Tag Archives: Mainland

CPBC councillors in no Hurry, despite Canvey Brown field Land being up for Grabs!

The Castle Point Local Plan wheels of Motion turn Notoriously Slowly.
It was apparent from the debate during full council that nothing had progressed following cabinets “noting” of the requirement to compile a List of Brown field land Register, Part 2 of which would be granted Planning in Principle to support Housing supply within the Local Plan.

Cabinet Councillors spoke of forming a committee to consider appropriate land to be included in the Brown field Register and a similar debate during full council indicated no appointments made, nor meetings planned, in the meantime following the cabinet’s decision! With August arriving few meetings are usually scheduled due to holidays.
This Brownfield register may be seen as the mainland residents Green Belt life saver, as many brown field sites have been rumoured to have already been identified on Canvey Island.

Paddocks

As with all cpbc committees the balance of power rests with the mainland councillors so we can expect the development land identified to receive a Planning Inspector’s response to raise concerns on “the consequences of this on the distribution of growth across the Borough!”

However there is an opportunity for CITC to partake

“Notification for parish councils and neighbourhood forums of proposal to enter land in Part 2 of the Brownfield register; 

Where the council of any parish, or a neighbourhood forum, (“the relevant body”) in the area of the local planning authority have—

(a) requested the authority to notify it of a proposed entry of land in Part 2, and

(b) the land to which the proposed entry relates is within the area of the relevant body, the local planning authority must notify the relevant body of the proposed entry by serving requisite notice on it”

The driving force on compiling this Register, expected complete by the End of 2017, appears left to councillors with leading officers now having taken consultation only positions.

It appears that the first point of debate should be, but will most likely be disregarded, what constitutes Brown field land.

If you were to simply swallow what some local protagonists claim, Green Belt is held akin to:

And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountain green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

Rather than:  Green Belt serves five purposes:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land

This is recognised by Chelmsford City Council;

In their Local Plan Preferred Options Document they state:

Green Belt  A national planning policy designation given to land. Green Belts were designated to stop the uncontrolled growth of large cities and towns.    The Green Belt can include both greenfield and brownfield sites in areas with both good and poor landscape value.”

Our local Castle Point councillors will do well, if they were indeed intending to work towards bringing forward a Local Plan rather than extending the process indefinitely, to first understand and absorb this definition.

Of course that may not be their most important driving force!

Government regulation and advice on the compiling of Registers of Brownfield Land includes:

The regulations require local authorities to prepare and maintain registers of brownfield land that is suitable for residential development. The Order provides that sites entered on Part 2 of the new brownfield registers will be granted permission in principle.

The proposals came in to force in mid April 2017. Local authorities will be expected to have compiled their registers by 31 December 2017.

The (Government) department’s rigorous new burdens assessments ensure local planning authorities receive the relevant resources to meet their statutory obligations. We have written to authorities informing them of the grant funding that they will receive to cover their new responsibilities.

We (the Government) intend to publish statutory guidance to explain our policy for brownfield registers in more detail by Summer 2017. It will also set out our expectations for the operation of the policy and the requirements of the secondary legislation.

Brownfield registers will provide up-to-date, publicly available information on brownfield land that is suitable for housing. This will improve the quality and consistency of data held by local planning authorities which will provide certainty for developers and communities, encouraging investment in local areas. Brownfield registers should include all brownfield sites that are suitable for housing development irrespective of their planning status.

Local planning authorities who are required to develop a Local Plan under Part 2 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 will be required to have a register covering the area of the local plan.

The regulations set a process for identifying suitable sites, including the requirements for keeping a register and the criteria for assessing sites. (The regulations also set out the requirements for publicity and consultation where an authority proposes to enter sites on Part 2 of the register.) There is a duty on local planning authorities to have regard to the development plan, national policy and advice and guidance when exercising their functions under the brownfield register regulations.

the timescale is realistic. Local authorities already collect and review information on housing land as part of the well established Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment process and the requirements for preparing registers are aligned to this process as far as possible. Seventy-three local planning authorities have piloted the preparation of brownfield registers and their experience has helped to shape the policy and requirements.

