Tag Archives: Flood Risk

Local Plan – is it “Coming Home”, or Not? Roll up, Roll Up! Two Plans for the Price of just One – Castle Point’s Never had it so Good!

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents are being asked to add their opinions and thoughts to the latest Local Plan 2018 consultation process.

Town Centre
This is despite the fact that the Secretary of State, through the opinion of the Government’s Chief Planner, has yet to decide whether Castle Point council are deemed willing and capable of completing the Local Plan publication process themselves to the point of adoption!

The whole Castle Point Local Plan process is being carried out in a Rush under the threat of Intervention!

This despite the Secretary of State’s own office taking from 18 December 2015, when the Inspector issued his report into the Jotmans Farm housing Appeal inquiry, until the 21st April 2017, 16 whole months, to come to a decision. Apparently no hurry then to come to a planning decision, until an Election was imminent.

Residents entering the LP2018 process will note that there isn’t a Local Plan to actually consider, instead there are 2 !

Two Local Plans, from a single Evidence Base!

This shows, as Canvey Islanders should by now be aware, how “Local Factors” and politics can distort and manipulate the contents of Local Plans!

According to the cpbc Chief Executive officer up to 100,000 consultees are invited to respond, despite the 2011 population of Castle Point being just 88,011 and many of these being young children. this may lead to the Consultation response rate being skewed low! Previous response rates have been around just 12%

These Low response rates can lead to distortions of the “Feed Back” by the cpbc officers and our elected representatives. Previously, through these influences, we have seen Housing Growth directed onto Canvey Island despite Flood Risk being an issue, and the reduction of Housing Numbers, due to the concerns over Green Belt loss.

These influences on the Housing Growth have chiefly been in response to mainland residents concerns, indicated through the previous draft Local Plans consultations.

In recent times we have witnessed the pressure of residents and mainland councillors protest be successful in the prevention of the proposed Essex County Council closure of the Deanes school. This was strengthened by the cpbc chief executive’s supporting statement that there was to be a large Housing development site in the surrounding area, residents of which would be attending the Deanes to bring the attendance numbers nearer ECC expectations.

In contrast Canvey’s Castle View school, serving the most densely urbanised part of Castle Point and South Benfleet, was simply Closed!

A public facility closed, and sold off to a sectarian private enterprise.

The Paddocks, allowed to deteriorate despite money being available some years ago for improvements with a top up from CPBC funds, is now seen as a potential Housing development site.

If Canvey Island residents are tired of being dictated to, they must take the trouble to involve themselves in the Consultation.

This is crucial as, not only will a low response rate allow certain councillors to suggest that he, or she represents the “silent majority”, but will allow a potential disastrous Local Plan to emerge just so that it may appear CPBC are compliant with the 2 new strategic “Quango’s”, the “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) and the “Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”!

Dalliance with either or both will lead to major growth changes, both in population from the 90,000 dwellings across the area and traffic especially locally, with no infrastructure improvements. Canvey Island, purely due to its situation will always remain an outpost. However many people are managed to be housed here, little infrastructure will be forthcoming simply because we are in Austere times.

Infrastructure requires maintenance, ECC are not looking to spend more on maintenance!

For all of the Canvey Island Petitions and Referendum the past has proved that election words and promises are cheap, we need to accept that due to our location, the area is seen as Developable, whether Housing, Business or Industrial, yet little benefit or financial return is gained by Infrastructure improvements.

As it stands your Local plan consultation response, in the first instance, will be weighed against mainland responses.

If you  as a Canvey resident consider;

that Canvey Island has become over developed to the point that New Large Housing development sites are unviable,

that the Traffic Issues mean the potential congestion is unreasonable,

that Tidal Flood Risk is not taken seriously enough when distributing Housing Growth,

that the whole of the increasing Urbanised area of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area and the ever increasing development is putting too greater strain on the drainage system,

that the Road Access is inadequate for the current population, many of whom commute, and unsuitable and especially inadequate in the event of an Emergency Evacuation,

that in a severe Emergency, whether Flood Risk or Industrial, the sheer number of Residents on Canvey Island and the island’s location, mean that any response by the Emergency Services will be inadequate and a Danger to Life, despite responders best efforts,

that our Green Spaces and Green Belt are important to our well-being and should NOT be developed,

that our Town Centre is badly in need of Regeneration and Re-development and under serious threat from out of town shopping areas,

then you really should make the effort to Log onto the Castle Point council website and respond to the Consultation.

