Tag Archives: Dutch Village

A Tactical Withdrawal, temporary Reprieve? What is going on at Castle Point Council and its Local Plan?

In a letter from Castle Point Council, dated 31st May 2017, we learn of the latest developments in the Persimmons proposal to develop the Dutch Village Green Belt;

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Proposal: Erect up to 275 new homes and retail/community facilities (use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C2 and/or D1) with new roundabout junction onto A130 Canvey Road, associated parking, open space, ecological enhancements, landscaping, drainage and flood mitigation measures (outline)
Location: Land To The East Of Canvey Road Canvey Island Essex

 

I refer to my consultation letter in respect of the above application and write to advise you that the application has been withdrawn and the Council will not therefore take any further action in the matter.

 

I thank you for your interest in the proposal and I will ensure that you are consulted again if a further application is submitted in the future.

 

Yours faithfully,

S Rogers

Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods

Canvey Island “A Special Case”!

Whilst monitoring the lengths of effort being made by Persimmon to develop 275 houses on what is left of the Canvey Island, Dutch Village Green Belt, we came across an article from 2010, that puts these efforts into perspective.

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Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

It refers to Flood Risk within the strategic planning of the Castle Point Council’s Core Strategy and reads;

At a special meeting called to give councillors (cpbc) a chance to scrutinise work on the document, Steve Rogers, head of regeneration and homes, said: “The ultimate decision will be with the inspector.

“We have asked him to acknowledge that Canvey is a special case.”

“The Environment Agency have acknowledged that the council has a point on that.”

He said the Environment Agency has acknowledged its negative position created a difficult situation of “preventing development on Canvey when we already have a population of 40,000 living there”.

Dave Blackwell, leader of the opposition Canvey Island Independent Party, questioned the council’s position.

He said: “It worries me that we are pressurising the Environment Agency to ease up on health and safety rules when it comes to flood risk, just to put more houses on Canvey.”

Mr Blackwell also asked if some of the caravans on Canvey’s Thorney Bay Caravan Park could be knocked off the borough’s 5,000 housing target after the Government’s Valuation Office Agency ruled last week 292 of the caravans are eligible for council tax.

But Mr Rogers said Health and Safety Executive rules about the proximity of the mobile homes to Oikos and Calor Gas meant it was not possible.

He said: “The reason is the nature of the dwellings and the location close to hazardous installations where normally residential development would not be permitted.”

Since this time the Dutch Village has been removed from the Local Plan2016 Housing Supply, despite this Persimmon’s persist in coercing the Environment Agency. Essex County Council the Lead Local Flood Authority, cpbc officers and councillors into allowing the development.

The site is within Green Belt and the 3A Flood Zone.

The Government state that the Green Belt is “absolutely sacrosanct”!

The Environment Agency comment; “Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure. This residual flood risk should be considered, as although the likelihood of it occurring is low, the consequences should it happen would be very high.”

The apparent determination of the developers and the latent support, from some quarters, for the continued planning of large scale development on Canvey Island is morally questionable in the very least!

Canvey Flooding, safe escape route too Congested?

Canvey residents are often questioned whether they are scaremongering when they express concerns over flooding and emergency issues. Now we learn through the Echo that CPBC’s own emergency planner has expressed concern that both the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority remain concerned over potential flooding issues at Persimmon’s proposed development at the Dutch Village Canvey.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

This apparent “good news” must be treated with some caution as the developer appears confident that the concerns can all be addressed.

The cpbc emergency planner has requested a copy of the evacuation plan, although a copy can be found on the cpbc planning portal.

Extracts from the developer Persimmon’s emergency Evacuation Plan may be of interest;

“The developer’s reasonability (Freudian slip, perhaps?) will end upon completion of the construction of the site.”

“Residents should remain in their dwellings until the emergency services or statutory bodies have advised that it is safe to leave. This could be for a pre-longed period of time (days rather than hours).”

