Tag Archives: Environment Agency

Canvey Island Flood Risk Zone a Valuable Commodity both Financially and Politically! Caveat emptor an appropriate Back Stop?

SO, those accountable for the Castle Point’s regeneration, sustainability and growth agenda are seeking congratulations for the huge swathes of development of Canvey Island! The completion of this long term project seemingly being very advantageous to some current councillors and predecessors.

Convinced of the apparent sustainability of Canvey Island, investors of commercial and residential developments are completely reliant upon Environment Agency recommendations. Clearly the EA recognise that the Island’s sea defences are in need of further improvements, if only to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate.

Claims that there is no need for concern, or that Canvey already has substantial sea defences, will not be helpful in formulating a business case for the funding of the inevitable improvement requirements.

CPBC’s failed bid for central government funding for the £24,500,000 needed to address the deficiency in the current drainage network, and fund capital projects to dramatically improve the drainage infrastructure across Canvey Island, is a clear indication that flood risk is NOT a priority issue.

CPBC have, on more than one occasion, been reminded by the Environment Agency that it is incorrect to assume that the maintenance of the flood defences is programmed as part the Thames Estuary (TE) 2100 Plan. To proclaim that the sustainability of Canvey Island is secured, for the foreseeable future, when that is simply not the case, may be questioned at a later date.

The TE2100 Plan provides for a flood management strategy for the whole of the Thames Estuary, and includes recommendations regarding necessary maintenance and improvements programmes to the engineered defences along the Thames Estuary. The final decision on these programmes will be made by Defra and future funding streams, however, at this time no funding is guaranteed!

In the knowledge of the consequences of a significant risk of flooding from a variety of events, to then subsequently continue increasing the population of Canvey Island, needs some explanation. To actively seek to increase those numbers of residents, including those that are “more vulnerable”, without having a viable emergency evacuation plan, may well be catastrophic!

For CPBC Local Plan to repudiate up-to-date flooding predictions, and to then persist with the continued development of historically designated land and brown field sites, within an already significantly urbanised and populated flood plain, possesses no logistical justification.

It has previously been stated by CPBC and supported by the EA that the delivery of new development must not be considered in isolation from the drainage issues in the Borough and that existing conditions should be improved and not exacerbated. Canvey Island is at the highest Risk of Surface Water flooding, with a high probability of Surface Water flooding across the Borough as a whole.

Inappropriate development, effectively removing space that served as water dispersal areas, will have consequences.  Site selection criteria, as well as a Flood Risk Assessment, should be used to identify whether broad potential future locations for development represent the most appropriate choices in terms of flood risk.

CPBC have argued that without a Local Plan, the level of detail used to inform decisions of a strategic nature may not be as robust, especially regarding cumulative impacts. In addition, policy content can be used to set conditions on developments or determine their refusal in areas of flood risk.

I would argue that the Plan has always been to develop the zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island regardless of any serious consequences.

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Further Signs of Erosion of Canvey Island Sea Defence. Environment Agency with Repair, Access issue.

Canvey Island Sea Defence continues to cause the Environment Agency a problem.

Sea Defence location Labworth

Pictured above is the latest signs of wear, requiring inspection and repair by the EA. This time in the Labworth seafront area.

On enquiring the EA attendee confirmed, that there is a problem.  

It was also mentioned that the ground, land side of the sea wall, was too soft for a crane needed to dig out the seaward side of the wall, so as to make repairs, due to the water getting under the wall.

No acknowledgement is indicated by Castle Point Borough Council, the CPBC Development Committee and Planning officers, Essex County Council nor the Lead Local Flood Authority, to the levels that tidal water seeping under the Sea Defence, influences the height of Ground Water Levels on Canvey Island!

Residents of Canvey Island left to Face the Risks, whilst Castle Point Council, Fail to Develop an Adequate, operable Emergency Plan!

38,459+ Residents living on Canvey Island, seemingly oblivious to the everyday Risks and potential Harm facing them!

