Tag Archives: Housing Distribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Local Plans, from a single Evidence Base!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you  as a Canvey resident consider;

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

that the Traffic Issues mean the potential congestion is unreasonable,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To view the documentation, log on HERE.

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Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

Are you sitting Comfortably?

Then I’ll begin –

“The (Canvey Island) application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding. Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development.

However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.

Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.

Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt.”

So says the cpbc Planning Officer as the latest attempt to convince residents, councillors and, no doubt the Planning Inspectorate, that castle point council’s approach to the application of the Flood Risk Sequential Test is morally sound!

July 2014photo3

Going back just 10 years things were different and the Environment Agency held a more cautious and responsible stance:-

Extract from the Echo June 2008
“DEVELOPERS seeking to build new homes on Canvey are being forced to think again because of growing fears about flooding.
The Environment Agency is resolutely pursuing its policy of recommending refusal of plans to build new homes on the island because Canvey is below sea level and therefore on a flood plain.

Castle Point Council is taking those recommendations to heart and rejecting applications for new homes, leaving some developers in limbo.
The council has pledged to continue upholding the Environment Agency’s recommendations until the results of a Government-initiated inquiry into flood plains publishes its findings.

The Government appointed Sir Michael Pitt to carry out the study, following catastrophic floods in Hull after heavy rainfall in June and July last year. It is likely the final report expected, this summer, will recommend tighter restrictions.

Ray Howard, Castle Point and Essex county councillor, said local authorities were reluctant to ignore the Environment Agency’s advice, while they are waiting for the results of the Pitt Report.
Mr Howard has received many letters from people struggling to build on Canvey.
He said: “It’s a big problem that needs to be looked at. We can’t have a blanket ban for building here.
“I believe Canvey is unique, as it has the best flood walls and flood water drainage system in the country.

“The flood plain rules should be relaxed for us.”

Last week localised flooding on the island, caused by heavy rainfall, affected hundreds of residents on the island.

But Mr Howard is convinced it is well protected against severe flooding from the Thames Estuary.
A total of £34 million was spent rebuilding Canvey’s sea walls in the 1970s and 1980s.
A further £6 million was spent last year on 14 giant pumps, spread around the island to force water back into the sea if the walls are ever breached.
Mr Howard said: “The reason Canvey is always considered high-risk is because of the 1953 flood.
“But back then the only sea defences were soil walls, built by the original Dutch settlers.”
The 1953 Canvey flood claimed the lives of 58 people.

Despite Mr Howard’s insistence that Canvey is well protected, the Environment Agency refused to budge from its policy of objecting to all new homes on flood plains.
Spokeswoman Rita Penman insisted the Environment Agency could not relax its planning guidelines for Canvey,

She said: “Although Canvey is well defended, the current understanding across the country is that if there are other areas not on the flood plains, they should be developed first.

“This is in the interests of everyone’s safety. We are therefore unable to recommend approval for any new developments on Canvey at the present time.”

Even if the Government report clears the way for new homes on flood plains, insurers are warning hundreds of thousands of homes built in high-risk areas may not qualify for insurance.

Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurers’ director of general insurance and health, said: “Poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable”

Disappointing then, that following the Summer Flooding of 2014 the cpbc chief executive officer should point out that the Canvey Island drainage system – was never intended to be able to cope with Tidal Flooding of the Island!

But of course the findings of the cpbc Scrutiny Committee’s meetings to discuss the flooding and its consequences, during which the ceo made the admittance, has never been published, despite the flood occuring 4 years past!

To enforce the Association of British Insurers position, above, the Flood Re scheme to guarantee affordable house insurance against flooding does not cover houses built since January 2009.

Has Caveat emptor, been anymore appropriate?

I have been reminded by a sceptical mainlander that, “IT IS HARD TO FOOL PEOPLE, BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOOLED.”

The short EA video below may give you some insight as to the sensibility of those that propose and support the over development of Canvey Island and whether the drainage system could ever be made capable of alleviating Flood Risk!

The EA expert’s explanation of how the drainage System is designed to work, appears to be far different to the practical experiences during 2013 and 2014 and the isolated Flooding incidents during other periods!

Admiral Jellicoe replaced by 40 Flats – whilst Canvey Island being sold off for 30 Pieces of Silver?

So a proposal that the Admiral Jellicoe public house on Canvey Island is highly likely to be demolished and replaced by 40 Flats has been lodged with Castle Point Borough Council.

Admiral Jellicoe

Admiral Jellicoe. Luke Baker Photography.

This is “timely” news as cpbc will be evaluating the next move forward with their new draft Local Plan2018 at Wednesdays special council meeting. Work is also imminent on the Brownfield Land Register, which will give Permission in Principle for Housing sites across the Borough to meet the Housing Need required of the cpbc Local Plan.

The Housing Need is likely to be set around 342 dwellings per annum.

Currently the Brownfield Land register reads as a paltry supply of a minimum 264 dwellings.