Otherwise it will be left to the Government, Council officers and the majority mainland representatives to impose on us “their” Local Plan.

To add your thoughts and concerns to the cpbc Local plan Consultation, log on HERE.

To view the documentation, log on HERE.

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To Intervene or to Not Intervene, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, as Simple Minded and Disobedient Canvey Folk suffer, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.

Much will be read and disclosed over the next year or so, when it will be wondered whether the June 2018 decision by Castle Point council, to rush into a Local Plan schedule, with the prospect of a New Local Plan approved by Council for publication by November followed by submission to the Inspectorate in April 2019, or alternatively to face the prospect of Government Intervention, is the best path to tread, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

And so it was, when the cpbc chief executive, the council leader and his deputy, stated the case for cpbc seeking to retain control of its Local Plan making, rather than allow Intervention from the Government Planner.

The councillors and residents were not permitted an address from the Government chief planner, choices and their consequences were expressed only third hand delivered by the cpbc triumvirate.

But whilst keeping control of the Local Plan process is in the very best interests of parts of the mainland, is it also in the best interests of Canvey Island, a reasonable question to ask?

Harking back to the Core Strategy we exposed a Plot by the “Ruling” mainland party to sacrifice Canvey’s Dutch Village Green Belt site, as the sole Green Belt site released for development, so as to appease their mainland concerns and allow publication of a cpbc Core Strategy, local plan!

We remember well, the mainland residents Green Belt campaign group, during the council Task and Finish group meeting, standing to address council members confirming that they agreed and supported the Plan “in its entirety!”

Where was the “united” Borough then?

When the Core Strategy was rejected by the Examining Inspector due to the unreasonable Housing Growth Distribution and the Dutch Village site being, a Green Belt site within a Flood Risk Zone, the cpbc ceo made sure that the Dutch Village remained within the list of Green Belt sites for development, whilst adding some mainland sites to meet the Housing Need of the Borough, within the 2014 daft Local Plan!

Of course the retention of the Canvey Dutch Village site, despite the Inspector’s opinion, meant that one large mainland site would be saved from development.

Now by returning to the 2014 draft local Plan as a starting place for the 2018 Local Plan, concerns return as to whether it is intelligent and responsible for Canvey residents to put their faith, as we are being told and advised so to do, within the “Ruling” party’s successful motion to Control the 2018 local Plan.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

The threat has been delivered and something terrible may still apparently happen!

We are reminded that the Dutch Village site is owned by Persimmon, implying that this would speed the process through Planning resulting in an early supply of Housing, For The Borough!

Meanwhile, the more lucrative development sites elsewhere in the Borough would, following this logic, remain undeveloped for longer, especially when the ongoing development of approximately 900 Sandy Bay Park Homes, also on Canvey Island, are put into the equation!

This may encourage some conspiracy theory, has the call for sites from cpbc entailed dealings between officers members and developers as to which site or sites would be released in which order, specifically if the developer were to agree to initially focus on Dutch Village first?

As it stands in practise cpbc focus on applying constraints on development in the so called “virgin” Green Belt areas of the Borough. Canvey Island Flood Risk is also applied to the constraints so as to limit numbers, but that constraint is applied to housing Need numbers across the whole Borough, rather than Canvey Island in particular!

Making cpbc’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test simply contrived and, a Farce!

But can Canvey residents be certain that the Government Planner would apply to Canvey Island, the supposed Constraints on Housing Development such as Flood Risk, the threat to what remains of its Green Belt and the Hazardous Industrial sites any less fairly than the cpbc “Ruling” party and officers?

