Tag Archives: Intervention

Remember, Remember, the 28th of November! Intervention and Plot, Canvey and the mainland set to lose tracts of Green Belt!

This month, Canvey Island and Castle Point Borough Council face the prospect of Government Intervention, over the local authority’s Local Plan!

This Plan, to be voted on by local councillors on the 28th November in the council chamber Runnymede is Crucial to where between 4,000 – 5800 new houses will be allocated.

Should the Councillors refuse to Approve a new Local Plan identifying sites to accommodate these numbers the Government will step in and select the sites.

Those councillors that oppose Government Intervention, but support Green Belt protection, will have a dilemma come the vote.

CPBC chief executive will stress how worse it would be via intervention.

Councillors must ask themselves, could it have been any worse than what the proposed Plan is, anyway?

Either way they have, apparently, no input!

Previously the cpbc chief executive issued the warning to councillors that Intervention will be a catastrophe of seismic proportion for Castle Point Council.

Councillors themselves, chiefly the Lead Group, voted to trust the council leader and senior officers to chose development sites, including apparently precious Green Belt, and produce a Local Plan.

Now we learn that development is coming to many parts of the Borough!

Will Councillors and Residents give up the Fight

All I can say is,

“what were they thinking”?

cpbc

Runnymede Towers

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Canvey Island in the lap of the Gods, otherwise known as Castle Point Council Leader and CEO! Better for CPBC to Control the Destiny of Canvey Green Belt, or the Government Chief Planner?

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents should be concerned to know that in exactly 4 weeks time, to the day, we will learn whether the desperate attempts by our councillors, and professional officers, to avoid Government Intervention over the debacle of the cpbc Local Plan has been worthwhile.

We were told that Intervention, “Takes away the ability for us (cpbc) to control the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”

Previously in the Local Plan process Canvey Island was the ONLY area within the Borough that these, mainly, same councillors could agree to the release of Green Belt land for development, during the whole Plan period!

Obviously the Inspector rejected this idea, stating quite clearly “some development at Canvey Island may be required to meet local need”.

Plain to see then, that the level of land needed for Housing Development on Canvey Island, did NOT require the release of Green Belt!

BUT NO, cpbc chief executive, in his infinite wisdom, thought the opposite, and further proposed that, Canvey Island Green Belt, should remain the single area forming the nucleus of the Green Belt Housing Growth in the Borough’s Local Plan, whilst adding the mainland Green Belt sites for the 2014 version.

This belying the Inspector’s clear intentions, contained within his critical letter, addressed to cpbc Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods, strongly suggesting the Withdrawal of the Core Strategy plan!

Canvey Green Belt was only removed, gratefully, from the 2016 version of the cpbc Local Plan’s Housing growth sites, to add support to the politically driven protection granted to, selected sites identified as, “virgin” Green Belt land.

Now we have just 4 weeks to wait to learn how, and why, the Local Plan process, is better in the hands of our local councillors, rather than the government Intervention team.

In CPBC’s own words; “the Secretary of State wrote again to the Borough Council in March 2018, indicating that he was minded to continue with intervention since there was no clear timetable for preparing and adopting a local plan for the Borough.”

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.
Members of the Council will not be involved and will be excluded from the plan making process.
In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG, (ministry of housing community and local government,) the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale. This may cause other non-intended consequences such as the inability to attract staff”

The mood of Residents, particularly mainlanders, suggest that only if substantial Green Belt is protected from development, will it have been worthwhile staving off Intervention.

Canvey Residents can be sure that the extra Constraints that should have been applied to Canvey Island in isolation, would ONLY have been applied correctly by Government officials. History has proven that lead group councillors, in collusion with certain officers, have only sought to use these Canvey Constraints, to lower the OVERALL Housing Supply figures ACROSS of the whole Castle Point area!

In effect cementing the lead group’s controlling status quo in the follow up local election by quelling the mainland unrest by removing the contentious Green Belt sites from the 2016 local plan.

Look also at similar protectionist decision-making at Brentwood council, with their plan to develop a Garden Village at Dunton.

