Tag Archives: Intervention

What the Hell are CPBC, Planning for Canvey Island? 3 Strikes and Usually, you would Expect to be OUT!

No doubt the Government Intervention team will be the fall guys should the CPBC Local Plan hit choppy waters at the Examination stage, having supposedly “pressurised” the council members into approving the latest daft Plan!

I mean, what Local Authority, in its right mind, would seek to Plan to build so many new Houses on Canvey Island, in the Green Belt, in a Critical Drainage Area, in a Flood Zone, within close proximity to 2 Hazardous Industrial sites?

Well, Castle Point Council would for certain.

* Approving the contents of their draft Local Plan just 3 weeks before the massive expansion in the handling of volatile and dangerous fuels at OIKOS on Canvey, is made known to Residents, could be politely described as “Insensitive”.

* Approving the contents of their draft Local Plan just 3 weeks before the Surface Water Flooding across major parts of the UK, in the full knowledge that Canvey Island itself suffered similarly during 2013 and 2014, could be politely described as “Fortunate”.

* Approving the contents of their draft Local Plan, containing an ambition to see an allocation of up to 40% Affordable homes, in the same month that CPRE published their report “Space to Breathe, A state of the Green Belt”, in which was found; “Only 1 in 10 homes built on land released from the Green Belt over the past decade are ‘affordable,” “The report says that harmful development on the Green Belt, often in the guise of providing ‘affordable’ homes, is squandering this valuable asset at a time when it is needed for our own health and well-being, and to address the climate change crisis” could be politely described as “Ambitious”.

On the OIKOS situation, no doubt we will have more to say prior to the Public exhibition at the Paddocks on Thursday 21st November.

Of the Surface Water Flooding issues we would add that Canvey Island appears to have been conveniently forgotten where the promise of £24,500,000 worth of funding, to bring our drainage facilities up to some sort of standard, is concerned.

It is accepted by the Environment Agency that the drainage scheme on Canvey Island is “Complex”! And that is when it is being maintained and cleared, as so often is not the case! 

Castle Point Borough Council continue to Encourage, Direct and Approve more Housing and Population onto the Flood Risk part of the Borough, that is Canvey Island than the Safer Areas of the Borough!

copyright: Google

Getting the Local Plan Green Belt Bad News Out of the Way, Dusting the Dirt Under the Carpet, Castle Point Council Style!

Can Castle Point Council, in their successful, heavy handed agreement of their Local Plan, now be congratulated on Getting the Dirt Brushed under the Carpet?

As we had noted previously, the CPBC leadership’s exaggerated claims of pressure from the Government Intervention team, to get the Local Plan done, appears to have blatantly used the October 31st Brexit Day as Leverage, which the Lead group capitulated to.

Whether it was worth scuttling through the Local Plan’s “acceptance” (I hope that word appeases some of our more sensitive readers) ahead of the General Election date and outside of the period of Purdah, time alone will tell.

Our MP Rebecca Harris’ re-election campaign may well not have been helped by the Tory lead group’s vote for a Local Plan that condemns so much of the Borough’s Green Belt to Development.

In the past Rebecca has gone to great lengths to support Green Belt campaigners when Applications have gone to Appeal, as in the cases of Glebelands and Jotmans Farm.

Following her councillor colleagues actions on their “unpalatable” Local Plan with its Green Belt loss, it will be interesting to see any reaction at the ballot box.

It does appear that in considering CPBC’s less than distinguished approach to the Local Plan Duty to Cooperate work, and given the short term this work has been undertaken, that consideration of the Local Plan and its “acceptance” was somewhat Premature.

I would suggest that Spring time would have allowed more time to have allowed discussions with local resident groups, also a more transparent council meeting to indicate whether or not a Local Plan must seek to meet the Borough’s Assessed Housing Needs in full, or a more reasonable Housing Supply figure might be more reasonable.

Some, if not many, of our local lead group councillors will be calling on Residents seeking support for our MP at the Polling. Will the local Councillors, in not supporting their Ward Residents views on the Local Plan, be considered a burden on Rebecca Harris’ campaign?

As always, time will tell.

An Open Letter to Castle Point Councillors. Before your Decision on your Local Plan and the Green Belt Development, please consider the Alternatives.

Dear Councillor,

It is apparent, through conversations with Castle Point Councillors
and Residents, that the draft Local Plan 2018 that you are due to consider
Tuesday evening is giving serious cause for concern.

Tuesday evening’s Agenda Item 4 at Paragraph 4.9 indicates
that you as Councillors must, for the sake of this Plan, intrinsically accept “Growth.”

As you will be aware, this small Borough has various Constraints on Development, such as Flood Risk, from both Tidal and Surface Water, Green Belt and the Hazardous Industries. As well as parts of the mainland, the whole of Canvey Island is designated a Critical Drainage Area,  

Others may also consider traffic congestion and housing market forces are also relevant Constraining factors.

