Tag Archives: density

Castle Point Councillors Resolve, to be Tested Again, as Local Plan and its Proposed Development of our Green Belt and Spaces re-emerges!

So, word is out that the Castle Point Council latest Local Plan will be, again, considered by council members during late October 2019, or is at least scheduled to be. This may or may not be subject to there being a Parliamentary Election later around that time, which may bring some bearing on the scheduling.

As we are all aware the CPBC Local Plan is a sensitive issue not least amongst the Castle Point Electorate! Ructions were caused when the previous attempt to adopt a Local Plan was bravely thwarted by those council members refusing to inflict certain damage to the borough and Canvey Island, through the draft Local Plan’s level of and siting of huge development sites. This they did under extreme and unfair pressure from Government, the cpbc controlling group and senior officers, insisting that Government Intervention was imminent. The Planning industry’s thoughts on the Intervention topic, and how this threat appears to have subsided were previously covered HERE.

This lessening of the Threat from Government of Local Plan Intervention, should give some encouragement to cpbc councillors to come up with their own Local Plan in line with Residents expectations.

Residents will once again be looking towards the resolve of our Council Representatives to Protect the Borough’s Green Belt and from Over Development. The delivery of supporting Infrastructure is abysmal, any development appearing to only compound issues and problems such as medical services, highway issues etc etc. These issues, however, are not solely confined to Canvey Island, what did concern Canvey Island was the necessary improvements to its Drainage System, some £24,500,000’s worth of remedial work.

Infrastructure Costs should also include the required Improvements to Canvey Island’s Sea Defences, but of course these are not included, nor allowed for within the CPBC Local Plan and its distribution of Housing Development Sites.

The CPBC Corporate Plan acknowledges that Castle Point is :

“a small Borough covering just 17.3 square miles, and an estimated population of 89,700. We are located in South Essex at the heart of the Thames Gateway South Essex sub-region, between Basildon and Southend.”

“Just over 55% of Castle Point’s land is designated as Green Belt. As a result, most of the Borough’s population live within one of four towns Benfleet (22%), Canvey Island (43%), Hadleigh (14%), and Thundersley (21%).”

“Castle Point has a population density of 19.21 persons per hectare, the second highest district in the county and considerably above the 4.0 average for the whole of Essex. The population density map below shows the highest rates of population are in the centre/south east of Canvey Island and within the towns of Benfleet and Hadleigh, although there are also expanses of low population density. Just 51% of the Castle Point district is classified as green space, the lowest proportion in the county (the Essex highest figure is 93% in Uttlesford): green spaces are important for wellbeing, community cohesion and for wildlife.”

The CPBC Local Plan needs to Highlight and expand on this with a suitable Housing Strategy, one that Residents can be comfortable with for a Healthy and Prosperous Future and not be resigned to a continued deterioration of the area as we know it.

We need to think carefully as to how our wishes are being Represented!

Other local authorities are struggling with coming to terms with the pressures of imposed development levels and respecting their Green and Open Spaces. Castle Point Council and its members, Our Representatives, must not buckle under pressure from either Cabinet members nor officers, in the knowledge we are not alone in this difficulty.

Lichfields January Insight, “Planned up and be counted, (Local Plan-making since the NPPF 2012)” clearly highlighted the problems surrounding local authorities affected by Green Belt constraints on development. :

“The majority (63%) of the LPAs which benefit from an up-to-date plan are unconstrained by Green Belt, whereas by contrast, 59% of LPAs without a post NPPF 2012 Local Plan are constrained by Green Belt, with these authorities twice as likely to not have a post-NPPF 2012 Plan as none Green  Belt authorities.”

“The Government’s early 2017 deadline for Local Plan submission has been and gone, and in March 2018 the Housing Minister announced an intention to intervene in three (Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral) of fifteen previously-named authorities who were being closely watched. With the Government’s intervention threat still in play and the bite of NPPF 2018 in force from 24 January 2019, can we expect a new rush on Plan-making activity?”

“Green Belt Reflecting the Government’s manifesto pledge, the NPPF 2018 changes Green Belt policy. Under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, its role as restricting development is tied to where it provides a “strong reason” for doing so, whilst those plan makers releasing Green Belt have first to show they have examined all other reasonable options, including brownfield sites, optimising density, and meeting needs in adjoining authorities.”

This final point we wish to point is exactly how site selection should also be viewed where development within Flood Risk zones through the Sequential Test, rather than the CPBC, Canvey Island “special case” method!

Advertisements

And the next Green Belt site up for Development in Castle Point is-!

An area of Green Belt land at Solby Wood, comes before the Castle Point (cpbc) development committee on the 6th December.

The proposal is for 46 dwellings.

The development committee agenda states;

“The proposal represents the residential development of a previously developed site in the Green Belt, on land which has been identified in the New Local Plan as suitable for release for residential purposes. Development of the site for residential purposes, whilst inconsistent with the Adopted Local Plan is considered to be consistent with the provisions of the New Local Plan and Government guidance.”

“My recommendation is that the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government be advised that the Council is minded to approve this application and that subject to no adverse direction being received and subject to the completion of a satisfactory S106 Agreement covering:
 
(i) The provision of affordable housing etc, etc
 
the Head of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods be authorised to grant permission, subject to conditions.”