Whether the Risk is Tidal from the Estuary, Surface Water flooding or from the Hazardous Industries on the Island, a suitable Emergency Plan involving the Residents is essential.

The old Adage “we are safe from the Sea” is bunkum, as Castle Point Borough Council’s own evidence Highlights!   

 “Given the risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing. These include:

• The need for an emergency plan to be in place;

• The need for sea defences to be maintained and improved;

• The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower;

• The need for existing homes to be made more flood resilient, and include areas where people can remain safe in the event of a flood;

• The need for new development to incorporate design elements that make them safe in the event of a flood for occupiers;

• The need for building techniques to be used that enable easy restoration in the event of a flood.” (1)

Further CPBC Local Plan Evidence Documentation enforces the issues;

10.4 Tidal and fluvial flooding poses the most significant flood risk to the Castle Point Borough, in particular Canvey Island and Hadleigh Marshes. The topography and location of watercourses on Canvey Island means that the whole island is at risk from tidal and fluvial flooding. Although much of the Island is protected by the presence of defences, the island is still at residual risk of flooding if the defences were to fail or to be overtopped.

10.5 In the event that a breach in the existing flood defences was to occur, or a failure of one of the existing flood barriers (residual risk), significant depths of floodwater would be experienced on Canvey Island and the southern portion of the mainland.  Given the low lying nature of these parts of the Borough, floodwaters would propagate rapidly across Canvey Island thereby reducing the time for warning and evacuation of residents. (2)

During the Local Plan Intervention fiasco, CPBC informed the Secretary of State of particular physical circumstances of the Borough, considered to be legitimate constraints as to why the Authority could not provide for its Housing Development Needs.

“Of the urban areas of the Borough, Canvey Island, with approximately half of the Borough’s population, is defined by the Environment Agency as Flood Risk Zone 3a, being at or below sea level.

Further land is likely to be required on Canvey Island by the Environment Agency for improvement to existing sea defences in the lifetime of a Local Plan, further restricting opportunity for development

The Health & Safety Executive require significant exclusion areas to be maintained by the Local Planning authority around two top-tier COMAH sites on Canvey Island’s Thames Estuary frontage”, (3)

Direct Recommendations detailed within the CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment state:

“The majority of the sites will rely on the provision of adequate emergency planning measures to mitigate the residual risk of tidal flooding in the event of a breach in the tidal flood defences.

It is therefore strongly recommended that the suitability of locating more residential accommodation on Canvey Island and the capacity of the existing egress routes off the island is further discussed with the Emergency Planning Team at Castle Point Borough Council and/or Essex County Council prior to site allocation” (4)

Remarkably, CPBCs Development Control Committee has taken responsibility, (having only aspirational resolutions for the various preventative requirements), for successfully seeing-through Housing developments at Canvey Island since January 2012.

In doing so exposing an increased number of residential and commercial population to Residual and/or Actual Societal Risks.

Emergency Plans supporting increased development on Canvey Island are seemingly only “Generic”, where by dealing with a wide range of possible scenarios such as for example Influenza Pandemics, with no “Specific Plans” that relate to a particular emergency.

Specific Plans are a detailed set of arrangements designed to go beyond the generic arrangements, when the latter are likely to prove insufficient in particular cases such as breaching of flood defences or total LPG tank failure. (5)

It would appear that CPBC have not considered the value of Specific Planning in relation to Canvey Island, if they have, they have not included the involvement of the community in the production of specific planning for viable emergency incidents.

Editor, I will leave the reader with an opportunity to provide a Rationale as to how our local authority, Castle Point Borough Council has managed “Residual Risks” via its Local Planning strategy.

Document References

  1. The CPBC Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report, New Local Plan January 2012
  2. Castle Point Borough Council New Local Plan 2018 Technical Evidence: Summary Document June 2018
  3. CPBC Response letter to Sajid Javid 31st Jan 2018, regarding why Government Intervention in the Local Plan process was unnecessary.
  4. Revised Castle Point 2018 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment
  5. Chapter 5 Cabinet Office Revised Emergency Preparedness. Definitions of “Generic” and “Specific” Emergency Planning.