Especially going by their proven Local Planning track record!

Under Cllr Riley’s regime Canvey fared better than during any of the previous attempts at Plan making.

Now Cllr Riley has been side lined by the Triumvirate now in control, and previously chiefly responsible for the 2014 daft Local Plan, despite two of them apparently also claiming to support the 2016 Plan’s attempt to constrain the borough’s Housing Numbers!

To mainlanders these thoughts may sound pessimistic and overly cautious, however being fed rumours and not having the access to decision makers that some residents appear to have, however furtive, leads to a lack of an Open and Transparent Local Plan process.

Faith in Leaders must be Earned, Blind Faith is a dangerous option.

PLANING-APPEAL-SIGN

 

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!

Canvey Island, Flooding, Over-Development, Local Plan, draft NPPF Consultation and the National Flood Forum. Unrest Grows!

Canvey Island, is synonymous with Flooding.

rebecca_harris_mp_flood_free_homes

Despite the tragedy of 1953, the major Surface water Flooding of 2014 and other similar events, Canvey is cynically treated as a “Special Case”. This is so that Housing Development, Park Home expansions can continue unabated.

These new homes are sold to unsuspecting buyers, with little reference as to the likely problems in obtaining House Insurance against Flooding on New Builds, since January 2009.

All so that the expectations of a New Local Plan are fulfilled.

The Castle Point Council Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, undertaken by Scot Wilson to comply with the demands of the failed Core Strategy in 2010, identified Canvey Island being “At Risk” from Flooding!

Consequently a Reason had to be “invented” so as to permit all, from Small to Large site Housing Development on Canvey. CPBC’s officers, at the behest of certain councillors, cosied up to the Environment Agency and the Strategic Flood Risk assessment was Distorted to permit continued over development!

Since then no developments are Rejected in principle by cpbc on Flood Risk grounds. CPBC claim that for development to serve, and the continued growth of Canvey Island, the development MUST be ON Canvey Island. As though Castle Point is a massive Borough divided by language barriers and with miles of sea between us and the mainland!

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has recently been consulted upon. We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group, have monitored the submissions, especially where Flood Risk is concerned.

We found that the group known as the National Flood Forum have submitted comments that identified issues most relevant to Canvey Island.

And that if our local authority “Ruling Party” and our new leader, are unwilling to truly represent Canvey Island Residents, at least the National Flood Forum have quite capably stated OUR Position

We make no apologies for this being a long read, but we ask you to at the very least skim through it and allow the relevant issues trigger something in your mind, if you were affected in 1953, 2013, 2014 or have been concerned or affected by Flooding at any stage.

The NPPF Consultation has closed, however we have failed to discover a published response to the consultation from Castle Point Borough Council, perhaps one of our councillors may be able to direct us to the document, if it exists.

The National Flood Forum’s submission the draft NPPF consultation, with highlighted passages of some significance to Canvey residents, reads:

The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding. We do this by:
1. Supporting people to prepare for flooding
2. Helping people to recover their lives if they have been flooded
3. Working with government and agencies to ensure that they develop a community perspective when addressing flooding issues

As part of the flooded community, the National Flood Forum is a charity that supports communities to tackle the things that matter to them; creating hope and reducing the fear of flooding; helping people to work together to reduce flood exposure and its impacts, both physical and emotional. Over 300 flood groups are affiliated to the National Flood Forum and this response has been developed from their many comments.

The National Flood Forum regularly deals with a range of scenarios:
1. New developments that have flooded or which are likely to flood because, for example, SuDS measures are at capacity under normal weather conditions, or sites have been built on areas that are waterlogged
2. Developments which have apparently caused flooding elsewhere, or are likely to
3. Planning applications and decisions that do not make use of local knowledge of flood risk issues
4. Development planning that does not make use of local knowledge

The result is that people become extremely fearful of the future, distrustful of those in authority. This can appear as either apathy or combative behaviour.
“We had a housing estate built up in Eyam and they concreted over a large natural drainage point. And that’s in the Peak Park which is supposedly highly regulated. It’s a shambles. If you have a lot of money you can do what you want.”

