Tag Archives: New Local Plan

Green Belt Release 8.2%! Hold onto your Hats at Castle Point!

Castle Point Green Belt is a controversial commodity, developers propose its development, councillors appear split on whether it can be protected, on various sites’ value and which or whether sites should retain the Green Belt status!

Rather than sniping away here and there, London should follow Manchester’s example with a joined-up approach across the Capital’s Boroughs, including the south east counties that border the city.”

The need for more Housing is obvious, especially given the growing population. Identifying suitable sites for development appears less than a scientific process.

The Local Plan2016 expects cpbc and neighbouring authorities to attempt to cooperate strategically where Housing, Business and Infrastructure is concerned. However if unsuccessful the Plan will not necessarily fail.

Government expects local authorities to interpret the planning guidance and constraining factors in arriving at a local Housing Need number.

Population growth is a national issue the contributing factors of which local authorities have little control over. It would be reasonable to expect there to be a strategic approach to the issue of housing the growing population, that is, how many and where.

Castle Point council have demonstrated a “small-minded” approach to local planning. In the first instance the lead group decided to approve a plan that agreed to release Green Belt on Canvey Island alone. Having wrestled with making progress with such a plan, and rejecting the assistance of the Planning Inspector’s guidance, the plan was withdrawn and a New Local Plan formed. The New Local Plan included Green Belt sites that appeared likely to be approved with developers apparently ready to build. This Plan was unpopular with residents and eventually the Local Plan2016 became the 3rd plan published.

Most recently Greater Manchester, in an effort to address housing Need, has elected to plan for an 8.2% release of Green Belt. In contrast the Castle Point Local Plan2016 intends; “This plan retains 99% of the Green Belt extent identified in the 1998 Local Plan.”

If the Local Plan2016 was to bring forward the contentious safe-guarded land at North West Thundersley the Plan would indicate an intention to release 6% in total of Castle Point’s Green Belt.

Whilst the Manchester intention to release 8.2% of Green Belt is considered “remarkable” an area equivalent of 6% of Castle Point’s Green Belt given the issues that face the Borough in terms of road infrastructure, the NHS situation and Flood Risk could be considered equally remarkable.

Developers will point to the willingness to release Green Belt in areas of no interest to them as being a weakness in the local authority’s defence of the Local Plan2016’s site selection and green belt protection policies.

The ripple effect of Manchester’s decision to release 8.2% may, in future, influence expectation of Local Plan examining Planning Inspectors.

It will be a matter of whether localism should or should not prevail.

Paul Wellman wrote for Estates Gazette:

pwellman  Paul Wellman can be followed on Twitter via @PaulWellman_EG

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Green Belt Saved! CPBC’s new New Local Plan and CGBC2016 re-branding, with time to Spare!

In response to Castle Point Council’s re-branding of its new New draft Local Plan, The “New Local Plan 2016”, Canvey Green Belt Campaign group will consider whether it should respond likewise.

A new more relaxed approach from contributors. A website re-branding. How does CGBC2016 sound?

With summer fast approaching, we are considering whether we can now take a “sit back – feet up” approach, content in the knowledge that Canvey Island Green Belt is safe and protected from development.

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The CPBC Council Agenda, for the 23rd March states;

7.1 The New Local Plan 2016 based on the decision taken by Council on 24th February 2016 has been prepared. It remains in a format to follow the structure of the NPPF, employing the same thematic chapter headings. This will help to ensure that the plan is compliant with the NPPF, meeting the final test of soundness identified earlier in this report.
7.2 Each chapter includes strategic policies setting out the Council’s overall approach to the issue under consideration. Where appropriate, the strategic policies are followed by allocation policies which set out the spatial aspects of the Council’s strategy. Finally, a series of development management policies are included within each chapter which explain the considerations the Council will apply when considering planning applications for development.
7.3 The following sections of this report will highlight the main policy changes compared to draft New Local Plan 2014.

The Council has resolved to maintain and prioritise the protection of the Green Belt in the Borough (with the exception of New Proposal Site H8 (formerly H9) on land at 396 to 408 London Road with a capacity of 81 dwellings, New Proposal Site H9 (formerly H11) on land south of Daws Heath with a capacity of 180 dwellings, and New Proposal Site H10 (formerly H17) on land on the west side of Canvey Road for a Care Home).

