Tag Archives: CPBC

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.

 

 

 

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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

 

Why Must Canvey Island be the Answer to ALL of Castle Point Council’s Problems? Because they consider us Old, Fat and Deprived!

As we have said before, Canvey Islanders know our place and appear to be willing to absorb as much punishment and discomfort that our overseers wish to dump on us!

The latest re-emergence is in the name of delivering better Health Care to the Island population, or in other words, yes you have got it, Saving Money!

The Castle Point and Rochford Health Care Trust are consulting (very privately I would add), on a Plan to close the Long Road ex Council Offices facility And – Get This – handing the building back to Castle Point Borough Council.

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Jacksons Photo Service

The very same CPBC, who are desperate to identify as much land on Canvey Island to provide as many Housing development Sites as possible for their Unsound New Local Plan MkIII !

We can all guess how this will end up, with yet another Canvey Island Flatted development!

In a document that seriously denigrates the current surgeries on Canvey Island so as to imply that most should be closed and incorporated into the Paddocks health centre, chiefly it appears to cast an alarming financial cloud over the Castle Point and Rochford situation, and implying that the Canvey situation is the cause of the financial mess the Trust is in, or that only Canvey, can provide the means of relieving the area’s budget shortfall!

The proposal is that 25,000 Canvey Island patients will be accommodated at the Paddocks surgery!

The document goes on to summarise;

“Why Canvey Island?
As detailed above it can be concluded that there are issues within the Canvey area which can be summarised as follows;
*Increasing elderly population living in their own homes  *High levels of deprivation  *Increasing obesity leading to an increase in type 2 diabetes  *Regeneration of Canvey Island with increased housing and population growth  *Deteriorating GP premises (excluding Central Canvey Primary Care Centre)”

And so we go around in circles with cpbc creating and increasing the problems for Canvey Island in the name of Planning:

Because of the perceived issues, Canvey must be continued to be developed;

Because of over-development, we have perceived issues!

It doesn’t help when a Health Care Trust resort to tired, out dated CPBC clichés to identify perceived issues with Canvey Island and its residents to support its intended course of Action! As if none of the other towns in the district, nor Rochford have any of the same issues.

If anybody can remember the original Rejected cpbc Local Plan, that included an Aspiration for a second large health centre.

Fortunately with the first attempt at a cpbc Local Plan, the Examining Inspector identified what cpbc were attempting, and was rejected basically because of an imbalance of Housing Growth distribution across the Borough. That is cpbc wished to direct the large housing sites onto Canvey Island!

It is noticeable that ONLY the Canvey surgeries are under Scrutiny, none of the Rochford, Daws Heath, Benfleet, Hadleigh nor Thundersley are considered!

Castle Point &Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group applied to NHS England for a pot of money, which has been granted, for the following:

To hand back the former Long Road Council Offices to castle point borough council and to move facilities, xray etc, into the ccpcc (Paddocks) to form a new Canvey health hub.

To facilitate these changes, structural changes and layout changes are necessary in the ccpcc, of which they’re already at a point where they intend to push ahead with this next year.

Currently awaiting approval from castle point borough council. 

Castle Point Borough Council are desperate to identify development land as so much is protected on the mainland. In carrying out this search they would prefer, so as to avoid challenge, for this to be as much Brownfield land as possible.

Being as they appear to have few scruples in their choice of land, in a Flood Zone, in a Critical Drainage Area, near Hazardous Industrial sites etc, a Listed Building, such as the NHS facility in the old Canvey Council Long Road building, should prove little obstacle for an allocation of Flats!

The fact that the building in question was originally Canvey Island district council’s, will make even more sense for our mainland controlled borough council to make use of this “Gift”!

The Long Road, ex Canvey Island Urban District Council office and chamber is, as mentioned, a Listed Building. CPBC indicate that they consider it “Both historically and architecturally significant.”

And yet cpbc have left it barely maintained and Neglected!

If this issue has caused a little stir amongst any Canvey Islanders, they may wish to look a little further into the document.

Ignore the initial 10 pages of college boy “blue sky outside of the box” bull **** and you will read some pretty damning findings , most probably out of date, on our Canvey Island Surgeries.

Is it too late to do anything about it?

