Tag Archives: Local Plan 2016

Fair Play for Canvey Island in the light of the Jotmans Decision or are we still a “Special Case”?

And the Necessity for Castle Point Borough Council to produce a Local Plan is?

“National planning policy places Local Plans at the heart of the planning system,”

Even so, the National Planning Policy Framework states as early as Paragraph 14;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless:

– any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole;

or– specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted. 9

Paragraph 14, Footnote 9 Reads; “For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.”

“so it is essential that they are in place and kept up to date. Local Plans set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design.”

The Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss the Jotmans Farm Appeal in the light of the Inspector’s recommendation, raises some questions.

Is the Planning Inspectorate’s reading of the NPPF and Guidance similar to that of the Government’s?

There was agreement between the SoS and the Inspector that, Castle Point Council are only able to identify 0.4 years worth of the required 5 Year deliverable Housing Supply, this is an even worse supply than in 2013 when the SoS considered cpbc had a realistic housing supply of just 0.7 years!

In the case of the Glebelands 2013 Inquiry the SoS used a “totting-up” method of measuring harm to the Green Belt;

“the Secretary of State has identified moderate harm in respect of urban sprawl, moderate harm in respect of the merging of neighbouring settlements, and moderate harm to the visual appearance of this part of the GB.  The Secretary of State considers that together this represents a considerable level of harm. ”

” He also wishes to emphasise that national policy is very clear that GB reviews should be undertaken as part of the Local Plan process.”

So we appear to be in a situation where, as long as Castle Point council are in an apparent perpetual process of Local Plan making, the whole of the local Green Belt can be considered safe from development!

Residents should now be looking for a new, up to date cpbc Green Belt Review, based on the SoS’ guidance and embracing the protection afforded by Footnote 9 of the NPPF.

As was pointed out earlier in this post;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, … unless: – ….  specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted – For example, those policies relating to …. land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, … and locations at risk of flooding.”

This appears to be the clear desire of the Secretary of State’s interpretation of planning direction. The archived cpbc Green Belt Review was dated 2013 and produced in-house in support of the rejected daft New Local Plan, and clearly out of line with the Secretary of State’s consideration of  levels of “harm.” A new GB Review should be commissioned urgently, indicating the protection available through NPPF Policies and Guidance!

It would appear that the Castle Point council’s Local Plan2016, despite their failure to comply with the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring local authorities, may have been more in tune with the Secretary of State’s interpretation of what is possible with Local Plan-making and stood a chance of being considered adoptable. Whilst an Inspector may feel the Local Plan2016 was worthy of withdrawal, seeking intervention via the Secretary of State, may supply a different decision, once the Duty to Cooperate has been complied.

More importantly, with Canvey Island in mind, is that NPPF Footnote 9 offers no  difference in the weight and importance that should be applied when considering whether a site is appropriate for development between that of Green Belt or Flood Risk!

Only in the minds of those in Control of Decision-making within Castle Point council, is Canvey Island deemed a “special case”!

If not now, then I do not know when, given the position of the cpbc Local Plan, and the direction given by the SoS, it would be more Timely and more Appropriate for Canvey Island Town Council to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan!

The Secretary of State is clear Footnote 9 should be applied to protect Green Belt from Harm.

It is obvious that an area within a Flood Risk Zone and with unresolved Surface Water Flooding issues, can expect that same level of protection using Neighbourhood Plan Policies under-pinned by that same Footnote 9!

Quite simply Canvey Island is thought to be unlikely to Flood. This is supported by no factual Evidence, simply that it is “unlikely”. The continual loss of Green Space to development on Canvey that serves as potential displacement for flood water, fails to register any concern to the planning decision makers!

The FloodRe insurance scheme is limited, limited so that it specifically discourages development in Flood Risk areas.

The list of properties excluded from the remit of Flood Re has been subject to significant debate however it has been agreed that the following properties will not be covered:

  • All commercial property
  • All residential property constructed since 1 January 2009
  • All purpose-built apartment blocks

Who will weigh this against Financial Sustainability? It appears nobody at Castle Point council!

