Tag Archives: constraints

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 Council face Testicular Examination Ahead! Whilst Nuneaton Council act as Local Plan Pathfinders?

Having promised to stand firm over Infrastructure before more Housing, the new Castle Point Borough Council regime will now have their resolve fully tested by the Government’s team sent into the Borough to oversee progress on the Local Plan.

Riley+marchant

Residents, having shown confidence in the Lead group of councillors by giving them an increased majority at the May 2018 local elections, will be expecting them to be able to revive the latest withdrawn Local Plan following 12 months of intensive and “tireless” Duty to Cooperate work following the Examination inspector’s criticisms.

The protection of Green Belt was paramount to Residents concerns, and any backing away from the local authorities position will be open to criticism!

This may be particularly so in the light of promises to overturn the Borough Plan made in another area, Nuneaton, where the successful Conservative group promised to:

“Protect existing communities and deliver the roads, health and school services we need.
 Reduce the housing numbers based on new government guideline figures.
 Withdraw from Labour’s secret agreement to take Coventry’s overspill.” 

“Distribute housing more fairly around the Borough to enhance not destroy existing communities.”
 “Ensure our communities finally receive the much needed road improvements, schools, GPs, shops and essential facilities they deserve, 
 Prioritise Brownfield sites first, protecting our existing communities by removing unsuitable and unsustainable sites from Labour’s broken Borough plan.”

Andrew Lainton, of Decisions Decisions, Decisions blog suggests:

“However the Borough Plan is mid examination with initial findings due to be published this month.

As the inspectors findings are binding the only alternative to fulfill the manifesto would be to withdraw the local plan.

This would put the Council in special measures.” 

The Nuneaton Tory Group’s reference to Unsuitable and Unsustainable sites is interesting and should, but doubtfully will, provoke examination at Castle Point.

The wholesale blanket application of the Sequential Test across Canvey Island would, elsewhere, be expected to be deemed Unsustainable.

In effect despite being a flood Zone 3a, any Housing Development proposed for Canvey Island is deemed appropriate!

This is evidenced in each and every Application paperwork by officers, following councillors instruction, having “persuaded” the Environment Agency that Canvey Island is a Special Case!

An illustration of this, taken from the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report 2016-17 states; “It should be noted that there is no specific policy on flood risk included within the Local Plan (1998 adopted version) and therefore the Council relies on national policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and its technical guidance in respect of such matters.

Of course since then the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has recognised that Canvey Island is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding and the Integrated Urban Drainage Study was researched and published following the 2014 Summer Flooding of Canvey Island!

Castle Point councillors, those involved on the development committee at least, appear willing to accept responsibility for future Flooding of housing and danger to residents, whether from Surface Water or Tidal.

So far that has paid handsomely. Over time and following Flood events, that may prove less so, as Housing built since the 1st January 2009 is not eligible for the Flood Re Insurance Protection that makes available affordable insurance.

Should this problem emerge mortgages on “new” builds may well be denied due to insurance issues. New Canvey Island House Buyers may well be walking into this trap unaware.

The development of Canvey Island both Industrial and Housing continues unabated, this will intensify the pressures on the already broken drainage system, and road and health service infrastructures.

The cpbc Annual Monitoring Report also states, “the proportion of new homes provided on previously developed land to remain lower than in earlier years.”

and that, even more worryingly; 

“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%,”

An example of the inadequacy of our local authority is illustrated within the cpbc Sequential test documentation to support the first of the local plans, the Core Strategy, in which it was admitted “The Environment Agency met with the Council in 2007 to identify criteria under which they would allow development to proceed on Canvey Island. The final criterion was the need to ensure that the Emergency Planners and Emergency Services were satisfied with the measures in place to ensure safety in the event of a flood.

These services had not been consulted in the preparation of PPS25, and as such this requirement was a surprise to them, for which they were not prepared.

A typical approach by developers to overcome the Constraint on Housing by Flood Risk on Canvey Island and acceptable to CPBC is demonstrated here;

  • “The application site is located on Canvey Island, which is situated entirely within Flood Risk Zone 3a,
  • The Council has undertaken an annual review of Strategic Housing Land Availability (SHLAA) since 2011. This process has consistently indicated the need for a greater supply of housing land to meet the objectively assessed housing needs of the borough.
  • When applying a sequential test it is important to have regard to the local context. Canvey Island is a distinctive community, accommodating 43% of the borough’s population. It has specific identified needs in terms of social, economic and physical regeneration, as well as housing.
  • In order for residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it needs to be located within that settlement.”

