Tag Archives: CPBC

Government Consultation on Assessing Housing Need – Delayed

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed the consultation on assessing local housing need has been delayed until Parliament returns in September.

Speaking at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference early in July, communities secretary Sajid Javid said the government would launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements that month.

This was first announced in the housing white paper in February.

Now, a spokesperson at the DCLG has confirmed that the department “intends to publish the local housing need consultation when Parliament returns in September”.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, told The Planner the standardised methodology “must be introduced so as not to cause a hiatus in local plan production”.

Andrew Gale, chief operating officer, Iceni Projects, said: “While the introduction of a new simplified methodology for assessing housing requirements has been widely supported by many in the industry, the government has clearly concluded that efforts to force councils to increase the number of homes in their local plans is too much of a political hot-potato.”

2 August 2017 Laura Edgar, The Planner

CPBC decision makers in need of Reminding of Accountability, via Local Government Ombudsman?

Canvey Residents may have witnessed the “flexibility” towards Planning Guidance as demonstrated by Castle Point Council’s Development Committee, where matters such as Flood Risk, Danger to Residents Safety, Drainage, undersized Parking facilities, Lack of Parking Spaces, lack of Space between Dwellings and the possibility of being Over-looked, to our cost!

Indeed mainland residents have also voiced frustrations on these matters, to no avail.

There is an apparent expectation that by fulfilling the minimum notification to residents of forthcoming proposed Development, opposition through the consultation process will be equally, minimal! And a Hope that nobody will notice proposals for development until Trees are being pulled down or Groundwork, or in the case of Canvey Land Raising, being carried out, which by then is of course, too Late!

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There is no doubt that on Canvey Island following the 2013 and 2014 Surface Water Flooding and the much Edited and Delayed 2010 cpbc Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA), in which Canvey Island is classed as being at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding, that the approach to development on the Island is Long Out of Date, and in Need of Review!

As can be witnessed by our previous Blog Post the basis for reviewing development where Flood Risk on Canvey Island is concerned was decided in early 2007, long before the SFRA and the 2013 and 2014 flooding exposed the Castle Point council’s Development Committee decision as badly Flawed and long Out of Date!

The Responsibility for the impact of granting planning permission rests solely with the local authority and the development committee. The recent fire at Grenfell Tower has resulted in serious investigation of decision making, as is quite correct.

In Canvey Island there are obvious issues that would expect a limit on the population level, simply due to the issues of coping with the number of people should any evacuation be necessary or Safe refuges found. Recent events have shown Lessons are still being Learned, as Responses from all so called Agencies have been found inadequate!

Which brings us to the Accountability of our local Decision Makers.

 

Council which ignored Planning Duties reminded of Ombudsman Accountability Role

Local authorities across England are being reminded that the Local Government Ombudsman has the same powers as the High Court to require evidence, after Plymouth City Council failed to comply with its recommendations.

The LGO was called on to investigate complaints from two separate homeowners about a series of errors by city planners when approving a second application on an uncultivated field.

During the planning process, officers failed to publicise the new application properly in the neighbourhood, failed to ask for a flood risk assessment from the Environment Agency, included the wrong plans in the report to the planning committee, and significantly misrepresented how the new proposals would affect neighbours in the report.

Consequently, one resident says she no longer has any late afternoon sunshine in her kitchen, sitting room and dining room and has a Juliet balcony overlooking her garden and decking in the new garden affords an uninterrupted view into her bedroom

The other couple feel overlooked and their outlook is dominated by a two-storey house.

Both homeowners say their properties now flood because of inadequate consideration of drainage of surface water from the site

The Ombudsman’s report of the case says that the council was obstructive and challenged the Ombudsman’s findings of fault. It has had a number of opportunities to acknowledge the errors made but has refused to do so or to follow recommendations made.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

“The role of the Local Government Ombudsman to hold councils to account when they get things wrong is well established and has a statutory basis.

“Authorities can and do have the chance to comment on my decisions before they are finalised, including providing evidence if they wish to challenge the findings, but they should cooperate with the investigation process. Compliance with LGO recommendations is extremely high, based on a relationship with local authorities of mutual trust and respect. This is essential for achieving redress for citizens.

