Tag Archives: Castle Point Council

Canvey Island Air Quality set to Deteriorate following Increased Traffic Congestion, Visitor Numbers to Local Attractions the Sea Front, Shopping and Employment areas?

Now that Easter and Summer are approaching Canvey Island with its revitalised Sea Front attractions, new Shopping and Employment sites and further Housing developments, we can expect to suffer more frequent Traffic Congestion!

Many Islanders, having for years endured the daily commute whether delayed by the piecemeal road works along the A13, the lack of improvement to the A127, the suspect faults with the Sadlers Farm junction, the crawl along Canvey Way before / after being further held up along Somnes Avenue or Canvey Road and Long Road, are now getting used to the regular weekend AS WELL AS the weekday traffic hold ups across the Island!

All this while the Roscommon Way Extension, intended to link the east of Canvey Island with Canvey Road, and the Somnes Avenue widening both appear more distant in being achieved than ever before, whilst the 3rd Access Road across the Sunny Uplands and Unicorn Meadows to Pitsea / Thurrock appears more like an Aspirational Fantasy!

Whether it be through badly phased traffic signals, vehicles breaking down, insufficient infrastructure improvements, or visitors to the local “attractions”, one thing that will deteriorate is the Air Quality!

CPBC claim that there are 34 Air Quality monitoring sites in the Borough, though only one site being permanent, off of the Island at Hadleigh, of course.

Even so, given the nature and whereabouts of the current traffic congestion Hot Spots, maybe the siting of the temporary monitors may be better located. For instance the site at the “Garden Centre” at the Northwick Road junction.

Wouldn’t it be more effectively positioned these days just a few yards south of the “King Canute” traffic signals?

This is where traffic is regularly congested and where the small parade of shops and the residential home are sited, after all air pollution affects peoples health. Why position in a more open less populated area? Unless a Lower Pollution Reading is the preferred finding of course!

Instead CPBC prefer to site the temporary Air Quality monitoring device, when it is being used, tucked tight away behind fencing to the rear of the Garden Centre! See photo Below.

Even, Castle Point Council’s own Public Health Service Officer warned, of the pollution expected from the Business development proposal for “Land opposite Morrisons” stating the department; “objects to this application on the grounds of ‘increase of traffic’, and the effects which this would have upon air quality, a topic which is of Public Health significance.”

“It is the opinion of this Service that if the proposed development was permitted at the current time there would be an adverse impact upon the local air quality, with initial impacts during the construction phase. It is believed that the air quality would deteriorate further following occupation by new businesses, regular delivery vehicles and visitors to the site.”

An Extract from the CPBC Air Monitoring Report for 2018 reads;

“Castle Point Borough Council is taking the following measures to address PM2.5 (Fraction of mortality attributable to particulate):

Working with Essex County Council (highway authority) to deliver Major Transport improvement schemes to improve infrastructure, reduce personal car use  and alleviate congestion. In addition to reduced exhaust emissions, these schemes will reduce non-exhaust emissions from brake and tyre wear by making traffic flows smoother.”

In practise these “Major Transport improvement schemes” amount to singularly, the Fairglen Interchange junction improvement!

“The main source of air pollution in the Borough is road traffic emissions from major roads, notably the A13, A127 and A130. Castle Point Borough Council has not declared any Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA).

Potential transboundary pollution sources include the power stations along the Thames Estuary and the oil refinery in Thurrock, which have the potential to impact on air quality in Castle Point.

Other pollution sources, including commercial, industrial and domestic sources, also make a contribution to background pollution concentrations.We monitor nitrogen dioxide using diffusion tubes at 30 monitoring locations around the district. We also have a continuous analyser site which is currently being installed at the former Hadleigh Fire Station and will provide real-time nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide monitoring information. Prior to the 16th July 2010, the continuous analyser was installed at Furtherwick Park School, Canvey Island and provided real-time nitrogen dioxide monitoring information. The Council has over fourteen years worth of monitoring data from when the continuous analyser was installed at Furtherwick Park School.”

Temporary Air Monitoring Unit Canvey Island

You can Download the Full CPBC Air Quality Report on the Page available via this LINK.

