Tag Archives: draft New local Plan

Fair Play for Canvey Island in the light of the Jotmans Decision or are we still a “Special Case”?

And the Necessity for Castle Point Borough Council to produce a Local Plan is?

“National planning policy places Local Plans at the heart of the planning system,”

Even so, the National Planning Policy Framework states as early as Paragraph 14;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless:

– any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole;

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

Paragraph 14, Footnote 9 Reads; “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.”

“so it is essential that they are in place and kept up to date. Local Plans set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design.”

The Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss the Jotmans Farm Appeal in the light of the Inspector’s recommendation, raises some questions.

Is the Planning Inspectorate’s reading of the NPPF and Guidance similar to that of the Government’s?

There was agreement between the SoS and the Inspector that, Castle Point Council are only able to identify 0.4 years worth of the required 5 Year deliverable Housing Supply, this is an even worse supply than in 2013 when the SoS considered cpbc had a realistic housing supply of just 0.7 years!

In the case of the Glebelands 2013 Inquiry the SoS used a “totting-up” method of measuring harm to the Green Belt;

“the Secretary of State has identified moderate harm in respect of urban sprawl, moderate harm in respect of the merging of neighbouring settlements, and moderate harm to the visual appearance of this part of the GB.  The Secretary of State considers that together this represents a considerable level of harm. ”

” He also wishes to emphasise that national policy is very clear that GB reviews should be undertaken as part of the Local Plan process.”

So we appear to be in a situation where, as long as Castle Point council are in an apparent perpetual process of Local Plan making, the whole of the local Green Belt can be considered safe from development!

Residents should now be looking for a new, up to date cpbc Green Belt Review, based on the SoS’ guidance and embracing the protection afforded by Footnote 9 of the NPPF.

As was pointed out earlier in this post;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, … unless: – ….  specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted – For example, those policies relating to …. land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, … and locations at risk of flooding.”

This appears to be the clear desire of the Secretary of State’s interpretation of planning direction. The archived cpbc Green Belt Review was dated 2013 and produced in-house in support of the rejected daft New Local Plan, and clearly out of line with the Secretary of State’s consideration of  levels of “harm.” A new GB Review should be commissioned urgently, indicating the protection available through NPPF Policies and Guidance!

It would appear that the Castle Point council’s Local Plan2016, despite their failure to comply with the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring local authorities, may have been more in tune with the Secretary of State’s interpretation of what is possible with Local Plan-making and stood a chance of being considered adoptable. Whilst an Inspector may feel the Local Plan2016 was worthy of withdrawal, seeking intervention via the Secretary of State, may supply a different decision, once the Duty to Cooperate has been complied.

More importantly, with Canvey Island in mind, is that NPPF Footnote 9 offers no  difference in the weight and importance that should be applied when considering whether a site is appropriate for development between that of Green Belt or Flood Risk!

Only in the minds of those in Control of Decision-making within Castle Point council, is Canvey Island deemed a “special case”!

If not now, then I do not know when, given the position of the cpbc Local Plan, and the direction given by the SoS, it would be more Timely and more Appropriate for Canvey Island Town Council to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan!

The Secretary of State is clear Footnote 9 should be applied to protect Green Belt from Harm.

It is obvious that an area within a Flood Risk Zone and with unresolved Surface Water Flooding issues, can expect that same level of protection using Neighbourhood Plan Policies under-pinned by that same Footnote 9!

Quite simply Canvey Island is thought to be unlikely to Flood. This is supported by no factual Evidence, simply that it is “unlikely”. The continual loss of Green Space to development on Canvey that serves as potential displacement for flood water, fails to register any concern to the planning decision makers!

The FloodRe insurance scheme is limited, limited so that it specifically discourages development in Flood Risk areas.

The list of properties excluded from the remit of Flood Re has been subject to significant debate however it has been agreed that the following properties will not be covered:

  • All commercial property
  • All residential property constructed since 1 January 2009
  • All purpose-built apartment blocks

Who will weigh this against Financial Sustainability? It appears nobody at Castle Point council!

It is time for the reservations contained within the NPPF Footnote 9 to be considered appropriately and evenly across the whole of Castle Point!

” ” All quotations lifted from the NPPF, Planning Guidance, Glebelands Inquiry and the Jotmans Farm Inquiry.