Note also the effects the Brentwood plans will have on Castle Point residents, with the amount of proposed housing development alongside the main A127 commuter route adding to the Basildon planned development.

Divided by the A127, Dunton Hills Garden Village will have little or no impact upon Brentwood. Those of us living south of the A127, especially in Castle Point and Basildon, will bear the brunt of the strain on infrastructure and commuting issues.

Dunton Hills Garden Village, which Brentwood Borough Council says could initially deliver about 2,500 homes, with the potential for another 1,500, has come under the most fierce criticism from Thurrock Council, that along with Basildon, borders the borough close to where the development would be built on 260 hectares of land south of the A127. *
Brentwood Borough Council is meeting on Thursday, November 8, at the Brentwood Centre to discuss the next stage of the borough’s Local Plan – principally how and where to cater for the 7,752 new homes the borough needs to find between 2016 and 2033. (yourthurrock.com)
*wasn’t we informed by cpbc that in the case of a Garden Village proposal at the Blinking Owl site, North Thundersley, that 8,000 dwellings would be needed to make the installation of infrastructure financially viable?

Look at these statistics, area, population etc and judge whether there is a balance of growth distribution across ours and Brentwood boroughs.

Brentwood: Area: 153.1 km², Population 73,600 (2011). 7,752 new homes.
Castle Point: Area 45.08 km, Population 88,011 (2011). new homes tbd (see below)

The expectation, is for cpbc to capitulate to the Government Chief Planner, and reintroduce the 2014 daft Local Plan with these implications for us;

The council has identified 13 locations for housing development, with 4,000 more homes required in the period to 2031 to meet growing demands of our community. This means around 200 new homes a year would be built across the whole borough. Without the plan, it is feared that there would have to be at least 7,000 more homes.

Don’t forget that the cpbc lead group and some independent councillors, agreed this daft Plan. Only under the threat of a Mainland residents backlash at the Polling Station, was this Plan rejected!

Below are Maps of the Brentwood and Thurrock boroughs, the implications on Canvey Island and Castle Point, by the population and Industrial growths of these two neighbouring areas, can be easily imagined if complimented by similar growth in Castle Point!

What of cpbc leader’s promise of infrastructure before development? With growth in the neighbouring areas and no realistic likelihood of Highway improvements, new access to Canvey, dualling of Canvey Way, Somnes Avenue widening, Roscommon Way completion etc, the likely announcement of many large developments sites bodes ill for Canvey Island!

Castle Point Residents will be eager to learn, the benefits of “control of the destiny of land in the Borough for our residents”, over the dreaded Government Intervention!

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Castle Point Local Plan, who is Playing whom? Time for a little more Openess and Transparency?

Castle Point Local Plan has been, and remains a Mess!

During March 2018, in Parliament regarding CPBC and the apparent need to Intervene in the Castle Point council Local Plan process, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced;

“In three areas, Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral, I am now particularly concerned at the consistent failure and lack of progress to get a plan in place and have not been persuaded by the exceptional circumstances set out by the Council or the proposals they have put forward to get a plan in place. We will therefore step up the intervention process in these three areas. I will be sending in a team of planning experts, led by the Government’s Chief Planner, into these three areas to advise me on the next steps in my intervention.
I have a number of intervention options available to me which I will now actively examine. As it may prove necessary to take over plan production, subject to decisions taken after the expert advice I have commissioned, my Department has started the procurement process to secure planning consultants and specialists to undertake that work so it can commence as quickly as possible.”

Given the apparent strait jacket position that the Government have clamped council members into, as they strive to avoid Intervention and handing the cpbc Local plan over to our less than sympathetic neighbours to produce for us, it could be expected that the Government’s hands would be more than spotless.

But no, complications have arisen by the admittance that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have found fault with the methodology of predicting Household Projection numbers and Population estimates.

Andrew Lainton on his Decisions Blog suggests;

“And now what will happen till at least March 2019, nothing, no one in their right mind will consult or submit, a local plan or JSP.”

Well, Castle Point are threatened with the wrath of the Secretary of State Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCHLG), should the Gov. Chief Planner find that cpbc are falling behind with the Local Plan timetable!