This Supply List appears somewhat misleading as the entry for the Admiral Jellicoe site indicates a minimum of just 15 dwellings, 25 less than the planning proposal applies for!

This misleading figure causes concern as the previous draft Local plans have carried a figure for Thorney Bay of 600 dwellings. This is 33% less than the intended figure, quoted by the Sandy bay site manager, of 900 Park Homes!

How many other discrepancies are contained within the figures for Canvey Island?

Whilst our esteemed councillors consider the new Local Plan2018 Housing Growth Distribution and the numbers they perhaps should consider their morals as they allocate Canvey Island’s proposed Housing Numbers.

According to data published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) figures show that 11% of new homes were built within areas of high flood risk, up 9% from 2015/2016.

Castle Point Brownfield Land register indicates that of the minimum numbers identified, 264 dwellings, 43% will be developed on Canvey Island, a Flood Risk Zone 3 area and a Critical Drainage Area!

Compare this 43% with the 11% National Average and you might just begin to realise it may be overdue for councillors to consider their conscience as they allocate yet more dwellings onto Canvey Island.

And that 43% is without allowing for the actual proposed numbers referred to above!

“Geoff Offen, managing director at Future Climate Info pointed out that the figures show that more than one in 10 new homes were built on sea or river flood plains which are prone to flooding.
‘While the national housing shortage compels us to seek out more land across England and Wales to build homes upon, buyers of these new properties must be aware of the risks their new bricks and mortar face,’ he said.”

CPBC Agenda paperwork explains; “Furthermore, Canvey Island is within Flood Risk Zone 3a, and as such planning applications for residential development normally require a Flood Risk Assessment. Advice is awaited from the Environment Agency as to if and how the Council could go about addressing this requirement before proceeding to consider any sites on Canvey Island for inclusion on the Part 2 of the Register”

Cllr Riley letter to Sajid “it (cpbc) will bring forward Part 2 of its Brownfield Land register – the “Permission in Principle” The council has a clear indication of the technical work necessary to bring forward sites from Part 1 of the Register and would commit to and complete this work by summer 2018”.

However cpbc are aware that “Part two of the register is optional” and that “planning permission would not be granted until Technical Details Consent is applied for and approved by the Council.”

Presumably an in-house application of the Sequential Test will suffice!

Furthermore much appears to be being made of residents comparing Canvey Island with the mainland and how this is wrong as we should be viewed simply as “one borough,” as though division is weakness.

Perhaps having considered some of the above the “one borough” approach can be seen as less suiting to Canvey.

However quite rightly the claim is supported by facts that more development has taken place recently on the mainland.

Once again we must point out, “yawn,” that since Castle Point was formed the vast majority of population increase, 42%, has been directed onto Canvey Island.

All well and good until the population level is considered in light of possible emergency situations from flooding or Hazardous Accidents and the inabilities of responders in coping!

We are pointed to the very recent Housing numbers allocated to the mainland compared with Canvey Island and how the mainland has absorbed more.

We need first to accept that recent new housing development numbers in the borough have been very low, little more than 100 dwellings on average per year. We would suggest that nowhere in the Borough has had much Housing development, compared with other areas.

In fact in very recent times only 2014 – 2015, when 214 Housing Completions were achieved, stands out as an above average year for the borough and the distribution of Growth hardly supported the argument that the vast majority were delivered on the mainland.

Information for this 2014 – 2015 period indicates that 86 were completed at Kiln Road, whilst 50 at Long Road, Canvey Island and 30 at Lubbins Car Park, Eastern Esplanade, Canvey Island were the only sites realising over 14 dwellings!

Whichever Local Plan the cpbc councillors are “entrapped” into adopting, whether the 2014 daft Local Plan or the 2016 version, we will hear that Canvey residents should be grateful that more Housing is scheduled for the mainland compared to the Island.

However cpbc do not impose Flood Risk, nor hazardous Industries, as a Constraint on Housing Numbers. Sites are allocated to Canvey Island because of “The Borough’s Housing Need”!

Let us remember on the day of local Plan reckoning that not only will Housing Land be released on Canvey Island but also Green Fields allocated for Industrial and Business Use!

Of which: Land Opposite Morrisons Northwick Road Canvey Island Essex
Area 7.5 Hectares site, Roscommon Way Canvey Island Essex 2.24 Hectares site, Land South Of Roscommon Way Canvey Island 7.41 Hectares site, Extension to Charfleets Industrial Estate Canvey Island 7 Hectares site, Land for Employment South of Northwick Road Canvey Island 8 Hectares site.*

All on Greenfield Land, on land affected by a High Water Table made worse by tidal water penetrating UNDER the sea defences, something never heard considered during planning matters.

As a group and individually, we have nothing against any of the residents of the Borough, and are known to happily collaborate with other GB campaign groups, but if we cannot see a fair and decent Local Plan emerging we will be intent upon challenging!

The cpbc Brownfield Land register, Dated 1. 12. 2017, can be found HERE.

* Happy to correct details if found to be incorrect.