Tag Archives: housing supply

Castle Point Local Plan Intervention – No Exclusion Zone! Are we being Misled ahead of May elections, or are we in Safe Hands?

The fear of Government Intervention over Castle Point Council, hangs over the Borough like some big Bogey Man in a Nightmare!

maco

I have seen it quoted on social media that “No Housing” is not an option for our Area.

The Secretary of State, having read cpbc’s explanation as to why they were amongst the 15 local authorities causing him most concern over their Local Plan replied, “In terms of the intervention criteria, Castle Point appears to have failed to make progress on plan-making, the policies do not appear to be up to date and there is high housing pressure. Given that your Council has said it will not produce a Local Plan until after the Joint Plan has been produced and that the Joint Plan is not due to be submitted until 2020 it appears possible that Plan production could be accelerated through intervention.”

And yet the cpbc leader Cllr riley suggests under the Echo introduction – NOT a single house in Castle Point should be built until plans for infrastructure has been in put in place, a council leader has claimed – despite the threat of government intervention looming over his head.

“We have never had the infrastructure contributions we should have had in Castle Point, and we are now in this position.” “They go hand in hand and we have been prioritising the infrastructure, and I think most of our residents would appreciate that.”

The previous attempts at a Local Plan, first saw Canvey Island basically stitched up to provide the Dutch Village Green Belt release for the Borough’s Housing Supply, then the Challis, Stanley, Smith 2014 Plan to again promote the Dutch Village release but this time to also include contentious mainland green belt sites.

There followed a massive reaction from Green Belt campaign groups on the mainland that came to a head at the local elections which saw a rise in ukip voting with the unseating of the then cpbc leader Cllr Challis.

Since then a 2016 Plan has been found to fail the Duty to Cooperate. Criticism has also been aimed at the lack of proposed Housing Numbers contained in the Plan. With some members of the Lead Group apparently suggesting that the officers failed to note the wish amongst some council members that the Blinking Owl should be released from the green belt so as to contribute to the Housing Supply.

This is an isolated site that is in need of infrastructure which may be what Cllr Riley had in mind.

The timing of the press response alongside the lack of information from cpbc as to the procedures of the Local Plan and the Intervention, may be an invite to speculate that Intervention is more likely than not.

What you make of the competency of the Local Plan makers is for you to decide.

Local Plan making is expected to:

“Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. They should address the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change.”

“Local Plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where. Only policies that provide a clear indication of how a decision maker should react to a development proposal should be included in the plan.”

“Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the area in the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver: ● the homes and jobs needed in the area;”

“the provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development; ● the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, ”

“Local planning authorities with Green Belts in their area should establish Green Belt boundaries in their Local Plans which set the framework for Green Belt and settlement policy. ”

” When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.”

Given the concerns of some Castle Point Residents and Green Belt campaigners fearing that Intervention would remove local interests, concerns and input from the Planning process, it is good to hear this official message regarding the current situation:

From the Horses Mouth:

“Castle Point has failed to convince the Secretary of State that they are doing enough to get a Local Plan in place.

A final decision is still to be made and will be made once the Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain has provided the Secretary of State with further advice on the current status of Local Plan production and what can be done to speed it up.

If intervention were to occur then a Local Plan that meets all of the necessary legal and procedural requirements would be produced which would include consulting with members of the local community.” 

Link to the Echo article is HERE.

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Basildon Council Stick 2 Fingers up at Whipping Boy, Castle Point and its Green Belt! Now “Watch this Space!”

Government Intervention. Canvey Island and Castle Point residents will now have to listen to the Borough’s decision makers feigning shock as to how badly they have been treated by the Government’s secretary of state Sajid Javid and his announcement of his intended Intervention in the cpbc local Plan process.

Harvey Smith

Feigning shock, as it is apparent that through contact and advice with the Government, cpbc would have been warned that their “feet dragging” had tested the SoS’ patience too often and for too long!

Glebelands SoS decision June 2013:

In the Secretary of State’s view, whilst the now withdrawn CS was in preparation, there were no real drivers to ensure that the Council pressed ahead. With the publication of the NPPF, he is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it.”

Jotmans Planning Inspector conclusion April 2017:

“However, events have not borne that out positive view. The Draft New Local Plan is currently sidelined and it is very obvious from elements of the Council’s case that there is no political will to take it further forward. In arguing that the proposal at issue is premature, the point is not that it would be premature in terms of the Draft New Local Plan but premature in terms of a different Draft Local Plan that takes a different approach to the provision of housing.”