Info on the new London Ultra Low Emission Zone can be found HERE.

Photograph: Glyn Baker

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Canvey the Answer to Castle Point’s Problems, now were in the Sights of Thurrock Council. A 3rd Access Road plus our own Railway Station? Don’t be Fooled!

Canvey Island long the Dumping Ground of local problematic development issues, has now fallen under the Radar of our “friends” in Thurrock!

The new Thames Crossing scheduled to be located within Thurrock, is proving understandably unpopular. So in an attempt, no doubt, to carry favour with the Thurrock electorate the local councillors, ignoring the financial impacts to the scheme, are seeking to have the Crossing moved further along the Thames to Canvey Island!

In turn, Castle Point Council’s eternal aspirational political golden nugget, the 3rd Canvey Island Relief Road, to Manor Way Thurrock, is kicked into touch!

So much for the Cooperation so highly lauded by CPBC and the other “band” of 6 South Essex Council, under the banner of ASELA, or “The Association of South Essex Local Authorities”!

This group of 7 local authorities, joined to plan a strategic approach to Development and Growth across the region, are also expected to assist each other in producing Local Plan’s.

The Duty to Cooperate being a major contributory factor as to whether a Local Plan may be successful or a failure. CPBC having already fallen at that hurdle may be more sensitive and aware of the Duty to Cooperates importance than most.

If such strategic issues such as the new Thames Crossing and a new access road to Canvey Island can prove to be such pitfalls and failure issues, then the other important issue of seeking assistance for taking some of CPBC’s Housing provision will appear to be likely to receive an absolute rejection from our neighbouring local authorities!

This Cooperation, or the lack of, is not apparent from the CPBC website, where a statement reads:

Councils across South Essex have agreed a common approach to supporting the development of housing and key infrastructure over the next twenty years.
The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) – which is made up of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock Councils – has drafted a ‘Statement of Common Ground (SCG)’.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council and Chair of ASELA, says: “We are working collectively and across our district borders for our vision for South Essex’s future.
“This is not just about providing more housing, it’s about much more than that. It’s looking at developing new and improved transport links and roads, new health, medical and care facilities, schools and creating business and skill opportunities across South Essex to support a growing economy. All of this needs to be part of the proposals very early on.”
“The Government is looking to local authorities to prepare Statements of Common Ground as part of a new Local Plan process, and more specifically, to provide the main evidence to demonstrate that strategic planning matters have been dealt with effectively and the legal provisions of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ have been met. ASELA have been a national pilot for the new process and are the first collective of local authorities to reach this stage of the new process.

Reads well, but not so cooperative in practise between our local Thurrock councillors. it appears!

Thurrock councillor Peter Smith has claimed the crossing should be on Canvey instead. “I am not an engineering expert, but when we talk to the public and fellow councillors, they keep saying further east, towards Canvey on the Essex side.
“At that distance on Canvey, it can go straight under in a tunnel. That would alleviate the impact to the (Thurrock) local people.”

A better and more clearer example of a DOGMATIC approach, would be hard to find, and not suggesting the Duty to Cooperate is going too well, is it?

Of course a new Thames Crossing proposal for Canvey Island has been considered, and dismissed I must add, some years before.

Once again the promised, aspirational benefits to be bestowed on Canvey Island, despite the Crossing’s route being the most expensive, were to be beyond local residents dreams.

“Metrotidal Ltd believes that the capital cost of the plan will be £2–4bn, with the tunnelling part of the project thought to cost around £1bn. The tunnel is expected to be formed from concrete tubes immersed in the bed of the estuary along a trench dredged across the Thames.”

“and will give Canvey Island its own railway station for the first time and a third road access off the island.”

It would appear on that note a very good place to end the Blog for this year 2018, and to thank One and All for reading, following, contributing and supporting the Canvey Green Belt Campaign cause.

To everyone of you we Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Links to the previous Thames Crossing, Canvey Island proposal, the press coverage of the Thurrock Councillor’s call for Canvey Island to be used for the new Crossing are below;

Canvey Crossing Link.

Thurrock Councillor’s Rant Link.

