Tag Archives: CPBC

Castle Point Local Plan Intervention – No Exclusion Zone! Are we being Misled ahead of May elections, or are we in Safe Hands?

The fear of Government Intervention over Castle Point Council, hangs over the Borough like some big Bogey Man in a Nightmare!

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I have seen it quoted on social media that “No Housing” is not an option for our Area.

The Secretary of State, having read cpbc’s explanation as to why they were amongst the 15 local authorities causing him most concern over their Local Plan replied, “In terms of the intervention criteria, Castle Point appears to have failed to make progress on plan-making, the policies do not appear to be up to date and there is high housing pressure. Given that your Council has said it will not produce a Local Plan until after the Joint Plan has been produced and that the Joint Plan is not due to be submitted until 2020 it appears possible that Plan production could be accelerated through intervention.”

And yet the cpbc leader Cllr riley suggests under the Echo introduction – NOT a single house in Castle Point should be built until plans for infrastructure has been in put in place, a council leader has claimed – despite the threat of government intervention looming over his head.

“We have never had the infrastructure contributions we should have had in Castle Point, and we are now in this position.” “They go hand in hand and we have been prioritising the infrastructure, and I think most of our residents would appreciate that.”

The previous attempts at a Local Plan, first saw Canvey Island basically stitched up to provide the Dutch Village Green Belt release for the Borough’s Housing Supply, then the Challis, Stanley, Smith 2014 Plan to again promote the Dutch Village release but this time to also include contentious mainland green belt sites.

There followed a massive reaction from Green Belt campaign groups on the mainland that came to a head at the local elections which saw a rise in ukip voting with the unseating of the then cpbc leader Cllr Challis.

Since then a 2016 Plan has been found to fail the Duty to Cooperate. Criticism has also been aimed at the lack of proposed Housing Numbers contained in the Plan. With some members of the Lead Group apparently suggesting that the officers failed to note the wish amongst some council members that the Blinking Owl should be released from the green belt so as to contribute to the Housing Supply.

This is an isolated site that is in need of infrastructure which may be what Cllr Riley had in mind.

The timing of the press response alongside the lack of information from cpbc as to the procedures of the Local Plan and the Intervention, may be an invite to speculate that Intervention is more likely than not.

What you make of the competency of the Local Plan makers is for you to decide.

Local Plan making is expected to:

“Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. They should address the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change.”

“Local Plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where. Only policies that provide a clear indication of how a decision maker should react to a development proposal should be included in the plan.”

“Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the area in the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver: ● the homes and jobs needed in the area;”

“the provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development; ● the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, ”

“Local planning authorities with Green Belts in their area should establish Green Belt boundaries in their Local Plans which set the framework for Green Belt and settlement policy. ”

” When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.”

Given the concerns of some Castle Point Residents and Green Belt campaigners fearing that Intervention would remove local interests, concerns and input from the Planning process, it is good to hear this official message regarding the current situation:

From the Horses Mouth:

“Castle Point has failed to convince the Secretary of State that they are doing enough to get a Local Plan in place.

A final decision is still to be made and will be made once the Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain has provided the Secretary of State with further advice on the current status of Local Plan production and what can be done to speed it up.

If intervention were to occur then a Local Plan that meets all of the necessary legal and procedural requirements would be produced which would include consulting with members of the local community.” 

Link to the Echo article is HERE.

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At Castle Point the “narrative around the potential that development can offer” doesn’t really Cut It, with Residents!

Having had the opportunity to read the review document you would have noticed that the primary task of the peer team was initially to consider the following five components believe to be critical to councils’ performance and improvement:

1. Understanding of the local place and priority setting
2. Leadership of Place
3. Organisational leadership and governance
4. Financial planning and viability
5. Capacity to deliver.

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Runnymede Towers

In addition to these issues CPBC, it would seem, specifically asked the Peer Team to /review/provide feedback on strategic housing and environment, including open spaces.
The response outcome is:-

“New residential development inevitably creates concerns around loss of green space, and whilst such space undoubtedly offers amenity and possibly wildlife value it very often offers very little by way of recreational opportunity for local people. It’s important to remember that new neighbourhoods can introduce valuable, accessible open space and recreational and green infrastructure opportunities if designed well, entirely new assets.

It’s therefore vital that the council engages all of its skills and experience in maximising the potential gains from this process, and this means involving those who will be responsible for the future management of new sites. The council should therefore aim to create an alternative narrative around the potential that development can offer beyond meeting housing need alone.”