The Level of delivery of Affordable Housing and the continued influx of new Residents from outside of the Area onto Canvey Island suggest that “residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island” is simply too broad a sweeping statement intended to be a means of simply granting Planning Permission to bolster the BOROUGH’s Housing Supply in an Unsuitable Location!

It would appear unusual, if not unreasonable, for a local authority to seek to increase the Urban Density by developing Green field land and intensifying Brownfield development,  supposedly under the guise of satisfying the Need of the Canvey Island Community, when in effect it simply intensifies Inward Migration, in an area specifically under the threat of both Tidal and Surface Water Flood Risk!

We eagerly look forward to learn what Resolve, Metal, Determination and hopefully Fairness, the new administration at Castle Point council are able to apply to the ongoing Local Plan process in the shadow of Government Intervention!

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Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

The full Decisions Decisions, Decisions post may be read HERE.

Neither Tidal nor Surface Water Flood Risk a Constraint on Development, where Castle Point Council are concerned!

The issue of potential Flooding remains a Hot Topic. That is as it should be, however as we have seen within Castle Point Council it only acts as a Development Constraint verbally, rather than effectively.

The responsibility on Flood Risk should fall squarely on the shoulders of council members, but other interests and “fear” of scaremongering, in effect mean that Flood Risk as a Constraint on Development is disregarded.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The Environment Agency adopt a position where residents safety over the lifetime of a new development is left to council members, Canvey Island and mainland residents Representatives.

The EA consider;

“The site is currently protected by flood defences so is not at risk of flooding in the present-day 0.0% (1 in 1000) annual probability flood event. The defences will continue to offer protection over the lifetime of the development, provided that the TE2100 policy is followed and the defences are raised in line with climate change, which is dependent on future funding.” 

The Island’s Flood Risk Assessment confirms over topping will be a concern prior to the year 2100!

There are no guarantees of this future funding and residents may be surprised to know that much of this funding must be raised locally. Councillors should be in a position to inform us of the sources of this funding and of the avenues in place for the collection of these monies, if they are confident that the sea defences will receive the necessary improvements so as to have confidence any new builds that they approve, will be safe over its Lifetime!

The EA give further warning;

“Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure” 

Of course the official position of cpbc appears to be that as long as there is space provided for safe refuge areas above the ground floor, development is acceptable.

A somewhat contradictory position in respect that if Canvey Island could not Flood, the safe refuge requirement would be un-necessary.

Government and Defra continue to fumble about giving residents no security whilst planners and developers take advantage of the lack of a clear position.

The BBC Report;

The Commons environment committee said ministers were not addressing what it called the fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood management.

Areas of concern include flood impact home insurance, building rules and local authority planning decisions.

The government rejected the criticism, saying it had accepted many previous suggestions on flooding from the MPs.

The committee’s comments are the latest in a running tussle between MPs and the environment department Defra.

 The MPs admit that flooding has risen up the government’s priority list, and say “considerable work” on flooding is being done across Whitehall. But they complain that ministers are still ignoring reasonable demands.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, acting chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra), said: “People living in areas of flood risk need to be reassured that the government is acting to improve our disjointed flood management system.

“Defra has failed to give sufficient justification for its rejection of our recommendations for important new measures.”

Continued development also increases pressure on Canvey Island’s drainage system, already capable of failure through misuse and lack of maintenance. Housing and Business development means Roads, Parking areas and hard impermeable surfaces intensify this issue as development approvals continue unabated.

This move to develop more and more areas of grass land on Canvey must be considered in the light of it inevitably increasing the likelihood of Surface Water Flooding, a warning of this issue is contained in a Research paper by Dr David Kelly. Its relevance to Canvey Island should be considered Striking!

It should be remembered that, whilst the sea defences have some ability to stop the Tide from over topping, they have absolutely no effect in stopping the Tidal Water from penetrating the ground from beneath, and causing flooding and a High Water Table by that means!

Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” Research Paper by Dr D.A.Kelly

The proliferation of paved gardens is putting the UK’s towns and cities at greater risk of flooding and, by 2080, the UK’s urban drainage system could be overwhelmed by ‘runoff’ equivalent to the volume of up to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  

The potential impact that paved gardens could have on urban flooding in Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester and London by 2050 and 2080 was examined by Dr David Kelly, associate professor in Heriot-Watt’s Water Academy. 

Many gardens in the UK have been paved by homeowners who want low maintenance gardens or off-street parking. Covering traditional gardens with hard paving, and the subsequent loss of green vegetation, reduces the amount of rainfall that can be dealt with naturally and significantly increases the rate and volume of runoff flowing to surface water drainage systems. 

Dr Kelly applied projected rainfall intensities for each of the four UK cities to simulated front gardens that reflect the trends for paving. 

Calculating the runoff contribution from new and existing paved gardens will help planners and policy makers identify areas of risk in their town and city – and decide whether to call for homeowners to depave. Additionally, data of runoff from individual paved gardens could highlight the need for behaviour change, and help encourage homeowners to take action themselves by depaving their gardens and enhancing green vegetation.

Dr Kelly, assistant professor in Heriot-Watt University’s Water Institute said: “Domestic front gardens cover almost 30% of our urban space and play a vital role in managing surface water runoff in towns and cities. 

“Existing urban drainage systems will be inadequate to cope with the level of increased runoff from paved front gardens. With runoff from all impermeable surfaces, including paved front gardens, likely to increase in future due to urban densification, the risk of urban flooding will increase unless substantial efforts are made to minimise runoff.”

Homeowners and policymakers need to focus on depaving gardens across the UK.

Dr Kelly’s research showed that the collective runoff by the 2080s from front gardens alone is expected to increase by substantial amounts during extreme storm events due to climate change. 

“In Edinburgh, considering only gardens that are currently at least three-quarters paved, during just one storm, runoff could increase to 29,000m3 across the city, equivalent to 12 Olympic swimming pools, by 2080.”  

“In London, the volume of runoff could increase up to as much as 278,000m3 (equivalent to 100 Olympic swimming pools). ” 

“But, if all of these gardens were depaved and had zero impermeable cover, then the runoff could almost be eliminated, particularly if combined with enhanced green vegetation solutions.”

 D.A.Kelly’s research paper; “Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” can be found HERE

The full BBC Environment Parliamentary Report can be found HERE.

 

 

Tale of Two Motions! Brace yourself, CPBC Local Plan could get Messy!

In the month that Councillors Marigold switched on the street light, and Canute failed to arrange a low tide for the Environment Agency visit to inspect the disappearing Canvey Beach, further humiliation for the Borough is possible when Castle Point Council meet to debate the Local Plan Version 3.0!

Bewildered PIC

Officers consider that Motion 2 on the Agenda, “to remove all Green Belt sites from the draft New Local Plan,” “is clearer in that it does not seek to categorize Green Belt sites, and makes clear that all Green Belt sites are to be removed.”

So as to emphasise the so called clarity Motion 2, the requirement to investigate and debate the weight of application of Constraints, such as Flood Risk and Hazardous Industries, has been attached to Motion 1.

Motion 1 “proposes that the housing proposals in the Draft New Local Plan be amended. The amendment would prioritise the protection of the Green Belt above meeting housing needs. It proposes the removal of “virgin” Green Belt sites without planning permission from the Draft New Local Plan, including those 22 sites listed in the 2014 SHLAA. It also requires an investigation of constraints.”

Those of you who had been paying attention would have heard Cllr Anderson insist, despite the attempts of the mayor to ignore the hand waving, that through Motion 2 the application and weighting of Constraints on Housing were considered by the council members. Constraints and the draft Local Plan document itself were not considered during January’s council meeting.

The officers advice appears contrived to cause disruption. Whilst no development on Green Belt appears a clear policy, how would an Examining Inspector view GB land in the Borough that already contains development?

The NPPF seeks to increase the delivery of Housing in all areas.