Reading like a demand for a naughty child’s parents to attend a meeting with the Headmaster the SoS Letter to cpbc Leader Cllr Riley appears to be an illustration of total incompetence by our local authority:

” I gave you the opportunity to put forward any exceptional circumstances by 31 January 2018, which, in your view, justifies the failure to produce a Local Plan under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 regime.”

” the submission accompanying your letter of 31 January 2018. The Council has failed to meet its deadline for publication of a Plan between January – March 2018, in accordance with your July 2017 Local Development Scheme. There has been a consistent failure to produce a Local Plan since the last Plan was adopted in 1998. The Council has failed to meet milestones in published Local Development Schemes at least five times since 2004 and two failures to take a plan through examination.”

” Given that your Council has said it will not produce a Local Plan until after the Joint Plan has been produced and that the Joint Plan is not due to be submitted until 2020 it appears possible that Plan production could be accelerated through intervention.”

And Damningly:

” the other constituent authorities of Basildon and Brentwood are proposing to submit plans ahead of the Joint Plan”

Equally scathing was the SoS’ consideration of the Basildon Local Plan, HOWEVER, it appears Basildon representatives had their ears open!

In the SoS’ letter to Basildon council he writes:

… your Council still remains without an up to date Local Plan which undermines public confidence in the plan-led planning system.

Therefore I will hold you to account for your Council’s actions. Your Council needs to continue to meet your published timetable.

I will continue to monitor your progress closely and any further significant delays in meeting your timetable will cause me to have considerable doubt as to whether your Council is doing everything that is necessary in connection with the preparation of its Local Plan.

I will not hesitate to consider how to use the full range of powers Parliament has given me to ensure that a Plan is in place.

My officials will continue to engage with your officers.”

“My officials will continue to engage with your officers”! Quite clearly talks held, advice given and meetings have been held, between the Government officials and inspectors and Castle Point representatives.

There is no place for feigned shock and surprise.

Castle Point Borough Council Knew This Was Coming!

And sat on their Hands!

Why then is there not a Call for Heads to Roll?

Interestingly we noted within the cpbc Duty to Cooperate examination that, “Thurrock does not expect to make a submission until 2020”.

“And where are we in Castle Point left?

Even the most recent version of the cpbc Local Plan failed to include the “saviour” site, the Blinking Owl. With its previously developed element, close to strategic Highway routes and politically “barren”, enthusiastically promoted by mainland representatives and residents, in advance of more “precious” and “virgin” Green Belt sites as developable.

Unfortunately Essex County Council refuse to allow direct access onto strategic routes.

It is with Alarm then to read that Sajid Javid is intending that;

“My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting Essex County Council to prepare a Local Plan for Castle Point and with the neighbouring authorities on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.”

Now we likely see the loss of Glebelands, Jotmans Farm and the Dutch Village and all will be blamed on the Nasty Secretary of State and the Planning Inspector!!!

All so that Castle Point can be used as a Whipping Boy!

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

In the meantime Basildon campaigners, officers and councillors have nothing to feel smug about

Basildon Council Spooked by the Government into hurrying through their Local Plan!

It appears that Castle Point have expressed to Basildon Council they will not be able to reach their Housing Needs, without breaching rules around flood risk and/or nature conservation.

Whenever has Flood Risk prevented Castle Point Council from approving development plans on Canvey Island?

With typical political divisive splits the towns of Billericay, Basildon and Wickford, reminiscent of the old Castle Point plan-making battles, narrowly managed to vote to approve their Local Plan.

This is despite the Plan appearing to be doomed to failure! Not because the development may be in the right, or wrong places, but questions remain over the Duty to Cooperate requirement. The DtC bringing failure to the Castle Point LP, also illustrated where Basildon may well fail!

With council officers warning members that BASILDON Council could be forced to build thousands of extra houses to make up for a shortfall in Southend and Castle Point, if its Local Plan is not signed off by the end of this year, the council appear to have panicked into completing the process.

Little Cooperation appears to be forthcoming! Pulling the Draw Bridge up early does not indicate that exhaustive exploration of cooperation, where Housing Need and Supply is concerned, has been completed.

