Tag Archives: cllr Riley

To Intervene or to Not Intervene, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, as Simple Minded and Disobedient Canvey Folk suffer, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.

Much will be read and disclosed over the next year or so, when it will be wondered whether the June 2018 decision by Castle Point council, to rush into a Local Plan schedule, with the prospect of a New Local Plan approved by Council for publication by November followed by submission to the Inspectorate in April 2019, or alternatively to face the prospect of Government Intervention, is the best path to tread, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

And so it was, when the cpbc chief executive, the council leader and his deputy, stated the case for cpbc seeking to retain control of its Local Plan making, rather than allow Intervention from the Government Planner.

The councillors and residents were not permitted an address from the Government chief planner, choices and their consequences were expressed only third hand delivered by the cpbc triumvirate.

But whilst keeping control of the Local Plan process is in the very best interests of parts of the mainland, is it also in the best interests of Canvey Island, a reasonable question to ask?

Harking back to the Core Strategy we exposed a Plot by the “Ruling” mainland party to sacrifice Canvey’s Dutch Village Green Belt site, as the sole Green Belt site released for development, so as to appease their mainland concerns and allow publication of a cpbc Core Strategy, local plan!

We remember well, the mainland residents Green Belt campaign group, during the council Task and Finish group meeting, standing to address council members confirming that they agreed and supported the Plan “in its entirety!”

Where was the “united” Borough then?

When the Core Strategy was rejected by the Examining Inspector due to the unreasonable Housing Growth Distribution and the Dutch Village site being, a Green Belt site within a Flood Risk Zone, the cpbc ceo made sure that the Dutch Village remained within the list of Green Belt sites for development, whilst adding some mainland sites to meet the Housing Need of the Borough, within the 2014 daft Local Plan!

Of course the retention of the Canvey Dutch Village site, despite the Inspector’s opinion, meant that one large mainland site would be saved from development.

Now by returning to the 2014 draft local Plan as a starting place for the 2018 Local Plan, concerns return as to whether it is intelligent and responsible for Canvey residents to put their faith, as we are being told and advised so to do, within the “Ruling” party’s successful motion to Control the 2018 local Plan.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

The threat has been delivered and something terrible may still apparently happen!

We are reminded that the Dutch Village site is owned by Persimmon, implying that this would speed the process through Planning resulting in an early supply of Housing, For The Borough!

Meanwhile, the more lucrative development sites elsewhere in the Borough would, following this logic, remain undeveloped for longer, especially when the ongoing development of approximately 900 Sandy Bay Park Homes, also on Canvey Island, are put into the equation!

This may encourage some conspiracy theory, has the call for sites from cpbc entailed dealings between officers members and developers as to which site or sites would be released in which order, specifically if the developer were to agree to initially focus on Dutch Village first?

As it stands in practise cpbc focus on applying constraints on development in the so called “virgin” Green Belt areas of the Borough. Canvey Island Flood Risk is also applied to the constraints so as to limit numbers, but that constraint is applied to housing Need numbers across the whole Borough, rather than Canvey Island in particular!

Making cpbc’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test simply contrived and, a Farce!

But can Canvey residents be certain that the Government Planner would apply to Canvey Island, the supposed Constraints on Housing Development such as Flood Risk, the threat to what remains of its Green Belt and the Hazardous Industrial sites any less fairly than the cpbc “Ruling” party and officers?

Especially going by their proven Local Planning track record!

Under Cllr Riley’s regime Canvey fared better than during any of the previous attempts at Plan making.

Now Cllr Riley has been side lined by the Triumvirate now in control, and previously chiefly responsible for the 2014 daft Local Plan, despite two of them apparently also claiming to support the 2016 Plan’s attempt to constrain the borough’s Housing Numbers!

To mainlanders these thoughts may sound pessimistic and overly cautious, however being fed rumours and not having the access to decision makers that some residents appear to have, however furtive, leads to a lack of an Open and Transparent Local Plan process.

Faith in Leaders must be Earned, Blind Faith is a dangerous option.

PLANING-APPEAL-SIGN

 

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Castle Point Leader drops Gov. Minister Green Belt Bombshell! Whilst Canvey is Carved Up and expected to put trust in behind closed doors meetings!

It would appear insensitive, lacking openness and transparency and disrespectful for Canvey Island Town Council, as representative of the largest Town in Castle Point, to have not been invited nor allowed representation, in even an observational capacity, at the “collaborative” local area Planning meetings being undertaken by cpbc,  Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend–on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County Councils.

These meetings fall under the umbrella of work “to create a vision and sense of place for South Essex through the Association of South Essex Local Authorities”.

More fundamentally it is the South Essex Local Authorities attempt to fulfill their failed efforts to Cooperate within their Local Plan processes.

During last weeks cpbc Special Council meeting, we heard from the ceo that both the Local Plan work and the work of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, or ASELA for short,  are Intrinsically linked.