“Should Members therefore be minded to approve the proposal, after consideration of all relevant matters, it will be necessary for the matter to then be forwarded to the Secretary of State for further consideration.”

This last point might be a timely reminder for the Secretary of State, whilst he continues to peruse the Jotmans Farm Appeal Inquiry papers, that cpbc are implementing in the meantime, policies as per the Local Plan2016.

The development committee paperwork goes into some description that may, or may not be on such certain legal ground by explaining:

“Para 89 of the NPPF states that the construction of new buildings within the Green Belt generally represents inappropriate development; however there are some exceptions to this general principle and the paragraph goes on to state that the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it may not be considered inappropriate.
 
The application site contains a number of substantial structures which are associated with the equestrian use of the site.
 
In addition a proportion of the site is hardsurfaced and used for the storage of caravans.
 
The site may therefore be classified as a brown field site.”

The cpbc Green Belt Review describes; “The site is partially developed to its eastern part with farm buildings and caravan storage.”

Brownfield land is considered: ‘Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure,” “This excludes: land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings” “land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments

Regarding the development the Echo had revealed in 2013

“THREE green belt sites in Castle Point could be developed within the next five years, the Echo can reveal.

A letter leaked to the Echo shows Castle Point Council’s chief executive, David Marchant, wrote to County Hall identifying the three pieces of land.

The sites were highlighted so the county council could predict the number of future school places in the area, as part of the consultation to close the Deanes School, Thundersley.”

“”last week meetings had taken place between the owner of Solby Wood Farm and Castle Point Council regarding a pre-application for up to 160 homes.”

Regarding Green Belt the case paperwork states;

“The site is allocated for Green Belt purposes on the 1998 Local Plan Proposals Map.

This allocation is not maintained in the New Local Plan (2016). Policy H9 of the New Local Plan identifies the application site and land to the east as suitable for release for residential purposes. This Plan is however not yet adopted and whilst it may be construed as an indication of the direction of travel for the Local Authority, it can carry some limited weight in the determination of this application. ”

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) stresses the importance of having a planning system that is genuinely plan-led. Where a proposal accords with an up-to-date development plan it should be approved without delay, as required by the presumption in favour of sustainable development at NPPF.

Where the development plan is absent, silent or the relevant policies are out of date, the NPPF requires the application to be determined in accordance with the presumption in favour of sustainable development unless otherwise specified.

Footnote 9 to the NPPF however identifies that land allocated for Green Belt purposes is an example where development should be restricted. The footnote does not however state that development in such areas is prohibited.

The Development Plan for Castle Point is the adopted Local Plan (1998). This identifies the site as Green Belt.”

“Para 89 of the NPPF states that the construction of new buildings within the Green Belt generally represents inappropriate development; however there are some exceptions to this general principle and the paragraph goes on to state that the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it may not be considered inappropriate.

The application site contains a number of substantial structures which are associated with the equestrian use of the site.
In addition a proportion of the site is hardsurfaced and used for the storage of caravans.

The site may therefore be classified as a brown field site.”

“However”, (a word often heard during these meetings), it may be argued, by some, that this remains a Green Belt site as defined in the Adopted Local Plan and therefore should be subject to the recognised development restrictions.

Equally residents would claim, in cases where unwanted development is concerned and given the position of the local Plan2016, the proposal may be considered Premature!

On Affordable Homes, cpbc extend leniency towards the developer, the Adopted Local Plan seeks 35% Affordable dwellings, whilst the local Plan2016 states:

” In order to ensure the viability of development throughout the borough, and to ensure that developments are supported by the transport, community and green infrastructure needed to create sustainable communities, it is recommended 25% affordable housing provision is sought in Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley”

However with the ink not even fully dry on the cpbc Local Plan2016, the officers propose capitulation by conceding in the case paperwork that;

“Both the adopted and New Local Plan recognise that it will not always be possible to achieve the provision of affordable housing on site and that under some circumstances the Council will consider the provision of payments in lieu rather than provision on site. Such payments will however be required to be equivalent to the cost of on-site provision and in accordance with the Council’s adopted formula.”
 
“In this instance the applicant has acknowledged the need to make provision for affordable housing and has requested that a contribution to offsite provision be accepted.”

One may wonder whereabouts in the Borough, these social housing provisions may, or may not, be eventually sited and delivered. The potential for making matters worse via segregational planning practice may have obvious drawbacks, particularly when pockets of deprivation already exist within the borough.

cw0tmrpxeaqcils

The Solby Wood site being 3.4 Ha may be considered to be under-developed, only delivering 46 dwellings at a rate of 13.5 per Ha, but then the same rules do not apply across the whole of Castle Point!

The cpbc case officer, in offering some assistance to the developer suggested “I have not worked out the impact on the amenity area provision for the dwellings – but it might be worth looking at.

It will therefore be interesting to observe any committee members comments, given that 15 out of the 46 dwellings will not reach the amenity space standard expected by an average of 17.5 square metres on average, per dwelling!

All in all though, cpbc should be commended for attempting to follow policies as laid out within the Local Plan2016.

Photo copyright:BBC