2014 Canvey Flooding – 3 Years On, and still only a Glossy Brochure offered to prevent a repeat, but offering this as Evidence in support of Housing Development in CPBC Local Plan, REALLY?

3 Full Years on, and little improvement to the Drainage System on Canvey Island, means it worthwhile updating and re-posting this blog.

Ironically it is included as part of the Castle Point 2018 Local Plan Evidence base! A document full of promises and an insight that proves Canvey Island was always intended as THE Housing Growth Area in the Borough, no matter what other mainland sites were introduced.

How CPBC can consider that a Glossy desk top published “brochure,” full of empty promises, you will recognise them in the text below, to fund a complete overhaul of the Canvey Island drainage system, is fit to be considered as Evidence Base to support such a Bad Local Plan as the latest 2018 version, is anybody’s guess!

We will leave you to make of it what you will.

And we all thought that the bid to Government for the necessary drainage improvements was for the good of the existing residents and properties of Canvey Island that were affected so badly during the 2014 flooding!

“With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.

It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.”

As we have always maintained; no improvement of infrastructure without even more development on the most densely urbanised part of our Borough.
It strikes us that the development is / was intended whether drainage, flood defence or road network improvements were to be forthcoming anyway!

Of course the distribution and allocation of any money allocated from Government may well find itself replacing / overlapping money already contributed by residents within the Council Tax allocation as Essex Highways state;
“Defects on the (Canvey) highway drainage system will continue to be addressed as resources permit.”

Screenshot (23)Canvey Island Integrated Drainage Model brochure!

The fancy multi agency Brochure, minus the graphics reads:

“Through this bid we ask central government for £24.5m, which will be used to address the deficiency in the current drainage network, and fund capital projects to dramatically improve the drainage infrastructure across Canvey Island. This investment will feed into an already comprehensive programme of works which will be delivered over the next ten years. Some projects which will be covered by this funding include:
• Property level protection from surface water flooding for 40,000 people and 15,000 homes.
• Improving the drainage infrastructure at recognised pinch points, identified by the Integrated Urban Drainage Study (IUD), to take excess rainwater from the centre of the island to the pumps located around the island.
• Increasing the storm water storage area on the island, providing areas where excess rainwater can be stored.
• Increasing the storage capacity of Canvey Lake, and re-profile the surrounding area to provide additional storm water storage capacity.
• Utilising new technology innovations to enable a much more reactive approach to deal with heavy rainfall, such as advanced weather warning systems (Rain Gain) and automatic weed-screens.
• Increasing community resilience through enhanced education, awareness and local volunteer programmes.

The approach we have taken to partnership working on the island is unique, and we believe this model allows more efficient and collaborative approaches to address the problems facing local residents. We commit to continuing this vital work and with additional government funding we can do so much more to help protect our community, protect our economy and protect our Canvey Island.

The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

The plan recommends that the defences are further improved to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate. Over the period of the plan, the Environment Agency calculates that the potential economic benefits of implementing their preferred option of flood prevention across the Thames Estuary is in the region of £200 billion when compared to doing nothing.

The majority of benefits of flood risk management in the Thames Estuary are economic; namely the avoidance of damage to property, infrastructure, transport and business investment.

Within the Government’s Autumn statement last year, it was announced that the government ”has published its six-year programme of investment in flood defences, allocating the £2.3 billion capital funding provided at Spending Round 2013. It has also allocated an additional £60 million to the Thames Estuary Asset Management scheme beyond 2021, subject to business case and local partnership contributions.”

Our ask
Securing the future of the Thames Estuary
To find out more about our plans to better protect Canvey Island, or to contact us, please visit http://www.canveyflood.co.uk.

Canvey Island is the largest town in the Borough of Castle Point, comprising around 40% of the borough area, with a population of 40,000 people. Canvey is home to both the largest town centre and area of employment (Charfleets Industrial Estate) in Castle Point Borough, and is a key contributor to the local economy.