Caterham Flood Action Group are also angry:
Hey “To briefly explain, our community has been blighted by surface water flooding for over twenty years, development has continued, responsibilities have been fractured, affecting maintenance (tantamount to neglect) of the delicate drainage infrastructure leaving residents in fear of precipitation.

On the 7th June 2016, after campaigning and complaining for almost two decades, the great storm wreaked havoc, destroying homes, devastating families, trapping our vulnerable and elderly neighbours for hours without power, as rivers of raw sewage flowed into our homes, through the streets of Surrey across the administrative border into a London Borough (contrary to the draft London plan, Policy Si12 B, which states ‘Boroughs should co-operate and jointly address cross-boundary flood risk issues including with authorities outside London’).

The CFAG must question if measures really are in place to guarantee that councils on the edge of the London Basin are considering the quality and capacity of the infrastructure ‘downstream’.

Paragraphs 154 – 163 of the Draft NPPF are an improvement on previous versions. But Caterham Flood Action Group, and others, do not believe that the Draft NPPF addresses their concerns that people will be put at risk of flooding.

In particular, policies and guidelines need to be much more ambitious if we are to create places that people will want to live in, that are adaptive to the future (such as being able to absorb more development) and where people feel safe.

Policies need to be translated in to action and many of the concerns from Flood Action Groups are that even the existing policies are being ridden over roughshod, with no recourse for affected communities.

The National Flood Forum strongly refutes the notion that flood risk can be outweighed by the economic benefits to the community and does not reflect the absolute misery flooding problems can cause to those involved.

The current wording in the draft NPPF virtually establishes that flooding is acceptable and provides opportunities for those who wish to find loopholes to do so. If development impacts even on a handful of households/properties, then it’s not a benefit to the community. For example, words such as “safe” in paragraph 154 are ambiguous. Whilst no one can ever be without flood risk, the wording here and in wider guidance needs to reflect community perspectives on safety, risk and what it means to feel resilient.

Data from the Association of British Insurers shows that 50% of insurance claims for properties flooded during the winter of 2015/16 were from areas that had not been identified by the public or private sectors as being at risk of flooding. In previous years the figure was sometimes higher (80% in 2007) and never lower, indicating that our understanding of flood risk and the flood risk maps available only cover a proportion of the risk. Surface water, groundwater and combined risks in particular are poorly understood.

For these two reasons greater stress should be placed in the NPPF on the rigour that is required to assess flood risk through all forms of Food Risk Assessments.

The biggest complaint from Flood Action Groups across England is that people’s local knowledge about their area is ignored, resulting in poor decisions about their future. People frequently have knowledge about their local area that professionals do not; details about previous flooding incidents, underground drainage, old drainage systems, etc. Modellers will frequently say that their modelling work simply produces useful tools and does not represent the real world exactly.

It will often lack local information to put in to the model and the parameters through which the model works will have limitations on the accuracy of what results. However, in the planning system models are often regarded as the absolute truth in the decision-making process and other evidence ignored. Communities regularly complain that this is the case. This can include information about local drainage patterns and historic flooding incidents through to the routes of major flow channels, groundwater levels and sea level rise. Therefore, development plans and planning applications should demonstrate how they have listened to local voices and how those views have been taken in to account in developing proposals. In particular they should demonstrate how triangulation has occurred between modelling, local knowledge and other forms of evidence to arrive at the most reasonable answers.

Paragraph 156) demonstrates an improved level of ambition, but not significant enough if we are to tackle flood risk seriously. The example from Shipston in Warwickshre below illustrates the point:
“The NPPF requires new developments to achieve ‘flood neutrality’ as a minimum i.e. that water run off post development should be no worse than the pre-developed site.
We work with our Town Council and the developers in negotiating better than flood neutrality at or before the planning stage and have had some success in getting their drainage strategies to achieve betterment – in most cases within the range of 25/40%.
With modern SUDS systems, their creative application and a willingness to meet improved objectives this is perfectly achievable at relatively low, if any, ‘on cost’ and of course the whole concept of betterment is essential with the increasing pressures brought about by adverse climate change trends and as a community support programme by developers.