“I would now urge Plymouth council to learn from my report and accept the recommendations for remedy I have made.”

To remedy the injustice caused Plymouth City Council has been asked to apologise to both families.  It should ask the District Valuer to assess the current value of the complainants’ properties and the value each would have had if the developers had built according to the original plans and pay the difference between the two valuations.

It should pursue the proposals in the drainage report completed in the course of the investigation and ensure adequate drainage is in place before the onset of winter. It should arrange for all members of its planning committee to have at least one day’s training from professionally qualified planning officers who are not employed by the council to ensure they can robustly challenge planning officers  views prior to making decisions

The council should also pay both families £500 each in recognition of the time and trouble to which they have been put.

Article date: 15 September 2016

CPBC councillors in no Hurry, despite Canvey Brown field Land being up for Grabs!

The Castle Point Local Plan wheels of Motion turn Notoriously Slowly.
It was apparent from the debate during full council that nothing had progressed following cabinets “noting” of the requirement to compile a List of Brown field land Register, Part 2 of which would be granted Planning in Principle to support Housing supply within the Local Plan.

Cabinet Councillors spoke of forming a committee to consider appropriate land to be included in the Brown field Register and a similar debate during full council indicated no appointments made, nor meetings planned, in the meantime following the cabinet’s decision! With August arriving few meetings are usually scheduled due to holidays.
This Brownfield register may be seen as the mainland residents Green Belt life saver, as many brown field sites have been rumoured to have already been identified on Canvey Island.

Paddocks

As with all cpbc committees the balance of power rests with the mainland councillors so we can expect the development land identified to receive a Planning Inspector’s response to raise concerns on “the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough!”

However there is an opportunity for CITC to partake

“Notification for parish councils and neighbourhood forums of proposal to enter land in Part 2 of the Brownfield register; 

Where the council of any parish, or a neighbourhood forum, (“the relevant body”) in the area of the local planning authority have—

(a) requested the authority to notify it of a proposed entry of land in Part 2, and

(b) the land to which the proposed entry relates is within the area of the relevant body, the local planning authority must notify the relevant body of the proposed entry by serving requisite notice on it”

The driving force on compiling this Register, expected complete by the End of 2017, appears left to councillors with leading officers now having taken consultation only positions.

It appears that the first point of debate should be, but will most likely be disregarded, what constitutes Brown field land.

If you were to simply swallow what some local protagonists claim, Green Belt is held akin to:

And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountain green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

Rather than:  Green Belt serves five purposes:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land

This is recognised by Chelmsford City Council;

In their Local Plan Preferred Options Document they state:

Green Belt  A national planning policy designation given to land. Green Belts were designated to stop the uncontrolled growth of large cities and towns.    The Green Belt can include both greenfield and brownfield sites in areas with both good and poor landscape value.”

Our local Castle Point councillors will do well, if they were indeed intending to work towards bringing forward a Local Plan rather than extending the process indefinitely, to first understand and absorb this definition.

Of course that may not be their most important driving force!

Government regulation and advice on the compiling of Registers of Brownfield Land includes:

The regulations require local authorities to prepare and maintain registers of brownfield land that is suitable for residential development. The Order provides that sites entered on Part 2 of the new brownfield registers will be granted permission in principle.

The proposals came in to force in mid April 2017. Local authorities will be expected to have compiled their registers by 31 December 2017.

The (Government) department’s rigorous new burdens assessments ensure local planning authorities receive the relevant resources to meet their statutory obligations. We have written to authorities informing them of the grant funding that they will receive to cover their new responsibilities.

We (the Government) intend to publish statutory guidance to explain our policy for brownfield registers in more detail by Summer 2017. It will also set out our expectations for the operation of the policy and the requirements of the secondary legislation.

Brownfield registers will provide up-to-date, publicly available information on brownfield land that is suitable for housing. This will improve the quality and consistency of data held by local planning authorities which will provide certainty for developers and communities, encouraging investment in local areas. Brownfield registers should include all brownfield sites that are suitable for housing development irrespective of their planning status.

