Tag Archives: Neighbourhood Plan

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.

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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

Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plan, No Plan, Leaves all of Castle Point at Risk?

It is common knowledge that Canvey Island town council (citc) was requested by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan for the Island.

Following some investigative work by the Town Clerk the initiative was democratically rejected by the full council.

train crash

We remain convinced that a Neighbourhood Plan would, in the distinct possibility that the Borough’s Local Plan2016 were to hit the barriers, act as a valuable document indicating the areas and buildings worthy of protection, indicating clearly the Constraining factors limiting further development and creating a safer community, for the Planning Inspector to use as a positive democratic indicator of Canvey Island residents vision for our Island.

The Government website states

“Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals. This is because unlike the parish, village or town plans that communities may have prepared, a neighbourhood plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority. Decisions on planning applications will be made using both the Local Plan and the neighbourhood plan, and any other material considerations.”

“Neighbourhood planning can inspire local people and businesses to consider other ways to improve their neighbourhood than through the development and use of land. They may identify specific action or policies to deliver these improvements. Wider community aspirations than those relating to development and use of land can be included in a neighbourhood plan” 

The “other material considerations” are crucial to our area!

They are not best supported through any Local Plan alone!

With this in mind and given the criticism from mainland sources, towards citc for not progressing with a Neighbourhood Plan, we must wonder why no mention nor proposal for a Neighbourhood Plan has emerged in any single area of the Castle Point mainland!

Given that mainland areas have been most vociferous in their objections to proposals for development and given the supposedly undemocratic (allegedly officer led) development of a Local Plan from the Core Strategy days, it is a wonder that one or another group has not been formed to process a mainland Neighbourhood Plan.

This may be the result of One version of the Local Plan indicating one area of mainland Green Belt being suitable for Housing Development, whilst an emerging Plan indicating otherwise.

One can only assume that mainland residents are either content with the current Local Plan2016 having faith in their councillors, or believe the LP2016 will fail meaning it possible, or likely, that the previous draft Local Plan (2014 version?) will prevail.

This may indicate residents total faith in their councillors or may raise the question of what the value is in Localism and the Neighbourhood Plan process, if any at all!

What Canvey Islanders can be sure of is the need to defend Canvey against unreasonable development, because at the moment both Housing and Business Development is being approved, regardless of Constraints. We believe a Neighbourhood Plan, whether in agreement or conflict of the Local Plan2016, and at whatever stage of production, is a means of documenting Canvey’s issues.

To have a document in the form of an emerging Neighbourhood Plan would be invaluable to an Inspector to consider against a possibly UnSound Local Plan!

To rely on verbal evidence during Examination is a Risk. Indeed an Inspector may limit participation in the Examination in Public only to residents and groups who have previously submitted written evidence through the consultation process.

Looking at the lack of submissions on behalf of Canvey Island this could be a problem.

As indeed it could be for all of Castle Point as the Local Plan, whichever version is Examined, will be Supported by the Evidence of CPBC Officers, and in many areas this may be unforthcoming!

The extent of the considerations of Canvey Island town council into the undertaking of a Neighbourhood plan are recorded in the citc minutes for 15th August 2016;

CO/065/16 – TO CONSIDER AND AGREE PREPARING A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN OR NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT ORDER Cllr M. Tucker advised members that he would read through the report, inviting members to ask questions at each stage.

Cllr T. Belford enquired whether any members of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group set up to investigate the merits of having a plan were present to give a report of their findings.

Cllr M. Tucker advised that the findings were detailed in the report provided.  Cllr M Tucker proceeded to read the report to members.

Cllr M. Tucker asked the Town Clerk to provide information on the investigations carried out on the appointment of Neighbourhood Plan Co-ordinators.  The Town Clerk advised members that she had carried out investigations into other Parish and Town Council’s who had resolved to progress a Neighbourhood Plan and found that many had appointed Planning Co-ordinators to write the policies.  She explained that an average hourly rate of £12.00 per hour was advertised for appointments and that she had been advised by one Parish Council that during the busier periods of policy writing, the appointment had been on a full time basis.

Cllr M Tucker proceeded to continue to read the report to members.

