Tag Archives: castle point local plan

The Admiral Jellicoe, the Loss of Canvey’s Buildings of Local Interest, and the apparent disinterest of Castle Point Council.

The loss of the Canvey Island Admiral Jellicoe public house is unsurprising.

Admiral Jellicoe

Admiral Jellicoe. Luke Baker Photography.

Indecisive governance in the borough leaves the area unprotected by a Local Plan, and Canvey Island, in particular, almost defenceless against unrestricted development.The Jellicoe site will be re-developed, quite probably with Flats.

But the viability of an affordable housing allocation will be strongly contested! Allowances to be made for Flood Alleviation and the cost allegedly paid for the site will be points of contention. The apparent sale of the Crown public house in Hadleigh Town Centre, a far more attractive proposition for a developer, went for £400,000.

Whilst newspaper reports suggest the Admiral Jellicoe was purchased for £1,000,000.

With a Plan, Local or otherwise, there may have been the potential to insist that a community facility should be built on part of the site alongside a level of affordable housing.

This potential has been lost as the developer would have purchased the site in the knowledge that no restriction exists where cpbc planning control is concerned.

Those concerned at the loss of yet another Canvey Island iconic building should be asking questions of the local authority.

The King Canute is also in danger of destruction, should the contractors accidentally damage the building’s structure! There is a condition imposed by cpbc that states efforts must be made to protect the front and side elevations of the King Canute throughout the re-development, but this was not part of any planning conditions imposed by cpbc officers!

It was only following enquiries by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group to the development committee chairman and the last minute suggestion during the committee’s consideration that led to the protection condition to be imposed. Officers previously showed NO Concern on the retention of the King Canute “shell”!

And yet cpbc are quick and keen to Harness the “Canvey Community Spirit” when there is gain to be made.

Following the grand work undertaken by two community groups the Canvey beach area is now unrecognisable to its previously unkept state. This has not only advantaged the Sandy Bay development but also opened the door of opportunity for cpbc.

The Canvey, Coastal Communities Alliance is another cpbc scheme seeking to dip into the Coastal Communities Fund dclg general fund. It could be suggested that if not for the excellent, tireless and selfless commitment to the sea front by the Canvey volunteer groups, the potential to chase some of these funds, would not have even occurred to cpbc! We wonder whether these grants, when distributed, are ring-fenced.

Similar to the 6 point plan seeking £24,500,000 government funding for drainage improvements on Canvey Island, which appear to be being less determinedly sought following the government asking for detailed expenditures of work required!

But we digress.

The topic was the continued loss of iconic and important local buildings to development with no public amenity to compensate.

CAMRA’s position in relation to the loss of Pubs states;

“debt-ridden pub property companies (Pubco’s) anxious to sell off pubs; often these are deliberately run down beforehand to make them less commercially attractive to those wishing to take them on as pubs.”

Suggestions have been made by locals that indeed this is what appears to have happened during the final period of the Admiral Jellicoe’s days as a public house.

Castle Point Council is the licencing authority, it could be suggested that they should have taken action once it became apparent that the deliberate Running Down of the business may have been being carried out.

Alongside the lack of a Local Plan for the area this inactivity, or ineptitude, will see more locally important buildings succumb to development with little advantage for residents.

Castle Point council appear more determined where the Crown ex public house, due to be part of the Hadleigh regeneration plan, is concerned.

According to an Echo report in 2011, cpbc were very close to settling a deal for the Crown with the aid of a £175,000 grant from Essex County Council, which had been sold by the brewery to MCC developments following its closure in 2009.

The obvious question arising is what might be the current value of the Crown site, given the apparent £1,000,000 sale of the Admiral Jellicoe, and, should it occur, is this appropriate use of the borough’s funds?

Photograph Copyright: Luke Baker

See more at; http://www.facebook.com/LukeBakerPhotography2017/

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Would you choose to get Involved with Castle Point’s Local Plan if you didn’t have to Sajid Javid?