 The draft Local Plan’s Housing Strategy for 15 year Plan
period indicates a total of 5,295 dwellings, or 353 dwellings per annum, a
figure far beyond previous completions. Taking into account current short to mid term market forces, these numbers set an unrealistic Target. The Objectively Assessed Housing Need is calculated by the Government national fixed formula and not related to local needs.

 Green Belt is to be given Substantial Weight of Protection
against Development, whilst requiring evidence of “Very Special Circumstances” before allowing development.

 Flood Risk, of which Canvey Island is a Zone 3a area, requires the area must be Sequentially Tested. However officers have applied the Sequential Test to Canvey Island in isolation, rather than the whole of the Borough. Furthermore the Planning Framework suggests that failing that, the Test should incorporate areas further afield, ie other local authority areas. An
indication that we are NOT advocating that Canvey Housing Need need not be transferred to the mainland, an area with its own issues.

It has been suggested that the area to the North west of the Borough, around the Blinking Owl site should be included within the Plan and
ahead of some of the sites already included, despite officers indicating that it is unviable at present. However it is apparent that with CPBC’s partnership within the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, this site is highly likely to become strategically adopted as a Housing Development site within their Plans for the ASELA area.

A Loss for CPBC’s Local Plan due to being a Gain for an
ASELA strategic Plan!

Many of you Councillors will be uncomfortable with the proposals
for Housing Development included within the proposed CPBC draft Local Plan 2018 document.

 In light of the potential impact upon the Borough by a strategic ASELA Plan, the Constraints on Development in the Borough, the above average Previous Completions Housing figure proposed in this CPBC Local Plan, and the apparent fact that the Secretary of State, rather than enforcing Intervention, appears to be generous in recognising Castle Point Council’s difficulties in achieving an agreeable Local Plan, we call for you as our representatives to:

Reject this draft Local Plan.

And to instead Amend to propose a constructive and open debate with the input of all members under guidance of a Planning Inspector, in the hope that an amended document can be achieved acceptable to all Residents, Councillors and Inspector alike.

Kind Regards, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group.

Castle Point Councillors to Capitulate to latest threat to Localism and enforced Green Belt Development? CPBC CEO and Leader to wave threatening Local Plan Letter!

Coincidently and as if to play into the hands of Castle Point chief executive and leader, The new Secretary of State for Local Government has issued the Threatening Letter, reproduced below, to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Sth Oxfordshire council are struggling to produce a Local Plan, as are CPBC. Whilst not being one of the 15 local authorities originally threatened with Government Intervention, nevertheless through their perceived dithering in their Local Plan process, Sth Oxfordshire have received a clear admonishment and effectively been ordered to cease any further Local Plan work until hearing again from the Secretary of State.

CPBC, as all residents should by now know, were one of the 15 badly performing Local Plan councils considered worthy of being included in the 3 local authorities to receive a further written warning from the previous Sec. Of State, although further official action has yet to be administered.

The delivery of the Sth Oxfordshire letter is timely, as CPBC are due, allegedly, to consider our own Local Plan at a Council meeting due on the 22nd October. This letter will no doubt be used by the CPBC ceo and leader of the Council to force any councillor thinking of voting against a Local plan that again includes swathes of Canvey Island and mainland Green Belt for Development.

If the CPBC Local Plan includes areas identified for Development that councillors and residents think unsuitable for Development, such as Green Belt, Greenfield or Flood Risk areas, then Councillors  should remain steadfast, as they did in the last round of Voting on the Local Plan, and again Reject the Local Plan.

This newest CPBC Local Plan has been arrived at undemocratically, no opposition party, CIIP, representative of Canvey Island has had input, only mainland representatives.

Whether politics has again played a part in the decision to issue a Letter from Government taking away Sth Oxfordshire Councils right to produce their local Plan, we cannot be certain, however, “there is currently 13 Liberal Democrat group councillors, nine Conservative group councillors, six Green group councillors, three Labour group councillors, three Henley Residents’ Group councillors, one independent councillor and one non-group councillor.”

One can only wonder, what has happened to the promise of Localism!

Green Belt, Brexit, General Election, Government Intervention. What could be delaying the next Castle Point Local Plan?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, facing Castle Point Council!                 

Whilst working tirelessly, no doubt, behind the scenes in producing a further Local Plan draft, the key decision in its production will be Timing. That is, when to put the Local Plan before the full Council for consideration, and when to release the Housing Sites selected.