It would seem questionable as to why this additional task was specifically included, knowing how emotive the subject of developing Castle Point’s green belt has become.

The Peer Team’s response reads very much like part of a developers planning application argument as to why a parcel of green belt should be developed.

It is not unreasonable that those of us dedicated to the preservation of the Borough’s green belt and open spaces, will conclude that there could have been a sinister motive for this additional question to have been brought forward, knowing that its subsequent response will now be considered for favourable planning evidence

Persimmon approach the First Hurdle for Canvey Island’s Dutch Village Green Belt Development! CPBC Censorship!

Persimmon have Housing Development plans for Canvey Island. However they appear happy to play the Long Game.

Plans have been registered with Castle Point Council for Stables for 3 Horses at the Dutch Village. This will include the “Change of Use of Land” as it is Green Belt.

Their Application stresses the stables will be “Built Development”.

We have covered this in a previous blog post HERE.

For those concerned or wishing to make comment we thought it might be helpful to make public our Grounds for Objection as registered with Castle Point Council, these should be visible below for you to see:-

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Runnymede Towers

Please be advised WE DON’T HAVE TO MAKE COMMENTS VISIBLE TO OTHER RESIDENTS on  the Castle Point website. This may be due to us not wanting others to know what Residents think or just us choosing to Censor information.

Anyway we don’t care, cos the legislation says we don’t have to! Editor.

“As prescribed in article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order, local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. There is however, as you correctly stated, no legislative requirements for any comments received as part of that consultation to be available to view online.

The Castle Point website does however show the number of comments that have been received on any application so the level of public interest can be clearly identified. We are not alone in this approach, it is commonly adopted by a number of authorities, our neighbouring authority of Basildon being one such example.

We have been working in this way for some time now and we certainly have no evidence to suggest that this is in anyway deterring people from commenting. Indeed we have an application which is currently open for consultation that has received 135 comments to date, demonstrating I believe that the community remain fully engaged in the process.

Planning guidance states that officer’s reports should include the ‘substance of any objections, contain technical appraisals which clearly justify the recommendation and should have a written recommendation for the decision to be made’.

Comments received in respect of a planning application can only be considered if they are, what is commonly known as, ‘material planning considerations’. Comments which are not material cannot be considered in the determining of a planning application and any such comments will not therefore be referenced in a report by an officer nor should they be considered by members at Committee.

The information you have appended below your email is indeed an ‘extract’ from a much longer report however I should point out that it omits to make reference to the consideration of all relevant objections in more detail throughout the body of the report, which more fully explain how the objections have been considered against planning policies and guidance.

Development Control Committee can, and often do, make a decision which is different from the officer recommendation and this will often reflect a difference in the assessment of how a policy has been complied with, or different weight ascribed to relevant matters.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Regards, Castle Point Borough Council”

CPRE confirm Brownfield Housing Site Registers mean Less Green Belt Release! How does Castle Point fare?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England have issued a report claiming that in the South East of England there are enough Brownfield development sites to supply 132,263 deliverable homes.

Additionally they consider that the sum of all local authorities Brownfield sites Register indicates a supply of 1,052,124 homes – this could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published, confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.

“More than two-thirds of these homes (are) deliverable within the next five years. Many of these sites are in areas with a high need for housing.
This means that three of the next five years’ worth of Government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified, easing pressures on councils to continue releasing greenfield land unnecessarily and preventing the unnecessary loss of countryside.”

Before Castle Point Green Belt campaigners get too excited, we should remember that our local authority’s contribution, as shown on their Brownfield Register is a List of just 20 sites capable of yielding upwards of 254 new Dwellings across the whole Borough.

Unfortunately, unless we have missed an announcement, there is no Part 2 to the Castle Point Brownfield Register, the Part that grants Permission in Principle to develop.

This appears the “Fault” of Canvey Island, how Unreasonable of the place!

CPBC Agenda paperwork explains; “Furthermore, Canvey Island is within Flood Risk Zone 3a, and as such planning applications for residential development normally require a Flood Risk Assessment. Advice is awaited from the Environment Agency as to if and how the Council could go about addressing this requirement before proceeding to consider any sites on Canvey Island for inclusion on the Part 2 of the Register”

Once our local representatives remind the Environment Agency of Canvey Island being a “Special Case”, the usual service should be Resumed!