We are concerned that the present policy is simply not ambitious enough and consider that a policy of betterment should replace the current ’neutrality’ policy.
Further, whatever the policy, specific local ground and geological conditions should be taken account of when determining the adequacy of drainage strategies by the LPA’s.
In our area Warwickshire clay is the predominant soil type and is almost completely impermeable so a literal ‘greenfield’ site in this area will already have a pre-existing high level of surface water runoff.

Further, should such ‘greenfield’ site have been used for grazing it will be highly compacted making the situation even worse.
Even further, should the site be sloping down to other developed areas great care needs to be taken to design a drainage strategy that absolutely reduces run off compared with the pre-existing situation.

Finally, the requirement that developments of less than 10 dwellings do not need LLFA oversight in giving guidance to the LPA (if different) should be reduced as it seems clear that developments of 9 or less are deliberately introduced perhaps to circumvent properly qualified scrutiny.
At present, it appears that the LPA’s simply have to check that a drainage strategy meets the NPPF guidelines which, in the circumstances described above, would likely be completely inadequate.

Once new developments are built to inadequate drainage standards in their specific local context there is no going back so this consultation is a once off opportunity to address the issue and build better resilience for the future into such developments.”

Para 158 a) contains an assertion that where there is no other option it is acceptable for a development to take precedence over people’s lives, however traumatic the outcomes might be. This is simply not acceptable and should be deleted. Developments that put people or their neighbours at a significant risk of them being flooded should not be built, whatever the pressure for new housing. Areas in Flood Zone 3, where there is significant groundwater (such as permanently within 150 cm of the surface) or significant drainage limitations should not be built on.

Where there are wider societal benefits identified, the risks of any new development should be transparent, so that businesses, infrastructure providers can make judgements about the level of risk that they are prepared to accept.

Para 160 – footnote 41. The site-specific flood risk assessment should triangulate modelling, local knowledge and other evidence. The assessment should proactively seek out local knowledge and demonstrate how this is used to develop an overall assessment. Guidance should be updated.

A common failing of current developments is that drainage plans are developed after the site layout has been determined. Retrofitting a drainage plan to a site can be difficult and lead to inferior results. Drainage plans should be submitted for all outline planning applications and should detail measures to manage water during the construction phase. The example from Charlton Flood Action Group, Worcestershire below illustrates the point.

“The Plan [South Worcestershire Development Plan] does not make any reference to the Environment Agency designated “Rapid Response Catchments” of which the Merry Brook is a very High risk one.
To minimise future flood risk in these particular vulnerable catchments we believe the plan should make reference to these Catchments and further that when any development/planning application is being agreed in these catchments that the conditions of planning should require that:
• Any flood prevention schemes should be put in place prior to the development of houses and other infrastructure being commenced. (During the last few years the development of the housing estate at Hampton, Evesham was commenced with top soil being stripped off the land. Those living in Charlton noticed that the water levels in the Merry brook increased far more quickly due to water running draining off the site. It was only when we started complaining that thought was given to installing the retention ponds and there was then a further delay until weather conditions were suitable).
• That in these catchment areas the water run off levels should be half the normal levels allowed. This should be achieved either by reducing water run-off levels or where this is not possible by the developers installing recommended schemes suggested by the Environment Agency – such as ponding on water courses.
• That all suggestions recommended by the Environment Agency should be installed. (At the Hampton development the Environment Agency had suggested that some ponding take place on the Merry Brook to help reduce water flows. This suggestion was totally ignored).
• That on small / single developments where planning consent is being sought that water run-off be considered and reduced to a minimum. Should there be a small water course running through the site then ponding/other means to reduce the flow should be installed.
• That any work on Highways in Rapid response catchment areas should also involve the installation of measures to reduce the flow of water into water courses.”

