Tag Archives: housing development

Canvey Island – Congestion – 3rd Access Road – Daily Commute – No Sign of Relief as Major Infrastructure improvements remain, Aspirational!

Have you wondered why London hasn’t an Eastbound Motorway similar to the west of London.

East houses the business and production areas along with the urbanised towns, almost merging with each other, whereas to the west is a lot more land space and the holiday routes.

On the A127 it is difficult to measure the traffic level.

What I mean is that it is distorted by being just 2 lanes and has purposely retained slow down mechanisms, namely the fortune of war roundabout, and the poorly, and the economically designed short slip roads, which slows down traffic flows often to a Halt!

Chelmsford is looking after the mid and north of the county routes, intentionally leaving the south and thameside local authorities to seek other funding streams which are barely forthcoming.

Hence the piecemeal patchwork upgrades to the a13 and the lack of improvements to the a127.

Is it a deliberate ploy by Essex County Council to segregate us from them, in the knowledge that Thameside areas under the will of “The Association of South Essex Local Authorities” intends to become more and more intensely urbanised, acting as a buffer to keep mid and north essex leafier and more better funded off the back of us!

The “improvements” on the local major arteries have been piecemeal and catastrophic. The A127 being basically neglected for the last 40 years as for the A13 we need only to consider the sections of lane widening such as now only just commencing at Stanford at the same time as the seemingly continual repairs to the substandard construction of the Sadlers farm Junction.

Locally the incomplete Roscommon Way, the 2nd phase being completed to vastly reduced lifetime standards, whilst the continually promised 3 road off Canvey Island, remains after all of this time an “A”spiration. (Is that what they mean by an “A” road?).

Meanwhile Parliament got in on the act by holding a discussion on the road infrastructure of Essex in Westminster Hall.

Speakers included Priti Patel, Mark Francois, Graham Stringer chair, James Duddbribge, Will Quince, Rachel Maskell, Jesse Norman Min of State Dept of Transport.

Some of the debate included, with no names attached to quotations, but you will note the early emphasis on Mid and North of the County, and you can contemplate this as you sit in your nearest Traffic Jam, in the clear Knowledge that Nothing Will be Done Soon to Improve the Situation!:

“Over the past decade there has been a 25% increase in the number of enterprises across Essex. In 2010, that number stood at 61,540. By 2018 it had risen to 77,365.”

“it is not only individuals who depend on our transport sector, but businesses and everyone else. Essex has a strong advanced manufacturing and engineering sector that employs over 50,000 people in over 4,200 companies.”

“In the county of Essex, farming alone is worth over £400 million to our economy and employs over 8,000 people.”

“every year enough wheat to make 1.3 billion loaves of bread, enough barley to make 280 million pints of beer, and 150 million eggs. We also grow outdoor vegetables on 5,000 acres of land, so roads and transport are important”

we have 66,000 professionals in Essex, so it is important that we continue to grow and support them. We have a dynamic academic and educational sector, with Writtle University College, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Essex”

“We have over 1,000 acres of port-adjacent, tri-modally connected logistics and distribution sites, which are the backbone of our economy, ​and we are connected by road, rail, sea and air to global markets. We have four major seaports—London Gateway, Tilbury, Harwich and Purfleet—with a fifth major port, Felixstowe, just over the border in Suffolk. There are also six port-side rail freight terminals and three key tri-modal logistic sites at London Gateway and the London distribution park.”

“our airports: Stansted, which is the UK’s third largest air freight hub by capacity, and Southend airport. Those airports are not just growing, but experiencing considerable passenger growth and, in the case of Stansted, benefiting from private sector investment to the tune of £600 million.”

“One statistic says it all: it is not surprising to learn that Essex is the local authority with the second-highest traffic level in the country, with 9.68 billion vehicle miles in 2017 alone. That is 2 billion miles more than in 1997, and if the unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea are included, the greater Essex area has the highest traffic level by distance, with 11.2 billion miles.”

The Minister must understand that our main arterial routes—the A13, the A127 and the A12—are bursting at the seams.”

“The Government want more house building in south Essex and the rest of the county. I make it plain to the Minister that he has to pay for the infrastructure if he wants those houses built. If the Government will not come up with the money, for instance to make the A127 the M127, they can forget their housing targets.”

“Chairman “I remind Members that, although this is not a well-attended debate, interventions should be short, brief and to the point.””