And yet the formation of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) consists of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock councils, following the demise of the Castle Point Local Plan, is purposely intended to prevent future failure of the Local Plans requirement to comply with the Duty to Cooperate

Why then would Basildon rush into approving their Local Plan?

All is now clear, Buying Time!

The ASELA group of authorities had,  and probably still do, intend to adopt a strategic view of Planning and Housing allocations, across the Housing Areas.

Until ASELA agrees a Joint Spatial Plan, no small undertaking, the Basildon Plan will logically be judged to be Premature at the least, and Unsound at best.

But they have moved on in the process, something it appears cpbc were happy not to do!

Now there appears little option but to do so, and hurriedly! The Chief Planner and his appointed team will expect cpbc members to be compliant, otherwise expect exclusion!

Our neighbouring Boroughs, apparently willing to commit Green Belt for development, will expect Castle Point to commit the same. 

Government forcing its will on local authorities causes resentment.

Recently there has been the abolition of Labour’s centrally imposed housing targets and improved Green Belt protections laid out in the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework.

We have however a “Broken housing Market”!

Market forces dictate though that developers will NOT build at a rate that results in market prices falling.

Of course there is the small issue of local elections approaching in May, that may focus peoples attention.

Of course, we may have misunderstood the intentions of the Secretary of State’s letter to Cllr Colin Riley, the cpbc officers may have got it all wrong !

But the fact remains Castle Point published a Local Plan in 2016. Only the Duty to Cooperate was Examined. It has been assumed that the Plan itself would also have Failed. Must this assumption of Failure be correct?

If so on whose decision. The same people who have stalled updating the document through cooperation work that should have been taking place since January 2017, when the failing was announced!

There are questions requiring answers and we are not getting them.

We have been promised Localism and Neighbourhood planning, we are getting neither if the Government Chief Planner and Essex County Council are given control of our Local Plan.

Feel free to comment!

Coverage of Basildon concerns over cpbc and Southend Housing Needs can be read HERE.

Adoption coverage of Basildon’s Local Plan can be read HERE.

Canvey Island, is there Foundation for Park Homes Boost at Roscommon Way’s Expense!

It almost appears inevitable that Canvey Island will once again supply the bulk of the Borough’s Housing Delivery in the near future!

The all important Local Plan 5 Year Housing Supply will be boosted, or drained, by the success of the Sandy Bay venture at the Thorney Bay caravan site.

The potential for 1,000+ dwellings, will impact upon the area for better or worse, one of the major impacts, is seemingly the death knell of the Roscommon Way final extension. That is unless the cpbc cabinet’s appeal to Essex County Council to intervene, produces a significant U-turn in the developer’s plans for the Park Homes site.

From the Map below it is difficult to envisage a different route for the Roscommon Way extension that would not divide or disrupt the Sandy Bay site and its community, nor one that would not involve substantial Compulsory Purchase Orders.

Screenshot (3)

copyright: Google

The Sandy Bay development is aimed at the over 50’s and retirees, people who will have invested substantial sums and expect the use of the facilities on offer as well as an element of peace and quiet. A main commuter route that may divide the Park Homes site would prove an obstacle in creating the proposed facility. One can only hope that ECC can come up with a solution, otherwise the almost annual, call for road infrastructure improvement funding for Canvey Island, will be added to that of Canvey Way and Somnes Avenue!

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Thorney Bay site the Green Light to switch tack from the application for 600+ “bricks and mortar dwellings, to an even more numerous Park Home development.

” ‘Park Home’ is the industry name for a caravan which is used for residential purpose.

National Planning Policy, as reflected in the NPPF, requires Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to produce Local Plans that will deliver the full, Objectively Assessed Needs (OAN), for market and affordable housing in the housing market area. The Government’s online Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) sets out the methodology for assessing housing need; it refers to specific types of housing which should be considered. No reference is made to Park Homes or residential caravans. Accordingly, there is no duty for LPAs to forward plan for provision of this type of housing.”

“”…the needs of people residing in or resorting to their district with respect to the provision of-  (a) sites on which caravans can be stationed…”

This suggests that local housing authorities (this includes District Councils and London Borough Councils) will need to start forward planning for provision of residential caravans.
This is a significant step change from other recent planning legislation because it is the first time non-gypsy caravans have been recognised as having a role in contributing towards the supply of housing in a given area.” *

All along CPBC have stated that their planning control powers are restricted to the point of no influence, this despite the apparent desire through the many versions of their Local Plan intending to seek central funding to provide the residents to the Eastern and Southern part of Canvey Island relief from the congested routes off of and onto the Island.