It is time for the reservations contained within the NPPF Footnote 9 to be considered appropriately and evenly across the whole of Castle Point!

” ” All quotations lifted from the NPPF, Planning Guidance, Glebelands Inquiry and the Jotmans Farm Inquiry.

Thorney Bay, change of Use Over-Heard on the Canvey Grapevine! CPBC Local Plan issues?

It started as a Whisper, became a Rumour and has now reached Conjecture level on the Canvey Grapevine!

Thorney Bay, the apparent answer to the Castle Point Council’s Local Plan dreams, has become the subject of unconfirmed speculation. With the humiliating Withdrawal of the cpbc Core Strategy in 2011, it was considered “timely” by cpbc officers that Thorney Bay, despite it being sited within the Hazard range of Calor Gas and within a 3A Flood Zone, should come forward to provide a Housing Development of some 600 dwellings plus sheltered accommodation.

Thorney Bay then became the Backbone, the largest single development site, of Castle Point council’s daft Local Plan and surviving the GB sites cull to remain as the spine of the Local Plan2016, 5 year Housing Supply!

The Thorney Bay proposal passed in Principle by the cpbc development committee, whilst in the following months / years a 1st Phase proposal has gained Health and Safety Executive’s permission and is apparently overcoming the Flooding Objections to the fundamental requirements of the Environment Agency and the ecc Lead Local Flood Authority.

Now then; Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once!

A little Bird has told me, and I must say there is little foundation, so to speak, for this to be considered information, but it could be that the development may not be going much further!

To me this would not be a surprise, I would have thought a more likely idea would be for the developer to follow the Kings Park, and remove the static caravans and replace with Park Homes.

The build cost would be far less, the speed of development would be probably twice as quick and success of the venture equally, if not more so, financially successful as Kings Park!

What’s to lose?

Park Homes and Luxury Lodges can easily reach an asking price of £300,000, the site is opposite Thorney Bay Road, and residents would likely be of an age not too concerned with, the daily commute.

Now that the Canvey Bay Watch team have created such an attractive area of the promenade and beach front, this forms another selling point for potential Park Home buyers. I would have thought that the Canvey Bay Watch team should soon be knocking on the site owner’s door for financial support, should this development rumour come to fruition!

Thorney Bay 1

Photograph courtesy: Dave Harvey

The question for cpbc is whether these Park Homes should count towards the official Housing Supply.

On one hand these Park Homes “are suitable for residential use throughout the year and are built to last at least 50 years”! (Omar park and leisure homes). Although whether 50 years lifespan is considered permanent is challengeable, however, their success is, and there are people desiring to own them.

The Planning Inspector examining the Glebelands, Thundersley, Appeal did not consider the numbers at Kings Park should qualify for inclusion in building numbers, but that may have been due to cpbc being unable to clarify how many caravans were replaced by Park Homes.

We do know that of the caravans at Thorney Bay the Inspector concluded;

“But that does not necessarily mean that the Households now occupying caravans would have chosen that type of accommodation, in preference to bricks and mortar.”

Well, “bricks and mortar” these Park Homes ain’t! But the appeal of Park Home life is generally popular across the UK, so if people are choosing to buy into this type of accommodation, then there is an argument for these dwellings to be included into the Canvey Island Housing Supply count.

With our “Broken Housing Market” leading to the apparent need to revisit Pre-Fabricated Housing, these Park Homes may well have some scope.

Whether or not any Affordable Home supply can be squeezed into the equation will be upto the negotiating abilities of cpbc, so we won’t hold our breath on that one!

What could be expected is for some Canvey Island “bricks and mortar” dwellings to become available, for local young families hoping to get on the property ladder, as older Canvey residents move into the Park Homes.

It may be doubtful , should the development come into fruition, whether the Housing Need in the mainland part of the Borough be part satisfied, as it will be difficult to argue that this type of dwelling satisfies the cross market “bricks and mortar” Housing Need. In fact it probably increases the pressure on mainland site supply.

I remind you this is only speculation.

As a reference, below, I include part of the text of the cpbc Report on Residential use of Caravan and Park Home Sites 2013.

