Tag Archives: Development Committee

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Island is classed as being at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding, that the approach to development on the Island is Long Out of Date, and in Need of Review!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the 2013 and 2014 flooding exposed the Castle Point council’s Development Committee decision as badly Flawed and long Out of Date!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

May Avenue, Canvey Island – Flooding Lessons Never Learned by CPBC- or were they never meant to be?

The controversial proposal to develop on a narrow green space in May Avenue, Canvey Island, returned for cpbc development Control committee consideration.

The previous application had been Rejected and on Appeal was upheld by the Planning Inspector.

The problem with cpbc being taken to Appeal over development is the crazy system of officers demanding Reasons for a development’s Rejection immediately the vote has been taken. There should be a process whereby the officers Report including Reasons for Objection is given further consideration before the officers are allowed to sign off their reports.

It is these Reports that stand as the Borough’s case during a written Appeal considered by the Planning Inspectorate and they appear to be practically made up on the hoof!

This time around some members voiced continued concerns, whilst the officer warned against the consequences of again Rejecting the proposal.

In the end a Motion to Defer the decision was Agreed.

One of the main issues MUST be that of the principle of Flood Risk.

No Objection from the Environment Agency, and the Developer indicated that the famed Canvey Integrated Urban Drainage study showed flooding, similar to that of the summer of 2014 would leave the proposed development dry.

Shame the same thing cannot be guaranteed for the Neighbouring Existing May Avenue Properties!

There is an agreed guidance between the Environment Agency and castle point council for small development sites.

Part of this guidance states;

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its supporting Technical Guidance Document set out the Government’s national policy on development in areas at risk of flooding. It seeks, wherever possible, to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding. Where it can be demonstrated that development is required in these areas, the NPPF seeks to ensure it will be safe over the lifetime of the development and will not increase flood risk elsewhere and where possible, reduce flood risk”

Developing what is a narrow greensward area between two properties can only add to the pressures on the Canvey Island drainage system.

Replacing a greensward with a bricks and mortar dwelling and driveway will likely increase the Flood Risk to Neighbouring properties, against NPPF requirement.

The cpbc planning officer was dismissive of these concerns stating that the local authority’s position regarding Sequential Testing (where development should take place in less Flood Liable Zones) falls within the usual mantra;

“With regard to the sequential test, the proposal seeks to provide dwellings on Canvey Island. For residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it would need to be located within, or immediately adjacent to, that settlement.
Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available alternative sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding that could accommodate the proposed development. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.”

This is ambiguous! The first paragraph implies that the community of Canvey Island should remain where it is, no migration allowed! Castle Point is one of the smallest Boroughs in England however, no similar concerns are applied to Benfleet, Hadleigh nor Thundersley.

These mainland towns have populations that are barely increasing, and yet they face no similar Flood Risks.

The cpbc New Local Plan Sequential Test for Housing Site Options states;

In order to deliver 200 homes per annum for the period 2011 to 2031 (4,000 homes in total), it is necessary to identify developable sites with a further capacity to accommodate 2,400 homes. Approximately, 500 of these homes will be secured at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, and 99 at the 101 Point Road, Canvey Island. It is expected that redevelopment within the existing residential areas of the borough will secure approximately 380 additional homes in this period also. Therefore, the sequential test will be seeking to identify developable sites with a capacity of 1,421 homes.

Quite clearly, development on Canvey Island is in support of the Borough’s Housing Needs! Therefore this isolationist application of the Sequential Test by castle point council, to Canvey Island alone, has No Justification!

It should be remembered that the National Planning Policy Framework gives Equal Protection to Green Belt land and Land at risk of Flooding;

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

9 For example, 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.”

Committee members concerns whether surface water flooding could be prevented by Attenuation Tanks were wide of the mark. Canvey Island has a notoriously High Water Table, create space for a tank below ground simply pushes flood waters higher and wider!

See if these extracts ring any bells, you should all, Canvey Islanders anyway, recognise where these words come from and relate to;

“pumps are the final element of a long, incredibly complex and interlinked surface water drainage system comprising of drains, culverts, sewers, open watercourses, main rivers, pumps and storage areas all with varying capacity, which need to be operating efficiently in order to drain the island. 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”

“The pressure on the drainage system on Canvey Island has intensified over the last 50 years due to further development, and it is evident that in some locations some drainage infrastructure is no longer at the necessary capacity to provide sufficient drainage”

” Given the unique nature of the drainage system and the scale of investment needed, to achieve significant results in Canvey Island will require that special support be provided by DEFRA. With this understanding, multiagency cooperation and additional Central Government funding it may be possible to make necessary and feasible improvements to the drainage system and effectively reduce flood risk in some areas.