Thorney Bay, Jotmans Farm, Green Belt, Flood Risk, Travellers, Duty to Cooperate, Period of Purdah, Reasons why the Government are Unlikely to Intervene in Castle Point Local Plan Process.

What are the likelihoods of Intervention, from an uneducated viewpoint?

The Intervention by a Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, in the Local Plan process at Castle Point would appear a highly unusual step to be taken.

Previous local intervention by SoS Sajid Javid included the Jotmans Farm Appeal and his Dismissal decision of his Planning Inspector, released on the 21st April 2017.

General Election 8th June 2017

Period of Purdah starts 22nd April 2017 (coincidence?)

Purdah: Purdah is the official pre-election period between the election announcement and final results which places restrictions of civil servants.                                                         Local and central governments will continue with business as usual, but must be careful not to take any action or make any announcements that could show affiliation to a political party. The litmus test is: “Could a reasonable person conclude that you were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?”

The Jotmans decision’s Pro and Cons included;

Report on the Examination of the Castle Point New Local Plan 2016, which concluded that the duty to co-operate had not been complied with. The Council determined to withdraw the dNLP 2016.

The CPBC’s failure to save LP Policy GB1, the Green Belt designation, shown on the Proposals Map, persists

Given the withdrawal of the dNLP, the Secretary of State takes the view that no weight can be afforded to the withdrawn policies.

He (SoS) further agrees that substantial weight should be given to any harm to the Green Belt.

He agrees that the degree of landscape harm caused by the proposal would be limited

He shares the Inspector’s view that the proposal could lead to an improvement in the existing situation, and that issues around flooding do not weigh against the proposal.

He considers that concerns about the potential impact of construction traffic can be addressed by means of conditions, or by the Highway Authority

He further agrees with the Inspector that the proposal would bring forward market and affordable housing in an area where there has been a longstanding failure to provide sufficient new housing, and that in view of the prevailing housing supply situation in Castle Point, that carries very substantial weight in favour of the scheme

He further agrees that the creation or securing of jobs, the generation of economic activity in the construction process and the stimulation of the local economy carry a considerable degree of weight in favour

He has also taken into account the Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Government’s policy that ‘subject to the best interests of the child*, personal circumstances and unmet need are unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances’. He considers that this policy carries more force than the Inspector attributes to it.

The proposal is therefore in conflict with national policy on the Green Belt,.

*Green Belt and Flood Risk are both mentioned equally in regards to the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development at Footnote 9 of the NPPF, exceptions include;

policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

For example… land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space… and locations at risk of flooding…

*The weight given to “the best interests of the child” in regard to outweighing Harm to the Green Belt would quite reasonably be interpreted to include Flood Risk.
This would bear relationship to Travellers sites where guidance is given in the proposed siting; “do not locate sites in areas at high risk of flooding, including functional floodplains, given the particular vulnerability of caravans”
The type of Travellers Homes are likely to include caravans and mobile homes style accommodation.
Interesting then that Castle Point Council take no involvement, nor intervention in the Thorney Bay, shortly to become Sandy Bay development, given that the numbers of dwellings would make it THE largest Housing Supply site in the Castle Point Local Plan.

That CPBC are busying themselves with Cooperation Duties with our Neighbouring Councils, it may appear that Intervention measures by the Secretary of State of CPBC Local Plan processes may be considered surprising, should they eventually materialise.

But then you Never Know, do you?

Eyes of Developers, councillors and Planners have a Duty to focus on Castle Point!

Castle Point council are probably aware of the Inspector’s decision as to whether the Duty to Cooperate on strategic matters has been complied with. The decision should be made public next week.

The Duty to Cooperate “places a legal duty on local planning authorities, county councils in England and public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of Local and Marine Plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters.

The duty to cooperate is not a duty to agree. But local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination.

Local planning authorities must demonstrate how they have complied with the duty at the independent examination of their Local Plans. If a local planning authority cannot demonstrate that it has complied with the duty then the Local Plan will not be able to proceed further in examination.

