A recent post regarding the Castle Point Local Plan drew some frank insight, sometimes rare for our local councillors, into the dilemma faced by members as they consider how a vote, For or Against, the Local Plan this Wednesday might attract, or alter the Government threat of Intervention in the plan process.
We have decided to re-present mainland cllr Hart’s generous offer to us, to respond to Residents questions with his own thoughts, below:
Intro: As you are aware I am a Mainland Cllr for Castle Point Borough Council, and I hope your site members find my comments useful as I try to provide information on Council matters.
Please can I advise people to weigh up all the evidence, as I will do before I vote on the Local Plan next week.
I have been involved in the Local Plan discussion from both sides for a long time. I ask questions and consider all arguments as a Cllr and as a resident.
In regard to this current proposed Local Plan and the threat of Intervention, the threat is “very real” and it is all down to time, they want a plan in as soon as possible by us or by Inspectors, if we fall behind they will take over.
Intervention is not an opportunity to stop this plan and try to reduce housing numbers and delay the plan or start a new plan.
We are finding out more and more about this local plan week by week even at this late stage and Cllrs saw the plan the same time as it went public on Tuesday.
The proposed Local Plan is over a 20 year period and is 2000 homes below the projected housing need, (101 homes per year) so even the proposed Local Plan’s approval is not guaranteed if voted in next week.
So what does that mean and what does a No vote mean ?
A Yes vote would mean we would move forward and a public consultation and submission to an inspector.
Where it maybe approved or refused .
Inspector refusal is not likely in my opinion as Secretary of State officials are in our Council Offices overseeing our Local Plan progress and if they were not happy we would be in intervention now .
What would a NO vote mean ? It would mean intervention, probably with the continuation of this plan but possibly with the risk of an added 2000 homes to fill the short fall spread on the proposed sites with an increased density, possibly with out any say on any proposed development.
Which option is better is hard to say for definite
at this time as new information is coming out all the time.
These are my opinions and I have changed my mind back and forth on what way to vote, but if a Yes vote is acceptable to an inspector and Master Planning is allowed to be run correctly with resident involvement, not on house numbers but on most other issues it is looking a less unacceptable option than a no vote at this time.
There is not a happy solution to this situation just the lesser of two evils.
What ever the vote result it is hard times for Castle Point.
I can assure everyone that the Conservative Cllrs are free to vote how ever they wish.
I will try and answer any questions that arise on this matter.
Question; Thanks Simon your comment is appreciated. I have heard from other Resident groups that the council leader has put much faith in master planning.
How do you envisage the requirement to utilise land by more denser development and developers so called viability in providing affordable homes issues weigh up against cpbc’s aspiration toward master planning?
The bottom line is profit whilst cpbc need to see housing built which may enable the developers to call the tune at the expense of the leaders masterplan.
Answer: Master planning and the housing number being 101 per year under the target are the only positives in this Local Plan.
There is no more time to do a Local Plan we have had extra time and are now in injury time, the eyes of the UK Councils are watching to see what happens.
The Local Plan will fix the numbers per site that is Fact , Master Planning will involve a Chairman, Local Cllrs , developers and Residents to comment and amend developers applications. Access , green spaces , type of houses and house locations etc are types of issues Madter Planning can affect.
So back to your point about density increase by developers to make more money can not occur if the plan is approved.
Question: Come on Simon
I am sure you can as Chairman of the Development Control Committee remember planning officers relating to the NPPF when considering applications on Canvey Island.
“123. Where there is an existing or anticipated shortage of land for meeting identified housing needs, it is especially important that planning policies and decisions avoid homes being built at low densities, and ensure that developments make optimal use of the potential of each site. In these circumstances:
a) plans should contain policies to optimise the use of land in their area and meet as much of the identified need for housing as possible. This will be tested robustly at examination, and should include the use of minimum density standards for city and town centres and other locations that are well served by public transport. These standards should seek a significant uplift in the average density of residential development within these areas, unless it can be shown that there are strong reasons why this would be inappropriate;
b) the use of minimum density standards should also be considered for other parts of the plan area. It may be appropriate to set out a range of densities that reflect the accessibility and potential of different areas, rather than one broad density range; and
c) local planning authorities should refuse applications which they consider fail to make efficient use of land, taking into account the policies in this Framework. In this context, when considering applications for housing, authorities should take a flexible approach in applying policies or guidance relating to daylight and sunlight, where they would otherwise inhibit making efficient use of a site (as long as the resulting scheme would provide acceptable living standards).”
If you cannot developers will….
