Tag Archives: housing supply

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

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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.

Home Builders Federation Vindicate Castle Point Council’s Protection of its Green Belt!

Writing specifically about Castle Point Green Belt, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) representative has given both credence and support to Castle Point MP  Rebecca Harris, CPBC council leaders and the canvey island independent party, in their insistence that the Borough’s Green Belt need not be developed.

Suggesting it is not a decision for land owners or developers the HBF, in respect of the CPBC Local Plan2016, consider that;

“The decision to release land from the green belt, or not, or how much, is ultimately a political decision for the Council. The only thing we would argue is that if the Council exercises its legitimate political right to safeguard the green belt (so reflecting the wishes of its residents) it would need to amend the introduction to the plan and Objective 6 so that it provides a truer reflection of the consequences of this decision (see our representations above). As we have observed above, the requirement of 100 dpa is very much lower than the net affordable housing need which has been assessed to be 298 dpa, and the overall need of 400 dpa. The Plan would therefore need to be more honest and say that some households with housing needs will not be accommodated.”

So apart from the LP2016 requiring some alteration to inject some honesty, the decision to go ahead and submit the Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for independent Examination appears to be justified.

This may cause some temporary embarrassment to critics who have suggested otherwise.

Furthermore the HBF appear to be more than supportive of Cllr Dick and Cllr Skipp’s motion to include the release of the land known as the Blinking Owl site, or H11, within the sites available for release in support of Housing Supply during the Local Plan’s term.

The HBF recognise that H11 has, in local development terms, huge potential.

HBF suggests;

“Policy H11: Area of Search and Safeguarded Land – North West Thundersley
The policy is unsound in part 3 because it is unjustified.
As a rule we do not comment on site specifics.

However, in view of the size of the unmet need, we would question the appropriateness of part 3 of the policy which identifies 104.2ha of land for release from the Green Belt to support housing development post-2031.

If the land is suitable for development and capable of being developed for housing before 2031, then it could be released as part of this Local Plan to help close the gap between the housing need and supply.”

Good road access, infrastructure and amenities are required for such a large Housing Supply potential at the H11 site.

As Essex County Council have submitted evidence towards the Local Plan2016 consultation and have stated their opposition to making provision for the site’s road access, it is reasonable that they should be open to some heavy criticism if they are judged as being un-cooperative within the Duty to Cooperate!

 

Knots in the Golden Thread-Local Plan2016 + Living in the Castle Point Green Belt “Bubble.”

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An investment opportunity

In the light of the bold, some suggest foolhardy, decision to approve the Local Plan2016 and its housing delivery policies, and ahead of the Jotmans Farm Inquiry decision, it may be worth scanning over some Planning Policy extracts.

“At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.”

“To be considered deliverable, sites should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable. Sites with planning permission should be considered deliverable until permission expires, unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented within five years, for example they will not be viable, there is no longer a demand for the type of units or sites have long term phasing plans.”

Local Authorities are expected: “To boost significantly the supply of housing,”

Castle Point has seen a historic housing delivery below that of the recognised housing need in 13 out of the last 14 years, according to available information.

The average annual supply over the recorded 14 years is 102 Dwellings per Annum.

The proposed Local Plan2016 “seeks to deliver approximately 100 homes per annum”.

This falls short of boosting significantly the supply of housing, in fact it seeks to, and likely will supply less than the previous average housing supply over the previous decade and more.

” an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation”

Castle Point Council’s evidence suggests that Business / Industrial development is in deficit in the areas of Canvey east and throughout the mainland. Almost typically, and almost to emphasise the usual contrariness of planning in Castle Point the decision makers promote and approve two large development sites in Canvey west!

We are reminded that the National Planning Policy Framework should be read as a whole.

Thereby lies both the possible Dangers and the Saviours!

The protection of the local Green Belt, whilst some other parts of Green Belt will / may be released for development, will in itself invite scrutiny at Local Plan Examination.

The Inspector during the Examination process of the Castle Point Core Strategy considered:

” I have reservations about the methodology employed and the way in which it appears to have been used, leading to inconsistent and inappropriate site selection. ”

” the absence of a reasonable number of larger sites is more likely to undermine the Council’s ability to deliver its objective to provide affordable housing.”

“It is not for me to identify the options available to the Council but I have been provided with detailed submissions on potential housing sites put forward by representatives of the house building industry.  One way forward might be to reconsider these…..”

We must entrust our faith that these concerns and options have been scrutinised by the drivers of our Local Plan2016 and can be evidenced when the time for Examination arrives.

When is a Constraint not a Constraint? When it is applied to areas un-Constrained. Flood Funding issues revealed!

A timely reminder for the Castle Point powers that be, whilst they continue to consider the amending work that may alter “our” daft New Local Plan Local Plan.

Why do Castle Point Council continue to disregard the issues of introducing more and more housing and business developments onto Canvey Island?

Continuously we hear of Castle Point Housing Numbers being subjected to Constraints, meaning that Housing Needs do not have to be met.

The two major references made by councillors and campaigners alike are to Green Belt and Flood Risk.

Strikingly the constraint having potentially the most damaging impact on residents, the physical constraint of Flood Risk, receives the most dubious of application by those in control of Castle Point Council!

Flood Risk affects the much of the Borough in two ways, flooding from surface water and from tidal forces. Since 2013 there can be no doubt that hotspots on the mainland cannot cope , without improvements, from flooding caused by rainfall. Canvey Island suffers from a flat landscape meaning there is little gravity drainage, thus surface water flooding will affect larger unpredictable areas.

The sea defences around Canvey are in need of medium term improvements. Climate and natural change mean improvements cannot be ignored.

canvey broken sewers 1.jpg-pwrt3

photo credit: Echo Newspaper

In both areas Funding is an issue. Large schemes such as the TE2100 which suggests improving the sea defences at Canvey Island, also plans to absorb a large area of the Green Belt for making room for water at West Canvey!

A major percentage of funding for both sea defence and the surface water drainage must come from the private sector and other agencies, rather than Government.

This funding is neither secured nor identified!

And yet all versions of the Castle Point Local Plan, Core Strategy, draft New Local Plan, potential amended draft or final Newer Local Plan refuse to apply development Constraints directly to the actual area the specific Constraints apply to!

This will always be seen, and revealed, as a motivated attempt to unreasonably protect areas within the Borough with far less damaging but more sensitive reasons for protection against development.

In other words using Flood risk to lower the Housing Supply total across parts of the Borough unaffected by the Actual Risk of Flood!

hear-no-evil-see-no-evil-speak-no-evil

Never more than now, with the reduction in DEFRA’s flooding protection budget of 15%, will Flood risk be able to be used to support lower housing development numbers and be accepted by a Planning Inspector Examining a Local Plan.

Whilst Castle Point Council suggest housing numbers should be lower in the Borough, yet continue to promote increasing development directly in the Actual Constrained area, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign will continue to challenge this abomination!

“Local Factors” were indicated to have distorted housing growth distribution within the Core Strategy.

“Local factors” is not councillors fairly representing their ward residents.

“Local factors” evolves from motivated pressure groups applying political pressure on councillors in turn attempting to exploit the Local Planning process to protect their positions of control.

FG Insight today writes:

The Government must not allow budget cuts to affect vital flood protection work, a committee of MPs has warned.

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee has asked Defra to produce a plan showing how it will deliver vital services in the face of further cuts, which will reduce administration budgets by more than a quarter and overall resource budgets by 15 per cent.

It comes after flooding devastated parts of North West England and the Scottish Borders last week.

As the major clean-up continued, a row broke out over the amount of money being spent on flooding, with Labour accusing the Conservatives of slashing Defra’s 2015/16 budget by £116m.

Chairman of the committee, Neil Parish, said while savings would have to be made, Defra must prioritise front-line work such as flood protection.

“We have asked the Secretary of State for a clear strategy outlining the impact of Spending Review cuts on vital services,” he said.

“We welcome Defra’s commitment to a six-year capital flood defence programme and its pledge to protect maintenance funding for activities such as river dredging.

“This is prudent investment since flood damage may cost more to repair than to prevent. But the increasing risk of more extreme flood events will stretch these budgets thinly.”