Local planning authorities will need to satisfy themselves about whether they have complied with the duty. As part of their consideration, local planning authorities will need to bear in mind that the cooperation should produce effective and deliverable policies on strategic cross boundary matters.”

Castle Point representatives pointed out that through the Thames Gateway and South Essex Partnerships cooperation was underway between neighbouring authorities. Whether the areas of cooperation, and the levels of strategic success were satisfactory  in important areas, will be decided by the Inspector, Mr David Smith.

Development Committee

 

Castle Point is the smallest of the neighbouring Boroughs and therefore may not be expected to take lead responsibility in setting strategic cooperation agendas. By implication, should their duty to Cooperate be considered to have Failed, it could also be considered an indictment of the efforts of Essex County Council, the Unitary Authority that is Thurrock Council and Rochford, Basildon and Southend Councils.

Rose Grogan a barrister with 39 Essex Chambers and a specialist in planning and environmental law wrote, in March 2016;

“One particular issue is the question of how to get local planning authorities to engage with one another on the issue of housing.

The government’s answer to this in 2011 was the creation of a ‘duty to cooperate’ in the Localism Act. At the time, it was hailed as a better alternative to regional planning, removing an unnecessary layer of policy while still setting the framework for strategic planning across local authority boundaries.

On its face, the duty appears to provide a much-needed framework for addressing strategic planning problems. Local authorities are required to cooperate with one another on cross-boundary issues, and face having their plans found to be unsound by inspectors, leading to considerable delays in bringing forward a plan if the duty is not complied with.

There are cases where inspectors have found that a local authority has not discharged the duty: Central Bedfordshire, Aylesbury Vale, and Hart District Council are three examples. These local authorities barely engaged with their neighbouring authorities, and so it was a clear case of failing to discharge the duty.”

In practice, however, the duty to cooperate has been the subject of criticism, in particular because it is a duty of form, not substance. In some ways, the criticism is justified. For a start, it does not require agreement. All that is required is evidence that attempts have been made to cooperate.

A further criticism is that the duty is all stick and no carrot, there is little positive incentive for neighbouring authorities to cooperate, and the enforcement of the duty currently depends on inspectors taking a robust approach. What is not clear from cases where local authorities have fallen foul of the duty is whether the threat of unsoundness had any impact on their decision to go about cooperating (or not) in the way that they did.

Surprisingly, there have been very few challenges to inspectors’ conclusions that the duty has been complied with. The courts have therefore not had the opportunity to bolster the duty, nor do they appear interested in doing so. Very early on, the courts confirmed that the test on review is whether an inspector’s decision was rational, and the court will not embark on a more searching analysis of whether the duty has in fact been discharged.

Without a requirement that local authorities reach agreement, the duty will continue to fall short of achieving the ultimate aim of getting local planning authorities to meet housing need.”

“Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.” George Patton Jr

Neighbourhood Plan over-rides Planning Inspector Inquiry decision, despite lack of 5 year Housing Supply

It appears the issue of Neighbourhood Plans has spiked some interest in Canvey Island residents. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign motion was unanimously rejected by our Town Council, however a Blog reader has sent in this piece of information;

“Neighbourhood plans help block three different housing development appeals

Published: Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Communities Secretary highlights Neighbourhood Plans as a key factor in each of his decisions to dismiss schemes in East and West Sussex and near Bath…

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has disagreed with his inspector and dismissed a recovered appeal for 100 dwellings, 30 per cent of which would be affordable, at Yapton in West Sussex.

This was despite the council being unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing and agreeing that the policies in the Yapton Neighbourhood Plan (NP) restricting development outside of settlement boundaries were out of date.

However, the SoS placed substantial weight on the conflict with the “social element of sustainability” in the made NP.

Meanwhile the SoS has also dismissed two other appeals involving sites in areas covered by neighbourhood plans. In both cases the refusals were in line with the recommendations of the inspectors who held the recovered inquiries.

