Tag Archives: leader of castle point council

The Canvey Paddocks a Tale of Deceit, False Consultation, Guestimations and Land Grabbing?

The future redevelopment, or should we say “regeneration” of the Paddocks site on Canvey Island is causing some consternation and confusion amongst, it appears, not only Canvey residents but also those at Runnymede Towers CPBC, this following the CPBC Scrutiny committee meeting on the matter!

For those councillors, including the Leader, who may feel that residents are convinced by their conjecture, regarding there NOT being development in the form of Housing or Flatted development on the site to pay for a new Community Centre, let’s attempt to clear this up.

Extract from Castle Point Cabinet meeting 17th January 2018:

4.16 In order to test the financial viability of the feasibility study it is now necessary to prepare a detailed business case setting out the likely costs of developing the site in the way envisaged, the likely contribution from the potential future “enabling development” and the potential future arrangements with the NHS regarding car parking for the Canvey Primary Care Centre.

Reference not only in consideration of development, but also Car Parking Charges.

Extract from the Scrutiny Committee meeting into the Paddocks Consultation, agenda paper appendix, also CPBC Cabinet minutes 17th January 2018:

6.3 The construction of a new Community Centre will be dependent on “enabling development” on other parts of the site.signed off  by S.Rogers.

As we should all be aware, it is not what is said within committee meetings, but what the Minuted document from the meeting says! Let there be, NO CONFUSION!

Local Authorities are encouraged to seek to make “best use” of “their” properties and assets, including disposing of any sites considered superfluous, or a drain on public purses. The CPBC lead group, have shown a preference throughout the protracted Local Plan process and historically beyond, as population growth indicates, to develop on Canvey Island, particularly where it comes to protecting politically sensitive mainland Green Belt sites.

The Paddocks site would assist fulfilling this desire!

It can be agreed that the paddocks Consultation was flawed, undertaken by the Lead group rather than Castle Point Council with officer, or Agent involvement.

Consultation as a two part process, originally should have been undertaken as an informative during CPBC Cabinet exploration of the best means of regeneration.

Hard Facts and Figures estimates, should have been collected and made available as information for Cabinet, Councillors and Residents, Not the Guestimates of £4,000,000 plus figures, as has been the case.

As we have pointed out before Marshland St James, multi facility Community Hall opened in 2018 costing £1.1 million (see HERE). Even if a two storey facility was provided at the Paddocks, due to Canvey being in a Flood Risk zone and the build estimate was 3 times that of the Marshland St James facility, CPBC should still explain why their (guess)stimate is a further £1,000,000 more expensive!

A 50 year old facility, the Paddocks, considered past its useful life, can only be down to chronic mismanagement of a maintenance Budget!

Now the CPBC leader is quoted in the Echo as suggesting that this “deceit” and dispute will not be allowed to halt CPBC cabinet’s plans for the Paddocks site.

I can only refer readers to this LINK !

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island. Soon to be destined to the History Books, alongside many Canvey Island Landmarks.
What a £1.1M Community Hall looks like!
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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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