Tag Archives: Castle Point Council

Castle Point Councillors – Intervention and Fear, should they continue defying Logic! Local Planning under Duress. UPDATED

Fear and Intimidation appeared to be the message to Canvey Island and Castle Point councillors as they come to consider in Secret, the implications of being listed by Secretary of State Sajid Javid over their lack of progress on a Local Plan, and being  in danger of Government Intervention!

At the December 2017 council meeting the cpbc Chief Executive made clear that unless either good progress is being made regarding the Duty to Cooperate, or clear constraints are recorded in the reply to the Secretary of State as to why progress isn’t being made, Intervention is likely.

The CEO stated that he neither wished to, nor expected to be put in the position of drawing up the new Local Plan, whichever version is now being worked on.

Instead Intervention would likely be taken by an outside body, for instance the Planning Inspectorate, a specialist organisation or perhaps even those south Essex councils working collectively on the Duty to Cooperate.

If it doesn’t already this should Ring Alarm Bells for those Residents living on the mainland!

You may ask why those Residents in particular?

Well, during the cpbc Core Strategy process, during 2009 Baker Associates appointed to consider the Sustainability Assessment on the Housing Site selection process drew attention to their being puzzled, as to why cpbc should overlook choosing for development, the Borough’s Highest Scoring Sustainable site. They wrote;

The review of the outcomes of the site assessment revealed the site scoring highest against the assessment sustainability criteria has not been allocated.

This site is greenfield land to the east of Rayleigh Road.

Neither the DPD or site assessment process gives a justification for this site not being allocated. 

The Sustainability Assessment suggests that the allocation of this site could have preferable implications for sustainable development than other “mainland” allocations.

This Appraisal extract gives clear indication of how a planning consultant, and most likely the Planning Inspectorate would apply a logical approach to Housing Site Allocation, should they be appointed as a Local Plan Intervention measure!

Similarly, as Baker Associates were responding to a cpbc report, one must consider it most likely that a similar approach would be taken by cpbc officers if they were appointed to undertake compiling the next version of the cpbc Local Plan!

An Inspector, should one be required to Intervene and produce a Local Plan may likely produce one completely undesirable to mainland councillors preferences. Remember these comments from an Inspector;

Additional material…

“An exercise was then carried out to objectively assess these sites against a number of criteria. I have reservations about the methodology employed and the way in which it appears to have been used, leading to inconsistent and inappropriate site selection. For example, the Council’s own Sustainability Appraisal is unclear as to why the most sustainable Green Belt site was discounted.”

“I therefore consider the Council needs to revisit its assessment of Green Belt locations paying particular regard to the five purposes of the Green Belt as set out in PPG2. I accept that other considerations will also influence the choice of sites but potential locations should not be dismissed because local factors are given too much weight. This appears to have happened previously.”

“The Council’s desire to protect its Green Belt areas is understandable but its approach has also had a considerable bearing on the overall distribution of growth promoted in the Core Strategy. In this respect, I consider it would be difficult to endorse a strategy which commits to Green Belt release in an area of potential high flood risk at Canvey Island….”

“While I accept some development at Canvey Island may be required to meet local needs and to support services, I am not convinced that maintaining the current distribution of development across the Borough is justified given the existing constraints.”

The above comments highlight the desired distribution of Housing Growth across “certain” parts of the Borough of lead group members and is indicative of the perceived use of Canvey Island to their retention of control of cpbc.

The latest drive is to seek out Brownfield sites to supply the new Housing Allocation.

The Brownfield site list drawn up by cpbc and included alongside the council meeting’s Agenda paperwork indicated a minimum of 254 dwellings on sites achieving the required criteria.
This supply was contained in Part 1 of the Brownfield Register.

No sites were put forward as being eligible for Part 2 of the Register, those having been granted by cpbc, Permission to develop in Principle.

The chief explanation given for this being;

“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”

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It appears that behind the scenes there remains a refusal to apply development Constraints equally across the Borough, the focus has been and remains Canvey Island, where development is concerned!

Interestingly no specific reasons for sites in other areas of Castle Point not being granted Permission in Principle and inclusion in Part 2 of the Register were given. Presumably they were covered by the caveat “a decision on whether to grant “Permission in Principle” to a site must be made in accordance with relevant policies in the development plan unless there are material considerations”

For the record the Brownfield list may, just, fulfil one years development supply of Castle Point’s required 5 Year Housing Supply requirement!