Carving

Canvey Island on the Menu

BEWARE! 

If you find yourself at the Dinner Table, without having received an Invitation,

It is very likely that you will be forming part of the Menu!

With Canvey Island currently supplying the largest sites of both Housing and Business Development in Castle Point, it is requiring almost foolhardy trust, given the previous track records, for Canvey residents to simply accept their interests are being represented to the best of cpbc Leader and officers ability!

The Leader said during the Special Council meeting that up until ASELA commenced working, cpbc was considered as “small fish” amongst south Essex councils. Off the bottom of the list, and having to fight tooth and nail to keep, schemes such as, Fairglen Interchange in the frame.

In effect Islanders are having to put our trust in Cllr Riley’s word, in reporting back to his confidents at cpbc.

Remember that no updates of work achieved or fulfilled have been made public, nor updates on how any agreements will impact upon the intrinsically linked Local Plan, with its Housing Need and Distribution of Housing Growth causing concern to many.

With Cllr Riley’s calling for trust in council members and residents alike, it was most surprising then to hear him state during the council meeting, that he himself held no trust in the Government’s Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, of whom he claimed, he didn’t “believe the minister cares whether we build on our green belt or not”!

In fairness to Cllr Riley his concerns may have some “legs”, as despite the SoS dismissing the Jotmans Farm, Benfleet development Appeal, he did so only on the day of the commencement of the Period of Purdah ahead of the General Election 2017! *

Residents may remember that the Jotmans Appeal was conducted during September 2015, so the decision was with the SoS for likely over 18 months awaiting his decision. No doubt he would have had in mind the progress being made with the cpbc Local Plan before making his decision, however since then he has reacted by placing cpbc on his list of 15 most local authorities likely to face Government Intervention! More recently, Sajid Javid’s ministry has been renamed to that of “Housing, Communities and Local Government”!

In the meantime, we wonder what Wheeling and Dealing goes on at these ASELA gatherings, Canvey Island residents with no representatives present, if we were informed, would learn 3rd hand at best!

* LINK to Jotmans Appeal decision

 

You gotta have Faith! We can all dream, only the few can deliver!

Whilst the Castle Point Council Local Plan is in a short state of flux, until the 24th January 2016 I believe, it is worth re-visiting the statement issued by our MP that binds our local authority to saving the Borough’s Green Belt from further development.

The release read;

Wednesday, 24 June, 2015

The Government Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP confirmed once and for all that under this government the Borough Council does have the power to protect Green Belt in it’s local plan.

In a meeting in the House of Commons with senior local councillors and planning officers arranged by local MP Rebecca Harris, the Minister confirmed that Green Belt is a legitimate constraint on the level of housing that the council has to plan for and that they do not have to alter the borough’s Green Belt boundaries to accommodate more housing.

Castle Point Council has been constructing a New Local Plan since 2012 and is considering how much new housing the borough will need over the next fifteen years and where they should be built.

Council Leader Colin Riley said:

“This is exactly the reassurance we were looking for. As a Council we have to take into account all relevant planning law and policy when we make our local plan, but we can now explore the policies designed to protect Green Belt with confidence.

“As a council we are determined to construct a sound local plan that provides for our borough’s future whilst also listening to the concerns of the residents we are elected to serve.”

Local MP Rebecca, who arranged for the Minister to meet local Green Belt groups before the general election, said:

“Brandon repeated exactly what he said to local Green Belt campaigners a few months ago. Councillors and officers can now be in absolutely no doubt that they have the power to protect our borough’s precious undeveloped Green Belt in their local plan. They will need to alter the draft plan and argue their case well, but I am confident they can do it and I will give them every support.”

Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I would suggest that what some people hold as precious can differ greatly from others.

That our Council Leader has suggested that the local authority will be looking to provide for the Borough’s future, this can only in part mean providing housing for those in need and maintaining local facilities. Most recently has seen the Deanes School being recommended for closure due to lack of numbers, it was noted that little weight was given for future housing  being a reason for ECC to keep the school open.

The Leader also states that the LA are now in a position to respond to residents concerns who they are elected to serve.

This is of great comfort for those residents in Canvey West ward who having supported Cllr Howard for over the last 40 years have been treated abysmally by Castle Point Council where proposing development through the Local Plan process has been concerned.

Those of us that have followed the CPBC Scrutiny process of the 2014 surface water flooding of Canvey Island, are aware that the long overdue report into CPBC’s failings during that event, amounts to a cover up!

It is clear the dense over development of the flood plain of Canvey Island has greatly contributed to the level of distress and damage. Should Canvey land that acts as a flood dispersment area alleviating the level of flooding also be considered as Precious?

Will Green Belt land that has had some level of development either housing or business be treated differently or similarly.

Or will political pressure help make the sensitive site selection decision making easier?

