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China Crisis = Answer to Canvey Island issues? Or – Castle Point’s Broken Local Plan Process “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary”???

“The continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.”

So say, Castle Point borough council planning officers in their programmed approach to avoiding objections to each and every proposal for development on Canvey Island.

This programmed response, supporting perpetual development, is in respect of evading opposition and objection to the “Special Case” position the officers are ordered to adopt in consideration of Canvey’s Flood Risk Exception test.

Whilst Constraints on development in other areas of the borough are sited and strictly adhered to, as a matter of policy, similar approach to Canvey Island proposals appear less rigorously imposed.

Given that Canvey development should be constrained by the fact that the Island is a tidal Flood Risk Zone 3a area, is now deemed a Critical Drainage Area following the surface water flooding during 2014 and previously, as well as being the location of 2 Top Tier Comah hazardous industrial sites.

That there is only one access / egress point, that the Island’s dedicated Rapid Response (paramedic) Vehicle is being withdrawn and that, like other areas the Police and the Fire and Rescue service presence has diminished.

These factors, one would think given Canvey Island’s geographical position, may cause outsiders to wonder why castle point borough council planning department should be so manipulative, when they recite such Unsound Drivel as “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement”!

Higher up the local government ladder the planning department superiors have indentified in contrast, that on tidal Flood Risk alone, they consider that the population of Canvey Island should be limited to the level prior to 2011, OR LESS!

However cpbc Cabinet, Councillors, Officers and Planners ALL choose to ignore this apparently sensible and cautious approach to Housing Numbers, one can only assume, so as to limit the levels of apparently necessary, but unpopular, Housing Need elsewhere in the Borough!

Now whilst our local “public servants” propose and impose yet more development, both Housing and Industrial, onto Canvey Island under the pretext that, “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement” they would do well to appreciate what is going on far from here.

Local decision makers, in their desperation to support the Borough’s income stream and limit the perceived Housing Need on the mainland, are willing to overlook potential Hazards and Constraints that should, by Rights, limit the ever-increasing Canvey Island Population Growth, through the means of our broken Local Plan process!

This Blindfolded and Wreckless approach to Development Planning on Canvey Island, has directly led to the flooding of many properties during 2013 / 2014, and is continued unabated, despite the clear warning towards adoption of a more cautious approach following the Calor escape of 163 tonnes of liquified gas forming a  vapour cloud over the Island!

Whilst the efforts of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service to convince cpbc members that their vastly reduced level of cover for Canvey Island would be adequate in the event of a major accident at either of the 2 Hazardous sites, their claim should not serve as supporting evidence for continually increasing the Population of Canvey.

Castle Point, we believe, would be totally justified in adopting a Limited Population Approach to its Housing Supply through its Local Plan Process, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

This approach would be fully justified and would protect local builders and developers alike.

An ever-increasing population has little or no justification in any of the reasons recited by cpbc in its flimsy evidence to direct the levels of development growth towards Canvey Island, indicated in their various versions of failed Local Plans .

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It is Amazing then to discover that a Far Eastern Country should have adopted a Plan that puts concerns for its Population and Environment first, by recognising the Need to Limit Population Levels.

Whilst we do not compare the population levels of Shanghai and Canvey Island, it does indicate that limiting population, rather than the contrived reasoning behind the proposal for the ever-increasing population numbers policy, as applied by Castle Point Council Strategic and Local Planners!

 “China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, authorities have said.

The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.
“By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometres,” it said.
State media has defined “big city disease” as arising when a megacity becomes plagued with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services, including education and medical care.

But some experts doubt the feasibility of the plans, with one researcher at a Chinese government thinktank describing the scheme as “unpractical and against the social development trend”.
Migrant workers and the city’s poor would suffer the most, predicted Liang Zhongtang last year in an interview with state media, when Shanghai’s target was being drafted.

The government set a similar limit for Beijing in September, declaring the city’s population should not exceed 23 million by 2020. Beijing had a population of 21.5 million in 2014. Officials also want to reduce the population of six core districts by 15% compared with 2014 levels.
To help achieve this goal authorities said in April some government agencies, state-owned companies and other “non-core” functions of the Chinese capital would be moved to a newly created city about 100 kilometres south of Beijing.
An exact date for when those offices will have to move has not been set, but Beijing officials have already begun reshaping the city’s population.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers were evicted from their homes beginning in November, after authorities launches a 40-day crackdown on unsafe buildings in the wake of a fire.
Many of China’s biggest cities also face surging house prices, stirring fears of a property bubble. Beijing and Shanghai have enacted strict rules on who can purchase property and the two cities are the most vulnerable if prices begin to tumble.
Shanghai had a permanent population of 24.15 million at the end of 2015, the official Xinhua news agency said last year.
The city has also said it would intensify efforts to protect the environment and historic sites as part of its masterplan.” *

As a further reminder, we make no apologies for reminding readers of the devastating effects on households Hazardous Accidents have the potential to cause, as seen in this Video recording.

Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.

*Report filed for the Guardian by; Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong and agencies
@haasbenjamin
Tue 26 Dec ‘17
Reuters contributed to this report

And for those who have read this far, here is a link to some music – China Crisis’ recording of “Wishful Thinking”.

We thought the title appropriate!

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Oh the Irony! Councillors Propose a Referendum!

Canvey Islanders feel they are Not Listened to!

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

All to No Avail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Typically the daft Local Plan 2014 ignored these views!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Sajid, re: Intervention of 15 Local Plan Councils, didn’t realise it was a Race – it’s only been 10 years, Yours Castle Point Council!

We have to hope that the correspondence capabilities at cpbc Runnymede Towers, plus of course the delicate balance of political power in the council chamber, are such that Government intervention in the cpbc Local Plan process, as threatened by the Secretary of State Sajid Javid, will prove unnecessary following the cpbc response to gov. criticism.

On the other hand, how the emerging utopia, otherwise known as Sandy Bay, will be viewed by a Planning Inspector, should one be appointed through an intervention process, will be interesting to see.

The latest cpbc Local Plan vers.IV indicates Thorney Bay as scheduled to realise 600+ dwellings, Outline in Principle is considered to have already been granted for this including the condition that land is set aside for the completion of Roscommon Way, supposedly the answer to all of Canvey Island’s traffic congestion problems.

During the November cpbc cabinet meeting concerns, bordering on panic, were voiced by members that land required for Roscommon Way phase 2 may be being planned for development of the Park Homes development, namely Sandy Bay.

ThorneyBay

Sandy Bay – Roscommon Way route?

The Thorney Bay application for 600+ dwellings includes a Condition that reads;

“”Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension Land” Means the land to be retained unfettered and free from obstruction and any ransom strip that might fetter the ability to develop the Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension” 

However a visit to the cpbc Planning Portal indicates that a decision on the Planning Proposal has yet to be determined and that the Conditions, or S106 Agreement remains unsigned and in Draft form only.

Meaning that the consternation of the cpbc cabinet members over Roscommon Way land becoming a “ransom strip” may be outside of their powers of control!

So a Local Plan Government appointed intervening Planning Inspector, would arrive at Castle Point to discover that the only large site identified in the Local Plan vers.IV is within a 3A Flood Zone, part of a Critical Drainage Area, within the Hazard Range of a Top Tier COMAH site and is now outside of Planning Control, due to Thorney Bay having been granted, long ago, permission as a caravan site!

As Olly Murs might sing;

“Dear Sajid, please excuse my writing.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking
‘Cause I’m cold and alone tonight.
I miss you and nothing hurts like no Plan.
And no one understands what we went through.
It was short. It was sweet. We tried.

Park Homes being simply a progression from caravans thereby a new planning application being unnecessary according to cpbc.

Being outside Planning Control there is an unknown potential for the number of Park Homes should the venture be successful, 1000 -1,600 being a possibility.

How can this guess-timate be part of a Local Plan Housing Supply, an Inspector might ask given the unplanned for numbers of delivery.

Fortunately Park Homes are counted as Housing Supply. Perhaps a Local Plan exception can be made in the case of Castle Point Council so that they may leave the 5 Housing Supply as an open ended figure, to be confirmed by the Park Home owners!

Alarm bells should be ringing at the apparent stalling of the Kiln Road delivery adding pressure onto the lack of annual Housing Supply, meaning Sandy Bay becomes more and more important inclusion in the cpbc Annual Monitoring Reports.

So an Inspector would become aware that the sole large delivering “Housing” supply site is on Canvey Island in a most inappropriate area, delivering unsubstantiated numbers of dwellings, whilst all of the mainland sites are, in one way or another, contentious!

This will not look good IF the cpbc “Dear Sajid” letter is unconvincing!

The likelihood of intervention may yet be unlikely as the High Court has twice denied the proposed developer of Jotmans farm site permission to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to disagree with the Planning Inspector’s Appeal decision.

One can only read into this that the allocation of Housing Supply sites are best done through the Local Plan process and that Local Plans are intended for local authorities to compile through the Town and Country Regulations.

As it appears that legal issues may require testing, the Government may be falling into the open can of worms with this Intervention initiative.

Maybe best if, even, Castle Point and the Sandy Bay developers are left to their own means!

 

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!

Canvey Floods: “Quart into Pint Pot” Development + residents left in fear of the next rainfall

Essex County Council’s re-action, or lack of action prior to the Canvey flooding, was examined at last evening’s Scrutiny meeting.

