Tag Archives: Development Committee

“One Team” Criticism all too Familiar with Canvey Residents? Castle Point Planning under the Spotlight, again as CPBC Expose their own Shortcomings!

Are there two different report copies of the same Investigation Review report into Castle Point Council Development Planning? That is the question we find us asking ourselves after copies were sent to the Echo newspaper, and anonymously to ourselves over the weekend.

Unlike the Echo’s version, ours appears as though a more Critical Report, would be hard to imagine than that produced following the Peer Challenge review into Castle Point Borough Council Planning! With Headline Criticisms seemingly jumping from every single page it appears that CPBC officers and councillor heads should be hung in shame.

Whereas, the Echo report on the same Peer Challenge review, gave the impression of a low level of criticism of our local authority, even played down further by the CPBC ceo!

That our Local Authority (CPBC) finds itself in an “incredibly challenging position”, can only be described as a massive and polite understatement, whilst  the CPBC leadership attempts to distance itself from its Planning department and Development Committee in an attempt to maintain a self implied level of competency.

The report uncoveredKey concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC (Development Control Committee) of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice

we found a widespread perception concerning weaknesses in probity in relation to planning decision making. Such is the level of concern amongst the Executive Management Team (EMT) that two statutory letters have been sent to Members concerning inappropriate behaviour.”

For clarity, Probity noun “the quality of being honest and behaving correctly

This is an appalling accusation to have been made! Fortunately no individuals were named in the Report, however this leaves a smear against all members until those accused are identified, a gross unfairness for our representatives.

 Other criticisms appear to have led to a change in the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman, as can be seen in the latest Development Committee Agenda papers on CPBC website.

Significant weaknesses exist in the operaton (sic) of the Development Control Committee (DCC). Key concerns include chairing, respect for the Chair, clarity of stages of decision, weighting of appropriate planning considerations, consistency, probity and consistent referencing of non-planning matters in planning decision making, and over dominant members. We also found a very weak understanding amongst some members and substitutes on DCC of their role and the Codes of Conduct and other Council policies that govern behaviour and practice.

However, the new development committee Chairman cllr. Dick and new Vice Chairman cllr. Sharp have both strongly held views on severely limiting development numbers, especially on Green Belt. Whilst we, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, support this as a policy, whether CPBC will be left open to criticism and exploited by developers etc, at appeal or Local Plan examination stage may be another matter, that only time will reveal!

The criticism of cllr. Hart, ex chairman may appear harsh, having been promoted to the position comparatively recently. It is apparent, whilst holding fairly strong views, he has put in appropriate effort  and appeared to clearly take his role seriously, however direct criticism is aimed through the report at him.

Given cllr Hart’s apparent efforts, much of this criticism perhaps should be directed at council officers in the level and quality of training being offered to him and the other committee members.

However there has been, over recent years, use made of the “adopted” policy of approving development on, so called non-“Virgin” Green Belt land. Two proposals of which were granted on Canvey Island, one for a bricks and mortar built equestrian centre and one for a residential care home, both sites on Canvey Island west ward.

Whether  these transgressions from the 1998 Adopted Local Plan, with its protection of all Green Belt land, as directed within Planning Guidance unless exceptional circumstances suggest otherwise, would form part of the criticisms raised, is not made apparent.

The Report continues; “We found incidences of a significant breakdown in relationships between some Members and senior officers relating to the culture of policy plan making and planning decision making at Castle Point.” “The perception of probity issues” “in itself is a serious leadership issue which needs to be tackled at a senior level. It was our impression from the peer review that these dysfunctional relationships are badly affecting morale, draining capacity and leading to negative and defensive behaviours that are getting in the way of productive joint working and acting as ‘one team’.”

That there is / has been “significant breakdown in relationships” comes as no surprise, as incidents have emerged anecdotally and in the press, over the course of some years. What is apparent is that senior officers and party leaders have had ample time to address these issues in the interests of the Borough, developers and residents. The ambition of working as “one team” is all too rare in politics of All Levels these days!

The criticism above will add to the apparent uneasiness with the perceived unfair representation of Canvey Island residents. The implication is that some development committee members have their own Agendas and that, of the number of decisions made during planning meetings, too many go against the advice of officers for unsubstantiated reasoning!

“There are significant opportunities for the Council to address these issues and recast the DCC to a Strategic Planning Committee with potentially a smaller more focussed group of well-trained Members with key competencies and behaviours to judge development against the development plan and material planning considerations.”