Local planning authorities who are required to develop a Local Plan under Part 2 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 will be required to have a register covering the area of the local plan.

The regulations set a process for identifying suitable sites, including the requirements for keeping a register and the criteria for assessing sites. (The regulations also set out the requirements for publicity and consultation where an authority proposes to enter sites on Part 2 of the register.) There is a duty on local planning authorities to have regard to the development plan, national policy and advice and guidance when exercising their functions under the brownfield register regulations.

the timescale is realistic. Local authorities already collect and review information on housing land as part of the well established Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment process and the requirements for preparing registers are aligned to this process as far as possible. Seventy-three local planning authorities have piloted the preparation of brownfield registers and their experience has helped to shape the policy and requirements.

Putting a site on Part 1 of a register does not mean it will automatically be granted permission in principle. Local planning authorities will be able to enter sites on Part 2 of the register which will trigger a grant of permission in principle for those sites suitable for housing-led development only after they have followed the consultation and publicity requirements, and other procedures set out in the regulations and they remain of the opinion that permission in principle should be granted. Those sites which have permission in principle for housing-led development will be clearly identified by being in Part 2 of the register.

Where a site on a register is considered to be deliverable within 5 years it can be counted towards the 5-year housing supply. Local planning authorities will be required to indicate whether sites are ‘deliverable’ when entering data on their registers.

Local planning authorities must take into account the National Planning Policy Framework when identifying sites to include in their brownfield registers. The Framework has strong policies to protect the natural and built environment and conserve and enhance the historic environment. It also requires authorities to ensure that a residential use is appropriate for the location and that a site can be made suitable for its new use.

Brownfield registers complement the existing Local Plan processes for identifying sites that are suitable for housing. When preparing their plans, local planning authorities are required, through the preparation of Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments to identify housing sites on brownfield land and other land that is suitable for housing. The regulations ensure that the process of identifying suitable sites for the brownfield register is aligned to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment process, and so proactively supports the plan-making process.

Permission in principle will settle the fundamental principles of development (use, location, amount of development) for the brownfield site giving developers/applicants more certainty.

Thorney Bay, change of Use Over-Heard on the Canvey Grapevine! CPBC Local Plan issues?

It started as a Whisper, became a Rumour and has now reached Conjecture level on the Canvey Grapevine!

Thorney Bay, the apparent answer to the Castle Point Council’s Local Plan dreams, has become the subject of unconfirmed speculation. With the humiliating Withdrawal of the cpbc Core Strategy in 2011, it was considered “timely” by cpbc officers that Thorney Bay, despite it being sited within the Hazard range of Calor Gas and within a 3A Flood Zone, should come forward to provide a Housing Development of some 600 dwellings plus sheltered accommodation.

Thorney Bay then became the Backbone, the largest single development site, of Castle Point council’s daft Local Plan and surviving the GB sites cull to remain as the spine of the Local Plan2016, 5 year Housing Supply!

The Thorney Bay proposal passed in Principle by the cpbc development committee, whilst in the following months / years a 1st Phase proposal has gained Health and Safety Executive’s permission and is apparently overcoming the Flooding Objections to the fundamental requirements of the Environment Agency and the ecc Lead Local Flood Authority.

Now then; Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once!

A little Bird has told me, and I must say there is little foundation, so to speak, for this to be considered information, but it could be that the development may not be going much further!

To me this would not be a surprise, I would have thought a more likely idea would be for the developer to follow the Kings Park, and remove the static caravans and replace with Park Homes.

The build cost would be far less, the speed of development would be probably twice as quick and success of the venture equally, if not more so, financially successful as Kings Park!

What’s to lose?

Park Homes and Luxury Lodges can easily reach an asking price of £300,000, the site is opposite Thorney Bay Road, and residents would likely be of an age not too concerned with, the daily commute.

Now that the Canvey Bay Watch team have created such an attractive area of the promenade and beach front, this forms another selling point for potential Park Home buyers. I would have thought that the Canvey Bay Watch team should soon be knocking on the site owner’s door for financial support, should this development rumour come to fruition!

Thorney Bay 1

Photograph courtesy: Dave Harvey

The question for cpbc is whether these Park Homes should count towards the official Housing Supply.