The case for investment in the A12 and the A120 is compelling”

A12 “below standard slip roads and capacity problems which can result in tailbacks.”

“Minister, if this were legislation, I would suggest a very simple amendment: delete “A” and insert “M”. I refer, of course, to the A127. We want it to be a motorway. When I say “we”, I do not mean me, or a collection of a few random individuals; the whole of Essex wants it to be a motorway. In November 2018, a group came together—the south Essex A127 taskforce—led by Councillor Mike Steptoe, who is both of Essex County Council and deputy leader of Rochford Council. That group included Essex, Southend, Thurrock, Rochford, Basildon, Castle Point, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Malden, Havering, Transport for London and Highways England.”

The A127 carries more than 75,000 people every day.”

“we need to make sure that all incremental improvements to the A127 do not stand in the way of a future motorway—developments such as the Fairglen interchange between the A130 and the A127 need to be motorway-proof.”

“Although right hon. and hon. Members have extolled the economic opportunities for their areas and discussed the housing developments that are putting pressure on the infrastructure, which is clearly under severe pressure and needs to be redressed, I urge the Minister to take a more strategic view of how we develop our transport infrastructure. The reality is that we need to plan not just for the next decade or two, but for the long term.”

In December 2014 the Government launched the first road investment strategy, which outlined how more than £15 billion is to be invested in our strategic roads between 2015 and 2021. That is the biggest upgrade to strategic roads in a generation, and it will be exceeded in RIS2 from 2025, which is of the scale of £25 billion.”

“To zero-in on Essex, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham pointed out that the first road investment strategy includes the widening of the A12 between junction 19 at Chelmsford and junction 25 at Marks Tey, where it currently joins the A120.”

“Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,”

“That this House has considered transport infrastructure in Essex.”

The complete debate can be read via this LINK.

Photograph: Yellow Advertiser
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Canvey Island, Congestion – Lack of Infrastructure – Business, Retail + Housing Development and a Couldn’t Care Less attitude to Parking Provision!

For Canvey Islanders the daily commute, whether by car or public transport, can be, to put it politely, “challenging”! Castle Point Council will tell you that it is the same across the whole Borough.

As we are all aware there is pressure to supply yet more and more Housing development. This will inevitably add to the problem.

One would have thought that, CPBC would have adopted a strategy by now, especially over the extended period taken to arrive at a 3 times rejected Local Plan, that would at least start to address the congestion problem.

But no, where Canvey Island is concerned, the Town Centre Regeneration scheme has been ignored and dismissed where convenient to CPBC! The old Nat West building and neighbouring property, identified as space for road realignment is set to become a community centre and bakery, with new development adjoining.

More concerning however, is the lack of correlation between, new Builds and the accompanying Car Parking spaces, and the major Business and Retail Parks receiving all being Approved on the Island!

These planning proposals all due to impose a Negative Impact on Canvey Island’s Car Parking and Road Network, despite the fine words included within the Local Plan 2018.

The Castle Point Borough Council Emerging Local Plan proposed Policies that seeks “Opportunities to promote walking, cycling and public transport are pursued; The environmental impact of traffic and transport infrastructure is taken into account; and Movement, streets and parking are integrated into designs”

The Emerging Local Plan recognises “Many of the main routes within the borough are single carriageway roads with little prospect for widening due to the proximity of existing development. This also limits the potential to provide dedicated passenger transport routes and cycleways” “Castle Point is peripheral on the bus service network and whilst there are good services during the day on most routes, service frequency is not as good in the evenings and on Sundays.”” The cycle network within Castle Point is limited, and where it does exist it is disjointed and poorly maintained.”

The New Out of Town Retail / Business sites will not only be to the detriment of the Canvey Town Centre but also intensify the Congestion heading towards and from Canvey West. However, almost every Flatted development Approved on Canvey, has a shortfall of Car Parking Spaces, officers suggesting that isn’t their concern as Town centre Flats benefit from facilities being nearby and benefit from regular public transport!

Equally there is a consistency with the Approved Retail / Business sites, that they to, when residents and mainlanders arrive, will also have a Shortfall of Car Parking Spaces!

Below are a few examples indicating the Castle Point Council’s Planning officers and committee approach to the issues of Car Parking and new Housing Development and Retail / Business development.

Spot the Connections!

King Canute Flats, Vetenary practice and CO OP store.