As recently as the 19th September the cpbc chief executive gave stern warning;

4.5 Ministry officials and their consultants visited the Borough Council in May to complete a “diagnostic check” of the position with local plan work. As a consequence of that visit and subsequent advice Castle Point Borough Council agreed a new Local Development Scheme (LDS) in June 2018, committing the Council to the preparation of a new Local Plan for the Borough on an accelerated timetable, as well as continuing to support the preparation of the JSP.

4.6 The accelerated timetable described in the LDS committed the Council to a Regulation 18 consultation in July and August, which has now been completed. Publication of the Local Plan for Regulation 19 purposes will take place in January 2019.

4.8 Whilst the Borough Council is on course to meet the milestones in the LDS, as discussed with the Ministry, it is at this stage timely to draw the Cabinet’s attention to the potential consequences should there be any deviation from those milestones or the agreed programme.

5.1 Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice. We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

The Castle Point Local Development Scheme (LDS) stipulates the tight timetable to comply with the SoS’ Intervention requirements requires the cpbc Local Plan to be published by January 2019!

AND YET:

Andrew Lainton stated;

“And now what will happen till at least March 2019, nothing, no one in their right mind will consult or submit, a local plan or JSP.”

Perhaps in the light of the Chinese Whispers that are going around the mainland, regarding secret Local Plan meetings at Castle Point council, a little Openess and Transparency is Long Overdue from officers and councillors as to where they are with OUR Local Plan 2018 and whether the recent Household Projection and Population revelations will affect the cpbc LDS timetable and the Local Plan’s Objectively Assessed Housing Needs!

Councillors, officers feel free to Update your Residents!

Bewildered PIC

 

Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

The latest public “announcement” on the Castle Point council Local Plan will be made during the cpbc cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19th September.

Residents will learn exactly what cpbc spokespeople actually meant when they stated they must keep the Local Plan within the council’s grasp, rather than face Government Intervention and all that that entailed!

In a report compiled by the ceo D Marchant, that may more aptly be delivered by wearing the cloak of the Grim Reaper, members will hear in clear terms the penalties that will befall residents of Castle Point, if they were not to fall in line and endorse whatever local plan messrs Smith, Marchant and Rogers enforce into publication.

Obviously there will be the intention to release more Green Belt land than was previously agreed, otherwise there would have been little need to delay progress of the 2016 local plan.

Instead Bureaucratic measures by this miserable triumvirate have taken over what should have been a democratic and public exercise!

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.

We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

We are aware that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process.”

There then follows a further threat to Cabinet members, and other council members in attendance;

“In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.

Consequently as the Borough Council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications from the MHCLG are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted pursuant to the plan will be referred to the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than the Borough Council,”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG* the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale.”

*Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

BUT what if, this likely release of Green Belt and denser Urbanisation of previously developed land, fails to see Developers and Builders deliver the required Housing Needs of London and Castle Point?

It would be naíve to think that developers would build at a rate that would jeopardise the Market Price of Housing. What if the Governor of the Bank of England’s worse projection, a 30% fall in house prices following a bad Brexit, comes to fruition?

Will more land be required to be released because other developers have put forward alternative proposals to those in the Local Plan, which they suggest they are more able to deliver?

Government and local authorities cannot manipulate the market. previous delivery rates ARE relevant, especially when you remember that only Glebelands and part of Jotmans Farm have seen applications lodged and rejected in Castle Point for, a Total of 405 dwellings since 2010!

A cpbc Local Plan that proposes to Release anymore than the 100 Dwellings per Annum agreed by the local council in the 2016 local plan, will not only see protests by residents but will also likely lead to Polling day reaction.

We were promised Localism as the way forward in Plan making.

Instead we will likely see a Bureaucratic plan delivered by the leader of cpbc intended to satisfy the national government.

A Local Plan padded out with aspirational and undeliverable infrastructure and Sea Defence improvements AND a Plan that is Sequentially corrupt!

A new Report by  Lichfields warns of difficulties for local authorities in satisfying the Housing Delivery Test.

