Tag Archives: Echo Newspaper

Jotmans Farm High Court Appeal – NOT for Castle Point council to Defend?

Green Belt Campaigners, particularly those concerned for the future of Jotmans Farm, having been kept well and truly in the dark over the High Court challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to oppose development of the area, should be concerned to note the apparent inactivity by Castle Point Borough Council.

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Mushroom syndrome where you’re kept in the dark

The statement issued by CPBC as reported in the Echo Newspaper reads;

“As the appeal is actually against the decision of the Secretary of State, it is for the Secretary of State to defend.”

“The council is monitoring the situation, councillors have been kept informed..”

The second point made by CPBC and why it was felt it un-necessary to inform residents, we covered HERE.

If you have read the Post’s link and read the contents you will be aware that, in the case of the Glebelands High Court Appeal, Castle Point Council were named as Defendents!

So referring back to the cpbc statement in the Echo above, it may appear to be a remarkably un-reassuring and passive position for our Local Authority to assume!

After all, as recently as the 11th July of this year Essex County Council, to which Castle Point residents are represented Agreed the following Motion, passed with Unanimous Approval

Perhaps some clarity is deserved by Residents from our local councillors after reading the following, of which they will also be aware;

Planning and Infrastructure

At the July 2017 Essex County Council meeting, it was Agreed (with UNANIMOUS Cross-Party support) that;

Essex County Council will not support Local (Development) Plans unless adequate resources are identified from developers, local councils and/or Government grants to ensure that sufficient infrastructure, including roads, schools, medical facilities, parking, sewerage and drainage, is provided in a timely manner and in a way that balances the needs to promote economic growth and provide housing for residents whilst protecting their quality of life.

Given the significant housing development emerging from Local Development Plans, this Council reaffirms its commitment to this policy. This Council also expresses its concern that whilst Local Development Plans and Neighbourhood Plans are being progressed to decide where this housing should be best located, some developers are exploiting the lack of a 5 year housing supply to gain planning permission on greenfield sites, often outside the development boundary, even when these sites have been excluded from the draft local plan and in some cases where there are brownfield sites available or in the pipeline.

This Council therefore calls on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to issue urgent statutory guidance, which removes the opportunity for this exploitation and protects valued greenfield sites from predatory development.

Previously agreed at the October 2014 Full Council meeting.

It would appear negligent if legal representation was not made during the High Court Appeal by Castle Point Council to reiterate the County Council’s Policy on exploitation of Green Belt sites, especially those which will undoubtedly have a major impact upon road infrastructure, especially during the cpbc Local Plan process.

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Castle Point Residents Ill-informed or Gullible? Green Belt Saved or still in Jeopardy?

Be In No Doubt Canvey Island residents stand to be affected by the development of Jotmans Farm, as much as the Jotmans Farm residents do themselves!

Once all phases of the Jotmans Farm proposal is completed there is a plan to construct a Roundabout to allow traffic from the 800 dwelling estate, onto Canvey Way!

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Not only that, but the much Heralded retail extension nearby Morrisons on Canvey Island with the promised Marks and Spencer / Waitrose food, B and M and Sports Direct outlets, will add more Motorists Misery, entering and leaving via the Waterside Farm Roundabout and the local areas!

Recently the Jotmans farm Green Belt campaigners have been left to “discover” that Persimmons have decided to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision in the High Court.

The Secretary of State’s decision, generally portrayed to Residents as being a signal that not only Jotmans Farm, but also Green Belt in General, was Saved from Development, was Released on the 21st April 2017.

And so we headed for the Polling Stations, on the 4th May for the Castle Point Borough Council Elections and the General Election on the 8th June.

Possibly, Unfortunately the Election Period of Purdah may play some legal significance.* See below.

Through an email released by the Jotmans Farm campaign group, we gather that they are being led to believe that none of the Lead Group of Castle Point councillors were aware, or felt it unimportant to make the information known to Residents, that High Court action threatened the Jotmans Farm Decision!

Castle Point Council are an “Interested Party” in the High Court action. One only has to refer to the Glebelands case to be aware that CPBC should be involved:

Case No: CO/10476/201

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

 Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Date: 17/01/2014

Before :

THE HON MR JUSTICE BLAKE

Between:

 

FOX LAND AND PROPERTY LIMITED

Claimant

 

– and –

 

 

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

-and-

CASTLE POINT BOROUGH COUNCIL

 

 

 

Defendants

Would the Castle Point officers not have immediately informed the Lead councillors, could the councillors not have been Open and Transparent and informed their Residents, of the Legal move?

