Tag Archives: Core Strategy

Castle Point Local Plan – the Next Move. Persuasion, Manipulation, another Vote? Constitutional “cock up” or Officer style Intervention?

Further to the debacle, that is the Local Plan making system in Castle Point, let me refer you back to the current and past plight of our Borough Council.

From the original emerging Plan, the Core Strategy 2009, withdrawn 2011, onto the Local Plan 2014 which made it into print but only as a Daft document before being abandoned, onto the 2016 Local plan officially withdrawn in April 2017, without examination via its Failure of the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring local authorities.

Sajid Javid Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced within threats of Intervention;

“On 16 November 2017 I made a statement to the House with an update on local plan progress. Up to date plans, including local plans, are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications.

I made clear that a lack of progress will no longer be tolerated.

The Government have abolished top-down regional planning.

But a locally-led planning system requires elected local representatives to take the lead, listen to local residents and business, and set out a clear framework to build new homes, support the local economy and protect the environment.

Local plans also provide the framework within which groups can prepare neighbourhood plans to shape development at local level.

Most councils have seized the opportunity that localism provides; a small minority have not.”   

Castle Point Council as most will realise, under the threat of Government Intervention, agreed to the Secretary of State’s demand for a new Local Plan 2018 to be delivered adhering to a strict timetable.

The consequences of not doing so were made clear repeatedly by both the council leader and its chief executive.

By keeping to the schedule the “benefit” would be that Intervention may be avoided and the content would be under the control and input of local councillors.

In truth, the councillors were treated to a small number of briefings, whilst the ceo, leader and deputy and S.Rogers, consultant, Strategic Planning Regeneration, drew up the local Plan 2018.

The result was yet another Local Plan in which Housing Growth was inappropriately distributed.

Originally within the Core Strategy the growth was in Green Belt on Canvey Island, ignoring the Sequential Testing requirement of Flood Risk zones.

Then the daft 2014 Local Plan was proposed with Housing Growth on Canvey Green Belt and included a contribution on the mainland also. This came under tremendous criticism from local pressure groups and was also subsequently abandoned.

Then the 2016 Local Plan emerged with a more seemingly agreeable distribution of Housing Growth using previously developed Green Belt and regenerated Brownfield sites only. Subsequently withdrawn, although not examined.

Finally, or not as the case may be, the 2018 Local Plan at the hands of the previously mentioned cllr smith and ceo marchant.

This time Failing yet again, but due to an apparent overload of Housing Growth in the now beleaguered southern part of the Borough, that is Canvey Island (again) and this time west of Benfleet, or Jotmans Farm as it IS known!

Somewhat surprisingly the local ward representatives of Jotmans, joined alongside the “majority” of Canvey Island representatives, to reject the Local Plan 2018.

Amongst much confusion and flustered, mumbled, conversation between the CPBC ceo and leader, the vote was counted twice, almost as though it could not be believed, but both times the vote remained 16 -15 against adoption!

The Mayor was then instructed to close the Meeting!

If you don’t believe me, you can see it HERE.

However, following a Defeated Motion the CPBC Constitution directs a different, correct, approach should have been taken!

16. VOTING

16.1 Majority

Unless this Constitution provides otherwise, any matter will be decided by a simple majority of those Members voting and present in the room at the time the question was put.

For any decision to be made there needs to be a majority of Members voting in favour of the motion or recommendation.

If the majority of Members vote against the motion or recommendation, no decision has been made, and a further motion or recommendation will be invited by the Mayor.

The ceo, leader, Mayor and legal officer obviously did not want to allow the process to get away from their control by accepting an alternative Motion that may have restricted their options. Perhaps they are hoping to manipulate a repeat debate in the near future, resulting with a different result, if those dissenting councillors can be “persuaded” to relent!

smiff

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Canvey Island in the lap of the Gods, otherwise known as Castle Point Council Leader and CEO! Better for CPBC to Control the Destiny of Canvey Green Belt, or the Government Chief Planner?