Lichfields write;

The housing delivery test (HDT) will become increasingly difficult to satisfy

“The HDT is a monitoring tool the Government will use to demonstrate whether local areas are building enough homes to meet their housing need. Based on the outcome of this monitoring, councils may be required to undertake further action in the near future.”

“In November 2018, the test will compare housing delivery (net additional dwellings plus communal housing) to housing need (the lower of the three years in an up-to-date local plan or household projections plus unmet neighbours’ need).”

The full Lichfield report may be read via this LINK.
maco

Predetermination – Interference and Planning Matters, Castle Point Council style. The Need Outweighs the Inappropriateness in our Green Belt?

Castle Point council appear to have been rattled into some inconsistency where the Local Plan and Planning matters are concerned.

Intervention over the Local Plan appears a realistic possibility, whilst Housing Need and Green Belt concerns dominate decisions.

A follower of this Blog and of Local Issues sent in this comment;

“The Government has used the Localism Act to clarify the rules on ‘predetermination’.
These rules were developed to ensure that councillors came to council discussions – on, for example, planning applications – with an open mind.
In practice, however, these rules had been interpreted in such a way as to reduce the quality of local debate and stifle valid discussion.
In some cases councillors were warned off doing such things as campaigning, talking with constituents, or publicly expressing views on local issues, for fear of being accused of bias or facing legal challenge.
The Localism Act makes it clear that it is proper for councillors to play an active part in local discussions, and that they should not be liable to legal challenge as a result.
This will help them better represent their constituents and enrich local democratic debate. People can elect their councillor confident in the knowledge that they will be able to act on the issues they care about and have campaigned on”.
I am not so sure that the Governments intention has become a reality, there is very little evidence that democratic debate is exercised at CPBC, particularly where planning on Canvey Island is concerned.

It will be imperative, or it should be, that a consistent approach is followed through Planning Policy, especially while the Government Chief Planner is taking a close interest in cpbc Local Plan affairs. One would expect this consistency to come from the top down.

Recently there have been two planning applications received that may hint at a less than consistent approach.

Firstly the proposal for the 57 bedroom Care Home at Canvey Way, Approved against Officer advice. Officers stated that amongst other reasons “the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt” and that “The application is presented to the Development Control Committee as the applicant is related to a Member of this Council”.

Unusually just ahead of the development committee meeting to consider the application, the Castle Point council leader, cllr Smith was quoted in the Echo as saying;

“The committee may think the need is enough for the plans to be passed.”

And that

“The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”

There is a recorded need for facilities of this type in the Borough, however there is also a recorded Housing Need in the Borough.

It appears that the desire locally is to develop on Previously Developed land. This is where the cpbc leader may be indicating some inconsistency.

Residents on the mainland appear concerned with the possibility of 12 Apartments, being built on the Wheelers restaurant site at Bread and Cheese Hill. This is also Green Belt and previously developed with a far more permanent structure than that exists at the Garden Centre site at Canvey Road.

As yet there has been no officer advice issued, however cpbc leader cllr Smith has himself “called in” the application, on the Grounds of Inappropriate Development in the Green Belt, so that the Development Committee can make the final decision whether to approve.

This might appear contradictory in that having publicly stated “The people will only lose out if the plans are refused.”, on the Canvey Road application, to then personally call in another application, that maybe far less likely to be considered as inappropriate development in the Green Belt, just may be viewed as suggesting to his colleagues on the development committee that they should Refuse the Bread and Cheese Hill proposal.

Surely the evidence suggests that in both the case of Care Home facilities AND Housing, the need may well be “enough for the Plans to be passed.”

Policy makers may do well to set a better example if they kept their views private at crucial times for the cpbc Local Plan, and the Echo Newspaper may do well to go back to their more investigative style of journalism to add clarity to these topics.

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Images Copyright: Google Earth

Canvey Residents – Ignore the Castle Point Local Plan Consultation at your Peril! Changes – Development – Pipe Dreams and Promises are Afoot!

Whether you Bother to Answer, and How you Answer, the CPBC consultation questions, will have a direct bearing on how much Canvey Island changes in the immediate Future! Council Leaders and officers will have appeasement from the Government threat of Intervention in the cpbc Local Plan, uppermost in Mind!