On one hand these Park Homes “are suitable for residential use throughout the year and are built to last at least 50 years”! (Omar park and leisure homes). Although whether 50 years lifespan is considered permanent is challengeable, however, their success is, and there are people desiring to own them.

The Planning Inspector examining the Glebelands, Thundersley, Appeal did not consider the numbers at Kings Park should qualify for inclusion in building numbers, but that may have been due to cpbc being unable to clarify how many caravans were replaced by Park Homes.

We do know that of the caravans at Thorney Bay the Inspector concluded;

“But that does not necessarily mean that the Households now occupying caravans would have chosen that type of accommodation, in preference to bricks and mortar.”

Well, “bricks and mortar” these Park Homes ain’t! But the appeal of Park Home life is generally popular across the UK, so if people are choosing to buy into this type of accommodation, then there is an argument for these dwellings to be included into the Canvey Island Housing Supply count.

With our “Broken Housing Market” leading to the apparent need to revisit Pre-Fabricated Housing, these Park Homes may well have some scope.

Whether or not any Affordable Home supply can be squeezed into the equation will be upto the negotiating abilities of cpbc, so we won’t hold our breath on that one!

What could be expected is for some Canvey Island “bricks and mortar” dwellings to become available, for local young families hoping to get on the property ladder, as older Canvey residents move into the Park Homes.

It may be doubtful , should the development come into fruition, whether the Housing Need in the mainland part of the Borough be part satisfied, as it will be difficult to argue that this type of dwelling satisfies the cross market “bricks and mortar” Housing Need. In fact it probably increases the pressure on mainland site supply.

I remind you this is only speculation.

As a reference, below, I include part of the text of the cpbc Report on Residential use of Caravan and Park Home Sites 2013.

“It is clear from both Census data and from Council Tax data that an increase in the availability of caravans for residential use resulted in an increased housing supply of the order of 800 homes in Castle Point in the period from 2001 to 2011. This increase was largely as a result of the change of use of Kings Park and Thorney Bay Caravan Parks from holiday use to residential use.”

“To date, the Council has only included those caravans registering for Council Tax at Kings Park within the housing figures for the period 2001 to 2011. However, given that caravans at Thorney Bay were included as homes within the Census 2011 outcomes, and this will be reflected in population and household data moving forward, it is appropriate that the housing supply figures for the period 2001 to 2011 are appropriately adjusted to include these homes also.”

“The change of use of static caravans from holiday accommodation to residential accommodation has made a significant contribution to housing provision over the last decade (2001 to 2011). Approximately, 800 additional caravans moved into permanent residential use over this time period, primarily on the Kings Park and Thorney Bay sites. This is supported by evidence from the Census and from Council Tax records.”

“However, whilst some of this provision has contributed positively towards the community, in particular at Kings Park, the nature of the provision at Thorney Bay has had negative socioeconomic consequences both for the surrounding community and for the vulnerable families who have found themselves living at the site.”

“Due to these issues there is support for proposals to redevelop a significant proportion of the site for traditional homes. However, it is the intention of the owner to retain a smaller caravan park of 300 caravans for residential use towards the west of the existing site.”

“Assuming that the proposals to redevelop this site as proposed for traditional housing are delivered in full over the next 10 years, then it is unlikely that the number of households living in caravans in Castle Point will increase further between 2011 and 2021. Indeed, as a result of the development of traditional housing over this period, it is expected that the proportion of households living in caravans will reduce.”

“However, should the Thorney Bay site not be redeveloped as proposed, then there is the potential for a further 800 caravans moving from transient use into permanent residential use. This will increase further the number of households living in caravans, and the associated socio-economic issues arising from this. It is therefore imperative that the Council work alongside the site owners to encourage and facilitate the redevelopment of this site in an appropriate timeframe.”

Video copyright BBC

Canvey Island Flood Risks – brought to Parliament!

“Planning conditions can be flouted, and they are sometimes not properly enforced.”