Cllr M. Tucker invited questions.

Cllr T Belford commented that he had failed to understand that anything that was detailed in the existing Local Plan or proposed Plan must remain and cannot be conflicted.  Cllr T Belford added that he had thought that by completing a Neighbourhood Plan it would enable the Town Council to make representation to the Borough Council to say that it thought that it had not designated development properly and could suggest where development should be.  He added that having reviewed the paperwork he did not believe that completing a Neighbourhood Plan would achieve what he thought it could have.  Cllr T. Belford apologised to Mr Bracci as he had bought it to the Council to consider, explaining that he had misunderstood what a Neighbourhood Plan could achieve.

Cllr D Blackwell commented that everyone he had spoken with believed that by progressing a Neighbourhood Plan it would stop development.  He explained that Government statistics show that Parish and Town Councils that have progressed Neighbourhood Plans have, on average, increased development by 10% in their area which is not what the residents of Canvey Island want.  Cllr Blackwell commented that he had spoken with Steve Rogers the Head of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods at Castle Point Borough Council and he had said that all development sites already in the Draft 2016 Local Plan for Canvey Island would have to be carried forward into the Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr D. Blackwell commented that in his opinion the Government inspector will review the Draft 2016 Local Plan and it will be rejected.  He explained that they will then give the Borough Council six months to submit a new Plan.  He commented that in his opinion, there will be a public enquiry and when the Inspector launches this it will be a great opportunity for the residents of Canvey Island to give evidence of the constraints faced on Canvey Island including COMAH sites, flooding and the fact that it has traffic problems.  He added that he thinks there is a very strong case to challenge the delivery of development on Canvey Island even though it has been designated in the Draft 2016 Local Plan.

Cllr D. Blackwell advised that he had looked at Government Guidelines which state that you should not build on flood risk 3 areas until all other options had been exhausted.

Cllr D. Blackwell added that most other Parish Councils that have introduced Neighbourhood Plans are rural and have plenty of land surrounding them where they can take more housing, however, Canvey Island is an urban council with lots of constraints.  Cllr D Blackwell commented that he agreed with Cllr T. Belford recommended that the Town Council should not proceed to progress a Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr M. Tucker commented that he understood the concerns regarding the Dutch Village site, however, advised that new planning laws state that any development proposed to be built on a flood plain would be sent Government Ministers for consideration and also stated that any development already designated in the Local Plan must be considered as having outline planning permission.

Cllr J Blissett commented that she understood that the Dutch Village site had been removed from the Draft 2016 Local Plan.  Cllr M. Tucker commented that the site had been taken out to balance development across the Borough.

Cllr D. Blackwell commented that when the Draft 2016 Local Plan is rejected and unless the Borough Council can come up with a feasible plan, the Government will step in and deliver a Plan and there will be no control over the designation.

Cllr J. Blissett enquired about whether development on a flood plain is preferred over development on greenbelt sites in Benfleet.

Cllr D. Blackwell advised that all government guidance says that building on a flood risk areas should be the last possible option.

Cllr B. Campagna recommended that the Town Council should formulate a representation to present to the Inspector at the time of the public enquiry.

Cllr D. Blackwell explained that the Government Inspector will work with officers initially to discuss the Local Plan and will then look at all the evidence of the constraints that are in place on Canvey Island.

Cllr D. Blackwell advised that any person that wishes to have a say at the public enquiry must lodge their objection to that Draft 2016 Local Plan to enable them to speak at that enquiry.

Cllr M. Tucker advised members of the Clerks RECOMMENDATION.

Cllr T. Belford commented that this recommendation should only be considered if the Council agree to take this forward.

Cllr J. Anderson commented that the information detailed in the report provided is sufficient to make an informed decision and that there should be no need for further investigation in this matter with the RCCE and DCLG.

Cllr M. Tucker asked members for their RECOMMENDATION.

Cllr D Blackwell RECOMMENDED that following investigation into the merits of progressing Neighbourhood Plan that the Town Council go no further with the Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr B Campagna seconded this RECOMMENDATION.  Cllr M. Tucker asked members to vote on this RECOMMENDATION with a show of hands.