“It is clear from both Census data and from Council Tax data that an increase in the availability of caravans for residential use resulted in an increased housing supply of the order of 800 homes in Castle Point in the period from 2001 to 2011. This increase was largely as a result of the change of use of Kings Park and Thorney Bay Caravan Parks from holiday use to residential use.”

“To date, the Council has only included those caravans registering for Council Tax at Kings Park within the housing figures for the period 2001 to 2011. However, given that caravans at Thorney Bay were included as homes within the Census 2011 outcomes, and this will be reflected in population and household data moving forward, it is appropriate that the housing supply figures for the period 2001 to 2011 are appropriately adjusted to include these homes also.”

“The change of use of static caravans from holiday accommodation to residential accommodation has made a significant contribution to housing provision over the last decade (2001 to 2011). Approximately, 800 additional caravans moved into permanent residential use over this time period, primarily on the Kings Park and Thorney Bay sites. This is supported by evidence from the Census and from Council Tax records.”

“However, whilst some of this provision has contributed positively towards the community, in particular at Kings Park, the nature of the provision at Thorney Bay has had negative socioeconomic consequences both for the surrounding community and for the vulnerable families who have found themselves living at the site.”

“Due to these issues there is support for proposals to redevelop a significant proportion of the site for traditional homes. However, it is the intention of the owner to retain a smaller caravan park of 300 caravans for residential use towards the west of the existing site.”

“Assuming that the proposals to redevelop this site as proposed for traditional housing are delivered in full over the next 10 years, then it is unlikely that the number of households living in caravans in Castle Point will increase further between 2011 and 2021. Indeed, as a result of the development of traditional housing over this period, it is expected that the proportion of households living in caravans will reduce.”

“However, should the Thorney Bay site not be redeveloped as proposed, then there is the potential for a further 800 caravans moving from transient use into permanent residential use. This will increase further the number of households living in caravans, and the associated socio-economic issues arising from this. It is therefore imperative that the Council work alongside the site owners to encourage and facilitate the redevelopment of this site in an appropriate timeframe.”

Video copyright BBC

CPBC reverts to 1998 Local Plan “Opportunity Knocks”Again for Canvey to start our own Plan?

For those Castle Point Residents that are unaware of, or who have not received this communiqué, here is the official notice of withdrawal of the Local Plan2016, due to the failure of cpbc in their legal obligation of the Duty to Cooperate with Neighbouring local authorities.

castlepoint

Regeneration & Neighbourhoods
Council Offices,
Kiln Road,
Thundersley,
Benfleet,
Essex SS7 1TF
Tel: 01268 882200
Fax: 01268 882382
Date: 4th April 2017
Our Reference: SAR/PP/IE/020
NOTICE OF WITHDRAWN PLAN
PLANNING AND COMPULSORY PURCHASE ACT 2004
TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (LOCAL PLANNING) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2012
CASTLE POINT BOROUGH COUNCIL – NEW LOCAL PLAN 2016
In accordance with Section 22 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, and Regulation 27 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012, Castle Point Borough Council decided to withdraw the Castle Point New Local Plan 2016 on 29th March 2017.
Yours faithfully,
Local Plan & Regeneration Adviser
01268 882220 (Direct line)
This letter of Local Plan withdrawal effectively means that Castle Point Council’s current Local Plan is again the saved 1998 Local Plan! The outstanding work by cpbc and the other Neighbouring local authorities is expected to require approximately 2 years to complete.
This appears to create an opportunity for Canvey Island Town Council to revisit the issue of creating a Neighbourhood Plan for the Island Residents.
There are many good points in the cpbc1998 Local Plan such as the improvement of the road infrastructure including a new access road, and protection of Green Belt, whilst recognising the constraints on development of Flood Risk, Infrastructure, COMAH sites and Green Belt.
It may be possible to encompass policies in a Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan that comply with the castle point adopted 1998 Local Plan and the NPPF, that would in turn lead to a Positive and Acceptable document for Canvey Island’s future.
A document that prioritise residents safety and well being, equality and quality of life, and most importantly include an appraisal of what constitutes appropriate development.
The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have never hinted nor expressed a view that a Neighbourhood Plan could stop all development on Canvey Island.
What we have consistently stressed is that any development on Canvey should be appropriate, and limited in its delivery, in line with the need to maintain the population at current levels or lower given the Risk of flooding and the Hazardous Industries.
The current situation, without any Canvey Island Plan, means in effect, that practically all development on Canvey Island is given approval so as to alleviate Castle Point Borough’s chronic lack of Housing delivery.
A Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan would stand as a Positive Document, regardless of its completion, for an Inspector to view as a reasonable and effective Plan for Canvey’s future, when weighed alongside the Next Local Plan devised by Castle Point council.
A Neighbourhood Plan that could be actively supported by Canvey Islanders.
In its previous considerations of a Neighbourhood Plan many points relevant then (August 2016) are irrelevant now, such as;
 all development sites already in the Draft 2016 Local Plan for Canvey Island would have to be carried forward into the Neighbourhood Plan;
failure of the cpbc Local Plan will give the Borough Council six months to submit a new Plan;
new planning laws state that any development proposed to be built on a flood plain would be sent to Government Ministers for consideration;
As it stands the previous motion put to Canvey Island Town Council to consider a Neighbourhood Plan was defeated, Unanimously by both political groups 8 votes – 0 votes.
Time for a Rethink and Getting Stuck In?
The Minutes of the Canvey Island Town Council’s debate on a Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed HERE