“The proposed car park…..would result in a significant level of harmful conflict… between the 3 independent uses, adversely affecting the ease of movement within the site, and if approved, likely to accumulate in the displacement of the residential occupiers vehicles onto Edith road, to the detriment of safety and traffic flows,”

The Flats “attract a requirement of two parking spaces” each…. “the provision of 3 spaces (in total) would appear to represent a deficiency, however….””where Flats will have easy access to the bus network…” “the parking provision is considered satisfactory.”

“With regard to the retail element” the area of floor space results” in a maximum requirement of 25 parking spaces.”

The retail element is provided with some 13 parking spaces.” Recommended for Approval and subsequently Approved by Committee.

…………………………………………..

125 – 127 High Street Canvey Island. 14 x 2 Bedroom Flats

“ The currently adopted parking standards published by ECC require the provision of two spaces per property. Within Town Centres this may be reduced.”

“The site is remote from the core of the Town Centre…”

“Visitor parking should be provided at a rate of 0.25 spaces per dwelling.”

“Application of parking standards generates a requirement of 32 parking spaces.”

“The proposal would provide 15 spaces and should therefore attract a recommendation of Refusal.” Approved on Appeal

…………………………………………

Canvey Supply Ltd 74 High Street Canvey Island  16/0212/OUT

The scheme would provide 24 car parking spaces and 32 cycle parking spaces to serve the needs of the residential development and 4 spaces to serve the shops.

The maximum parking requirement for this development is as follows:

12 x 1 bed apartments 12 spaces, 12 x 2 bed apartments 24 spaces, Visitors 0.25 x 24 = 6 = 6 spaces 42 spaces parking spaces.

The proposed retail units have an area of some 268m2 and therefore attract a requirement for 14 parking spaces.

A maximum total of 56 spaces is therefore required on the site.

The proposal seeks to provide 24 residential parking spaces.

 The proposed development is deficient in parking provision and ordinarily would attract a recommendation of refusal. However, the site is located within a Town Centre where the availability of private parking and service areas is extremely limited and where access to other public car parks and public transport is available. Approved by CPBC committee.

……………………………………..

Now let’s look at our New Retail / Business developments!

Land Opposite Morrisons Northwick Road 15/0293/RES

Hotel and motor dealership. Approx. 27 Units various sizes.

This site has a total area of 7.5ha, the north of which connects to Northwick Road. The east of the site is bounded by Roscommon Way and the Morrisons site

Parking Requirement 590 Spaces. 565 Spaces to be provided. Projected Shortfall  25 Spaces.

………………………………..

Lidl foodstore 18/0868/FUL

Lidls presents itself as a local convenience retailer and therefore operates on the basis of a limited catchment area. Usually this would be a five minute drive time. However given the somewhat unique circumstances of Canvey Island, this has been extended to eight minutes in order, primarily to capture the whole of Canvey.

A significant proportion of turnover will therefore be derived from diversion from existing retailers.

 The impact of this diversion on the vitality and viability of the Centres must now be considered.

102 car parking spaces would be provided. The proposed store would attract a requirement for 149 car parking spacesShortfall of 47 Spaces.

………………………………..

Land South Of Roscommon Way Canvey Island  14/0707/OUT, Demolition of disused pumping station and construction of commercial and industrial development

7.41Ha site

The proposed Layout indicates the intention to provide 566 Parking Spaces. However the Actual Supply should be 662 a Shortfall of 96 Parking spaces.

…………………………….

Retail Site M and S, Costa, B and M, Sports Direct, Garden Centre etc

Land off Roscommon Way Canvey Island 16/0419/FUL

3.4Ha site (approx).

Approved with undersize car parking spaces, inconsistent with adopted parking standards.

The proposal should be required to provide 456 car Parking Spaces

Actual Supply 240 Parking Spaces. Just 53% of the Requirement “This deficiency would appear to represent a significant objection to be proposal.”

………………………………..

Next time you are out sitting in Traffic or wondering why people are Parking on Pavements etc, just Remember, it’s all part of somebody’s Big Plan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further CPBC Local Plan Evidence Documentation enforces the issues;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Document References

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

Castle Point Borough Council, the Authority that uses Canvey Island Flood Risk as a Constraint to Limit Housing Growth, across the Whole Borough!

Canvey Island residents lay claim that they are treated unfairly by Castle Point Council. In turn CPBC claim they are being treated unfairly by the Government, by being threatened with Intervention due to their Tardiness with producing a Local Plan!