Canvey is separated from the mainland of south Essex by a network of creeks, and the reclaimed island sits around 1m below sea level at high tide, making it incredibly vulnerable to flooding from both sea and surface water.

The island has a rich history of agriculture and shipping, and was one of the country’s fastest growing seaside resorts for over forty years until the North Sea flood of 1953 devastated the island, killing 58 islanders and leading to the temporary evacuation of the 13,000 residents.

Modern sea defences now protect Canvey, with a 3.2km high concrete sea wall spanning the island’s coastline, and a series of high powered pumps built into the local drainage system.

However, on 20th July 2014, one of the most extreme rainfall events ever seen in Essex hit the island and overwhelmed the drainage network, causing widespread flooding to over 1,000 homes and businesses, and severe disruption to the local infrastructure.

These floods served as a harsh reminder of the island’s vulnerability to flooding and highlighted the ever-increasing need for further measures to protect the island’s environment, community and economy.

Since the July 2014 floods, Anglian Water, Castle Point Borough Council, Essex County Council and the Environment Agency, have formed a multi-agency partnership and have been working collaboratively on a strategy to better protect Canvey against future flood events; providing long term security for residents and businesses across the island.

To date, the group has seen great success and over £1.7m has been spent delivering a comprehensive maintenance, repair and cleaning scheme across the island’s drainage network. Along side this, a website and two community newsletters have been created to raise awareness of the ongoing work. We have now developed a long-term strategy which, with support from the government, Canvey Island is home to a tight knit community with a diverse demographic make-up.

A range of organisations have helped to deliver community infrastructure improvements over recent years; helping to increase the service offering of the island, and address some of the societal challenges faced by some pockets of the community. will deliver increased protection and security for the people of Canvey.

This new infrastructure includes; a new healthcare centre, two new secondary schools, a new vocational college, works to improve the quality of the public realm within the employment area, and the construction of the second phase of Roscommon Way, providing access to new employment land to the south of Charfleets Industrial Estate.
Protecting our community • Protecting our economy • Protecting our Canvey

CANVEY ISLAND
Introduction Strategy Protecting our Economy CANVEY ISLAND

Canvey Island is home to a tight knit community with a diverse demographic make-up.
A range of organisations have helped to deliver community infrastructure improvements over recent years; helping to increase the service offering of the island, and address some of the societal challenges faced by some pockets of the community.

PROTECTING OUR ECONOMY
With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.
It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.

We want to see more community support schemes take root on Canvey, and we appreciate that we have a role in making sure the necessary support infrastructure is in place to allow this to happen. The loss and devastation caused by flooding is tremendous and multifaceted, ranging from the social distress and disruption caused, as well as the monetary losses experienced by private individuals, businesses and the government. This includes financial costs borne by the national economy in the form of school closures and work days lost; repairs to infrastructure, including utilities and roads; inability of businesses and consumers to operate during floods; and public sector emergency response costs.

The cost of a future flooding incident on the island would be in the region of £274m per year in lost economic output, and up to £2.1bn in damage to residential property. With over 6,100 jobs already based on the island, plans submitted to the government through the South East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propose to create over 1,100 new jobs. Further development opportunities have also created the potential for the construction of over 1,500 new homes across Canvey.

The Essex Economic Growth Strategy highlights the numerous industrial opportunities located along the Thames riverside in Thurrock and on Canvey Island; recognising the strong growth potential in the area.
It is vital that all relevant agencies and central government work together, to ensure this growth potential is not inhibited by the significant risks associated with future flooding on the island.

Working together, we have developed an Integrated Urban Drainage (IUD) model, to establish a common understanding on the condition and ownership of the drainage infrastructure across the island. The output of this model will be used to develop a series of engineering projects, which will significantly improve the drainage infrastructure and provide property level protection across Canvey Island. The first phase of this project, jointly funded by Anglian Water and the Environment Agency, will be completed by early summer 2015.