Never mind the Cost to Castle Point Residents ‘ave another Go! Plan before Cooperation spells Withdrawal!

The much Heralded Castle Point Local Plan2016, the answer to all of our problems, will officially be put to the Sword this evening.

There may be a shortage of Pink Sack Recycling Sacks in the coming weeks as cpbc staff dispose of the mountain of Evidence and Plan paperwork that has accumulated in the Core Strategy / Local Plan process!

The council Agenda Paperwork explains that there is NO gain to be made by continuing with the current Local Plan;

Independent legal advice has been obtained, and it concludes there is unlikely to be any legal basis for a challenge to the Planning Inspector’s findings.

The Planning Practice Guidance explains that “Where the Inspector concludes that the duty to cooperate or other basic procedural requirements have not been met, or there are fundamental issues regarding the soundness of the plan that cannot be addressed through modifications, it will be recommended that the submitted plan is not adopted. In these circumstances the local planning authority will be unable to adopt the Local Plan and it should be withdrawn…”

The Guidance goes on to explain that “Speedy withdrawal of a plan in such circumstances provides certainty to the local community, applicants and other interests about the status of the planning framework in the area. Until a revised plan is brought forward to adoption, any existing Local Plan policies will remain in place.”

…. the New Local Plan 2016 can carry no weight in making decisions on planning matters, because of the flaws identified by the Planning Inspector in its preparation.

It  (agenda paper) goes on to suggest that recent Planning Applications, either for approvals or dismissals, may have been unsound. Those that were approved against residents wishes are unchallengeable, whilst those dismissed against developers wishes may well be liable to Appeal!

Strikingly one such case was the approval of Flats in Foksville Road. Objections were made regarding the visual impact having no regard to the Canvey Town Centre Masterplan. The Masterplan was published spelling out that a design “theme” should be incorporated so as to add cohesion to the whole town centre, rather than allowing piecemeal approvals leaving us with a lack of coordinated design of shops and Flats.

In fact cpbc planning officers instructed development committee members during their consideration of the Foksville Road proposal;

 “whilst the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is an adopted policy document it is at an embryonic stage and something of an aspirational document with limited commercial commitment. The proposals within the plan will not be delivered in the short or medium term and are unlikely to come to fruition in their current form. As such it is not considered that this document can carry significant weight in the determination of the current application. A reason for refusal based on conflict with the Canvey Town Centre Master Plan is unlikely to be supported on appeal.”

Consequently members of the “full” council will tonight be informed via agenda paperwork by contradictory evidence!:

“non-statutory supplementary planning guidance documents which have been prepared since that time which the Council has adopted for planning purposes, and which will remain in place:

Canvey Town Centre Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document July 2012″

If only for the Canvey Town centre regeneration’s sake, let us hope that at some of the councillors will take note!