In the Echo newspaper it is reported that Jotmans farm residents clutch at the possibility that the Persimmon legal team, left it beyond the 6 weeks to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision. CPBC appear to leave this desperate hope hanging.

In our humble opinion we find it inconceivable, not only that the Persimmon legal team would be so inefficient, surely the challenge would have been dismissed should the 6 week time limit to challenge the decision have elapsed, but that some lead group Castle Point councillors to be unaware cpbc are an Interested Party in the High Court case!

CPBC are quoted in the Echo “As the Appeal is actually against the decision of the Secretary of State it is for the secretary of State to defend.” …..”councillors have been kept informed…”

We fear on behalf of Jotmans Farm and Canvey Island residents, on whom this development will impact upon, that the release date of the Secretary of State’s decision and the dates of the Local Elections may well have had some influence, as well as having some legal impact.

* “The term ‘purdah’ is in use across central and local government to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants are in place. The terms ‘pre-election period’ and ‘period of sensitivity’ are also used.
The pre-election ‘purdah’ period before general elections is not regulated by statute, but governed by conventions based largely on the Civil Service Code.
The pre-election period for the 8 June General Election will start on midnight on Friday 21 April 2017.
A ministerial statement gave details of the different ‘purdah’ periods for the different elections on 5 May 2016: The period of sensitivity preceding the local, mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections starts on 14 April”
Source: House of Commons Library Published Friday, April 21, 2017

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.

“A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing” or in the case of the Castle Point Green Belt, Apparently Not!

“A little learning is a dangerous thing;  

drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: 

there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, 

and drinking largely sobers us again.”

Apparently this may not be the case, was the suggestion in the event of the “leak” to the Echo Newspaper, of what appears to be a part of the recording of the Planning Inspector’s training session for Castle Point Councillors as they deliberate the new Local Plan.

The “failed” motion put to Castle Point Council yesterday requested an enquiry as to who had leaked content of the “private” training session to the Echo.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign (CGBC) would have welcomed the enquiry as it had been suggested at Councillor level, that we were responsible for this deed.

Canvey Green Belt Campaign group totally refute this accusation.

The suggestion possibly stemmed from the Echo printing the CGBC group’s name in the same article and quoting from our Blog posts.

The fact that a section of the Inspector’s training session was leaked allowed, what appears to be a mechanism to stop development on Green Belt, to possibly have been extracted out of context.

Castle Point resident campaign groups have been offered hope, a lifeline that our Green Belt will remain as is.

Basildon and Rochford residents have been disturbed to learn that the recording extract implied Green Belt in their Borough has been released for development un-necessarily.

On the other hand the leak of partial information warranted a response to balance the information. Together this has allowed inflammatory headlines.

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This forced Castle Point officers into a situation where they considered they had no option other than to release a statement clarifying the situation.

It would be reasonable to consider that this action of the officers alone merited some type of enquiry as to the source of the leakage.

Clearly this is unfair, but by not holding  an enquiry, residents may well feel there has been some level of cover up.

Cllr Stanley during the debate said that the leak has led to information coming out in a more structured way.

This is debatable, from the Echo we have learnt, from the recording:

Mr Holland added: “We will not impose that (green belt development) on you, we will never go to an examination and say to an authority you must use green belt land to accommodate your development. It is your decision.”

“I want to be absolutely clear. If a local authority wishes to amend its green belt or use some of its green belt land for development, that is a decision for the local authority. It is not a decision which the planning inspector will impose on a local authority.

“It is purely your decision if you want to use green belt land or not and the National Planning Policy Framework is very clear.”

Going entirely by the leak above,  Castle Point councillors will be entirely responsible for any loss of Castle Point Green Belt to development!

The Echo also printed, from the enforced release by CPBC officers so as to add the necessary “structure to the release of information” and to reflect some balance:

However, Steve Rogers, Castle Point Council’s head of planning, said if the council did not find land to build 4,000 homes in the next 20 years, the Government would not pass their plans.

He said telling the Government they didn’t want to build on green belt would not convince them to lower the number of new houses needed.

