Tag Archives: Fox Land and Property

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

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

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

sadlersjpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case No: CO/10476/201

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

 Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Date: 17/01/2014

Before :

THE HON MR JUSTICE BLAKE

Between:

 

FOX LAND AND PROPERTY LIMITED

Claimant

 

– and –

 

 

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

-and-

CASTLE POINT BOROUGH COUNCIL

 

 

 

Defendants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glebelands proposal Rejected. But traffic, distribution of growth, affordable homes and so much more in need of discussion!

As expected the latest Glebelands proposal was rejected by the Castle Point Borough Council Development Committee, last evening.
Committee member cllr Smith, chairman of the Local Plan consultation Task and Finish (T and F) committee, issued a warning that Dev. Comm. Members that also are members of the T and F group should choose their comments carefully as the developers, Fox Land and Property, and their legal team may be provided evidence upon which they could challenge any decision.
The timing of the proposal is interesting, it appears to be throwing down a clear marker that whilst the Local Plan housing is being allocated, the Glebelands team wish their site to be involved and the latest proposal identifies the sites availability.
The site has apparently had applications for development lodged since 1953 and no doubt this may carry some weight during the Local Plan’s examination.
Whilst the committee followed the officers’ recommendation of rejection, it was clear the major defence relies upon prematurity, the fact that a Local Plan is in the process of being drawn up.
Whilst the previous Glebeland Appeal Inspector considered that the proposal should be granted the Secretary of State ruled that approval outside of the Local Plan process would not be granted.

Interestingly the “Masterplanning” initiative appears to have different relevance on the mainland compared to Canvey Island.
Did I hear someone say “Here we go Again?”

Arthur-Daley-FT

The daft Local Plan proposes to continue the higher density urbanisation that already exists on Canvey Island compared with the mainland.
In comparison with Thorney Bay and the Dutch Village, the Glebelands proposal appears almost village like.

The draft Local Plan, suggests Glebelands could see a development of 100 dwellings on a site area of 7.7 Hectares, at a density of 13 dwellings per Hectare.

Thorney Bay, a site of 21.8 Hectares, the draft Local Plan suggests to be able to be realise 600 dwellings, at a density of 27.5 per Hectare!                                                

At the same density of Glebelands this would be just  283 dwellings!

The Dutch Village, or Land East of Canvey Road, a site of 13.78 Hectares, the draft Local Plan suggests to be able to be realise 275 dwellings.                                      

At the same density of Glebelands this would be just  179 dwellings!

Bearing in mind that Canvey Island is in a Flood Zone, has two COMAH sites and affected by Waterside Farm, Canvey Way AND Sadlers Farm reasoning is needed to not only justify the differences in the density of proposed housing development across the Borough but also to increase the  population at risk!

This proposed uneven Distribution of Growth, at levels so deliberately unjustifiable, can only be considered discriminatory!

Two points that I had hoped would be discussed during the Glebelands proposal’s consideration was the indication that the affordable homes allocation appeared generous within the application paperwork and a more in depth consideration of the Highways response.

On Affordable Homes the officers commented in the Agenda papers:

“It should be noted that under the current scheme up to 35 affordable housing units (less than the original proposal) would be provided.

The level of benefit therefore accruing from this scheme is less than previously proposed,”

As a result of CPBC’s “Masterplanning” policy the Borough’s shortfall in the provision of Affordable Homes will inevitably worsen.
As a result of this “policy,” Fox are now offering a 25% allocation at Glebelands.
Less than previously that which was on offer but more than some:-
The Draft Local Plan proposes 25% allocation of affordable homes for the mainland.
The Downer Road / Felstead Road proposal offers in the region of just 10%.
Kiln Road, where the Development Committee agreed a reduction on the amount that originally formed part of the final agreement, after the development had commenced.

On Canvey, proposals for Flatted developments have revealed a preference to provide a fewer number of flats, so as to be less than the number required to provide an affordable homes allocation.

The Local Plan will have difficulty in adopting a set percentage of affordable homes allocation that will be legally binding.

