Tag Archives: good news story

Canvey Island the promised Land? “Good News” stories abound, but oh so Rarely come into Fruition! Canvey Way dualling, Roscommon Way, Somnes Ave widening, 3rd Access Road, Canvey 6 Point Plan, etc, etc, etc,,,,

Let’s consider one or two other high profile Castle Point promised “Good News” Stories that never came to fruition;

The Castle Point council 1998 Adopted Local Plan aspired to :-

A130 Canvey Way dualling / Upgrading of Canvey Way to dual carriageway standard between Sadler’s Farm and Waterside Farm roundabouts and the creation of a grade separated junction at Sadlers Farm Roundabout

More recent failed infrastructure good news stories;

The failure of the aspiration of the “Essex Local Transport Plan” with regards to the provision of the completion of Roscommon Way from Haven Road to the Western Esplanade.

Compounded by the extensive development in this part of Canvey, the failure to complete the Roscommon Way infrastructure, has brought vehicle movement from east – west via the Long Road area to a complete stand still, particularly at peak times. Long Road services a large number of side streets Schools and Commerce facilities.

Air quality in this area has previously been found to be directly compromised by the failure of the highway network to support traffic volume. Traffic movement schemes that improve the situation of Long Road Canvey Island are now beyond practicality.

Emergency Planning and Failure to secure a third road.

Yet another Good News Story literally flogged to death!

The likelihood of flooding of the access routes to and from Canvey Island will increase, following sea level rise.

Access to Canvey Island is currently only possible by two roads (A130 and B1006), both of which are connected to the same roundabout. Any disruption to these routes would hamper evacuation and severely limit access to the industrial areas on Canvey Island, including potential disruption to gas terminals and oil storage depots. This could have significant implications for the national economy since Canvey Island is one of the main gas distribution centres for the UK

Failure to secure the necessary surface water infrastructure funding. Another Good News Story that failed to materialise.
Remember this, the :-

“Canvey Island Six Point Plan”

“On 30th November 2015, a delegation from the Partnership including Rebecca Harris MP presented the Canvey Island 6 – Point Plan to Rory Stewart Government Minister with responsibility for Flooding.

The report summarises the work undertaken by the Partner organisations since the flood events in July 2014 and set out how Central Government funding would be used.

A summary of the Actions is set out below:

1. Action: Property Level Flood protection for @ 15k homes(@40k residents) Cost: £500,000
2. Action: Dredge reprofile and maintain Canvey Lake Cost: £2,000,000
3. Action: Increase Drainage Infrastructure Capacity Cost: £16,000,000
4. Action: Canvey Resilient Communities Programme Cost: £2,000,000
5. Action :Dredge reprofile and maintain Canvey Lake Cost: £2,000,000
6. Action: Investment in ‘Green Infrastructure’ Cost: £2,000,000 The work of the Multi Agency Partnership is continuing to address drainage matters on Canvey Island.

Cabinet is invited to note the report”

Flood Risk Warning and Response.

We are constantly being misled by the good news story that the Thames Estuary 2100 project commits to the repair and improvement of the Canvey Sea Defence. This is simply not true.

The Environment Agency ( although not in their remit to do so ) constantly inform CPBC when commenting on planning application for Canvey Island the following basic facts.

TE2100 Plan
The Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100) Plan was published in November 2012, setting out  recommendations for flood risk management for London and the Thames Estuary through to the end of this century and beyond. Canvey Island is covered by policy “P4”. Policy P4 is to take further action to keep up with climate and land use change so that flood risk does not increase (Page 44 of TE2100 Plan).

The TE2100 Plan is an aspirational document, rather than a definitive policy, so whether the defences are raised in the future will be dependent on a cost benefit analysis and the required funding becoming available. If the defences are able to be raised, the proposed development will be protected from flooding during the 1 in 1000 annual probability event in line with climate change.

When determining the safety of a proposed development, cpbc should take this uncertainty over the future flood defences and level of flood protection into account. This may require consideration of whether obtaining the funds necessary to enable the defences to be raised in line with climate change, is achievable.

The failure to secure the long term safety of the community of Canvey Island before indiscriminate development, leaving its incumbent population totally reliant on electronic early warning systems, is not a good news story.

