Tag Archives: NPPF

Can the Principle of “Localism” survive the Duty to Cooperate between Castle Point and Neighbouring Authorities attempts at Cooperation?

Local Development Scheme July 2017
This Local Development Scheme (LDS) sets out the programme for preparing planning policy documents in Castle Point. This version replaces all earlier versions of the LDS, including that issued in March 2016.
By giving this a new title will not hide the fact that there has been failing via the Core Strategy and two other versions of a Local Plan!

Castle Point Borough Council seeks to prepare a local planning framework based on a series of statutory and non-statutory planning documents as development plan documents and supplementary planning documents, covering strategic and local matters.

The LDS sets out the Council’s programme for achieving this.

Perhaps an indication as to why other plans have failed, let’s investigate;

In order to ensure that the planning policy documents that are prepared by Castle Point Borough Council are robust, and do not come under criticism at examination or appeal, the Council will be seeking to ensure that its evidence base is complete and that all work has been carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation and guidance.

Is this a suggestion that all other works have not been ROBUST and therefore unable to withstand criticism?
Or, worse still;
That the previous works were not carried out in accordance with relevant legislation and guidance!

This includes ensuring that consultation is effective, and also ensuring that opportunities to work with our neighbouring Councils, Essex County Council and other service providers have been fully considered and integrated into the documents where appropriate, consistent within the “Duty to Co-operate”

A Robust Evidence Base
Any development plan document must be based on adequate, up to date and relevant evidence about the economic, social and environmental characteristics and prospects of the area and takes account of relevant market and economic signals to inform judgements about demand.

Having an up to date local planning framework reduces the risk that the presumption contained in the NPPF will apply, to grant permission where the existing Local Plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or out of date.

This statement unfortunately speaks in-itself.

Some of the documents listed as being complete, are quite simply, out of date!

Not everyone within the local community engages with planning consultations regardless of the amount of effort taken by the Council. As a result, it is also necessary to use empirical evidence to ensure that the needs of everyone represented by the Council are fully considered.

Clearly there has been a huge failure on the Councils part to engage with our community

Community Engagement
Every planning policy document will need to be the subject of consultation in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.

In practice, before each consultation, a consultation plan will be prepared by the Council detailing how the Council will:
• Promote the consultation; • Make information available; • Engage with residents; and • Manage consultation data.

It is the aim of the Council in all cases to engage as widely as possible with “duty to co-operate” bodies, statutory and non-statutory consultees, local residents and businesses on plans and proposals that may affect them.

Clearly there has been a huge failure on the Councils part to engage with our community despite seemingly its best efforts. CPBC blames the community for its failure of a successful community involvement outcome.

What CPBC appear to have missed is that the community feel, done too, by not being asked.

A petition of over 10000 signature demanding infrastructure prior to any further large-scale housing development, not being recognised by CPBC as community engagement is rather typical!

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Largest ever Canvey Island Petition: Ignored by Castle Point Borough Council!

Empirical evidence (based or acting on observations or experience NOT ON THEORY) has been the fundamental failure of the content of several of the evidence based documents used to support the previous debacle of CPBC Local Planning. To continue with this style of documentation will once again make the CPBC Local Development Scheme not only challengeable but unsound.

The NPPF explains that, to be sound, policies must be justified. The evidence will play an important role in ensuring that this is the case and that the local planning framework is sound.
The evidence base requirements for each of the documents in the Local Development Scheme are set out in the detailed programmes. Once a piece of evidence is completed, it is published on the Council’s website for inspection.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING IN SOUTH ESSEX.
CPBC will, in its response letter to the SOS, as to why intervention is not required in the formulation of its Local Plan, suggest that considerable weight be given to the fact that CPBC partakes within the protocol of the MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING IN SOUTH ESSEX ( MoU)
This despite declaring that its Local Development Scheme 2017 will not come to fruition until late 2019. This in the hope that other neighbouring Authorities may take some of its housing needs.
The National Planning Policy Framework encourages authorities to prepare joint, non-statutory documents, particularly where this provides evidence of having effectively cooperated to plan for issues with cross boundary impacts.