Putting a site on Part 1 of a register does not mean it will automatically be granted permission in principle. Local planning authorities will be able to enter sites on Part 2 of the register which will trigger a grant of permission in principle for those sites suitable for housing-led development only after they have followed the consultation and publicity requirements, and other procedures set out in the regulations and they remain of the opinion that permission in principle should be granted. Those sites which have permission in principle for housing-led development will be clearly identified by being in Part 2 of the register.

Where a site on a register is considered to be deliverable within 5 years it can be counted towards the 5-year housing supply. Local planning authorities will be required to indicate whether sites are ‘deliverable’ when entering data on their registers.

Local planning authorities must take into account the National Planning Policy Framework when identifying sites to include in their brownfield registers. The Framework has strong policies to protect the natural and built environment and conserve and enhance the historic environment. It also requires authorities to ensure that a residential use is appropriate for the location and that a site can be made suitable for its new use.

Brownfield registers complement the existing Local Plan processes for identifying sites that are suitable for housing. When preparing their plans, local planning authorities are required, through the preparation of Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments to identify housing sites on brownfield land and other land that is suitable for housing. The regulations ensure that the process of identifying suitable sites for the brownfield register is aligned to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment process, and so proactively supports the plan-making process.

Permission in principle will settle the fundamental principles of development (use, location, amount of development) for the brownfield site giving developers/applicants more certainty.

May time approaches and Canvey Island must Know its Place where Elections are concerned!

Once again May time approaches and this year it is the turn of the County Council elections to take place.

Seemingly, as far as Road infrastructure investment is concerned, the south of Essex County fares less well than areas around and to the north of Chelmsford.

Whether this being main highways or the funding of the currently contentious street lighting of Unadopted roads, Castle Point routes appear to suffer from neglect.

It is also high time that representation from Castle Point is reassessed. Whilst population growth is relatively low, it is strikingly more so, on the mainland part of the Borough.

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Castle Point has seen little increase in population, a 1.6% increase since 2001 – 2011, from 86,608 to 88,011.

However the distribution of this increase is interesting, Canvey Island was 2.6% up whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

Canvey Island population is 38,459, whilst the mainland population is 49,552.

As far as Representation goes at Essex County Council, Canvey Island continues to be represented by just 2 members whilst the mainland enjoys 3 members.

Proportionately this is now becoming unbalanced: 88,011 residents being represented by just 5 members.

This means that each mainland County Councillor will represent just 16,517 residents.

 In comparison each Canvey Island County Councillor will represent 19,230 residents!

There is little likelihood, taking into account the distribution of councillors at Castle Point council, that the balance of population growth in the two parts of the Borough will alter in the future.

Canvey being Urbanised at Denser levels of Housing Growth, so it is fair to ask, at what point will Canvey Island receive equal representation?

It would not be unfair at this stage to suggest that there could well be justification in the proposed Boundary changes suggested OR that the 5th Castle Point County Councillor should be appointed in some other fashion rather than simply on an area / ward basis.

That is until Canvey Island population becomes equal to that of the mainland, which going by current growth should not be too long now!

Picture copyright; shutterstock

And the next Green Belt site up for Development in Castle Point is-!

An area of Green Belt land at Solby Wood, comes before the Castle Point (cpbc) development committee on the 6th December.

The proposal is for 46 dwellings.

The development committee agenda states;

“The proposal represents the residential development of a previously developed site in the Green Belt, on land which has been identified in the New Local Plan as suitable for release for residential purposes. Development of the site for residential purposes, whilst inconsistent with the Adopted Local Plan is considered to be consistent with the provisions of the New Local Plan and Government guidance.”

“My recommendation is that the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government be advised that the Council is minded to approve this application and that subject to no adverse direction being received and subject to the completion of a satisfactory S106 Agreement covering:
 
(i) The provision of affordable housing etc, etc
 
the Head of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods be authorised to grant permission, subject to conditions.”

“Should Members therefore be minded to approve the proposal, after consideration of all relevant matters, it will be necessary for the matter to then be forwarded to the Secretary of State for further consideration.”

This last point might be a timely reminder for the Secretary of State, whilst he continues to peruse the Jotmans Farm Appeal Inquiry papers, that cpbc are implementing in the meantime, policies as per the Local Plan2016.