“Whilst occupants can potentially remain at the site services such as water supply, sewerage, electricity and gas will be affected in the area and occupants are unlikely to be able to use these facilities”

The “Safe Escape Route” is indicated as being via Canvey Road to Waterside Roundabout and onto Canvey Way.

It has already been assessed, although not included within the Local Plan Evidence base, that an Evacuation of Canvey Island might take 19 hours.

The continued development in areas prone to flooding is an abuse, by developers and local authorities of the Flood RE insurance scheme.

Surely the continued intention of castle point council to increase the numbers of people at Risk of Flooding must be considered unacceptable.

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Echo newspapers coverage can be viewed via this LINK.

Castle Point Green Belt Conundrum- to Release or Not to Release, that is the Question!

Castle Point is no doubt not the only local authority hand ringing over providing housing need whilst protecting Green Belt.

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The possible problem cpbc may have made for itself is in the historical efforts that have been expended in the attempts at producing a Local Plan.

Of late:

Records indicate that there have been a net total of 202 dwellings completed in the borough to the year end March 31st 2015.

Against this the assessed housing need is for between 400 – 500 new dwellings per annum.

The cpbc Local Plan2016 proposes to allow development of 100 new dwellings per annum.

Planning Guidance expects local authorities to; “boost significantly the supply of housing, by; “identifying key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing strategy over the plan period.

There are suggestions that by bringing forward the proposed site at North West Thundersley, with space for housing that may potentially result in a housing provision of 200 dwellings per annum.

However it appears that this possibility was not recorded in the council minutes during the meeting to decide the Local Plan2016.

Either way whether the housing supply is 100 or 200 dwellings per annum, the supply will not be boosted “significantly”.

Now the question will be raised as to what basis the parts of the Green Belt identified as developable and deliverable in the Plan, had been considered.

It is essential that the wording of the Planning Framework and Guidance is examined and applied.

“The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.”

Bearing in mind the need:
“To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should: use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework”

We can point out that despite the need to boost significantly housing delivery, it should be accomplished by having regard to being consistent with policies set out in the NPPF, Green Belt being one such policy!

Castle Point Council have voted to adopt a Motion to release Green Belt, land using a criteria “they” consider to be previously developed.

However, Green Belt serves, and was originally identified by, five purposes:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Green Belt land in Castle Point all fulfil at least one of these purposes, otherwise would not have been included.

But localism appears to have dictated that a new criteria, that of whether a particular piece of land is “virginal” Green Belt, should take precedence over protecting the 5 purposes.

Paragraph 81 of the Guidance, significantly the very paragraph following Paragraph 80, which covers the 5 Purposes states;

“Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.”

This suggests that the next most important features are included, and the land that supplies, or has the potential to, such provision contained within Paragraph 81, should receive the “most” protection.

Therefore it follows that more weight will be applied during consideration of Green Belt release to land potentially performing functions contained in Paragraph 81, than whether the land retain “virginal” status!

A further complication will be the Green Belt Review. This review was produced “in house” in November 2013, to physically support the daft New Local Plan (or previous version to LP2016).

Going back further, following the withdrawal of the Core Strategy (CS) a Councillors Conference was held in September 2011. The intention of the meeting was to address the Core Strategy Inspector’s concerns on the housing distribution across the Borough.

A briefing paper was issued to Councillors in which it was explained:

“The paper explains that the area of greatest concern for the Planning Inspector is the absence of suitable housing land; it then provides information regarding sites presently in the Green Belt but which could be allocated for housing purposes, which would be likely to address the Planning Inspector’s points.”

“He (the Inspector) also indicated that he was dissatisfied with the distribution of greenfield development between Canvey Island and the mainland towns. He indicated that the Council should review their assessment of sites in Green Belt locations in the mainland part of the Castle Point and identify land for 2.5 years worth of supply (around 500 homes) for the first five years of the plan, and a further 2.5 years worth of supply for years 6 to 15 (around 500 homes).”