The seeds for a catastrophic meeting have been sown. Canvey will likely receive the majority of the required 5 Year Housing Supply. The Sequential Test that would prevent more housing and people being put at Risk of Flooding, should be applied correctly during the Local Plan process. This could and should have been negotiated by our representatives ahead of this meeting.

We have suggested to both parts of the Borough’s representatives, that Canvey members should suggest what development is appropriate for Canvey Island, whilst the mainland representatives suggest what development is appropriate for the mainland.

That way each set of representatives have their say whilst residents will feel they are being represented rather than having a Local Plan inflicted upon them.

Perhaps that is too simple a solution!

However the failure to negotiate pre-meeting, indicates a meeting that could devalue what reputation Castle Point Borough Council claim to hold may be expected.

We are warned that Councillors have a gun at their heads with regards to the financial implications of not just having a plan but having a plan that brings money into the Councils coffers.
General Financial Statement: 
7.17 The Council is reminded of the Medium Term Financial Forecast, presented to Council in February 2015, which indicated a significant funding gap in each financial year from 2017/18 which the Council must address in order to maintain existing service levels.  
7.18 The Council is already effectively committed beyond its means in future years i.e. spending funds it does not have, and will need to identify reductions to existing services. 
7.19 The position with regard to Council reserves is also serious. There are very   real and significant financial risks, particularly around planning appeals and associated legal costs. These risks, coupled with the projected budget gap, result in a complete depletion of general reserves within the next three to four financial yearsFinancial Implications have clearly become a material consideration contributing towards inappropriate developments.
We are told that other sites in addition to those already surrendered for development by the plan will come forward. It is expressed how embarrassing it would become if the Planning Inspectorate have to be engaged in putting a plan together for us.
I would ask embarrassing for whom?
The Planning Inspectorate could not fail to recognise that the documentation covering items such as Climate Change, Infrastructure, Hazardous Sites, the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and the Surface Water Management Plan have not been brought up to date, so as to meet the requirements of the NPPF.
We have since been notified that increased traffic movements will conflict with EU Directives with regards to Air Quality.
The Planning Inspectorate would not set about indiscriminately destroying our Green Belt for financial or political gain.
Where this will all end up no one knows what is certain is however is that our lovely borough will end up having its life strangled out of it.

New Local Plan? Now lets deal with ALL of the Castle Point constraining issues evenly!

“where climate change is expected to increase flood risk so that some existing development may not be sustainable in the long-term, seeking opportunities to facilitate the relocation of development, including housing, to more sustainable locations.”

So states Paragraph 100 of the National Planning Policy Framework. But no, this bullet point does not relate to Canvey Island, so says the Castle Point Council senior head of regeneration and neighbourhoods!

Despite CPBC’s own Local Plan sustainability scoping report stating

Given the risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing. These include:

The need for an emergency plan to be in place;

The need for sea defences to be maintained and improved;

The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower;

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With CPBC’s Local Plan issues currently appear to be almost obsessing, and quite rightly, on Green Belt protection, we feel it is timely to draw councillors, residents and even officers attention back to the constraint that has the ability to affect health and well being, can cause the destruction of property and of cause untold financial impact, flooding.

Contrary to what some Canvey and Castle Point residents have been encouraged to believe, Canvey is at Real Risk from flooding from a failure of the sea defences and it is at risk from surface water flooding!

canvey broken sewers 1.jpg-pwrt3

photo credit: Echo Newspaper

That Canvey’s Green Belt is considered suitable to be released for development via our daft New Local Plan, denies the purpose that, in the event of a flood, the function the GB land would serve. That of dispersing flood water over a greater distance, thereby lowering the water level.

Large scale development would serve to put more people at Risk, would hamper an evacuation and distract resources from those in the most vulnerable need.

This current Local Plan is wrong for more than the sole reason of Green Belt release. A vote from councillors, at the end of January, will hopefully see a constrained and fair new New Local Plan emerge that can be supported by residents Borough-wide.

Interesting then to read this different approach, in a report by Planning Resource, of Windsor and Maidenhead Council and their approach to flooding as a constraint on development and applying this to the area under threat.

I wonder how they have progressed and I wonder why CPBC is reluctant to address the issue likewise?

28 February 2014 by Catherine Early

A council in Berkshire is set to remove several housing sites from its emerging local plan after areas previously earmarked for new homes were inundated by the recent floods.