In a Cart before the Horse statement in tonight’s officers advice paperwork they conclude that;

it is clear from the Planning Inspector’s findings that it is now necessary to put in place formal mechanisms to consider strategic matters.

7.5 To assist with this, a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been approved by all 5 South Essex local planning authorities and the County Council

Furthermore work has now commenced on a non-statutory joint strategic planning framework for South Essex

During the public examination of evidence behind the Duty to Cooperate failure, it was pointed out that the South Essex councils had considered and rejected a joint Plan for the area, at a very early stage in the Plan process! To have not then explored and carried out a cooperative future approach to the group of councils plan making process is illogical.

Some serious discussion is relevant to indicate where the fault lies for, what has fundamentally led to the failure of the cpbc Local plan2016!

Is this an officer or councillor led Plan? Whoever, has now involved Castle Point residents in even more unnecessary costs!

Future planning policy work would be described in any new Local Development Scheme with estimated costs.

Even more worrying, with the list of planning applications already lodged PLUS the Jotmans Farm proposal still in the hands of Secretary of State following the developer’s Appeal, is the position the council have left concerned residents in;

The withdrawal of the New Local Plan will means that the Council will now continue to use of the Adopted Local Plan 1998, supplementary planning documents and the NPPF for the control of development.

And just to finish off in true comedic optimistic fashion, the cpbc crystal ball forsees;

No definitive timeframe has yet been agreed for this work but it is likely to take in the order of two years.

No doubt at much great expense to residents!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CPBC Local Plan2016 Duty to Cooperate Failed. Plan Withdrawal Recommended!

Much as had been predicted by far greater planning minds than ourselves, it has been announced that the Examining Inspector of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 has Failed the LP at the first hurdle – the Duty to Cooperate.

This will be a great disappointment for some, whilst no doubt others will take pleasure in proclaiming “we told you so!”

Given the somewhat aggressive nature of the other neighbouring authorities, especially Thurrock, it is difficult to guess how the position can be brought together.

One can only assume this may cause quite some delay.

From the Inspector’s remarks and conclusions it may be assumed that the hasty conclusion of the cpbc Local Plan Task and Finish group work contributed to the demise of the process.

Whether certain senior councillors should have been aware of this pitfall is open to conjecture.

Officer and councillor work on progressing the Local Plan2016 appears uncoordinated.

This in turn has cost residents some great extra expense.

Furthermore the Jotmans Farm developer may press for the Appeal Inquiry decision and the Dutch Village developer see a loophole in the Green Belt policy in the light of this Duty to Cooperate Failure.

Cherry picked copy and pasted extracts of the Planning Inspector’s letter appear below. The full letter is available on the LP Portal.

Taken as a whole throughout the preparation period from 2011 to August 2016 it appears that cooperation was structured and frequent. Whilst there may have been some loss of focus on strategic planning matters between 2014 and the early part of 2016, activity did not come to a complete stop.  There is no chronological record of what took place when but the picture painted by all those involved is one of active and more or less on-going engagement.

However the information provided is weaker in showing how cooperation actually influenced the New Local Plan.

The New Local Plan is based on an objectively assessed need for housing of 400 dwellings per annum.  Paragraph 13.22 recognises that the target for new homes does not equate with this but it reflects the capacity of the Borough to accommodate growth.  A subsequent updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) in May 2016 gives a range for objectively assessed need of between 326-410 dwellings per annum.  Be that as it may the draft New Local Plan proceeded on the basis of providing 200 dwellings per annum but this was reduced to 100 dwellings after the failure of the Task and Finish Group to reach agreement on the release of Green Belt land for housing in November 2015.

As far as the Council is concerned no amount of further conversations would have altered the difficulties in meeting its objectively assessed needs within its boundaries.

…….

  1. The questions of whether the strategy for housing is the most appropriate one and therefore justified and whether it is consistent with national policy, including paragraph 14 of the NPPF, are soundness ones. However, paragraph 179 of the NPPF provides that:

Joint working should enable local planning authorities to work together to meet development requirements which cannot wholly be met within their own areas – for instance, because of a lack of physical capacity or because to do so would cause significant harm to the principles and policies of this Framework.