Defra’s funding plan relies on the Government being able to secure £600m from external contributions – of which only £250m has so far been secured, with only £61 million from the private sector.

Mr Parish added: “We are pleased the Government is committed to a £2.3 billion programme for flood defences over this Parliament. But this relies heavily on investment from the private sector, which has not yet been guaranteed.”

CLA president Ross Murray agreed flood protection remained crucial.

“The EFRA committee has raised a concern that investment from the private sector has not been guaranteed,”

 

Canvey Green Belt in or out of the Local Plan? Nothing to be learned at Local Liaison Meetings for sure!

The “eagerly awaited” update on the new Local Plan was finally announced to the attendees at the Canvey Island Liaison meeting on 13th February. Senior Officers filled us in with the same details that we were aware of as long ago as last October!

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A Demographic survey was being worked on, the 5 Year Housing supply had been identified, as voted on and adopted by Council last October.
Nothing new there, other than the initial 5 year housing supply totalled 1,200 dwellings as opposed to the just under 1,000 list announced at Council.
We heard that the 6 – 15 year supply of housing part of the Local Plan is being discussed at present. All areas included in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, Green Belt and all, are included.
If the Officers are not in a position to identify the 6 – 15 year supply after 4 months of discussions I would expect once they are made known they will be controversial.
Who for, is the question.
A new issue was introduced to help / hinder site selection the identification of traffic hotspots.
Why this should be of importance at this late stage of the process probably suggests the protection of politically sensitive sites that may be more sustainable than alternative, less sustainable sites, if you get what I mean!
This was in some ways confirmed when the Officer mentioned stopping development “where we don’t want it!”
Who did he mean by “we”?
A schedule for the Local Plan was confirmed that indicated the outstanding evidence documents being available so as to announce the 6 – 15 housing allocation (2,000 dwellings at the rate currently indicated) ready for presentation to Full Council in May.
I guess it may be complete coincidence that May is also the expected date of the result of the Glebelands Appeal.
The Officers were questioned as to the disappearance of housing numbers in the Thorney Bay development in the recent approval of the Outline Application. Thorney Bay being the single largest development site in the Local Plan housing allocation.
The Officer indicated this was of no consequence as the numbers had always been “up to 600” dwellings.
Whether his “past tense wording” now indicates that the potential is for there now being more than 600 dwellings developed, time alone will tell. The next Cabinet Agenda reveals a new attempt to count the numbers residing at Thorney Bay.
This is needed to prove betterment of people at risk of flood to pass Environment Agency concerns, ie less residents on site, and alternatively to show a nett gain in housing numbers, ie more houses (flats) than existing caravans! Complicated but I think you know where this is leading.
Results of the new Local Plan Issues consultation were available.
Surprisingly in Question 1 “what is good (strengths),” Green belt featured as only the 9th highest ranked. Green / Open Space was ranked 1st. Seafront / Coastal managed a highly respectable 7th position especially in the light that this had the potential to draw “votes” being of interest to less than half of the Borough, on Canvey Island.
Question 3 was dominated by Development causing congestion, Rank 1st and Development causing over development / over population, Rank 2nd, whilst Question 4 revealed Third Road, presumably off Canvey, as the 2nd Ranked concern.
For the Council decision makers to select areas for housing based on congestion above sustainability factors would make no sense. This would be akin to shuffling development sites around the Borough in preference to holding out for infrastructure improvements and selecting the correct sites.
This consultation revealed that Castle Point residents were sensitive to changes that are likely to lead to an urbanisation of the Borough.
The question that Local Plans must answer is “can change be forced on us?”
By rights the answer from the Councillors should be No, as they are elected to represent the residents.
From Government if the answer is Yes, then the promises that the Localism Bill hinted at should be made clear as to it’s limitations.
Residents are not, indeed cannot be, against any development at all. What they are against is development that has major impact.
Clearly there are Government incentives for the Borough Council to accept development, but should finance be a driving force or just a consideration?
There may well be a price to pay for the preservation, or loss, of our Green Belt.
This loss will be felt by the loss of open space and, depending which areas are affected, in changes to Councillor personel.
Mind you, when was the last time consultation was taken into account?
Otherwise it would have been called negotiation.