Members voted and unanimously RESOLVED not to proceed to progress with a Neighbourhood Plan.

This month’s Castle Point Council meeting, on the 29th March, is expected to give consideration of a suitable response to the Planning Inspector’s criticisms of the Local Plan2016 and the failure of cpbc in its Duty to Cooperate.

 

 

Neighbourhood Plan over-rides Planning Inspector Inquiry decision, despite lack of 5 year Housing Supply

It appears the issue of Neighbourhood Plans has spiked some interest in Canvey Island residents. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign motion was unanimously rejected by our Town Council, however a Blog reader has sent in this piece of information;

“Neighbourhood plans help block three different housing development appeals

Published: Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Communities Secretary highlights Neighbourhood Plans as a key factor in each of his decisions to dismiss schemes in East and West Sussex and near Bath…

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has disagreed with his inspector and dismissed a recovered appeal for 100 dwellings, 30 per cent of which would be affordable, at Yapton in West Sussex.

This was despite the council being unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing and agreeing that the policies in the Yapton Neighbourhood Plan (NP) restricting development outside of settlement boundaries were out of date.

However, the SoS placed substantial weight on the conflict with the “social element of sustainability” in the made NP.

Meanwhile the SoS has also dismissed two other appeals involving sites in areas covered by neighbourhood plans. In both cases the refusals were in line with the recommendations of the inspectors who held the recovered inquiries.

The first involved an outline proposal for a 32-dwelling scheme on land at Bishop Sutton that was refused by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Javid wasn’t satisfied that the council could convincingly demonstrate a five-year housing land supply across the district as a whole and acknowledged that policies on housing supply were out of date.

He agreed there were significant housing benefits to the scheme and that the village has sufficient capacity in terms of facilities and services to accommodate the new housing. However, he concluded that the scheme fell down on the objective of providing a reasonable match between jobs and dwellings to help reduce travel distances to work. This called into question the scheme’s overall sustainability.

The third development involved outline plans for a development of 70 dwellings (including affordable housing), a sports and community building, tennis courts, synthetic turf playing pitch amenity and open space at Ringmer in East Sussex refused by Lewes District Council.

The SoS noted the benefits of the scheme but considered there would be harm to the environmental role in relation to heritage assets and landscape as well as harm to the social role in terms of the conflict with the neighbourhood plan.

IF ONLY….”

So whilst we are told that Neighbourhood Plans cannot veer away from a Local Plan, the Communities secretary is not working outside of reasoned arguments.

This Campaign group continue to feel that we are aware of enough issues within the CPBC Local Plan 2016 for a Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan, to work alongside and to have a positive impression on the Borough Plan.

This would take an unlikely U-Turn by the current Town Council.

Can’t Plan – Won’t Plan! Is there a Pride of Place in Canvey Island?

Rather like some Brexit “Remainers”, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group continue, despite the Unanimous decision by the Town Council, to believe a Neighbourhood Plan would be beneficial to Canvey Island.

Canvey_060309_1

In a ResPublica report it is considered that more deprived areas are unlikely to have a Neighbourhood Plan in place, likewise people living in areas they consider unappealing!

Looking at social media sites, which some TC members shy away from, it is easy to find evidence of Canvey residents displaying great community spirit and volunteer involvement. This suggests that Canvey, residents at least, do not consider themselves to be living in a deprived or unappealing area. And yet there was no sign that the town council committee would find a Neighbourhood Plan to be of any  Asset.

Disappointingly only the mayor contacted us to enquire why we felt so adamant that a Neighbourhood Plan would be beneficial, no other committee member made enquiries.

This despite the majority of committee members feeling the Castle Point Local Plan doomed to failure.

We feel that the CPBC evidence base suggests that Canvey could devise a Neighbourhood Plan, alongside an emerging Borough Local Plan, that would benefit Canvey Island.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign have submitted a 75 page CPBC Local Plan Consultation document. We would have been far happier if a positive Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan document would have been entered into the Castle Point consultation instead!

As an example was the cpbc development committee consideration of the King Canute redevelopment, in which only at the 11th hour was a request for preservation measures to be added as a Condition for the redevelopment!

A Neighbourhood plan would have given the Canute site more protection.

