Tag Archives: Garden Centre

Predetermination – Interference and Planning Matters, Castle Point Council style. The Need Outweighs the Inappropriateness in our Green Belt?

Castle Point council appear to have been rattled into some inconsistency where the Local Plan and Planning matters are concerned.

Intervention over the Local Plan appears a realistic possibility, whilst Housing Need and Green Belt concerns dominate decisions.

A follower of this Blog and of Local Issues sent in this comment;

“The Government has used the Localism Act to clarify the rules on ‘predetermination’.
These rules were developed to ensure that councillors came to council discussions – on, for example, planning applications – with an open mind.
In practice, however, these rules had been interpreted in such a way as to reduce the quality of local debate and stifle valid discussion.
In some cases councillors were warned off doing such things as campaigning, talking with constituents, or publicly expressing views on local issues, for fear of being accused of bias or facing legal challenge.
The Localism Act makes it clear that it is proper for councillors to play an active part in local discussions, and that they should not be liable to legal challenge as a result.
This will help them better represent their constituents and enrich local democratic debate. People can elect their councillor confident in the knowledge that they will be able to act on the issues they care about and have campaigned on”.
I am not so sure that the Governments intention has become a reality, there is very little evidence that democratic debate is exercised at CPBC, particularly where planning on Canvey Island is concerned.

It will be imperative, or it should be, that a consistent approach is followed through Planning Policy, especially while the Government Chief Planner is taking a close interest in cpbc Local Plan affairs. One would expect this consistency to come from the top down.

Recently there have been two planning applications received that may hint at a less than consistent approach.

Firstly the proposal for the 57 bedroom Care Home at Canvey Way, Approved against Officer advice. Officers stated that amongst other reasons “the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt” and that “The application is presented to the Development Control Committee as the applicant is related to a Member of this Council”.

Unusually just ahead of the development committee meeting to consider the application, the Castle Point council leader, cllr Smith was quoted in the Echo as saying;

“The committee may think the need is enough for the plans to be passed.”

And that

“The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”

There is a recorded need for facilities of this type in the Borough, however there is also a recorded Housing Need in the Borough.

It appears that the desire locally is to develop on Previously Developed land. This is where the cpbc leader may be indicating some inconsistency.

Residents on the mainland appear concerned with the possibility of 12 Apartments, being built on the Wheelers restaurant site at Bread and Cheese Hill. This is also Green Belt and previously developed with a far more permanent structure than that exists at the Garden Centre site at Canvey Road.

As yet there has been no officer advice issued, however cpbc leader cllr Smith has himself “called in” the application, on the Grounds of Inappropriate Development in the Green Belt, so that the Development Committee can make the final decision whether to approve.

This might appear contradictory in that having publicly stated “The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”, on the Canvey Road application, to then personally call in another application, that maybe far less likely to be considered as inappropriate development in the Green Belt, just may be viewed as suggesting to his colleagues on the development committee that they should Refuse the Bread and Cheese Hill proposal.

Surely the evidence suggests that in both the case of Care Home facilities AND Housing, the need may well be “enough for the Plans to be passed.”

Policy makers may do well to set a better example if they kept their views private at crucial times for the cpbc Local Plan, and the Echo Newspaper may do well to go back to their more investigative style of journalism to add clarity to these topics.

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Tonight’s the Night – for Canvey Island’s new 57 Bedroomed Residential Care Home? “However”!

The Castle Point borough council Development Committee will tonight consider the proposal for the development of a 57 bedroomed Care Home at the junction of Canvey Road and Northwick Road.

Screenshot (11)

This proposal, within Canvey Island’s depleted Green Belt may present a few contradictory issues during debate.

“Consideration of the proposal under the provisions of the NPPF and adopted Local Plan identifies that the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which could only be justified if Very Special Circumstances could be identified,”

“The need for specialist residential accommodation has been identified as a circumstance to which consideration should be given; however, there has been no demonstration that this need can only be met on the application site. In the absence of a clear demonstration that the identified need could not be met elsewhere it is not considered that this circumstance….would justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt.”

The un-identified Need for the Care Home may be difficult to establish, given that the business already has an establishment on a Brownfield site, that it could be argued, may be suitable for renovation to provide the care offered in this new proposal.

“it is considered that the specific scale of development proposed is excessive, resulting in a building of mean and cramped appearance”

“The proposal is therefore contrary to Government guidance as contained in the NPPF.”

The site, currently contains a Garden Centre consisting of basically a large “Green House” style building and wooden canopies to shelter plants. Council officers argue, presumably using imagination, that these they consider “permanent” buildings, in support of the new proposal!

Directly connected to the proposed site is “To the north the site is adjoined by a detached two storey dwelling beyond which is a bungalow and some 112m further to the north, the Dutch Cottage, a Grade II Listed building. 

To the west the site is bounded by open land designated an Ancient Landscape and Wildlife site (West Canvey Marshes Nature Reserve) and used, in part, for the grazing of horses.” 

Given the Approach to development within Castle Point’s Green Belt of late by the local authority on both a Policy level and at Development Committee  level, this proposal may provide some extra confusion to the mix!

Only recently ex-councillor J. King was granted permission for Equestrian facilities consisting of bricks and mortar stables and offices, within the Green Belt.

Contrastingly the need for Housing both market priced and affordable, is proven to exist within the Borough, yet this is denied Approval.

Care MUST be taken in the decision making to establish consistency.

Further, the suitability for a Residential Care Home, within such a small Borough, within an area at Risk of Flooding, should be a serious “consideration”!

The site is opposite an industrial estate with adjoining and nearby roads, Roscommon Way and Northwick Road, the subject of local residents complaints over Noise.

The proposal is also of some considerable size, especially compared to the existing “buildings” on site.

Confusion will be added to debate when the “position” of our previous Local Plans are touched upon. The Adopted 1998 Local Plan is out of date, the Core Strategy is “dead”, the 2014 and 2016 Local Plans are both “withdrawn”, whilst the 2018 hasn’t yet finalised consideration of the Consultation stage!

Most recent development committee decisions have attempted to comply with the proposed non development of so called “virgin Green Belt”, despite the decision in favour of ex-councillor J. King.

The site for the Care Home proposal has been proposed to be included in the most recent draft Local Plan’s. However the 2018 Local Plan is at a development stage, likely to be criticised by an Inspector well ahead of any decision.

Given that the 2 large Green Belt sites in the borough, Jotmans Farm and Glebelands, were both Refused permission  by cpbc officers and committee, and on Appeal also Refused by the Secretary of State on grounds that a decision would be Premature whilst a Local Plan was being produced by the local authority, it may appear “confusing” for a site proposed for inclusion in the 2018 Local Plan, to be decided upon ahead of the new Local Plan’s publication.

A new Local Plan, under close scrutiny from the Government’s Chief Planner, may be better used for Housing or indeed returned to the Green Belt. An interesting proposal indeed.

Whilst this proposal is not exactly the same as either the Jotmans and Glebelands cases we can expect to hear a few “However’s” from the cpbc Case Officer during tonight’s discussion!

Illustration Copyright: Brian Davison estates