The population of Canvey Island consisted of 38,459 people back in 2011, and yet cpbc position is that unless the population continues to grow, the Island will become unsustainable.

What utter Tosh!

There are 38,500 people at Risk of Flooding, local agencies have proven they cannot cope should we suffer from Surface Water Flooding, and yet the Local Plan proposal is to put more and more people at Risk!

If that is not what unsustainable development means then I don’t know what does!

The Sequential Test, as adopted by CPBC, is out of date!

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is out of date!

The agreement between the Environment Agency allowing Castle Point Council to decide (take responsibility for) the safety of new development over its Lifetime is out of date!

That Canvey is a “Special Case” where development is concerned, is out of date!

The £24,500,000 required to mend the Canvey Island “Broken” Drainage System has never materialised!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group maintain the position that the Island’s population should be maintained at the current levels or lower. All planned development on Canvey should be the subject of the Local Plan alone!

The infrastructure cannot cope with more, whilst the Island’s economy is reasonable given the UK’s circumstances. Whilst the Town Centre may be showing some signs of struggling in the more expensive locations, this is not helped by out of town commercial development in the pipeline.

Lessons clearly are not being learned despite assurances from senior officers!

Canvey Flats, Foksville Road, Flood Risk responsibility and Lack of Parking Spaces!

 

 

Canvey Flats Approved and Death of the Dream of ‘Canvey Comes Alive’ whilst Never a Truer Word said! Foksville Road.

Once Upon a Time…..

There was a Vision for Canvey.

This vision was fuel injected by  Ad-man and Design-man’s gobbledegook, encouraged by “our” local authority to intoxicate us simple local residents that the Vision would become a Utopian reality.

This Vision went by the title of the “Canvey Town Centre Masterplan” leading to the destination of “Canvey Comes Alive!”

Phrases used in the extensive Masterplan Report included;

“achieve coherence and a comprehensive approach to the future” “Empower and activate the strong local  community” “Deliver exceptional and lasting quality in the streets, spaces and buildings to develop a legacy befitting Canvey” “Create strategic gateway spaces and announce arrival into the Town Centre” – “Provide strong linkages, both visually  and physically between destinations with clear instinctive wayfinding” – “Establish a unique character and identity for the Town Centre, encapsulating history and heritage in contemporary style” – “Create a pleasant, calmed Town Centre environment” – “Create gateways that are linked to the key arrival points” – “The preferred masterplan option is based on an overarching concept of creating character areas” – “A step change in the Town Centre offer” 

Or as Jim Royle might have said “My A*se!”

The block of flats proposed for Foksville Road will come as no surprise to you to learn, were approved at last evening’s castle point council planning meeting.

As long ago as 2012 CPBC backed down on Canvey Island Town Centre

“As a result of the withdrawal of the Core Strategy, it is not now possible to adopt the Canvey Town Centre Masterplan as a Supplementary Planning Document. It is however possible to adopt it as supplementary guidance.”

Unfortunately Canvey residents dreams of a Regenerated Town Centre, unlike Hadleigh residents, have been blown away, possibly forever. Officers Agenda paperwork makes the concede the dream is over;

“whilst the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is an adopted policy document it is at an embryonic stage and something of an aspirational document with limited commercial commitment. The proposals within the plan will not be delivered in the short or medium term and are unlikely to come to fruition in their current form” 

So the engagement with the Consultants, Canvey residents, councillors, cpbc officers and the Canvey Traders Association alongside the expense, has come to NOWT!

The desire to see new development, Retail and Housing designed in a Dutch themed style as residents wished or in the Consultants suggested Art Deco style, will be replaced by the piecemeal pre-designed offers from the architects back catalogue!

The Canvey Comes Alive “Dream” promised us:

“A number of interesting buildings in Canvey display characteristics of Art Deco / Modernist design. It is these buildings that the community highlighted as ones to save through the masterplan, and have features with the potential to translate into exciting modern forms.
Notable buildings of the Art Deco style in Canvey include the Monico, Rio Bingo Hall and Labworth Cafe. It is features from these and other art deco styled buildings that form part of the palette for the Town Centre”

Labworth cafe

“Canvey Town Centre should have local, Borough, County, Regional and National image. It is an opportunity to provide an iconic feature for Canvey Island and Castle Point as a whole The area should be a celebration of the sea, the elements and the people who use it. The theme in this case will be based on the history of the island as a seaside destination and with strong dutch heritage, and with connections to water as a coastal estuary environment. The following are principles that will inform a future public realm strategy and will ensure that the character of Canvey is expressed through the streets and spaces.”

