Tag Archives: cllr Smith

Fake News and the Paddocks, Canvey Island! The Viability of a 2 Storey Community Centre, acting as a Flood Refuge remains a Secret!

Let Canvey Islanders be clear, any fake news that concerns Cllr smith  regarding the Paddocks’ future, has stemmed from his own vague comments during the last Canvey Island community meeting!

The fact is the Paddocks community centre has been, for many years, left to deteriorate through lack of maintenance funding! That a municipal building should last just 5 decades indicates a scandalous and incompetent decision making administration that has been responsible for the centre!

Let’s be clear, the fundamental driver behind the Paddocks proposed rebuild is releasing space for more Housing!


The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Castle Point council’s intent for the WHOLE Paddocks site is clear, as stated in the cabinet agenda paperwork;

“The conclusion of feasibility work reveals that the Paddocks Community Centre building has reached the end of its design life and is beyond economic repair.”

“The Paddocks site on Canvey Island is an important community asset, and it is therefore entirely appropriate that the condition of the asset and its potential are regularly reviewed.”

“The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.”

The move to alter the Paddocks site has 3 purposes.

First, and most important to cpbc, is the release of Canvey land for more Housing development to satisfy the Borough’s Housing Need.

Secondly, the intent of the local NHS group to close all GP doctors facilities and centralise into the Paddocks Health Service facility.

Thirdly, the desire to draw up a believable Local Plan for the Borough. This Paddocks scheme will in effect provide Brownfield Land for Housing development. The fact that it will assist in defending the equivalent number of housing units on Green Belt land should by its suggestion, be supported. The fact that the site is in a Flood Zone and a Critical Drainage Area however, indicates a level of cynicism.

The fact that cpbc prioritise development on Canvey indicates their lack of moral fibre. However be in no doubt, cpbc having made a decision to place housing development in a flood zone ahead of mainland sites may well satisfy a Local Plan Examining Inspector.

It is no coincidence that cpbc have seized upon the possibilities at the Paddocks is no coincidence, given the silence over the release of the Blinking Owl site in the north of the Borough. Plans for the Blinking Owl site appear to have stalled, which is most surprising as the recent Essex County Council Highways announcement of intention to upgrade the Fairglen Interchange and the Government’s Consultation on Strategic and, more relevant to Castle Point, Major Road Network.

Screenshot (9)

The lack of backing for the Blinking Owl site should concern mainland residents, especially as Basildon Council have increased the potential of the Dunton proposed development to 4,000 dwellings. If Basildon can achieve development in a new area, why are cpbc so reticent?

The precedent for the type of housing intended for the Paddocks has been set by the height and number of storeys of the Flats next door in Long Road. The number of dwellings will evidently need to be enough to support the building of new community centre in place of the Paddocks.

One thing is clear, a new community centre SHOULD be of two levels, so as to act as a much needed Safe Refuge area from flooding for the many bungalows and for the less able and elderly residents living  nearby! Any proposal for a community centre of a single level should be Rejected as a matter of Planning Principle.

It will be interesting to learn the viability of a suitable new Paddocks scheme and the necessary level of new housing to financially support the proposal!

At the moment the extended NHS services in the Paddocks grounds, the new housing development and the loss of the free town centre car parking spaces and the children’s pool and activity area appears to be receiving more support from cpbc members than the Hadleigh Town Centre Regeneration.

These are not our words, but words of someone far more influential in the process of Local Plan making, words which cpbc ceo and consulting officers appear willing to allow cpbc members to ignore;

I have concerns with the approach in relation to the Green Belt; and the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough

As we now know, Green Belt remains a Constraint, whilst Flood Risk is disregarded.

Canvey Island remains and will continue to be the most densely Urbanised part of the Borough, whilst the status quo of the balance of Power continues at cpbc.





Castle Point’s “Surgeless” Supply of Affordable Housing an Examination concern? Brighton indicate the way with Transparency!