Apparent outrage from the CPBC leader and chief executive, at those Councillors brave enough to Reject the draft Local Plan, did not disguise the fact that the emerging Plan deserved closer Scrutiny and Challenge from Councillors, than those Reasons given for their votes of Rejection during the December Council Meeting.

Whether the Failure of the Local Plan 2018 is due to CPBC Incompetence, or whether some perceived levels of Immorality, or political corruption, is involved in the selection of the Canvey Island Green Belt sites for Housing Development, especially in the approach to the application of the Sustainability Tests involved, we leave the Reader to decide.

As you are probably aware, the whole of Canvey Island is regarded as being in Flood Zone 3a. Housing in this Zone is considered as being Vulnerable development.

The whole of Canvey Island is also considered to be a Critical Drainage Area.

For ease and to avoid confusion wording highlighted in Blue are those of CPBC whilst wording in Red is official Government Guidance.

The Castle Point Local Plan 2018 version at Paragraph 17.4 states “planning policies should take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, taking into account the long-term implications for flood risk, coastal change, water supply, biodiversity and landscapes and policies should support appropriate measures to ensure the future resilience of communities and infrastructure to climate change impacts”

Typically though, of CPBC, and despite their Officers and some members,  insisting that the NPPF should be “Read as a Whole”, the Local Plan 2018 version Craftily fails to include the final, and most Important part of the NPPF text of the above Paragraph 17.4.

That is; “ , such as providing space for physical protection measures, or making provision for the possible future relocation of vulnerable development and infrastructure.

CPBC Sequential Test Page 2

This Local Plan Evidence document almost immediately sets out to justify, carte blanche, large scale Housing development on Canvey Island.

Bear in mind that Housing and Residential care Homes are considered to be a “More Vulnerable” uses of Land in Canvey Island a Flood Zone 3a area.

“The NPPF recognises that following the application of the sequential test, it is not always possible, consistent with wider objectives, for certain development proposals/requirements to be located in lower ‘flood risk zones’. It therefore also sets out a test that needs to be passed if certain types of development are to be exceptionally allocated in a local plan”

Exception Test

All of the Canvey Island Housing Sites are considered by CPBC to Pass the Exception Test, “This site has significant positive impacts related to the sustainability objective concerning the provision of housing, including affordable housing.”

Affordable Housing being considered practically Unviable on all Housing Development Sites, even those not requiring the Surface Water Management measures, and Sustainable Urban Drainage schemes, and Raised Floor Levels that are now required on Canvey Island.

Additionally the CPBC Sequential Test found that, NONE of the 9 Housing Development Sites allocated for Canvey Island is considered to be “Within a Potential Surface Water Flooding Hotspot”, whilst 4 of the Mainland Housing Sites were within a potential flooding Hotspot !

Clearly the evidence found in the Reports, on the Canvey Island Summer Flooding 2014 and 2013, has been discounted, ignored and will be hidden from the Government Chief Planner and Planning Inspector examining the Next CPBC Local Plan!

Groundwater Flooding

“All the deliverable and developable sites assessed in terms of their risk of groundwater flooding were found to be appropriate for development, at least in this respect.”

We would ask CPBC “what Tests and Reports  were their Assessments based on?”

Once again only certain Mainland Sites were considered to be “Within an Area Susceptible to Groundwater Flooding”, NONE of the Canvey Island Sites allocated for Housing Development were considered to be affected!

This goes Against common local knowledge AND written evidenced Reports to be found on CPBC’s own website!

Recommendations

“Subject to other considerations, it is recommended that when selecting sites for development in the New Local Plan, preference is given to those sites within the highest preference ranking groups over those in lower groups. This will reduce the exposure of new development to flood risk.

It is recommended that housing sites on Canvey are only allocated as a means of providing flexibility to the housing land supply. If sites on Canvey are included within the New Local Plan, a sequential phasing requirement should be applied within their allocation policy to ensure other sequentially preferable allocated sites are brought forward first. Additionally, requirements in the allocations policies should include the provision of flood resistant and resilient design.”

Quite clearly the Housing Development Site Allocation process, of Castle Point Borough Council, applies considerably more Weight on Green Belt protection over that of Flood Risk. The local authority Actively Chooses to adopt this approach despite some sites on Canvey Island being both Green Belt, within a 3a Flood Risk Zone and a Critical Drainage Area!