Parliament debated “FUTURE FLOOD PREVENTION” and further resources totalling £582,310,000 in the House of Commons on the 27th February.

envagencyanglia-1

EnvAgencyAnglia photo

Photograph courtesy; Environment Agency Anglia; Canvey Island February 2017

Neil Parish opened the debate and mentioned, “One problem is that, if we are not careful, people living in an area with a “one in 100 years” risk which is flooded are inclined to think that they will be safe from floods for another 99 years. Of course, that is not the case. An area with a high flood risk will continue to have that risk until better defences are created or resilience measures are introduced, and it will probably always be a pretty high-risk area.”

His reference to “1 in 100 years risk”, and peoples understanding of it, indicates how slowly changes are put in place. This was one of the recommendations following the Report and Review into the Canvey Island Flooding of 2014, that a more straight forward and easier description of flood risk was brought into use!

“The report states that firefighters provide a vital “first-line service” to flooded areas”

Strange then that they were discontinued as statutory consultees in the planning process locally, after continually stating they were only able to guarantee a response during a life or death situation due to a lack of resources. It is hard to imagine, following the fire and rescue service cut backs of late, that they are better placed now to become a fully effective “first-line service”!

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris participated in the debate. However some of what she said appeared to expand the theory, long spun amongst residents, that our defences are impenetrable. Our sea defences do not compare with the Netherlands and are indeed liable to over-topping in parts under certain conditions (cpbc SFRA 2010).

Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure. This residual flood risk should be considered, as although the likelihood of it (flood defence failure) occurring is low, the consequences should it happen would be very high.

Referring to the evacuation of Jaywick, whilst Canvey Island residents were considered safe, suggests that an evacuation of Canvey Island was possible. The potential time required, upto 19+ hours, would make this unlikely, and in the event of a Breach, impossible.

One thing that requires clarity is, given the extraordinary amount of work already carried out across Canvey Island, whether the request to Government for £24,500,000 required to repair our broken drainage system still stands. All appears to have become silent following cpbc representatives being told to return with specific details of work necessary and estimates of costings to evidence the sums requested.

Nevertheless to have our MP stand in Parliament to put forward the issues of the Flood Risks to Canvey Island, and the level of work needed to simply maintain the drainage system, can be no bad thing.

Rebecca Harris, Castle Point

“The financing of flood defences is of absolutely paramount importance to my constituents, as my borough has been hit by flooding on a number of occasions, most notoriously the devastating North sea flood of 1953, which breached the old Canvey Island sea wall defences and caused the loss of life of 58 residents and the evacuation of the entire remaining population. To avert a similar catastrophe, the island is now protected by a concrete wall that runs along its entire 28 km to protect the population of 40,000 from tidal surges. This wall is still judged to be good for a one-in-1,000-years event. I note that the residents of Canvey Island were not encouraged to evacuate because of a threatened tidal surge when those of Jaywick were. The wall is judged to be sound right up until the end of this century provided that there is regular monitoring and maintenance. The concern of my residents is to ensure that the money is always there to make sure that we are upgrading the maintenance.

Notwithstanding how good the sea walls are, Canvey Island and other parts of my borough, including South Benfleet and Hadleigh, still remain subject to a serious risk of surface water flooding, as occurred dramatically in the summer of 2013 and again in 2014, when homes right across the borough were flooded, including 1,000 homes on the island alone. Despite the great sea defences, this is a serious problem for an island that remains 1 metre below sea level at high tide and is entirely flat. It presents a particular problem for effective surface water drainage. There was an absolute outcry in 2014 at the second significant flooding event in less than 11 months. That led to calls for an investigation into whether this could be dismissed as a mere act of God or whether much more serious defects in the water management system were at fault, and what measures were needed to be put in place to assure residents that it would not occur again. I was extremely grateful to the then Cabinet Office Ministers and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who agreed to an investigation by the Government chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport, to establish the facts and make recommendations for the various agencies locally. His report found that the coincidence of extreme rainfall, problems with the performance of the drainage system, a power cut, and pumps overheating and tripping out were all foreseeable, although unusual, and many could be avoided in future. Sir Mark made a number of recommendations, the majority of which, I am pleased to say, have already been acted on.