A balance between Homes, Congestion Relief and Profit, with congestion relief finishing an out of site 3rd!

Prior to the 2016 Housing Act it may have been necessary for a development application for Sandy Bay to have gone through the planning channels at CPBC. An apparent similar proposal went before Chelmsford Council’s planners, this site also is subject to Flood Risk so would have required sending to the Environment Agency, as consultees, for consideration. 

The use of the 2016 Housing Act, allows the Sandy Bay site to evolve outside of the Local Plan and cpbc planning processes.

Essex County Council may also have reservations in pursuing the remainder of the Roscommon Way link, as the original phases, whether as a cost saving exercise or not, were constructed with a shortened Life Span.**

The completion, however, of the final phase of Roscommon Way would increase usage of the existing phases from commuter, leisure and industrial vehicles, both hazardous and non-hazardous. ECC would need to ask what would be the likely effect of the increased usage on the road foundations, and subsequently the hazardous pipework beneath the existing Roscommon Way, especially where vehicles are filtered into the single lane areas of the carriageway?

Usually the provision of new Highways are restricted by the levels of new Business Use, rather than a level of commuter congestion. The completed stages of the Roscommon Way fulfilled this requirement, it will need compelling evidence, which may have come from a traditional “bricks and mortar” development at Thorney Bay, for the completion phase to be realised.

The problems of developing on Canvey Island are manifold, that one developer appears to understand ways of traversing these obstacles, is clear.

The residents of Canvey Island  are now encouraged by cpbc to direct their hopes and protest for highway congestion relief towards Essex County Council!

*The views of Sanderson Weatherall.                                                            http://sw.co.uk/property-consultancy/planning/911-the-housing-and-planning-act-2016

** http://planning.chelmsford.gov.uk/Planning/lg/dialog.page?Param=lg.Planning&org.apache.shale.dialog.DIALOG_NAME=gfplanningsearch&viewdocs=true&SDescription=14/00722/FUL

Dear Sajid, re: Intervention of 15 Local Plan Councils, didn’t realise it was a Race – it’s only been 10 years, Yours Castle Point Council!

We have to hope that the correspondence capabilities at cpbc Runnymede Towers, plus of course the delicate balance of political power in the council chamber, are such that Government intervention in the cpbc Local Plan process, as threatened by the Secretary of State Sajid Javid, will prove unnecessary following the cpbc response to gov. criticism.

On the other hand, how the emerging utopia, otherwise known as Sandy Bay, will be viewed by a Planning Inspector, should one be appointed through an intervention process, will be interesting to see.

The latest cpbc Local Plan vers.IV indicates Thorney Bay as scheduled to realise 600+ dwellings, Outline in Principle is considered to have already been granted for this including the condition that land is set aside for the completion of Roscommon Way, supposedly the answer to all of Canvey Island’s traffic congestion problems.

During the November cpbc cabinet meeting concerns, bordering on panic, were voiced by members that land required for Roscommon Way phase 2 may be being planned for development of the Park Homes development, namely Sandy Bay.

ThorneyBay

Sandy Bay – Roscommon Way route?

The Thorney Bay application for 600+ dwellings includes a Condition that reads;

“”Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension Land” Means the land to be retained unfettered and free from obstruction and any ransom strip that might fetter the ability to develop the Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension” 

However a visit to the cpbc Planning Portal indicates that a decision on the Planning Proposal has yet to be determined and that the Conditions, or S106 Agreement remains unsigned and in Draft form only.

Meaning that the consternation of the cpbc cabinet members over Roscommon Way land becoming a “ransom strip” may be outside of their powers of control!

So a Local Plan Government appointed intervening Planning Inspector, would arrive at Castle Point to discover that the only large site identified in the Local Plan vers.IV is within a 3A Flood Zone, part of a Critical Drainage Area, within the Hazard Range of a Top Tier COMAH site and is now outside of Planning Control, due to Thorney Bay having been granted, long ago, permission as a caravan site!

As Olly Murs might sing;

“Dear Sajid, please excuse my writing.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking
‘Cause I’m cold and alone tonight.
I miss you and nothing hurts like no Plan.
And no one understands what we went through.
It was short. It was sweet. We tried.

Park Homes being simply a progression from caravans thereby a new planning application being unnecessary according to cpbc.