“Recommendation 2 . Address the issues identified and reconstitute a new modernised strategic Development Management Committee with a strategic focus – including a review of size, composition, behaviours, skills and complete modernisation of processes. Political leaders from all parties should ensure that Members with the appropriate skills and behaviours are appointed to the Committee.”

The Report is dated April 1st, 3 months have now passed by with no official, acknowledgement nor announcement to Castle Point Residents. It says much of the Arrogance and Control of the heads of CPBC that they desired to keep this Report, despite being funded by Canvey and mainland Residents, should be kept secret from us all.

In response to the report sees Castle Point Council development committee continuing with a similar membership set up to previous, ignoring the suggested opportunity to respond to the Peer Review team’s specific recommendation to stream line the committee size and uplift the competency levels by maintaining the committee membership numbers and by including 4 new members with no previous planning experience, three of these as substitutes.

“At present the area is producing less than half of the homes required. Without the adoption and development of large scale master planning sites in the Local Plan, the planning system is not able to deliver on meeting identified corporate priorities such as affordable homes, new schools, better integrated health facilities, enhanced access to green space, safe walking and cycling routes and improved highway infrastructure. Currently while approximately 100-150 homes are built each year the Borough is missing out on intergrated co-ordination and delivery that can lead to wider community gain and is essential for building sustainable communities.”

The so called “wider community gain” is a Never – Neverland dream, with very few Affordable homes being accrued as a percentage of market priced Housing developed, due to Developers Viability arguments. Even then facilities, agreed via S106 agreements, will generally only amount to on-site improvements. Whereas, there is a requirement that funding for improvement of the Canvey Island Sea Defence will need to come from localised sources. It was deemed desirable that development within the Borough should be reasonably expected to contribute to such Sea Defence funding. Castle Point Council have sought not 1 Penny from any developer. Given the scale of development in Canvey west ward this is a travesty and is storing up major financial issues for the future!

“Developers and house builders, we spoke to told us that presently they are avoiding investing in Castle Point despite what they saw as the area’s obvious locational advantages. They saw making large scale investment decisions in Castle Point just too risky based on this situation.  This is of significant concern and of reputational damage to CPBC and needs to be address urgently.”

Developers have the means of presenting their case of point in a way that Peer group planners and councillors would more likely agree with, rather than object to. There are clear Development Constraints, whether Green Belt or Flood Risk, to be taken into account, something that the likes of Persimmon, with their Land Bank portfolio in mind, would care little about.

Officers have worked to engage with Members throughout all stages of Local Plan development yet there remains a deep rooted predilection to revert to a well-used Member statement that the Local Plan is the officer’s Plan. This is incorrect and it is crucial that all Members own the Local Plan and are responsible for what happens as a consequence of it.”

This, as Canvey Island residents should all be aware by now, is Un-True, The Local Plan Task and Finish Group work, now conveniently eradicated from the CPBC Local Plan Archives, would indicate their work on the specific Canvey Island Constraints on development, Hazardous Industries and Flood Risk both Tidal and Surface Water, was ended abruptly by a senior officer. Members were led to believe they had agreed a further complete meeting on the Topics, instead none was organised and officers and the Leaders went ahead and published “their” Local Plan!

I wonder whether that point was put to the Peer Challenge review Team!

Regarding the number of Planning Proposals that have been overturned by the CPBC DCC the Peer review group stated; “It is important to note that in the last two years the vast majority of DCC overturns have been in situations where officers’ recommendations have been to refuse housing development in the green belt whereas the Committee has agreed to allow development.  If non-material matters are being considered in relation to the decision making it potentially throws(sic) doubt on the validity of the debate and decision-making process.”

Surely there are mechanisms in place to address this issue, however on the one hand the Peer Challenge Team identify a lack of development approvals, and then they suggest that the Development Committee members should not be granting approvals against officer advice. Housing Delivery numbers would be even lower in that case!

“we see an important opportunity for the wider political leadership and opposition party to develop a coherent long-term growth vision for Castle Point. This needs to contain a stronger narrative around the benefits of growth for residents,”

“Current delivery against target is only at 48 per cent and Castle Point is the joint 10th worst council out of the 343 other councils in England on this measure. Previous housing targets were in the region of 250-280 dwellings per year with delivery in the area of only 100-150 dwellings a year. The Local Housing Needs requirement raises the target to 370 dwellings per year while the non-approved Local Plan aimed for 350 dwellings per year.”

It truly does appear that Castle Point council and Residents, will one way or another, have Development, Housing Numbers and its Delivery foisted upon Us!

Government have claimed it is for local authorities to decide their own Housing Need and Delivery, well this Local Government Association inquisition of Development Committee and Council members, albeit self imposed by CPBC heads, have done a grand job of suggesting that Westminster, the civil service and Developers retain the whip hand!