The agreement amongst local politicians and residents that a “Dutch” themed design would be appropriate, failed to make it to paperwork stage for some reason!

Once again, where Canvey Island is concerned, the Applicant within his proposal paperwork is able to state, unchallenged, “There are no archaeological implications arising from this development.”

And we continue, through our development committee, to be provided with “piecemeal” new development leaving Canvey with less and less identity!

“At its meeting of April 2012, the Council’s Cabinet agreed to the adoption of the Canvey Town Centre Masterplan as a Supplementary Planning Document, to be considered when making decisions on planning applications for Canvey Town Centre”* see below

“A public realm strategy is needed to set out the aspirations and conclusions and is the first step in heightening awareness for the need of a quality public realm.”

And as a tempter to induce us to believe a prestigious Town Centre was nearing commencement we were encouraged to believe:-

“An initial viability appraisal of the Retail Core has been conducted to examine the financial prospects of the proposals in current market conditions. This analysis produced favourable results. For other masterplan proposals, the prospects of delivery are generally viewed to be good, and especially if property market conditions improve.”

“Additionally, there were two consultees who thought the proposals were a waste of money generally!”

Town Centre

The canvey independent party wish it to be known they voted against the development.

*Later downgraded to Supplementary Guidance

Proof that Canvey Island is indeed a Special Case! Death of the Regeneration scheme and (more) Flats set for Approval!

Yet MORE Flats for Canvey Island can be expected for Approval during next Tuesday’s, March 2017 meeting of the cpbc Development Committee.

The rights and wrongs will be the subject of some probably pointless discussion as flats and town centres seem to go together, yet some of the officer’s ramblings within the agenda paperwork are flimsy to say the least!

Using extracts lifted from the officers agenda paperwork, in italics:-

“Government’s clear expectation is that the answer to development and growth should wherever possible be ‘yes’, except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in national planning policy.”

Concerns around National Planning Policy are generally discounted where development and constraints of the type affecting Canvey are concerned.

There is a clear and recognised need for additional housing provision within the borough and as such a presumption in favour of the development of the site for residential purposes exists”

This makes a mockery of the Canvey being a “special case” argument. If it were truly to be treated as a “special case” the levels of development and population would have been examined, taking into account the Flood Risk, the location of the 2 Comah sites and the access / egress issues!

What “special case” means in Canvey’s respect is that development will be approved regardless of Constraints!

The site is within the town centre but not located within a primary shopping frontage. It is isolated from the nearby core retail area by reason of the busy one way road system of the town”

I am sorry I must be missing something here; I thought the site adjoined the High Street parade of retail premises, agreed it is a former dairy but since then has more laterly a DIY outlet.

CCA_news_img1_lrg

Photo Courtesy: canveycomesalive

However, whilst the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is an adopted policy document it is at an embryonic stage and something of an aspirational document with limited commercial commitment. The proposals within the plan will not be delivered in the short or medium term and are unlikely to come to fruition in their current form”

This statement is quite some admittance from Castle Point council! After, what many residents claimed, many wasted years of council taxpayers money on maintaining a “Regeneration” shop in the Knightswick centre, it appears the Canvey Town Centre scheme is no further forward.

Used to support an ailing Core Strategy and Local Plan it is now accepted as an Aspirational, Long Term dream!

As pie in the sky as this scheme was, should not excuse the desire to improve the visual aspect of the Town Centre, contained within the Regeneration scheme.

Developers should be tied to providing a building design matching those contained within the regeneration scheme, before any development plans are accepted for consideration! A Plan of any Sort, in this case, would be better than None.

The development, along with the rest of Canvey Island, is located in Flood Zone 3 which has the highest probability of flooding. Whilst sequential testing aims to steer new development to the area with the lowest possible probability of flooding, it is an established principle that Canvey has development needs which need to be met on Canvey if the settlement is not to be economically blighted, therefore the sequential test is considered to be passed.”

The use of the term “accepted principle” as in the sentence above, is a Castle Point council preference used as a means to locate “additional housing provision within the borough” on Canvey Island rather than in more politically sensitive locations, it is not even a Policy!

“19 spaces are therefore required but only 12 are provided on site. However in town centre locations where there is good access to public transport and other facilities it would be appropriate for the planning authority to accept lower levels of parking provision.”