In early January, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead published a consultation on its preferred options document, which outlines potential sites for housing development. However, since then, the borough has been severely affected by flooding, particularly in the towns of Wraysbury and Datchet.

Michael Saunders, cabinet member for planning and property at the council, told Planning: “Any site with significant flood risk based on recent experience which cannot be mitigated will not be developed.

“This will take some of the sites in the current consultation out.”

Saunders would not be drawn on how many sites could be removed as the consultation is ongoing. However, he said it was likely to be “several”, particularly in Wraysbury, one of the worst-affected areas.

He explained that the council would not rely solely on Environment Agency flood maps when making final decisions about housing sites, since several sites that the maps highlight as being at flood risk are dry, while others which are not on the map have experienced significant flooding. Site visits and aerial photography would be used to make final decisions on housing sites, he said.

However, some of the flooding was from water that had not been able to soak into the ground because of the severe rainfall, rather than flooding from the River Thames, he said. “Those sites may still stay on the list because a developer may be able to put in sufficient drainage to solve the problem,” Saunders said.

The council’s emerging local plan has identified the need for around 12,000 homes in the next 15 years. Three quarters of these can come from brownfield development, Saunders said. However, he was doubtful that the council will be able to find sites for all of the remaining 3,000 homes due to constraints from flooding and green belt, which covers 83 per cent of the borough.

“We will add some allocated sites on top of 9,000 but I suspect that we will not be able to get to 12,000. We will have to convince the inspector that we have done the best job possible and have properly protected the green belt and properly protected people from flood risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, two other councils have denied reports in the Daily Telegraph that they have allocated housing sites in areas at risk of flooding. The newspaper reported that Sedgemoor District Council, which encompasses around 40 per cent of the Somerset Levels, had allocated housing sites in at least four villages that are designated at the highest risk of flooding.

However, Nick Tate, the council’s manager of planning policy, said that there were no allocations in the villages named by the Daily Telegraph in its local plan. Although the council had consented a 67-home brownfield redevelopment in one of the villages, Chilton Trinity, this had the support of the Environment Agency on condition that the developers contribute towards a flood defence scheme, Tate said.

The council levies a tariff on all new development around Bridgwater to pay towards a £24 million tidal defence scheme to protect the town, which will accommodate 70 per cent of housing growth identified in its local plan, he added.

Taunton Deane Borough Council refuted claims made by the newspaper that two potential housing allocations in North Curry are on the flood plain. Both sites are at least 500 metres from the flood zone, a spokeswoman said.

7,900 homes built in areas of high flood risk in England in 2011, according to planning minister, Nick Boles.

NPPF ON FLOODING

What the National Planning Policy Framework says on flooding

The framework requires local plans to direct development away from areas at high risk of flooding. If it is not possible to locate development in areas with the lowest probability of flooding, councils must pass the “exception test”, under which they prove that the sustainability benefits of the development outweigh flood risk, and that the development will be safe for its lifetime and not increase flood risk elsewhere.

The NPPF says plans must also:

– be supported by a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.

– safeguard land required for current and future flood management.

– use opportunities offered by new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding.

– seek opportunities to relocate development at risk of flooding.

Timeframe the priority, or a Sound Local Plan? The Jury is Out!

Constraints on Housing Development in Castle Point was the last topic under consideration by the Local Plan Task and Finish group last evening, the 25th August, ahead of the Jotmans Appeal.

Most councillors appeared to relish the opportunity to debate, following the officer’s introduction.

It is clearly apparent there is a split in how the local Plan process should proceed, with many councillors uncomfortable with being “locked” into the current Local Plan documentation and policies.

Whilst residents were promised an Open and Transparent Local Plan process, last night’s debate illustrated how far from this approach the actual process had reached!

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If councillors are being kept in the dark, then what hope residents?

Well obviously a lot of digging around and research had taken place to turn the evening proceedings into an uncomfortable time for both officers and chairman, as they failed to steer the meeting in their expected direction.