Nearly 5 Years after Castle Point Council were promising a “surge” in the supply of Affordable Homes in the Borough, through the Echo newspaper;

Norman Smith, cabinet member for economic development and business liaison, said: “It is very disappointing that affordable homes are not being built in the borough for those wanting to find a home in the borough.
“But following the approval of recent planning applications, in terms of affordable housing, I do not think it will be long before we start seeing a change.”

This “good news” story came in the wake of; “Castle Point is suffering a major shortfall in housing as no new affordable homes have been built for almost a year.” *


Disappointingly for those in need of such housing, the latest published cpbc Annual Monitoring Report fails to indicate any such expected / promised “Surge” in Affordable Housing Supply in Castle Point having been forthcoming;

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%, but significantly below the housing market requirement for affordable housing identified in the South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2016 of between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum.”

“The indicates that provision in line with OAN would require between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum across the housing market area to be affordable in order to meet the need for affordable housing.”

We trust that the Affordable Housing Supply does NOT include that of Caravans, of which the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report states;

“Since April 2011, the number of people living within caravans in Castle Point has continued to increase. Initially, the increase was rapid, with the number of units increasing 16% between 2011 and 2014. This fell in 2015 and 2016, but this increased to 124 additional caravans falling into residential use, according to Council Tax records in 2016/17.”

“The number of people living in caravans is still significant, and presents an issue for the Council. Caravans do not represent high quality living accommodation as there are issues with winter warmth and over-heating in summer associated with such accommodation.”

Developer David Wilson Homes is constructing 150 new homes on land off Kiln Road, a development which will see the provision of 53 affordable homes.

AND YET; castle point council planning portal reveals Kiln Road developer and the Council have signed a S106 Agreement to provide just 14 affordable dwellings in the first phase of 71 new homes!
A supply of just 20% affordable.

The success of development in Kiln Road is unmistakeable and lucrative. Over 2 years ago it was publicised that homes selling for up to £600,000 were being bought off-plan, such was the demand.

The developer claiming that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme meant that purchasers only need a 5% deposit and that the development is suitable for families and first time buyers. **

This when the refused Glebelands developent was offering 30% Affordable Housing Supply and the daft New Local Plan was proposing 25%, as the requisite for the mainland area!

The defenceless castle point council whose planning department and committee agreed that viability was an issue in the supply of the required Affordable Housing at Kiln Road, will face this issue as a major hurdle if and when their Local Plan eventually reaches Examination by an Inspector, their previous historical supply being unsupportable.

In contrast Brighton City Council aim to achieve more. They are now expecting developers to make public their Viability Assessments on Affordable Housing Supply alongside development proposals.

Setting their expectation levels far higher than those of castle point council, Brighton CC admit;  “This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.”

The Brighton and Hove City Council statement reads;

“Property developers could be made to publicly disclose detailed financial information in cases where they say they cannot meet affordable housing targets set out in Brighton & Hove’s City Plan.
At present the city council requires developments of over five or more residential units to provide a percentage of affordable housing – unless it would make a scheme financially unviable. All schemes over 15 units should provide 40 per cent affordable housing.
Currently developers submit viability assessments to the council which are then independently assessed by the District Valuer Services (DVS). The viability information and the independent assessment are currently not disclosed to the public in order to protect commercial confidentiality.
This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.
Now the authority is proposing to insist that developers show their sums in applications falling short of the affordable housing target. It would require a full Viability Assessment submitted up front with the rest of the application information.
Councillors are being asked to approve the new requirements in a report to the tourism, development and culture committee on 11 January. The proposals set out in the report are in line with the need for more openness sought by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently proposed government consultation paper.
A public consultation on the issue was held in the autumn. The majority of respondents felt the measures would lead to greater transparency, understanding and trust in the planning system. Broadly, developers were concerned that commercially sensitive information could be disclosed and this had the potential to hinder development in the city.
Committee chair Cllr Alan Robins said: “In many cases there may be perfectly good reasons why a developer cannot meet 40 per cent. For example a council might want them to pay for other things such as a new leisure centre. But sometimes developers might be trying their luck by raising viability issues. Either way, it could be beneficial for the public to have the same information as councillors on the planning committee, so that everyone understands why a given amount of affordable housing was accepted or rejected.”
If approved, the new requirements would come into force early this year.”