Being outside Planning Control there is an unknown potential for the number of Park Homes should the venture be successful, 1000 -1,600 being a possibility.

How can this guess-timate be part of a Local Plan Housing Supply, an Inspector might ask given the unplanned for numbers of delivery.

Fortunately Park Homes are counted as Housing Supply. Perhaps a Local Plan exception can be made in the case of Castle Point Council so that they may leave the 5 Housing Supply as an open ended figure, to be confirmed by the Park Home owners!

Alarm bells should be ringing at the apparent stalling of the Kiln Road delivery adding pressure onto the lack of annual Housing Supply, meaning Sandy Bay becomes more and more important inclusion in the cpbc Annual Monitoring Reports.

So an Inspector would become aware that the sole large delivering “Housing” supply site is on Canvey Island in a most inappropriate area, delivering unsubstantiated numbers of dwellings, whilst all of the mainland sites are, in one way or another, contentious!

This will not look good IF the cpbc “Dear Sajid” letter is unconvincing!

The likelihood of intervention may yet be unlikely as the High Court has twice denied the proposed developer of Jotmans farm site permission to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to disagree with the Planning Inspector’s Appeal decision.

One can only read into this that the allocation of Housing Supply sites are best done through the Local Plan process and that Local Plans are intended for local authorities to compile through the Town and Country Regulations.

As it appears that legal issues may require testing, the Government may be falling into the open can of worms with this Intervention initiative.

Maybe best if, even, Castle Point and the Sandy Bay developers are left to their own means!

 

Thorney Bay, change of Use Over-Heard on the Canvey Grapevine! CPBC Local Plan issues?

It started as a Whisper, became a Rumour and has now reached Conjecture level on the Canvey Grapevine!

Thorney Bay, the apparent answer to the Castle Point Council’s Local Plan dreams, has become the subject of unconfirmed speculation. With the humiliating Withdrawal of the cpbc Core Strategy in 2011, it was considered “timely” by cpbc officers that Thorney Bay, despite it being sited within the Hazard range of Calor Gas and within a 3A Flood Zone, should come forward to provide a Housing Development of some 600 dwellings plus sheltered accommodation.

Thorney Bay then became the Backbone, the largest single development site, of Castle Point council’s daft Local Plan and surviving the GB sites cull to remain as the spine of the Local Plan2016, 5 year Housing Supply!

The Thorney Bay proposal passed in Principle by the cpbc development committee, whilst in the following months / years a 1st Phase proposal has gained Health and Safety Executive’s permission and is apparently overcoming the Flooding Objections to the fundamental requirements of the Environment Agency and the ecc Lead Local Flood Authority.

Now then; Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once!

A little Bird has told me, and I must say there is little foundation, so to speak, for this to be considered information, but it could be that the development may not be going much further!

To me this would not be a surprise, I would have thought a more likely idea would be for the developer to follow the Kings Park, and remove the static caravans and replace with Park Homes.

The build cost would be far less, the speed of development would be probably twice as quick and success of the venture equally, if not more so, financially successful as Kings Park!

What’s to lose?

Park Homes and Luxury Lodges can easily reach an asking price of £300,000, the site is opposite Thorney Bay Road, and residents would likely be of an age not too concerned with, the daily commute.

Now that the Canvey Bay Watch team have created such an attractive area of the promenade and beach front, this forms another selling point for potential Park Home buyers. I would have thought that the Canvey Bay Watch team should soon be knocking on the site owner’s door for financial support, should this development rumour come to fruition!

Thorney Bay 1

Photograph courtesy: Dave Harvey

The question for cpbc is whether these Park Homes should count towards the official Housing Supply.

On one hand these Park Homes “are suitable for residential use throughout the year and are built to last at least 50 years”! (Omar park and leisure homes). Although whether 50 years lifespan is considered permanent is challengeable, however, their success is, and there are people desiring to own them.

The Planning Inspector examining the Glebelands, Thundersley, Appeal did not consider the numbers at Kings Park should qualify for inclusion in building numbers, but that may have been due to cpbc being unable to clarify how many caravans were replaced by Park Homes.

We do know that of the caravans at Thorney Bay the Inspector concluded;

“But that does not necessarily mean that the Households now occupying caravans would have chosen that type of accommodation, in preference to bricks and mortar.”

