Tag Archives: Castle Point

Why always Canvey? Because local factors are given too much weight! Independence Now? UPDATE

Castle Point Conservatives, in the face of world media coverage of the call  for Canvey Island’s Independence from Castle Point Borough Council’s control, have released a social media response on the issue. In the interests of balance we have included the release amongst the Comments below

Two weeks on from the Canvey Community Meeting during which the matter of either Equal Representation, or Independence and a complete breakaway from Castle Point Council were raised, we await details of further progress.

The issue made the National Press and has received some barbed and ridiculing remarks from local councillors and from social media commentators.

Whether there is the legal possibility of Canvey Island becoming its own local authority, we would not claim to know, however in these days of so called “Localism”, the option or possibility is well worth exploring!

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What we do know is that since the formation of castle point borough council in 1974, Canvey Island has provided the vast majority of the borough’s Housing Growth.

The census period since the formation of castle point indicates between 1971 and 2011 Canvey Island saw an increase in population of over 42%.  The Mainland saw just a 2.4% increase during the same period!

And yet, castle point borough council continue to claim “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement”

With a mainland population growth of just 2.4% since 1971, Canvey residents are entitled to ask:  “why are there two totally different Housing Development Policy approaches to the two parts of the Borough?”

There is a clear and obvious explanation as to why, Historically, the vast percentage of Housing Growth in Castle Point is distributed towards Canvey Island, this was most subtly and politely identified by an Inspector as; “because local factors are given too much weight!”

Soon there is to be a change in the funding stream of local authorities. This will leave them far more reliant on income from Business Rates.

The potential loss of income from Canvey Island businesses would leave the mainland part of Castle Point looking seriously at its funding stream,

“Castle Point’s employment space is predominantly industrial, with a relatively small level (7%) of office provision.

The main supply of industrial sites is in Canvey Island, away from strategic roads and the areas of stronger demand.”

Retail space appears more equally distributed across the Borough, although the exploitation of Canvey West appears to be the only desired expansion of new Retail development sites, whilst the area around south of Rayleigh Weir now appears constrained within Castle Point

“The Main Employment Areas in Castle Point emphasise yet again the uneven distribution;

1 the Charfleets industrial estate on Canvey Island (30 ha);

2 the Manor Trading estate in Thundersley (8.1 ha);

3 the mixed use Stadium Way employment area in Benfleet (5.5 ha);

4 the large OIKOS Refinery and Calor Gas sites on Canvey Island;

5 the town centres of Benfleet, Hadleigh, Canvey Town and Tarpots, which contain mainly retail and leisure uses and some small offices.”

Quite clearly it can be seen where castle point borough council’s funding stream will be coming from, and going to!

The area controlling the largest influence in the Borough accord with neither the area supplying the Population Growth, nor the Business Growth for the borough! 

The question is who needs whom most?

And yet the ridiculing of the suggestion of Canvey Island becoming Independent has most loudly come from lead cpbc councillors themselves!

During these times of promised, so called Localism, we eagerly await to see whether some substance behind the possibility of Independence will emerge, sooner rather than later!

And more importantly whether the Residents of Canvey Island will be given the opportunity to voice their Opinion!

Editor’s addendum

Despite the barbed criticism of the actual idea that Canvey Island might investigate its Independence, including “Ridiculous”, “Political Nonsense” and of there being “No Hope of Independence”, we should point out that there are Boroughs with a smaller population than Canvey’s.

Namely, Rutland, West Somerset, City of London and the Isles of Scilly.

 

 

 

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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

 

A Little Government Help with assessing Castle Point’s Annual Housing Needs – as if we needed any!

The Castle Point Council long winded Local Plan process, (yes we know it is important to get it right and that No Plan is better than a Bad Plan, oh sorry that is a different current process), has indicated with the usual accuracy that the current Housing Need is roughly between 326 -410 New Dwellings per Year!

The latest Government Assessment indicates, ahead of a consultation on the methodology used, that Castle Point requires 342 New Dwellings per Annum.

The estimate of Green Belt land in the Borough is 55%.

This consultation sets out a number of proposals to reform the planning system to increase the supply of new homes and increase local authority capacity to manage growth.