Of course now that cpbc have entered into a pact with our neighbours, Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock Councils, or ASELA, perhaps pressure on Castle point Green Belt will ease.

Within Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, in particular, there may be more Brownfield opportunities for Housing Land supply to be identified. Castle Point being a small borough,  heavily constrained by its Green Belt, compared with these three ASELA members may be able to persuade them to take some of cpbc Housing Needs.

It would be interesting to learn what Castle Point may be able, and willing, to offer in Return!

The Link to the full CPRE Report can be found HERE.

Taking the Pee over the Paddocks? CPBC Chief Executive makes clear – we have No Plan!

So, what is it about “there are no plans for the Paddocks” that Canvey Islanders cannot understand?

Castle Point Council cabinet members and committee chairmen have each spoken out to reassure residents that there are NO plans. All to no avail, so now this rumour appears to have become such a sensitive issue that it has become important enough for none other than the cpbc chief executive to go to the Echo newspaper to also assure the community that “there are no plans for the Paddocks”

So what is behind these concerns that people are getting their knickers in a twist over?
The cpbc cabinet January meeting agreed to “note the opportunities afforded by a careful analysis of the wider site area”.

Also to “note the preparation of a detailed business case for a new community hall on the Paddocks site.”

Definitely NO plans mentioned there then.

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“Fear not, for I have a plan!”

The agenda paperwork went onto state;  “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. Operationally, the facility has limited flexibility, does not meet modern hire requirements, is energy inefficient and costly to run and it suffers from periodic recurrent anti-social behaviour issues.

The feasibility work shows however that it is possible to construct a new community facility immediately to the south-east of the existing building.”

” it would be possible to re-configure the car parking layout across the whole site, to provide an indicative capacity of approximately 380 spaces.
This compares to an existing car parking capacity at the site of approximately 200 spaces.” – “Car parking managed by the Borough Council.”

The last of the “free” car parking spaces in Canvey Town Centre!

Beginning to sound a little more like a plan now though?

The Canvey Comes Alive! Regeneration project with its Masterplan for the Town Centre and surroundings had a different Vision just some 9 years ago;

Paddocks Quadrant
This area will be a hub for the community, based on the retained health centre and an improved Paddocks community building.
Improve and expand the existing Paddocks community building
Community uses in the Paddocks including arts and culture, and café at the ground floor
Retain and improve the setting of Cisca House
New residential blocks fronting onto Long Road
Green the environment by creating a parkland setting
Retain and enhance the memorial gardens
Improve the children’s play space
Create new green pedestrian connections through to Long Road and Furtherwick Road

It appears that the Paddocks was considered in a maintainable and restorable condition at the turn of the decade. Some will note the aspiration to improve the play area and that the residential Flats have come to fruition since.

However cpbc appear to have a record of failure where maintenance is concerned. The Paddocks is a 70’s building, so not yet 50 years old. And yet considered not economically viable to maintain!

Would a “New” Paddocks be self-maintaining? Or would it be like any other asset, only of value if it receives the upkeep required?

So, perhaps Islanders should investigate the meaning of the word “plan”;*

plan – Noun

a set of decisions about how to do something in the future:

a type of arrangement for financial investment:

a drawing of a building, town, area,

plan – Verb

to think about and decide what you are going to do or how you are going to do something:

to intend to do something or that an event or result should happen:

Possibly then we can deduce that the cabinet members, the committee chairman and the cpbc chief executive officer may have been using “plan” as a Verb rather than a Noun!

If this is to be the case I would have thought they could have insisted that the Echo should use a capital P, as in Planning Application, when we are told that there are no plans for the Paddocks!

We are easily confused and oh so Easily Misled, us Canvey Islanders!

sarcasm – Noun

the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:

*dictionary.cambridge.org

Why always Canvey? Because local factors are given too much weight! Independence Now? UPDATE

Castle Point Conservatives, in the face of world media coverage of the call  for Canvey Island’s Independence from Castle Point Borough Council’s control, have released a social media response on the issue. In the interests of balance we have included the release amongst the Comments below

Two weeks on from the Canvey Community Meeting during which the matter of either Equal Representation, or Independence and a complete breakaway from Castle Point Council were raised, we await details of further progress.

The issue made the National Press and has received some barbed and ridiculing remarks from local councillors and from social media commentators.

Whether there is the legal possibility of Canvey Island becoming its own local authority, we would not claim to know, however in these days of so called “Localism”, the option or possibility is well worth exploring!