What’s been done so far?
• We produce a regular multi-agency newsletter which is used to inform, update and educate residents and local businesses about the work currently being undertaken on the island.
• Anglian Water and Essex Highways are working closely through practical, enhanced maintenance work to repair, replace and improve the complex drainage infrastructure on the island, as well as mapping all of the drainage assets and the Surface Water Alleviation Scheme (SWAS) along the seafront.
• The Environment Agency has reviewed their maintenance, resulting in additional activities, including: extensive seawall repairs, de-silting, channel re-profiling and stand-by generator works. The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

The plan recommends that the defences are further improved to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate. Over the period of the plan, the Environment Agency calculates that the potential economic benefits of implementing their preferred option of flood prevention across the Thames Estuary is in the region of £200 billion when compared to doing nothing.

The majority of benefits of flood risk management in the Thames Estuary are economic; namely the avoidance of damage to property, infrastructure, transport and business investment.

Within the Government’s Autumn statement last year, it was announced that the government ”has published its six-year programme of investment in flood defences, allocating the £2.3 billion capital funding provided at Spending Round 2013. It has also allocated an additional £60 million to the Thames Estuary Asset Management scheme beyond 2021, subject to business case and local partnership contributions.”

The first phase of the Thames Estuary Plan 2100, prepared by the Environment Agency, states that the maintenance and improvement of Canvey’s system of large sea wall defences, is well justified given the risks to the local community and economy.

Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

Are you sitting Comfortably?

Then I’ll begin –

“The (Canvey Island) application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding. Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development.

However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.

Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.

Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt.”

So says the cpbc Planning Officer as the latest attempt to convince residents, councillors and, no doubt the Planning Inspectorate, that castle point council’s approach to the application of the Flood Risk Sequential Test is morally sound!

July 2014photo3

Going back just 10 years things were different and the Environment Agency held a more cautious and responsible stance:-

Extract from the Echo June 2008
“DEVELOPERS seeking to build new homes on Canvey are being forced to think again because of growing fears about flooding.
The Environment Agency is resolutely pursuing its policy of recommending refusal of plans to build new homes on the island because Canvey is below sea level and therefore on a flood plain.

Castle Point Council is taking those recommendations to heart and rejecting applications for new homes, leaving some developers in limbo.
The council has pledged to continue upholding the Environment Agency’s recommendations until the results of a Government-initiated inquiry into flood plains publishes its findings.

The Government appointed Sir Michael Pitt to carry out the study, following catastrophic floods in Hull after heavy rainfall in June and July last year. It is likely the final report expected, this summer, will recommend tighter restrictions.

Ray Howard, Castle Point and Essex county councillor, said local authorities were reluctant to ignore the Environment Agency’s advice, while they are waiting for the results of the Pitt Report.
Mr Howard has received many letters from people struggling to build on Canvey.
He said: “It’s a big problem that needs to be looked at. We can’t have a blanket ban for building here.
“I believe Canvey is unique, as it has the best flood walls and flood water drainage system in the country.

“The flood plain rules should be relaxed for us.”

Last week localised flooding on the island, caused by heavy rainfall, affected hundreds of residents on the island.

But Mr Howard is convinced it is well protected against severe flooding from the Thames Estuary.
A total of £34 million was spent rebuilding Canvey’s sea walls in the 1970s and 1980s.
A further £6 million was spent last year on 14 giant pumps, spread around the island to force water back into the sea if the walls are ever breached.
Mr Howard said: “The reason Canvey is always considered high-risk is because of the 1953 flood.
“But back then the only sea defences were soil walls, built by the original Dutch settlers.”
The 1953 Canvey flood claimed the lives of 58 people.

Despite Mr Howard’s insistence that Canvey is well protected, the Environment Agency refused to budge from its policy of objecting to all new homes on flood plains.
Spokeswoman Rita Penman insisted the Environment Agency could not relax its planning guidelines for Canvey,

She said: “Although Canvey is well defended, the current understanding across the country is that if there are other areas not on the flood plains, they should be developed first.