Since those last floods, an extraordinary amount of work has taken place right across Castle Point, with considerable amounts of money spent on improvements and mitigation measures. The Environment Agency has invested large sums in improvements to its eight sluices and 13 pumping stations. In this financial year alone, it has invested over £500,000, including £89,000 on the Benfleet and East Haven barriers, which are key to protecting South Benfleet as well as the island. Webcams have been installed to monitor pumps and ditches. Some £620,000 has been spent on refurbishing 28 floodgates, and the remaining six will be completed by the end of this year.

The county council and Anglian Water have worked hard to map the drainage network underground and to make thousands of repairs and remove blockages in the system, as well as identifying the most serious faults. Anglian Water has invested millions since 2014 and has also been highly proactive in a public awareness campaign locally to raise the critical importance of maintaining free-flowing water courses. The county council is undertaking a huge rolling programme of property-level protection, with grants of up to £5,000 for homes affected by flooding previously.

The improved partnership working of Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and the Essex fire and rescue service, as recommended by the chief scientist, is exemplary and has even resulted in a national award. Although the investigation focused on the island, improvements in multi-agency co-operation have had real benefits for the entire borough and it is now an exemplar for the rest of the UK.

The partnership has concluded a comprehensive urban drainage study of the problems underground and to model any future problems, to help make sure that this does not happen to my borough again. Proposals include the creation of additional storage ditches on roadsides and open areas, green roofs, water butts, porous paving and increased pipe sizes. It will shortly submit bids for some of those projects to the South East local enterprise partnership and central Government.

Previously, DEFRA Ministers have supported our bids. I hope that the Government will continue that support, acknowledge the economic importance of those bids and stress, not only to my LEP but to others, the importance of flood alleviation schemes in ensuring that communities remain economically viable. It is absolutely essential for the continued economic regeneration of my borough that it is recognised as protected from non-tidal surface water, as well as from tidal flood risk, especially given the increased likelihood of future events.

My borough is grateful for the introduction of the Flood Re scheme, which means that residents are not priced out of insuring their homes. It is not, however, available to businesses in my area. I hope that more work can be done in that regard, because a lot of them suffer great hardship. Nor does the scheme apply to new builds. I urge the Government to do more to ensure that there is better defence of our floodplains from developers and to press planning departments to incorporate more surface water mitigation for developments. Perhaps they could even reverse developers’ current right to connect surface water to the sewerage system, as it does not incentivise them to consider sustainable drainage systems.

I am conscious that time is short, so I will end by encouraging the Minister to visit Castle Point, if she can find the time in her diary, to see the incredible work that has been done in Benfleet and on Canvey Island, and to meet local agencies to discuss what more is needed and how we can further help the borough.”

Hansard’s record of the full debate can be reached HERE.

 

Duty to Cooperate sabotage? CPBC Local Plan2016 left up **** Creek without a Paddle?

With an admittance of having little knowledge of the Local Plan process, we fear that the Castle Point Local Plan2016 may have already come across some major difficulties.

One of the very first stages pre-examination is for the local authority to gather and submit evidence on how they have attempted to cooperate with neighbouring authorities.

“Local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination.

Local planning authorities must demonstrate how they have complied with the duty at the independent examination of their Local Plans. If a local planning authority cannot demonstrate that it has complied with the duty then the Local Plan will not be able to proceed further in examination.”

It appeared apparent to us, during the Local Plan Task and Finish group meetings that little evidence of cross local authority cooperation work had been published.

Now we learn of the Planning Inspector’s letter to cpbc, expressing an opportunity for cpbc to offer an explanation on the missing gaps in the required work.

It appears to us that the letter underlines the chasm between the level of commitment to the Local Plan2016 between officers and members.

At the recent Council meeting the council leader made light of the issues, but unless a united effort is made by officers and lead group members, the Local Plan2016 may have hit stormy waters less than one calendar month after it being submitted to the Planning Inspectorate!

