Tag Archives: Castle Point

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.

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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

Never mind the Cost to Castle Point Residents ‘ave another Go! Plan before Cooperation spells Withdrawal!

The much Heralded Castle Point Local Plan2016, the answer to all of our problems, will officially be put to the Sword this evening.

There may be a shortage of Pink Sack Recycling Sacks in the coming weeks as cpbc staff dispose of the mountain of Evidence and Plan paperwork that has accumulated in the Core Strategy / Local Plan process!

The council Agenda Paperwork explains that there is NO gain to be made by continuing with the current Local Plan;

Independent legal advice has been obtained, and it concludes there is unlikely to be any legal basis for a challenge to the Planning Inspector’s findings.

The Planning Practice Guidance explains that “Where the Inspector concludes that the duty to cooperate or other basic procedural requirements have not been met, or there are fundamental issues regarding the soundness of the plan that cannot be addressed through modifications, it will be recommended that the submitted plan is not adopted. In these circumstances the local planning authority will be unable to adopt the Local Plan and it should be withdrawn…”

The Guidance goes on to explain that “Speedy withdrawal of a plan in such circumstances provides certainty to the local community, applicants and other interests about the status of the planning framework in the area. Until a revised plan is brought forward to adoption, any existing Local Plan policies will remain in place.”

…. the New Local Plan 2016 can carry no weight in making decisions on planning matters, because of the flaws identified by the Planning Inspector in its preparation.

It  (agenda paper) goes on to suggest that recent Planning Applications, either for approvals or dismissals, may have been unsound. Those that were approved against residents wishes are unchallengeable, whilst those dismissed against developers wishes may well be liable to Appeal!

Strikingly one such case was the approval of Flats in Foksville Road. Objections were made regarding the visual impact having no regard to the Canvey Town Centre Masterplan. The Masterplan was published spelling out that a design “theme” should be incorporated so as to add cohesion to the whole town centre, rather than allowing piecemeal approvals leaving us with a lack of coordinated design of shops and Flats.

In fact cpbc planning officers instructed development committee members during their consideration of the Foksville Road proposal;

 “whilst the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is an adopted policy document it is at an embryonic stage and something of an aspirational document with limited commercial commitment. The proposals within the plan will not be delivered in the short or medium term and are unlikely to come to fruition in their current form. As such it is not considered that this document can carry significant weight in the determination of the current application. A reason for refusal based on conflict with the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is unlikely to be supported on appeal.”

Consequently members of the “full” council will tonight be informed via agenda paperwork by contradictory evidence!:

“non-statutory supplementary planning guidance documents which have been prepared since that time which the Council has adopted for planning purposes, and which will remain in place:

Canvey Town Centre Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document July 2012″

If only for the Canvey Town centre regeneration’s sake, let us hope that at some of the councillors will take note!

In a Cart before the Horse statement in tonight’s officers advice paperwork they conclude that;

it is clear from the Planning Inspector’s findings that it is now necessary to put in place formal mechanisms to consider strategic matters.

7.5 To assist with this, a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been approved by all 5 South Essex local planning authorities and the County Council

Furthermore work has now commenced on a non-statutory joint strategic planning framework for South Essex

During the public examination of evidence behind the Duty to Cooperate failure, it was pointed out that the South Essex councils had considered and rejected a joint Plan for the area, at a very early stage in the Plan process! To have not then explored and carried out a cooperative future approach to the group of councils plan making process is illogical.

Some serious discussion is relevant to indicate where the fault lies for, what has fundamentally led to the failure of the cpbc Local plan2016!

Is this an officer or councillor led Plan? Whoever, has now involved Castle Point residents in even more unnecessary costs!

Future planning policy work would be described in any new Local Development Scheme with estimated costs.

Even more worrying, with the list of planning applications already lodged PLUS the Jotmans Farm proposal still in the hands of Secretary of State following the developer’s Appeal, is the position the council have left concerned residents in;

The withdrawal of the New Local Plan will means that the Council will now continue to use of the Adopted Local Plan 1998, supplementary planning documents and the NPPF for the control of development.

And just to finish off in true comedic optimistic fashion, the cpbc crystal ball forsees;

No definitive timeframe has yet been agreed for this work but it is likely to take in the order of two years.

No doubt at much great expense to residents!

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Thorney Question of Over-developing a Small Island in Castle Point!