“This is in the interests of everyone’s safety. We are therefore unable to recommend approval for any new developments on Canvey at the present time.”

Even if the Government report clears the way for new homes on flood plains, insurers are warning hundreds of thousands of homes built in high-risk areas may not qualify for insurance.

Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurers’ director of general insurance and health, said: “Poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable”

Disappointing then, that following the Summer Flooding of 2014 the cpbc chief executive officer should point out that the Canvey Island drainage system – was never intended to be able to cope with Tidal Flooding of the Island!

But of course the findings of the cpbc Scrutiny Committee’s meetings to discuss the flooding and its consequences, during which the ceo made the admittance, has never been published, despite the flood occuring 4 years past!

To enforce the Association of British Insurers position, above, the Flood Re scheme to guarantee affordable house insurance against flooding does not cover houses built since January 2009.

Has Caveat emptor, been anymore appropriate?

I have been reminded by a sceptical mainlander that, “IT IS HARD TO FOOL PEOPLE, BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOOLED.”

The short EA video below may give you some insight as to the sensibility of those that propose and support the over development of Canvey Island and whether the drainage system could ever be made capable of alleviating Flood Risk!

The EA expert’s explanation of how the drainage System is designed to work, appears to be far different to the practical experiences during 2013 and 2014 and the isolated Flooding incidents during other periods!

Castle Point Council face Testicular Examination Ahead! Whilst Nuneaton Council act as Local Plan Pathfinders?

Having promised to stand firm over Infrastructure before more Housing, the new Castle Point Borough Council regime will now have their resolve fully tested by the Government’s team sent into the Borough to oversee progress on the Local Plan.

Riley+marchant

Residents, having shown confidence in the Lead group of councillors by giving them an increased majority at the May 2018 local elections, will be expecting them to be able to revive the latest withdrawn Local Plan following 12 months of intensive and “tireless” Duty to Cooperate work following the Examination inspector’s criticisms.

The protection of Green Belt was paramount to Residents concerns, and any backing away from the local authorities position will be open to criticism!

This may be particularly so in the light of promises to overturn the Borough Plan made in another area, Nuneaton, where the successful Conservative group promised to:

“Protect existing communities and deliver the roads, health and school services we need.
 Reduce the housing numbers based on new government guideline figures.
 Withdraw from Labour’s secret agreement to take Coventry’s overspill.” 

“Distribute housing more fairly around the Borough to enhance not destroy existing communities.”
 “Ensure our communities finally receive the much needed road improvements, schools, GPs, shops and essential facilities they deserve, 
 Prioritise Brownfield sites first, protecting our existing communities by removing unsuitable and unsustainable sites from Labour’s broken Borough plan.”

Andrew Lainton, of Decisions Decisions, Decisions blog suggests:

“However the Borough Plan is mid examination with initial findings due to be published this month.

As the inspectors findings are binding the only alternative to fulfill the manifesto would be to withdraw the local plan.

This would put the Council in special measures.” 

The Nuneaton Tory Group’s reference to Unsuitable and Unsustainable sites is interesting and should, but doubtfully will, provoke examination at Castle Point.

The wholesale blanket application of the Sequential Test across Canvey Island would, elsewhere, be expected to be deemed Unsustainable.

In effect despite being a flood Zone 3a, any Housing Development proposed for Canvey Island is deemed appropriate!

This is evidenced in each and every Application paperwork by officers, following councillors instruction, having “persuaded” the Environment Agency that Canvey Island is a Special Case!

An illustration of this, taken from the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report 2016-17 states; “It should be noted that there is no specific policy on flood risk included within the Local Plan (1998 adopted version) and therefore the Council relies on national policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and its technical guidance in respect of such matters.

Of course since then the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has recognised that Canvey Island is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding and the Integrated Urban Drainage Study was researched and published following the 2014 Summer Flooding of Canvey Island!

Castle Point councillors, those involved on the development committee at least, appear willing to accept responsibility for future Flooding of housing and danger to residents, whether from Surface Water or Tidal.