On Traffic congestion the officers commented in the Agenda papers:

“County Highways
From a highway and transportation perspective the impact of the proposal is acceptable…”

sadlersjpeg Canvey crash

The very recent closures of Canvey Way, through accident and oil spill, and the resultant traffic congestion gives serious concern. Both incidents had serious effects reaching far outside of the Borough.

It highlights that the highway network does not have adequate reserve capacity to cope with ordinary incidents that, due to local road layout, turn into major incidents.
For single traffic incidents to have the capability to have such a detrimental effect on traffic flow around the south of the Borough, we have to consider very carefully the merits and effects of approving large housing development proposals.

It could be suggested that at present the Highways situation warrants a veto against any proposed large housing development in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm interchange and Waterside Farm areas until Highways consider investment is appropriate in the Benfleet / Canvey Island area.

Essex County Highways consider that the Glebelands proposal is generally acceptable, requiring some limited improvements at Tarpots.

Whilst Tarpots, Sadlers Farm, Waterside Farm and Canvey Way are considered to be adequate for the amount of current traffic usage, an examination requires to be held into the criteria and context of traffic surveys.

Not only is the amount of traffic relevant, but the effects that road traffic incidents have is equally relevant.
After all, a survey indicating xxx number of free flowing vehicles per hour, may show only xx number of vehicles per hour during congested periods following an incident.

More than likely some allowance is made, however we have seen in the subject of flooding in Castle Point, our record on recording events and incidents is almost non-existant to the point of being obstructive.

The result of ignoring these traffic incident effects in the south of the Borough, renders Canvey Way and Canvey Road ineffective as an Evacuation Route in the event of an Emergency.
The draft Local Plan requires much Editing before a final version can justify being considered to address local need!

Something’s gotta give! Green Belt + Housing Supply, local Tug of War!

Development on the Green Belt appears to be in some sort of limbo at the present. Whether this will be maintained is doubtful.

Comfort appears to be taken by some campaigners in Castle Point, at the Refusal of the Appeal for development at Bowers Gifford, a site generally opposite west Thundersley, and Glebelands in particular.

Both Castle Point, and Basildon, are reliant on out of date 1998 Local Plans whilst preparation is made on new Local Plans.

That the Castle Point new Local Plan is taking an extensive preparation period cannot be disputed. Neither can the fact that a change in the political balance of the Castle Point local authority will require a further view of the draft Plan.

It is apparent that the Secretary of State, who has recovered for determination the Glebelands and Bowers Gifford Green Belt development proposal Appeals, considers that such release of Green Belt should be a decision taken within Local Plan making rather than through the Appeal process.

A link to the SoS decision and the Appeal findings is here.

These decisions may well influence whether Persimmon’s carry through their Appeal on the Refusal for development at Jotmans Farm.

That Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and the Bowers Gifford development cause varying harm to the Green Belt is generally undisputed.

Whether the necessary special circumstances to allow development in the Green Belt exist would depend on which angle the viewpoint is taken.

What is undeniable is that there is a need for housing development.

The question is how much and where should, or must, it go?

The major difference between the Glebelands and the Bowers decisions is that in the case of Glebelands the Appeal Inspector considered that the Castle Point refusal decision should be over turned, the opposite of the Bowers Inspector’s conclusion.

What both cases had in common was in the view of both Inspectors and the Secretary of State was a lack of a 5 year housing supply.

Remember the dire warnings given by CPBC cllr Smith threatening a development free-for-all if councillors didn’t approve a 5 year housing supply ahead of the original Glebelands proposal coming before the Castle Point planning committee!

Not only did the Appeal Inspector consider that cllr Smith’s 5 year housing supply merited just 0.7 years worth of housing for the Borough, but it was proposed that he will head up the Task and Finish group reviewing the Local Plan’s consultation responses!

The findings will have some bearing on the Castle Point Local Plan making.  One positive is that the Task and Finish Group’s meeting will be in public.

The draft Local Plan has identified Glebelands as an area that Green Belt could be released to make housing possible.                                         A Planning Inspector felt, at Appeal, the development proposal should be supported.

It will be difficult to retract these previous considerations.