Well, “bricks and mortar” these Park Homes ain’t! But the appeal of Park Home life is generally popular across the UK, so if people are choosing to buy into this type of accommodation, then there is an argument for these dwellings to be included into the Canvey Island Housing Supply count.

With our “Broken Housing Market” leading to the apparent need to revisit Pre-Fabricated Housing, these Park Homes may well have some scope.

Whether or not any Affordable Home supply can be squeezed into the equation will be upto the negotiating abilities of cpbc, so we won’t hold our breath on that one!

What could be expected is for some Canvey Island “bricks and mortar” dwellings to become available, for local young families hoping to get on the property ladder, as older Canvey residents move into the Park Homes.

It may be doubtful , should the development come into fruition, whether the Housing Need in the mainland part of the Borough be part satisfied, as it will be difficult to argue that this type of dwelling satisfies the cross market “bricks and mortar” Housing Need. In fact it probably increases the pressure on mainland site supply.

I remind you this is only speculation.

As a reference, below, I include part of the text of the cpbc Report on Residential use of Caravan and Park Home Sites 2013.

“It is clear from both Census data and from Council Tax data that an increase in the availability of caravans for residential use resulted in an increased housing supply of the order of 800 homes in Castle Point in the period from 2001 to 2011. This increase was largely as a result of the change of use of Kings Park and Thorney Bay Caravan Parks from holiday use to residential use.”

“To date, the Council has only included those caravans registering for Council Tax at Kings Park within the housing figures for the period 2001 to 2011. However, given that caravans at Thorney Bay were included as homes within the Census 2011 outcomes, and this will be reflected in population and household data moving forward, it is appropriate that the housing supply figures for the period 2001 to 2011 are appropriately adjusted to include these homes also.”

“The change of use of static caravans from holiday accommodation to residential accommodation has made a significant contribution to housing provision over the last decade (2001 to 2011). Approximately, 800 additional caravans moved into permanent residential use over this time period, primarily on the Kings Park and Thorney Bay sites. This is supported by evidence from the Census and from Council Tax records.”

“However, whilst some of this provision has contributed positively towards the community, in particular at Kings Park, the nature of the provision at Thorney Bay has had negative socioeconomic consequences both for the surrounding community and for the vulnerable families who have found themselves living at the site.”

“Due to these issues there is support for proposals to redevelop a significant proportion of the site for traditional homes. However, it is the intention of the owner to retain a smaller caravan park of 300 caravans for residential use towards the west of the existing site.”

“Assuming that the proposals to redevelop this site as proposed for traditional housing are delivered in full over the next 10 years, then it is unlikely that the number of households living in caravans in Castle Point will increase further between 2011 and 2021. Indeed, as a result of the development of traditional housing over this period, it is expected that the proportion of households living in caravans will reduce.”

“However, should the Thorney Bay site not be redeveloped as proposed, then there is the potential for a further 800 caravans moving from transient use into permanent residential use. This will increase further the number of households living in caravans, and the associated socio-economic issues arising from this. It is therefore imperative that the Council work alongside the site owners to encourage and facilitate the redevelopment of this site in an appropriate timeframe.”

Video copyright BBC

Castle Point’s choice – Develop Green Belt or Funding for “Vital Services” will be Cut!

We were recently reminded by a senior cabinet member how important the funding revenue received from house building was to Castle Point Council.

He clarified how the scaling down of direct Government funding to local authorities made the necessity of New Homes Bonus payments a vital source of income.

Housing

We heard the CPBC Cabinet member responsible for finances state that;

Currently local authorities receive the New Homes bonus on every new dwelling developed.

The Government will expect a Base Level of Housing Growth.

In Castle Point this Base Level of Housing Growth equates to NOT receiving any New Homes Bonus funding until 120 new dwellings are Developed in the Borough!

The Castle Point  Local Plan2016 seeks to supply 100 new dwellings per annum, some way short of the Base Level of Growth sought by Government.

Previously local authorities received monies against every new dwelling developed!

The New Homes Bonus (‘the Bonus’) was introduced in 2011 to provide a clear incentive for local authorities to encourage housing growth in their areas. It rewards local councils for each additional home added to the council tax base, including newly built properties and conversions as well as long term empty properties brought back into use, after deducting demolitions. 

 The Bonus is an unring-fenced grant paid by central government,  which allows local authorities to decide how to spend it, for example on frontline services or keeping council tax down, as we recognise that local authorities are in the best position to make decisions about local priorities.