Once again we wonder whether this “challenging,” Planning Improvement Peer Challenge, will be disclosed ahead of the next Council meeting to consider the Local Plan 2019?

Of course we must bear in mind that this “challenging” report is the opinion of invited outsiders, indeed included in the text appears a series of questions raised by CPBC themselves. An invite to condemn, to which, no doubt, CPBC members will most likely disagree and rightfully have their own opinions.

The Peer Review team consisted of: • Paul Barnard – Service Director, Strategic Planning & Infrastructure Plymouth City Council; • Cllr Dale Birch – Conservative Member, Deputy Leader & Planning Committee Member, Bracknell Forest Council; • Julie Baird – Assistant Director for Growth, West Suffolk Council; • Stephen Barker – Principal Consultant, Planning Advisory Service; and • Robert Hathaway – Peer Challenge Manager, LGA associate. And it was made clear that further support is available from the Planning Advisory Service and Local Government Association, suggesting that perhaps CPBC are not currently best equipped on an officer level.

Thanks go to those within the Castle Point Borough who are willing to whistle blow or to leak documentation of such local importance.

This blog post has been constructed in good faith under the assumption that the report received is in fact a correct and unaltered version of the original. Should this assumption turn out to be incorrect we will happily alter or retract the relevant parts in the copy above.

Runnymede Towers
Advertisements

Smallgains, the next Canvey Green Space Land Grab! Back Office decision highlights Flood Risk Denial in Support of targeting Housing developments onto the Island!

Despite officer reassurances that a Precedent had not been set, when a small grass “walkway” on Canvey Island was handed over to a “developer”,  CPBC planning portal reveals that a similar proposal, adjacent to 96 Smallgains Avenue, Applic. No. 18/0475/FUL,  has also been approved, this time via a delegated decision by Castle Point officers.

Why this never came before the development committee to discuss we can only wonder, especially as the proposal is for a miserably small 3 bedroomed dwelling!

The officer report describes the land, “The application site is a ‘green road’, examples of which are found across Canvey Island. These are former roads which have been closed to vehicular traffic, usually in the 60s and 70s.
Although long since closed to vehicular traffic, the land provides a pedestrian link between Giffhorn Road and Smallgains Avenue.”

This delegated decision is based on the “precedent” that all similar plots on Canvey Island are now available for Land Grabbing, first in gets First Dibs. What a wonderful Freebie for potential developers.

The officer report also discloses another anomaly, that of the way that Castle Point council “apply” the Sequential Test, in regard to Flood Risk, within the Borough.

I use the terms “apply” and “test” in the most loosest sense of the word!

In reality Castle point council’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island development proposals, really does warrant some close examination.

The local authority’s position on the application of the Sequential Test is clearly politically motivated. The position was adopted, not by Full Council, but as a small item during a Development Committee meeting.

This meeting and the adoption of the approach to Sequential Testing for Flood Risk, was also, prior to the Strategic Flood risk Assessment 2010, the 2013 and 2014 Summer Floods, and has not been reviewed since!

History now indicates that NO DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS FOR CANVEY ISLAND HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON FLOOD RISK GROUNDS.

DESPITE THE WHOLE ISLAND BEING A CRITICAL DRAINAGE AREA AND A FLOOD RISK ZONE, 3A

In fact even more development is considered to be required, to actually sustain Canvey Island from so called “social and economic blight”.

This approach leads to carte blanche development approval by officers and the Lead Group on the development committee, whether the development proposal is for a single dwelling, a medium sized development or a large development!

Let’s consider what the NPPF and Government Guidance informs and instructs:

Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan.

As some areas at lower flood risk may not be suitable for development for various reasons and therefore out of consideration, the Sequential Test should be applied to the whole local planning authority area to increase the possibilities of accommodating development which is not exposed to flood risk.

More than one local planning authority may jointly review development options over a wider area where this could potentially broaden the scope for opportunities to reduce flood risk and put the most vulnerable development in lower flood risk areas.

And

Paragraph 158. The aim of the sequential test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest risk of flooding. Development should not be allocated or permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower risk of flooding. The strategic flood risk assessment will provide the basis for applying this test. The sequential approach should be used in areas known to be at risk now or in the future from any form of flooding.

And yet whether an application for development is Miniscule or Large, Sequential Testing on Flood Risk grounds on Canvey Island by Castle Point council reveals the same Approval Result!

Take these Applications as examples of the decidedly unscrupulous means that development on Canvey Island is promoted, pursued and decided!