The “National Flood Forecasting Centre” are able to provide adequate and timely flood warnings. These warnings should be reviewed in close liaison with local Environment Agency and Met Office representatives to give an accurate picture of an approaching flood event. This will include the amount of flood water expected, the likely duration, the extent, the speed of flow and other hydrological data, the effect of tides, the depth of flooding and wind strength/direction.

It is imperative that this information should be considered alongside data on populations likely to be affected. This assessment should include population density, ability to evacuate, location relative to access and egress routes and vulnerable communities or individuals. There must also be an assessment of risks to critical infrastructure such as hospitals, water treatment works, hazardous installations and electricity generating plant.

Consideration should be given to the likely impact on road and rail network both in terms of evacuation and also incoming mutual aid. This information is often usually found in Multi-Agency Flood Plans.
Once a full picture of the potential flood is established, a strategy for dealing with the incident must be developed.
This should set the priorities for the management of the event and allow an accurate assessment of rescue needs

The “National Flood Forecasting Centre” seeks to give adequate and timely flood warnings targeted at Local Authorities such as CPBC so as to provide longer lead time flood forecasts to assist Category 1 and 2 responders with their roles and responsibilities in handling emergency situations.

The national warning facility has operated since 2006 and yet Castle Point Borough Council has known full well that Residents of Canvey Island Cannot be Evacuated!

That there is a considerable population, a large number of which are ageing and vulnerable.
Knowing that the ramifications of a failure of sea defences, of a flood defended area, are known to be catastrophic.

The whole of Canvey Island constitutes a flood cell, in other words we are living in a bowl.

Incredibly CPBC has systematically adopted a flood risk sequential approach to the development of Canvey in total isolation of the rest of the Borough.

The deliberate approach by our local authority to increased development, significantly increases the Island’s population, and in doing so increases the number of persons at actual risk should a Flood Event occur!

Joshua Promised Land

Joshua, leading the people to the Promised Land

Pic: LDS.org

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Aspirations, Fairy Tales and Disappointments, the Joys of Being a Canvey Island Resident! “Good News” delivered, conveniently, ahead of Local Plan!

Canvey “Good News” Stories

Canvey Town Centre Regeneration!

Canvey Paddocks Redevelopment!

Canvey Seafront Regeneration!

It can be no coincidence that Canvey’s Paddocks, Seafront and Town Centre were the focus of the Castle Point council’s cabinet’s discussions, available to view either in  the public gallery, on cpbc webcast or read, faithfully recorded in the Echo newspaper.

Ably presented as “good news” items by our leader cllr smith and supported by words of appreciation by doting cabinet members and lead group attendees alike.

For those more gullible, let us remember that the cpbc Local Plan is due for agreement for publication ahead of consultation during an upcoming council meeting scheduled for late November!

There is no doubt that these “good news” stories will make for an uplifting “Vision for the Future” chapter to the (hopefully?) new Local Plan2018, and even form some half convincing Policies.

What were we told during October’s cabinet meeting? 

The Town Centre Regeneration, that aspired, within the 2016 withdrawn Local Plan, to;

“Increasing the proportion of local comparison spend retained within Canvey and Hadleigh Town Centres by delivering 8,350m2 of additional comparison floorspace in these locations; and Increasing the range of other economic and community activities in town centres”

Even though in the meantime cpbc have encouraged and permitted out of town centre, greenfield growth, on the Island that threatens the whole existence of our High Street and Town Centre businesses!

Canvey Seafront, reference was made within the 2016 withdrawn Local Plan to; 

” the Government’s Tourism Strategy 2011 highlights the importance of tourism to the economy and is clear that good planning policies can support growth in the tourism sector.”

” the seafront area on Canvey is in need of regeneration. Despite some investment from the public sector and redevelopment of a key piece of vacant previously developed land, the area requires further improvements to the quality of the private and public realms, and the range of leisure services on offer.  Due to the decline in these a front area, there are pressures emerging from convenience retailers to occupy units within the seafront parade. This would undermine the seafront area as a leisure and tourism destination and prevent its rejuvenation.”

The biggest regeneration of the seafront has been at the hands of local Canvey residents. Cleaning of the beaches and footpaths, decoration of the Sea Wall, supply and fitting of benches have transformed the seafront, thereby encouraging more visitors, allowing Castle Point council to identify the possibility of boosting its income from car parking charges!