Glebelands – Has time just run out on this piece of Castle Point Green Belt?

“You win battles by knowing the enemy’s timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect.”

News has filtered through that a new Appeal Inquiry has been launched for the Glebelands housing development proposal.

The timing is most intriguing, an expected hearing date during March.

The result may not be available until General Election time.

Does this mean that there is a possibility that the Secretary of State would not call in the decision? Allowing the Planning Inspectorate to decide.

Previously the refusal to develop has relied on the fact that Castle Point Council have been busying themselves with producing a Local Plan.

However this has proved, even since Mr Pickles’ decision, a timely exercise.

Last weeks Local Plan Task and Finish group meeting heard officers suggest that the addition of site H18, the Blinking Owl site, would quite possibly only add to the Green Belt sites available for development, rather than be in place of some named sites!

It appears this time consuming progress of the CPBC Local Plan may have led to an opportunity for the Fox Land and Property group to take advantage of the political calendar. The period of purdah may prevent some wishing to give evidence in defence of the Green Belt at Inquiry.

With Glebelands watching in the wings this will indeed be a test for Castle Point Council.

Much of the previous Appeal finding relied on the timetable and progress of the Local Plan process.

Officers suggested adhering to a strict timetable was achievable.
The 5 year housing supply / or lack of, may well also be a stumbling block for Green Belt campaigners despite cllrSmith’s re-assurances.

Extracts from the Appeal application paperwork suggest otherwise:

Progress of the Local Plan remains stalled since 2006.

 Reason for Refusal 1

that there are in actual fact a number of ‘very special circumstances’ under which the appeal proposal should be released from the Green Belt (as set out above), and believes that the proper consideration of this issue will require detailed evidence to be presented and tested in respect of policy compliance with the Framework; the current housing land supply position in the Borough; the need for affordable and market housing in the Borough; and, the contribution of the appeal site to the functions of the Green Belt and its suitability and a sustainable urban extension.

Reason for Refusal 2 states that the appeal proposal is premature to the emerging Local Plan, and so would prejudice the plan’s ability to allocate land for housing at the strategic level. Again, the factors that inform this position are complex and will require cross examination to determine at what stage in its development the emerging Local Plan is currently and to what extent the appeal proposal is of the scale and significance necessary to prejudice the planmaking process.

Following the previous Appeal the Secretary of State amongst other considerations found:

Housing Land Supply

The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s analysis of housing land supply at IR297-334. He share’s the Inspector’s conclusions that the requirement figure for assessing the 5-year forward supply should be 2,350 dwellings (IR323). Whilst the Secretary of State broadly agrees with the thrust of the Inspector’s overall conclusions on land supply and housing delivery, as set out in IR335-340, he does not agree with the Inspector’s comment at IR339 that the current programme for adoption looks somewhat optimistic, especially in the light of the Council’s experience with the now aborted Core Strategy (CS). In the Secretary of State’s view, whilst the now withdrawn CS was in preparation, there were no real drivers to ensure that the Council pressed ahead. With the publication of the NPPF, he is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it.

While he also agrees with the Inspector that there have clearly been difficulties for many years in planning for sufficient housing in Castle Point, he does not consider that this history means that the task of preparing a new local plan cannot be accomplished easily or quickly (IR359).

The Secretary of State has found that there are factors in favour of the appeal including a severe lack of a forward housing land supply and that, setting aside GB considerations, development of the appeal site would not cause demonstrable harm. He also wishes to emphasise that national policy is very clear that GB reviews should be undertaken as part of the Local Plan process.

Whilst the previous Appeals Inspector’s findings revealed:

In Castle Point, there have clearly been difficulties for many years in planning for sufficient housing. The LP failed to plan far enough ahead. The long-term reserve sites all turned out to be poor choices, because none came forward to fill the gap.