A Race Against Time?CPBC new New Local Plan and Green Belt protection!

This month’s Cabinet meeting agenda has been released with no mention of an updated Local Development Scheme programme.

The current version dated January 2014 indicates that the Castle Point Local Plan was expected to be processed within this schedule:

Examination                                        Dec 2014
Inspectors Report                               Feb 2015
Adoption                                             Mar 2015

Clearly this has faltered and we await a new look Local Plan based on:

Motion 1 (removal of some Green Belt sites for housing development ) 

To alter the draft Local Plan to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting our objectively assessed housing needs and  remove all virgin green belt sites listed without current planning permission, including sites listed in the Castle Point SHLAA 2014 (22 sites).

With the due date, 16th March or earlier, for the Secretary of State’s ruling on the Jotmans Farm Green Belt development Enquiry, fast approaching, it is interesting that CPBC do not feel the need to release an updated programme for the new New Local Plan during the Cabinet meeting.

Much weight appeared to be placed upon the requirement of consistent progress being made with the Local Plan process and reference made by the developer’s legal team that CPBC have failed in this requirement.

It is unclear whether the Secretary of State has made contact with CPBC as to progress of our Local Plan during his considerations.

We must assume that the Government’s End Date of 2017 for Local Plan’s, has over ridden the CPBC Local development Scheme programme and schedule, otherwise why would CPBC not issue a new schedule ahead of the Jotman’s decision being released?

We cannot expect the Persimmon’s legal team to not object to any extension to the SoS’s decision being released, nor an acceptance that time being afforded for the Local Plan to continue until 2017 for Examination, prior to them seeking judicial review.

A clear statement and release of a Local Plan schedule may appear the minimum requirement necessary, especially ahead of the May local elections.

Commitment to the protection of Green Belt is admirable, but notice of intent will be the minimum first step towards maintaining the confidence of the Inspectorate and local residents.

Green Belt development. Castle Point’s Split Decision -A Tale of 2 Taxi’s

A Dramatic evening at Castle Point Council chamber, resulted in the closest of decisions made on the Green Belt and Local Plan.

One councillor’s, on the spot, resignation ahead of the vote! (Taxi! for Cllr Letchford!)

A timely 5 minutes delay between debates, that stretched into something nearer 25 minutes, allowing the deputy mayor’s Taxi to arrive in time for him to participate in the Local Plan debate!

Taxi!                                Volt Collection

A Local Plan decision that required the split decision of the council 14 – 14, being decided by the casting vote of the Mayor. How important integrity and retaining impartiality throughout the Local Plan process now appears.

Whilst the debate did not reach fever pitch, I did check that these immortal words were not displayed somewhere in the council chamber!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In Castle Point’s green and pleasant land.

The Local Plan debate was on whether to alter the draft New Local Plan in a manner that either included development on Green Belt, Motion 1, or excluded ALL development on Green Belt, Motion 2.

Councillors were allowed a choice of 3 options, to support either Motions or to abstain. No votes were to be recorded as Against either Motion. This, apparently, caused the elimination of Cllr Letchford as he felt unable to record an Against vote.

Pre-meeting the usual excluded members left the building whilst a governor of a school that stood to gain an access road and also an estate agent participated and voted in the debate.

Officers indicated that Motion 2 offered a more clear Policy position. It was argued by members that, Government Ministers, our MP, and Planning Inspectors had indicated that the protection of the Green Belt was achievable although there were hints that neither Motions once policy, would receive smooth passage through the Plan making process.

Motion 1 included the proposed development of sites that had some form of previous development, non-virginal sites. This definition, when asked of officers, has no recognised definition previously used in Plan making.

Green Belt sites included appeared to be less sensitive and less disagreeable to the Borough’s residents.

However the intensification by development of Canvey remains an issue to us all.

Undoubtedly an explanation will be required why the objectively assessed housing needs have to some small extent been addressed by releasing some Green Belt areas, whilst other areas over-looked that are supported by developers demonstrating a willingness to develop, the Dutch Village included!

Flood Risk remained low on the agenda especially when considering that certain Green Belt sites identified as developable within the draft New Local Plan Vers.1, are now expected to be replaced by other identified developable tracts of land within the lower areas of Flood Risk.

The progression of the new draft New Local Plan will become a true test of Localism. We must hope that our policy writers display more Churchillian type prowess than those of Dad’s Army!