Those of us on Canvey have noted the invitation to attend meetings with Secretary of State’s and Councillor groups not being volunteered to us. That is of little consequence. We are, and I know this does not sit easily with some other campaign groups, content that as long as we receive a fair hearing from an Inspector, able to live with the fact that housing is necessary and if Canvey Green Belt sites offer the best most sustainable sites then so be it.

It is the unreasonable factors that have previously influenced the housing distribution that will require elimination.

We were warned in the very early days of our campaign to save Canvey Green Belt that it was not enough to simply say “we don’t want development” and expect to be successful. Well I think we have not done too badly in the face of an Inspector so far! Whether other site campaigners can look deep into their objections and claim the same, I have not examined.

The Canvey Island Independent Party, have received much criticism of late, whether this is warranted is of their concern alone. They have made clear to us their policy on Green Belt and I have been reassured it remains unaltered.

Also receiving much criticism of late is Cllr Smith and yet only this year in May, he was re-elected. We campaigners can be sensitive and inward looking. Cllr Smith may well turn to his being re-elected to suggest he has a mandate to continue with his work on the current Plan version. He of course requires support from his councillor colleagues to perform this.

Blind-leading-the-blind

Canvey’s Green Belt is threatened by Industrial development by the London Group and Persimmon’s. What can be the driver for Persimmon to be so active on Canvey when they have far more lucrative proposals off of the Island? Has a deal behind the scenes been done that moves them to spend time and money on their Dutch Village proposal?

Come the emergence of a new, new Plan will their focus alter, why would they wish to expose their finances to an area liable to flood and within the Calor Hazard range?

Will the developers interested in the Bowers Road site accept that their site be removed from the housing allocation whilst possibly the Blinking Owl site is introduced?

What sites will need to be included in the 5 year supply to meet the Inspector’s expectation?

We must expect Councillors to respond to residents expectations, having said that we must not be surprised if an Inspector disagrees. Previously the Inspector stated clearly he was nor prepared to select sites on behalf of the Council. In the first instance this time around we can expect the same. There will only then be one opportunity. Under close challenge from developers a result suggesting sites are unlikely to come forward in realistic timing an Inspector may adopt a different stance.

We wish Cllr Bill Dick well with his Local Plan debate amendment. We expect councillors to pledge their support.

We also look forward to an emerging Local Plan option to be fair to all residents and not unfairly influenced by powerful local factors leading to an unsustainable Local Plan wish list.

What we do know is that if you do not at least try, you cannot hope to succeed. Let’s just hope this time around Canvey is not the sacrificial lamb, that it was tethered out to be on previous occasions!

Treading on Eggshells ! Castle Point welcomes a new Council administration, already under the Green Belt microscope!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign usually attempt to steer clear of politics. On this occasion due to the major disruption to the local Council administration, it warrants some acknowledgment from us.

Tonight should see the inauguration of the “new” Castle Point Borough Council.

The democratic means of electing our Councillors, one member per ward per election, is intended to allow for the gradual change in political balance, rather than a sudden clear out, or swing from one political “side” to another.

Mainland residents have shown unrest with the previous administration, chiefly with the housing growth intentions and loss of Green Belt contained in the draft Local Plan, and indicated this at the polling station, as is their right.

Canvey residents are as equally uncomfortable with the present new draft Local Plan,  as they were with the Core Strategy,  and likewise showed little inclination to back the previous CPBC administration at election time.

Obviously there is likely to be a rocky ride for the new administration, especially with a 20 : 20 Lead group / opposition balance.

One of the first pieces of work expected of the newly formed administration will be the review of the Local Plan consultation responses.

Remembering the failed Core Strategy consultation of 2009 that resulted in the 87% of non-responding residents being grouped together as being in support of the Council’s plan! The following years of unrest have clearly identified this claim as having been a clear breach of authority and democracy.

This must not be allowed to occur again, especially after the residents action at  the ballot box in May 2014.

Whether or not some of the Green Belt allocated for housing in the Local Plan can be “saved” from development, or whether the housing need numbers can be re-assessed as some councillors are calling for, is the main issue.

Either way, any changes will need to be clearly evidenced which may bring tensions between councillors and officers, as the Local Plan has so far been a long time in the production.

As a background, we have development proposals at Appeal stages.

Whether these Appeals will progress prior to the Local Plan, or whether it is fair to expect the Secretary of State’s office to again intervene allowing time for the Local Plan consultation results to be assessed and possibly a new Plan produced if necessary, will be interesting to observe.

The potential for further changes in administration should the current one falter is a distinct possibility with an upcoming bi-election that will lead to a possible majority of 1 vote to one of the local councillor Groups, and may further interrupt the Plan process.

What with developers having lodged applications for Green Belt development and residents determined that Green Belt should be protected, means that not only will this evening’s Council meeting, but the whole of the next year’s council business will be very interesting.

Whilst it will be interesting to hear what other Green Belt campaign groups feel, this post will be closed to comments.