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents should be concerned to know that in exactly 4 weeks time, to the day, we will learn whether the desperate attempts by our councillors, and professional officers, to avoid Government Intervention over the debacle of the cpbc Local Plan has been worthwhile.

We were told that Intervention, “Takes away the ability for us (cpbc) to control the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”

Previously in the Local Plan process Canvey Island was the ONLY area within the Borough that these, mainly, same councillors could agree to the release of Green Belt land for development, during the whole Plan period!

Obviously the Inspector rejected this idea, stating quite clearly “some development at Canvey Island may be required to meet local need”.

Plain to see then, that the level of land needed for Housing Development on Canvey Island, did NOT require the release of Green Belt!

BUT NO, cpbc chief executive, in his infinite wisdom, thought the opposite, and further proposed that, Canvey Island Green Belt, should remain the single area forming the nucleus of the Green Belt Housing Growth in the Borough’s Local Plan, whilst adding the mainland Green Belt sites for the 2014 version.

This belying the Inspector’s clear intentions, contained within his critical letter, addressed to cpbc Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods, strongly suggesting the Withdrawal of the Core Strategy plan!

Canvey Green Belt was only removed, gratefully, from the 2016 version of the cpbc Local Plan’s Housing growth sites, to add support to the politically driven protection granted to, selected sites identified as, “virgin” Green Belt land.

Now we have just 4 weeks to wait to learn how, and why, the Local Plan process, is better in the hands of our local councillors, rather than the government Intervention team.

In CPBC’s own words; “the Secretary of State wrote again to the Borough Council in March 2018, indicating that he was minded to continue with intervention since there was no clear timetable for preparing and adopting a local plan for the Borough.”

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.
Members of the Council will not be involved and will be excluded from the plan making process.
In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG, (ministry of housing community and local government,) the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale. This may cause other non-intended consequences such as the inability to attract staff”

The mood of Residents, particularly mainlanders, suggest that only if substantial Green Belt is protected from development, will it have been worthwhile staving off Intervention.

Canvey Residents can be sure that the extra Constraints that should have been applied to Canvey Island in isolation, would ONLY have been applied correctly by Government officials. History has proven that lead group councillors, in collusion with certain officers, have only sought to use these Canvey Constraints, to lower the OVERALL Housing Supply figures ACROSS of the whole Castle Point area!

In effect cementing the lead group’s controlling status quo in the follow up local election by quelling the mainland unrest by removing the contentious Green Belt sites from the 2016 local plan.

Look also at similar protectionist decision-making at Brentwood council, with their plan to develop a Garden Village at Dunton.

Note also the effects the Brentwood plans will have on Castle Point residents, with the amount of proposed housing development alongside the main A127 commuter route adding to the Basildon planned development.

Divided by the A127, Dunton Hills Garden Village will have little or no impact upon Brentwood. Those of us living south of the A127, especially in Castle Point and Basildon, will bear the brunt of the strain on infrastructure and commuting issues.

Dunton Hills Garden Village, which Brentwood Borough Council says could initially deliver about 2,500 homes, with the potential for another 1,500, has come under the most fierce criticism from Thurrock Council, that along with Basildon, borders the borough close to where the development would be built on 260 hectares of land south of the A127. *
Brentwood Borough Council is meeting on Thursday, November 8, at the Brentwood Centre to discuss the next stage of the borough’s Local Plan – principally how and where to cater for the 7,752 new homes the borough needs to find between 2016 and 2033. (yourthurrock.com)
*wasn’t we informed by cpbc that in the case of a Garden Village proposal at the Blinking Owl site, North Thundersley, that 8,000 dwellings would be needed to make the installation of infrastructure financially viable?

Look at these statistics, area, population etc and judge whether there is a balance of growth distribution across ours and Brentwood boroughs.

Brentwood: Area: 153.1 km², Population 73,600 (2011). 7,752 new homes.
Castle Point: Area 45.08 km, Population 88,011 (2011). new homes tbd (see below)

The expectation, is for cpbc to capitulate to the Government Chief Planner, and reintroduce the 2014 daft Local Plan with these implications for us;

The council has identified 13 locations for housing development, with 4,000 more homes required in the period to 2031 to meet growing demands of our community. This means around 200 new homes a year would be built across the whole borough. Without the plan, it is feared that there would have to be at least 7,000 more homes.