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Make no Mistake, Development, both Housing and Business, on the most easily accessible large Green Field sites is the likely outcome of Castle Point’s Local Plan consultation!

Once the Local Plan consultation period is over the “Tricks of the Trade” of those charged with “interpreting” the responses come into play.

Previous consultations have seen many objections against cpbc proposed Local Plans, this has led to cpbc council Leaders suggesting that the “non responders” views mirrored those of the council Leaders, despite them having no evidence to suggest they did!

It is for this reason that Canvey Island residents should not only take part in the Local Plan consultation, but also be very careful how the questions are responded to!

Your responses may well be construed to mean something very much different in the hands of cpbc!

An eagerness for infrastructure, may be construed to indicate that residents are in favour of more large developments on Canvey Island. Whilst the Infrastructure improvements amount to pipe dreams, be sure that, the developments will be forthcoming!

Consultation Question 9, for example asks;

Which approach described below in providing new development is most suitable for the borough?

A Intensify existing built up areas with new development and increased density
B Create new settlements in the borough
C Disperse developments to the edge of the built up areas

Before you Answer A, we should remember that Canvey Island is already the most densely Urbanised part of the Borough!
Answer C flies in the face of the Purposes of the Green Belt, that is, “to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas”
Answer B would appear to have implications for residents elsewhere in the Borough.

Answer Question 11 without an explanation and you will be considered to support large site development on Canvey Island!

11. What type of housing do you feel is best suited to your area? (tick all that apply)
Affordable rents, Buy-to-let, Elderly care homes etc, etc.

None of which can be provided without Private Investment, likely off the back of large scale, market price, private development!

Housing allocations
“The new Local Plan 2018 will revisit all potential sites considered within the 2014 and 2016 Plans and assess their future suitability through technical studies,”

No they will not! All Canvey sites, with the exception of the “Triangle Site”, behind the Dutch Cottage Canvey Road, for some reason, were considered to be developable whether Green Belt or Brownfield, or in a Flood Risk zone or Critical Drainage Area, which incidentally the whole of Canvey is!

The Constraints on development revealed in the Technical Studies are all dismissed by cpbc where Canvey Island is concerned!

13a. Do you support the potential residential development at land at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey Island?

Absolutely irrelevant Consultation question. The owners have permissions in place for a Park Home site and are successfully developing one. CPBC have no jurisdiction over the likely loss of the Roscommon Way final phase land.

14a. Do you support the potential residential development at land at Point Road, Canvey Island?

The Business site was first proposed as a housing development, then returned with a vastly inflated figure of Housing, drawing many, many objections from local residents not least because of the reliance on the tiny roundabout access area and the Flats proposed. And, where would all of the current businesses be re-housed, well no doubt onto more Canvey Green field land around the Roscommon Way area!

20a. Do you support the potential residential development at land west of Benfleet?

Ask ourselves, can we really take more traffic on Canvey Way? And by the way, this is Jotmans Farm if you didn’t recognise the site name.

22a. Do you support the potential residential development at land east of Canvey Road?

Do they really need to ask? This is the Dutch Village Green Belt site, the one that out of the 6,534 Referendum Votes cast, just 56 Canvey Islanders said they were comfortable with persimmons developing!

23a. Do you support the potential residential development at land fronting Canvey Road?

This is beside the Dutch Cottage, Green Belt site, I am sure the extra traffic filing down from Sadlers Farm to Thorney Bay Road every evening, is something we could do without.

26a. Do you support the extension to Roscommon Way?

Given that there is no funding, and that Essex Highways do not wish to burden themselves with future maintenance costs, and that the Thorney Bay part of the land required may not be available for development anyway, this appears simply an unlikely aspiration.

27a. Do you support widening of Sommes Avenue?

Of course we do, but wouldn’t the installation of the cycle way along the North side of Somnes Avenue by ECC, mean that there is no space for the widening of Somnes Avenue by ECC?

29a. Do you support dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm?

Or put another way, do you support development of Jotmans Farm with access an access onto Canvey Way.
Really?