Latching onto this new income stream prompted further investigation by cpbc into attempting to secure a proportion of the £40,000,000 “prize” money on offer via the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

Castle Point council set up a committee, naturally, to engage with Bell Phillips, architects “to undertake a master planning exercise to ensure the future vitality of Canvey Seafront.”

Whilst Canvey Island will never become a holiday resort, those days are long gone, it can hope to be a day-out attraction for many.

The problem with the seafront masterplan was that it appears to sketchy and lightweight without indicating hard evidence that employment would be created, which appears to be the main driver, reasonably enough, of the Government’s Coastal Communities funding scheme.

Perhaps cpbc identified the opportunity of securing funds that could bolster their finances whilst they planned and consulted on ideas that might slowly come to fruition.  

As cllr cole queried, how long can it take and how expensive can it be, to install some toilets at the seafront?

What more needs saying about the Paddocks?

It appears that cpbc leader cllr smith has now become a tad reticent, having driven through the cabinet decision to demolish the community’s hall, but now less willing to reveal the Actual size of new hall, costings and sources of finances (Flats or Houses?) needed to produce a new building! 

Canvey residents can store the Paddocks, Seafront and Town Centre issues, alongside those of the 3rd Access Road and Roscommon Way, as Aspirations, Fairy Tales and Disappointments perhaps.

However, these dreams will be enough to form a few policies and fill a few pages of the Castle Point Local Plan 2018 to help fool an Inspector that Canvey Island is the sustainable growth area to distribute Housing to help fulfil the Borough’s needs.

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cpbc Coastal Communities Seafront Subgroup and Bell Phillips reps.

Echo Newspaper recent coverage of these issues can be read via the Links below;

Canvey Town Centre Regeneration

Canvey Paddocks Redevelopment

Canvey Seafront Regeneration

Photograph: Castle Point Borough Council

 

 

Castle Point’s “Surgeless” Supply of Affordable Housing an Examination concern? Brighton indicate the way with Transparency!

Nearly 5 Years after Castle Point Council were promising a “surge” in the supply of Affordable Homes in the Borough, through the Echo newspaper;

Norman Smith, cabinet member for economic development and business liaison, said: “It is very disappointing that affordable homes are not being built in the borough for those wanting to find a home in the borough.
“But following the approval of recent planning applications, in terms of affordable housing, I do not think it will be long before we start seeing a change.”

This “good news” story came in the wake of; “Castle Point is suffering a major shortfall in housing as no new affordable homes have been built for almost a year.” *

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Disappointingly for those in need of such housing, the latest published cpbc Annual Monitoring Report fails to indicate any such expected / promised “Surge” in Affordable Housing Supply in Castle Point having been forthcoming;

“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%, but significantly below the housing market requirement for affordable housing identified in the South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2016 of between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum.”

“The indicates that provision in line with OAN would require between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum across the housing market area to be affordable in order to meet the need for affordable housing.”

We trust that the Affordable Housing Supply does NOT include that of Caravans, of which the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report states;

“Since April 2011, the number of people living within caravans in Castle Point has continued to increase. Initially, the increase was rapid, with the number of units increasing 16% between 2011 and 2014. This fell in 2015 and 2016, but this increased to 124 additional caravans falling into residential use, according to Council Tax records in 2016/17.”

“The number of people living in caravans is still significant, and presents an issue for the Council. Caravans do not represent high quality living accommodation as there are issues with winter warmth and over-heating in summer associated with such accommodation.”

Developer David Wilson Homes is constructing 150 new homes on land off Kiln Road, a development which will see the provision of 53 affordable homes.

AND YET; castle point council planning portal reveals Kiln Road developer and the Council have signed a S106 Agreement to provide just 14 affordable dwellings in the first phase of 71 new homes!
A supply of just 20% affordable.

The success of development in Kiln Road is unmistakeable and lucrative. Over 2 years ago it was publicised that homes selling for up to £600,000 were being bought off-plan, such was the demand.