Don’t forget that the cpbc lead group and some independent councillors, agreed this daft Plan. Only under the threat of a Mainland residents backlash at the Polling Station, was this Plan rejected!

Below are Maps of the Brentwood and Thurrock boroughs, the implications on Canvey Island and Castle Point, by the population and Industrial growths of these two neighbouring areas, can be easily imagined if complimented by similar growth in Castle Point!

What of cpbc leader’s promise of infrastructure before development? With growth in the neighbouring areas and no realistic likelihood of Highway improvements, new access to Canvey, dualling of Canvey Way, Somnes Avenue widening, Roscommon Way completion etc, the likely announcement of many large developments sites bodes ill for Canvey Island!

Castle Point Residents will be eager to learn, the benefits of “control of the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”, over the dreaded Government Intervention!

Screenshot (18)

Screenshot (19)

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

 

Canvey New Access Road, and the Promised Yachting Marina just a Dream! Any wonder Islanders take a Pinch of Salt with the Promises?

It is usual prior to Elections that Canvey Island residents are subject to certain infrastructure Promises from Castle Point Lead Group representatives.

This year has been slightly different in that Little, if Anything, has been raised about the proposed new access road to Canvey Island, via the Manor way to the promised land that is Thurrock!

Waterside Farm

Waterside Roundabout – Unusually clear!

Even though the Leader cllr Riley did touch upon no Housing prior to improved Infrastructure in an Echo interview, this was under the duress of imminent Government Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan process.

More Telling with respect of Road Infrastructure and new Access to Canvey Island is contained in a personal response from Essex County Council (ECC) regarding unadopted Roads.
The ECC made perfectly clear the dire straits they feel they are in where finance for Highways is concerned.

It appears that even if Government finances were made available to construct a new Canvey Island Access Road, ECC may well be extremely reluctant to go ahead with the road’s construction, due to it being their responsibility to maintain!

Essex County council wrote;
“we have limited funds available to maintain those areas for which we actually are responsible.”

Canvey Island Residents should really be far more sceptical where promises from both Essex County Council AND Castle Point Council are concerned.

We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign were subjected to fanciful promises from no less than a team headed by the Castle Point Chief Executive and two Senior “professional” Officers, when it was arranged for us to meet following our successful Referendum on protecting Canvey Island’s Green Belt in the summer of 2009.

Having made clear to the cpbc representatives that, by a 99%+ majority, Canvey Residents were concerned over the cpbc plans to develop Housing on the Island’s few remaining patches of Green Belt, we were treated to a presentation of the proposed RSPB site on Canvey West Marsh and then an attempted engagement over the planned redevelopment of the Town Centre!

This we had to rudely interrupt the meeting over as they were distracting asides, only to then hear of cpbc’s intentions to convert the OIKOS hazardous Industrial site – into a Yachting Marina !!!

“The Council has a long‐term ambition to see operations at the Hazardous Installations at South Canvey cease, improving the safety of existing and future residents living on Canvey Island.”

“With regard to the deliverability of this ambition, the council’s Policy CP9 is a long term policy which looks beyond 2020 to a time when dependence on gas imports and fossil fuels in general is significantly reducing.”

The levels of intelligence that Castle Point Council credit Canvey Islanders with is woefully inadequate and insulting.

It is undoubtedly this arrogance that has taken cpbc to the threshold of Government Intervention following 3 attempted publications of a Local Plan, each ignominiously either forced into Withdrawal or Rejection, further endangering the Borough’s Green Belt and increasing the levels of population at Risk of Flooding or Industrial Accident.

Update.

Since this Post was published, an election leaflet has been delivered from the controlling group. 

It states that “Plans for the final stage of Roscommon Way are in progress.” and our MP and her colleagues “are demanding Government funds the third access road”.