Land Adjacent 96 Smallgains Avenue 18/0475/FUL  1 Dwelling House

8.29. The whole of Canvey Island is located in Flood Zone 3A. As Canvey Island is a self contained community with continued development needs, it is considered that there are no sequentially preferable sites available, and the proposal passes the sequential test

Application for 27 Dwellings, Canvey Island

“Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available 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.”

Application for 600 Dwellings and Residential Institution, Canvey Island

Regarding the Sequential Test, “The wider sustainability benefits to the community of Canvey Island have been discussed, as part of the Sequential Test. Its continued development is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of this settlement.”

With regard to Sequential Testing of Business premises across the Roscommon Way area, in support of the expansion of Charfleets estate and Morrisons and the new Business Park sites etc, despite the unknown effects of built development on the drainage issues in this and across the rest of Canvey Island, the Sequential Test is considered to have been passed.

Despite the identification, through cpbc’s own Local Plan report evidence, of Business premises need and the better siting of such facilities being in the northern parts of the Borough.

The cpbc Sequential Test methodology is leading to population “Growth” for “Growths” sake, and Housing to offset the Borough’s Needs.

There is absolutely no evidence, nor remote chance, that cpbc and local Responders would be able to tend to the current population of Canvey Island in an Emergency. Proof of which was exposed during the 2014 Summer Floods failure to respond by the local authority and their “agencies”!

 

 

Briar Cottage, Leige Avenue Development indicative of What Poor Planning Canvey Island continues to be Subject to!

Decision: Application refused.

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

On Tuesday, 2nd October, the Flats proposal for Briar Cottage, Leige Avenue, Canvey Island will be considered by the Castle Point Council Development Committee. Whilst the officer Recommendation is for Rejection of the Plans, we should bear in mind that at the previous meeting the officer recommendation of Refusal for plans for the Residential Institution in the Canvey Island Green Belt, was ignored by a majority of the Committee.

Below are some points taken from the meeting’s Agenda which lead us to the conclusion that CPBC development committee, their Planners and local developers, Have and Are creating a truly Miserable, Cluttered and Poorly Planned place to Live on Canvey Island!

We invite you to make your own conclusions from these Extracts:

“The proposed development of the site with flats is acceptable in principle, however the proposal is considered to represent overdevelopment of the site, by reason of its scale, and form, which results in a visually cluttered and unduly prominent feature on the street, of mean and cramped appearance and likely to have an adverse impact on the amenity of adjoining residents, by reason of undue overshadowing and dominance.
It is served by an unadopted private road some 4m in width.

Policy H13 of the Adopted Local Plan specifically states that proposals for flats should be located on main roads. Whilst it is recognised that the proposed development would also share a frontage with Leige Avenue, which is a residential street and not a major route the existence of flats in such context is not unusual, indeed flats fronting Central Wall Road exist to the west of the application site which are served from minor residential roads and adjacent to two storey development at the rear. As such it is not considered that an objection based on the relationship between flats and development on adjoining frontages can be sustain”

(So, because breaches of the Adopted Policy have been allowed by CPBC in the Past, Future breaches of the Policy will be acceptable!)

“The proposed development seeks to provide a three storey building a minimum of some 2.2m from the highway boundary. Such disposition is considered likely to result in the creation of an obtrusive and unduly prominent feature in the street scene.
The visual impression gained is one of a cramped and contrived design, overly fussy on the eastern and western wings and bland and austere on the northern elevation.
The unmatched and misaligned dormers within the northern projection adds further to the unsatisfactory and cluttered appearance.

The proposed development provides 17 spaces and is therefore deficient in parking provision and ordinarily would attract a recommendation of refusal.
However, the County Council has confirmed that the site is in a sustainable location, being close to shops, educational establishments and a public transport network, and that within such locations parking standards may be applied flexibly. The Highway Authority has raised no objection to the proposal on the basis of parking

Drainage and Flood Risk

Canvey Island lies within an area identified as falling within Flood Zone 3a. Within such areas there is an identifiable risk of flooding. For Canvey this risk takes the form of both fluvial and pluvial inundation.

Proposals are also required to pass the sequential and exception tests as set out in the NPPF and the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), in order to determine whether sites of lower flood risk probability exist which may be more suitable for the type of development proposed.

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. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.

(Regarding the Exception Test.) In a very broad sense the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement. However, in assessing whether these benefits outweigh flood risk, the flood risks surrounding the development must be considered in more detail.