The Inspector wrote on 22nd September;

1. As an initial matter the PPG makes reference to the submission of robust evidence by authorities of the efforts they have made to co-operate on strategic cross boundary matters (ID 9-012-20140306).  This should include details about who the authority has co-operated with, the nature and timing of co-operation and how it has influenced the plan.  Whilst some information is given at Section 4 of the DtC Report precise details are scanty.  Future work through the South Essex Strategic Members Group and the completion of a written Strategic Planning Framework appear to be broadly in line with co-operation principles but clearly have no bearing on the preparation of the New Local Plan.  In responding subsequently I therefore request that the Council provides specific detail of actions taken to seek the co-operation of key partners in relation to the preparation of the New Local Plan.

2. Section 4 of the DtC Report indicates that officers have come together since mid-2014 to consider strategic planning issues affecting South Essex.  Prior to that was there any constructive, active and on-going joint working linked to the preparation of the New Local Plan?  If so, what form did it take?

3. Section 4 also includes a list of cross-boundary planning issues.  Compared to the topics identified in Appendix 1 communications infrastructure is omitted.  Having regard to paragraph 156 of the NPPF and the PPG (ID 9-013-20140306) could the Council confirm the full list of strategic matters that, in its view, fall within the definition in Section 33A?  Having done so it would be helpful to have a short resume of the steps taken to meet the DtC and to deal with questions 6, 7 and 8 in respect of each of these matters.

4. The PPG refers to the important role of Councillors in the DtC process (ID 9-0003 & 004-20140306).  To what extent have Councillors been directly involved in any specific DtC activities?

5. Has the Council considered any more formal arrangements in terms of joint working on plan preparation as set out in the PPG (ID 9-01620140306) and as required by Section 33A(6) of the 2004 Act?  If so, why have any such approaches including the use of formal agreements not come to fruition?

6. How have any DtC actions maximised the effectiveness of plan preparation?

7. How have any DtC actions influenced the preparation of the New Local Plan and what have been the outcomes?

8. What solutions have emerged to achieve effective strategic planning policies?

9. Regulation 34(6) requires details of action taken in co-operating with other bodies under Section 33A to be given in a monitoring report.  Have any such details been provided in monitoring reports throughout the plan preparation period?
Housing

10. Paragraph 13.22 of the New Local Plan recognises that the housing target of 2,000 new homes by 2031 does not represent objectively assessed need but reflects the capacity of the Borough to accommodate growth.  Paragraph 179 of the NPPF indicates that joint working should enable local planning authorities to work together to meet development requirements which cannot be wholly met within their own areas.  In the light of the strategy proposed for Castle Point what specific steps have been taken or mechanisms are in place to distribute unmet housing need elsewhere in the Housing Market Area (HMA) or beyond?

11. What is the rationale for reducing the housing requirement from 4,000 in the Draft Local Plan to 2,000 in Policy H1 as referred on p12 of the Consultation Statement (CP/05/013)?

12. When were neighbouring authorities within the HMA made aware of the Council’s intention not to meet its full objectively assessed needs and of the reduction referred to above?

13. Has the Council considered whether it should meet any unmet housing requirements from neighbouring authorities?

 

Sabotage? Green Belt under attack as Developers and Neighbouring Authorities criticise CPBC Local Plan!

Castle Point Council’s Local Plan2016, read by an outsider or even a Planning Inspector in conjunction with the daft New local Plan (2014 version), may be considered to have identified almost ALL of Castle Point’s Green Belt and green field land as being available for both Housing, and in the case of Canvey Island, Industrial Development as well!

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

It is not unusual to expect developers to attack the Castle Point Local Plan 2016, as they have attacked each previous version.

Developers Consultation submission comments / criticisms include:

The New Local Plan concludes that “The draft Local Plan is generally sustainable”, that “It is therefore appropriate to move forward with the plan-making process on the basis of this plan” and that draft Policy H1 (Housing Policy) “strikes an appropriate balance between the different sustainability objectives.”
However, the SA/SEA has not been amended since 2014 which in respect of the Draft New Local Plan (2014) that the then proposed Policy H1 that:
“The draft policy makes provision for 200 homes per annum, which is less than objectively assessed need, and based on the capacity of the borough to accommodate growth having undertaken a Green Belt Review.  Harm to the strategic purpose of the Green Belt is therefore avoided. The level of growth required by this approach will not entirely avoid harm to biodiversity and the risk of flooding; however there was sufficient capacity to accommodate mitigation at this level of growth. Harm to important areas of landscape value is however avoided through this approach.” (para 3.6.3).
The Sustainability Assessment of the current NLP (2016) now concludes that:
“When these changes to the draft policies are compared to those proposals originally prepared (the recommended policies) there has been a negative impact on the sustainability of the plan. The reduction of housing sites will result in insufficient capacity to address housing needs”.
And that:
“Overall, the draft New Local Plan 2016 has become less sustainable as a result of these changes, and it is recommended that the submission New Local Plan 2016 is amended to reflect these sustainability concerns.”