Most probably, but lets see if this draws a response from our representatives.

The document can be read via this Link: https://castlepointandrochfordccg.nhs.uk/about-us/our-governing-body/governing-body-meetings/2017/27-july-2017/2753-item-09-canvey-outline-business-case-270717/file

Then consider, Why Must Canvey Island appear to be the Answer to All of Castle Point’s Problems?

Further History of the Long Road building can be found via CanveyIsland.org the Canvey Community Archive

Hypocrisy, the Use of Substitutes, a Deciding Vote and a Divided Borough? Sequentially Unsound!

It appeared that what can only be described as a level of Hypocrisy was displayed by certain Castle Point Development Committee members towards a view suggested by the opposition group at the 5th September’s meeting!

The suggestion appeared that Canvey was, put simplistically, being targeted for development so as to protect the mainland areas. It was expressed that Canvey should not be portrayed as an individual area, rather than an equal part of the whole Borough of Castle Point.

However the whole basis of the Flood Risk Sequential Test, as interpreted by Castle Point Council, is to treat Canvey Island in isolation!

“it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

” Canvey needs continued development if it is to continue to thrive economically. A lack of housebuilding on the island could mean that the island stagnates in economic terms which is likely to affect opportunities for employment. “

Indeed the Thorney Bay proposal for 600+ dwellings  was subject to a CPBC Planning Policy statement stating that “the site was identified as having the potential to contribute towards the 5 Year Housing Supply (of the Borough)”!

Regardless of the application being considered, whether for a single unit or a proposal for over 600 dwellings on Canvey Island, it is fairly clear that using this interpretation of the Sequential Test to support development proposals, there is no likelihood of any planning proposal Failing the Test!

It is a convenient and flimsy argument to accuse Islanders of focussing on cpbc’s apparent approach to Canvey development, whilst the Sequential Test is used to do precisely that!

It should be of concern, that since Canvey land was designated for the use of Housing in the 1998 Local Plan, and that since the Sequential Test approach towards its application on Canvey development proposals was adopted by CPBC in 2007, these events have occurred and these Reports have been published;

  • The Pitt Review-Learning Lessons from the 2007 floods. (Published 2008) !!!
  • The CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment published in 2010. (In itself due an Update.)
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2013.
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2014.
  • Government Office for Science – Canvey Island Section 19 Report
  • The requested Drainage Improvement / Upgrade funding has not materialised.
  • We learned that the land on Canvey Island has a High Water Table, subject to influence by the Tidal Water encroaching Under the Sea Defences. (Land East of Canvey Road document).
  • The Integrated Urban Drainage Study was published, which challenged the credibility of the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan published 2012.

Quite clearly the Castle Point Council approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island in isolation, is Obsolete and Unjustified!

Attenuation Tanks were discussed as a means of a suitable drainage system. Had the committee not considered that Canvey has a High Water Table, now known to be subject to Tidal influence? In this case the Tank would be sunk into the application site property, how efficient would this system of drainage be?

Photo Police helicopter 2014

The focus of the drainage system needs to be to prevent off-site flooding of neighbouring property and land. Without going through the exercise of producing a Practical Model on Canvey island and monitoring over an extended period councillors should not be in a position to simply go by unsubstantiated opinion in their decision making!

Whilst the protection of Green Belt, which is admirable, is at the forefront of councillors minds, it must be borne in mind that Paragraph 14 of the national Planning Policy Framework contains Footnote 9, which indicates;

specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

Whilst this specifically relates to Plan making, it is clear that, if the concern is present amongst decision makers development in a Flood Zone and in a Critical Drainage Area, in which Canvey Island falls into both categories, caution should be the operative position to adopt.

Residents suffering the Canvey Island Flooding of 2013 and 2014 may well feel appalled at the rigid Rejection of development applications on Green Belt, whilst a less than cautious approach appears to be adopted where Flood Risk is concerned, by certain cpbc development committee members.

The cpbc officer appeared unaware that the whole of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area.

The questionable use of Substitute councillors to replace two absentees at the meeting, bearing in mind the technical issues highlighted in this planning proposal, proved to be decisive, as 1 voted to Approve and 1 voted to Abstain.