Photograph Courtesy: Echo Newspaper and Google 

Canvey Housing to replace Garages. The Borough’s Housing takes Priority although Officers need to Get a Grip of Fact over Fiction!

It might be Funny, if it wasn’t Canvey Island!

More Canvey Development will be the Agenda, for the Castle Point planning committee this week. This time demolish garages and replace with 4 houses at Church Close, Canvey.

This time around the Development Applicant is Castle Point Borough Council themselves!

Canvey Big Local £1 million

Fair enough, the Borough needs Housing and we have the Chief Planner to please, if Intervention is to be avoided. However the context may be worthy of some consideration in this instance.

Church Close, Canvey Island, falls within the “Canvey Big Local” area, the area allotted £1,000,000 as an area in west Canvey with social and deprivation issues.

“The area does suffer from some levels of deprivation with approximately 38% of children under 16 being classed as ‘in poverty’ compared to 18% on average for both Castle Point and Essex and 5.9% of households within the area deemed to be in fuel poverty.

Residents have reported that a key issue for them is crime and antisocial behaviour.” 

The thought did occur that the land the garages are sited on might have been better used as an area the “Canvey Big Local” scheme might have been able to utilise for the betterment of the youth of the area rather than Housing, especially as the garages are little used and must bring in little income to the local authority.

But Housing Numbers for the Borough is the tunnel vision focus and Canvey must take more is the order of the day!

Taking this focus forward cpbc case officer comments;

“The application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding.

Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development. However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.

Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.

Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt. 

Taking these factors into account it is considered that the ‘catchment’ for the sequential test ought to be drawn around the boundaries of Canvey Island, the whole of which is within Flood Zone 3, so there are no reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding, and the application is considered to pass the sequential test.”

Some might suggest a little bit of a “giveaway” that council members have at some stage exerted their own preferred policy over officers’ ethical planning guidance.

Bordering on the comical is the case officer’s attempts to justify his/her decision Advice for committee members!

“The Flood Risk Assessment contains structural calculations at Appendix B, however, notwithstanding the illegible handwriting, it does not appear that these contain a non-technical summary explaining what the calculations demonstrate.

If members decide to grant planning permission, a condition is necessary to require the developer to submit demonstration that that the buildings will be able to withstand the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures likely to act upon them in modelled flood events.”

“The proposed surface water drainage strategy states that attenuated discharge will take place to the existing surface water drainage infrastructure. The planning authority are aware that ground conditions in the area (clay soils) are fairly impermeable which means that infiltration techniques are unlikely to work effectively. There are no surface water bodies on or in the vicinity of the site which could receive surface water from the proposed development and the drainage of surface water to the surface water sewer would therefore seem to be an appropriate option.
The site is not considered to be at risk of flooding from other sources except from surface water. This form of flooding can be a problem on Canvey Island, although the site is not highlighted as a particular hot spot.

The proposed discharge rate is, however, not known, and there is no demonstration of permission in principle from the relevant water authority to connect to the surface water drainage infrastructure”

In normal circumstances one would expect finalised plans for flooding to be included in the proposal, especially as cpbc are the applicant and supposedly being fully experienced and informed of such local matters, rather than allowing plans to follow as a Condition!

All looking very Professional so far then?

So, being in a socially deprived area, what form of Housing would improve matters?

Certainly not Housing that offers;

“There are no first floor windows in the rear or other side elevations.

The proposed dwellings would be located 1m from the rear boundaries of the existing properties”

Will this standard of Housing do anything to alleviate the socio economical blight of the area?

And if this wasn’t all embarrassing enough, remember in this case Castle Point Council themselves are the Applicant, the proposal’s paperwork uses the withdrawn and ridiculed 2010 Core Strategy as evidence to support this application;

“The Castle Point Borough Council Core Strategy outlines a housing requirement of 5,000 new homes between April 2001 and March 2026. Most of the requirements can be meet by housing provision in the urban area, particularly town centres, main route corridors and other undeveloped land. However, it is not considered possible to meet the entire boroughs housing needs from the above sources, particularly on Canvey Island.