Likewise the Canvey Supply site, Flats development. Criticisms were raised by certain cpbc development committee members to the visual design of the development. The Canvey Town Centre regeneration scheme proposed a Dutch style look to new buildings. A Canvey Neighbourhood Plan would have incorporated this design as a policy, meaning the architects could have made their initial drawings suitable from the start. Now we have  flats being approved for development with no Canvey residents preference in mind, that is no way to leave a legacy for future residents.

A Town with the population of Canvey Island’s, 38,459 (2011) deserves and should seek to be the Corner Stone of the Borough, proposing its own local policies and visions, rather than responding to representatives plans from elsewhere.

With the newly adopted position of a Mayorship, what better legacy than a challenging Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan could have evolved?

Far from being deluded, we are aware that a Neighbourhood Plan will not be easy, will involve hard work and some expense, but to not consult the residents views, we believe, was a mistake.

We remain available to privately share our beliefs on the matter with Town Council members.

Poorer communities are missing out on a government scheme to improve neighbourhoods, according to new research published by a think tank.

ResPublica found that although more than 200 Neighbourhood Plans have been created – with a further 1,900 being prepared – the vast majority are in more affluent areas.

The ten local authority areas that have the highest proportion of neighbourhoods among the 10% most deprived areas in England, had five or fewer designated neighbourhood plan areas in their district.

However, local authority areas with more than 20 designated neighbourhood plan areas tended to be in the more affluent areas such as Cheshire East, East Devon, South Hams, Wiltshire and Chichester.

Caroline Julian, deputy director of ResPublica, said: ‘Deprived communities across Britain are missing out on the chance to improve their surroundings which we know has a range of knock on benefits, including to health.

‘Our research shows that how people perceive the beauty of their local area and the quality of their local community – in terms of crime rates and maintenance of the area – are closely linked. People in areas they find unappealing are less likely to see themselves as positively as they could do – harming their ability to find good jobs and live productive lives. Politicians must reach out to people in these areas and empower them to take action through Neighbourhood Plans.’

Also;

The Secretary of State considers that neighbourhood plans, once made part of the development plan, should be upheld as an effective means to shape and direct development in the neighbourhood planning area in question. Consequently, in view of Framework paragraphs 198 and 185, and his guidance on neighbourhood planning that this is the case even in the absence of a 5 year housing land supply.

Castle Point Local Plan, a United Front? Canvey undefended and Neighbourhood Plans?

Castle Point Council have issued notice that the Planning Inspectorate has appointed Mr David Smith BA (HONS) DMS MRTPI as the Planning Inspector to conduct the independent Examination of the submitted Local Plan.

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign wishes Mr Smith well in his undertaking and hope that he fairs better than his predecessor Mr P.Crysell, who undertook the CPBC Core Strategy, and who was later declared, by a Lead group councillor, dead to us!

Co-incidentally Mr Smith previously worked on the Rochford District Local Plan 2013 version when that was submitted for Examination.

Mr Smith made some interesting remarks in his summing up in regards the Rochford Local Plan;

” It considers first whether the Plan’s preparation has complied with the duty to co-operate, in recognition that there is no scope to remedy any failure in this regard”

and

“The starting point for the examination is the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan.”

Of the first requirement the Castle Point officers will themselves be in a difficult position. I believe the Local Plan process commenced in 2007, if not before, ample time for the CPBC to have established and recorded record of the Cooperation between Castle Point and the neighbouring local authorities.

However CPBC have been criticised by the neighbouring authorities for their apparent lateness in fulfilling this requirement.

So the CPBC officers “holier than thou” position will be for them to justify ahead of the Local Plan Examination.

Similar questions were raised within the St Albans Local Plan. There the Inspector decided the way to resolve the apparent doubt within the Duty to Cooperate requirement was;

“In order to test the evidence I propose to hold an Initial Hearing Session at which the Council’s approach in relation to the Duty to Co-operate will be discussed.  At this stage I intend to invite representatives of the nearby LPAs who have submitted representations; the County Council and the Home Builders Federation.” 

The second point Mr Smith referred to “the assumption that the local authority has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan” is more contentious. Officers apparently consider the CPBC Local Plan2016 unsound, and yet they have been party to publishing it and submitting for Examination.