FLP, who proposed development at Glebelands will now I assume take an active part in the Local Plan Examination so as to support their scheme.

Remember that FLP have also legally disputed the actual existence of Green Belt within Castle Point as there is an issue with the “re-saving” of the 1998 Local Plan, as a short term fix whilst a new Plan is developed.

The new administration at Castle Point may well have their own ideas as to where best to allocate housing land and the evidence base will require re-interpreting to support any changes from the 2014 draft version. It will be interesting to observe how the new Local Plan evolves from the draft stage.

Over the previous decade little house building has taken place in Castle Point. This may be due to the 1998 Local Plan’s protection of the Green Belt or simply the national financial situation.

What we can be sure of is that the recent viability of developing on Canvey Island has acted as a constraint on the number of homes developed within Castle Point, for past records indicate that if major large development does occur, then it occurs on Canvey.

Green Belt proposal Rejected. Puzzling recommendations and Appeal Court backdrop!

The Felstead / Catherine / Downer Road development proposal, considered by the Castle Point Council Development Committee, masked many underlying concerns

Are Mainland development proposals addressed differently to Canvey Island proposals?

Over development of Canvey Island?

Over development of Canvey Island?


The previous meeting of the committee considered a proposal for a block of flats, the second on the same site, at Leige Avenue, Canvey Island.

CPBC officer introducing the Felstead Road proposal suggested that the proposal was an over development of the site and that there was inadequate car parking spaces and access issues. The officers gave eleven reasons for recommending Refusal.

Previously the very same officer, when introducing the Leige Avenue, Canvey proposal, considered that the proposal whilst indicating less car parking facilities than both CPBC and Essex County Council’s standard requirement and an access road that is too narrow for emergency and refuse vehicles to manouvere in, was worthy of a recommendation of Approval!
Fortunately the Committee disagreed with the recommendations and voted to Refuse granting permission.

The Felstead Road site is, according to the 1998 Local Plan, in Castle Point’s Green Belt.
The draft new Local Plan has only recently consulted with the Borough’s residents and businesses so as to consider making any necessary adjustments prior to publishing a final document for consultation and approval by the Council, ahead of Examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
Therefore we believe the proposal was considered under the conditions existing, the 1998 Local Plan.

Being a Green Belt site, and the CPBC officers suggesting that the necessary special circumstances were not existing to recommend allowing Approval, then the principle of development at this stage was another reason for Rejection of the proposal.

Recent judgement by the Secretary of State offered opportunities for reasons to Refuse.
Would using these reasons have compromised CPBC in the Appeal cases raised by the Glebelands and Jotmans Farm developers due to a lack of a 5 year supply?

An opportunity may have been missed by Councillors wishing to protect Castle Point’s Green Belt.

The address made by Felstead Road local resident A. Thornton, backed by the campaign group led by his wife, raised issues worthy of a response from officers as way of explanations to their concerns.
We consider it unworthy that no direct response was forthcoming, and disrespectful to local residents.

As a backdrop to all of the considerations last night, was the Fox Land and Property Appeal to the Courts, that the Glebelands Judicial Review hearing result was unsound.

FLP remain convinced that the “saving” of the 1998 Local Plan, and in particular policy GB1 (the Green Belt policy), undertaken at the withdrawal of the Core Strategy was incomplete and incorrect.

The question remains, does the Green Belt exist in Castle Point.
A High Court judge will have the “final” say.

In the meantime the proposed developers of Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and Felstead Road, by coming forward with their proposals, in effect hope to determine the locations of the CPBC Local Plan’s 5 year housing supply.

From an outside viewpoint one could not blame them following the disastrous and incompetent handling of the withdrawn unsound Core Strategy.

Ahead lies the Borough local Elections. This allows a possibility of a new council likely to make a fresh attempt at protecting Castle Point Green Belt, assuming one exists.

A delay would be caused in the Local Plan’s progress whilst a new approach is considered.

Developers will object to this, however it is not Castle Point Council’s fault that the elections have arrived at this stage of the Plan’s progress.
Local Plan’s across the country are taking time to produce, ours should be no different as it is important to get correct.