Whilst the Duty to Co-operate is not a duty to agree, local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination. Compliance with the Duty to Cooperate will need to be demonstrated at examination, prior to assessment of compliance with the tests of soundness.

The legal requirement of the Duty to Co-operate is noted as being separate from, but related to the Local Plan, Tests of Soundness.

In keeping with the principles of localism, this MoU respects the principle of the individual local development plan-making functions of the South Essex local authorities. Therefore, it will not seek to determine the locations for development within local authority administrative areas.

Furthermore, it will not seek to include prescriptive or directive policies which would limit the ability of the individual local authorities to meet their development needs in a locally appropriate manner.

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Hypocrisy, the Use of Substitutes, a Deciding Vote and a Divided Borough? Sequentially Unsound!

It appeared that what can only be described as a level of Hypocrisy was displayed by certain Castle Point Development Committee members towards a view suggested by the opposition group at the 5th September’s meeting!

The suggestion appeared that Canvey was, put simplistically, being targeted for development so as to protect the mainland areas. It was expressed that Canvey should not be portrayed as an individual area, rather than an equal part of the whole Borough of Castle Point.

However the whole basis of the Flood Risk Sequential Test, as interpreted by Castle Point Council, is to treat Canvey Island in isolation!

“it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

” Canvey needs continued development if it is to continue to thrive economically. A lack of housebuilding on the island could mean that the island stagnates in economic terms which is likely to affect opportunities for employment. “

Indeed the Thorney Bay proposal for 600+ dwellings  was subject to a CPBC Planning Policy statement stating that “the site was identified as having the potential to contribute towards the 5 Year Housing Supply (of the Borough)”!

Regardless of the application being considered, whether for a single unit or a proposal for over 600 dwellings on Canvey Island, it is fairly clear that using this interpretation of the Sequential Test to support development proposals, there is no likelihood of any planning proposal Failing the Test!

It is a convenient and flimsy argument to accuse Islanders of focussing on cpbc’s apparent approach to Canvey development, whilst the Sequential Test is used to do precisely that!

It should be of concern, that since Canvey land was designated for the use of Housing in the 1998 Local Plan, and that since the Sequential Test approach towards its application on Canvey development proposals was adopted by CPBC in 2007, these events have occurred and these Reports have been published;

  • The Pitt Review-Learning Lessons from the 2007 floods. (Published 2008) !!!
  • The CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment published in 2010. (In itself due an Update.)
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2013.
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2014.
  • Government Office for Science – Canvey Island Section 19 Report
  • The requested Drainage Improvement / Upgrade funding has not materialised.
  • We learned that the land on Canvey Island has a High Water Table, subject to influence by the Tidal Water encroaching Under the Sea Defences. (Land East of Canvey Road document).
  • The Integrated Urban Drainage Study was published, which challenged the credibility of the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan published 2012.

Quite clearly the Castle Point Council approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island in isolation, is Obsolete and Unjustified!

Attenuation Tanks were discussed as a means of a suitable drainage system. Had the committee not considered that Canvey has a High Water Table, now known to be subject to Tidal influence? In this case the Tank would be sunk into the application site property, how efficient would this system of drainage be?

Photo Police helicopter 2014

The focus of the drainage system needs to be to prevent off-site flooding of neighbouring property and land. Without going through the exercise of producing a Practical Model on Canvey island and monitoring over an extended period councillors should not be in a position to simply go by unsubstantiated opinion in their decision making!

Whilst the protection of Green Belt, which is admirable, is at the forefront of councillors minds, it must be borne in mind that Paragraph 14 of the national Planning Policy Framework contains Footnote 9, which indicates;

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

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.

Whilst this specifically relates to Plan making, it is clear that, if the concern is present amongst decision makers development in a Flood Zone and in a Critical Drainage Area, in which Canvey Island falls into both categories, caution should be the operative position to adopt.