Should anybody wish to take part in the Thames Crossing Consultation, time is fast running out to do so as the consultation closes on the 20th December, the link is HERE.

Meanwhile to our Thurrock Councillor friends we extend a friendly:

Harvey Smith

The Bell Tolls for the Paddocks, time for Canvey Island protesters to throw in the Towel?

No doubt scripts have been carefully prepared and are being rehearsed for this Tuesdays CPBC Cabinet meeting, so that the fate of Canvey’s, Paddocks Community centre, may be presented as another “Good News” story!

7.00 pm start time for those intending to attend.

The cabinet agenda item presents the case in such a way that clearly, the compiler of the “business case”, has been requested to balance the spend on the renovation and regeneration cost to meet, as near as possible, the cost of a very generous new build project! The list of new goodies can be seen below, whether they can be justified as being entirely necessary is doubtful!

As we indicated in the previous post, other Community Centres are available in other areas at far more reasonable costs than the £4,300,000 Castle Point council suggest.

However the £4,300,000 cost may just be inflated a tad by a developer hoping to develop Flats and Houses on the site and thereby avoiding a level of Section 106 agreements.* (see below)

The difference between renovation and a new build is just, £200,000!

It is good to see that Canvey’s own cllr mumford has the honour of presenting this agenda item to the cabinet. One wonders whether he has been handed a poisoned chalice, as usually “good news” stories are left to cllr smith to deliver!

* “Planning obligations, also known as Section 106 agreements (based on that section of The 1990 Town & Country Planning Act) are private agreements made between local authorities and developers and can be attached to a planning permission to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms.”

Informative extracts from the Agenda;

“The existing Community Hall, whilst being a well loved landmark on the Island, is not well used and is a significant financial burden which is currently underwritten by the general council tax payers of the Borough.

The Paddocks is the largest community venue in the Borough able to accommodate events for up to 500 seated attendees, but is rarely used to full capacity.

The net operational cost of the facility for 2017/18, excluding apportioned corporate costs, was in the region of £89k. This is budgeted to increase to £110k for the current financial year with an element of this increase being driven by additional security costs. Net operational costs are anticipated to average £165k pa for the period 2020/21 to 2029/301.

In addition to addressing repair and maintenance requirements identified through specialist surveys, this option includes the following remodelling works:

1. Various options to improve entrance to and egress from facility

2. New reception and office adjacent to potential new Main Entrance

3. Sliding/ folding division to Main Hall

4. Lift access to First Floor proposed from Main Hall/Third Hall Lobby

5. Accessible WC proposed adjacent to Main Hall and Lift

6. Second Hall accessed from Main Entrance and North-East Lobby

7. New bar facilities proposed to Second Hall – all halls to have bar facilities

8. Existing Second Hall converted to Third Hall and rentable Office/ Meeting space

9. Third Hall and Office/ Meeting spaces to be accessed from additional entrance and reception, for improved security

10. New stair at West End to proposed First Floor (subject to first floor structural assessment)

11. Stage Facilities upgraded in existing location

12. Main Bar Facilities upgraded in existing location

13. Rentable Meeting space accessed from main corridor

The final result would to all intents and purposes “feel” like a new facility.
Demolish existing facility and replace with a new, modern facility specifically designed to meet current and future requirements.

A new purpose built facility, capable of catering for and presenting a wide range of events and activities to maximise the venue’s commercial potential. A detailed design brief will be drawn up after the completion of a comprehensive consultation process and the appointment of a specialist scheme architect.

The precise configuration would require careful design to ensure that peak time demand could be accommodated.

A new build facility would present opportunities to influence through design, ongoing operational costs as well as environmental considerations, energy efficiency, maintenance and improved security in order that the new build is fit for use as a modern venue for many years to come”

All to be read with a straight face, and I am assured this is not a fairy tale!

Poisoned Chalice

Poisoned Chalice

 

Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

The latest public “announcement” on the Castle Point council Local Plan will be made during the cpbc cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19th September.

Residents will learn exactly what cpbc spokespeople actually meant when they stated they must keep the Local Plan within the council’s grasp, rather than face Government Intervention and all that that entailed!