The official approach was to take a strategic approach to constraints, for instance Green Belt concentrating on and protecting the main Green Belt corridors that feature in and around the Borough. However due to the desire to have one or more extra meetings, so as to focus more on these important topics, Green Belt, Flood risk, Hazardous Industries and Infrastructure, the strategic approach was abandoned and now each possible Housing  Site will be focussed on at the rate of 4-5 per meeting!

The chairman obviously focussing more on a fixed timetable than the importance of Constraints!

The meeting started badly with a piece of surface water flood risk late Consultation evidence being drawn to the committee’s attention. A letter from the Environment Agency in a follow up from the July 2014 flooding suggesting important  changes of wording to the draft Local plan proposed housing site consideration, that had not been drawn to the committee’s attention nor been entered into the Local Plan draft! An apt time to produce this evidence by the councillor, whilst debating Constraints, shame on officers for suppressing it!

Another piece of evidence was called for, a Hazardous Industry’s safety Report. Again UNAVAILABLE!

Apparently, despite the Castle Point Council Development committee doubling up as the CPBC Hazardous Substances Authority, the local authority do not have a copy of these Safety Reports! As unlikely as this sounds councillors were told that the Safety Reports are held by Essex County Council!

A group debating Housing Constraints needs to know the potential for an incident and the size of area this incident could impact upon.

We felt the evening’s Agenda Paperwork contained misleading and contradictory evidence. Throughout the Core strategy and Local Plan process there appears a preference for in-house terminology and wording used to support the preferred Party line of the day!

Below are a few Extracts from the Agenda Paper with concerns of ours that require attention. Agenda paperwork in Bold;

Constraints Agenda, Page 1“a maximum of 2,469 homes being delivered in the next 15 years (SHLAA 2013)”

Remember that the 200 dwelling per annum target figure has not altered since the days of the Core Strategy, 2,469 is equivalent to 164 dwellings per annum across the 15 years.

Is the SHLAA 2013 considered to be a “sound” document for T and F members to be considering especially as a 2014 update has been published?

Constraints Agenda, Page 2

“viability assessment work undertaken by Peter Brett Associates, indicates that higher density flatted development is likely to be unviable in Castle Point, particularly during the early plan period, and particularly on Canvey Island.“

Evidence from Development Committee findings would suggest otherwise, where Canvey is concerned there have been many flatted developments applied for and approved.

Constraints Agenda, Page 3

“Whilst benefiting from some of the best sea defences in the country, Canvey Island is nonetheless located within flood risk zone 3.”

Canvey sea defence was built to provide protection to 1 in 1,000 year standard. Funding for improvements are not secured.

Contrast this with Climate Adaption EU Netherlands state; “The safety standards indicate a minimum level of safety. A safety standard of 1/10,000 per year means that the coastal flood defence must be high and strong enough to withstand storm surges that have a likelihood of occurrence of 1/10,000 per year. Approximately 2/3rds of the Netherlands defences meet this standard.”

There are NO statutary levels of Flood Defence adopted for the Thames Estuary. The confidence in the abilities of the Canvey sea defence is limited, especially when compared with the Dutch defences, therefore a more cautious approach is required.

Constraints Agenda, Page 5

“The escarpment rising up from Benfleet Creek to Hadleigh, known locally as Hadleigh Downs “…. “Additionally, this open landscape affords spectacular views across the wider Thames Estuary.”

Would officers be suggesting that considerable harm would be cast upon these “spectacular views” if development were to be allowed at the Dutch Village? The Dutch Village being within 1.5km of Hadleigh Downs.

Constraints Agenda, Page 6

“Whilst the Council is normally supportive of the redevelopment of previously developed land on Canvey Island in order to ensure that the built environment is of a high quality and contributes towards community well-being, development of open Greenfield land is not supported in the same way. In accordance with the NPPF, the Council would expect the sequential approach to be applied, and therefore open greenfield land on Canvey Island would not be available for development unless land in other parts of the borough had been developed, or was otherwise unavailable for development.”

Question 1. Why was the Dutch Village identified by this authority as the single large Green Belt housing site in the Core Strategy?

Question 2. The Agenda refers to “in the short to medium term a further 39ha of greenfield land on Canvey Island”  then in the following paragraph refers to Green Belt land “an additional 39ha for consideration in addition to this in the longer term.”                                                                                       Is this the same 39ha of land mentioned in both paragraphs? Which area of land is this?  Is it identified as being Green field land, due to the CPBC Boundary review being assumed as already approved and decided, despite the wording of the last paragraph of Page 7? Is the 39ha of land considered to be available in the short, medium and long term? If not, which?