Government Guidance in the NPPF continues to point out;

“11. Plans and decisions should apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

 For plan-making this means that:

b) strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas, unless:

i. the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area, see Footnote 6

Footnote 6 The policies referred to are those in this Framework (rather than those in development plans) relating to: habitats sites (and those sites listed in paragraph 176) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a National Park (or within the Broads Authority) or defined as Heritage Coast; irreplaceable habitats; designated heritage assets (and other heritage assets of archaeological interest referred to in footnote 63); and areas at risk of flooding or coastal change.”

“Incompetence”, perceived “Political Immorality”, or a “Corruption of Facts”, you decide, if not the Examining Planning Inspector most certainly will!

Canvey_060309_1

Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

 

Canvey Island need for Housing to be “flood resilient and resistant” concerns, as UK New Homes ‘crumbling due to weak mortar’.

Canvey Island, with its “Need” for 1,400 New Dwellings within the next 15 years Local Plan period, may be more reliant on the building inspection service supplied by Castle Point Council, than is the case in other local authority areas.

Any new housing development proposed for Canvey Island, being classed as a Flood Zone 3a risk and also a Critical Drainage Area, is required to pass what is known as the Sequential and Exception Test.

The Sequential Test as indicated by CPBC, “the aim of the Sequential Test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest probability of flooding”,  and applied through the CPBC Local Plan process, should mainly see development distributed away from Canvey Island.

However, CPBC do not find this approach appropriate and continue to allocate development onto Canvey.

This sees a requirement that all new Housing “development is appropriately flood resilient and resistant” against the possibility of Flooding.

With current concerns raised about the possibility that Housing Insurance against Flooding, especially New Builds, may be impossible to purchase, a New Report has emerged adding to local concerns.

Some new large building estates have been constructed using a “using weak mortar” mix. The full extent of the issue has not yet emerged as “Gagging Orders” are alleged to have been imposed on some complainants.

13 Estates across the UK have so far been identified as being affected and one by Taylor Wimpey is highlighted in the BBC report below.

Building Control, operated by the local authority areas affected, should have identified the Mortar issue and have stopped the practise in its tracks, before too many houses were affected.

Currently Castle Point Council appear to “Outsource” Building Control rather than appoint their own specialist officers.

The outsourced company handling CPBC building Control is LABC.

Whether the monitoring carried out by LABC is predominately a “desk top” service as opposed to on site testing, we are unaware, perhaps some CPBC Councillors could enlighten us.

We must assume that their monitoring and site visits would throw up any flood resilient and resistant issues, given the Flood Risk issue and the need for Housing on Canvey Island to be “safe for its Lifetime“.

Should this “Weak Mortar Mix” sharp practise, be used on Canvey housing developments it could seriously undermine the flood resilient and resistant aspect of building protection in the event of Flooding.

Equally, it could leave the Flood Re Insurance protection scheme in jeopardy locally.

In Castle Point Council, we must put our Trust!
Mortar problem

Hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.
There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK.
The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation.
The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.

One of those homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He says he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.
The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.

Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.
He complained to the homebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, and to the NHBC, the industry body that signs off and provides the warranty for most new-build houses.
‘Disastrous’
Under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand.
In severe weather areas such as Coatbridge, there should be even more cement in the mix to make it stronger and more durable.

Laboratory tests on samples taken from parts of Mr Fascione’s home showed the amount of sand was almost three times higher than recommended.
“I’m the guy who retired and decided to buy a new-build house,” he said. “I’ll never buy a new-build house again – never. It’s just been disastrous for me.”
After 18 months of complaints, the NHBC bought back Mr Fascione’s home at the market rate and he is living in alternative accommodation.

The organisation said it had done so because the performance of the company it had employed to repair the property had not been good enough and “in consideration of Mr Fascione’s personal circumstances”, not because of the original issue with the mortar.
‘Widespread and serious’
The Victoria Derbyshire Programme has heard about new build properties in at least 13 estates from Scotland to Sussex, built by different companies, with what appears to be a similar problem.

In one single estate in the Scottish borders, it is thought Taylor Wimpey has agreed to replace the mortar in more than 90 separate properties. The homebuilder says an assessment by engineers found “no structural issues” with the homes.
“This is both widespread and serious,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who has blogged about the problem.
“It cannot be explained away by the industry as a few isolated cases.”