There is the possibility that the latest appointed Local Plan2016 Planning Inspector, Mr David Smith BA (HONS) DMS MRTPI may also form a similar opinion

Essex County Council are reluctant to support the North West Thundersley initiative. this may not mean that development could not be accomplished piecemeal, just that the infrastructure would be late in arriving.

There appear more questions than answers, revolving around; protection of Green Belt, “type of Green Belt, Housing Need, Housing Supply, whether land (Green belt or otherwise) is deliverable, developers wishes, residents wishes.

Given that the Green Belt review written in support of the rejected daft New Local Plan has been added as Evidence towards Local Plan2016, one thing is clear, castle point officers have failed a duty of care in the production of the current Local Plan.

Given that Castle Point councillors have previously approved the daft New local Plan indicating release of sites such as Glebelands and Jotmans Farm as the Core Strategy Inspector had referred to the developers having provided him with proposals, and GB on Canvey Island, and now have voted to identify other mainland Green Belt sites in other parts of the Borough indicates that Green Belt, and possibly a lot of it, may end up being released.

The concern may be not, whether to Release, or not to Release Green Belt, but more a case of Release and How Much?

Mind you, the Local Plan2016 needs to get over its first hurdle yet, that of proving it has complied with the Duty to Cooperate.

The initial Hearing on that, will begin at 10am on the 12th December 2016 and will  involve representatives from the five other planning authorities within the South Essex sub-region! We assume that will be our “professional officer” friends from Thurrock, Basildon, Southend, Chelmsford and Essex County Council!

 

 

 

Will the Castle Point development committee swallow this? Going by recent decisions YES!

Persimmons refuse to give up on Canvey Green Belt development.

Being fully aware that Canvey Island is affected by Surface Water flooding issues and potentially Tidal flooding issues these “Prospective” developers are also aware that development regulations leave them supposedly charged with not increasing flood risk off site.

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The National Policy Planning Framework  goes further, it expects developers to lessen off-site flood risk;

 “a site-specific flood risk assessment must demonstrate that the development will be safe for its lifetime taking account of the vulnerability of its users, without increasing flood risk elsewhere, and, where possible, will reduce flood risk overall.”

Persimmon, possibly having noted the leniency with which the castle point council development committee apply rules and policies, admit that their proposed development at the Dutch Village does not comply with the NPPF, expecting Canvey Residents to take comfort that their development will only increase flooding a little!

Persimmons latest HYDRAULIC MODELLING TECHNICAL NOTE states;

“For all events considered, the proposed development is shown to have a very small impact on flood risk elsewhere. During the 3.33% AEP event, differences are small, with a minor increase in maximum depths of <50mm along Dyke Crescent – a highway already flooded by approximately 200-250mm. These small relative increases are isolated to flooded highways only, no properties are effected.”

Homeowners in Dyke Crescent and Limburg Road beware!

Could it Be? Spade Ready – Persimmon Up for a Win Double in Castle Point?

Could it be that with the recent activity around the Canvey Dutch Village area that Persimmon see a potential for developing Canvey Island and Benfleet’s Green Belt off of the Constraints Map?

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New paperwork added to the CPBC planning portal for the Dutch Village site and the pending Appeal Inquiry decision on Jotmans Farm indicates no let up ahead of the CPBC Local Plan Examination.

Jotmans Magaret March Benfleethistory.org.uk

Jotmans Farm

It is indication that Persimmons will be one of the strongest critics of the Local Plan2016.

No doubt having two major Green Belt development proposals will put Persimmon in a seemingly strong position should the LP2016 falter.

The apparent lack of a 5 year housing supply to back up LP2016 may also be a factor. Persimmons are positioning themselves in a way that would appear to suggest to the Examining Planning Inspector, that they are “SPADE READY”!