The New Local Plan 2016 therefore seeks to deliver approximately 2,000 homes (100 homes per annum) within Castle Point in the period 2011 to 2031, as agreed by the Council at its meeting of 24th February 2016.

Delivery of Dwellings at Canvey Island is proposed to include:

New H10 (Former H17) – Land Fronting Canvey Road, Canvey Island – 50 residential care beds
8.27 Land in this location was designated Green Belt in the 1998 Adopted Local Plan. This site is however previously developed, and has been promoted by the landowners for redevelopment as a residential care home.
8.28 This site is slightly removed from existing residential areas of Canvey Island, and is not considered to be the most appropriate location for residential development from an accessibility perspective.

The site is on a bus route and nearby employment opportunities at Charfleets Industrial Estate and is therefore appropriately located in this regard.

8.29 The site itself is not environmentally constrained, with the exception of flood risk. In terms of flood risk, it will be necessary for any development to be flood resistant and flood resilient and for bedspaces to be located above ground floor level.
8.30 The Whole Plan Viability Assessment indicates that residential care developments are viable within Castle Point. Furthermore, one of the landowners owns a residential care home elsewhere and would therefore be likely to operate the home proposed for this site.

H5 – Land at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey Island – 600 homes
8.9 Land in this location was safeguarded for housing in the 1998 Adopted Local Plan. The New Local Plan 2016 repeats this earlier designation. A resolution to grant outline consent for the redevelopment of this site for residential
5
purposes was made by the Development Control Committee in February 2013. An application for phase 1 of the development comprising 117 dwellings has also been received and is under consideration.
8.10 The proposed extension to Roscommon Way linking Haven Road with Western Esplanade runs through this site. This section of the site is safeguarded for the provision of the road.

H6 – Land at Point Road, Canvey Island – 160 homes
8.11 Land in this location was designated for residential purposes in the 1998 Adopted Local Plan. The New Local Plan 2016 repeats this earlier designation. A resolution to grant consent for the redevelopment of the western section of this site for 99 dwellings was made by the Development Control Committee in July 2013, but was ultimately refused permission in 2014, because negotiations on the Section 106 Agreement had not progressed. Assessments carried out by officers indicate that the slightly smaller eastern portion of the site could accommodate around a further 60 units.

Regardless of the fact that the “previous” New Local Plan had not run its full course with regards to Final Consultation and an ensuing Public Examination etc etc, the Agenda reveals that the process is under funded;

Financial Implications
14.6 The Council had previously established a specific reserve for local plan development costs, of £250,000. By the end of 2014/15 only approximately £35,800 remained unspent. The further stages of plan preparation are likely to cost in the region of £190,000 for publicity, a Programme Officer and examination costs. The additional costs of £154,200 would need to make available from reserves.

Given that 2,000 Dwellings, at an average rate of 100 dwellings per annum, appears to be the new Housing target, the proposed 760 dwellings at Thorney Bay and The Point, plus the 50 residential care homes on Canvey Island does appear to be a high proportion within the 3a Flood Risk Zone. It may be that a Planning Inspector may view this level of growth poorly distributed, considering the size of the Island in relationship to the Borough.

It also appears that, despite the Agenda papers’ reference to the Local Plan’s Task and Finish group’s apparently exhaustive consideration of the Constraints on development, Flood Risk and the Hazardous Industries were discounted! Focussing entirely on Green Belt as the single Constraint.

But this is not a time to be pessimistic, we have a new Local Plan, and a tight schedule

Pre- Submission Consultation  –  May, June 2016 (6 weeks)

Submission  –  August 2016

Examination  –  November 2016

Inspectors Report  –  January 2017

Adoption  –  February 2017

Bish – Bash – Bosh, sounds simple, so simple that we must wonder what councillors and officers have been doing for the previous 9 years!

Of course developers may be not quite so keen on how the Housing Growth Distribution looks once the dust has settled, if the dust does actually settle. After all legal challenges are not uncommon, perhaps that is why officers drew attention to continued Local Plan funding needing to come from Council reserves!