Manwaring and Pike

Don’t mention the war, Pike!

 

 

The Dangers of an Inconsistent Approach to Development within Castle Point Green Belt

The rights and wrongs of the issue of the Nashleas Farm housing development proposal rumbles on. It is suggested that the area, whilst in a wooded part of Castle Point’s Green Belt, the site concerned is previously developed. There are claims that this should now be deemed, Brownfield. We have listened to edited commentary of Planning Inspector Keith Holland telling CPBC councillors that if they so choose, Green Belt may be used as a constraint by local authorities if they feel they need to limit their Objectively Assessed Housing Needs. We have heard a recording of the Government Minister repeating the exact same message. We also hear residents promoting the re-development of a potato packing and distribution business premises within the “current” Green Belt for the use of delivering housing, none of which classed as affordable. The Blinking Owl site H18 contains some existing development, potentially previously developed also within the Green Belt, and included, in part, within the draft New Local Plan. The Felstead and Catherine Road site is also listed as previously developed Green Belt and included as such in the draft New Local Plan as part of the initial 5 year supply. However the developer’s proposal for the Felstead Road site was rejected by the development committee, for reasons other than Green Belt issues, despite the adopted Local Plan. Nashleas Farm, from the photographs available, appears to be developed with “temporary,” rather than permanent buildings, for agricultural type purposes.

nashlea farm

Policy GB3 of the Castle Point Adopted Local Plan indicates that the redevelopment of agricultural buildings for residential purposes will not be permitted. This seeming lack of consistency argued over these sites may prove their downfall. Officers still contend that Blinking Owl site is unviable in the short term, whilst background work continues to disprove this. Nashleas Farm proposal, whilst going against the policy of the current Local Plan, may eventually be successful. This may be considered to set a local precedent. If this were the case, should Felstead Road proposal be taken to Appeal, there is a possibility that the Local Authority’s inconsistent approach towards previously developed areas within the Green Belt would assist the developer. Worse still there are areas east of neighbouring Daws Heath Road in the vicinity of Nashleas Farm that landowners may also then consider using a similar argument, so as to remove other areas of land from the Green Belt for development! Councillors, Campaigners and residents need to define whether there is a need to limit housing numbers or the fight to protect Green Belt. Perhaps we should be suggesting the two are intrinsically linked. Paragraph 89 of the NPPF has been used to suggest Nashleas Farm should be developed. However parts of the NPPF paragraph 89 is not quite so clear cut and may be used by either side in these matters.

 Para 89 A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:

(In the case against Nashleas farm):-

the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;  limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; limited infilling or 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 than the existing development.

(In the case for Nashleas farm being developed):-

A case would have to be proven that the site was proven to be brownfield within the Green Belt. Development Committee remit may or may not allow an over rule of the existing Local Plan.

Both the Blinking Owl site and Felstead Road area contain permanent dwellings. A very dangerous legal game being played that may be best left until the Local Plan is re-drawn, should that be the intention after the Election. The issue of the re-drawing of the Local Plan is now also proving to be a concern. Inertia is the term I have used regarding the Local Plan, it has it’s own, and so far the threats to halt the process and re-draw its contents have, concerningly for residents, proved to be just that, threats! The draft New Local Plan was adopted by CPBC as worthy of consultation ahead of the Glebelands Appeal. There is a question mark over how a decision to abandon the current version, if taken, would be viewed, especially by barristers at development Appeals. To produce a new draft New Local Plan could well add on 5 years to the process, the Core Strategy was withdrawn during 2011, remember. I could imagine this being tested in the Court of Appeal as being a delaying tactic being used by CPBC against development. If constraints are to be applied to the level of housing supply, then a clear and consistent approach must be adopted. In the first instance within the boundaries of the current Local Plan, as out of date as it is. The importance that only if very special circumstances can be proven, and this should be reliant on an affordable / social housing supply somewhere between the new and old Local Plans specification, being met will any proposal be considered approvable. Profit should not be the only motivation supporting development within the Green Belt, sustainability and the existence of very special circumstances are pre-requisite criteria.  Without a consistent approach  I fear an argument to support the areas similar to Felstead Road may be lost to development. It will be interesting to observe whether the Nashleas Farm developer feels there is a case to take to Appeal, rather than re-submitting a new application to Castle Point Council.