Records indicate that, whether in a Town Centre, or not, cpbc are content and consistent especially on Canvey Island, in permitting the under-supply of parking spaces.

This 3 storey development that could and should provide the perfect opportunity in a Flood Risk Zone, to use the Ground Floor as secure parking and utility space!

Canvey Island is indeed a “Special Case”!

Oh and by the way before you get too excited, an application for 10 dwellings need supply 0 (Zero) Affordable Dwellings.

 

 

 

Neither Tidal nor Surface Water Flood Risk a Constraint on Development, where Castle Point Council are concerned!

The issue of potential Flooding remains a Hot Topic. That is as it should be, however as we have seen within Castle Point Council it only acts as a Development Constraint verbally, rather than effectively.

The responsibility on Flood Risk should fall squarely on the shoulders of council members, but other interests and “fear” of scaremongering, in effect mean that Flood Risk as a Constraint on Development is disregarded.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The Environment Agency adopt a position where residents safety over the lifetime of a new development is left to council members, Canvey Island and mainland residents Representatives.

The EA consider;

“The site is currently protected by flood defences so is not at risk of flooding in the present-day 0.0% (1 in 1000) annual probability flood event. The defences will continue to offer protection over the lifetime of the development, provided that the TE2100 policy is followed and the defences are raised in line with climate change, which is dependent on future funding.” 

The Island’s Flood Risk Assessment confirms over topping will be a concern prior to the year 2100!

There are no guarantees of this future funding and residents may be surprised to know that much of this funding must be raised locally. Councillors should be in a position to inform us of the sources of this funding and of the avenues in place for the collection of these monies, if they are confident that the sea defences will receive the necessary improvements so as to have confidence any new builds that they approve, will be safe over its Lifetime!

The EA give further warning;

“Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure” 

Of course the official position of cpbc appears to be that as long as there is space provided for safe refuge areas above the ground floor, development is acceptable.

A somewhat contradictory position in respect that if Canvey Island could not Flood, the safe refuge requirement would be un-necessary.

Government and Defra continue to fumble about giving residents no security whilst planners and developers take advantage of the lack of a clear position.

The BBC Report;

The Commons environment committee said ministers were not addressing what it called the fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood management.

Areas of concern include flood impact home insurance, building rules and local authority planning decisions.

The government rejected the criticism, saying it had accepted many previous suggestions on flooding from the MPs.

The committee’s comments are the latest in a running tussle between MPs and the environment department Defra.

 The MPs admit that flooding has risen up the government’s priority list, and say “considerable work” on flooding is being done across Whitehall. But they complain that ministers are still ignoring reasonable demands.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, acting chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra), said: “People living in areas of flood risk need to be reassured that the government is acting to improve our disjointed flood management system.

“Defra has failed to give sufficient justification for its rejection of our recommendations for important new measures.”

Continued development also increases pressure on Canvey Island’s drainage system, already capable of failure through misuse and lack of maintenance. Housing and Business development means Roads, Parking areas and hard impermeable surfaces intensify this issue as development approvals continue unabated.

This move to develop more and more areas of grass land on Canvey must be considered in the light of it inevitably increasing the likelihood of Surface Water Flooding, a warning of this issue is contained in a Research paper by Dr David Kelly. Its relevance to Canvey Island should be considered Striking!

It should be remembered that, whilst the sea defences have some ability to stop the Tide from over topping, they have absolutely no effect in stopping the Tidal Water from penetrating the ground from beneath, and causing flooding and a High Water Table by that means!

Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” Research Paper by Dr D.A.Kelly

The proliferation of paved gardens is putting the UK’s towns and cities at greater risk of flooding and, by 2080, the UK’s urban drainage system could be overwhelmed by ‘runoff’ equivalent to the volume of up to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  

The potential impact that paved gardens could have on urban flooding in Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester and London by 2050 and 2080 was examined by Dr David Kelly, associate professor in Heriot-Watt’s Water Academy. 

Many gardens in the UK have been paved by homeowners who want low maintenance gardens or off-street parking. Covering traditional gardens with hard paving, and the subsequent loss of green vegetation, reduces the amount of rainfall that can be dealt with naturally and significantly increases the rate and volume of runoff flowing to surface water drainage systems. 

Dr Kelly applied projected rainfall intensities for each of the four UK cities to simulated front gardens that reflect the trends for paving. 