This is not consistent with the NPPF which seeks to significantly boost Housing supply and ensure that housing needs are met in full (para 47). Furthermore, the Members approach to protecting Green Belt is a false statement as the GBBR (Green Belt Review)(2013) Evidence Base sets out a robust and strong case for areas of Green Belt release that were supported by the Council in the DNLP consultation in 2014.

It is evident that the Council is not prepared to proactively meet its housing need and is artificially using the Green Belt as justification to resist meeting this need.

Notwithstanding this clear contradiction, Professional Planning Officers of the Council have stated on record that they do not endorse the current NLP (2016) document and will not act as advocates at Examination. This was confirmed in the Committee Report to Ordinary Council on 23 March 2016 (Appendix 2) which states that Officers consider that to support this plan would be a breach of the RTPI professional Code of Conduct and that ‘ Members must not make or subscribe to any statements or reports which are contrary to their own bona fide professional opinions, nor knowingly enter into any contract or agreement which requires them to do so’ .

This is clear evidence that the Plan is unsound as the Council’s own Planning Officers deem it so.
It is considered that Members, in pursuit of their political objective to protect Green Belt land, have unjustifiably elected to set aside its own evidence and lower its housing requirement.

Another developer points out that the Local Plan  must consider;

“…. Spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change.”

this is particularly interesting as all iterations of the Local Plan, the Core Strategy the daft New Local Plan and the latest version, Local Plan2016 seek to increase the population of Canvey Island through development, thereby increasing the numbers of People at Risk of Flooding and at Risk of a Hazardous Industrial Accident.

As has been mentioned above, it is not unusual to expect developers to attack the Castle Point Local Plan 2016  but for a neighbouring local authority to join in by “helpfully” pointing out;

“However, in doing so the New Local Plan ignores the recommendations of its own evidence base which advises that it is in fact possible for development to occur in some parts of the current extent of the Green Belt in Castle Point without diminishing its purpose.”

Another neighbouring local authority makes comments using terms such as “strongly objects to” and “needs to ensure” and they “remain very concerned about..” all far too emotive terminology than is required to be viewed as being helpful in the Castle Point Plan making process.

The local authority concerned also requested that all mentions of a link road between Canvey Island and Manor Way Thurrock is removed from the CPBC Local Plan!

Very Duty to Cooperate neighbourliness indeed!

Furthermore the author, a “professional” officer, has requested to participate in the oral examination of the Castle Point Local Plan.

I don’t recall this particular local authority’s representative requesting permission to attend the CPBC Core Strategy examination back in early 2010, a far more Unsound and Unsustainable planning document than the current version!

More recently clearer Government Guidance has been issued to accompany the NPPF to assist local authorities in the Local Plan making process with areas constrained by Green Belt land.

The CPBC Local Plan 2016 has evolved from less popular versions and follows activity by leading councillors and indeed the Castle Point MP, who has gone to efforts to arrange training sessions for councillors and officers with Ministers and advisory Planning Inspectors.

Government Guidance includes:

Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity;

The CPBC Local Plan2016 evidence base is undermined by containing many reports and assessments which are seemingly out of date, such as the Green Belt Boundary Review 2013 – published prior to the Government issuing clear Planning Guidance on Green Belt and yet contained within the current Evidence Base of the Local Plan.

For a Local Plan to be successful both the content and the presentation will need to be impeccable. From the comments of both developers and neighbouring authorities it appears that Castle Point officers are unprepared to give the Local Plan 2016 their full commitment. Officers participation at the Examination of the Plan will make interesting watching.

Photo courtesy of: Echo Newspapers