161 a) It is difficult to imagine situations where “overriding interest” applies. This clause should be removed, otherwise it will be used to push through inappropriate developments. The overriding concern must be for the wellbeing of people.

161 e) There is some confusion amongst Risk Management Authorities as to which organisation should comment on this aspect of planning applications. This needs clarification
Note 42 does not adequately cover the risks posed by surface water, ground water and combined sources. With at least 50% of flooding incidents involving surface water, this aspect needs particular attention to ensure that people are kept safe, whereas the focus of attention in the guidance is on fluvial flooding because that is where the better evidence base is. Surface and groundwater risks are often highly localised, but the trauma that is caused can be significant because often there is no scheme available that meets benefit cost criteria for investment. Rapid response catchments pose a particular risk. The result is that people continue to suffer without the prospect of ever escaping from the threat. In addition, the National Flood Forum’s experience is that people are increasingly finding it difficult to sell their home, restricting their ability to change employment, move closer to family, etc. Therefore Note 42 should explicitly refer to areas of high surface water and ground water risk, combined sources of flooding and rapid response catchments. The quote from the Food Action Group in South Woodford Ferrer, Essex, illustrates the point:
“We are currently doing our best as a voluntary group to try to alleviate a recurring fluvial/sewage flood in our local area. We are now in 2018 and still do not appear to be able to assist the residents of our town to have a better quality of life. Funding issues and OFWAT regulations leave local residents baffled as to what they can do to resolve this horrendous flood and sewage discharge situation. These flooding events appear to be occurring every 2 years (2012-2014-2016) ….surely this can’t be right? We do understand that funding is a problem but by working together we should be able to come up with a solution for these poor people living with the prospect of a significant flood every time there is a heavy rain fall.”

An area may be in Flood Risk zone 1 but at very high risk from surface water. However, reference to Flood Zone 1 will frequently allow developers to push through schemes in very high surface water risk. The point is well made by Caterham Flood Action Group:
“The Draft NPPF supports small sites being identified, essentially promoting ‘garden grabbing’, to reiterate we’re aware of the need for homes BUT in a surface water flood risk areas, we can confirm this has had devastating results over the decades, hence the need for SuDs in ALL development and retrofitting (refer to 1.2). YET 71) resists ‘inappropriate development in residential gardens, where development would cause harm’… But as we’re technically in a ‘flood zone 1’, on paper there’s NO risk, therefore development is be permitted (refer to 3.3), hence the desperate need to ensure policy guidance is ‘joined up’”

163 Minimal operational standards for Sustainable Urban Drainage systems should go beyond normal and projected normal rainfall events, with or without taking account of climate change projections. Whilst systems are unlikely to cater for every eventuality, they should be designed to cater for abnormal events, occasions where soil moisture levels are full and a series of events over a short period of time.
In some areas SuDS schemes will be inappropriate due to high water tables or permanently waterlogged soils. It may be possible to pump dry sites, but this has carbon emission issues and pumps failure does happen. In these cases, it is especially important to have a full and detailed drainage plan.
Developments currently have a right to connect to sewerage and drainage infrastructure. The National Flood Forum experience is that this may place other people at higher risk of flooding and we deal with people whose homes may not have flooded for 40-50 years, but who suddenly find that they flood every couple of years or more frequently with sewage once a development takes place. Sewerage and drainage undertakings must have the ability to refuse to connect to new developments where appropriate infrastructure is not currently in place.

Many of the issues and concerns that people in communities have relate to the skillsets and resources in drainage and flood risk management in local authorities, particularly planning authorities. These are hugely variable. It is important that Lead Local Flood Authority and Planning authorities have a qualified flood risk managers and drainage engineers to support the planning development and control process. In many cases the lack of the skills to critically examine proposals and applications has led to a failure to spot problems or allowed poor design. Whilst not a consideration for the NPPF, it is a major component of the many failures to see it applied appropriately.

