Canvey is cynically treated as a “Special Case”. This is so that Housing Development, Park Home expansions can continue unabated.

These new homes are sold to unsuspecting buyers, with little reference as to the likely problems in obtaining House Insurance against Flooding on New Builds, since January 2009.

All so that the expectations of a New Local Plan are fulfilled.

The Castle Point Council Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, undertaken by Scot Wilson to comply with the demands of the failed Core Strategy in 2010, identified Canvey Island being “At Risk” from Flooding!

Consequently a Reason had to be “invented” so as to permit all, from Small to Large site Housing Development on Canvey. CPBC’s officers, at the behest of certain councillors, cosied up to the Environment Agency and the Strategic Flood Risk assessment was Distorted to permit continued over development!

Since then no developments are Rejected in principle by cpbc on Flood Risk grounds. CPBC claim that for development to serve, and the continued growth of Canvey Island, the development MUST be ON Canvey Island. As though Castle Point is a massive Borough divided by language barriers and with miles of sea between us and the mainland!

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has recently been consulted upon. We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group, have monitored the submissions, especially where Flood Risk is concerned.

We found that the group known as the National Flood Forum have submitted comments that identified issues most relevant to Canvey Island.

And that if our local authority “Ruling Party” and our new leader, are unwilling to truly represent Canvey Island Residents, at least the National Flood Forum have quite capably stated OUR Position

We make no apologies for this being a long read, but we ask you to at the very least skim through it and allow the relevant issues trigger something in your mind, if you were affected in 1953, 2013, 2014 or have been concerned or affected by Flooding at any stage.

The NPPF Consultation has closed, however we have failed to discover a published response to the consultation from Castle Point Borough Council, perhaps one of our councillors may be able to direct us to the document, if it exists.

The National Flood Forum’s submission the draft NPPF consultation, with highlighted passages of some significance to Canvey residents, reads:

The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding. We do this by:
1. Supporting people to prepare for flooding
2. Helping people to recover their lives if they have been flooded
3. Working with government and agencies to ensure that they develop a community perspective when addressing flooding issues

As part of the flooded community, the National Flood Forum is a charity that supports communities to tackle the things that matter to them; creating hope and reducing the fear of flooding; helping people to work together to reduce flood exposure and its impacts, both physical and emotional. Over 300 flood groups are affiliated to the National Flood Forum and this response has been developed from their many comments.

The National Flood Forum regularly deals with a range of scenarios:
1. New developments that have flooded or which are likely to flood because, for example, SuDS measures are at capacity under normal weather conditions, or sites have been built on areas that are waterlogged
2. Developments which have apparently caused flooding elsewhere, or are likely to
3. Planning applications and decisions that do not make use of local knowledge of flood risk issues
4. Development planning that does not make use of local knowledge

The result is that people become extremely fearful of the future, distrustful of those in authority. This can appear as either apathy or combative behaviour.
“We had a housing estate built up in Eyam and they concreted over a large natural drainage point. And that’s in the Peak Park which is supposedly highly regulated. It’s a shambles. If you have a lot of money you can do what you want.”

Caterham Flood Action Group are also angry:
Hey “To briefly explain, our community has been blighted by surface water flooding for over twenty years, development has continued, responsibilities have been fractured, affecting maintenance (tantamount to neglect) of the delicate drainage infrastructure leaving residents in fear of precipitation.

On the 7th June 2016, after campaigning and complaining for almost two decades, the great storm wreaked havoc, destroying homes, devastating families, trapping our vulnerable and elderly neighbours for hours without power, as rivers of raw sewage flowed into our homes, through the streets of Surrey across the administrative border into a London Borough (contrary to the draft London plan, Policy Si12 B, which states ‘Boroughs should co-operate and jointly address cross-boundary flood risk issues including with authorities outside London’).

The CFAG must question if measures really are in place to guarantee that councils on the edge of the London Basin are considering the quality and capacity of the infrastructure ‘downstream’.

Paragraphs 154 – 163 of the Draft NPPF are an improvement on previous versions. But Caterham Flood Action Group, and others, do not believe that the Draft NPPF addresses their concerns that people will be put at risk of flooding.