The second criterion requires that the applicant demonstrate that the development is safe and where possible will reduce flood risk overall.
should the (Flood) defences breach during a 1 in 200 year plus climate change storm event the depth of flood water on site would be between 0.3m and 0.45m deep. For a 1 in 1000 year plus climate change storm event this would increase to about 0.6m.

In order to mitigate the impact of such inundation the applicant’s consultants have recommended that floor levels be raised from 2.03maOD to 2.91maOD. This increase in height would have implications for the development resulting in an even more dominant and prominent feature in the street scene.

Not raising the ground floor level, as indicated in the submitted drawings, will result in flood damage and risk to occupiers in the event of a relevant breach event, however, the two storey nature of the properties is such that refuge can be achieved at first floor level

Redevelopment of the site will result in a reduction in the permeable area of the site and will therefore increase the risk of surface water runoff onto adjoining sites.

In recognition of this the applicant has submitted a surface water drainage strategy which seeks to retain excess surface water within an attention tank provided beneath the proposed car park. Water will be retained within the tank during periods of excessive rainfall and then pumped into the existing surface water drainage system at a controlled rate, in order to prevent surcharging within the system.”

In the event of a Flood of Canvey Island, the Response Plan is for Residents to Stay Put and take Refuge in safe areas of a Building. Yet again, the Floor Plan designs indicate No Specific Flood Refuge Areas. One must assume Residents will take Refuge in upper level Stairways for the duration of the Flood, reliant on Neighbours for the use of Toilet Facilities!

Density and Mix of Housing

The NPPF now exhorts Local Planning Authorities to achieve higher densities, in appropriate circumstances and consistent with the character of the area, in order to achieve the effective use of land and contribute towards satisfying the need for housing.

Policy H9 of the current Local Plan, requiring the optimum density of development to be achieved on any site, is considered to be broadly consistent with this requirement.

Amenity
The proposal seeks to redevelop the site of a single dwelling with a complex of 11 residential units. Local residents have expressed concern that such an intensification of occupation will lead to a significant increase traffic on Leige Avenue,

In terms of the operational phase of the development, it is clear that the proposal is likely to result in additional traffic on Leige Avenue.
Leige Avenue is a single lane road with extremely limited opportunities for vehicles to pass each other.

Social Infrastructure

There is an existing deficit of GP provision across the borough that is a result of the recruitment and retention of GPs as opposed to the amount of facilities available. Growth will exacerbate this deficit. NHS England and the Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group are seeking to address this deficit in two ways.

Firstly, they are seeking to recruit more GPs into the local area through the promotion and development of ‘Training Practices’. They are also putting together a Primary Care Strategy which will seek special clinics developed for older people with complex care needs. This will relieve pressure on GPs to treat the remainder of the population.

Under the circumstances it is not considered that an objection to the proposal on the basis of inadequate GP availability would be sustained on appeal.
Other Matters

The site, is within the zone of influence associated with the Ramsar site (Benfleet and Southend Marshes), Special Protection Area and Ramsar site. As a consequence the ecological implications of the proposal for the designated site must be considered.

Consideration of the development of the site has identified that it would have no direct impact on priority habitat and is not required to be retained in its current state in the interests of maintaining the integrity or facilitating the management of the designated site. No objection is therefore raised to the proposal on that basis.”

Despite the fact that concerns over the increase in the local population, as this development will contribute, is known to impact upon the integrity of the designated Ramsar site.

Conclusion
The proposed development of the site with flats is acceptable in principle, however the proposal is considered to represent overdevelopment of the site, by reason of its scale, and form, which results in a visually cluttered and unduly prominent feature on the street, of mean and cramped appearance and likely to have an adverse impact on the amenity of adjoining residents, by reason of undue overshadowing and dominance.”

Predetermination – Interference and Planning Matters, Castle Point Council style. The Need Outweighs the Inappropriateness in our Green Belt?

Castle Point council appear to have been rattled into some inconsistency where the Local Plan and Planning matters are concerned.

Intervention over the Local Plan appears a realistic possibility, whilst Housing Need and Green Belt concerns dominate decisions.

A follower of this Blog and of Local Issues sent in this comment;

“The Government has used the Localism Act to clarify the rules on ‘predetermination’.
These rules were developed to ensure that councillors came to council discussions – on, for example, planning applications – with an open mind.
In practice, however, these rules had been interpreted in such a way as to reduce the quality of local debate and stifle valid discussion.
In some cases councillors were warned off doing such things as campaigning, talking with constituents, or publicly expressing views on local issues, for fear of being accused of bias or facing legal challenge.
The Localism Act makes it clear that it is proper for councillors to play an active part in local discussions, and that they should not be liable to legal challenge as a result.
This will help them better represent their constituents and enrich local democratic debate. People can elect their councillor confident in the knowledge that they will be able to act on the issues they care about and have campaigned on”.
I am not so sure that the Governments intention has become a reality, there is very little evidence that democratic debate is exercised at CPBC, particularly where planning on Canvey Island is concerned.

