Thorney Bay, Jotmans Farm, Green Belt, Flood Risk, Travellers, Duty to Cooperate, Period of Purdah, Reasons why the Government are Unlikely to Intervene in Castle Point Local Plan Process.
What are the likelihoods of Intervention, from an uneducated viewpoint?
The Intervention by a Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, in the Local Plan process at Castle Point would appear a highly unusual step to be taken.
Previous local intervention by SoS Sajid Javid included the Jotmans Farm Appeal and his Dismissal decision of his Planning Inspector, released on the 21st April 2017.
General Election 8th June 2017
Period of Purdah starts 22nd April 2017 (coincidence?)
Purdah: Purdah is the official pre-election period between the election announcement and final results which places restrictions of civil servants. Local and central governments will continue with business as usual, but must be careful not to take any action or make any announcements that could show affiliation to a political party. The litmus test is: “Could a reasonable person conclude that you were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?”
The Jotmans decision’s Pro and Cons included;
Report on the Examination of the Castle Point New Local Plan 2016, which concluded that the duty to co-operate had not been complied with. The Council determined to withdraw the dNLP 2016.
The CPBC’s failure to save LP Policy GB1, the Green Belt designation, shown on the Proposals Map, persists
Given the withdrawal of the dNLP, the Secretary of State takes the view that no weight can be afforded to the withdrawn policies.
He (SoS) further agrees that substantial weight should be given to any harm to the Green Belt.
He agrees that the degree of landscape harm caused by the proposal would be limited
He shares the Inspector’s view that the proposal could lead to an improvement in the existing situation, and that issues around flooding do not weigh against the proposal.
He considers that concerns about the potential impact of construction traffic can be addressed by means of conditions, or by the Highway Authority
He further agrees with the Inspector that the proposal would bring forward market and affordable housing in an area where there has been a longstanding failure to provide sufficient new housing, and that in view of the prevailing housing supply situation in Castle Point, that carries very substantial weight in favour of the scheme
He further agrees that the creation or securing of jobs, the generation of economic activity in the construction process and the stimulation of the local economy carry a considerable degree of weight in favour
He has also taken into account the Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Government’s policy that ‘subject to the best interests of the child*, personal circumstances and unmet need are unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances’. He considers that this policy carries more force than the Inspector attributes to it.
The proposal is therefore in conflict with national policy on the Green Belt,.
*Green Belt and Flood Risk are both mentioned equally in regards to the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development at Footnote 9 of the NPPF, exceptions include;
policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9
For example… land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space… and locations at risk of flooding…
*The weight given to “the best interests of the child” in regard to outweighing Harm to the Green Belt would quite reasonably be interpreted to include Flood Risk.
This would bear relationship to Travellers sites where guidance is given in the proposed siting; “do not locate sites in areas at high risk of flooding, including functional floodplains, given the particular vulnerability of caravans”
The type of Travellers Homes are likely to include caravans and mobile homes style accommodation.
Interesting then that Castle Point Council take no involvement, nor intervention in the Thorney Bay, shortly to become Sandy Bay development, given that the numbers of dwellings would make it THE largest Housing Supply site in the Castle Point Local Plan.
That CPBC are busying themselves with Cooperation Duties with our Neighbouring Councils, it may appear that Intervention measures by the Secretary of State of CPBC Local Plan processes may be considered surprising, should they eventually materialise.
But then you Never Know, do you?