Answer: Density In the NPPF is not just to maximise it it depends on location or we would have high rise flats everywhere. Planning rules and polices still apply .
Question: Cllr S Hart mentions that councillors have only just seen the draft plan – days before the vote. Yep that’s about right CEO and his planners and some senior Tory councillors seemingly keeping the draft under wraps until the last minute. .So the study time is kept at a minimum. It’s like a stuck 78 rpm vinyl record, Why can’t some conservative councillors just wake up and see what is happening.
This is the third attempt at a plan which has cost CPBC residents a lot of taxpayers money., Of course there is a party whip but let’s hope some conservative councillors wake up to all of this and get out of their dreamland. Oh yes, Cllr Hart has made no mention of the increased traffic, no infrastructure, pollution increase, schools and doctors bulging at the seams too many numbers, the list is endless. Canvey Island is planned for even more dwellings to be built where will it end? CI is bursting at the seams. The roads are choc a block or do some people drive round with their eyes shut. I really dread to think that if there was a serious incident and emergency services could not get early necessary access. The mind boggles.
Perhaps a simple suggestion why don’t councillors just knock on a few doors of their constituent’s houses and ask residents for their thoughts. Vote No to the proposal of having ALL the greenbelt taken out of the local plan – let the government take over the LP it can’t be any worse than the efforts made so far.
The government inspectors can then make an independent assessment of the overall assessment and act accordingly. There are members of CPBC who seemingly have always wanted to build on Jotmans Farm right up across Tarpots to Glebelands can you just imagine what affect this would have for Canvey Island – yes the mind boggles again. SURELY COMMON SENSE AND REASONING MUST PREVAIL SURELY.
Answer: As I pointed out before, yes it could be worse, the proposed Local plan is 2000 homes short of the recommended number so the Inspectors “ could” continue with the plan if rejected as is or with the full 6000 number by increasing the site density.
I did not mention traffic because we all know the problems and not just on Canvey but the Mainland to, and is why our numbers are lower than our neighbours.
One thing that was made very clear by the Inspectors was that no plan was not an option, so leaving it for the Inspectors to decide could be a risky choice. A choice that could mean more homes possibly 101 per year more and possibly remove the option of Master planning and the involvement of residents to make site changes.
Question: Master Planning is described in the Cllrs members brief for the meeting on the 28th as :-
“Providing an opportunity for Members to work with Officers”. ( Members being Cllrs )
Can you give me any example where this has happened in regards to the compilation of the 2018 plan.?
” It is anticipated that the agreed master plan or planning brief for the site in question will be the subject of public consultation before being agreed by the Council as supplementary planning guidance”
Are you honestly suggesting that public consultation will have any effect on the developers proposal.
Simon I can only say that you are well intended but misguided if you think that the community of CPBC, are remotely fooled by Cllr Smiths rationale as to why we should avoid intervention.
Answer: Do not mix Master Planning with the Local Plan, and bare in mind the only out comes possible to Castle Point will end up with a minimum of 4000 homes in Castle Point over the next 20 years worst case is 6000 homes. So it comes down to what input we can have .
How much input have we had in this Plan, I would say none, and when we try are told time constraints mean none is likely as any delay would lead to the SoS starting intervention as his officers are in Castle Point overseeing the preparation of the Local Plan.
How will Master Planning work? well it will be a a lot of work and the numbers can not be adjusted but other stuff can be like site access type of housing building location and orientation.
Master planning is stated in the Local Plan on larger sites ( some wording needs adjustment in my opinion). Intervention is the worst case scenario and not a means to reduce housing numbers or delay the process.
We thank Simon for lending his time to answer residents queries and we look forward to the debate in council chamber, should a debate actually take place. We agree a decision may not be easy, and a result of a No vote may not lead down the obvious path.
Clearly, this is an Officers Plan, Cllrs have had barely any involvement.
We are being told, that the same members of the council will not take part in the intervention process ( no change there then ).
However, we are informed that members of the public will be able to involve themselves in the consultation part of the Intervention process. Link HERE.
Here’s the point;
Those same Cllrs, are by virtue of being Residents of Castle Point, members of the public!
Therefore are able to participate in the process’ consultation.
The Principle Officers don’t live in the Borough, so therefore should not be involved in the consultation.
Secondly the Secretary of State is not only insistent that CPBC has a plan, he is also adamant that its housing is delivered in a timely manor.
As you suggest Master Planning involves a great deal of work and subsequently, further delays.
It’s probably a good idea that Cllr Smith keeps this delaying tactic to himself.