With the redirection of the emerging Local Plan re-focussing away from Green Belt development, it will be interesting to note whether certain councillors, previously excluded from Local Plan proceedings due to their having interests, will now be welcomed back into the chamber!

As far as the Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group is concerned, the opportunity to take the summer away from concerns regarding Green Belt and development as a whole, appears irresistible.

Which might suggest we have full confidence in the new New Local Plan, and expect developers Persimmon and Golden Circle to bid a hasty retreat in the light of this new document.

On the other hand, perhaps a watching brief and a different approach is called for.

Now it’s our turn to say it, “Watch this Space!”

A Race Against Time?CPBC new New Local Plan and Green Belt protection!

This month’s Cabinet meeting agenda has been released with no mention of an updated Local Development Scheme programme.

The current version dated January 2014 indicates that the Castle Point Local Plan was expected to be processed within this schedule:

Examination                                        Dec 2014
Inspectors Report                               Feb 2015
Adoption                                             Mar 2015

Clearly this has faltered and we await a new look Local Plan based on:

Motion 1 (removal of some Green Belt sites for housing development ) 

To alter the draft Local Plan to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting our objectively assessed housing needs and  remove all virgin green belt sites listed without current planning permission, including sites listed in the Castle Point SHLAA 2014 (22 sites).

With the due date, 16th March or earlier, for the Secretary of State’s ruling on the Jotmans Farm Green Belt development Enquiry, fast approaching, it is interesting that CPBC do not feel the need to release an updated programme for the new New Local Plan during the Cabinet meeting.

Much weight appeared to be placed upon the requirement of consistent progress being made with the Local Plan process and reference made by the developer’s legal team that CPBC have failed in this requirement.

It is unclear whether the Secretary of State has made contact with CPBC as to progress of our Local Plan during his considerations.

We must assume that the Government’s End Date of 2017 for Local Plan’s, has over ridden the CPBC Local development Scheme programme and schedule, otherwise why would CPBC not issue a new schedule ahead of the Jotman’s decision being released?

We cannot expect the Persimmon’s legal team to not object to any extension to the SoS’s decision being released, nor an acceptance that time being afforded for the Local Plan to continue until 2017 for Examination, prior to them seeking judicial review.

A clear statement and release of a Local Plan schedule may appear the minimum requirement necessary, especially ahead of the May local elections.

Commitment to the protection of Green Belt is admirable, but notice of intent will be the minimum first step towards maintaining the confidence of the Inspectorate and local residents.

Castle Point Local Plan’s rough passage to Calmer Waters!

The “eagerly” awaited Castle Point Borough “special” Council meeting that will consider the draft New Local Plan is scheduled for next Wednesday 24th February 2016.

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The agenda paperwork indicate two Motions for debate:

 Motion 1 (removal of some Green Belt sites for housing development ) 

To alter the draft Local Plan to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting our objectively assessed housing needs and  remove all virgin green belt sites listed without current planning permission, including sites listed in the Castle Point SHLAA 2014 (22 sites).

or

Motion 2 (removal of all Green Belt sites for housing development)

To alter the draft Local Plan to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting our objectively assessed housing needs and remove all Green Belt sites and that the draft Plan as altered be resubmitted for public consultation.
The Motions share a common principle. It is clear that Members do not wish to see Green Belt allocated for housing development in the draft New Local Plan placing the protection of the Green Belt above meeting the objectively assessed housing needs of the Borough.

The Agenda then goes on to give CPBC officers opinion on the merits of, or lack of, each Motion. Extracts include;

Of Motion 1 they consider: “The Motion and its proposed amendments are unclear. First, there is no statutory definition of “virgin” Green Belt. Land is either allocated as Green Belt, or not. Within the Green Belt, sites may host buildings or other structures, such as farm buildings, sports pavilions or dwellings. The National Planning Policy Framework indicates that the essential characteristics of Green Belt are its openness and permanence.
However, the National Planning Policy Framework does define “Previously developed land””

Amendments to the Draft New Local Plan to exclude Green Belt sites which are not “previously developed land” would leave the following sites in the Plan; 
 H8 – Land at the Former Castle View School Site Canvey Island (the Draft New Local Plan site is occupied by former school buildings); 
 H9 – Land between Felstead Road and Catherine Road Benfleet (the Draft New Local Plan site includes land occupied by former commercial and current residential buildings).