In a report compiled by the ceo D Marchant, that may more aptly be delivered by wearing the cloak of the Grim Reaper, members will hear in clear terms the penalties that will befall residents of Castle Point, if they were not to fall in line and endorse whatever local plan messrs Smith, Marchant and Rogers enforce into publication.

Obviously there will be the intention to release more Green Belt land than was previously agreed, otherwise there would have been little need to delay progress of the 2016 local plan.

Instead Bureaucratic measures by this miserable triumvirate have taken over what should have been a democratic and public exercise!

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.

We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

We are aware that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process.”

There then follows a further threat to Cabinet members, and other council members in attendance;

“In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.

Consequently as the Borough Council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications from the MHCLG are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted pursuant to the plan will be referred to the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than the Borough Council,”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG* the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale.”

*Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

BUT what if, this likely release of Green Belt and denser Urbanisation of previously developed land, fails to see Developers and Builders deliver the required Housing Needs of London and Castle Point?

It would be naíve to think that developers would build at a rate that would jeopardise the Market Price of Housing. What if the Governor of the Bank of England’s worse projection, a 30% fall in house prices following a bad Brexit, comes to fruition?

Will more land be required to be released because other developers have put forward alternative proposals to those in the Local Plan, which they suggest they are more able to deliver?

Government and local authorities cannot manipulate the market. previous delivery rates ARE relevant, especially when you remember that only Glebelands and part of Jotmans Farm have seen applications lodged and rejected in Castle Point for, a Total of 405 dwellings since 2010!

A cpbc Local Plan that proposes to Release anymore than the 100 Dwellings per Annum agreed by the local council in the 2016 local plan, will not only see protests by residents but will also likely lead to Polling day reaction.

We were promised Localism as the way forward in Plan making.

Instead we will likely see a Bureaucratic plan delivered by the leader of cpbc intended to satisfy the national government.

A Local Plan padded out with aspirational and undeliverable infrastructure and Sea Defence improvements AND a Plan that is Sequentially corrupt!

A new Report by  Lichfields warns of difficulties for local authorities in satisfying the Housing Delivery Test.

Lichfields write;

The housing delivery test (HDT) will become increasingly difficult to satisfy

“The HDT is a monitoring tool the Government will use to demonstrate whether local areas are building enough homes to meet their housing need. Based on the outcome of this monitoring, councils may be required to undertake further action in the near future.”

“In November 2018, the test will compare housing delivery (net additional dwellings plus communal housing) to housing need (the lower of the three years in an up-to-date local plan or household projections plus unmet neighbours’ need).”

The full Lichfield report may be read via this LINK.
maco

Predetermination – Interference and Planning Matters, Castle Point Council style. The Need Outweighs the Inappropriateness in our Green Belt?

Castle Point council appear to have been rattled into some inconsistency where the Local Plan and Planning matters are concerned.

Intervention over the Local Plan appears a realistic possibility, whilst Housing Need and Green Belt concerns dominate decisions.

A follower of this Blog and of Local Issues sent in this comment;

“The Government has used the Localism Act to clarify the rules on ‘predetermination’.
These rules were developed to ensure that councillors came to council discussions – on, for example, planning applications – with an open mind.
In practice, however, these rules had been interpreted in such a way as to reduce the quality of local debate and stifle valid discussion.
In some cases councillors were warned off doing such things as campaigning, talking with constituents, or publicly expressing views on local issues, for fear of being accused of bias or facing legal challenge.
The Localism Act makes it clear that it is proper for councillors to play an active part in local discussions, and that they should not be liable to legal challenge as a result.
This will help them better represent their constituents and enrich local democratic debate. People can elect their councillor confident in the knowledge that they will be able to act on the issues they care about and have campaigned on”.
I am not so sure that the Governments intention has become a reality, there is very little evidence that democratic debate is exercised at CPBC, particularly where planning on Canvey Island is concerned.

It will be imperative, or it should be, that a consistent approach is followed through Planning Policy, especially while the Government Chief Planner is taking a close interest in cpbc Local Plan affairs. One would expect this consistency to come from the top down.