Given that there is a possibility Canvey Island may suffer another Tidal Flood, given that we may again suffer from Surface Water Flooding as in 2013 and 2014, given that there may be another leak of LPG from Calor Gas, given that OIKOS have been granted permission by CPBC to increase activities in the importation, storage and blending of butane, and however small the risks, should not the Distribution of Housing Growth as imposed by Castle Point Borough Council (cpbc) be called into serious Question? *

Already there are over 38,500 residents on Canvey Island. If there were to be a major incident from just one of these four sources, an Evacuation of the Island, given the population level, the lack of access / egress routes and there being No Means of Warning, would be an impossibility. Is it time to cap the population level? We believe it is!

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Rather than accepting these “dangers” the powers that be at cpbc, appear to have their eyes and ears covered to blot out the concerns of the population on Canvey Island exposed to possible incidents in the desire to offset Housing and Business development away from the controlling mainland part of the Borough. Little wonder there is an active group hoping to convince the Boundary Commission to leave the Borough’s borders alone!

The denial of Climate Change, the absolute faith in our sea defence, the faith in the “hard work” undertaken to “maintain” the Island’s drainage system and the assurances from the two Top Tier COMAH sites, amount to little more than roll off the tongue Platitudes!

We stand accused of scare-mongering, then so be it!

We call it living in the Real World and “facing” realities. Fore-warned is Fore-armed.

Canvey’s highway infrastructure is restrictive, all routes converging at Waterside Roundabout, meaning evacuation is impossible and our limited Fire and Rescue cover means response times for assistance are likely to be prolonged.*

Green Belt is protected in planning terms by the Very Special Circumstances needed before the consideration of any development proposal.

Consider that, against a development proposal within a Flood Risk Zone and within the Consultation Distance of a Major Hazard site!

This is what requires not only for planning considerations, but also leading council members and officers to consider their consciences, with the proposal to develop 113 dwellings at Thorney Bay, Canvey Island.

This is only the first phase of a major development consisting of “approximately 600 dwellings” plus “Park Homes.”

The cpbc planning portal indicates that the developer may have overcome, to cpbc’s satisfaction, the requirements of the HSE, the Environment Agency and Essex County Council, the surface water drainage experts.

However these agencies lifting of Objections should not be seen as them giving their Approval!

In fact their concerns indicate that they Do Not Rule Out the Possibility of one or other Incidents occurring in the Future!

Within their comments they give very distinct warnings and concerns and indicate quite clearly the final decision and the Responsibility is Castle Point council’s ALONE!

Below are a few of the consultee agencies points of concern over the Thorney Bay proposal and further below are links to some previous incidents etc of some interest.

The Environment Agency state;

Our role is to provide you with our assessment of the risk for matters within our remit so that you can make an informed decision

“The FRA (flood risk assessment) proposes no detriment in off-site flood hazard for the design and extreme floods and manages this via a proposed embankment, subject to condition.”  Approval of the design of the proposed embankment is therefore necessary as a pre commencement condition, as the embankment is essential to safeguard against the offsite impacts. Without the construction of the embankment off site impacts would be seen

Provided you consider the development meets the requirements set out in the NPPF, including that it is safe for its lifetime and does not increase the risk of flood risk off site, we request that the following conditions are appended to any permission granted. Without these conditions our objection will be maintained.

Flood Risk Responsibilities for your Council    

We have not considered the following issues as part of this planning application as they are not within our direct remit; nevertheless these are all very important considerations for managing flood risk for this development, and determining the safety and acceptability of the proposal. Prior to deciding this application you should give due consideration to the issues below. It may be that you need to consult relevant experts outside your planning team.     

Safety of the building 

 Safety of People (including the provision and adequacy of an emergency plan, temporary refuge and  rescue or evacuation arrangements) 

Flood recovery measures (including flood proofing and other building level resistance and resilience measures) 

Whether insurance can be gained or not

Sustainability of the development – we advise you consider the sustainability of the development over its lifetime.

Your attention is brought to the proposed Roscommon Way Extension that is likely to pass immediately to the south of this proposed development site. Consideration is required of residual tidal flood risk at a master planning level to evaluate if further proposed phases of the Thorney Bay caravan park development could become less deliverable, unless suitable mitigation measures are identified and designed, with regards to breach characteristics – mainly depth, time to inundation and hazard ratings. Future proposed Flood Risk Vulnerability Classification will need to be considered alongside the residual tidal flood risks to ensure a sequential approach to future site layout is maintained.

 

ECC Lead Local Flood Authority position;

Having reviewed the Flood Risk Assessment and the associated documents which accompanied the planning application, do not object to the granting of planning permission.

Condition 1

 No works shall take place until a detailed surface water drainage scheme for the site, based on sustainable drainage principles and an assessment of the hydrological and hydro geological context of the development, has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The scheme should include but not be limited to:

  • Final modelling and calculations for all areas of the drainage system.
  • A final drainage plan which details exceedance and conveyance routes, FFL and ground levels, and location and sizing of any drainage features.