Exactly why the weaker building material may have been used is unclear.
In some cases, the housebuilder may have simply used the wrong type of mortar. In other cases, errors may have been made mixing and laying the material on site.
Some construction experts also blame the switch to a new type of factory-mixed mortar, which might pass a different strength test in the laboratory but not always be strong enough in the real world.

Steve Turner, from the Home Builders Federation, said builders “generally have their mortar provided by large accredited suppliers… [who] have clear quality assurance and testing processes to ensure mixes are delivered as required.
He added that there were “very few instances we’re aware of where defective mortar has been used”.
“And in those instances where it has been used, there’s an obligation on the builder to fix the issues.”
He added that having spoken to “a number of builders in the past week, most have had no issues with mortar whatsoever – [and with] those that have, it’s on a very limited number of sites”.

Non-disclosure agreements
Faced with what could be an expensive repair bill, many homeowners have been told by their own solicitors not to go public until the issue is resolved.
In some cases, customers have ultimately had their houses bought back by either the homebuilder or the NHBC.
In others, it appears repairs have been made and compensation paid as part of a deal that involves the signing of a non-disclosure agreement or gagging clause.
One homeowner in the north-west of England told the programme: “The only comment I can make is no comment. I’d like to speak out but at the end of the day I have to protect my investment.”
A gagging clause may stop the property owner talking not only to the media but also to neighbours in the estate who may be facing similar problems.

“It’s going on, it’s just not being talked about,” says Mr Waller.
“Non-disclosure agreements should be banned full stop. If it’s all covered up, more victims are likely to be drawn into the net and make the same mistakes.”
An NHBC spokesman said it included a confidentiality clause in a “small number of rare circumstances” but declined to disclose the number.
He added: “We work with builders to help them improve the construction quality of the homes they build. However, it is the builder who is ultimately responsible for the quality of the new homes they build.”
Taylor Wimpey apologised to Mr Fascione for the issues experienced with his home.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering excellent quality homes and achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. On those occasions where issues do arise, we endeavour to resolve those issues as soon as practically possible.”

By Jim Reed
Reporter, BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme
6 December 2018

Remember, Remember, the 28th of November! Intervention and Plot, Canvey and the mainland set to lose tracts of Green Belt!

This month, Canvey Island and Castle Point Borough Council face the prospect of Government Intervention, over the local authority’s Local Plan!

This Plan, to be voted on by local councillors on the 28th November in the council chamber Runnymede is Crucial to where between 4,000 – 5800 new houses will be allocated.

Should the Councillors refuse to Approve a new Local Plan identifying sites to accommodate these numbers the Government will step in and select the sites.

Those councillors that oppose Government Intervention, but support Green Belt protection, will have a dilemma come the vote.

CPBC chief executive will stress how worse it would be via intervention.

Councillors must ask themselves, could it have been any worse than what the proposed Plan is, anyway?

Either way they have, apparently, no input!

Previously the cpbc chief executive issued the warning to councillors that Intervention will be a catastrophe of seismic proportion for Castle Point Council.

Councillors themselves, chiefly the Lead Group, voted to trust the council leader and senior officers to chose development sites, including apparently precious Green Belt, and produce a Local Plan.

Now we learn that development is coming to many parts of the Borough!

Will Councillors and Residents give up the Fight

All I can say is,

“what were they thinking”?

cpbc

Runnymede Towers

Canvey Island in the lap of the Gods, otherwise known as Castle Point Council Leader and CEO! Better for CPBC to Control the Destiny of Canvey Green Belt, or the Government Chief Planner?

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents should be concerned to know that in exactly 4 weeks time, to the day, we will learn whether the desperate attempts by our councillors, and professional officers, to avoid Government Intervention over the debacle of the cpbc Local Plan has been worthwhile.

We were told that Intervention, “Takes away the ability for us (cpbc) to control the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”

Previously in the Local Plan process Canvey Island was the ONLY area within the Borough that these, mainly, same councillors could agree to the release of Green Belt land for development, during the whole Plan period!

Obviously the Inspector rejected this idea, stating quite clearly “some development at Canvey Island may be required to meet local need”.

Plain to see then, that the level of land needed for Housing Development on Canvey Island, did NOT require the release of Green Belt!