The development committee paperwork goes into some description that may, or may not be on such certain legal ground by explaining:

“Para 89 of the NPPF states that the construction of new buildings within the Green Belt generally represents inappropriate development; however there are some exceptions to this general principle and the paragraph goes on to state that the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it may not be considered inappropriate.
 
The application site contains a number of substantial structures which are associated with the equestrian use of the site.
 
In addition a proportion of the site is hardsurfaced and used for the storage of caravans.
 
The site may therefore be classified as a brown field site.”

The cpbc Green Belt Review describes; “The site is partially developed to its eastern part with farm buildings and caravan storage.”

Brownfield land is considered: ‘Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure,” “This excludes: land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings” “land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments

Regarding the development the Echo had revealed in 2013

“THREE green belt sites in Castle Point could be developed within the next five years, the Echo can reveal.

A letter leaked to the Echo shows Castle Point Council’s chief executive, David Marchant, wrote to County Hall identifying the three pieces of land.

The sites were highlighted so the county council could predict the number of future school places in the area, as part of the consultation to close the Deanes School, Thundersley.”

“”last week meetings had taken place between the owner of Solby Wood Farm and Castle Point Council regarding a pre-application for up to 160 homes.”

Regarding Green Belt the case paperwork states;

“The site is allocated for Green Belt purposes on the 1998 Local Plan Proposals Map.

This allocation is not maintained in the New Local Plan (2016). Policy H9 of the New Local Plan identifies the application site and land to the east as suitable for release for residential purposes. This Plan is however not yet adopted and whilst it may be construed as an indication of the direction of travel for the Local Authority, it can carry some limited weight in the determination of this application. ”

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) stresses the importance of having a planning system that is genuinely plan-led. Where a proposal accords with an up-to-date development plan it should be approved without delay, as required by the presumption in favour of sustainable development at NPPF.

Where the development plan is absent, silent or the relevant policies are out of date, the NPPF requires the application to be determined in accordance with the presumption in favour of sustainable development unless otherwise specified.

Footnote 9 to the NPPF however identifies that land allocated for Green Belt purposes is an example where development should be restricted. The footnote does not however state that development in such areas is prohibited.

The Development Plan for Castle Point is the adopted Local Plan (1998). This identifies the site as Green Belt.”

“Para 89 of the NPPF states that the construction of new buildings within the Green Belt generally represents inappropriate development; however there are some exceptions to this general principle and the paragraph goes on to state that the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it may not be considered inappropriate.

The application site contains a number of substantial structures which are associated with the equestrian use of the site.
In addition a proportion of the site is hardsurfaced and used for the storage of caravans.

The site may therefore be classified as a brown field site.”

“However”, (a word often heard during these meetings), it may be argued, by some, that this remains a Green Belt site as defined in the Adopted Local Plan and therefore should be subject to the recognised development restrictions.

Equally residents would claim, in cases where unwanted development is concerned and given the position of the local Plan2016, the proposal may be considered Premature!

On Affordable Homes, cpbc extend leniency towards the developer, the Adopted Local Plan seeks 35% Affordable dwellings, whilst the local Plan2016 states:

” In order to ensure the viability of development throughout the borough, and to ensure that developments are supported by the transport, community and green infrastructure needed to create sustainable communities, it is recommended 25% affordable housing provision is sought in Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley”

However with the ink not even fully dry on the cpbc Local Plan2016, the officers propose capitulation by conceding in the case paperwork that;

“Both the adopted and New Local Plan recognise that it will not always be possible to achieve the provision of affordable housing on site and that under some circumstances the Council will consider the provision of payments in lieu rather than provision on site. Such payments will however be required to be equivalent to the cost of on-site provision and in accordance with the Council’s adopted formula.”
 
“In this instance the applicant has acknowledged the need to make provision for affordable housing and has requested that a contribution to offsite provision be accepted.”

One may wonder whereabouts in the Borough, these social housing provisions may, or may not, be eventually sited and delivered. The potential for making matters worse via segregational planning practice may have obvious drawbacks, particularly when pockets of deprivation already exist within the borough.