They now owe the residents of Castle Point a committed defence of the submitted Local Plan, as they attempted with the far less sound Core Strategy! And this commitment will be tested as the St Alban LP Inspector also commented;

 “In terms of the delivery of the proposed growth, there is insufficient clarity and detail regarding the associated infrastructure that is required, how it will be provided and what the consequent implications may be in terms of viability. I have seen the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (INFR 001 and 002) but note in Appendix 5 of the SLP that there are a significant number of projects (for example in relation to highway improvements) where costs and funding are unknown.  In these circumstances there is uncertainty regarding the consequent implications for the viability of the Council’s proposals.”

This has implications within the CPBC Local Plan in the case of Policy H11 Land at North Thundersley, the Blinking Owl area. Whether the CPBC officers commitment during Examination in Public can be relied upon, is for the Council Lead group members to consider.

It would make sense for those Lead councillors to form a representative group to attend the Examination sessions to defend the Plan.

Mr Smith’s decision was that the Rochford Plan was unsound and identified modifications to the Plan so as to make the Plan sound, this process appears to be ongoing.

Most interestingly is that two Parishes in Rochford, Canewdon and Wallasea felt in December 2015 that despite the need for Local Plan’s apparently needing completion by early 2017, it was worthwhile entering into a Neighbourhood Plan process.

A pity that Canvey Island town council felt a Neighbourhood Plan, indicating how Canvey residents vision for the Island’s future, was too late and not worthwhile.                      Canvey may well now find it difficult to suggest positive Policies advantageous to the Island during the Local Plan Examination process.

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The Castle Point Borough Council planning Devil is in the Detail!

The devil is in the detail, is an idiom that Castle Point Council appear to rely on where development approvals on Canvey Island are concerned!

Far too often development proposal comments by consultees are taken at face value in the support of approval recommendations of the “professional” officers.

Rarely do development Committee members challenge the points of recommendation, simply because of a lack of alternative information.

Within proposal consideration for Calor and Oikos will often be the Health and Safety Executive comment; “Do not Advise Against”.

Within a recent appeal inquiry in Oxford a Do not advise against comment was made by the HSE in regard to a development near a Hazardous site.

However the local authority, UNLIKE Castle Point felt they should seek independent advice, rather than rely on untrained officers taking the HSE at their exact word. The advisor to the Oxford council considered that;

Do not advise against is not the same as saying planning permission must be granted. 

Overall the HSE methodology is designed to identify sites where the HSE feels obliged to advise against planning permission.

However, their only other advice category of do not advise against is not equivalent to supporting the application being granted.

As already established it is quite legitimate for a local planning authority to take a different view on the merits of granting planning permission, so long as the HSE’s advice has been taken into account.

That the HSE disputed some of the advisors comments, was not disputed, what is relevant is that the local authority had attempted to seek objective advice that may not be available amongst local authority officers.

The development in question, is in a less significant Flood Risk Area than that of Canvey Island.

The local authority in Oxford have a shortfall in housing land and under estimated their Objectively Assessed housing need, as is likely to be found in the case of Castle Point’s local plan 2016.

Despite this and the fact that the site in question was for a great deal fewer dwellings than in the case of Thorney Bay, the Oxford local authority turned down the application.

Castle Point of course have approved in principle outline permission for 600 dwellings, a residential institution plus the retention of static caravans and included these numbers within their daft New Local Plan and Local Plan 2016!

This despite the developer having relied on quoting the CPBC’s previous consideration: “The most recent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) (2011)  indicates a potential range for dwelling units for the site between 378 and 595”

All based upon them achieving a “do not advise against” response from the HSE.

The Environment Agency acknowledge an agreement with Castle Point council in which Canvey is to be treated as a Special Case where Flood Risk and housing development needs for the whole Borough is concerned!

Canvey representatives really do need to start reading the SMALL PRINT where planning proposals are concerned!

  Footnote: Neither of the local Parish nor Town councils concerned in the Oxford case have given any indication that they intend to produce a Neighbourhood plan.  No evidence was submitted of any preliminary works in this regard.