The first involved an outline proposal for a 32-dwelling scheme on land at Bishop Sutton that was refused by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Javid wasn’t satisfied that the council could convincingly demonstrate a five-year housing land supply across the district as a whole and acknowledged that policies on housing supply were out of date.

He agreed there were significant housing benefits to the scheme and that the village has sufficient capacity in terms of facilities and services to accommodate the new housing. However, he concluded that the scheme fell down on the objective of providing a reasonable match between jobs and dwellings to help reduce travel distances to work. This called into question the scheme’s overall sustainability.

The third development involved outline plans for a development of 70 dwellings (including affordable housing), a sports and community building, tennis courts, synthetic turf playing pitch amenity and open space at Ringmer in East Sussex refused by Lewes District Council.

The SoS noted the benefits of the scheme but considered there would be harm to the environmental role in relation to heritage assets and landscape as well as harm to the social role in terms of the conflict with the neighbourhood plan.

IF ONLY….”

So whilst we are told that Neighbourhood Plans cannot veer away from a Local Plan, the Communities secretary is not working outside of reasoned arguments.

This Campaign group continue to feel that we are aware of enough issues within the CPBC Local Plan 2016 for a Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan, to work alongside and to have a positive impression on the Borough Plan.

This would take an unlikely U-Turn by the current Town Council.

A very Clear Message on the Green Belt from the Minister of State!

Our MP Rebecca Harris, has kindly forwarded this correspondence dated 7.06.16, sent to Members of Parliament for English constituencies by Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning. It is of most relevance for those, like us with Green Belt concerns.

Members of Parliament for English Constituencies                                                                     House of Commons London SW1A 0AA

Dear Colleague,
Development on brownfield and Green Belt land
This Department has received a large number of identical letters, forwarded by Members of Parliament, which concern the National Planning Policy Framework, housing provision, and the need to re-use brownfield land and protect Green Belt.  These concerns arise from our recent consultation on proposed changes to the Framework, and from recent misreporting of potential development on Green Belt land.  I am writing to clarify the Government’s position.   The claims made in the reports are misleading and speculative as they include figures based on unadopted Local Plans and unapproved planning applications.  The Government has put in place the strongest protections for the Green Belt. The Framework makes it clear that inappropriate development may be allowed only where very special circumstances exist, and that Green Belt boundaries should be adjusted only in exceptional circumstances, through the Local Plan process and with the support of local people. We have been repeatedly clear that demand for housing alone will not change Green Belt boundaries. However, we recognise that it is local authorities, working with their communities and with detailed local knowledge, which are best placed to decide the most sustainable, suitable and viable sites for new homes.  The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has increased local people’s power to plan their areas with new measures to speed up and simplify neighbourhood planning.  This Government is committed to re-using brownfield sites for housing, and we have undertaken to ensure that 90 per cent of brownfield land suitable for housing will have planning permissions for new homes in place by the end of this Parliament. To support this policy, we have introduced local brownfield registers; accelerated disposal of public sector brownfield for housing – with a commitment to release land for at least 160,000 homes by 2020; extended permitted development to give new life to thousands of buildings; and set up a Home Building Fund to provide £2 billion of loans for infrastructure and land remediation to support large housing sites. We expect 50% of this Fund to be spent on brownfield land. In addition, £1.2 billion of our £2.3 billion starter homes funding will support brownfield site preparation; delivering at least 30,000 starter homes.  Green Belt remains constant at around 13% of England, and in 2014-15 there was only a 0.1% reduction in size as a result of Local Plan reviews. Furthermore, only 0.02% of Green Belt was converted to residential use, after consulting local people.  Taking account of land reclassified as national park, the Green Belt is actually 120 square miles larger than in 1997.

No Room at the Inn? Wait, Castle Point councillors are looking for Housing Opportunities!