Mr Rogers said: “Castle Point does have a number of physical constraints which do limit the amount of housing that can be constructed.

“But, regrettably, green belt is not a physical constraint in the same way as areas at risk of flooding.” “Green belt is a creature of policy.

“It is the council’s policy to choose to approve an area of land as green belt.

“The council decides if it continues with that designation, but if it does it has consequences.”

Mr Rogers spoke after an attempt by Tory councillor Andrew Sheldon to spark a debate on Mr Holland’s advice was blocked by committee chairman Norman Smith.

It is very unusual at this stage of Local Plan making for officers to release statements of this nature.

We consider that whilst CPBC deserve residents support in the attempt to protect Green Belt during the Local Plan process, it is folly to lead them along whilst only providing part knowledge.

The intricacies and difficulties for our local authority in it’s Plan making are apparent and CGBC are aware of how the legally binding Planning terminology can easily mislead.

The possibility of parties promising to deliver the impossible is tempting.

A good dose of realism is what is required!

We have partly covered this issue in previous Posts links here and here

 “a little learning” is widely attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744).                     It is found in An Essay on Criticism, 1709.

Conspiracy strategy, and sacrificing children in the fight against Green Belt Campaign Groups?

Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist, it would be easy to suggest that Castle Point Council had employed a strategist.
Let me take you back….
In the Olde Dayf of ye Olde Core Strategy a level of new development in the Borough was proposed by the now defunct Regional Agency.
The numbers came as a shock to the residents and a problem for the Local Authority.
A growth distribution plan was drawn up and discussed by the political groups.

The mainland Lead Group rejected the proposed growth sites and threatened to reject the plan.
Officers suggested that if they were to propose the Dutch Village as the main new housing site, would the Lead Group Councillors support the Plan?

Yes was the reply and forward went the Council with the Core Strategy, despite much opposition from Canvey Islanders.

“I have a problem with this” said the Planning Inspector!
“You will need to balance the housing growth across the Borough.”

New sites were considered and just prior to the Council meeting to consider them, the Leader cllr Challis gave a very brave interview to the Echo accepting the idea that development was actually needed on the Mainland.

Mainland residents protested and the full Council threw the Core Strategy out of the Chamber on a raucous evening.
The process of a new Local Plan began.
Problem number one the housing need figures are unaltered.

What to do.

It appears the Mainland Councillors have been convinced that by including “previously developed” Green Belt land at London Road and Felstead Road in the first 5 years of the Plan’s housing supply other Green Belt sites in the Borough will be protected.
Alongside the 99 units at the Point on Canvey plus the 600 dwellings, plus 300 static caravans plus Residential Care Accomodation blocks at Thorney Bay, an Inspector will accept this as reasonable distribution.

The problem now for the Cabinet, because I understand that back bench Lead Group Councillors have yet to be consulted, is how to satisfy the remaining 10 years housing supply of the Local Plan!

Pressure mounts.

In the meantime Persimmon’s have proposed a development at Jotmans Farm, giving birth to another protest group for the Council to concern itself with.

Followed by the County Elections.

On the Mainland a slap in the face to local Councillors was firmly delivered by the UK Indepence Party!

Now, more recently, the Deanes School it has been suggested may close. This is due to falling attendances!

Obviously difficult decisions need to be made.
What to do, and how to do it?

Councillor Stanley has, on a couple of occasions, spoken of the “silent majority” when putting the case for building on Green Belt land.

He suggests that whilst Mainland Green Belt Groups have organised large petitions, the majority of residents haven’t signed them.
The problem is, how to propose unpopular housing development so that it can be voted through at Council and accepted by the general public?

Eureka!
Employ a crowd of school children and their parents!
Make it known that the County Council are the ones threatening to close the school and concentrate the residents minds on the fact that there are not enough youngsters in the area to support keeping it open.

Photograph courtesy of the Echo Newspaper

Photograph courtesy of the Echo Newspaper


After all we are an aging population and figures suggest that the numbers attending Deanes School will only fall even more in the future unless something is done.

On one side young families with school children, on the other side the blue rinse Victor Meldrew brigade.
Use it or Lose it, simples!

Now what land is nearby to the Deanes School in Daws Heath Road, that a developer has proposed, and is the most sustainable site in the Borough?

Making sense now?

Taking us Full Circle to where the whole Core Strategy / Local Plan problems began all of those years ago.
Draw up the battle lines!