The proposed site although not in an allocated development area is surrounding by housing and lies equidistant to the proposed development areas of ‘East of Canvey Road’, Castle View School’ and ‘Canvey Town Centre’. The site can be considered a windfall site.”

The Core Strategy document is something even cpbc refer to as: “It should be noted that the Submission Core Strategy does not represent Council policy.”

Stand by for more committee member Hand Ringing tomorrow as they reluctantly give their Approval!

No, You Really Could Not Make It Up!

 

Canvey Island Nimbyism? RTPI attack on Ageism amounts to Stereotyping – who else to “Watch this Space”?

Protest against Green Belt development in Castle Point, is definitely not the sole domain of Canvey Islanders.

Whilst we feel we have more to protest about than most, despite being considered to be “not living in the Real World”, even by some of our own representatives, it cannot be argued that issues facing Canvey Island are not unique.

Whether it be the fact Canvey Island is the most densely urbanised part of the Borough, the removal of Canvey’s Rapid Response Vehicle, the 3rd access Road saga, the broken drainage system, the Roscommon Way Racers, lack of street lighting on unadopted roads, or living alongside 2 major Hazardous Industrial sites, concerned Canvey residents are often greeted with a “them again?” luke-warm welcome!

But that is not to exclude our mainland neighbours who are equally willing to object against planning issues where Green Belt and other supposedly worthy development proposals are concerned.

Now it appears it has been recognised that the majority of those willing to get involved in the planning process are of a certain age group.

“Currently, the majority of those who engage in planning are over 55 years. Response rates to a typical pre-planning consultation are around 3% of those directly made aware of it. In Local Plan consultations, this figure can fall to less than 1% of the population of a district. Yet planning decisions are based upon this sample.
Well-managed consultations start early, seek a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers to engage, but they too frequently fail to engage with the younger age groups – yet we are planning their future. What other organisation would base important decisions on this level of response without checking to see if it was ‘representative’. Yet this is what happens in planning decisions.”

So says Sue Manns, the Regional Director of national planning consultancy Pegasus Group, in an article for the Royal Town Planning Institute. Pegasus being the planning group involved in the Jotmans Farm development Inquiry.

The article appears to suggest that through the lack of engagement with a “younger” consultee audience, modern development plans struggle to be adopted through the objections from those more senior amongst us residents.

“We need to start a nationwide conversation around the spatial impacts of technology change, embrace young and dynamic thinkers and those who see change as exciting, and let’s rebalance the objection-driven engagement culture which has dominated planning over the past 50 years.”

Whilst Canvey residents may not be considered by cpbc, and perhaps Sue Manns, to be dynamic thinkers, they would be wrong in their assumption to consider us as not recognising change when it is exciting, as long as it is realistic!

The cpbc promise of the grandly titled “Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan” is a case in point. Unfortunately scepticism was well founded, as the lack of tangible progress alongside the failure to incorporate the proposed Dutch / seaside architectural features into new proposals, has led to blandly designed and cramped Flatted and Retail developments to pass approval!

 

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Building materials to reflect the overall palette, drawing on the Dutch, Coastal Town and Art Deco influences to create a scheme with a unique identity.
Colours should be vibrant to establish the new retail area as a destination. Shop front improvements along Furtherwick Road should be designed with the distinctive features of an English Seaside Town.

With prose being used, similar to that above, to encourage support for aspirational design schemes, it is hardly any wonder that Sue Manns has identified a failure of the industry to engage with a younger audience in planning consultations. The lack of younger generation involvement may be true, but that is not a reason to support the thought that adult and senior views should be ignored simply to support any particular development plan that may indeed, not be suitable for a particular area.

We on Canvey Island have seen the value of “local knowledge” within the Plan making process!

When the 2009 cpbc Core Strategy attempt at a local plan was published the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, through “local knowledge” recognised the attempt to mislead the Examining Inspector with its “inappropriate housing site selection” policies, which “commits to Green Belt release in an area of potential high flood risk”, as well as it being obvious he would not be “convinced that maintaining the current distribution of development across the Borough is justified given the existing constraints”.