Most appealing to CPBC will be the possibility that persimmon could, handling 2 sites at the same time, devote the Dutch Village site chiefly to affordable homes, leaving the Jotmans Farm venture as entirely market value housing!
Our controllers at cpbc might see the advantage of sweetening the taste for the mainland electorate in that, should it be suggested.

Local Plans are likely to require updating in whole or in part at least every five years. Should the Local Plan 2016 not fulfil the expectation to “boost significantly the supply of housing” during this initial 5 year period Castle Point residents could expect to face having to fund planning appeals! And the likelihood of further appeals in the subsequent years cannot be disregarded should the reliance on the Blinking Owl site H11 be unfulfilled.

The necessity for a 5 year housing supply, is a rolling, never ending requirement of a local authority. An insatiable requirement of land!

How often should a Local Plan be reviewed?

To be effective plans need to be kept up-to-date. Policies will age at different rates depending on local circumstances, and the local planning authority should review the relevance of the Local Plan at regular intervals to assess whether some or all of it may need updating. Most Local Plans are likely to require updating in whole or in part at least every five years.  Reviews should be proportionate to the issues in hand. Local Plans may be found sound conditional upon a review in whole or in part within five years of the date of adoption.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites. Local planning authorities should also consider whether plan making activity by other authorities has an impact on planning and the Local Plan in their area. For example, a revised Strategic Housing Market Assessment will affect all authorities in that housing market area, and potentially beyond, irrespective of the status or stage of development of particular Local Plans.

Of late this requirement has seen pressure from those in authority at cpbc to approve all development proposals on Canvey Island, except those few that fall into a similar category of the LP2016 policy to protect mainland Green Belt sites from development.

This has seen proposals approved, despite having Holding Objections from the Lead Flood Authority! This level of disregard to important constraining issues underlines the depths our local authority are prepared to stoop.

Once again we venture to suggest that without a Neighbourhood Plan, Canvey Island is defenceless against the power and deviousness of developers.

Canvey Island’s future in hands of Castle Point Council and Government, as Neighbourhood Plan is unanimously Rejected.

The concept of Canvey Island forming its own Neighbourhood Plan was inevitably rejected by the Canvey Island Town Council during a meeting last evening.

The proposal for the Motion was suggested, formally by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group during early February this year, having verbally requested a councillor to propose the idea some 3 years previous.

Town councillors agreed that if the idea of a Neighbourhood Plan had come before them 8 years or so ago, there may have been an opportunity to form a useful Neighbourhood Plan. (?)

During the Town Council meeting, ahead of the debate, we put forward a short text of some of the possible benefits a Neighbourhood Plan might achieve, this read;

1.  Many councillors consider that the Castle Point Local Plan is doomed to failure.

The Government have said that “In cases where no Local Plan has been produced by early 2017, we will intervene to arrange for the Plan to be written.”

Should this become the position with Castle Point, the supporting evidence may mean that an Inspector would revert to the previous Draft Local Plan, which proposed even more development for Canvey Island.

If this was to be the case, a Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan, would stand as evidence of the issues facing the Island, as seen by Canvey people, rather than issues perceived by others in the Borough.

2.  Admittedly a Neighbourhood Plan would not reverse development approvals.                                                                                                                                                               But it could challenge their suitability and viability.                                                                                                                                                                        It could even offer evidence towards stipulating an appropriate Annual Rate of Housing Delivery, in light of the infrastructure issues facing Canvey.

I believe the rate of Housing delivery is probably the most contentious issue with the Local Plan.

3.  English Heritage have issued guidance on Neighbourhood Plans. They state: “By its very nature local heritage is valued by its community and therefore it is important for it to be protected at the most local level.                                                                                                                                                                   Including heritage in your Neighbourhood Plan can help protect those areas which are valued locally and ensure that they remain in productive use where appropriate.  It may help to ensure that potential new development is properly integrated with what is already there and does not result in the loss of local distinctiveness.”