And in an attempt to scupper potential support for Motion 1 officer advice suggests;

 For this reason, no account may be taken of any potential capacity at H18 in calculating housing land supply on the Plan.

Officers appear to suggest that ONLY  Motion 1 required the further investigation of other Constraints on Housing. This should include amongst other issues the Hazardous site at Canvey Island. however the officers consider that;

In considering responses to the consultation on the plan, the Task and Finish Group received a detailed briefing on all constraints.

Furthermore a separate session of the Task and Finish Group was devoted to the consideration of policies and responses relating to the hazardous installations on Canvey Island.

This particular meeting epitomised the constrained and futile manner in which these Task and Finish group meetings were conducted.

Despite numerous note taking and the input of experts, such as the Environment Agency, no alterations or changes were made to the draft New Local Plan presented for debate by the special council in January.

The Task and Finish group work was, in a nutshell, Futile!

Then, almost in an attempt to drive a wedge between council members, parties and elements the Agenda paperwork gives its approach to Motion 2;

This Motion (2) is clearer in that it does not seek to categorize Green Belt sites, and makes clear that all Green Belt sites are to be removed.

Of the Risks, officers consider that;

The Council is advised that there is a substantial risk that a Draft New Local Plan amended in the form of either Motion is unlikely to meet the four tests of soundness as set out in paragraph 182 of the NPPF

And of the Duty to Co-operate;

A draft New Local Plan which seeks only a limited ability to meet its housing need will not sit well with neighbouring authorities who are seeking to release green belt sites to meet their own housing needs: to expect those authorities to release even more of their green belt to meet the Council’s unmet need is unrealistic.

Addressing the potential next steps the paperwork advises;

As stated previously Motion 1 is unclear, inconsistent and contradictory  suggesting that it is acceptable to leave certain Green Belt Sites within the  Draft Local plan but excluding others. Council is reminded any attempt to  remove sites that is not supported by evidence will result in the Council’s  approach to meeting its housing needs being found unsustainable.
Motion 2 the removal of all Green Belt sites for housing development  presents the least worst option in that it is a clear unambiguous policy  statement that the Council’s priority is the protection of the Green  Belt and  the Council will not allow the use of any green belt sites to meet its  objectively assessed housing needs.

If Council is minded to direct that the draft New Local Plan is amended to  reflect either of the  two Motions then it is recommended that the Council  directs that the Draft New Local Plan be altered to remove all Green  Belt housing sites to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting the  Borough’s objectively assessed housing needs.

Quite clearly unless the different elements among the Political groups of councillors negotiate a compromise or agree a way forward, the potential for this next special council meeting may turn to farce!

alamy-com_brian-rix

Councillors have had clear difficulty in altering direction of this version of the Local Plan, this effort has the potential to be wasted if clear decision on the way forward is not agreed and debated sensibly. Developers and those preferring the rejected version of the Local Plan, and we know who they are, will take advantage of a divided and split council.

PS for any officers or councillors interested, please note at Agenda Note 5.14 that H17 is NOT East of Canvey Road. East of Canvey Road is H16 according to the Local Plan Proposals Map!

Be careful what you agree to!

New Local Plan? Now lets deal with ALL of the Castle Point constraining issues evenly!

“where climate change is expected to increase flood risk so that some existing development may not be sustainable in the long-term, seeking opportunities to facilitate the relocation of development, including housing, to more sustainable locations.”

So states Paragraph 100 of the National Planning Policy Framework. But no, this bullet point does not relate to Canvey Island, so says the Castle Point Council senior head of regeneration and neighbourhoods!

Despite CPBC’s own Local Plan sustainability scoping report stating

Given the risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing. These include:

The need for an emergency plan to be in place;

The need for sea defences to be maintained and improved;

The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower;

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With CPBC’s Local Plan issues currently appear to be almost obsessing, and quite rightly, on Green Belt protection, we feel it is timely to draw councillors, residents and even officers attention back to the constraint that has the ability to affect health and well being, can cause the destruction of property and of cause untold financial impact, flooding.