Local authorities are expected to engage with their local community to decide how the money is spent, so residents feel the direct benefits of growth.

Starved of Central Government Funding, the council are between a rock and a hard place with the government very cleverly requiring councils to hold a referendum as to whether it would be acceptable to increase council tax in order to maintain societies fundamental requirements.

This equates to an inevitable increase in council tax, or more development, or less “vital services”!

Your choice !

It may also imply that unless the said cpbc cabinet member for finances can balance his budget, in light of the reducing funding streams, the Local Plan2016 Examining Inspector may also be required to include the council’s budget, against the projected Housing Supply of 100  new dwellings per annum contained in the Plan, within his Test of Soundness!

Thorney Bay – Game Changer for Castle Point Housing Provision?

 

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

“Clause 124 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which came into force on 12 July 2016, recognises residential caravans as having a role in contributing towards the supply of housing in a given area.

In a significant step change from previous planning guidance, it means local housing authorities will need to start forward planning for the provision of park homes – increasing the prospects that new park home applications will be given planning approval.

The Government’s online Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), which sets out the methodology for assessing housing need, is now expected to be updated in line with Clause 124, to specifically identify park homes as an additional type of housing that needs to be considered and planned for.

This is a significant change for the park homes sector and it could have a positive impact on numerous sites across England when applying for planning permission for new residential caravans.

However, this change is set to boost the status of park homes within National Planning Policy, as reflected in the NPPF, which requires Local Planning Authorities to produce Local Plans that will deliver the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in their housing market area.

For the first time, residential caravans have been identified as contributing towards housing supply!”

Mr Ian Butter, a well known development consultant in the Castle Point area, produced a document stating;

“Just over half the residents interviewed would stay in their mobile homes even if  they had a chance to move to a bricks and mortar home
• Financial reasons were most important in choosing to live in a mobile home.  Some respondents could afford to buy a mobile home when they could afford  nothing else. Others – former owner/occupiers – could buy a mobile home and  retain a capital sum for income supplement without the need for a  mortgage.
• Retirement, ill-health and family change provided the spur for many to move  from a bricks and mortar house too large or unsuitable for their needs  and too big or expensive to keep clean and maintained.

Park Homes are well designed and compact, ideal for first-time buyers and more particularly attractive to the semi-retired, retired and the elderly
Park Home Estates provide a secure, managed environment
The homes provide good value for money and come fully furnished and equipped to individual taste
Mortgage facilities are available                                                                                                        They can appreciate in value akin to traditional property
Park Homes can be designed and adapted to suit almost any personal choices and are readily adaptable for disabled occupation
The environmental standards in new homes is very high, resulting in modest running costs, and sound sustainability credentials
Maintenance costs are also generally much lower than bricks and mortar”

Castle Point council have a less consistent approach to the inclusion of “park homes” in their housing supply figures depending on where the figures are being used. During development appeals they may suggest inclusion whilst the appellant may suggest exclusion.

CPBC’s position in September 2013 states;

“It is clear from both Census data and from Council Tax data that an increase in the availability of caravans for residential use resulted in an increased housing supply of the order of 800 homes in Castle Point in the period from 2001 to 2011. This increase was largely as a result of the change of use of Kings Park and Thorney Bay Caravan Parks from holiday use to residential use. To date, the Council has only included those caravans registering for Council Tax at Kings Park within the housing figures for the period 2001 to 2011. However, given that caravans at Thorney Bay were included as homes within the Census 2011 outcomes, and this will be reflected in population and household data moving forward, it is appropriate that the housing supply figures for the period 2001 to 2011 are appropriately adjusted to include these homes also.

However, should the Thorney Bay site not be redeveloped as proposed (bricks and mortar dwellings), then there is the potential for a further 800 caravans moving from transient use into permanent residential use.”

Whether or not, as in the case of those “park homes” at Thorney Bay, Planning Guidance would actively seek to site static caravans in a Flood Risk Zone 3 or within the close vicinity of a Top Tier COMAH site may be another matter.

Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect in the light of this new initiative that, with over 1,000 of these units having been installed over recent years and in the process having increased the population of CANVEY ISLAND accordingly, that the Island’s housing supply numbers should reflect this development.

These facts must be conveyed to the cpbc Local Plan 2016 Examining Inspector, when he considers the housing supply record of Castle Point as a whole and CANVEY ISLAND in particular.