CPBC officers would by rights take an even handed approach to plan making, development proposals whether on the mainland or Canvey Island.

The Core Strategy, drawn up by officers, was exposed by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign as being influenced by political “Local Factors.”
Recent development committee officer advice appears inconsistent to the detriment of the quality of housing development on Canvey Island.

These factors lead to challenges and Appeals on local decision making, whether the Local Plan or development applications.
It is local residents that ultimately end up picking up the costs of these challenges via legal and officer costs.

Residents were reassured that a “war chest” is available to defend these Appeal challenges.

The required purchase of a “number” of Canvey town centre flats for council tenants has come from monies released from the previous sale of Council properties (?) otherwise the money would require returning to central government.

It would be interesting to know the true state of Castle Point Borough Council’s forward finances.

However, the council’s stand against the type of proposed development at Felstead Road is welcomed.

Photograph courtesy wikipedia.org

Developers Big Guns take aim at the Castle Point Green Belt and the new Local Plan!

It should have not passed the notice of those concerned at the potential loss of Green Belt on Canvey Island and Castle Point the number of major players that have submitted representations into the Local Plan consultation.

c/o stockfreeimages.com

c/o stockfreeimages.com


Representations have been received from Persimmon, Barratt Homes, Martin Dawn, Morrison’s, Redrow, Strategic Land Group, Gladman, Argent Homes, Countryside Property etc

What may have gone un-noticed, especially by mainland Green Belt campaign groups, is the potential opportunity lost by Castle Point Council by failing to complete the Core Strategy process.
At that time the RSS housing need figures were relevant, 200 dwellings per annum.
Figures now submitted by developer representatives suggest the Objectively Assessed Need could exceed 500 dwellings per annum.

There was a stage during the Core Strategy when the Inspector, examining Castle Point Council’s plan, offered the Council representatives the opportunity to alter the plan so as to release enough development sites to satisfy the 200dpa RSS figure required.

The Core Strategy was considered unsound by the Inspector fundamentally due to the local authority’s strategy of selecting the Land East of Canvey Road, Dutch Village site as the single large housing development Green Belt site, backed by brown field sites. A strategy that the Inspector accepted as being driven by “Local Factors.”

This was rightly criticised as the Dutch Village is in a Flood Zone 3A and many of the Brown Field sites were unlikely to be forth coming.

At this point the Council were given the opportunity to alter the list to include more realistic and sustainable sites for development.

This opportunity was discussed at a Councillor Conference during September 2011, and subsequently, rejected!

Now, nearly 3 years down the line, fresh information and projections are being suggested by developers’ consultants that claim the housing need numbers are far in excess of the previous levels, that Castle Point Council rejected achieving.

Instead of attempting to reach the RSS figures, 200 dwellings per annum, Castle Point now finds itself struggling to justify limiting the dwellings per annum numbers as low as 200dpa !

Future Employment potential affects the housing projections. However residents will be aware that Castle Point has failed to attract many businesses outside of the service sector, supermarkets, sandwich suppliers, replacement window suppliers and car breakers.
Hardly the type of employment that alone will support house purchase mortgages.

Submittors to the Local Plan consultation suggest that CPBC need to show evidence of attempts towards the “duty to co-operate” with other neighbouring authorities, willing to take on some of our housing need if CPBC persist in limiting capacity to the 200 dpa limit.
Inward migration needs to be accounted for and much of this is expected to come from London Boroughs.

However, London is clearly not planning to supply housing to satisfy its own need, covered in a previous post here. Unless the approach has not been made public it appears that London has not contacted Castle Point Borough Council under their own “duty to co-operate” requirement, to ascertain whether CPBC is able to accommodate some of it’s housing need as are some of our neighbouring Boroughs in criticising us.

To finish this post it is only correct to return to the initial point raised, if the CPBC had fulfilled it’s obligation under the Core Strategy for 200 dwellings per annum, they / we would not be facing this fight to prevent, at a minimum, double the number of new builds in the Borough.

If it is failed to be proven 200 dpa is a reasonable number given the constraints in the area and cansidering that 200 dpa was an option available during the Core Strategy, who will be held accountable?