Recently there have been two planning applications received that may hint at a less than consistent approach.

Firstly the proposal for the 57 bedroom Care Home at Canvey Way, Approved against Officer advice. Officers stated that amongst other reasons “the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt” and that “The application is presented to the Development Control Committee as the applicant is related to a Member of this Council”.

Unusually just ahead of the development committee meeting to consider the application, the Castle Point council leader, cllr Smith was quoted in the Echo as saying;

“The committee may think the need is enough for the plans to be passed.”

And that

“The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”

There is a recorded need for facilities of this type in the Borough, however there is also a recorded Housing Need in the Borough.

It appears that the desire locally is to develop on Previously Developed land. This is where the cpbc leader may be indicating some inconsistency.

Residents on the mainland appear concerned with the possibility of 12 Apartments, being built on the Wheelers restaurant site at Bread and Cheese Hill. This is also Green Belt and previously developed with a far more permanent structure than that exists at the Garden Centre site at Canvey Road.

As yet there has been no officer advice issued, however cpbc leader cllr Smith has himself “called in” the application, on the Grounds of Inappropriate Development in the Green Belt, so that the Development Committee can make the final decision whether to approve.

This might appear contradictory in that having publicly stated “The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”, on the Canvey Road application, to then personally call in another application, that maybe far less likely to be considered as inappropriate development in the Green Belt, just may be viewed as suggesting to his colleagues on the development committee that they should Refuse the Bread and Cheese Hill proposal.

Surely the evidence suggests that in both the case of Care Home facilities AND Housing, the need may well be “enough for the Plans to be passed.”

Policy makers may do well to set a better example if they kept their views private at crucial times for the cpbc Local Plan, and the Echo Newspaper may do well to go back to their more investigative style of journalism to add clarity to these topics.

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Images Copyright: Google Earth

Canvey’s Dutch Village GB site back under Threat? Castle Point bc, not only can we produce a sound Local Plan, but we can do so at High Speed! “Watch this Space” indeed!

Short-termism appears to be the “Get Out” approach for Castle Point Borough Council to appease the Government’s intervention team.

Despite no Local Plan emerging over the past 20 years, the latest approach appears to be to crash out an interim 10 Year Plan including Green Belt development sites allocation, and hope for the best that normal service will be resumed with the assistance of our neighbouring Boroughs!
shutterstock_boot_crushing_man

The questions are, which Green Belt sites will be sacrificed in the rush to develop, and which Green Belt sites will developers actually agree with cpbc to build on?

Certainly potentially in the region of 900 dwellings are being installed at Canvey Island’s Sandy Bay, but the distinct threat remains that Canvey Island’s Dutch Village is also cpbc’s preferred Green Belt site in danger of development!

The opinion of outsiders is always useful to keep our feet on the ground, and to help us with that Planning Resource publication have produced their view of the position Castle Point council currently find themselves in, ahead of the secretary of State’s decision on whether cpbc are now trusted to be allowed to produce their own Local Plan under the watchful eye of Government.

As we know a greatly truncated approach has been adopted as the preferred approach of our Borough council, as a means of warding off Intervention in the Plan making process.

CPBC’s interpretation of the situation is directly below, whilst further below is how the “trade” press’ view.

“the Government has confirmed that it will intervene in plan-making in areas where councils without a post 2004 local plan have not submitted a plan for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate. This will reduce the control the local planning authority has over such matters. In March 2018, the Council received a letter from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming the intention to commence Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan. As of June 2018, the form of this Intervention had not been confirmed, but dialogue with the Ministry has confirmed the need for a Local Plan to be prepared to an accelerated timetable, and this Plan must focus on bringing forward new homes in the early part of the Plan period.”

“The Local Plan will tackle contentious issues that could give rise to significant public opposition. Whilst every effort will be made to build cross community consensus, there remains risk of significant public opposition to the Local Plan proposals.”

“Logistically this could cause a higher volume of work in the processing and analysis of representations than accounted for in the LDS timetable, which could set it back.”

“To help reduce this risk, responses from the 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plan consultations will be used to assess public opinion. The 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plans will form the majority of the new Local Plan so previous consultation responses as well as updated evidence will help inform the Plan.”