Proposals include:

  • a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing need
  • how neighbourhood planning groups can have greater certainty on the level of housing need to plan for
  • a statement of common ground to improve how local authorities work together to meet housing and other needs across boundaries
  • making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and more transparent
  • increased planning application fees in those areas where local planning authorities are delivering the homes their communities need

The ‘Housing need consultation data table’ sets out the housing need for each local planning authority using our proposed method, how many homes every place in the country is currently planning for, and, where available, how many homes they believe they need.

Alongside this consultation, the ‘Comprehensive registration programme: priority areas for land registration’ document lists those areas where Her Majesty’s Land Registry intends to prioritise the registration of ownership of all publicly held land.

A link to the Consultation can be found HERE.

Apologies for the lack of any photograph, we hope it doesn’t detract from the content.

 

Hypocrisy, the Use of Substitutes, a Deciding Vote and a Divided Borough? Sequentially Unsound!

It appeared that what can only be described as a level of Hypocrisy was displayed by certain Castle Point Development Committee members towards a view suggested by the opposition group at the 5th September’s meeting!

The suggestion appeared that Canvey was, put simplistically, being targeted for development so as to protect the mainland areas. It was expressed that Canvey should not be portrayed as an individual area, rather than an equal part of the whole Borough of Castle Point.

However the whole basis of the Flood Risk Sequential Test, as interpreted by Castle Point Council, is to treat Canvey Island in isolation!

“it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

” Canvey needs continued development if it is to continue to thrive economically. A lack of housebuilding on the island could mean that the island stagnates in economic terms which is likely to affect opportunities for employment. “

Indeed the Thorney Bay proposal for 600+ dwellings  was subject to a CPBC Planning Policy statement stating that “the site was identified as having the potential to contribute towards the 5 Year Housing Supply (of the Borough)”!

Regardless of the application being considered, whether for a single unit or a proposal for over 600 dwellings on Canvey Island, it is fairly clear that using this interpretation of the Sequential Test to support development proposals, there is no likelihood of any planning proposal Failing the Test!

It is a convenient and flimsy argument to accuse Islanders of focussing on cpbc’s apparent approach to Canvey development, whilst the Sequential Test is used to do precisely that!

It should be of concern, that since Canvey land was designated for the use of Housing in the 1998 Local Plan, and that since the Sequential Test approach towards its application on Canvey development proposals was adopted by CPBC in 2007, these events have occurred and these Reports have been published;

  • The Pitt Review-Learning Lessons from the 2007 floods. (Published 2008) !!!
  • The CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment published in 2010. (In itself due an Update.)
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2013.
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2014.
  • Government Office for Science – Canvey Island Section 19 Report
  • The requested Drainage Improvement / Upgrade funding has not materialised.
  • We learned that the land on Canvey Island has a High Water Table, subject to influence by the Tidal Water encroaching Under the Sea Defences. (Land East of Canvey Road document).
  • The Integrated Urban Drainage Study was published, which challenged the credibility of the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan published 2012.

Quite clearly the Castle Point Council approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island in isolation, is Obsolete and Unjustified!

Attenuation Tanks were discussed as a means of a suitable drainage system. Had the committee not considered that Canvey has a High Water Table, now known to be subject to Tidal influence? In this case the Tank would be sunk into the application site property, how efficient would this system of drainage be?

Photo Police helicopter 2014

The focus of the drainage system needs to be to prevent off-site flooding of neighbouring property and land. Without going through the exercise of producing a Practical Model on Canvey island and monitoring over an extended period councillors should not be in a position to simply go by unsubstantiated opinion in their decision making!

Whilst the protection of Green Belt, which is admirable, is at the forefront of councillors minds, it must be borne in mind that Paragraph 14 of the national Planning Policy Framework contains Footnote 9, which indicates;

specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

Whilst this specifically relates to Plan making, it is clear that, if the concern is present amongst decision makers development in a Flood Zone and in a Critical Drainage Area, in which Canvey Island falls into both categories, caution should be the operative position to adopt.

Residents suffering the Canvey Island Flooding of 2013 and 2014 may well feel appalled at the rigid Rejection of development applications on Green Belt, whilst a less than cautious approach appears to be adopted where Flood Risk is concerned, by certain cpbc development committee members.

The cpbc officer appeared unaware that the whole of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area.

The questionable use of Substitute councillors to replace two absentees at the meeting, bearing in mind the technical issues highlighted in this planning proposal, proved to be decisive, as 1 voted to Approve and 1 voted to Abstain.