It will be imperative, or it should be, that a consistent approach is followed through Planning Policy, especially while the Government Chief Planner is taking a close interest in cpbc Local Plan affairs. One would expect this consistency to come from the top down.

Recently there have been two planning applications received that may hint at a less than consistent approach.

Firstly the proposal for the 57 bedroom Care Home at Canvey Way, Approved against Officer advice. Officers stated that amongst other reasons “the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt” and that “The application is presented to the Development Control Committee as the applicant is related to a Member of this Council”.

Unusually just ahead of the development committee meeting to consider the application, the Castle Point council leader, cllr Smith was quoted in the Echo as saying;

“The committee may think the need is enough for the plans to be passed.”

And that

“The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”

There is a recorded need for facilities of this type in the Borough, however there is also a recorded Housing Need in the Borough.

It appears that the desire locally is to develop on Previously Developed land. This is where the cpbc leader may be indicating some inconsistency.

Residents on the mainland appear concerned with the possibility of 12 Apartments, being built on the Wheelers restaurant site at Bread and Cheese Hill. This is also Green Belt and previously developed with a far more permanent structure than that exists at the Garden Centre site at Canvey Road.

As yet there has been no officer advice issued, however cpbc leader cllr Smith has himself “called in” the application, on the Grounds of Inappropriate Development in the Green Belt, so that the Development Committee can make the final decision whether to approve.

This might appear contradictory in that having publicly stated “The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”, on the Canvey Road application, to then personally call in another application, that maybe far less likely to be considered as inappropriate development in the Green Belt, just may be viewed as suggesting to his colleagues on the development committee that they should Refuse the Bread and Cheese Hill proposal.

Surely the evidence suggests that in both the case of Care Home facilities AND Housing, the need may well be “enough for the Plans to be passed.”

Policy makers may do well to set a better example if they kept their views private at crucial times for the cpbc Local Plan, and the Echo Newspaper may do well to go back to their more investigative style of journalism to add clarity to these topics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images Copyright: Google Earth

Tonight’s the Night – for Canvey Island’s new 57 Bedroomed Residential Care Home? “However”!

The Castle Point borough council Development Committee will tonight consider the proposal for the development of a 57 bedroomed Care Home at the junction of Canvey Road and Northwick Road.

Screenshot (11)

This proposal, within Canvey Island’s depleted Green Belt may present a few contradictory issues during debate.

“Consideration of the proposal under the provisions of the NPPF and adopted Local Plan identifies that the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which could only be justified if Very Special Circumstances could be identified,”

“The need for specialist residential accommodation has been identified as a circumstance to which consideration should be given; however, there has been no demonstration that this need can only be met on the application site. In the absence of a clear demonstration that the identified need could not be met elsewhere it is not considered that this circumstance….would justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt.”

The un-identified Need for the Care Home may be difficult to establish, given that the business already has an establishment on a Brownfield site, that it could be argued, may be suitable for renovation to provide the care offered in this new proposal.

“it is considered that the specific scale of development proposed is excessive, resulting in a building of mean and cramped appearance”

“The proposal is therefore contrary to Government guidance as contained in the NPPF.”

The site, currently contains a Garden Centre consisting of basically a large “Green House” style building and wooden canopies to shelter plants. Council officers argue, presumably using imagination, that these they consider “permanent” buildings, in support of the new proposal!

Directly connected to the proposed site is “To the north the site is adjoined by a detached two storey dwelling beyond which is a bungalow and some 112m further to the north, the Dutch Cottage, a Grade II Listed building. 

To the west the site is bounded by open land designated an Ancient Landscape and Wildlife site (West Canvey Marshes Nature Reserve) and used, in part, for the grazing of horses.” 

Given the Approach to development within Castle Point’s Green Belt of late by the local authority on both a Policy level and at Development Committee  level, this proposal may provide some extra confusion to the mix!

Only recently ex-councillor J. King was granted permission for Equestrian facilities consisting of bricks and mortar stables and offices, within the Green Belt.

Contrastingly the need for Housing both market priced and affordable, is proven to exist within the Borough, yet this is denied Approval.

Care MUST be taken in the decision making to establish consistency.

Further, the suitability for a Residential Care Home, within such a small Borough, within an area at Risk of Flooding, should be a serious “consideration”!