“In February 2017, the Government introduced the proposition that all Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) be required to prepare a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ (SCG) to help manage strategic planning matters across local authority areas and strengthen the Duty to Cooperate”

“3.5 Castle Point
Castle Point is a relatively small local authority area just 4,500 hectares in size, with a population of 88,000 people. It sits at the heart of the South Essex sub-region on the northern bank of the Thames Estuary between the larger settlements of Basildon and Southend. It is these larger settlements, along with London, on which Castle Point relies for its employment, services and leisure opportunities.
The key planning issues comprise:
• the challenge of meeting housing need in a borough of significant Green Belt and other environmental constraints and where land availability is confined to small scale infill sites in the built-up area;
• the need to improve infrastructure to address congestion, historic underinvestment and provide capacity for growth;”

“9.1
Castle Point currently has no up to date local plan in place and has therefore been subject to potential government intervention. The Council will therefore prepare an interim local plan covering the next ten years and focusing on planning for housing, with the ambition of meeting local housing needs in this period. In the longer term, local housing needs will be considered through the strategic assessment and allocations prepared for the JSP.”

“The current estimated need for housing across South Essex is 90,000 dwellings over the next 20 years, but with the right conditions to support growth, more could be achieved. As part of the consideration of long term spatial options, the authorities are therefore exploring whether the development of new ‘Garden’ communities could offer a strategic solution to growth.”

“The South Essex Authorities estimate that up to 4,500 new homes will be needed each year to meet housing needs.” *

Planning Resource publisher’s opinion of the situation Castle Point find our / themselves in are reproduced here;

A group of seven Essex councils this month published a draft statement of common ground (SCG) designed to make sure they meet the challenging duty to cooperate. The statement commits them to preparation of a formal joint strategic plan for a green belt-constrained area where local plan processes have been hobbled by an inability to resolve local opposition to much-needed new homes.

The statutory joint plan is being pursued by six districts and boroughs – Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock – and Essex County Council. At the start of the year, they formed the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) to formalise joint working arrangements. According to the SCG, the joint plan will provide an “overarching framework within which more focused local development plans will be prepared”.

Requiring unanimous approval from all seven councils to go forward, the joint plan will set out housing targets and distribution as well as key employment sites and infrastructure priorities. Its prime purpose, commentators say, will be to decide where to find space for the required 90,000 new homes in south Essex over the next 20 years, given significant green belt constraints.

Consultant Catriona Riddell, who is advising ASELA, said: “With the area’s large proportion of green belt, all the authorities have challenges in terms of meeting housing needs, so they have decided that looking at strategic growth areas across south Essex would be the most deliverable and sustainable option.”

Nick Davey, partner at Brentwood-based planning consultant JTS, said determining housing allocations has been a big problem. “I feel sorry for the planners,” he said. “They have to try to meet objectively assessed need and that means releasing green belt, but they just can’t get members’ buy-in. All that’s happened since the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework is procrastination.”

The draft SCG doesn’t grasp this nettle.

Instead, it identifies five “strategic areas of opportunity” where housing may be located, all of which straddle local authority boundaries and thus leave exact allocations undetermined.

Riddell said the body has now commissioned a strategic growth study to further develop these proposals. “Some authorities will ultimately have to take a disproportionate share of the homes – those are the issues we haven’t got to yet. They need to stick together like glue,” she said.

The joint plan comes in the context of delays in local plan preparation led to three of the districts – Basildon, Brentwood and Castle Point – being threatened with intervention by former housing secretary Sajid Javid last year for their slow progress. In March, Javid pressed ahead with sending a government team in to scrutinise Castle Point’s local plan preparation arrangements. He told Brentwood and Basildon they’d face no further action, but warned he’d keep a close eye on them.

Castle Point’s last attempt at a local plan, which left 300 of its 400 homes-a-year housing need unmet, was withdrawn last year after failing the duty to cooperate. It is now seeking approval from the government to develop an interim local plan covering just five to ten years, allowing it to avoid large green belt allocations and leaving responsibility for further allocations to the joint planning process.