Contrary to what some Canvey and Castle Point residents have been encouraged to believe, Canvey is at Real Risk from flooding from a failure of the sea defences and it is at risk from surface water flooding!

canvey broken sewers 1.jpg-pwrt3

photo credit: Echo Newspaper

That Canvey’s Green Belt is considered suitable to be released for development via our daft New Local Plan, denies the purpose that, in the event of a flood, the function the GB land would serve. That of dispersing flood water over a greater distance, thereby lowering the water level.

Large scale development would serve to put more people at Risk, would hamper an evacuation and distract resources from those in the most vulnerable need.

This current Local Plan is wrong for more than the sole reason of Green Belt release. A vote from councillors, at the end of January, will hopefully see a constrained and fair new New Local Plan emerge that can be supported by residents Borough-wide.

Interesting then to read this different approach, in a report by Planning Resource, of Windsor and Maidenhead Council and their approach to flooding as a constraint on development and applying this to the area under threat.

I wonder how they have progressed and I wonder why CPBC is reluctant to address the issue likewise?

28 February 2014 by Catherine Early

A council in Berkshire is set to remove several housing sites from its emerging local plan after areas previously earmarked for new homes were inundated by the recent floods.

In early January, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead published a consultation on its preferred options document, which outlines potential sites for housing development. However, since then, the borough has been severely affected by flooding, particularly in the towns of Wraysbury and Datchet.

Michael Saunders, cabinet member for planning and property at the council, told Planning: “Any site with significant flood risk based on recent experience which cannot be mitigated will not be developed.

“This will take some of the sites in the current consultation out.”

Saunders would not be drawn on how many sites could be removed as the consultation is ongoing. However, he said it was likely to be “several”, particularly in Wraysbury, one of the worst-affected areas.

He explained that the council would not rely solely on Environment Agency flood maps when making final decisions about housing sites, since several sites that the maps highlight as being at flood risk are dry, while others which are not on the map have experienced significant flooding. Site visits and aerial photography would be used to make final decisions on housing sites, he said.

However, some of the flooding was from water that had not been able to soak into the ground because of the severe rainfall, rather than flooding from the River Thames, he said. “Those sites may still stay on the list because a developer may be able to put in sufficient drainage to solve the problem,” Saunders said.

The council’s emerging local plan has identified the need for around 12,000 homes in the next 15 years. Three quarters of these can come from brownfield development, Saunders said. However, he was doubtful that the council will be able to find sites for all of the remaining 3,000 homes due to constraints from flooding and green belt, which covers 83 per cent of the borough.

“We will add some allocated sites on top of 9,000 but I suspect that we will not be able to get to 12,000. We will have to convince the inspector that we have done the best job possible and have properly protected the green belt and properly protected people from flood risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, two other councils have denied reports in the Daily Telegraph that they have allocated housing sites in areas at risk of flooding. The newspaper reported that Sedgemoor District Council, which encompasses around 40 per cent of the Somerset Levels, had allocated housing sites in at least four villages that are designated at the highest risk of flooding.

However, Nick Tate, the council’s manager of planning policy, said that there were no allocations in the villages named by the Daily Telegraph in its local plan. Although the council had consented a 67-home brownfield redevelopment in one of the villages, Chilton Trinity, this had the support of the Environment Agency on condition that the developers contribute towards a flood defence scheme, Tate said.

The council levies a tariff on all new development around Bridgwater to pay towards a £24 million tidal defence scheme to protect the town, which will accommodate 70 per cent of housing growth identified in its local plan, he added.

Taunton Deane Borough Council refuted claims made by the newspaper that two potential housing allocations in North Curry are on the flood plain. Both sites are at least 500 metres from the flood zone, a spokeswoman said.

7,900 homes built in areas of high flood risk in England in 2011, according to planning minister, Nick Boles.

NPPF ON FLOODING

What the National Planning Policy Framework says on flooding

The framework requires local plans to direct development away from areas at high risk of flooding. If it is not possible to locate development in areas with the lowest probability of flooding, councils must pass the “exception test”, under which they prove that the sustainability benefits of the development outweigh flood risk, and that the development will be safe for its lifetime and not increase flood risk elsewhere.