The Paddocks site, was not included in the Brownfield site Register, possibly because, as we were informed by Cllr smith, all options are open and no decision has yet been made whether to demolish or carry out much needed work on the building!

Interestingly during the council meeting a question about the total sum estimated to renovate the Paddocks was raised by Cllr Campagna, to which we the council leader explained that the £1million+ is a figure estimated to be required spending over the next 20 Years, and NOT as we were allowed to believe by Cllr smith at the Canvey Community meeting, required immediately!

The Blinking Owl site, seemingly the answer to the mainland’s Housing Supply requirement is excluded from the Brownfield Register.

This site first made public during March 2014 appears yet to have had a firm development application proposed to cpbc.

A Local Plan Examiner would be more likely to take the Blinking Owl venture seriously, should there have been some development proposals for parts of this site already on the table, but there is not!

Duty to Cooperate work is ongoing with cpbc being represented by the council leader, his deputy and senior officer/s. It appears that officers are applying the results of the DtC work into a newest Local Plan.

Should the efforts of this cpbc delegation be found worthy and Government Intervention be avoided, in the least the cpbc Local Plan will represent a localised extract of a South Essex Regional Plan. Ironically Regional Spatial Strategies were abolished after 6 years in 2010.

The newest Local Plan version may bear severe repercussions should the cpbc council choose not to approve, given the Duty to Cooperate work being carried out by cpbc leader and officers.!

A meeting will be held in secret at cpbc, to presumably inform councillors of the Duty to Cooperate progress and the Fears of Intervention, during this week.

Castle Point is not the only local authority failing to find enough Brownfield site to fulfil their immediate Housing Needs. More can be read via this LINK.

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Canvey Island, is there Foundation for Park Homes Boost at Roscommon Way’s Expense!

It almost appears inevitable that Canvey Island will once again supply the bulk of the Borough’s Housing Delivery in the near future!

The all important Local Plan 5 Year Housing Supply will be boosted, or drained, by the success of the Sandy Bay venture at the Thorney Bay caravan site.

The potential for 1,000+ dwellings, will impact upon the area for better or worse, one of the major impacts, is seemingly the death knell of the Roscommon Way final extension. That is unless the cpbc cabinet’s appeal to Essex County Council to intervene, produces a significant U-turn in the developer’s plans for the Park Homes site.

From the Map below it is difficult to envisage a different route for the Roscommon Way extension that would not divide or disrupt the Sandy Bay site and its community, nor one that would not involve substantial Compulsory Purchase Orders.

Screenshot (3)

copyright: Google

The Sandy Bay development is aimed at the over 50’s and retirees, people who will have invested substantial sums and expect the use of the facilities on offer as well as an element of peace and quiet. A main commuter route that may divide the Park Homes site would prove an obstacle in creating the proposed facility. One can only hope that ECC can come up with a solution, otherwise the almost annual, call for road infrastructure improvement funding for Canvey Island, will be added to that of Canvey Way and Somnes Avenue!

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Thorney Bay site the Green Light to switch tack from the application for 600+ “bricks and mortar dwellings, to an even more numerous Park Home development.

” ‘Park Home’ is the industry name for a caravan which is used for residential purpose.

National Planning Policy, as reflected in the NPPF, requires Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to produce Local Plans that will deliver the full, Objectively Assessed Needs (OAN), for market and affordable housing in the housing market area. The Government’s online Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) sets out the methodology for assessing housing need; it refers to specific types of housing which should be considered. No reference is made to Park Homes or residential caravans. Accordingly, there is no duty for LPAs to forward plan for provision of this type of housing.”

“”…the needs of people residing in or resorting to their district with respect to the provision of-  (a) sites on which caravans can be stationed…”

This suggests that local housing authorities (this includes District Councils and London Borough Councils) will need to start forward planning for provision of residential caravans.
This is a significant step change from other recent planning legislation because it is the first time non-gypsy caravans have been recognised as having a role in contributing towards the supply of housing in a given area.” *

All along CPBC have stated that their planning control powers are restricted to the point of no influence, this despite the apparent desire through the many versions of their Local Plan intending to seek central funding to provide the residents to the Eastern and Southern part of Canvey Island relief from the congested routes off of and onto the Island.