Reason:

  • To prevent flooding by ensuring the satisfactory storage of/disposal of surface water from the site.
  • To ensure the effective operation of SuDS features over the lifetime of the development.                 
  • To provide mitigation of any environmental harm which may be caused to the local water environment                                                                                                                                                            
  • Failure to provide the above required information before commencement of works may result in a system being installed that is not sufficient to deal with surface water occurring during rainfall events and may lead to increased flood risk and pollution hazard from the site.

Condition 2

 No works shall take place until a scheme to minimise the risk of offsite flooding caused by surface water run-off and groundwater during construction works and prevent pollution has been submitted to, and approved in writing by, the local planning authority.

Reason

 The National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 103 and paragraph 109 state that local planning authorities should ensure development does not increase flood risk elsewhere and does not contribute to water pollution.

 Construction may lead to excess water being discharged from the site. If dewatering takes place to allow for construction to take place below groundwater level, this will cause additional water to be discharged. Furthermore the removal of topsoils during construction may limit the ability of the site to intercept rainfall and may lead to increased runoff rates

Health and Safety Executive state;

More than 10%of the housing development lies within the middle zone, – through the HSE Planning Advice Web App advised Against the granting of Planning Permission.

However, having given more detailed consideration, HSE has concluded that it is appropriate for HSE to provide case-specific advice on this proposal outside of the codified planning methodology provided.

The layout indicates that a total of 30 dwellings at a housing density of 38 dwellings per hectare within the middle zone.

HSE’s advice is that significant housing should be prevented from being built in the inner zone and only a limited number of houses at a low density.

The overall objective is to maintain the separation of incompatible development from the Major Hazard.

HSE would advise Against any planning application which seeks to locate any additional dwellings within the middle zone of Calor Gas Ltd.

Instead of using the HSE Planning Advice Web App, Castle Point Borough Council should therefore consult HSE directly for advice on any future planning applications which propose further residential development at Thorney Bay Park within the middle zone of Calor Gas Ltd.

*Below are links to;

*Reduction in Essex Fire and Rescue Service cover view HERE

*Calor Gas Leak court decision view HERE

*OIKOS permission granted view HERE

Editor. It should be pointed out that any emphasis included in the text is the author’s.

 

Can’t Plan, Won’t Plan – Canvey Island getting into Deep Water over Climate Change?

Despite Canvey Island, being surrounded by water and with a “Complex Drainage System,” the subject of Climate Change is buried as deep as Page 165 in the Castle Point unadopted Draft Local Plan2016!

So far, the list reads; No Local Plan, No Neighbourhood Plan, No Town Centre Regeneration Plan, however, what we do have is a TE2100 Plan (Thames Estuary Plan)!

But a Plan is of Little Use if it has a limited chance of  being implemented!

The Environment Agency consider; “The TE2100 Plan is an aspirational document, rather than a definitive policy, so whether the defences are raised in the future will be dependent on a cost benefit analysis and the required funding becoming available.”

There is No Vehicle in place for the collection of Developer Contributions, put in place by Castle Point Council, towards futures Funding for Sea Defence improvements. In the meantime development continues across Castle Point, including that which increases the level of population at Risk of Flooding!

Given that it appears the Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than previously calculated, and many of those in local power appear to be Climate Change sceptics, there is Real cause for Concern.

The effects of Sea Level Rise on the Thames will be dramatic, the protection of London will be the priority. The Thames barrier increases Sea Levels in the Estuary and increases the need for space for water.

Quite probably the future sea defence improvements around Canvey Island will be considered between the value of considerable financial expenditure and a practical experiment into the effectiveness of new space for water schemes along the banks of the Thames Estuary.

This should cause considerable debate as to the sensibility of new large Housing Development being distributed towards Canvey Island, however the Local Plan2016’s indicates the local authority Castle Point’s approach to this Flood risk as “there remains a very small probability that they could be overtopped or breached.”

Those residents who suffered their Homes and Property being flooded by the severe floods of 2013 and 2014 will take little comfort with the draft Local Plan2016’s approach to Surface Water flooding;  “Fluvial flooding is also possible from the watercourses and dykes that form the drainage system on Canvey Island.”

Green House Gas Emissions add to Sea Level Rise, Castle Point contribute to the increase. Within the Local Plan2016 it states;

“The Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report sets out details of the borough’s ecological footprint. In terms of Castle Point’s impact on Climate Change, it is clear that the borough’s ecological footprint is high and likely to be contributing to more extreme weather events.