The developer claiming that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme meant that purchasers only need a 5% deposit and that the development is suitable for families and first time buyers. **

This when the refused Glebelands developent was offering 30% Affordable Housing Supply and the daft New Local Plan was proposing 25%, as the requisite for the mainland area!

The defenceless castle point council whose planning department and committee agreed that viability was an issue in the supply of the required Affordable Housing at Kiln Road, will face this issue as a major hurdle if and when their Local Plan eventually reaches Examination by an Inspector, their previous historical supply being unsupportable.

In contrast Brighton City Council aim to achieve more. They are now expecting developers to make public their Viability Assessments on Affordable Housing Supply alongside development proposals.

Setting their expectation levels far higher than those of castle point council, Brighton CC admit;  “This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.”

The Brighton and Hove City Council statement reads;

“Property developers could be made to publicly disclose detailed financial information in cases where they say they cannot meet affordable housing targets set out in Brighton & Hove’s City Plan.
At present the city council requires developments of over five or more residential units to provide a percentage of affordable housing – unless it would make a scheme financially unviable. All schemes over 15 units should provide 40 per cent affordable housing.
Currently developers submit viability assessments to the council which are then independently assessed by the District Valuer Services (DVS). The viability information and the independent assessment are currently not disclosed to the public in order to protect commercial confidentiality.
This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.
Now the authority is proposing to insist that developers show their sums in applications falling short of the affordable housing target. It would require a full Viability Assessment submitted up front with the rest of the application information.
Councillors are being asked to approve the new requirements in a report to the tourism, development and culture committee on 11 January. The proposals set out in the report are in line with the need for more openness sought by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently proposed government consultation paper.
A public consultation on the issue was held in the autumn. The majority of respondents felt the measures would lead to greater transparency, understanding and trust in the planning system. Broadly, developers were concerned that commercially sensitive information could be disclosed and this had the potential to hinder development in the city.
Committee chair Cllr Alan Robins said: “In many cases there may be perfectly good reasons why a developer cannot meet 40 per cent. For example a council might want them to pay for other things such as a new leisure centre. But sometimes developers might be trying their luck by raising viability issues. Either way, it could be beneficial for the public to have the same information as councillors on the planning committee, so that everyone understands why a given amount of affordable housing was accepted or rejected.”
If approved, the new requirements would come into force early this year.”

Good News all round, Canvey Island the growth area, flood risk + Green Belt issues immaterial!

The April Castle Point Council Cabinet meeting contained some important topics.

The new build at Long Road Canvey Island carries a “requisite” to realise 10 affordable housing units. It appears that CPBC will be using council property funds, from previous right to buy” sales, to purchase the 10 properties.

In the light of affordable properties being “proven” to be unviably expensive for developers to produce (as in the renegotiation at Kiln Road and the proposal at Felstead / Catherine Road Benfleet) the onus appears to be on Castle Point to step into the breach.

Other “good news” stories included the regurgitated news that talks over the Canvey Island and Hadleigh Town Centres were progressing, as ever.
Whilst the Cabinet members afforded congratulations on the hard work of their fellow councillors and professional (?) officers, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group would also like to offer our respect for the resilience of members and officers for their commitment in seeking to attract employment to Canvey Island.

The loss of Green belt is an issue, but it seems the “way to go” if the much needed employment is to be encouraged. We heard that hardly any of the units at Charfleets Industrial Estate are vacant and with the new North Thames Access road between Canvey Island and Thurrock imminent, the new business park will be eagerly anticipated.

Reproduced below is a map showing the proposed areas that are set aside for the new Business Park and employment areas that hopefully will not only see “high tech” businesses opening up, but also employment opportunities for the students and apprentices being trained at the new skills campus.
1998 Proposal Map (part of)

A little word of caution though. Whilst the Cabinet member for Economic Development and Business Liaison announced talks were at advanced stages over the Town Centres and employment issues, we should point out that the map reproduced above is in fact the 1998 Local Plan Proposals Map!
Unfortunately it appears that these talks have been going on for some time.
Hopefully the “good news” stories materialise faster than they have up until now, otherwise residents may be forgiven for thinking that the May elections may have been foremost in Cabinet members minds.
Given the timescale involved, as with other land in the Borough under threat from house development, we suggest leaving the Green Belt boundaries in place so that development sites can be considered on merit alone.