A balance between Homes, Congestion Relief and Profit, with congestion relief finishing an out of site 3rd!

Prior to the 2016 Housing Act it may have been necessary for a development application for Sandy Bay to have gone through the planning channels at CPBC. An apparent similar proposal went before Chelmsford Council’s planners, this site also is subject to Flood Risk so would have required sending to the Environment Agency, as consultees, for consideration. 

The use of the 2016 Housing Act, allows the Sandy Bay site to evolve outside of the Local Plan and cpbc planning processes.

Essex County Council may also have reservations in pursuing the remainder of the Roscommon Way link, as the original phases, whether as a cost saving exercise or not, were constructed with a shortened Life Span.**

The completion, however, of the final phase of Roscommon Way would increase usage of the existing phases from commuter, leisure and industrial vehicles, both hazardous and non-hazardous. ECC would need to ask what would be the likely effect of the increased usage on the road foundations, and subsequently the hazardous pipework beneath the existing Roscommon Way, especially where vehicles are filtered into the single lane areas of the carriageway?

Usually the provision of new Highways are restricted by the levels of new Business Use, rather than a level of commuter congestion. The completed stages of the Roscommon Way fulfilled this requirement, it will need compelling evidence, which may have come from a traditional “bricks and mortar” development at Thorney Bay, for the completion phase to be realised.

The problems of developing on Canvey Island are manifold, that one developer appears to understand ways of traversing these obstacles, is clear.

The residents of Canvey Island  are now encouraged by cpbc to direct their hopes and protest for highway congestion relief towards Essex County Council!

*The views of Sanderson Weatherall.                                                            http://sw.co.uk/property-consultancy/planning/911-the-housing-and-planning-act-2016

** http://planning.chelmsford.gov.uk/Planning/lg/dialog.page?Param=lg.Planning&org.apache.shale.dialog.DIALOG_NAME=gfplanningsearch&viewdocs=true&SDescription=14/00722/FUL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The possibility of Government Intervention looms Clear and Large!

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

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

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

The Ministerial release reads:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Minister’s Full Speech can be accessed HERE

Canvey Island going it Alone? Better than always being on the Outside Looking In!

The Report following the recent investigation into a conduct complaint of a Castle Point councillor should be of some concern to Canvey Islanders.

It does not take much reading between the lines to question why Canvey Island, with its own Town Council, would want to be associated and controlled by Castle Point Borough Council!

We are happy to point out that the councillor under investigation was cleared of any accusation of wrong doing, more to the point of this Blog post are some of the issues raised in the investigation report of the activities and presumptions of councillors and officers inactions.

We are most concerned at the perception of how some cpbc Cabinet members  and officers appear to be content to operate in a manner that brings the local authority close to a position of ill-repute.

Officers seemingly unable to impose any control over councillors and the cabinet system oblivious to any requirement of operating within cpbc’s own Constitution!

Quite clearly the Adopted Local Plan, albeit out of date, regularly gets overruled and undermined where the proposed policies of whichever draft new local plan is current, if Green Belt development is before the cpbc development committee.

With the Chairman and 2 cabinet members all being “strong characters” it is not unreasonable to assume that some level of predetermination may be perceived by critics of the cpbc development committee, as the latest local plan policies are used as the basis for decision making. The 5 Purposes of Green Belt appear to take second stage.

Why would Canvey Islanders support such presumption?*

Extracts from the councillor Investigation Report compiled by ch&i associates:

“Certain local authorities only allow members to call-in applications from within their own ward; the Council may wish to consider whether it wishes to adopt a similar policy.

A Planning Audit report produced for the Council in December 2016 highlighted a number of issues about the call-in process and decisions made in Committee that I believe have been further highlighted by this investigation:

 

  • The Constitution does not provide detailed information about the process to be followed when a Member requests to have an application referred to Committee. • The Council does not formally document call-ins. • Material planning grounds were not stated for all applications called-in to the Development Control Committee. • Where Members of the Development Control Committee are minded to make a decision contrary to the officer recommendation, no further input from the officer is sought regarding the implications of that decision. • Members have rejected officers’ advice without giving clear and concise reasons for their decision based on material planning considerations. • Reasons for officer recommendations being overturned are not routinely analysed and lessons learnt.”