This despite cpbc officers being party to the clear intent of the mainland lead group to allow themselves to be influenced by, and produce a local plan driven by, what the Inspector politely described as “Local Factors”!

In this light, of course we HAD to get involved, despite being within the age bracket that Sue Manns and her planner colleagues have an issue with!

Committing to attending a 2 week Examination following production of a lengthy consultation submission is not achievable by all, however when your own local authority have schemed and approved such a discreditable document, it must be challenged and exposed for what it was. Not everybody is in a position, or willing to commit to taking part in plan making process, as it bound to require taking unpaid leave or using holiday periods. Something those with young families for instance may be unwilling or unable to commit to.

Perhaps Planners and developers would prefer that no residents, whatever age bracket they fall into, take part in the planning process? One thing we did find was that the Examining Inspectors appear to welcome local input!

The feedback from our Referendum equally challenged Sue Mann’s assumption that a younger demographic would automatically give the different response that she and her  planner colleagues would hope for, by achieving “a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers”.

Castle Point council gave evidence, indeed if it can be considered of value, that they extended their consultation to specifically target established groups of youngsters as part of the Core Strategy consultation.

What the Canvey Green Belt Campaign witnessed however, was perfectly clear. By calling on residents at their homes and putting to them our Referendum question, it was absolutely clear, that the loss of yet more Canvey Green Space to the Borough’s Housing Need was indisputably opposed across generations!

Planners may begin to achieve the respect they crave if they were more driven by an local area’s actual needs. Aspirational architectural computer imagery with green spaces screening dense urbanisation deceive nobody.

Equally the promises of Affordable Homes, later challenged as being unviable, is a deception we are getting more and more familiar with, especially in the light of Green Belt release and sky high housing prices.

RTPI and Sue Manns, nice try, but must try harder!

ps Lets not feel too much sympathy for the industry: “The chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon has insisted he deserves his £110m bonus because he has “worked very hard” to reinvigorate the housing market.” (Guardian)

A link to the Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan can be found HERE.

The full blog post by Sue Manns can be found via this LINK.

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Oh the Irony! Councillors Propose a Referendum!

Canvey Islanders feel they are Not Listened to!

Hence they held a Referendum to Protect what is left of the Island’s Green Belt, then a Petition was completed objecting to large scale development.

All to No Avail.

Both Referendum and Petition were Ignored by castle point borough council!

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Now we learn that it is the intention of Rochford councillors to carry out a Referendum over the district’s Local Plan.

Councillor John Mason, leader of the Green and Rochford District Residents Group said that during the early stages of the new housing plan, residents have complained “they feel that they will not be listened to” about their council and councillors.

No doubt Rochford council will spot the opportunity of the “Tick Box” exercise, as have castle point council, in suggesting this fills the community involvement requisite!

You may well remember that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign supporters went out in 16 groups of 2, over a two week period seeking the views of residents about cpbc plans to develop Canvey Island Green Belt.

Over 6,500 votes were cast and under MP Rebecca Harris, cllrs Ray Howard and Dave Blackwell’s observation an objection via 99.13% of voters was recorded!

Typically the daft Local Plan 2014 ignored these views!

Following this a Petition was raised by a group of 6 Canvey Ladies and a total of 12,000 names were added to their Petition list. The Petition was against large scale development on Canvey, whilst the opportunity to protect the local builders could remain.

The Petition has also had No Impact with those controlling cpbc!

This despite the constraints that would normally be applied to development in areas such as Canvey!

Whilst Rochford does not have constraining issues, such as 2 Hazardous Industrial sites, being in a Flood Risk Zone 3 area, having the access issues that Canvey is restricted by nor the whole of the town being a Critical Drainage Area, we do wish the Rochford councillors success in their Referendum.

Far greater success and acknowledgement than Canvey Island residents received by the controlling group of our local authority!

The Echo article on the Rochford Referendum news is available via this LINK HERE.