……..

This is precisely the situation in Castle Point. Indeed, the officer report of July 2014 which set out the full document representations on the draft New Local Plan (CP/05/008) includes the following as an action point:

………..

Given that the Council has not been able to identify a sufficient supply of housing to meet its objectively assessed needs, it is also necessary to engage with neighbouring authorities under the auspices of the Duty to Cooperate in order to determine how the objectively assessed need for housing, and other strategic matters, will be addressed within the housing market area.

  1. However, notwithstanding the lengthy and detailed engagement across south Essex there is no formal mechanism in place to distribute unmet housing need. In order to comply with the duty there is no requirement for this to be done by any particular means.  Indeed, the outcome of joint working in this respect could take a variety of forms and it is not for me to say what they should be.  Nevertheless, the position is that there is simply nothing in the New Local Plan to indicate how the unmet need for housing will be tackled.  This is because the authorities have not yet deliberated about the matter in any meaningful way.  Therefore the question of how the objectively assessed need will be addressed, as raised by officers in 2014, has not been adequately grappled with.
  2. The Council is now anxious to ensure that the delivery of its objectively assessed needs is addressed with neighbouring authorities and intends to play a full and active part through the various DtC mechanisms that are now operating. There is no reason to doubt this but a failure to demonstrate compliance cannot be corrected after submission (PPG ID 9-018-20140306).

There is no duty to agree (PPG ID 9-00320140306).  However, whilst it might be firmly in view now, there is no clear evidence that consideration of this admittedly difficult issue was attempted as part of the preparation of the New Local Plan.  Within that process it has been treated as an ‘afterthought’.

all the indications are that in this respect the Council decided to ‘plough its own furrow’.  Failing to address the wider impact of its ‘last minute’ decision to lower the housing target by a considerable amount is the very opposite of cooperation in plan preparation.

the Council fell well short of making every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing before submitting the New Local Plan for examination.  The engagement undertaken as part of its preparation was fundamentally flawed.

Whilst the Borough may not hold all or any of the answers to the shortage of (travellers) pitches in Basildon it should attempt to play its part.  Ultimately it might be that providing more traveller sites in Castle Point is not the best planned solution but there is a duty on the Council to try.  In preparing the New Local Plan it simply has not done enough in this respect and there has been a DtC failing.

In specific terms the housing policies have failed to address how unmet need will be dealt with across the housing market area.  This is exacerbated by the lack of consideration of this matter when reducing the housing target by 50%.

However, there have been fundamental shortcomings in the steps taken, or not taken, to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing.  In addition, the Council has not made every effort to consider how it might deal with the significant unmet need for traveller sites in south Essex arising, in particular, from Basildon.

Therefore my final conclusion is that the duty to cooperate has not been complied with.  Clearly this is not the outcome that the Council would have wanted and it is not a view I have reached lightly or without full consideration of the material put to me.

Nevertheless I must recommend non-adoption of the New Local Plan under Section 20(7A) of the 2004 Act. In this situation the PPG advises that the most appropriate course of action is likely to be for the local planning authority to withdraw the plan under Section 22 and engage in necessary discussions and actions with others.  That is the course of action I would favour.  The alternative is to receive my report but the content of this would be substantially the same as this letter.

Christmas – a season of goodwill to all men… Even Thurrock Borough Council?

The aspirational 2nd access route between Canvey Island and the Manor Way Thurrock which would serve Canvey Island, not only a means of congestion relief, but more importantly, a much needed Emergency Relief Road has caused some consternation between our local authority and Thurrock Council.

Castle Point Council appear to have the issue lodged somewhere between being essential and of low-level option, see HERE.

Some confusion as to the research and evidencing of the “need” for this emergency route became apparent during the evidence given by Essex County Council’s Highways representative.

Castle Point council’s efforts to secure funds to provide the evidence of vehicle capacity levels and usage of Canvey way and the need for a 2nd access route was apparently successful back in April 2014, see HERE.

Hopefully some evidence of need will come forward prior to the CPBC Local Plan2016 Examination, so as to support the intended and / or approved Housing and Business developments.