Referring to Committee members “calling-in” planning applications so that they may be considered by the committee, rather than being delegated to officers and thereby requiring said councillor to provide the required justifiable planning reasons  for doing so cpbc officers “Officers told me that councillors are not very good at this generally”!

“If they (planning  committee members) do wish to engage with applicants directly in connection with their planning application then they should ensure that they do not take part in the decision-making process.

The Secretary of State considers….. In addition, local authorities should consider including a member of the executive, if possible with responsibility for the Development Plan, on one or more committees which take development control decisions although she or he should not normally be the chair”. Currently the Council’s (CPBC) Constitution does not limit the number of Cabinet members on its Development Control Committee, although it does state that they must not be appointed as the Chair or Vice Chair. Councillor Smith’s appointment as Vice-Chair of the Committee appears to be in direct contravention of this.

Planning decisions are a non-executive function and therefore must be dealt with by the Committee and not by Cabinet. While there is nothing in the legislation to prevent members of Cabinet being members of the Committee, there is a need for councillors to take particular care in determining planning applications to avoid being perceived as being pre-determined. Where the Council’s Cabinet has encouraged and/or promoted a particular development or plan and a Member is both a Member of the Committee and also a Cabinet Member, it is arguable that the issue of predetermination may arise as a result of the Member’s perceived proximity to the proposal through discussions in Cabinet. There is a risk that even an apparently genuine consideration of the planning application by such a Member may be perceived as a sham.”

Editors emphasis.

* Presumption in this context taken as meaning; behaviour perceived as arrogant, disrespectful, and transgressing the limits of what is permitted or appropriate:

The Benefits of Canvey Island to Castle Point Council in the preservation of its Green Fields!

Sometimes it takes an illustration to put into perspective the control exerted by Castle Point Council over their, seemingly insignificant and powerless neighbours, Canvey Island.

The BBC, Home Editor, Mark Easton posted the information below today, under the Heading of “How much of your area is built on?”

Taking into account the high water-table Marshland, the reliance on Sea Defences, the fact that the whole of Canvey is considered a Critical Drainage Area due to the “complicated drainage system”, the distribution of development is puzzling to say the least!

The density of existing Housing, the currently under-development Housing sites and the Industrial, including Hazardous Industrial, areas indicated within Castle Point and in particular Canvey Island are self evident!

CP Built On

How does Castle Point compare?

Built on:  Castle Point 38%    UK: 6%

Green Urban:  CP 18%  UK 3%

Farm Land:  CP 31%  UK 57%

Natural:  CP13%  UK 35%

More than half of the UK land area is farmland (fields, orchards etc), just over a third might be termed natural or semi-natural (moors, heathland, natural grassland etc), a little under 6% is built on (roads, buildings, airports, quarries etc) and 2.5% is green urban (parks, gardens, golf courses, sports pitches etc).

The data has been produced with the help of Dr Alasdair Rae from the Urban Studies and Planning Department at the University of Sheffield.

Methodology:

The largest component of the “built on” category is “discontinuous urban fabric”, within which 20-50% of the surface area may be green space. To account for this we have reassigned the minimum 20% of “discontinuous urban fabric” to “green urban”, which in many cases may be an underestimate. The map uses building land cover data from Ordnance Survey.

The percentages above are estimates. Maps produced by Alasdair Rae from the University of Sheffield using data from Corine and Ordnance Survey.

Canvey Flatsland – Island to be Re-named after rumours of Jellicoe future emerge?

The Admiral Jellicoe Public House site is to be re-developed into between 40 and 50 Flats, according to rumour that has reached us!

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Preparation work to the site appears to have commenced, this despite a search of the cpbc Housing Portal revealing no application paperwork. If there is paperwork published, then it is very well hidden.

The opportunity for residents to comment appear to have been denied, if the rumour is true. Local parking, for one, must be a huge concern for local residents and businesses alike. The surface water flooding issue will not doubt be dismissed by reassurances supported by officers!