In particular, policies and guidelines need to be much more ambitious if we are to create places that people will want to live in, that are adaptive to the future (such as being able to absorb more development) and where people feel safe.

Policies need to be translated in to action and many of the concerns from Flood Action Groups are that even the existing policies are being ridden over roughshod, with no recourse for affected communities.

The National Flood Forum strongly refutes the notion that flood risk can be outweighed by the economic benefits to the community and does not reflect the absolute misery flooding problems can cause to those involved.

The current wording in the draft NPPF virtually establishes that flooding is acceptable and provides opportunities for those who wish to find loopholes to do so. If development impacts even on a handful of households/properties, then it’s not a benefit to the community. For example, words such as “safe” in paragraph 154 are ambiguous. Whilst no one can ever be without flood risk, the wording here and in wider guidance needs to reflect community perspectives on safety, risk and what it means to feel resilient.

Data from the Association of British Insurers shows that 50% of insurance claims for properties flooded during the winter of 2015/16 were from areas that had not been identified by the public or private sectors as being at risk of flooding. In previous years the figure was sometimes higher (80% in 2007) and never lower, indicating that our understanding of flood risk and the flood risk maps available only cover a proportion of the risk. Surface water, groundwater and combined risks in particular are poorly understood.

For these two reasons greater stress should be placed in the NPPF on the rigour that is required to assess flood risk through all forms of Food Risk Assessments.

The biggest complaint from Flood Action Groups across England is that people’s local knowledge about their area is ignored, resulting in poor decisions about their future. People frequently have knowledge about their local area that professionals do not; details about previous flooding incidents, underground drainage, old drainage systems, etc. Modellers will frequently say that their modelling work simply produces useful tools and does not represent the real world exactly.

It will often lack local information to put in to the model and the parameters through which the model works will have limitations on the accuracy of what results. However, in the planning system models are often regarded as the absolute truth in the decision-making process and other evidence ignored. Communities regularly complain that this is the case. This can include information about local drainage patterns and historic flooding incidents through to the routes of major flow channels, groundwater levels and sea level rise. Therefore, development plans and planning applications should demonstrate how they have listened to local voices and how those views have been taken in to account in developing proposals. In particular they should demonstrate how triangulation has occurred between modelling, local knowledge and other forms of evidence to arrive at the most reasonable answers.

Paragraph 156) demonstrates an improved level of ambition, but not significant enough if we are to tackle flood risk seriously. The example from Shipston in Warwickshre below illustrates the point:
“The NPPF requires new developments to achieve ‘flood neutrality’ as a minimum i.e. that water run off post development should be no worse than the pre-developed site.
We work with our Town Council and the developers in negotiating better than flood neutrality at or before the planning stage and have had some success in getting their drainage strategies to achieve betterment – in most cases within the range of 25/40%.
With modern SUDS systems, their creative application and a willingness to meet improved objectives this is perfectly achievable at relatively low, if any, ‘on cost’ and of course the whole concept of betterment is essential with the increasing pressures brought about by adverse climate change trends and as a community support programme by developers.

We are concerned that the present policy is simply not ambitious enough and consider that a policy of betterment should replace the current ’neutrality’ policy.
Further, whatever the policy, specific local ground and geological conditions should be taken account of when determining the adequacy of drainage strategies by the LPA’s.
In our area Warwickshire clay is the predominant soil type and is almost completely impermeable so a literal ‘greenfield’ site in this area will already have a pre-existing high level of surface water runoff.

Further, should such ‘greenfield’ site have been used for grazing it will be highly compacted making the situation even worse.
Even further, should the site be sloping down to other developed areas great care needs to be taken to design a drainage strategy that absolutely reduces run off compared with the pre-existing situation.

Finally, the requirement that developments of less than 10 dwellings do not need LLFA oversight in giving guidance to the LPA (if different) should be reduced as it seems clear that developments of 9 or less are deliberately introduced perhaps to circumvent properly qualified scrutiny.
At present, it appears that the LPA’s simply have to check that a drainage strategy meets the NPPF guidelines which, in the circumstances described above, would likely be completely inadequate.

Once new developments are built to inadequate drainage standards in their specific local context there is no going back so this consultation is a once off opportunity to address the issue and build better resilience for the future into such developments.”