With the votes recorded as 5 to Approve and 5 Against, with 2 Abstentions, the Chairman chose to use his Casting Vote, and consequently rather than holding further deliberations on the subjects contained within this post and others not mentioned, the Application was Approved!

Defending Castle Point Green Belt, Nimbyism, or worthwhile protection of our Environment?

Encouragingly Castle Point council have again refused permission to develop another Green Belt site.

This time at Catherine Road, Benfleet, where a wooded site had been cleared prior to a proposal for 6 detached houses.

Castle Point, as many will be aware, are without a recognised required 5 Year Housing Supply. At the development committee meeting it was reiterated that the “emerging” local Plan, will include a 5 Year Housing Supply, albeit supported by previously developed Green Belt being released for development. The question of deliverability will be the issue scrutinised by developers and an Inspector.

However, apparently less encouragingly this very week the Telegraph newspaper published a controversial article adding even more pressure from the government on local authorities to supply even more homes than previously expected, in areas such as Castle Point.

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The Telegraph article reads;

“Families living in some of the most sought-after parts of the country will be forced to accept more homes being built near them to tackle the housing crisis, the Communities Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said that he wants communities which have benefited from soaring property prices to play their part in solving the housing crisis.

New rules to force councils to increase their housing targets will be published in the next three weeks.

Mr Javid’s comments could be seen as a new assault on homeowners with a Nimby” – “Not In My Back Yard” – attitude towards new development. It could also prove controversial with grassroots Tory voters, many of whom live in affluent areas.

But last week, Damian Green, the First Secretary of State, said the Conservative Party had to focus on building affordable homes and creating jobs for “young metropolitan” voters if it wants to expand its support base and win the next general election.

Mr Green suggested that the Conservatives’ defeat (sic) at the general election last month was in part because they had allowed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to seduce younger voters who have struggled to get onto the housing ladder.

Separately, ministers will say on Wednesday that towns and villages across England could get a share of £1billion a year to build bypasses and protect beauty spots from the “misery of lorries and thundering traffic”.

Mr Javid used a speech to council leaders to set out the Government’s plans to deal with the housing crisis and have “a much more frank, open discussion with local residents and communities” about housing.

 

This means wealthy communities living in areas “where housing is particularly unaffordable” have to accept that more homes needed to be built nearby.

He told council leaders at the Local Government Association’s annual conference: “Nothing is more corrosive to trust than the idea that some areas are being treated better than others.

“Where housing is particularly unaffordable, local leaders need to take a long, hard, honest look to see if they are planning for the right number of homes.

 One source at the department said part of the problem was that “you see more active groups locally contesting against decisions” in wealthy areas.

It comes six years after the Government clashed with rural campaigners over plans to make it easier to build on green belt land by relaxing planning laws in favour of developers.

Mr Javid directly criticised Theresa May, the Prime Minister, along with her predecessors in Downing Street, for not doing more to provide enough homes for young families.

He said: “Since the 1970s – under Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and now May – we’ve supplied an average of 160,000 new homes each year. That’s far below what’s needed.”

A new Government consultation paper published this month will provide a “new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements”, Mr Javid said.

 

Councils are expected to be asked to commission an assessment of how much and what kind of housing is needed in their area. Councils will then use it to inform the housing target in the local plan which sets out where new homes can be built. The target will be reassessed every five years.

 

The new way of calculating housing need is expected to result in increases of up to 25 per cent in housing forecasts in the Home Counties, campaigners fear.

Mr Javid said: “Our aim is simple: to ensure these plans begin life as they should, with an honest, objective assessment of how much housing is required.

“That means a much more frank, open discussion with local residents and communities.”

The new initiative for more homes would involve “courage to both conceive and execute”, he said: “There will be tough decisions, difficult conversations. But that is what political leadership is about.”

Mr Javid said ministers would ensure that the extra schools, roads and doctors’ surgeries for the new homes would be built.

A spokesman for Mr Javid’s department said: “We want to make sure that local plans are based on an honest assessment of the need for new homes in local authority areas, and are formed in a transparent way that gives communities a strong voice to shape their area.”

Article by Christopher Hope,

Photograph, illustrative purposes only.

Now Claim Canvey Island as being a “Special Case!” Before CPBC Local Plan Revision!

Canvey Island – and – “The Special Case!”