While Shepherds are watching their Flocks and Father Christmas is putting final preparations to his Friday morning delivery route, spare a thought for our hard pressed local councillors as they ponder over their festive period set homework, the CPBC Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

images

The last council meeting to consider the position of the CPBC Local Plan informed councillors of the draft New Local Plan Task and Finish group’s findings.

It was clear that the T + F group failed to find a majority of members willing to recommend releasing ANY of the Local Plan’s Green Belt sites, however during the council meeting this was presented, by the T + F chairman as a failure to decide which sites were to be brought forward. Two entirely different reflections, or misrepresentation, of what the T+F group actually found!

Following the amendments put forward, a decision was made to meet again in January, once councillors were allowed to “study” the SHLAA.

Developers must have been watching this decision being made as they felt it warranted alerting the Inspector considering the Jotmans Appeal Inquiry of the potential delaying of the Local Plan process!

At the council meeting the council chief executive warned councillors that the process they were considering may have financial and reputational consequences for Castle Point.

The deputy leader tactically seeking a delay, set an amendment based on councillors showing concern they were not in knowledge of the full facts as contained in the SHLAA.

Here residents should ask, why the hell not. These councillors have been passing around the Local Plan like a hot potato for years now and the SHLAA is not a new piece of evidence. Surely it is not too much to expect them to be remotely aware of its contents well before now. The SHLAA is an evolving document that at any time may alter, only latest updates should be requiring the councillors revision.

This “clear knowledge of all the facts” will be of little comfort to them. The SHLAA discloses a 5 Year Housing Supply of 588 dwellings.

This total includes the 188 that were disputed by the Jotmans developer representative, and the odd 1 or 2’s that were disputed during the Appeal Inquiry.

That the second amendment by Cllr Dick went further than to give recommendation to councillors of the SHLAA, but to also exclude “virginal” Green Belt sites led to confusion.

This amendment could have been discussed on the very evening that it was proposed and seconded. Councillors could have accepted the SHLAA as it is recorded, they could then have debated whether by adopting the Conservative Government’s Planning Guidance, that allows local authorities to protect Green Belt if they so wish, would result in a “sound” Local Plan.

This would mean, presumably, that the initial 5 Year Supply would be lower than current estimates and that the potential for what sounds like a future garden village would be acceptable as the major development mainland residents are supportive of, to supply the larger medium Plan term housing numbers.

The fact that Cllr Dicks original Motion regarding removing “virgin” Green Belt from the Local Plan not being debated since him putting it forward in January 2015, may well have been influenced by the findings influencing the Jotmans Appeal Inquiry. A decision on Jotmans could well have been swayed by support of the Motion and the acknowledgment that Castle Point does not intend to release Green Belt in the short term.

The postponement of the Council debate on the Local Plan so that councillors could be enlightened to the full facts of the SHLAA may lead to an embarrassing debate. The intricacies have already been examined during the Jotmans Inquiry. There is little more to be said.

The major debate is around Green Belt release. The Task and Finish group meetings finished without agreeing to support the daft New Local Plan’s proposals to release Green Belt.

The debate is whether councillors intend to carry this forward with whatever consequences to publish a new, New Local Plan to be sent for Examination.

The feeling is that that is what the residents support. Unfortunately the housing growth distribution may in the short – medium term appear similar to that of the Core Strategy which was condemned during 2011.

Are we prepared to undertake a similar journey?

I would say for the sake of mainland residents, unaffected by proposals of large scale development during the Core Strategy process, nothing ventured nothing gained. Let us examine an Inspector’s view of a Local Plan supported by Castle Point residents.

Extracts from the SHLAA;

“There is a clear need, as set out above, to address the need for more sustainable patterns of development in Castle Point in order to support the economic (retail and employment growth, transport infrastructure capacity), social (housing need, housing affordability, service provision) and environmental (quality of built environment, drainage infrastructure capacity) needs of the borough. As such, the exceptional circumstances exist which require a review of the Green Belt boundaries. The implications of failing to undertake such a review do not just impact on housing need; they impact on the sustainability of the community as a whole and the quality of Castle Point as a place to live.