Will the residents feel that it is worth fighting the housing need numbers all the way, if at the end the numbers are found to be inadequate?

The residents have been told to fear CPBC being put into designation.

I have not the knowledge on local authority matters to consider the dangers.
What is apparent is that without a Local Plan initially the Green Belt boundaries would remain intact.
Only those developers actually in a position to proceed with their proposal would be likely to file an application.
An Inspector would give approval or rejection on merit.
However, this is more likely to be approval if numbers are not reaching Objectively Assessed Needs which brings us back to one of my original points, why have Councillors allowed Castle Point to be faced with possibly finding space for 500 dwellings per annum, when the opportunity to settle for 200 dpa was available to them 3 years ago.

Hopefully we can have put in place a new Local Plan with no release of Green Belt, if not, then only suitable sustainable sites being added to the supply.

Blinking Owl ruffles a few feathers – will Castle Point Green Belt housing allocation switch or increase?

Canvey Island and Castle Point Green Belt was the subject, as a twist to the Local Plan was debated during the Council meeting last night.

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A group of ten Councillors headed by cllr Sheldon discussed a motion that moved that the Task and Finish Group (TFG), charged with reviewing the draft Local Plan consultation responses, would also be allowed to re-consider the feasibility of the “North West Thundersley Urban Extension” (Blinking Owl) coming forward for housing development ahead of the current time-frame.

The motion also requested that any “new” sites identified in the light of the Local Plan consultation should also be evaluated by the TFG.

Should the scheduling for delivery of the Blinking Owl site be able to be improved upon brings into question the impact this would have upon the Local Plan itself.
One Councillor stated the site could deliver 2,000 dwellings.
At the delivery rate CPBC believe is realistic and achievable this equates to 10 years worth of housing growth.

Access to the site is an issue that will only be resolved by overcoming Essex County Council’s objection to direct access onto main routes. Funding would probably be needed to be found to extend onto the Fairglen interchange for the site to realise the full development potential.

CIIP Councillors pointed out that the Blinking Owl site is currently in the Green Belt and as such should remain protected.

At least one mainland councillor stated his view was that the site should be considered brown field as it already contains development and in some areas is of poor appearance.
Currently appearance has no bearing on quality of Green Belt, measurement is based on function.

The NPPF considers that replacement of existing development in the Green Belt, should be restricted by Paragraph 89.
In the case of the Blinking Owl probably by the bullet point that reads:

“limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use(excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.”

However in the current UK climate over coming this obstacle would be achievable.
The Blinking Owl site being so close to the “Basildon Enterprise Zone” along with the recent saving of the Deanes School despite the recorded falling pupil numbers, may give CPBC’s Local Plan reasoning of an attempt to comply with the NPPF’s “Duty to Cooperate” requirement.

The Council Chamber’s public viewing area was full mainly with mainland residents boosted with those now concerned with the latest site identified for development, Glyders.
These residents would not be aware that Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, in their meeting with the local authority, had been told just last month by the Chief Executive that the development of the Blinking Owl site would not prevent any of the other Local Plan identified sites from being developed.

It was noted that Officers present were not called to speak to give direction during the course of the heated debate.

This development in the Local Plan process will surely cause the major developers to take notice.

None of the major developers, have submitted evidence in the Local Plan consultation, unlike the previous Core Strategy process where they were heavily involved and critical!

This suggests that they are content that the major sites named within the Local Plan for development will satisfy their requirements.

They have no doubt been assured at their pre-application meetings with CPBC that the review of the Blinking Owl site has too many un-resolved issues preventing it coming forward.
They should remind themselves that Castle Point has a poor historic record of under performance where development is concerned especially in the mainland areas.

Whilst the CIIP were prepared to stand by their – no development on green belt land – policy the body language and speeches of one or two mainland Cabinet members offered an insight into the job in hand if the Blinking Owl is to come forward.

The CIIP looked to the possibility of approaching the Government to test the possibilities of using the latest direction coming from the Secretary of State’s office regarding the protection of Green Belts.