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

Now, finally, a Court Ruling, relevant to Canvey Island that ALL RESIDENTS should now be seeking answers from those Castle Point Council members, who have long been purporting that, WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS CONCERNED – Canvey should be treated as a “Special Case!”

Shrugs, fob offs and “yes I know” are now no longer sufficient!

Answers are Due Now!

Since the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the pair of leading cpbc officers, by leading their lesser minnows around by their noses, have recommended Approval of many inappropriate housing proposals for Canvey Island, some on Green Belt and ALL in a Flood Zone!

This under the officers insistance that the NPPF “must be read as a whole”.

Reading the NPPF as a “whole” is fine, PROVIDING it is being read correctly in the first Place!

Below is the relevant court ruling that should arm each and every Canvey Island councillor, and those members with the social conscience to stand as Borough councillors, in a position to influence Planning decisions and Local Plan making, with the tools necessary for a just society.

Yet again we, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, reproduce and draw your attention to Paragraph 14 and Footnote 9 in particular;

14. At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
For plan-making this means that:

● local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;

● Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless: – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.    9
For decision-taking this means:

10 ● approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay; and

● where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission unless:  – any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or – specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.    9

Footnote 9 Reads;

9          For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

The Court Ruling taken directly from the Local Government website Reads:

William Eichler 11 May 2017

Court delivers landmark ruling strengthening hand of local planners

Court delivers landmark ruling strengthening hand of local planners

A council in Cheshire has secured a ‘landmark ruling’ from the Supreme Court that will better protect green areas from speculative housing developments.

Cheshire East Council, along with Suffolk Coastal Council, argued guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was being applied incorrectly.

The case arose from an application by Richborough Estates to build 170 homes on green gap land between Nantwich and Crewe at Willaston, which Cheshire East rejected.

However, the case went to court because the developers argued – drawing on the wording of the NPPF – that in some circumstances relevant policies for the supply of housing should be treated as ‘out of date.’

This they claimed included green gap land protection.

The judges upheld the developers appeal, but ruled that their specific argument was not legitimate.

The court judgement stated: ‘No one would naturally describe a recently approved green belt policy in a local plan as “out of date”, merely because the housing policies in another part of the plan fail to meet the NPPF objectives.’

Cheshire East Council said the judgement strengthened the hand of all local authorities seeking to protect green gap, green belt and other special sites.

‘This is a landmark ruling, achieved by Cheshire East, which will benefit planning authorities and town planners up and down the country,’ said council leader Rachel Bailey.

‘I am proud that this council had the courage to pursue this action.

‘This means that we can now better protect our local communities from speculative, unsustainable development by ensuring a proper approach to the application of planning policies.’

May time approaches and Canvey Island must Know its Place where Elections are concerned!

Once again May time approaches and this year it is the turn of the County Council elections to take place.

Seemingly, as far as Road infrastructure investment is concerned, the south of Essex County fares less well than areas around and to the north of Chelmsford.

Whether this being main highways or the funding of the currently contentious street lighting of Unadopted roads, Castle Point routes appear to suffer from neglect.

It is also high time that representation from Castle Point is reassessed. Whilst population growth is relatively low, it is strikingly more so, on the mainland part of the Borough.

shutterstock_boot_crushing_man

Castle Point has seen little increase in population, a 1.6% increase since 2001 – 2011, from 86,608 to 88,011.

However the distribution of this increase is interesting, Canvey Island was 2.6% up whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

Canvey Island population is 38,459, whilst the mainland population is 49,552.

As far as Representation goes at Essex County Council, Canvey Island continues to be represented by just 2 members whilst the mainland enjoys 3 members.

Proportionately this is now becoming unbalanced: 88,011 residents being represented by just 5 members.

This means that each mainland County Councillor will represent just 16,517 residents.

 In comparison each Canvey Island County Councillor will represent 19,230 residents!

There is little likelihood, taking into account the distribution of councillors at Castle Point council, that the balance of population growth in the two parts of the Borough will alter in the future.

Canvey being Urbanised at Denser levels of Housing Growth, so it is fair to ask, at what point will Canvey Island receive equal representation?

It would not be unfair at this stage to suggest that there could well be justification in the proposed Boundary changes suggested OR that the 5th Castle Point County Councillor should be appointed in some other fashion rather than simply on an area / ward basis.

That is until Canvey Island population becomes equal to that of the mainland, which going by current growth should not be too long now!

Picture copyright; shutterstock