The provision available if the current policies in the 1998 Adopted Local Plan continue to be applied would be just 102 homes per annum. This does not represent a significant boost to housing supply as required by paragraph 47.

Paragraph 47 states that local planning authorities should plan to meet their full, objectively assessed need for market and affordable housing, as far as is consistent with the other policies in the Framework.

6.3 It is expected that the NPPF is read as a whole. The NPPF expects local plans to deliver sustainable development. Paragraph 7 sets out the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.” SHLAA update

Recognising the physical constraints on development which exist within Castle Point, the draft New Local Plan planned for at least 200 homes per annum.

Potential Housing Capacity, 0-15 Year Period  5101 dwellings.”

Including Green Belt  this is the equivalent of  314 dwellings per annum

noroom

All there is left is to thank readers for their continued support of this blog and to wish you all a very Happy Holiday period!

Pic credit: joyfulpapist

 

 

New thinking required to save Green Belt from development, or put Fred the Shred in charge of Local Plan evidence base?

“There are three kind of lies, Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

A phrase made popular by Mark Twain who suggested it was first used by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th Century.

Often used to support the use of statistics and arguments, and of course to dispute an opponents viewpoint.

According to the Office for National Statistics 80% of the UK population live in towns and cities.

Apparently only 10.6% of England is accounted for by urban landscape, meaning that 89.4% of England is not urban but rural!

In Castle Point the intention, according to the draft Local Plan consultation literature, is to retain 2,540 hectares of Green Belt. The remaining Green Belt will then equate to a little over 56% of the land area.

Castle Point Borough Council claim this is a reasonable release of Green Belt land.

Best place for the CPBC Local Plan Evidence Base

Best place for the CPBC Local Plan Evidence Base?

However, at the end of the Plan period, should we ever successfully see one adopted, we will again be presented with the very same argument!

Elsewhere,  Birmingham’s Director of Planning and Regeneration is reported as saying: “I would like to be building 80 to 100 homes per hectare but the reality is the market cannot sustain more than 30 or 40.”

Clearly this will be at the loss of affordable homes.

“Depending on what methodology you use, 80,000 is the minimum number of homes which need to be built in Birmingham but this could grow up to 120,000.”

The Castle Point Local Plan evidence base includes a four phase Demographic Assessment for Essex. This document indicates the future projected population and housing growth for the Essex towns.

If there is the potential for a 50% variation in the possible population / housing need growth figures at Birmingham the same potential exists locally.

Either way there is the probability that residents will be unsettled by the levels of housing planned for Castle Point.

Much of our Local Plan evidence base has been interpreted by local authority officers.

Some of the evidence base prepared by outside agents, has been ignored, where it suited Castle Point Council!

The Scott Wilson with the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment gives a clear picture of the issues facing Canvey Island. Yet the constraints on development are actively manipulated to suit local purposes.

The Nathaniel Lichfield Employment and Retails Needs Assessment states that 72% of the Borough’s employment land is on Canvey Island, with more planned.

The document goes on to conclude: “Overall, it is not obvious that a new road access to Canvey Island could enable the area to benefit to a much greater extent from the major economic development taking place at London Gateway. The cost of such infrastructure would also need to be weighed against the scale of economic benefits likely to accrue to Canvey Island, and the extent of these does not appear likely to be major.”

And yet the £18,500,000, as reported by the Echo, costing for the Roscommon Way completion is seen as a priority.

The Castle Point Local Authority have composed the Sequential and Exception Tests for Housing Site Options. They have basically used this to suggest why and how they can propose to direct development towards Canvey Island, against the Tests purposes, which is to direct development away from Flood Risk areas!

The new regime in place at Castle Point, will obviously have quite some artistic licence when drafting the “final” version of the Local Plan.

Let us hope there is a Mark Twain amongst them!