Para 158 a) contains an assertion that where there is no other option it is acceptable for a development to take precedence over people’s lives, however traumatic the outcomes might be. This is simply not acceptable and should be deleted. Developments that put people or their neighbours at a significant risk of them being flooded should not be built, whatever the pressure for new housing. Areas in Flood Zone 3, where there is significant groundwater (such as permanently within 150 cm of the surface) or significant drainage limitations should not be built on.

Where there are wider societal benefits identified, the risks of any new development should be transparent, so that businesses, infrastructure providers can make judgements about the level of risk that they are prepared to accept.

Para 160 – footnote 41. The site-specific flood risk assessment should triangulate modelling, local knowledge and other evidence. The assessment should proactively seek out local knowledge and demonstrate how this is used to develop an overall assessment. Guidance should be updated.

A common failing of current developments is that drainage plans are developed after the site layout has been determined. Retrofitting a drainage plan to a site can be difficult and lead to inferior results. Drainage plans should be submitted for all outline planning applications and should detail measures to manage water during the construction phase. The example from Charlton Flood Action Group, Worcestershire below illustrates the point.

“The Plan [South Worcestershire Development Plan] does not make any reference to the Environment Agency designated “Rapid Response Catchments” of which the Merry Brook is a very High risk one.
To minimise future flood risk in these particular vulnerable catchments we believe the plan should make reference to these Catchments and further that when any development/planning application is being agreed in these catchments that the conditions of planning should require that:
• Any flood prevention schemes should be put in place prior to the development of houses and other infrastructure being commenced. (During the last few years the development of the housing estate at Hampton, Evesham was commenced with top soil being stripped off the land. Those living in Charlton noticed that the water levels in the Merry brook increased far more quickly due to water running draining off the site. It was only when we started complaining that thought was given to installing the retention ponds and there was then a further delay until weather conditions were suitable).
• That in these catchment areas the water run off levels should be half the normal levels allowed. This should be achieved either by reducing water run-off levels or where this is not possible by the developers installing recommended schemes suggested by the Environment Agency – such as ponding on water courses.
• That all suggestions recommended by the Environment Agency should be installed. (At the Hampton development the Environment Agency had suggested that some ponding take place on the Merry Brook to help reduce water flows. This suggestion was totally ignored).
• That on small / single developments where planning consent is being sought that water run-off be considered and reduced to a minimum. Should there be a small water course running through the site then ponding/other means to reduce the flow should be installed.
• That any work on Highways in Rapid response catchment areas should also involve the installation of measures to reduce the flow of water into water courses.”

161 a) It is difficult to imagine situations where “overriding interest” applies. This clause should be removed, otherwise it will be used to push through inappropriate developments. The overriding concern must be for the wellbeing of people.

161 e) There is some confusion amongst Risk Management Authorities as to which organisation should comment on this aspect of planning applications. This needs clarification
Note 42 does not adequately cover the risks posed by surface water, ground water and combined sources. With at least 50% of flooding incidents involving surface water, this aspect needs particular attention to ensure that people are kept safe, whereas the focus of attention in the guidance is on fluvial flooding because that is where the better evidence base is. Surface and groundwater risks are often highly localised, but the trauma that is caused can be significant because often there is no scheme available that meets benefit cost criteria for investment. Rapid response catchments pose a particular risk. The result is that people continue to suffer without the prospect of ever escaping from the threat. In addition, the National Flood Forum’s experience is that people are increasingly finding it difficult to sell their home, restricting their ability to change employment, move closer to family, etc. Therefore Note 42 should explicitly refer to areas of high surface water and ground water risk, combined sources of flooding and rapid response catchments. The quote from the Food Action Group in South Woodford Ferrer, Essex, illustrates the point:
“We are currently doing our best as a voluntary group to try to alleviate a recurring fluvial/sewage flood in our local area. We are now in 2018 and still do not appear to be able to assist the residents of our town to have a better quality of life. Funding issues and OFWAT regulations leave local residents baffled as to what they can do to resolve this horrendous flood and sewage discharge situation. These flooding events appear to be occurring every 2 years (2012-2014-2016) ….surely this can’t be right? We do understand that funding is a problem but by working together we should be able to come up with a solution for these poor people living with the prospect of a significant flood every time there is a heavy rain fall.”