So far that has paid handsomely. Over time and following Flood events, that may prove less so, as Housing built since the 1st January 2009 is not eligible for the Flood Re Insurance Protection that makes available affordable insurance.

Should this problem emerge mortgages on “new” builds may well be denied due to insurance issues. New Canvey Island House Buyers may well be walking into this trap unaware.

The development of Canvey Island both Industrial and Housing continues unabated, this will intensify the pressures on the already broken drainage system, and road and health service infrastructures.

The cpbc Annual Monitoring Report also states, “the proportion of new homes provided on previously developed land to remain lower than in earlier years.”

and that, even more worryingly; 

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%,”

An example of the inadequacy of our local authority is illustrated within the cpbc Sequential test documentation to support the first of the local plans, the Core Strategy, in which it was admitted “The Environment Agency met with the Council in 2007 to identify criteria under which they would allow development to proceed on Canvey Island. The final criterion was the need to ensure that the Emergency Planners and Emergency Services were satisfied with the measures in place to ensure safety in the event of a flood.

These services had not been consulted in the preparation of PPS25, and as such this requirement was a surprise to them, for which they were not prepared.

A typical approach by developers to overcome the Constraint on Housing by Flood Risk on Canvey Island and acceptable to CPBC is demonstrated here;

  • “The application site is located on Canvey Island, which is situated entirely within Flood Risk Zone 3a,
  • The Council has undertaken an annual review of Strategic Housing Land Availability (SHLAA) since 2011. This process has consistently indicated the need for a greater supply of housing land to meet the objectively assessed housing needs of the borough.
  • When applying a sequential test it is important to have regard to the local context. Canvey Island is a distinctive community, accommodating 43% of the borough’s population. It has specific identified needs in terms of social, economic and physical regeneration, as well as housing.
  • In order for residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it needs to be located within that settlement.”

The Level of delivery of Affordable Housing and the continued influx of new Residents from outside of the Area onto Canvey Island suggest that “residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island” is simply too broad a sweeping statement intended to be a means of simply granting Planning Permission to bolster the BOROUGH’s Housing Supply in an Unsuitable Location!

It would appear unusual, if not unreasonable, for a local authority to seek to increase the Urban Density by developing Green field land and intensifying Brownfield development,  supposedly under the guise of satisfying the Need of the Canvey Island Community, when in effect it simply intensifies Inward Migration, in an area specifically under the threat of both Tidal and Surface Water Flood Risk!

We eagerly look forward to learn what Resolve, Metal, Determination and hopefully Fairness, the new administration at Castle Point council are able to apply to the ongoing Local Plan process in the shadow of Government Intervention!

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

The full Decisions Decisions, Decisions post may be read HERE.

Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation Report was carried out to consider what Risk the subsoil and water table might have on development structures, such as Housing.

It found;

Geotechnical Risks*
Poor bearing capacities of the low strength / loose soils;
Aggressive ground and groundwater conditions
Shallow groundwater (possibly under tidal influence)

The High Water table found on Canvey Island is well known to residents, however what was surprising is that this water consisted of a level of saline, or sea water, content!

In effect our Sea Defence is incapable of stopping Tidal Water from penetrating UNDER the sea wall.

If these influences can be found 1 kilometre from the sea wall, how much more damaging are they to the Sea Defence itself?

The constant changes via the ground water saturation and drying processes, and the less than stable subsoil beneath the Sea Defence foundations will over time, challenge the longevity of the structure. Whilst the effects of the Tide itself is more obvious!

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The effects of the more frequent passing of larger and larger transport vessels along the Thames, requires monitoring, as does the constant dredging.

As recently as September 2017 we were reassured that these Sea Defences are “well maintained”, and whilst these images probably indicate superficial damage we have learnt that the Environment Agency have identified some areas of the Sea Defence causing them serious concerns!

The Environment Agency are known to have carried out surveying inspection works and are considering what steps are required to maintain the integrity of the Canvey Island Sea Defence.

*Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials