So, word is out that the Castle Point Council latest Local Plan will be, again, considered by council members during late October 2019, or is at least scheduled to be. This may or may not be subject to there being a Parliamentary Election later around that time, which may bring some bearing on the scheduling.
As we are all aware the CPBC Local Plan is a sensitive issue not least amongst the Castle Point Electorate! Ructions were caused when the previous attempt to adopt a Local Plan was bravely thwarted by those council members refusing to inflict certain damage to the borough and Canvey Island, through the draft Local Plan’s level of and siting of huge development sites. This they did under extreme and unfair pressure from Government, the cpbc controlling group and senior officers, insisting that Government Intervention was imminent. The Planning industry’s thoughts on the Intervention topic, and how this threat appears to have subsided were previously covered HERE.
This lessening of the Threat from Government of Local Plan Intervention, should give some encouragement to cpbc councillors to come up with their own Local Plan in line with Residents expectations.
Residents will once again be looking towards the resolve of our Council Representatives to Protect the Borough’s Green Belt and from Over Development. The delivery of supporting Infrastructure is abysmal, any development appearing to only compound issues and problems such as medical services, highway issues etc etc. These issues, however, are not solely confined to Canvey Island, what did concern Canvey Island was the necessary improvements to its Drainage System, some £24,500,000’s worth of remedial work.
Infrastructure Costs should also include the required Improvements to Canvey Island’s Sea Defences, but of course these are not included, nor allowed for within the CPBC Local Plan and its distribution of Housing Development Sites.
The CPBC Corporate Plan acknowledges that Castle Point is :
“a small Borough covering just 17.3 square miles, and an estimated population of 89,700. We are located in South Essex at the heart of the Thames Gateway South Essex sub-region, between Basildon and Southend.”
“Just over 55% of Castle Point’s land is designated as Green Belt. As a result, most of the Borough’s population live within one of four towns Benfleet (22%), Canvey Island (43%), Hadleigh (14%), and Thundersley (21%).”
“Castle Point has a population density of 19.21 persons per hectare, the second highest district in the county and considerably above the 4.0 average for the whole of Essex. The population density map below shows the highest rates of population are in the centre/south east of Canvey Island and within the towns of Benfleet and Hadleigh, although there are also expanses of low population density. Just 51% of the Castle Point district is classified as green space, the lowest proportion in the county (the Essex highest figure is 93% in Uttlesford): green spaces are important for wellbeing, community cohesion and for wildlife.”
The CPBC Local Plan needs to Highlight and expand on this with a suitable Housing Strategy, one that Residents can be comfortable with for a Healthy and Prosperous Future and not be resigned to a continued deterioration of the area as we know it.
We need to think carefully as to how our wishes are being Represented!
Other local authorities are struggling with coming to terms with the pressures of imposed development levels and respecting their Green and Open Spaces. Castle Point Council and its members, Our Representatives, must not buckle under pressure from either Cabinet members nor officers, in the knowledge we are not alone in this difficulty.
Lichfields January Insight, “Planned up and be counted, (Local Plan-making since the NPPF 2012)” clearly highlighted the problems surrounding local authorities affected by Green Belt constraints on development. :
“The majority (63%) of the LPAs which benefit from an up-to-date plan are unconstrained by Green Belt, whereas by contrast, 59% of LPAs without a post NPPF 2012 Local Plan are constrained by Green Belt, with these authorities twice as likely to not have a post-NPPF 2012 Plan as none Green Belt authorities.”
“The Government’s early 2017 deadline for Local Plan submission has been and gone, and in March 2018 the Housing Minister announced an intention to intervene in three (Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral) of fifteen previously-named authorities who were being closely watched. With the Government’s intervention threat still in play and the bite of NPPF 2018 in force from 24 January 2019, can we expect a new rush on Plan-making activity?”
“Green Belt Reflecting the Government’s manifesto pledge, the NPPF 2018 changes Green Belt policy. Under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, its role as restricting development is tied to where it provides a “strong reason” for doing so, whilst those plan makers releasing Green Belt have first to show they have examined all other reasonable options, including brownfield sites, optimising density, and meeting needs in adjoining authorities.”
This final point we wish to point is exactly how site selection should also be viewed where development within Flood Risk zones through the Sequential Test, rather than the CPBC, Canvey Island “special case” method!