“The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Their failings can be directly attributed to adding tothe cause of flood water entering residents homes during both the July 2014 and August 2013 events.

Information was revealed by ECC, much already suspected by residents, of lack of maintenance and clearing of gulleys and drains.

It was “unfortunate” that both rainstorms occurred at the weekends! Apparently standby contractor gulley cleaning crews come from outside of the area and had problems passing flooded roads!

There are 6,000 road gulleys on Canvey Island. Prior to the recent event Essex County Council were unaware of the total number!

The drainage on Canvey Island suffers from “deep seated” problems and is not simply an issue of maintenance.

It was admitted that Highways do not have enough funds and are having to prioritise their work load.

The implication here being that should there be further heavy rainfall in Essex, outside of Castle Point, without further funding, these clearing crews may be re-allocated to other areas during an emergency.

The Essex County representative also revealed problems that indicate that our own Castle Point Borough Council may themselves be culpable.

ECC working alongside Anglian Water discovered  that a Developer had connected a 150 mm diametre drainage pipe to an existing 600 mm drainage pipe!

The lack of building inspection work on Canvey Island, alongside the lack of flood prevention measures at development proposal approval stage, is a clear fault of the local authority.

blame

Yet so far there is no intention of the Scrutiny Committee  to examine CPBC’s own culpability leading up to the event. It appears that now that ECC have been appointed Lead Local Flood Authority, CPBC are exonerated!

There was a failure by CPBC to attempt to keep records of previous flooding.

CPBC suggested that the flat nature of Canvey’s landscape meant the likelihood of surface water flooding was less of an issue. In fact the recent ECC report suggests that the opposite was true!

These failings were input into the information being collated to produce the Surface Water Management Plan. This resulted in indicating Canvey Island, although a critical drainage area, had no potential surface water flooding “hot spots.”

Castle Point Cabinet accepted without question, despite councillors being aware of previous flooding issues, this document, and the rest was history.

Even the very first “Meeting of responsible Agencies” held on the 30th August following the July 2014 flood, to look into the problem, cause and failings that led to so many householders suffering losses and misery, found the need to work the “redevelopment of Thorney Bay” into the discussion.

There lies the main problem.

CPBC’s continued over development of Canvey Island, despite the area being low lying (below sea level), clay sub soil, generally flat, so no natural water run-off, reliant on pumps as a means of drainage, with a high water table, is the issue.

As long ago as 2005 defra published the “Making Space for Water” document with it’s recommendation to Land Use Planning.

Continually at local planning level in Castle Point little caution is placed on the likelihood of flooding from new development.

Since the Environment Agency were persuaded to view Canvey Island as a “special case” and allow CPBC the responsibility for determining the level of flood hazard and danger to new development, little objection has been allowed by the officers and development committee on flooding grounds.

The Government Office for Science Report on the Essex County Council’s Canvey Island flood review issued 7 Recommendations.

We would like to suggest an 8th Recommendation.

Essex County Council are preparing an approach to the Government for funding aid,  once the Canvey Island Urban Drainage Study is complete. This will take some considerable work. In the meantime residents will fear everytime rainfall is forecast.

Some unfortunate residents had only just dried out their homes following the August 2013 flood before they were flooded out again.

Apparently ECC suggest that some £1.5 million has been allocated for the immediate remedial work.

May I suggest that as an 8th Recommendation a subsidy is arranged for residents to put towards the purchase, and if necessary the fitting, of Anti flood Air Brick Covers.

This, alongside the gulley clearing, would give some immediate hope that water from a further heavy rainstorm may not enter their homes, whilst we wait for the more time and finance consuming remedial work required to our drainage and pumping system.

The Agencies concerned will produce a lot of paperwork and reports, Action is what is required. Action and assistance in protecting our homes.

This may convince the Insurance Industry that something practical is being done so as to make House Insurance viable on Canvey Island.

The other 7 Recommendations issued by the Government Office for Science are:

Recommendation 1 – A single person should have the authority and accountability to manage and coordinate effective flooding responses in vulnerable localities.

Recommendation 2 – An action plan should be drawn up to provide access to pumps during flooding to help ensure continuous pumping when required.

Recommendation 3 – A peer review of the drainage and pumping infrastructure needs to take place.

Recommendation 4 – An assessment should be made of the resilience of the local
population to flooding.

Recommendation 5 – The Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology should review the likelihood and impact of extreme weather events.

Recommendation 6 – The Environment Agency along with relevant agencies should provide an overview of areas where extreme rainfall events may result in significant local impact, in order to review safeguards in those places.

Recommendation 7 -The Natural Hazards Partnership should use the Canvey Island event as a case study in the surface water Hazard Impact Modelling initiative to enhance the development of more effective future alerting.