An area may be in Flood Risk zone 1 but at very high risk from surface water. However, reference to Flood Zone 1 will frequently allow developers to push through schemes in very high surface water risk. The point is well made by Caterham Flood Action Group:
“The Draft NPPF supports small sites being identified, essentially promoting ‘garden grabbing’, to reiterate we’re aware of the need for homes BUT in a surface water flood risk areas, we can confirm this has had devastating results over the decades, hence the need for SuDs in ALL development and retrofitting (refer to 1.2). YET 71) resists ‘inappropriate development in residential gardens, where development would cause harm’… But as we’re technically in a ‘flood zone 1’, on paper there’s NO risk, therefore development is be permitted (refer to 3.3), hence the desperate need to ensure policy guidance is ‘joined up’”

163 Minimal operational standards for Sustainable Urban Drainage systems should go beyond normal and projected normal rainfall events, with or without taking account of climate change projections. Whilst systems are unlikely to cater for every eventuality, they should be designed to cater for abnormal events, occasions where soil moisture levels are full and a series of events over a short period of time.
In some areas SuDS schemes will be inappropriate due to high water tables or permanently waterlogged soils. It may be possible to pump dry sites, but this has carbon emission issues and pumps failure does happen. In these cases, it is especially important to have a full and detailed drainage plan.
Developments currently have a right to connect to sewerage and drainage infrastructure. The National Flood Forum experience is that this may place other people at higher risk of flooding and we deal with people whose homes may not have flooded for 40-50 years, but who suddenly find that they flood every couple of years or more frequently with sewage once a development takes place. Sewerage and drainage undertakings must have the ability to refuse to connect to new developments where appropriate infrastructure is not currently in place.

Many of the issues and concerns that people in communities have relate to the skillsets and resources in drainage and flood risk management in local authorities, particularly planning authorities. These are hugely variable. It is important that Lead Local Flood Authority and Planning authorities have a qualified flood risk managers and drainage engineers to support the planning development and control process. In many cases the lack of the skills to critically examine proposals and applications has led to a failure to spot problems or allowed poor design. Whilst not a consideration for the NPPF, it is a major component of the many failures to see it applied appropriately.

Enforcement is a concern for many communities. Where there is unauthorised development or where there are planning conditions, it is a common experience that these are not enforced effectively, leading to increased flood risk for occupants and/or neighbours. The quote below from a flood group in Essex illustrates the problem:
“As regards, unauthorised development, the local authority (XXX District Council) does not seem to have adequate staff to deal with this by planning enforcement.”
Communities have sometimes worked with developers to bring forward better designs, using their local knowledge. The willingness of developers to engage meaningfully with communities has been very variable, with markedly different approaches even within the same settlement. There should be an expectation in the NPPF for developers to work with communities meaningfully to develop better designs delivering multiple benefits, rather than just running a consultation.

Castle Point Council supply of Affordable Housing severely Unviable? Canvey Island in the Spotlight Again?

The “Viability” reasoning used by developers to justify their low levels of Affordable Housing supply, serves them well in Castle Point.

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Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

Going back to the Glebelands proposal, the Inspector considered that “the scheme would provide 35% affordable housing which would equate to about 58 dwellings” and that “I am satisfied that Castle Point has an acute shortage of affordable housing, and that this must have serious adverse consequences for persons in housing need. There is therefore an urgent need for additional affordable housing in the Borough.”

Given this it is surprising that such easy capitulation from cpbc, allowed the Kiln road scheme to argue viability reasoning to support a reduction in the supply of Affordable Housing units.

The Castle Point draft Local plan 2016 version stated “In Castle Point there is a need for at least 73% of new homes to be affordable, assuming delivery at 200 homes per annum.”

Records indicate that 16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point during 2016/17.

Generally smaller schemes in the Borough appear to result in no affordable units being developed on site, but a financial contribution to cpbc being made.

It would be interesting to learn the route these funds take once they enter cpbc accounts, how soon they are released and where the affordable housing is actually located. we are aware of the Flatted development at Long Road Canvey for instance. Of course Affordable Housing is usually only affordable once!