The site is opposite an industrial estate with adjoining and nearby roads, Roscommon Way and Northwick Road, the subject of local residents complaints over Noise.

The proposal is also of some considerable size, especially compared to the existing “buildings” on site.

Confusion will be added to debate when the “position” of our previous Local Plans are touched upon. The Adopted 1998 Local Plan is out of date, the Core Strategy is “dead”, the 2014 and 2016 Local Plans are both “withdrawn”, whilst the 2018 hasn’t yet finalised consideration of the Consultation stage!

Most recent development committee decisions have attempted to comply with the proposed non development of so called “virgin Green Belt”, despite the decision in favour of ex-councillor J. King.

The site for the Care Home proposal has been proposed to be included in the most recent draft Local Plan’s. However the 2018 Local Plan is at a development stage, likely to be criticised by an Inspector well ahead of any decision.

Given that the 2 large Green Belt sites in the borough, Jotmans Farm and Glebelands, were both Refused permission  by cpbc officers and committee, and on Appeal also Refused by the Secretary of State on grounds that a decision would be Premature whilst a Local Plan was being produced by the local authority, it may appear “confusing” for a site proposed for inclusion in the 2018 Local Plan, to be decided upon ahead of the new Local Plan’s publication.

A new Local Plan, under close scrutiny from the Government’s Chief Planner, may be better used for Housing or indeed returned to the Green Belt. An interesting proposal indeed.

Whilst this proposal is not exactly the same as either the Jotmans and Glebelands cases we can expect to hear a few “However’s” from the cpbc Case Officer during tonight’s discussion!

Illustration Copyright: Brian Davison estates

Canvey Island Air Quality, Road Infrastructure, Never a Constraint on Development! Why even ask our Environmental Health Officer?

In the light of UK Air Quality concerns following brexit from the EU, it is “interesting” to note how Canvey Island is considered by Castle Point council on the same issues.

Canvey will see much Business / Industrial development, alongside housing, during the next few years. Flooding and Green Space issues are given scant regard at the Planning decision-making stage.

Screenshot (12)

Land opposite Morrisons

Alongside this we can confirm, that Air Quality issues are also being covered up. In typical cpbc fashion, rather than receive an objection to a Planning Proposal, cpbc prefer now to not ask Air Quality questions!

On consulting our Environmental Health department of any concerns over the new Business Park at Land Opposite Morrisons Northwich Northwick Road, Canvey Island, an Objection to the proposal was sent to the cpbc Planning Department.

Obviously cpbc did not want this response so now, prefer not to seek further advice or opinion over Air Quality, where new planning proposals are concerned! Consequently the Land opposite Morrisons proposal was Approved, whilst Air Quality remained Unaddressed! Because its on Canvey?

The cpbc Environmental Health officer commented on the 28th January 2016;

I have had the opportunity to view the above planning application and would like to make the following comment.

This Service currently objects to this application on the grounds of ‘increase of traffic’, and the effects which this would have upon air quality, a topic which is of Public Health significance.

One of our diffusion tubes (CP02 – approximately 500m from the proposed development), deployed for the purpose of measuring ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, has consecutively recorded higher than average levels of the pollutant, a pollutant which is produced as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.

The degradation of the air quality in this area has arisen as a result of elevated levels of congestion and has been of increasing concern to this Service. If this pollutant should exceed an annual mean of 40μg/m3, as set by the European directives, this Council shall be required to submit a detailed assessment to the department for environment food and rural affairs (DEFRA). If it is identified that the directives are not being complied with, this Council may be required to implement an air quality management area (AQMA).

It is the opinion of this Service that if the proposed development was permitted at the current time there would be an adverse impact upon the local air quality, with initial impacts during the construction phase. It is believed that the air quality would deteriorate further following occupation by new businesses, regular delivery vehicles and visitors to the site.

This Service agrees with the design and access statement that this particular area is well connected for business, boasting “direct usage of the A130, which heads north to the A13 and west towards the M25 and London”, however the current road infrastructure, particularly those leading onto and off of the island cannot facilitate traffic movements which would not have a detrimental impact on the local air quality.

This Service would like to state that it is supportive of sensible and sustainable development and advocates business within its borough, however this cannot be at the cost to health of its residents.

Concerns raised in Parliament and across the UK on Air Quality following our parting with the EU will have little consequence to those decision makers at Castle Point council.

There decisions will though impact upon the Health of Canvey Islanders!