The NPPF says plans must also:

– be supported by a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.

– safeguard land required for current and future flood management.

– use opportunities offered by new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding.

– seek opportunities to relocate development at risk of flooding.

Green Belt, the NPPF, Gov guidance-words of wisdom and encouragement, and yet, still no Local Plan!

This month signals the 3rd Anniversary of this Blog, started as a means of sharing thoughts and comments in support of the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, itself formally started over 6 years ago last month.

This particular Post is in fact our 400th entry.

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 This month also sees the suspension of the New Local Plan Task and Finish group’s scheduled meetings.

It appears we were, as well as Castle Point Council itself, premature in posting that the work had been halted in January! Covered previously HERE.

We were informed by the Council Leadership that we were misinformed, however just 2 months later the sessions are confirmed as suspended.

The notable session since the original announcement considered the promotion of the Blinking Owl site H18 and a rather flimsy attempt to press through the sign-off of rather weak Policies favouring the Hazardous Industries over the interests of the residents of Canvey Island.

copyright OIKOS

copyright OIKOS

The situation arose where rather indignantly Canvey councillors were told to return with a preferably worded Policy having refused to accept the current suggestion, only to have the Task and Finish sessions suspended before another meeting could be arranged.

Was the timing of suspension to do with any controversy new Hazardous Industry policies could make in relation to the Local Plan preference to intensify development at Thorney Bay, or simply a Pre-Election decision?

copyright Jason Hawkes

copyright Jason Hawkes

Anyway, I digress. The subject of this post looks at housing need, Green Belt and in particular the Government Guidance that we have heard so much of lately. Hopefully I have not implied too much of a conclusion as to how we at CGBC read the situation. Reading too much into what the reader or listener wants to hear in these matters can lead to disappointment.

 “The most successful tactic of the rural developers was the hijacking of ‘the housing crisis’. They claimed the crisis could only be ended by building in open country, even when their wish was for ‘executive homes’. This ideal of land lying enticingly ‘free’ for homeless people acquired the moral potency of the NHS.” “Housing makes politicians go soft in the head.” spectator

The efforts of Castle Point MP in her support for the protection of the Borough’s Green Belt cannot be denied.

She has arranged for visits from a leading Planning Inspector, Keith Holland, to give local councillors and officers a Local Plan “private” training session, also a visit by the Gov. Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, attended by invited mainland Green belt campaign group leaders, to spell out the requirements of Local Plan-making.

Recently the Housing Minister wound up a debate in Westminster that also spelled out the means of protecting Green Belt from release for development within the Local Plan process.

Brandon Lewis

Within his speech he considered;

 Councillors have to make decisions on Planning grounds.

Local Authorities must use Standard data to identify housing need.

“Need” does not equal “housing supply”

Green Belt should only be released through exceptional circumstances and as a last resort.

Planning departments should have the resources needed to plan effectively.

Councils must give planning the priority it needs, as effective planning is vital in supporting sustainable growth in the right locations.

Planning departments should be seen by local authority as it economic regeneration department.

It has also been announced by the Housing Minister that since the introduction of the New Homes Bonus, in 2011, Councils have received payments worth nearly £3.4bn from the delivery of more than 800,000 new homes.

 “The answer to housing a rising population has to lie in towns and cities, in reducing the pressure on commuting and raising the efficiency of infrastructure.” spectator

In Castle Point the New Local Plan process has revealed a preference to explore the possibility of the re-development for housing purposes of the area known as the Blinking Owl site, Local Plan site H18.

This area is interpreted as being previously developed Green Belt by its proposers.

The approach to site H18 may be seen to be in line with the Governments release of a Standard Note dated 10 December 2014 in which is stated;

“(2) Approach: We must explore a joined-up approach to growth which once again twins discussion about the green belt with recognition of the need for development. In doing so, we must dispel the preservation myth that has emerged and recognise that unless actively pursuing a strategy of national spatial rebalancing which directs growth elsewhere in the country, new development will be required in London, including in some parts of the present green belt.”