“Policies you include in the Neighbourhood Plan should be based on information on how a place has developed and evolved.  This could include a description of the historic character of the area, as well as identifying conservation areas, or local heritage assets.”

There maybe the potential, within a Canvey Plan, to create a heritage area at Canvey Village and to provide some protection to the King Canute building, in a way similar to that at Benfleet around St.Mary’s church and the Hoy and Helmet pub.

4.  An Inspector considering the Castle Point Local Plan will not himself make Housing site choices.

The current Local Plan rejects Persimmons proposals for the Dutch Village, a Canvey Neighbourhood Plan could endorse the “no development on Green belt” policy.

5.  An Inspector examining the Castle Point Local Plan, will read and hear what Castle Point council have planned for Canvey Island.                                                                                                                                                                               He may also read some residents objections.

He will not have available what the residents of Canvey would prefer to have planned for our Island.

A Neighbourhood Plan, even in an early stage, and despite the cost and effort involved, is the only means Canvey residents have of shaping and influencing the Island’s future.

Canvey Town councillors were concerned that development sites included within the Castle Point Council (CPBC) Local Plan, could not be opposed or rejected, leaving little value in producing a Plan.

Councillors believed that the CPBC Local Plan2016 would fail and this would give them an opportunity to put forward their opposition to more development on Canvey via an Inquiry.

However, on checking the Local Plan 2016 planning portal, a submission in the name of Canvey Island Town Council, Elaine De Can is recorded as;

Soundness Q2) Do you consider the Local Plan is sound?

No

Soundness Modifications Do you seek to make modification(s) to make the Local Plan Sound?

No

Without any accompanying submission evidence it is hard to imagine an invitation to attend a Local Plan Examination would be naturally forthcoming.

The name of the organisation, Canvey Island Town Council (CITC), should carry enough weight for an invite to be extended, but the inevitably obvious question of the Examining Inspector could be, why has such an organisation not gone to the effort of entering into its own Plan making process?

Having personally sat through a Local Plan Examination in Public it would appear unreasonable for the Inquiry’s Planning Inspector to be expected to make notes of all of CITC’s challenge to the Local Plan, whilst constraints on development are suggested verbally.

Confidence was suggested that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign and others would appear at the CPBC Local Plan’s Examination to support a Canvey view of issues. As a group we have submitted a 76 Page Document, however fully committing to attendance and participation in the Local Plan’s Examination in Public is a huge undertaking in time and effort!

During the Town Council meeting views were expressed by members that the CPBC Local Plan 2016 would be rejected, the Government would intervene and an Inspector along with Castle Point officers would create a Local Plan. We feel that if this were to be the case a new Plan would be along the lines of the previous draft New Local Plan which received such great opposition from residents across the Borough.

The draft New Local Plan included even more development, and Green belt at that, on Canvey Island than the latest version, Local Plan 2016. The Town councillors felt that if this were to be the case, Canvey Green Belt would only come forward after 20 years or so as there is ample mainland green belt available ahead of areas within a flood zone. This suggested some inevitability about the levels of development forecast for the future on Canvey Island, and a blow to the no-development on Green Belt policy.

A Town Council member suggested that if the Government were to step in following the expected failure of the CPBC Local Plan 2016, Canvey Town Council would need to have a comprehensive document ready for submission by that stage.

Not however a Canvey Neighbourhood Plan!

Despite this, our view remains that our points of issue with the CPBC Local Plan 2016 would be far, far better represented by a positive document, in the form of a Canvey Island Plan.

Given the size of Canvey’s population and the unique issues that the Island faces a Canvey Plan is essential.

Here we will have to agree to disagree with our Town Council.

In the end there was no appetite for the work, and expense involved in forming a Canvey Neighbourhood Plan, and the idea was unanimously rejected by our councillors, 7 votes – Zero!

Benjamin Franklin                                                                       Benjamin Franklin

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”