Enforcement is a concern for many communities. Where there is unauthorised development or where there are planning conditions, it is a common experience that these are not enforced effectively, leading to increased flood risk for occupants and/or neighbours. The quote below from a flood group in Essex illustrates the problem:
“As regards, unauthorised development, the local authority (XXX District Council) does not seem to have adequate staff to deal with this by planning enforcement.”
Communities have sometimes worked with developers to bring forward better designs, using their local knowledge. The willingness of developers to engage meaningfully with communities has been very variable, with markedly different approaches even within the same settlement. There should be an expectation in the NPPF for developers to work with communities meaningfully to develop better designs delivering multiple benefits, rather than just running a consultation.

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 New Access Road, and the Promised Yachting Marina just a Dream! Any wonder Islanders take a Pinch of Salt with the Promises?

It is usual prior to Elections that Canvey Island residents are subject to certain infrastructure Promises from Castle Point Lead Group representatives.

This year has been slightly different in that Little, if Anything, has been raised about the proposed new access road to Canvey Island, via the Manor way to the promised land that is Thurrock!

Waterside Farm

Waterside Roundabout – Unusually clear!

Even though the Leader cllr Riley did touch upon no Housing prior to improved Infrastructure in an Echo interview, this was under the duress of imminent Government Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan process.

More Telling with respect of Road Infrastructure and new Access to Canvey Island is contained in a personal response from Essex County Council (ECC) regarding unadopted Roads.
The ECC made perfectly clear the dire straits they feel they are in where finance for Highways is concerned.

It appears that even if Government finances were made available to construct a new Canvey Island Access Road, ECC may well be extremely reluctant to go ahead with the road’s construction, due to it being their responsibility to maintain!

Essex County council wrote;
“we have limited funds available to maintain those areas for which we actually are responsible.”

Canvey Island Residents should really be far more sceptical where promises from both Essex County Council AND Castle Point Council are concerned.

We, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign were subjected to fanciful promises from no less than a team headed by the Castle Point Chief Executive and two Senior “professional” Officers, when it was arranged for us to meet following our successful Referendum on protecting Canvey Island’s Green Belt in the summer of 2009.

Having made clear to the cpbc representatives that, by a 99%+ majority, Canvey Residents were concerned over the cpbc plans to develop Housing on the Island’s few remaining patches of Green Belt, we were treated to a presentation of the proposed RSPB site on Canvey West Marsh and then an attempted engagement over the planned redevelopment of the Town Centre!

This we had to rudely interrupt the meeting over as they were distracting asides, only to then hear of cpbc’s intentions to convert the OIKOS hazardous Industrial site – into a Yachting Marina !!!

“The Council has a long‐term ambition to see operations at the Hazardous Installations at South Canvey cease, improving the safety of existing and future residents living on Canvey Island.”

“With regard to the deliverability of this ambition, the council’s Policy CP9 is a long term policy which looks beyond 2020 to a time when dependence on gas imports and fossil fuels in general is significantly reducing.”

The levels of intelligence that Castle Point Council credit Canvey Islanders with is woefully inadequate and insulting.

It is undoubtedly this arrogance that has taken cpbc to the threshold of Government Intervention following 3 attempted publications of a Local Plan, each ignominiously either forced into Withdrawal or Rejection, further endangering the Borough’s Green Belt and increasing the levels of population at Risk of Flooding or Industrial Accident.

Update.

Since this Post was published, an election leaflet has been delivered from the controlling group. 

It states that “Plans for the final stage of Roscommon Way are in progress.” and our MP and her colleagues “are demanding Government funds the third access road”.

Photograph Courtesy: Echo Newspaper and Google 

Canvey Housing to replace Garages. The Borough’s Housing takes Priority although Officers need to Get a Grip of Fact over Fiction!

It might be Funny, if it wasn’t Canvey Island!

More Canvey Development will be the Agenda, for the Castle Point planning committee this week. This time demolish garages and replace with 4 houses at Church Close, Canvey.

This time around the Development Applicant is Castle Point Borough Council themselves!