Thurrock’s approach to cpbc’s Local Plan and Duty to Cooperate efforts can be considered to rest somewhere between being un-neighbourly to downright unsympathetic!

marleys_ghost_original-ill-john-leech

Scrooge visited by Marley’s ghost, who is forever cursed to wander the earth dragging a network of heavy chains. Original ill. John Leech

In answering the cpbc Local Plan’s Examining Inspector’s questions on the Duty to Cooperate, Thurrock responded;

“Thurrock Council officers have consistently set out Thurrock Council’s objections to a Canvey Island to Thurrock link road through the consultation workshops and representations on the Castle Point New Local Plan and in discussions on South Essex transport infrastructure as part of South Essex officer scoping of key strategic matters (January 2016). However there has been no specific or formal meetings with Castle Point Council regarding the issue of the North Thameside Link Road either with Thurrock Council members or officers under the Duty to Cooperate (a more detailed response is included at question 15).

Thurrock Council is unaware of any detailed or specific meetings concerning a proposition for a North Thameside Link Road. No representations were received by Thurrock Council from Castle Point on the Issues and Options consultation of the Thurrock Local Plan that took place in February to March 2016.

 There have been no formal meetings or requests for discussions between Thurrock officers and members with Castle Point Council officers or members regarding a North Thameside Link Road. Castle Point Council have not formally requested such discussions as part of the local plan process. Furthermore Thurrock Council has not formally discussed this road link with Essex County Council as the highway authority.

 The Chancellor in his Budget Statement of March 2016 included a reference to a Canvey Island third road, this was in the context of (paragraph 1.319) which stated, “…The government will look at the case for other projects, such as the Canvey Island Third road, to be taken forward”. The statement does not directly commit the Government to the funding of a third road to Canvey or that it is linked to the Manorway Road in Thurrock.

  It is Thurrock Council’s understanding that Essex County Council are working with Castle Point Council in seeking funding for a feasibility study to consider an outline business case for access options to Canvey island and not specifically the case for the North Thameside Link Road or any road linking Canvey Island to Thurrock.

With regard to the North Thameside Link Road Thurrock Council had made objections to this proposal with regard to:  Lack of evidence;  Deliverability and programming;  Impact on the highway network  Impact on the environment;  Failure to meet duty to cooperate on this matter. Castle Point Council have not discussed any of these matters with Thurrock Council.

Castle Point should carry out a comprehensive and robust assessment of housing supply and Green Belt to ensure that the housing target in the plan represents the most robust allocation and target.

Thurrock Council recommends that due to its opposition and the uncertainty regarding the feasibility and deliverability of a North Thameside Link Road that it should be removed from the Castle Point New Local Plan and Proposals Map.”

Hopefully the Inspector will view this as a little misunderstanding and suggest that Thurrock should extend a hand of friendship to Castle Point  in the light of the need to work together in the interests of developing out the Thames Gateway corridor.

After all, it is the Season of Goodwill to All Men!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign would like to thank our reader for his continued support and wish One and All a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Gloves OFF-Round 2! Castle Point, Green Belt or Not Green Belt?

It can be argued that the “political row” was warranted when the Castle Point Council Development Committee met to discuss the development proposal for Solby Farm.

Whether all Green Belt is Green Belt, or whether some development means it automatically becomes a Brownfield site or previously developed Green Belt is a sensitive matter to councillors and residents alike.

Jotmans Magaret March Benfleethistory.org.uk

Jotmans Farm development proposal remains with the Secretary of State for decision.

What should not become a material factor is romantic rhetoric such as “pristine” or “virgin” Green Belt. There are clear long standing purposes for Green Belt and if these functions have been eroded then that marks a failure in the historic development patterns within the borough.

A quick look at Solby Wood on Google Earth indicates that incremental development has eroded the extent of the Green Belt around that area. The site itself contains some equestrian buildings and a few stored caravans, we assume these are not for permanent on-site living accommodation.

At the time of the Local Plan2016 publication 2 motions were considered, one to protect ALL Green Belt as indicated in the 1998 Local Plan, and the second motion to protect undeveloped Green Belt. Officers indicated that it may be easier to argue at examination stage for the protection of All of the Green Belt.