The cabinet members putting their names to the motion were the same councillors responsible for the designing of the Local Plan. Apparently previously the thoroughness of site selection meant no stone had been unturned in their effort to find the most appropriate sites, and yet they are willing to be signatories to the motion to review the Blinking Owl and any other new sites.

Cllr Sheldon, it is clear has given his all for this cause.
One can only wish him well and hope he receives the support he deserves.

Whether this will save some of the mainland “popular” Green Belt sites we will have to wait and see. One hopes this effort is not a gesture ahead of May’s local elections.

From a Canvey Island viewpoint it is very, very doubtful that our development sites will be anywhere other than the very bottom of the list as far as offsetting Canvey’s Green Belt for development at the Blinking Owl. As cllr Tucker reminded, local factors were the reason for the failure of the previous attempt at a Local Plan.

Green Belt is Green Belt after all, and to identify another potential area is a dangerous move, especially whilst attempting to claim the Borough does not have the space to accommodate suggested housing figures.
More work needs to be done in examining the recent reasoning contained in the Secretary of State’s directions to the Planning Inspector regarding interpretation of the protection offered to Green Belts and the influencing on Local Plan making.

picture credit: dreamstime

“Master Planning” improving the Borough, or a way of blitzing the Green Belt without residents realising?

Castle Point Councillors were extolled the virtues of “Master Planning” at the Council meeting that voted through the Local Plan draft for consultation.
Master Planning we were told was a cast iron means of controlling the lay out, amenities, protection of the environment and the softening of the urban edges of the Green Belt indicated for development within the Local Plan.
As compensation for the loss of Green Belt.

Master Planning will also, so we are led to believe, give CPBC the power to limit the number of dwellings developed on each of the development sites.
For instance, Glebelands, received an application for 167 dwellings.
CPBC refused permission for the proposal to go ahead and, whilst the examining Inspector disagreed, was supported by the Secretary of State.

Now the Local Plan draft indicates Glebelands as a site for future development.
However the 167 dwellings site target has been reduced by CPBC to allow just 100 dwellings.
An indication of the benefits of Master Planning!

The Local Plan whilst recognising the need for housing growth and the release of Green Belt land so as to support this growth, will at least allow control of the appearance of the Borough to the satisfaction of its residents.

However the controlling of development site numbers will affect the supply of affordable homes.

Clearly 20%, the new lower aspirational target, of affordable homes from new development in the Borough, will be less if sites fail to reach an optimum delivery target.

The proposed 167 dwelling development at Glebelands could realise 33 affordable homes,
whereas a “Master Planned” development of just 100 dwellings will realise just 20 affordable homes!

The historic supply of affordable homes in Castle Point should be a cause for concern once the Local Plan reaches the Examination stage.

The “Master Plan” approach of the Local Plan will be tested for soundness.

Master Planning, by CPBC should also be regarded as an actual threat to the Borough’s Green Belt!

Limiting Green Belt development sites to less than the optimum number of dwellings can be considered a waste of Green Belt land.

A 40% reduction of dwellings on a development site, as in the case of Glebelands, will only lead to more Green Belt sites having to be released to make up the housing numbers, 200 per annum, required to be supplied in Castle Point.

40% is an interesting statistic.

Councillors have threatened residents that if the Local Plan is not supported, a Planning Inspector will impose a housing target of 346 dwellings per annum.

Interesting then that 346 dwellings less 40%, is roughly equivalent to 207 dwellings, the number that CPBC are suggesting is sufficient to support local need!

I have an uneasy feel about the urgency, and the bullish approach in the way the Local Plan is being promoted to the residents.

There is a likelihood that during Examination an Inspector would offer his assistance to CPBC officers in taking the Local Plan forward.
He would then suggest how more housing could be accommodated within identified sites.
The “blame” would fall squarely on the Planning Inspectorates shoulders.

More in depth evidence is required on housing need and the capacity of the Borough’s infrastructure to cope with it to support the Local Plan.
The signs do not look good for the success of the plan nor for the residents peace of mind.

Politics has once again infiltrated Castle Point Local Planning!