32a. Do you support improved access to Canvey Island?

Well of course we do, but it will be at the likely expense of much more land released for development. Thurrock Council opposition will not remove their objection and cpbc will have to overturn their own Local Plan Evidence findings that; “it is not obvious that a new road access to Canvey Island could enable the area to benefit to a much greater extent from the major port and distribution development at London Gateway in Thurrock. The cost of such infrastructure would also need to be weighed against the scale of economic benefits likely to accrue to Canvey Island, and the extent of these do not appear likely to be major.”

And Finally, as they say:

34. Do you have any additional comments on the new Local Plan 2018?

Not unless you feel the fact that Canvey Island, the whole of which, is a Critical Drainage Area, is also a tidal Flood Zone 3a area, and has 2 Top Tier Comah sites, meaning should there ever be a need to evacuate the Island, the Emergency Services would be unable to cope with the current levels of Canvey’s population, has some bearing on the Consultation that castle point officers appear to be overlooking or ignoring!

Canvey’s Dutch Village GB site back under Threat? Castle Point bc, not only can we produce a sound Local Plan, but we can do so at High Speed! “Watch this Space” indeed!

Short-termism appears to be the “Get Out” approach for Castle Point Borough Council to appease the Government’s intervention team.

Despite no Local Plan emerging over the past 20 years, the latest approach appears to be to crash out an interim 10 Year Plan including Green Belt development sites allocation, and hope for the best that normal service will be resumed with the assistance of our neighbouring Boroughs!
shutterstock_boot_crushing_man

The questions are, which Green Belt sites will be sacrificed in the rush to develop, and which Green Belt sites will developers actually agree with cpbc to build on?

Certainly potentially in the region of 900 dwellings are being installed at Canvey Island’s Sandy Bay, but the distinct threat remains that Canvey Island’s Dutch Village is also cpbc’s preferred Green Belt site in danger of development!

The opinion of outsiders is always useful to keep our feet on the ground, and to help us with that Planning Resource publication have produced their view of the position Castle Point council currently find themselves in, ahead of the secretary of State’s decision on whether cpbc are now trusted to be allowed to produce their own Local Plan under the watchful eye of Government.

As we know a greatly truncated approach has been adopted as the preferred approach of our Borough council, as a means of warding off Intervention in the Plan making process.

CPBC’s interpretation of the situation is directly below, whilst further below is how the “trade” press’ view.

“the Government has confirmed that it will intervene in plan-making in areas where councils without a post 2004 local plan have not submitted a plan for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate. This will reduce the control the local planning authority has over such matters. In March 2018, the Council received a letter from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming the intention to commence Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan. As of June 2018, the form of this Intervention had not been confirmed, but dialogue with the Ministry has confirmed the need for a Local Plan to be prepared to an accelerated timetable, and this Plan must focus on bringing forward new homes in the early part of the Plan period.”

“The Local Plan will tackle contentious issues that could give rise to significant public opposition. Whilst every effort will be made to build cross community consensus, there remains risk of significant public opposition to the Local Plan proposals.”

“Logistically this could cause a higher volume of work in the processing and analysis of representations than accounted for in the LDS timetable, which could set it back.”

“To help reduce this risk, responses from the 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plan consultations will be used to assess public opinion. The 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plans will form the majority of the new Local Plan so previous consultation responses as well as updated evidence will help inform the Plan.”

“In February 2017, the Government introduced the proposition that all Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) be required to prepare a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ (SCG) to help manage strategic planning matters across local authority areas and strengthen the Duty to Cooperate”

“3.5 Castle Point
Castle Point is a relatively small local authority area just 4,500 hectares in size, with a population of 88,000 people. It sits at the heart of the South Essex sub-region on the northern bank of the Thames Estuary between the larger settlements of Basildon and Southend. It is these larger settlements, along with London, on which Castle Point relies for its employment, services and leisure opportunities.
The key planning issues comprise:
• the challenge of meeting housing need in a borough of significant Green Belt and other environmental constraints and where land availability is confined to small scale infill sites in the built-up area;
• the need to improve infrastructure to address congestion, historic underinvestment and provide capacity for growth;”

“9.1
Castle Point currently has no up to date local plan in place and has therefore been subject to potential government intervention. The Council will therefore prepare an interim local plan covering the next ten years and focusing on planning for housing, with the ambition of meeting local housing needs in this period. In the longer term, local housing needs will be considered through the strategic assessment and allocations prepared for the JSP.”