Potential Reaction from Residents, can be considered a crucial Factor, what with the potential Fall Out should Residents be asked to attend the likely imminent General Election Polls. There is no doubt that Brexit and the turmoil, I was going to write, “inside parliament”, but as it remains closed at the time of writing, had better change to, turmoil on the political front, is undoubtedly affecting CPBC’s advancement of their Plan.
Despite being supposedly under pressure to speedily produce an adoptable document, otherwise Government Intervention will be implemented, and Green Belt Land being left “vulnerable to speculative developers(since 2009?), CPBC appear confident working at their own pace of production. Rumours suggested that late Summer would see a Plan emerge, but now Autumn nears and still no sign.

In the light of no information emerging it seems reasonable to speculate which Housing Sites may be included, given certain rumours currently going around the Borough.

Given that Canvey Island’s Green Belt has been selected for Development in every single one of CPBC’s draft Local Plans, that is with the exception of the 2016 version, which left the Rails at the Duty to Cooperate stage, it would be a waste of time and energy worrying about which of the Island’s sites will be included for development in the latest forthcoming Local Plan.

The mainland is a different matter, as what Housing Development is to be proposed for the south of the mainland part of our Borough will directly influence, to the detriment, the Traffic Flows and Congestion getting to and from Canvey Island!

Jotmans Farm and Land between A130 and Romsey Road, is identified for 940 new dwellings all due to be serviced by a roundabout with a Junction intersecting Canvey Way!

Canvey Way, Sadlers Farm and the Waterside Roundabout needs no explanation as to their chronic effects upon the everyday life of Canvey Islanders. Sadlers Farm, sold to us as being a potential relief to congestion issues, in fact turned out to be the exact opposite whilst also affecting for the worse, commuter traffic heading for the Tarpots junction and Benfleet.

Those wondering why the south of the Borough appears to be the favoured development and regeneration areas will be puzzled by the apparent overlooking of sites towards the more central parts of the Borough. CPBC identified sites with a potential to realise 1,100+ dwellings around Daws Heath and Rayleigh Road areas.

The previous draft Local Plan 2018 in its Green Belt Housing Site Selection, identified 455 dwellings at Land East of Rayleigh Road with other sites allocated medium to small numbers of dwellings, other than the Chase area off Kiln Road, already partly developed through the 1998 Adopted Local Plan.

This despite the Castle Point Council Briefing paper for the Members Conference of September 2011 identifying capacity for many more dwellings on sustainable dwellings in the Green Belt on sites in the middle part of the Borough.

It appears that even now, Local Factors are influencing Green Belt development site selection, as Canvey Island and the Jotmans Farm area are receiving no such protection.

Green Belt development remains a volatile topic at Local and National levels. Should illogically preferred sites continue to be protected through the influence of “Local factors”, then it would be fair to assume that a new draft Local Plan will also be the subject to opposition and criticism through to its Examination stage.

The A127 Nevendon Interchange is receiving Government monies to improve traffic flow, talk is of consideration of removing the Fortune of War roundabout to also improve flow. And yet still no word of reconsideration of the North West Thundersley site, Blinking Owl, with the potential for 1,200 dwellings with the opportunity to put in new infrastructure to best suit the needs of commuters with Government funding via ASELA, The Association of South Essex Local Authorities!

Whether it’s the Brexit and possibility of a General Election issue at National level, or Green Belt and the Local Plan with its allegedly imminent Intervention threat at Local level, No, I really can’t think why the next issue of CPBC’s Local Plan is so slow in Emerging.

Castle Point Local Plan, a Hot Potato, too Hot to Handle? And you thought it was Canvey Islanders that were the Conspiracy Theorists!

This, from a mainland Green Belt campaigner, so concerned about the future of the Borough, under threat of Housing development and for the residents being used as pawns in the Political Power Play.

The last Rejected Castle Point Local Plan — Nov 2018.

Under the threat of Government Intervention and sanctions, whatever that was supposed to be, if the vote to approve the Local Plan with its devastating policies to develop on swathes of Castle Point Green Belt was not agreed upon –

which it was not by one solitary vote!

It was never going to occur / happen or so the Lead Group thought (CPBC losing the vote) – the Government Intervention, alternatively taking over control etc etc.

 Total scaremongering – it was all a bluff!

They, you know the Leadership, those who thought they had the vote totally in the bag – two recounts because they could not believe their eyes etc etc.

Could not believe the outcome, that the Castle Point Borough Council members would go against their Leaders, their CEO, their cabinet !.

So in reality, as it turns out, the idea of Government Intervention and sanctions would never be on the table!

Hand the whole Local Plan back to CPBC with not as much as a Slapped Wrist – never even on the agenda!

They believed this scenario had no chance of happening. The Government officials would not have the time, knowledge, cost, interest, inclination or whatever for them to even think of taking over all the donkey work to produce another Local Plan.

Castle Point Councillors Resolve, to be Tested Again, as Local Plan and its Proposed Development of our Green Belt and Spaces re-emerges!

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!