BUT NO, cpbc chief executive, in his infinite wisdom, thought the opposite, and further proposed that, Canvey Island Green Belt, should remain the single area forming the nucleus of the Green Belt Housing Growth in the Borough’s Local Plan, whilst adding the mainland Green Belt sites for the 2014 version.

This belying the Inspector’s clear intentions, contained within his critical letter, addressed to cpbc Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods, strongly suggesting the Withdrawal of the Core Strategy plan!

Canvey Green Belt was only removed, gratefully, from the 2016 version of the cpbc Local Plan’s Housing growth sites, to add support to the politically driven protection granted to, selected sites identified as, “virgin” Green Belt land.

Now we have just 4 weeks to wait to learn how, and why, the Local Plan process, is better in the hands of our local councillors, rather than the government Intervention team.

In CPBC’s own words; “the Secretary of State wrote again to the Borough Council in March 2018, indicating that he was minded to continue with intervention since there was no clear timetable for preparing and adopting a local plan for the Borough.”

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.
Members of the Council will not be involved and will be excluded from the plan making process.
In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG, (ministry of housing community and local government,) the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale. This may cause other non-intended consequences such as the inability to attract staff”

The mood of Residents, particularly mainlanders, suggest that only if substantial Green Belt is protected from development, will it have been worthwhile staving off Intervention.

Canvey Residents can be sure that the extra Constraints that should have been applied to Canvey Island in isolation, would ONLY have been applied correctly by Government officials. History has proven that lead group councillors, in collusion with certain officers, have only sought to use these Canvey Constraints, to lower the OVERALL Housing Supply figures ACROSS of the whole Castle Point area!

In effect cementing the lead group’s controlling status quo in the follow up local election by quelling the mainland unrest by removing the contentious Green Belt sites from the 2016 local plan.

Look also at similar protectionist decision-making at Brentwood council, with their plan to develop a Garden Village at Dunton.

Note also the effects the Brentwood plans will have on Castle Point residents, with the amount of proposed housing development alongside the main A127 commuter route adding to the Basildon planned development.

Divided by the A127, Dunton Hills Garden Village will have little or no impact upon Brentwood. Those of us living south of the A127, especially in Castle Point and Basildon, will bear the brunt of the strain on infrastructure and commuting issues.

Dunton Hills Garden Village, which Brentwood Borough Council says could initially deliver about 2,500 homes, with the potential for another 1,500, has come under the most fierce criticism from Thurrock Council, that along with Basildon, borders the borough close to where the development would be built on 260 hectares of land south of the A127. *
Brentwood Borough Council is meeting on Thursday, November 8, at the Brentwood Centre to discuss the next stage of the borough’s Local Plan – principally how and where to cater for the 7,752 new homes the borough needs to find between 2016 and 2033. (yourthurrock.com)
*wasn’t we informed by cpbc that in the case of a Garden Village proposal at the Blinking Owl site, North Thundersley, that 8,000 dwellings would be needed to make the installation of infrastructure financially viable?

Look at these statistics, area, population etc and judge whether there is a balance of growth distribution across ours and Brentwood boroughs.

Brentwood: Area: 153.1 km², Population 73,600 (2011). 7,752 new homes.
Castle Point: Area 45.08 km, Population 88,011 (2011). new homes tbd (see below)

The expectation, is for cpbc to capitulate to the Government Chief Planner, and reintroduce the 2014 daft Local Plan with these implications for us;

The council has identified 13 locations for housing development, with 4,000 more homes required in the period to 2031 to meet growing demands of our community. This means around 200 new homes a year would be built across the whole borough. Without the plan, it is feared that there would have to be at least 7,000 more homes.

Don’t forget that the cpbc lead group and some independent councillors, agreed this daft Plan. Only under the threat of a Mainland residents backlash at the Polling Station, was this Plan rejected!

Below are Maps of the Brentwood and Thurrock boroughs, the implications on Canvey Island and Castle Point, by the population and Industrial growths of these two neighbouring areas, can be easily imagined if complimented by similar growth in Castle Point!

What of cpbc leader’s promise of infrastructure before development? With growth in the neighbouring areas and no realistic likelihood of Highway improvements, new access to Canvey, dualling of Canvey Way, Somnes Avenue widening, Roscommon Way completion etc, the likely announcement of many large developments sites bodes ill for Canvey Island!

Castle Point Residents will be eager to learn, the benefits of “control of the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”, over the dreaded Government Intervention!

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