MP’s warn of UK “Poisonous Air” Emergency

MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s “poisonous air” in an unprecedented report from four Commons committees.
The Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees want a new Clean Air Act, and a clean air fund financed by the motor industry.
They are also demanding a faster phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – currently set for 2040.
The government said air pollution had improved significantly since 2010 but there was “more to do”.
MPs have been frustrated by the response from ministers, who have promised to publish a comprehensive clean air strategy later this year.
Their report says: “Air pollution is a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20bn annually.
“It is unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air.
UK air pollutants continue decline
Government loses clean air court case
Reality Check: Are diesel cars always the most harmful?
“Despite a series of court cases, the government has still not produced a plan that adequately addresses the scale of the challenge. Nor has it demonstrated the national leadership needed.”
The report – the first time that four committees are thought to have collaborated – urges the Treasury to take greater account of the costs of air pollution when setting tax and spend policy, after tax changes by the former Chancellor George Osborne left a Porsche driver paying the same tax as the owner of a low-pollution Prius.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News that a clear air fund worth £220m had already been set up by government, paid for by changes to vehicle taxation.
“In addition, vehicle manufacturers are funding scrappage schemes to get the older vehicles off the road,” Mike Hawes said. “Other sectors must also play their part in improving air quality.”
The government has called for evidence on pollution from other sources such as wood stoves, coal fires and smokeless fuel. It is also looking at the use of cheap agricultural red diesel in food delivery vans.
‘Mis-sold’
But Greenpeace said the car industry could not continue to be allowed to “shake off its responsibility” for the pollution crisis the UK was facing.
“The public was missold highly polluting diesel cars by manufacturers who knew road emissions were many times higher than in the lab,” said its senior political adviser Rosie Rogers.
“It’s high time manufacturers felt the heat, and contributing to a clean air fund is a good start.”
Consumer products ‘affecting air quality’
London’s January air ‘best in 10 years’
Scrutiny over wood and coal fires
The government’s long-term target of abolishing cars driven only by petrol and diesel by 2040 is regarded by environment groups as a red herring. They point out that India has made the same pledge – but for 2030.
It is most unlikely, they say, that manufacturers will still be making UK cars deemed unfit to drive on India’s roads after 2030.
The chair of the Environment select committee, Neil Parish, told the BBC government should work with councils to tackle pollution hotspots where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are breached, some of which are very small.

By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst

Persimmon approach the First Hurdle for Canvey Island’s Dutch Village Green Belt Development! CPBC Censorship!

Persimmon have Housing Development plans for Canvey Island. However they appear happy to play the Long Game.

Plans have been registered with Castle Point Council for Stables for 3 Horses at the Dutch Village. This will include the “Change of Use of Land” as it is Green Belt.

Their Application stresses the stables will be “Built Development”.

We have covered this in a previous blog post HERE.

For those concerned or wishing to make comment we thought it might be helpful to make public our Grounds for Objection as registered with Castle Point Council, these should be visible below for you to see:-

cpbc

Runnymede Towers

Please be advised WE DON’T HAVE TO MAKE COMMENTS VISIBLE TO OTHER RESIDENTS on  the Castle Point website. This may be due to us not wanting others to know what Residents think or just us choosing to Censor information.

Anyway we don’t care, cos the legislation says we don’t have to! Editor.

“As prescribed in article 15 of the Development Management Procedure Order, local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. There is however, as you correctly stated, no legislative requirements for any comments received as part of that consultation to be available to view online.

The Castle Point website does however show the number of comments that have been received on any application so the level of public interest can be clearly identified. We are not alone in this approach, it is commonly adopted by a number of authorities, our neighbouring authority of Basildon being one such example.

We have been working in this way for some time now and we certainly have no evidence to suggest that this is in anyway deterring people from commenting. Indeed we have an application which is currently open for consultation that has received 135 comments to date, demonstrating I believe that the community remain fully engaged in the process.

Planning guidance states that officer’s reports should include the ‘substance of any objections, contain technical appraisals which clearly justify the recommendation and should have a written recommendation for the decision to be made’.

Comments received in respect of a planning application can only be considered if they are, what is commonly known as, ‘material planning considerations’. Comments which are not material cannot be considered in the determining of a planning application and any such comments will not therefore be referenced in a report by an officer nor should they be considered by members at Committee.

The information you have appended below your email is indeed an ‘extract’ from a much longer report however I should point out that it omits to make reference to the consideration of all relevant objections in more detail throughout the body of the report, which more fully explain how the objections have been considered against planning policies and guidance.

Development Control Committee can, and often do, make a decision which is different from the officer recommendation and this will often reflect a difference in the assessment of how a policy has been complied with, or different weight ascribed to relevant matters.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Regards, Castle Point Borough Council”