Paragraph 93 of the NPPF is clear that planning plays a key role in helping shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change,”

“The strategy in Castle Point therefore needs to be on how the individual can reduce their ecological footprint, and how developments can be planned to encourage this.

The Transport Evidence for the New Local Plan shows that Castle Point suffers congestion at peak times causing queueing at junctions and extended journey times. Congestion results in increased emissions from vehicles, including emissions of green house gases that contribute towards climate change.

Congestion is therefore contributing to both climate change and poor health outcomes for local people.”

Surface Water Flooding on Canvey Island and the Borough;

“The South Essex Surface Water Management Plan 2012 (SWMP) identifies the causes and locations of surface water flooding in the borough and a strategy for the future management of surface water flood risk, taking into account the impacts of climate change. This indicates that when the impacts of climate change are taken into account the likelihood and potential impacts of surface water flooding will be worse in the future than they are now. Extreme rainfall events will be more common and the depth of flood water will increase posing a risk to more properties.”

This is incorrect and out of date information in regards to Canvey Island. This flawed document was eagerly grasped by Castle Point cabinet as being indication that Surface Water Flood Risk affects Borough wide equally. Events in 2013 and 2014 proved cabinet members and officers so wrong!

The SWMP was based on incorrect Historic evidence that had been un-documented, suggesting there had been NO previously recorded flooding events by cpbc officers, particularly where Canvey Island was concerned.

The SWMP remains amongst the local Plan2016 Evidence base despite being incorrect and having been replaced by the more accurate Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage study document, albeit incomplete.

Interestingly the Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage study, is NOT included within the Local Plan2016 Evidence Base documents!

This may indicate the level of concern for any future Flooding of Canvey Island by cpbc cabinet in general, something current and future residents may wish to make themselves aware of.

The issue of Flood Risk in the Castle Point Local Plan, whichever version, needs to become more prominent and focussed within the Policies.

Residents Safety, Well-Being and Financial Security deserves far more consideration than is currently apparent.

Castle Point Council deserve more investigation and challenge on their approach to Risk.

More information on the latest Sea Level Rise and Climate Change may wish to follow this link to a MSN News article HERE.

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© CSIRO An Argo float is deployed into the ocean

 

Canvey Island Flood Risks – brought to Parliament!

“Planning conditions can be flouted, and they are sometimes not properly enforced.”

Parliament debated “FUTURE FLOOD PREVENTION” and further resources totalling £582,310,000 in the House of Commons on the 27th February.

envagencyanglia-1

EnvAgencyAnglia photo

Photograph courtesy; Environment Agency Anglia; Canvey Island February 2017

Neil Parish opened the debate and mentioned, “One problem is that, if we are not careful, people living in an area with a “one in 100 years” risk which is flooded are inclined to think that they will be safe from floods for another 99 years. Of course, that is not the case. An area with a high flood risk will continue to have that risk until better defences are created or resilience measures are introduced, and it will probably always be a pretty high-risk area.”

His reference to “1 in 100 years risk”, and peoples understanding of it, indicates how slowly changes are put in place. This was one of the recommendations following the Report and Review into the Canvey Island Flooding of 2014, that a more straight forward and easier description of flood risk was brought into use!

“The report states that firefighters provide a vital “first-line service” to flooded areas”

Strange then that they were discontinued as statutory consultees in the planning process locally, after continually stating they were only able to guarantee a response during a life or death situation due to a lack of resources. It is hard to imagine, following the fire and rescue service cut backs of late, that they are better placed now to become a fully effective “first-line service”!

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris participated in the debate. However some of what she said appeared to expand the theory, long spun amongst residents, that our defences are impenetrable. Our sea defences do not compare with the Netherlands and are indeed liable to over-topping in parts under certain conditions (cpbc SFRA 2010).

Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure. This residual flood risk should be considered, as although the likelihood of it (flood defence failure) occurring is low, the consequences should it happen would be very high.

Referring to the evacuation of Jaywick, whilst Canvey Island residents were considered safe, suggests that an evacuation of Canvey Island was possible. The potential time required, upto 19+ hours, would make this unlikely, and in the event of a Breach, impossible.

One thing that requires clarity is, given the extraordinary amount of work already carried out across Canvey Island, whether the request to Government for £24,500,000 required to repair our broken drainage system still stands. All appears to have become silent following cpbc representatives being told to return with specific details of work necessary and estimates of costings to evidence the sums requested.

Nevertheless to have our MP stand in Parliament to put forward the issues of the Flood Risks to Canvey Island, and the level of work needed to simply maintain the drainage system, can be no bad thing.