Constraints Agenda, Page 7

“Given the need to review the Green Belt boundary to accommodate the identified needs for sustainable development, it is necessary to step away from localised assessment of Green Belt function, and to consider the strategic role of the Green Belt.” Continued onto;

And Page 8

“Strategic Green Belt Corridors within Castle Point: Daws Heath “Ring”: A ring of Green Belt around the settlement of Daws Heath.”

We would refer you to two Paragraphs in the Baker Associates, Sustainability Appraisal CS October 2009 that suggests;

“4.6 The Spatial Strategy also allocates three sites for development on Green Belt land.  There is the potential for adverse sustainability impacts related to the loss of greenfield land from these allocations.”

  “4.7 Part of the SA was to review the sustainability assessment method used by Castle Point to help select sites for allocation.  The review of the outcomes of the site assessment revealed the site scoring highest against the assessment sustainability criteria has not been allocated.  This site is greenfield land to the east of Rayleigh Road.  Neither the DPD or site assessment process gives a justification for this site not being allocated.  The SA suggests that the allocation of this site could have preferable implications for sustainable development than other ‘mainland’ allocations.”

CPBC appear to have an inconsistent approach to Sustainability issues, why then should we choose to adopt a Strategic Approach to protect Green Belt sites at this late stage, when previously this Council chose the exact opposite? Whilst we may be challenged as being divisive with this statement readers must remember how the Canvey Green Belt Campaign were initially treated, isolated as the sole selected large Green Belt area for development. We are simply using this extract to indicate one difference in Consultants Assessment and the work of the local authority. We suggest in densely urbanised areas, the GB function in “Preventing Sprawl” remains equally, if not more important!

Constraints Agenda, Page 8

“Strategic Green Belt Corridors between Castle Point and other Boroughs:

Western Green Belt: The Green Belt to the west of Castle Point …… also prevents towns in Castle Point merging with settlements to the west in Basildon and Thurrock.”

Officers should have been asked what width of green belt strip is considered necessary  to Perform this Function, this may have put some mainland residents minds at rest!

Constraints Agenda, Page 10

“Competing Needs and Uses for Land.

The loss of the Green Belt will bring these uses into closer proximity with the urban area, causing disturbance to both the animals housed, and to neighbouring properties.”

Do officers recognise the close proximity on Canvey Island of the urban fringe and the important ecological sites, and the potential damage that vandalism and fires are causing? Do officers recognise the value of sites such as the Dutch Village area in acting as a buffer between the urban area and the important ecological sites on Canvey?

Constraints Agenda, Page 11 Surface Water Management Plan

The wording (in the last paragraph on Page 11, and first paragraph of Page 12) refers to “throughout the Borough”  and goes onto refer to “control the flow paths of surface water.”

The officer would fully realise the irrelevance of surface water flow paths in respect of Canvey Island, can he explain why the reference to “throughout the Borough” was made?

  1. Extract From:- Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2014

Constraints

“Where a planning application has been approved without objection from the Environment Agency then it is considered that flood risk issues have been resolved.”…  “However, those sites in Flood Risk Zone 3 are only considered to be appropriate in terms of flood risk if they are suitable in all other regards. A site which is at high risk of flooding, and would also have other negative consequences would not pass the exception test set out in the NPPF.”

Regarding “without objection from the Environment Agency then it is considered that flood risk issues have been resolved.”…”this is not strictly true. Often the EA will draw the Council’s attention to concerns such as the opinion of the Emergency Planner or to the Council being confident that Insurance against Flooding can be obtained over the lifetime of the property. This is never discussed by the Development Committee nor can guarantees be given!

Regarding: “However, those sites in Flood Risk Zone 3 are only considered to be appropriate in terms of flood risk if they are suitable in all other regards. A site which is at high risk of flooding, and would also have other negative consequences would not pass the exception test set out in the NPPF.”

This appears to cast suitability, sustainability and soundness doubts over the Canvey Island sites identified as suitable for development contained in the New Local Plan!