Canvey Big Local £1 million

Fair enough, the Borough needs Housing and we have the Chief Planner to please, if Intervention is to be avoided. However the context may be worthy of some consideration in this instance.

Church Close, Canvey Island, falls within the “Canvey Big Local” area, the area allotted £1,000,000 as an area in west Canvey with social and deprivation issues.

“The area does suffer from some levels of deprivation with approximately 38% of children under 16 being classed as ‘in poverty’ compared to 18% on average for both Castle Point and Essex and 5.9% of households within the area deemed to be in fuel poverty.

Residents have reported that a key issue for them is crime and antisocial behaviour.” 

The thought did occur that the land the garages are sited on might have been better used as an area the “Canvey Big Local” scheme might have been able to utilise for the betterment of the youth of the area rather than Housing, especially as the garages are little used and must bring in little income to the local authority.

But Housing Numbers for the Borough is the tunnel vision focus and Canvey must take more is the order of the day!

Taking this focus forward cpbc case officer comments;

“The 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. 

Taking these factors into account it is considered that the ‘catchment’ for the sequential test ought to be drawn around the boundaries of Canvey Island, the whole of which is within Flood Zone 3, so there are no reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding, and the application is considered to pass the sequential test.”

Some might suggest a little bit of a “giveaway” that council members have at some stage exerted their own preferred policy over officers’ ethical planning guidance.

Bordering on the comical is the case officer’s attempts to justify his/her decision Advice for committee members!

“The Flood Risk Assessment contains structural calculations at Appendix B, however, notwithstanding the illegible handwriting, it does not appear that these contain a non-technical summary explaining what the calculations demonstrate.

If members decide to grant planning permission, a condition is necessary to require the developer to submit demonstration that that the buildings will be able to withstand the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures likely to act upon them in modelled flood events.”

“The proposed surface water drainage strategy states that attenuated discharge will take place to the existing surface water drainage infrastructure. The planning authority are aware that ground conditions in the area (clay soils) are fairly impermeable which means that infiltration techniques are unlikely to work effectively. There are no surface water bodies on or in the vicinity of the site which could receive surface water from the proposed development and the drainage of surface water to the surface water sewer would therefore seem to be an appropriate option.
The site is not considered to be at risk of flooding from other sources except from surface water. This form of flooding can be a problem on Canvey Island, although the site is not highlighted as a particular hot spot.

The proposed discharge rate is, however, not known, and there is no demonstration of permission in principle from the relevant water authority to connect to the surface water drainage infrastructure”

In normal circumstances one would expect finalised plans for flooding to be included in the proposal, especially as cpbc are the applicant and supposedly being fully experienced and informed of such local matters, rather than allowing plans to follow as a Condition!

All looking very Professional so far then?

So, being in a socially deprived area, what form of Housing would improve matters?

Certainly not Housing that offers;

“There are no first floor windows in the rear or other side elevations.

The proposed dwellings would be located 1m from the rear boundaries of the existing properties”

Will this standard of Housing do anything to alleviate the socio economical blight of the area?

And if this wasn’t all embarrassing enough, remember in this case Castle Point Council themselves are the Applicant, the proposal’s paperwork uses the withdrawn and ridiculed 2010 Core Strategy as evidence to support this application;

“The Castle Point Borough Council Core Strategy outlines a housing requirement of 5,000 new homes between April 2001 and March 2026. Most of the requirements can be meet by housing provision in the urban area, particularly town centres, main route corridors and other undeveloped land. However, it is not considered possible to meet the entire boroughs housing needs from the above sources, particularly on Canvey Island.

The proposed site although not in an allocated development area is surrounding by housing and lies equidistant to the proposed development areas of ‘East of Canvey Road’, Castle View School’ and ‘Canvey Town Centre’. The site can be considered a windfall site.”

The Core Strategy document is something even cpbc refer to as: “It should be noted that the Submission Core Strategy does not represent Council policy.”

Stand by for more committee member Hand Ringing tomorrow as they reluctantly give their Approval!

No, You Really Could Not Make It Up!