COAT_OF_ARMS

What we do know is that since the formation of castle point borough council in 1974, Canvey Island has provided the vast majority of the borough’s Housing Growth.

The census period since the formation of castle point indicates between 1971 and 2011 Canvey Island saw an increase in population of over 42%.  The Mainland saw just a 2.4% increase during the same period!

And yet, castle point borough council continue to claim “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement”

With a mainland population growth of just 2.4% since 1971, Canvey residents are entitled to ask:  “why are there two totally different Housing Development Policy approaches to the two parts of the Borough?”

There is a clear and obvious explanation as to why, Historically, the vast percentage of Housing Growth in Castle Point is distributed towards Canvey Island, this was most subtly and politely identified by an Inspector as; “because local factors are given too much weight!”

Soon there is to be a change in the funding stream of local authorities. This will leave them far more reliant on income from Business Rates.

The potential loss of income from Canvey Island businesses would leave the mainland part of Castle Point looking seriously at its funding stream,

“Castle Point’s employment space is predominantly industrial, with a relatively small level (7%) of office provision.

The main supply of industrial sites is in Canvey Island, away from strategic roads and the areas of stronger demand.”

Retail space appears more equally distributed across the Borough, although the exploitation of Canvey West appears to be the only desired expansion of new Retail development sites, whilst the area around south of Rayleigh Weir now appears constrained within Castle Point

“The Main Employment Areas in Castle Point emphasise yet again the uneven distribution;

1 the Charfleets industrial estate on Canvey Island (30 ha);

2 the Manor Trading estate in Thundersley (8.1 ha);

3 the mixed use Stadium Way employment area in Benfleet (5.5 ha);

4 the large OIKOS Refinery and Calor Gas sites on Canvey Island;

5 the town centres of Benfleet, Hadleigh, Canvey Town and Tarpots, which contain mainly retail and leisure uses and some small offices.”

Quite clearly it can be seen where castle point borough council’s funding stream will be coming from, and going to!

The area controlling the largest influence in the Borough accord with neither the area supplying the Population Growth, nor the Business Growth for the borough! 

The question is who needs whom most?

And yet the ridiculing of the suggestion of Canvey Island becoming Independent has most loudly come from lead cpbc councillors themselves!

During these times of promised, so called Localism, we eagerly await to see whether some substance behind the possibility of Independence will emerge, sooner rather than later!

And more importantly whether the Residents of Canvey Island will be given the opportunity to voice their Opinion!

Editor’s addendum

Despite the barbed criticism of the actual idea that Canvey Island might investigate its Independence, including “Ridiculous”, “Political Nonsense” and of there being “No Hope of Independence”, we should point out that there are Boroughs with a smaller population than Canvey’s.

Namely, Rutland, West Somerset, City of London and the Isles of Scilly.

 

 

 

The Paddocks Future remains in the Balance. Residents appear unconvinced by Cabinet Assurances!

Canvey Island Residents were treated to an explanation of the future intentions for the Paddocks Community Hall by the cpbc cabinet member for regeneration  during a Community meeting on the 9th October.

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Apparently all options are open and a report from consultants is awaited.

Promises to approximately 150 residents in attendance, were given that a Hall would remain on site as would the war memorial.

The underlying prospect is that there appears an unwillingness to commit £1,600,000 on a refurbishment. This figure appears to be an update on the cpbc estimate of March this year of £500,000.

A substantial figure of £4-5 million was mentioned for a new Hall and the impression given, albeit unconfirmed, this is the preferred choice of direction. A new smaller Hall funded by development of Housing (Flats) and the relocation of extra Health Service facilities into the existing NHS building already on site.

Residents should be aware that other local authority owned building and land in the Borough, especially on Canvey Island, will also be examined as to how best to release assets and improve the broken Housing Market. The Government scheme to encourage this land release was covered by the FT in a 2016 article;

Councils to sell £129m of land and property

Thirty-two authorities identify land to build 9,000 homes in first phase of Cabinet Office scheme. Councils will sell £129m of land and property in the early stages of what the government hopes will become a much wider push to raise cash from assets, helping to mitigate budget cuts. In England, 32 local authorities have identified land to build 9,000 homes in the first phase of a Cabinet Office scheme to encourage public sector bodies to reassess their land and property holdings to cut running costs and raise money from sales. Another 100 councils have recently signed up to the scheme.

Photograph: Copyright John Rostron