Riddell said: “The vital thing is that any intervention doesn’t compromise the joint planning effort by forcing Castle Point to release green belt that, from a wider south Essex point of view, might not be in the right place.”

Some fear, however, that the joint plan process will be used to justify continued delay. Tony Collins, owner of consultancy Collins & Coward, said: “Joint plans take a long time to draw up and even longer to deliver. The government wants delivery but joint planning is only going to slow things down.”

Riddell recognised government fears that the joint plan promises “jam tomorrow”, but pointed out that the SCG, once approved, will commit the ASELA authorities to an “accelerated timetable” that will see a draft plan consulted upon early next year, with submission for examination a year later. “It’s really fast,” she said. “These concerns are totally unfounded.”

* 6 Jun 2018 – Special Meeting of Castle Point Borough Council agenda appendices.

“Time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need?”

Green Belt is put under further pressure from Housing and Business development by the fashionable approach that an area’s Rural Idyllic Value should become an addition to the existing agreed list of Functions.

A Point is made to support Green Belt being released for development that “over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities“. This only proves that using an exaggeration provides a headline rather than gravity to the claim, that the answer to fixing our broken housing market, lies in the Green belt!

Releasing Green Belt isn’t the easy fix, especially where the need for affordable homes is concerned. Indeed quite the opposite, for despite the comparative ease and economics of developing on Green Belt over previously developed areas, levels of affordable housing being provided is low, apparently through viability reasoning!

Of course a Review of Green Belt should be included within a Local Plan process but challenging or undermining of the Green Belt Functions should not be the only test for release.

In the case of Canvey Island, Green Belt, what little that remains, and Green Field land perform far more than the 5 Functions.

Local planners would do well to remember this before it is too late and we have far more to worry about than “pouring pollution” into the urbanised area!

The level of proposed releases of Green Belt is concerning, it will not bring an immediate Fix to the Broken Housing Market. Developers will not build at a rate that would collapse the housing market values!

A balanced approach is required on Housing Supply and Population levels in areas able to support and keep safe current and future residents in appropriate areas. isn’t that what Sustainable Housing should be based on?

Politics of Planning blog posted, 11May 2018:

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh has called for unused ‘wasteland’ in the Green Belt to be developed. The Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden argues that the development of such land would go some way to addressing the housing crisis, whilst preserving genuine areas of natural beauty.

Ms McDonagh is advocating that an extra million new homes be built in London, where 22% of the land within its boundaries is Green Belt, and has made a written submission to the NPPF consultation to this effect. She says that she has found many examples of such land within minutes of train stations across the country.

Commenting on the situation, Ms McDonagh said:
“I have no desire to call for building in our countryside or on the flowing fields of green that we should be so grateful to have. My frustration is not with parks and hills or areas of natural beauty. And of course, I have no intention of calling for housing in areas with environmental protection… There are 128,000 children in England living in temporary accommodation, desperate for a place to call home. In the hearts of our towns and cities, and close to public transport, scrubland, rubbish tips and car washes are inappropriately designated as Green Belt land. It’s time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need. It’s time to grasp the nettle and to stop promising new homes without the means of providing them.”
Siobhain McDonagh said that the idea has support across both parties and amongst a number of thinktanks. Matthew Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute agrees with Ms McDonagh, and believes that there is a common romantic misconception over the true nature of the Green Belt. He commented:
“Far from rolling hills and daisy strewn meadows, the Green Belt is anything but a rural idyll. Over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities.”

Siobhain McDonagh’s intervention came in the same week as the National Planning Summit, held on 10 May in London. Her opinions are in step with Christine Whitehead of the Government’s Build-out Review Panel – the Letwin Review – who told the Summit that a “very large proportion” of the problem of why planning permissions fail to be built out is an over-reliance on large housing sites. Ms Whitehead added that “between 2008 and 2014, over 50% of permissions were on large sites, and five per cent of the output was on large sites.”

Ms McDonagh’s idea would certainly free up many small sites within London, and it will be interesting to see whether this issue is considered by the Letwin Review, which is due to be published before the Autumn Budget in November 2018.