Rebecca Harris, Castle Point

“The financing of flood defences is of absolutely paramount importance to my constituents, as my borough has been hit by flooding on a number of occasions, most notoriously the devastating North sea flood of 1953, which breached the old Canvey Island sea wall defences and caused the loss of life of 58 residents and the evacuation of the entire remaining population. To avert a similar catastrophe, the island is now protected by a concrete wall that runs along its entire 28 km to protect the population of 40,000 from tidal surges. This wall is still judged to be good for a one-in-1,000-years event. I note that the residents of Canvey Island were not encouraged to evacuate because of a threatened tidal surge when those of Jaywick were. The wall is judged to be sound right up until the end of this century provided that there is regular monitoring and maintenance. The concern of my residents is to ensure that the money is always there to make sure that we are upgrading the maintenance.

Notwithstanding how good the sea walls are, Canvey Island and other parts of my borough, including South Benfleet and Hadleigh, still remain subject to a serious risk of surface water flooding, as occurred dramatically in the summer of 2013 and again in 2014, when homes right across the borough were flooded, including 1,000 homes on the island alone. Despite the great sea defences, this is a serious problem for an island that remains 1 metre below sea level at high tide and is entirely flat. It presents a particular problem for effective surface water drainage. There was an absolute outcry in 2014 at the second significant flooding event in less than 11 months. That led to calls for an investigation into whether this could be dismissed as a mere act of God or whether much more serious defects in the water management system were at fault, and what measures were needed to be put in place to assure residents that it would not occur again. I was extremely grateful to the then Cabinet Office Ministers and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who agreed to an investigation by the Government chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport, to establish the facts and make recommendations for the various agencies locally. His report found that the coincidence of extreme rainfall, problems with the performance of the drainage system, a power cut, and pumps overheating and tripping out were all foreseeable, although unusual, and many could be avoided in future. Sir Mark made a number of recommendations, the majority of which, I am pleased to say, have already been acted on.

Since those last floods, an extraordinary amount of work has taken place right across Castle Point, with considerable amounts of money spent on improvements and mitigation measures. The Environment Agency has invested large sums in improvements to its eight sluices and 13 pumping stations. In this financial year alone, it has invested over £500,000, including £89,000 on the Benfleet and East Haven barriers, which are key to protecting South Benfleet as well as the island. Webcams have been installed to monitor pumps and ditches. Some £620,000 has been spent on refurbishing 28 floodgates, and the remaining six will be completed by the end of this year.

The county council and Anglian Water have worked hard to map the drainage network underground and to make thousands of repairs and remove blockages in the system, as well as identifying the most serious faults. Anglian Water has invested millions since 2014 and has also been highly proactive in a public awareness campaign locally to raise the critical importance of maintaining free-flowing water courses. The county council is undertaking a huge rolling programme of property-level protection, with grants of up to £5,000 for homes affected by flooding previously.

The improved partnership working of Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and the Essex fire and rescue service, as recommended by the chief scientist, is exemplary and has even resulted in a national award. Although the investigation focused on the island, improvements in multi-agency co-operation have had real benefits for the entire borough and it is now an exemplar for the rest of the UK.

The partnership has concluded a comprehensive urban drainage study of the problems underground and to model any future problems, to help make sure that this does not happen to my borough again. Proposals include the creation of additional storage ditches on roadsides and open areas, green roofs, water butts, porous paving and increased pipe sizes. It will shortly submit bids for some of those projects to the South East local enterprise partnership and central Government.

Previously, DEFRA Ministers have supported our bids. I hope that the Government will continue that support, acknowledge the economic importance of those bids and stress, not only to my LEP but to others, the importance of flood alleviation schemes in ensuring that communities remain economically viable. It is absolutely essential for the continued economic regeneration of my borough that it is recognised as protected from non-tidal surface water, as well as from tidal flood risk, especially given the increased likelihood of future events.

My borough is grateful for the introduction of the Flood Re scheme, which means that residents are not priced out of insuring their homes. It is not, however, available to businesses in my area. I hope that more work can be done in that regard, because a lot of them suffer great hardship. Nor does the scheme apply to new builds. I urge the Government to do more to ensure that there is better defence of our floodplains from developers and to press planning departments to incorporate more surface water mitigation for developments. Perhaps they could even reverse developers’ current right to connect surface water to the sewerage system, as it does not incentivise them to consider sustainable drainage systems.

I am conscious that time is short, so I will end by encouraging the Minister to visit Castle Point, if she can find the time in her diary, to see the incredible work that has been done in Benfleet and on Canvey Island, and to meet local agencies to discuss what more is needed and how we can further help the borough.”

Hansard’s record of the full debate can be reached HERE.