This confirms to residents the local authority’s acceptance that it must supply sufficient dwellings to meet housing need.

By promoting site H18 for development it accepts defeat in that Green Belt must be released.

The NPPF document’s very first words of introduction are:

“The purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development. Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations. Sustainable development is about change for the better, and not only in our built environment. So sustainable development is about positive growth – making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations.”

However locally the development at Kiln Road appears to have introduced a new interpretation Sustainable’ development was defined as economic, now should be defined more accurately as simply “profitable.”

The NPPF at Paragraph 14. states;

At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.

For plan-making this means that:

  • local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;
  • 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

Footnote 9 reads as applicable to Castle Point:

For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

 Our local authority appear reluctant to implement the restriction as should be applied to locations at risk of flooding!

Now by including the Blinking Owl site 18 the local authority appear to concede protection of the Green Belt.

They do so with the explanation that site 18 is previously developed.

It will be contested at examination that the previously developed category may not out weigh the Green Belt functionality of other far more likely deliverable sites.

Site H18 performs the function of keeping districts separate. Does this outweigh the fact that it is partially previously developed?

Whether the position that has been arrived at ahead of the May local elections is in preparation of a capitulation on the possibility of including site H18 in the Local Plan, when the Local Plan is examined by the Inspectorate, thus enabling blame to be placed on a new regime for failure to protect other GB sites;

Or a genuine opportunity to protect the Green belt as local residents prefer it, remains to be seen.

We are likely to be facing, and financing two Appeals, that of Glebelands and Jotmans Farm.

There are hints that councillors may be stealing themselves (ahead of the Election) t0 reject the New Local Plan in its current form.

If they were to do so, it could be argued they are only doing so as a delaying tactic, by legal representatives at the Appeals.

If we were to eventually arrive at a New, New Local Plan leading with the Blinking Owl site H18 as the main housing development site, with a 5 year housing supply in support then it is likely, even if it were to be accepted as “sound” by an Inspector, the Plan would face a legal challenge.

The concern must be what sites will make up the initial 5 year housing supply? As so far those indicated amount to between 0.7 and a little over 1 years worth of housing supply!

Further thoughts on the apparent housing crisis, although whether the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England are as committed to protection of an urbanised commuter Borough is unclear, can be read HERE.

Canvey Island and Hazardous Industry policy nearly received the Brush off!

The Local Plan Task and finish group met to discuss policies surrounding the hazardous industries on Canvey Island.
It was interesting to note that of the two policies concerning Port related activities and that of Waterborne freight, both policies were altered so as to reflect the representations of the port of London Authority, Oikos and calor gas!
The third policy, relating to Developments near Hazardous Uses, was not objected to by PLA or Calor, with just OIKOS registering support for the policy. Castle Point Council therefore suggested that the policy required no amendments.
Proof enough for residents to examine the policy.
A map was shown to councillors illustrating the zones around the two hazardous sites. Each zone controlled whether housing or other development was allowed. The inner zone = no development, the middle zone = limited development, the outer zone = development allowed generally speaking. In other words these are the minimum permitted Government (HSE) limited distance for development.
In the light of the Buncefield enquiry there is a recommendation that these zones are extended further from the hazardous sites.
CPBC new Local Plan seeks to approve policy, ahead of any new HSE recommendation based on the existing zonal limits.
I will use an analogy.
An employer makes an employee, of many years dedicated service, redundant. The employer limits the redundancy package to the Government minimum settlement. That would infer that the employer is unconcerned whether he is considered an employer of good reputation.
Likewise a local authority seeks to develop new housing as near to a hazardous industrial site as the government minimum distances allow, possibly risking the well-being of future residents having bought these new houses should an incident occur. That would infer that the Local Authority is unconcerned whether it is considered a council of good reputation!
The outcome of the meeting was that the particular policy decision was deferred and that the CIIP member should return with recommended wording changes to the policy.
Other members refused to accept or read the short documentation that was offered by cllr Watson.
For those interested, and not among the 4 residents that made the journey to the council chamber for the meeting, here is that document;
Recommendation and Support Rationale

7.4 Actions for the Task and Finish Group Policy NE12

Insufficient weight has been given to the residual risk and risk ramifications emanating from the Top Tier COMAH sites and how this could impact on the societal risk to the community of Canvey Island.