The CS took too long to prepare, and in the end failed because the housing provisions were inadequate. In the light of this history, it cannot be assumed that the task of preparing a new local plan will be accomplished easily or quickly. Although it is right that planning decisions should be plan-led where possible, the Council’s own action in announcing a list of preferred housing sites, in advance of having any kind of draft plan , seems to acknowledge that some decisions will not be able to wait for the new plan to be in place.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this must be related to the lack of any up-to-date or adopted local plans, or relevant DPDs, since 2001. The lack of housing delivery in 2001-12 therefore seems to reflect a failure in terms of planning, rather than any failure of the housing market.

It is common ground amongst all those involved in the appeal that the task of finding suitable land for housing in Castle Point is not an easy one. The Borough has severe constraints, including the already high density of development, the close spacing of existing settlements, the widespread flood risk, the SPA, and the relative scarcity of suitable land. In the light of these constraints, the Council has acknowledged that there is a need to take land from the Green Belt, even for the lower level of housing provision that they currently propose.

Other than GB considerations, development at the appeal site would not cause demonstrable harm. There appear to be no particular constraints on delivery, and the site could thus make a valuable contribution to the District’s housing needs in the short term.

The development would not conflict with any development plan policies. Nor would it conflict with any policy in the NPPF, apart from the loss of GB. The protection of GBs is one of the Framework’s core principles, but it is not the only one, and may be outweighed in very special circumstances. Boosting the supply of housing and delivering sustainable development are similarly important. In all respects other than the loss of GB, the present scheme would represent sustainable development.

On the other, there is the severe lack of a forward housing land supply; the acute shortage of affordable housing; the Council’s very poor track record in delivering all forms of housing in the past; the past failures of the development plan process in the area, and consequent delays in the release of land through that route; the acknowledged need to release GB land; and the suitability and availability of the appeal site.

Castle Point Council may find difficulty in mounting a reasonable defence to these issues, given recent investigation work. However Green Belt campaigners will wish them well. It would be a shame if these recent investigations have in themselves caused an issue for Castle Point Green Belt.

What cannot be denied is that progress on the Local Plan has once again fallen way behind schedule.

Castle Point Local Development Scheme January 2014

Key milestones (for the Local Plan) are as follows:

Issues Consultation (Reg 18) Jan-Mar 2012

Draft Consultation  Jan-Mar 2014

Submission Consultation  Jul-Aug 2014

Submission Sep 2014

Examination Dec 2014 Inspectors Report

Feb 2015

Adoption Mar 2015

Echo Letters highlight why residents are at odds with Castle Point Local Authority

Two Echo letters published on the 16th January 2015 indicate some of the ongoing issues at Castle Point Council.


Councillor Letchford, whilst exceptionally well meaning, illustrates the downfall of representatives elected on single issue policies.
He has almost no option but to accept unchallenged, the opinions of “experienced” officers.

These same experienced officers would have drawn up the Core Strategy (CS) with the only large Green Belt housing development sites in the Borough located in a Flood Risk zone.

These same experienced officers would also have given evidence to support the valueless, as far as Canvey Island is concerned, Surface Water Management Plan document.

Now we learn these same experienced officers are qualified to respond to the new Flood Risk Management Plan consultation.
Fortunately Essex County Council and the Environment Agency are charged with the publication of these Plans and are now well aware of,  following the disastrous flooding on Canvey Island, the drainage issues.

The letter from M.Fowler challenges the viewpoint of cllr Smith, regarding his interpretation of Government Guidance regarding Green Belt housing constraints, apparently being at odds with Housing Minister Brandon Lewis and the Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Smith an experienced councillor, will have influenced and approved at the highest level, Cabinet, both the worthless Surface Water Management Plan and the failed Core Strategy.

No doubt the officers are experienced, all the more reason for councillors and the public to question emerging policies.

What price experience, what price proper guidance and what price sensible Local Planning?