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The Solby Wood site being 3.4 Ha may be considered to be under-developed, only delivering 46 dwellings at a rate of 13.5 per Ha, but then the same rules do not apply across the whole of Castle Point!

The cpbc case officer, in offering some assistance to the developer suggested “I have not worked out the impact on the amenity area provision for the dwellings – but it might be worth looking at.

It will therefore be interesting to observe any committee members comments, given that 15 out of the 46 dwellings will not reach the amenity space standard expected by an average of 17.5 square metres on average, per dwelling!

All in all though, cpbc should be commended for attempting to follow policies as laid out within the Local Plan2016.

Photo copyright:BBC

Castle Point Green Belt Conundrum- to Release or Not to Release, that is the Question!

Castle Point is no doubt not the only local authority hand ringing over providing housing need whilst protecting Green Belt.

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The possible problem cpbc may have made for itself is in the historical efforts that have been expended in the attempts at producing a Local Plan.

Of late:

Records indicate that there have been a net total of 202 dwellings completed in the borough to the year end March 31st 2015.

Against this the assessed housing need is for between 400 – 500 new dwellings per annum.

The cpbc Local Plan2016 proposes to allow development of 100 new dwellings per annum.

Planning Guidance expects local authorities to; “boost significantly the supply of housing, by; “identifying key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing strategy over the plan period.

There are suggestions that by bringing forward the proposed site at North West Thundersley, with space for housing that may potentially result in a housing provision of 200 dwellings per annum.

However it appears that this possibility was not recorded in the council minutes during the meeting to decide the Local Plan2016.

Either way whether the housing supply is 100 or 200 dwellings per annum, the supply will not be boosted “significantly”.

Now the question will be raised as to what basis the parts of the Green Belt identified as developable and deliverable in the Plan, had been considered.

It is essential that the wording of the Planning Framework and Guidance is examined and applied.

“The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.”

Bearing in mind the need:
“To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should: use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework”

We can point out that despite the need to boost significantly housing delivery, it should be accomplished by having regard to being consistent with policies set out in the NPPF, Green Belt being one such policy!

Castle Point Council have voted to adopt a Motion to release Green Belt, land using a criteria “they” consider to be previously developed.

However, Green Belt serves, and was originally identified by, five purposes:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Green Belt land in Castle Point all fulfil at least one of these purposes, otherwise would not have been included.

But localism appears to have dictated that a new criteria, that of whether a particular piece of land is “virginal” Green Belt, should take precedence over protecting the 5 purposes.

Paragraph 81 of the Guidance, significantly the very paragraph following Paragraph 80, which covers the 5 Purposes states;

“Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.”

This suggests that the next most important features are included, and the land that supplies, or has the potential to, such provision contained within Paragraph 81, should receive the “most” protection.

Therefore it follows that more weight will be applied during consideration of Green Belt release to land potentially performing functions contained in Paragraph 81, than whether the land retain “virginal” status!

A further complication will be the Green Belt Review. This review was produced “in house” in November 2013, to physically support the daft New Local Plan (or previous version to LP2016).

Going back further, following the withdrawal of the Core Strategy (CS) a Councillors Conference was held in September 2011. The intention of the meeting was to address the Core Strategy Inspector’s concerns on the housing distribution across the Borough.

A briefing paper was issued to Councillors in which it was explained:

“The paper explains that the area of greatest concern for the Planning Inspector is the absence of suitable housing land; it then provides information regarding sites presently in the Green Belt but which could be allocated for housing purposes, which would be likely to address the Planning Inspector’s points.”

“He (the Inspector) also indicated that he was dissatisfied with the distribution of greenfield development between Canvey Island and the mainland towns. He indicated that the Council should review their assessment of sites in Green Belt locations in the mainland part of the Castle Point and identify land for 2.5 years worth of supply (around 500 homes) for the first five years of the plan, and a further 2.5 years worth of supply for years 6 to 15 (around 500 homes).”

There is the possibility that the latest appointed Local Plan2016 Planning Inspector, Mr David Smith BA (HONS) DMS MRTPI may also form a similar opinion

Essex County Council are reluctant to support the North West Thundersley initiative. this may not mean that development could not be accomplished piecemeal, just that the infrastructure would be late in arriving.