Extract from
Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board.
Recommendation on Land Use Planning and Control of Societal Risk around Major Hazardous Sites.

Role of planning authorities

52 The planning authorities take decisions on planning applications having taken into account the interests of the local community (both business and residential), the interests of the developer and relevant safety and environmental considerations. This includes advice from HSE regarding developments within the consultation distance of a major hazard site. Of recent years this advice has been available in the vast majority of cases through a software tool developed by HSE. This is known as PADHI (Planning Advice for Developments near Hazardous Installations).

53 HSE advice, though, only takes account of the potential to cause human harm because its remit is limited to occupational health and safety. No account is taken of damage to property and disruption to personal lives and economic activity, but we believe it should and that the Buncefield event amply demonstrates why. If a wider view of ‘harm’ is taken, then the planning authority will need to seek advice from other organisations in addition to HSE.

54 The above briefly illustrates the complexity of the decisions planning authorities can be faced with. There is guidance to planning authorities in the various administrations on how to balance the various considerations in reaching their decisions, but not sufficient guidance on how to balance safety clarity and transparency considerations in relation to other issues around major hazard sites – there needs to be greater clarity and transparency over how decisions are reached. Decisions that will increase the population around major hazard sites should be clearly explained to all those affected. More resources may be required to assist planning authorities to interpret specialist advice and to fully understand the wider impacts of their decisions.

Recommendation
That further work be undertaken that ensures that “no stone is left unturned” in considering the implication of Land Use Planning and the corresponding Societal Risk emanating from a major incident at the COMAH sites on Canvey Island. The New Local Plan must give full consideration and deliberation to ensure that the concerns expressed by our community are further fully examined.

The following are some examples of the documentation available to the Authority from which to base a conclusion that sufficient work has been undertaken.

1.“Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board.”
Recommendation on Land Use Planning and Control of Societal Risk around Major Hazardous Sites.

The extract on page 1 is an example as to why this document needs to be examined and its recommendations fully considered.

2.“The Community Risk Register.”

The relevant community risk register has previously provided risk assessments which include the likelihood and potential impact emanating from the types of hazardous substances found at the COMAH installations on Canvey Island. Information being expressed for the storage of LPG has in the past identified a considerable number of potential casualties beyond the site boundaries following a credible accident. Incidents resulting from malicious events have not been considered.

3.“Information contained in specific COMAH site Safety Reports”.

Whilst there may be some sensitive factors for disclosure contained within these reports, it is in the public interest that they are fully informed about the potential environmental and health and safety issues of major accidents at fuel storage terminals. This will allow the public to make informed decisions about where they choose to live and work.

It must be clearly understood that it would be inappropriate that some factors, specifically relating to the number of Population at Risk, to be disclosed within this forum. It must also be understood that those aspects contained within Safety Reports that would have an adverse impact on public safety and national security should be considered elsewhere.

4.“Seveso Directive.”

Essentially these European Directives have the specific objective of controlling certain new developments to maintain adequate separation, including residential area, buildings and areas of public use around major hazards when the development is such as to increase the risk or consequences of a major accident.
In essence, decision-makers should ensure that new development does not significantly worsen the situation should a major accident occur

Conclusion

The New Local Plan has not provided evidence that justifies the proposed increase in the population around major hazard sites. There is no clarity or transparency as to how decisions have been reached. The result of a Do-Not-Advise against resulting from the use of the Planning Advice for Development near Hazardous Installations process, is very limited when assessing the totality of Societal Risk. There is no evidence that the New Local Plan has taken Societal Risk into account when considering Land Use Planning issues. The adoption of the previously stated recommendation, will serve to give a stronger indication that a full examination into the subject of societal risk has in fact been undertaken. The subject matter referred to here is not exhaustive, indeed Canvey Island has historically been the example as to where Societal Risk has given cause for concern.

I therefore direct members to the recommendation included within Page 2 of this document.

Again, so as to bring the gravity of this subject and the concerns for Canvey residents, I make no excuse for again including the link to the Buncefield incident and its impact on a resident