The probability that the government’s call for a Brownfield Site Register will include the Admiral Jellicoe site within Part 2 of the Register, sites granted planning Permission in Principle, is highly likely if cpbc’s Register is published by the December 2017 due date.

Alongside this is the news that the option has been confirmed to consider replacing the Canvey Island Paddocks with a new Hall financed by even more Flats.

The numbers of Flats needed to finance a new Paddocks Hall will undoubtedly be very many, given the Viability issues with the lack of provision of Affordable Housing emerging from lucrative developments of late.

The Canvey High Street is also the location for 2 more Flatted development sites, the old Dairy, and the 125-127 approved proposal, whilst the old Council Building in Long Road is also under threat from the Government call to release local authority land for Housing Development.

The Castle Point Council Crystal Ball indicated this profound finding;

“It is not thought that flatted developments on Canvey will become viable however, due to the additional costs associated with flood resistance and resilience.” *

Well the current frenzy of Canvey Flats development has blown that consideration out of the water!

On social media of late protests that Canvey isn’t more likely to be subject to development than any other part of the borough have emerged from mainland sources. And yet Thorney Bay is the largest actively promoted development site!

More relevant than Housing numbers as an indication of castle point council’s Housing Distribution record, is the population growth in the Borough.

During the last Census decade the distribution of the population increase, Canvey Island was 2.6% up whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

During the time period Castle Point has existed as a Borough; 

Historically, between 1971 and 2001 Canvey Island saw an increase in population of over 40%.  The Mainland saw just a 2.4% increase during the same period.

Quite clearly the demand exists for Housing, exactly where, and why in Castle Point, may require some close examining!

The removal of 8 Green Belt sites from the Local Plan Housing site Supply is to be commended, however the driver for this is questionable as a strategic area in the north of the Borough is to be promoted for release despite it being Green Belt, albeit partially previously developed. Only 1 notable site, of these 8 Green Belt sites, being on Canvey Island.

The cpbc focus of targeting Housing on Canvey Island appears to border on obsessive.

As recent as the 2016 Local Plan amongst their “evidence” to support Housing growth distribution the Sustainability Assessment focussed as early as Pages 4 and 15 of a 258 page document this point was repeated twice!;

“This has caused some people to choose to live in poor quality accommodation at Thorney Bay Caravan Site resulting in health and social issues arising. Housing land supply should be sufficient to enable a stable and regular supply of new homes that respond to local demand”

We suggest that in such a small Borough as Castle Point the focus on the “local” in Housing distribution, especially given the constraints, is too tightly focussed on Canvey Island!

*CPBC Strategic Housing Land Availability 2014

Photograph: Echo

 

The Paddocks Future remains in the Balance. Residents appear unconvinced by Cabinet Assurances!

Canvey Island Residents were treated to an explanation of the future intentions for the Paddocks Community Hall by the cpbc cabinet member for regeneration  during a Community meeting on the 9th October.

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Apparently all options are open and a report from consultants is awaited.

Promises to approximately 150 residents in attendance, were given that a Hall would remain on site as would the war memorial.

The underlying prospect is that there appears an unwillingness to commit £1,600,000 on a refurbishment. This figure appears to be an update on the cpbc estimate of March this year of £500,000.

A substantial figure of £4-5 million was mentioned for a new Hall and the impression given, albeit unconfirmed, this is the preferred choice of direction. A new smaller Hall funded by development of Housing (Flats) and the relocation of extra Health Service facilities into the existing NHS building already on site.

Residents should be aware that other local authority owned building and land in the Borough, especially on Canvey Island, will also be examined as to how best to release assets and improve the broken Housing Market. The Government scheme to encourage this land release was covered by the FT in a 2016 article;

Councils to sell £129m of land and property

Thirty-two authorities identify land to build 9,000 homes in first phase of Cabinet Office scheme. Councils will sell £129m of land and property in the early stages of what the government hopes will become a much wider push to raise cash from assets, helping to mitigate budget cuts. In England, 32 local authorities have identified land to build 9,000 homes in the first phase of a Cabinet Office scheme to encourage public sector bodies to reassess their land and property holdings to cut running costs and raise money from sales. Another 100 councils have recently signed up to the scheme.

Photograph: Copyright John Rostron