There appear more questions than answers, revolving around; protection of Green Belt, “type of Green Belt, Housing Need, Housing Supply, whether land (Green belt or otherwise) is deliverable, developers wishes, residents wishes.

Given that the Green Belt review written in support of the rejected daft New Local Plan has been added as Evidence towards Local Plan2016, one thing is clear, castle point officers have failed a duty of care in the production of the current Local Plan.

Given that Castle Point councillors have previously approved the daft New local Plan indicating release of sites such as Glebelands and Jotmans Farm as the Core Strategy Inspector had referred to the developers having provided him with proposals, and GB on Canvey Island, and now have voted to identify other mainland Green Belt sites in other parts of the Borough indicates that Green Belt, and possibly a lot of it, may end up being released.

The concern may be not, whether to Release, or not to Release Green Belt, but more a case of Release and How Much?

Mind you, the Local Plan2016 needs to get over its first hurdle yet, that of proving it has complied with the Duty to Cooperate.

The initial Hearing on that, will begin at 10am on the 12th December 2016 and will  involve representatives from the five other planning authorities within the South Essex sub-region! We assume that will be our “professional officer” friends from Thurrock, Basildon, Southend, Chelmsford and Essex County Council!

 

 

 

Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group declare Castle Point Council, no match for Thorney Bay negotiators.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group note that the thorny topic of the development of Thorney Bay Caravan site has thrown up yet more interesting issues.

Already the whole process has been described to me by an experienced developer as being “unusual”!

The “In Principle” proposal for 600 dwellings plus upgrade of 300 static dwellings passed by the Castle Point Development Committee, now becomes an Outline Application with an unspecified total number of dwellings.

The latest document added to the Council’s Applications portal covers the Community Infrastructure Levy and other binding agreements.

Both the Council and Developer appear keen to have the Thorney Bay proposal included in the new Local Plan’s initial 5 year housing supply and are eager to have the Roscommon Way link completed as it is considered “essential” to the development.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise to note that one of the “proposed heads of terms” agreement requires:

 “that the Owner shall not retain land or cause land to be owned in a manner that would act as a ransom strip that might limit the development of the Rosscommon Way Extension.”

Possibly this refers to the Echo report covering the holding up of the previous extension of the Roscommon Way by a small area of fenced off land in the pathway of the the road works.

I presume the Council believe there is the possibility of this happening again and are attempting to prevent. However the term “ransom” is somewhat unsavoury.

Another part of the agreement touches on Affordable Housing provision. The provision of which, according to the Statement of Intent, is yet to be negotiated with the Council. The Council may well be no match where negotiating with this developer is concerned. The recent Glebelands Appeal revealed that the Developer Fox Land and Property were willing to commit to a 35% Affordable Housing provision before the Council’s barrister and the Planning Inspector.

The Council’s Officers, in defence, argued that in their opinion they did not believe the developer could achieve the 35% figure.

At the completion of the Appeal Hearing the developer and Council signed a planning obligation that committed FLP to providing 35% Affordable dwellings before completion of the development should the Appeal be upheld.

This proves, no matter what CPBC Officers suggest, that the 35% figure is achievable. The signing of the planning obligation for Glebelands must be used as a precedent for future development. It appears this opportunity has been missed at Thorney Bay!

The Development Committee in approving the “In Principle” proposal for Thorney Bay did so subject to further work, amongst other items, on affordable housing being carried out.

To go forward with the matter undecided, reveals the Officers have failed the Committee! If one developer can achieve the desired levels of  affordable housing provision, even after the costs of an extended Core Strategy and Appeal legal battle, then other developers can equally achieve these levels.

The obvious negotiating factor is the need for CPBC to identify 1000 dwellings for the Local Plan’s 5 year housing supply. The largest single named site in the whole of Castle Point is of course on Canvey Island at Thorney Bay.

If the developer was to withdraw, other sites within the Flood Zone at Canvey Island would have to be allocated.

Why within the Flood Zone and not in the safer Zone 1 on the Mainland?

Because we are considered a “distinctive community”!                                                   Suggesting it is undesirable for Canvey Islanders to be expected to live within the Mainland community.