It might be easily argued that with the lower land values at Canvey Island affordable housing could more easily be developed there, however given that the same cpbc 2016 draft Local plan indicated that-

“Compared with other parts of the borough Canvey Island is relatively more deprived, with pockets of income and employment deprivation, and wider issues associated with the education and skills of residents.”

However, more new affordable housing, especially in the form of social housing for instance, would further add to deprivation levels on the Island, especially as needy residents from across the Borough may be eligible to relocate to Canvey!

A report published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has found that 63 per cent of UK councils rate their affordable housing need as severe.
Of the 141 councils that responded to a survey question about characterising their affordable housing need, a further 35 per cent said it was moderate.
Written and researched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the report – Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World – says that a lack of investment in “genuine affordable housing” alongside “deregulation of planning” is reducing the ability of local authorities to deliver the homes the nation needs.
It says over two-thirds of councils in England state that statutory homelessness levels have increased in their local area in the past 12 months and 57 per cent state that rough sleeping has also increased during this period.
It notes that in an attempt to deliver more housing, the government has introduced permitted development rights, which requires a prior approval process but not a full planning application to the local authority. As a result, more homes have been created, but it has not enabled councils to secure much-needed affordable housing or help them to deal with rising homelessness.
Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World makes a number of recommendations, including:
· The social housing green paper should not just be “tinkering”. It should represent a step change in the role of central government as a powerful enabler of social housing, leaving delivery in the hands of local authorities and their delivery partners.
· The government should make clear that right to buy rules do not apply to local authority housing companies. However, if the right to buy rules are going to apply to homes built by local authority housing companies they must be able to replace them on a 1:1 basis to ensure that the long-term investment programme is not undermined.
· The government should reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.
· The government should not extend permitted development rights to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes.
Paul O’Brien, chief executive at APSE, said: “Decent housing in a well-planned environment provides a foundation for helping people to maximise their contribution to society, and to create areas that are economically prosperous. What our report highlights is the extent to which insecure tenancy arrangements in the private rented sector are directly contributing to the rise in homelessness. We need local councils to act as ‘market disruptors’; bringing stability and capacity to the social rented sector which in turn will help to stem these almost unprecedented rises in both statutory homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Investment in high-quality social housing can also save public funds, O’Brien continued. It can reduce poor physical and mental health outcomes “currently experienced by those living in an unstable private rented sector or those in temporary accommodation”.
He said the government must be “bold and ambitious” in addressing the housing issues for those most in need. Part of the solution is to help councils return to providing homes.
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said the ability of councils to address the lack of affordable housing is being “undermined by planning deregulation”.
Henderson explained that if applicants aren’t obliged to obrain full planning permission, councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer, while “little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries in the area”.
“We are calling on the government to reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.”

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!

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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.

The Paddocks no plan, “Project”. Highlighted as an Example for Castle Point Council of How Not To introduce a Plan!

The Paddocks, seemingly a building close to Canvey Islanders hearts, and apparently for which there are no Plans to demolish and replace with a smaller version, with a Housing development on the site.

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Interesting then that this extract should appear in the cpbc Peer Challenge Report;

“The Paddocks facility on Canvey Island is a clear example where an inclusive approach to developing the Centre will lead to joint ownership and subsequently better outcomes for the community it serves. The Peer Team heard how communities and their representatives are keen to be involved from the earliest stage to final completion, through improved communications and engagement, so that such developments can, where appropriate, be co-designed and fit for the future.”

Clearly the Peer Challenge team identified issues surrounding the way the Paddocks future had been “suggested” to Canvey residents, critically the Report noted:

“The Council would benefit from greater co-operation and joint-working between all councilors,(sic) celebrating the unique places they represent, but also working together to allocate time and resources equally between the different communities. This would involve communities affected by emerging projects from the earliest opportunity to create ownership of the issues, the journey and share pride in the outcomes. An example that could benefit from this more inclusive approach are the issues around the Paddocks Leisure facility. ” 

Whilst the Report was complimentary of cpbc’s handling of finances; “CPBC has sound budgetary processes in place as illustrated through its latest Statement of Accounts”, there appeared much that the Peer Team were critical of.

More to follow from us on the subject.

In the meantime, the full Report can be found HERE.

Riley+marchant