Constraints Agenda, Page 3

“Open spaces – open space provision is highly valued by local residents, and also important to their health and wellbeing. It also helps to alleviate pressure on areas of nature conservation importance by providing opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation away from nature conservation habitats.” 

Given the tight constraint around Greenfield areas on Canvey, created by the busy outer road network, does this strategy not contradict further the suitability of the identified housing supply sites on Canvey Island? There is no opportunity to provide compensation for any loss of open space provision!

Many of these issues concern other Green Belt sites right across the Borough. The inconsistent and questionable evidence supporting the Local Plan will not assist their defence at appeal.

Harrogate showing Castle Point the Local Plan short term fix – ahead of Green Belt battles!

The Green Belt issue that has caused Castle Point Council endless problems in creating a Local Plan, and previously a Core Strategy, has some similarities with Harrogate’s Local Plan process.

Lessons may be available for Castle Point Councillors as the Harrogate process is at a more advanced stage.

Harrogate have submitted a Plan indicating housing target less than half of the minimum estimated need for the area.

The Planning Inspector examining the Harrogate Plan and Harrogate’s Planning and Development officer have given guidance to the Councillors that their Local Plan should be basically withdrawn and a new Plan prepared indicating more housing numbers.

Instead Harrogate Councillors voted in favour of suspending the Local Plan. Which in some way has  the effect of maintaining their Plan but with drip fed amendments.

In the case of Castle Point with the out of date 1998 Local Plan in position, it can be seen that some developers are coming forward with unwelcome, but possibly necessary, housing development proposals.

Whilst in the case of the Glebelands proposal the Planning Inspector agreed with their Appeal the Government’s Secretary of State considered the Castle Point Local Plan process meant that allowing the Appeal would in some ways be premature.

With the funding set aside and in place to defend Appeals in Castle Point, residents and Councillors may well learn how many or few schemes would come forward at least in the important 5 year Plan period.

This may lead to a developer led Plan, but the stalling strategy has some attraction, in view of the un-popularity of what has been proposed within the draft Castle Point Local Plan.

Whether or not you agree or otherwise, little development has taken place on the Castle Point mainland over the past 40 years. If  CPBC councillors were prepared to take a determined stand, a balanced amount of growth, consistent with the ability of our infrastructure to support, and in line with the districts constraints, may be achieved and acceptable to all concerned.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign consider the issue is, will CPBC recognise their moral duty when they apply the constraints argument against developing individual areas?

Surely Hazardous area, Flood Risk Zones alongside Green Belts require appropriate weighting!

Planning resource article:-

Hearing sessions for Harrogate Borough Council’s Sites and Policies Development Plan Document (DPD) were postponed earlier this month after inspector Phillip Ware warned that the authority’s annual housing target of 390 homes was less than half of the minimum estimates published in a strategic housing market assessment last year.

In a statement issued ahead of a full council meeting last week, Harrogate Council’s head of planning and development Dave Allenby said Mr Ware’s concerns went “to the heart of the document”, which includes the council’s development management policies and site allocations up to 2024.

Ware said the council “will now need to prepare a new plan that looks at the possibility of accommodating a significant increase in housing and employment growth”.

But at the meeting councillors instead voted to write to Ware seeking to suspend the plan’s examination, challenge the new homes target, and explore the potential for the document to be amended with additional employment land allocations.

A spokesman said that the alternative move against officers’ recommendations had been tabled by the authority’s cabinet.

“The full council decided that they were going to write to Phillip Ware and ask to suspend the DPD examination in order to give the council more time to find extra employment land and to query the housing numbers,” he said.

The spokesman added that councillors could look again at withdrawing the DPD in the coming weeks, depending on the response from Ware.

A.Lainton’s viewpoint on the Harrogate issue:-

Surely they are mad?  They will be found unsound and thrown to the wolves.  Of course since the localism act there is nothing an inspector can do to force withdrawal.

It is now a matter for the LPA alone.

And the LPA can ask forever the inspector to make recommendations to amend the plan.

There is no need to ever be found unsound – just keep amending the inquiry alive.

Better a plan that triggers the prematurity criterion on some policies and sites at least than a fully withdrawn plan that leaves you completely defenceless.