With the votes recorded as 5 to Approve and 5 Against, with 2 Abstentions, the Chairman chose to use his Casting Vote, and consequently rather than holding further deliberations on the subjects contained within this post and others not mentioned, the Application was Approved!

The chances of Canvey Island Flooding during the next 1 in 316 year event, may not be in 316 years time!

Of late on Canvey Island social media websites, it has been noted how some contributors have expressed their view that the island faces a flooding threat from Rainfall, rather than from a Tidal breach or over-topping.

Indeed some have even gone as far as stating that it is Scare-mongering to even suggest the possibility that a threat from Tidal flooding even exists. For this post we will ignore Tidal flooding, leaving those wishing to keep their heads in the sand, and concentrate on Surface Water Flooding.

Following the 2014 Summer Flooding on Canvey Island and the ensuing Flood Investigation Reports, it was recommended that the terminology to indicate the threat of flooding should be altered. That is the existing 1 in 30 year, 1 in 100 year etc possibility of flooding, should be updated so that a more appropriate, more readily understood explanation of the possibility of a flood event is available.

Three years on and it appears that little has changed. This leaves homeowners and businesses oblivious to potential dangers and consequently ill-prepared.

This also leads local authorities into money saving complacency, and having to be reminded of their maintenance responsibilities.

Drain 4.04.17

There are concerns that monies from central government is granted but not strictly allocated to maintenance intended, councils preferring to place grants into central funds.

Some scepticism eludes from the ECC Flood Investigation where maintenance funds were apparently used, and yet the work carried out had little effect on preventing flooding in the following months.

Extracts from the ECC Investigation into the Canvey Island 2014 reveals;

In the period of time between 13:40 and 18:00 one million cubic metres of water fell on the island, which equates to almost the full capacity of Wembley Stadium.

This event was unprecedented,                                                                                                                       and the return period for this rainfall event is estimated at 1 in 316 years or 0.3% chance of it occurring in any given year.

Rainfall on the island may flow a substantial distance before reaching the pumps, through infrastructure owned or managed by a large number of different organisations and individuals and in some cases without a clear understanding of ownership. Any constriction on flow either due to blockage or insufficient capacity for the rainfall event can affect the effective operation of the entire drainage system.

As a result of the relatively densely populated urban areas and large areas of impermeable surfaces the island is especially susceptible to intense rainfall events which result in flash flooding. In combination with the flat topography of the island this means that Canvey is particularly dependent on the designed drainage infrastructure to mitigate flood risk.

Following the longest sustained period of wet weather on record over the winter months, Essex County Council released an additional £1m of emergency revenue funding to deal with highway related flooding.

In mid-February 2014 Castle Point Borough Council put forward its Top 5 flooding sites to Essex County Council, 4 of which were on Canvey Island:

Canvey Seafront area, Lottem Road area, North Avenue area, Town Centre area.

Extensive cleansing, CCTV surveys and jetting of the highways assets was undertaken at all of these locations and where necessary repair works were programmed.  

Arising from these works in the Canvey Seafront Area a larger Surface Water Alleviation Scheme (SWAS) has been identified and put forward for funding (circa £100,000). 

Generally, the drainage system at this location is very flat and prone to heavy silting.

Gullies, catch pits and associated pipework on Canvey Island are cleansed annually as part of the cyclical annual gulley cleanse.                                                                                                                      

There are a total of 5,767 highway and footway gullies in Canvey. 

In 2013/14 5,672 gullies were attended and of these 5,298 (91.8%) were cleansed.

On a personal level, my area of Canvey is amongst the unfortunate 8.2%.

However, returning to the issue of updating the terminology to indicate the threat of flooding should be altered. That is the existing 1 in 30 year, 1 in 100 year etc possibility of flooding, should be updated so that a more appropriate, more readily understood explanation of the possibility of a flood event.

It has been 3 years since the 2014 Canvey Island summer flooding and it appears no new system of flood possibility measurement has emerged.

Meanwhile following the flooding in Houston USA, the FiveThirtyEight blog reveals similar concerns regarding Flood Risk measurement terminology is a talking point across the Atlantic.

The FiveThirtyEight Blog post can be read HERE.

 

 

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