“The current estimated need for housing across South Essex is 90,000 dwellings over the next 20 years, but with the right conditions to support growth, more could be achieved. As part of the consideration of long term spatial options, the authorities are therefore exploring whether the development of new ‘Garden’ communities could offer a strategic solution to growth.”

“The South Essex Authorities estimate that up to 4,500 new homes will be needed each year to meet housing needs.” *

Planning Resource publisher’s opinion of the situation Castle Point find our / themselves in are reproduced here;

A group of seven Essex councils this month published a draft statement of common ground (SCG) designed to make sure they meet the challenging duty to cooperate. The statement commits them to preparation of a formal joint strategic plan for a green belt-constrained area where local plan processes have been hobbled by an inability to resolve local opposition to much-needed new homes.

The statutory joint plan is being pursued by six districts and boroughs – Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock – and Essex County Council. At the start of the year, they formed the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) to formalise joint working arrangements. According to the SCG, the joint plan will provide an “overarching framework within which more focused local development plans will be prepared”.

Requiring unanimous approval from all seven councils to go forward, the joint plan will set out housing targets and distribution as well as key employment sites and infrastructure priorities. Its prime purpose, commentators say, will be to decide where to find space for the required 90,000 new homes in south Essex over the next 20 years, given significant green belt constraints.

Consultant Catriona Riddell, who is advising ASELA, said: “With the area’s large proportion of green belt, all the authorities have challenges in terms of meeting housing needs, so they have decided that looking at strategic growth areas across south Essex would be the most deliverable and sustainable option.”

Nick Davey, partner at Brentwood-based planning consultant JTS, said determining housing allocations has been a big problem. “I feel sorry for the planners,” he said. “They have to try to meet objectively assessed need and that means releasing green belt, but they just can’t get members’ buy-in. All that’s happened since the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework is procrastination.”

The draft SCG doesn’t grasp this nettle.

Instead, it identifies five “strategic areas of opportunity” where housing may be located, all of which straddle local authority boundaries and thus leave exact allocations undetermined.

Riddell said the body has now commissioned a strategic growth study to further develop these proposals. “Some authorities will ultimately have to take a disproportionate share of the homes – those are the issues we haven’t got to yet. They need to stick together like glue,” she said.

The joint plan comes in the context of delays in local plan preparation led to three of the districts – Basildon, Brentwood and Castle Point – being threatened with intervention by former housing secretary Sajid Javid last year for their slow progress. In March, Javid pressed ahead with sending a government team in to scrutinise Castle Point’s local plan preparation arrangements. He told Brentwood and Basildon they’d face no further action, but warned he’d keep a close eye on them.

Castle Point’s last attempt at a local plan, which left 300 of its 400 homes-a-year housing need unmet, was withdrawn last year after failing the duty to cooperate. It is now seeking approval from the government to develop an interim local plan covering just five to ten years, allowing it to avoid large green belt allocations and leaving responsibility for further allocations to the joint planning process.

Riddell said: “The vital thing is that any intervention doesn’t compromise the joint planning effort by forcing Castle Point to release green belt that, from a wider south Essex point of view, might not be in the right place.”

Some fear, however, that the joint plan process will be used to justify continued delay. Tony Collins, owner of consultancy Collins & Coward, said: “Joint plans take a long time to draw up and even longer to deliver. The government wants delivery but joint planning is only going to slow things down.”

Riddell recognised government fears that the joint plan promises “jam tomorrow”, but pointed out that the SCG, once approved, will commit the ASELA authorities to an “accelerated timetable” that will see a draft plan consulted upon early next year, with submission for examination a year later. “It’s really fast,” she said. “These concerns are totally unfounded.”

* 6 Jun 2018 – Special Meeting of Castle Point Borough Council agenda appendices.