However as we know cpbc voted to include some Green Belt sites for Housing development.

This was referred to in general terms during the Castle Point Local Plan2016 Duty to Cooperate pre-examination hearing with reference to balancing the Housing Need and Green Belt Policies.

This being the case it may be argued that as a general policy cpbc are willing to release some areas of Green Belt. Should that be in areas in which there is no realistic appetite for developers to build at present, this policy may lead to an Inspector concluding that if cpbc are willing to release some Green Belt it may be timely to marry the developers preferred areas with the Need for Housing. That would be unfortunate as this is not what strategic planning should be driven by.

It may be a case of the Inspector being willing to give cpbc the benefit of the doubt and approving the Local Plan2016 but with an early review. Should the proposed 100 dwellings per annum supply not be achieved then, no doubt, appeals for developers preferred sites would inevitably be successful.

It could also have been argued, which I did not pick up on hearing during the cpbc planning meeting, that the application could be rejected as being Premature. The Local Plan2016 must get over the first hurdle of the Duty to Cooperate, ahead of going under Examination for the tests of Soundness and legality.

Instead this proposal was treated as a means of endorsing the unexamined Local Plan2016. Members suggested that to reject the proposal would be inconsistent with the draft Local Plan2016, however in effect the Approval indicated a dismissal of enforcing the Adopted Local Plan with its different approach to Green Belt defence.

Prematurity would then have served both purposes of enforcing the Adopted Local Plan whilst allowing for the timely emergence of the altered approach to Green Belt policy in the Local Plan2016 should that be successful under Examination.

The policy of allowing development proposals, as in the case of Solby Farm  with funding for off-site affordable housing supply, rather than actually including on-site affordable homes, almost inevitably increases the deprivation levels in already deprived areas – the “Not in My Backyard” syndrome!

Other serious matters such as lack of amenity space and under use of development land could also be given reasonable consideration, rather than the proposal being decided simply by the threat that we dare not Approve in case the Local Plan2016 should Fail on the result of the handling of a proposal for 46 “executive” dwellings.

Similar muddlings occur where caravans are concerned in our neighbouring borough of Basildon, as recorded in the Travellers Times earlier this year;

Before the eviction of the Dale Farm Travellers site at Crays Hill near Basildon, Essex, in 2011, local council leader Tony Ball said: “Dale Farm has been illegally developed on green belt land. By doing this … the Travellers have broken the law.” After the eviction Cllr Ball thanked Inspector Knacker and bailiffs and promised to restore the site in keeping with its green belt status. This hasn’t happened. It still looks like an urban wasteland.

Basildon council’s draft local plan now suggests building up to 2,500 houses in Crays Hill – much of which is green belt. Whilst the council says the draft does not propose any development of Dale Farm itself, an eager developer is canvassing travellers who own plots on both the legal site and the illegal site which was cleared, and exploring the possibility of building homes there. The council says there are no plans to build on the legal site, and that the draft local plan proposes to safeguard it for Gypsies and Travellers, but the developer can feed into the local plan and suggest developing the site.

Any developer would have a number of obstacles to overcome, including the fact that some pitches have injunctions protecting standing gates, fences and even three lawful plots, which would need to be quashed in court, and the fact that the land is severely contaminated. If the Travellers are to feel it is worthwhile to sell their pitches (most want a minimum of £100,000) then charges against the pitches that the council have taken out to cover the cost of the eviction will need to be dropped. These range between £60,000 and £360,000 per pitch and the council says it has no plans to remove them — yet. It is a great bargaining tool, after all.

The Travellers are well aware of the irony of the fact that they were evicted from the green belt because nobody is supposed to live on such cherished land – yet “settled” people could live there, possibly in their hundreds, in executive homes, just a few years later. One wonders what it would be called – Dale Farm Close, perhaps? But having lived in squalor for the best part of five years, they seem prepared to go quietly – if Basildon and a friendly developer are willing to help them.

By Katharine Quarmby (first published in Private Eye and republished with kind permission T.T.).

Castle Point must not appear similarly indecisive!

A link to the cpbc Solby Farm committee meeting can be found HERE.