Calculating the runoff contribution from new and existing paved gardens will help planners and policy makers identify areas of risk in their town and city – and decide whether to call for homeowners to depave. Additionally, data of runoff from individual paved gardens could highlight the need for behaviour change, and help encourage homeowners to take action themselves by depaving their gardens and enhancing green vegetation.

Dr Kelly, assistant professor in Heriot-Watt University’s Water Institute said: “Domestic front gardens cover almost 30% of our urban space and play a vital role in managing surface water runoff in towns and cities. 

“Existing urban drainage systems will be inadequate to cope with the level of increased runoff from paved front gardens. With runoff from all impermeable surfaces, including paved front gardens, likely to increase in future due to urban densification, the risk of urban flooding will increase unless substantial efforts are made to minimise runoff.”

Homeowners and policymakers need to focus on depaving gardens across the UK.

Dr Kelly’s research showed that the collective runoff by the 2080s from front gardens alone is expected to increase by substantial amounts during extreme storm events due to climate change. 

“In Edinburgh, considering only gardens that are currently at least three-quarters paved, during just one storm, runoff could increase to 29,000m3 across the city, equivalent to 12 Olympic swimming pools, by 2080.”  

“In London, the volume of runoff could increase up to as much as 278,000m3 (equivalent to 100 Olympic swimming pools). ” 

“But, if all of these gardens were depaved and had zero impermeable cover, then the runoff could almost be eliminated, particularly if combined with enhanced green vegetation solutions.”

 D.A.Kelly’s research paper; “Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” can be found HERE

The full BBC Environment Parliamentary Report can be found HERE.

 

 

“Dear John” Letter from the HSE to Castle Point Council spells a loss of Trust over Thorney Bay!

“WOULD NOT ADVISE AGAINST” Is a phrase that is akin to music to Castle Point Planners ears!

So often does it extinguish any questioning by planning committee members of the extra conditional advice from the HSE, or the Environment Agency, or the Lead Local Flood Authority, when the committee consider Canvey planning applications!

At the Risk of being accused of Scare-mongering, and unlike some that “run with the fox AND hunt with the hounds”,  we prefer to refer to our approach to development as being Cautious, when we refer to Canvey’s constraint issues.

The proposal for the first phase of the Thorney Bay Housing development, cpbc planning application No: 14/0620/FUL, to sit alongside existing caravans is progressing, albeit in an apparently unusual sequence. Given the obvious issue of the neighbouring Calor, Top Tier Comah site, one would have thought that Castle point planners would have made early use of the Health and Safety Executive’s online planning advice app.

It appears however that despite cpbc receiving the planning proposal on the 6th November 2014, no such enquiry was made to the HSE, until the 12th January 2017!

Whilst an initial use of the HSE planning app was made for the original “proposal in principle,” cpbc planning application No: CPT/707/11/OUT, of 600 dwellings plus residential care homes, lodged with cpbc as long ago as 2011, this resulted in an acceptance that 10%, or 60, of the total number of dwellings could be developed within what is labelled the hazardous “middle zone”.

The more “recent” application, for 113 dwellings, sought to use a proportion of the 60 dwellings allowed, sited in the “middle zone,” BUT at a much higher proportion, in relation to the latest planning application, of over 26% !

Rather surprisingly this did not appear to occur to OUR local authority that they might just possibly feel they should refer this percentage level to the HSE!

The developer may indicate the future development phases will have a much lower level of percentage dwellings in the hazardous “middle zone”.

They MAY also find in future these development phases prove unviable without similar high percentage rates, 26%, within the “middle zone,” and having set a precedent within the first phase who could argue?

This seeks higher density development across the whole site, something that would suit developer and the cpbc Local Plan authors equally!

It is somewhat reassuring that the Health and Safety Executive appear to have lost faith in castle point council and with their policy approach towards increasing new residents risk to the exposure to the Hazardous Site.

The HSE have dictated to cpbc that they no longer can take advantage of the HSE’s online Planning Advice App, they have decreed that in future, NOT ONLY ALL future Thorney Bay planning applications which propose development in the “middle zone” must be referred directly to the HSE, but that the 30 dwellings proposed within the current application, is the TOTAL number they will permit!

It appears that Castle Point Council have, at least where the HSE is concerned, used the “Canvey is a Special Case” card once too often!

For those with a more sceptical attitude, we suggest the same may also have led to the problems at Buncefield which led to the events recorded in this resident’s video recording below.

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but in the meantime Caution may be the better option and it will be interesting to learn how the cpbc Local Plan Inspector views this approach, should the Plan reach the Examination stage and of course to observe the cpbc development committee’s consideration of the proposal.

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