Residents suffering the Canvey Island Flooding of 2013 and 2014 may well feel appalled at the rigid Rejection of development applications on Green Belt, whilst a less than cautious approach appears to be adopted where Flood Risk is concerned, by certain cpbc development committee members.

The cpbc officer appeared unaware that the whole of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area.

The questionable use of Substitute councillors to replace two absentees at the meeting, bearing in mind the technical issues highlighted in this planning proposal, proved to be decisive, as 1 voted to Approve and 1 voted to Abstain.

With the votes recorded as 5 to Approve and 5 Against, with 2 Abstentions, the Chairman chose to use his Casting Vote, and consequently rather than holding further deliberations on the subjects contained within this post and others not mentioned, the Application was Approved!

Canvey Island, the Development “Special Case” and Castle Point Council Failings!

Of late there have been reasons enough to query the sense in planning to over populate Canvey Island!

Following the “disputed” moratorium of housing development on Canvey, blamed upon the Environment Agency, a successful bid for Canvey Island to be viewed as a “Special Case” was launched.

Below follows the Castle Point committee meeting minutes whereby this cautious approach was over-turned and afterwards comes comment on the possibility of people investing in new properties with the danger of experiencing extremely high flood risk premiums or even finding themselves unable to secure flood risk cover at all.

We conclude with some Planning guidance that may suggest that development on Flood Zones and indeed in the Green Belt could, indeed should, be avoided.

We hope you find this locally enlightening.

Castle Point Borough Council decision to remove restriction of developing the Zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island.

PLANNING COMMITTEE MINUTES
6TH FEBRUARY 2007
PRESENT:
Councillors Smith (Vice-Chairman who chaired the meeting), Anderson, Cole, Cross, Dixie, E. Egan, Mrs Goodwin, R.C. Howard, Riley and B.S. Wood
Councillors Mrs Challis Mrs B. Egan, Ladzrie and Mrs Liddiard
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Blackwell, Mrs Iles, Sharp and Mrs J.Govier.
73. PLANNING POLICY STATEMENT 25: DEVELOPMENT & FLOOD RISK
The Committee was informed and discussed the new amended national policy on development and flood risk set out in Planning Policy Statement 25, published in December 2006 which contained new and amended planning policies to mitigate and avoid the impact of flooding through good planning and flood risk management.
The Committee had previously commented on the consultation on the draft PPS 25 at the meeting on 7.2.2006.
The report before the Committee described the structure of PPS 25 which contained five sections covering background; key planning objectives; decision making principles; risk based approach and responsibilities; supported by a further eight annexes.
Members considered the implications for Castle Point arising from PPS25. The new PPS would have a particular bearing on the work for the Local Development Frame work and on the consideration of planning applications.
In terms of planning policy work, a strategic flood risk assessment had been prepared for Thames Gateway South Essex authorities and was to be published by Spring 2007. This would help inform the preparation of the Core Strategy by identifying broad locations within Castle Point and other authorities that would be appropriate locations for development.
In development control and for the purposes of PPS25, Canvey Island was located in Flood Zone 3 (High Probability), because the PPS ignored the presence of existing defences (acknowledged to be some of the most comprehensive in the country). Accordingly the requirement for flood risk assessments to accompany planning applications had also been in place for some time and in particular the application of both the sequential test and the exceptions test.
Planning Committee – 6th February 2007
This initially caused difficulties, particularly for smaller scale development, because of the uncertainty over requirements for these assessments and their relevance and applicability to such schemes. However experience had suggested that through discussion with the Environment Agency, developers, agents and landowners were now clearer about, first the requirements of the these tests, but more importantly, secondly, how to carry out development whilst at the same time mitigating the risk associated with flooding through careful design at the application stage.
Resolved –
1. That the Committee notes the policy guidance and advice of PPS 25.
2. That the Committee have regard to the guidance and advice in the preparation of the Local Development Documents and in the consideration of relevant planning applications, in order to achieve the Council’s community priorities and deliver sustainable development.
Chairman.

However the Insurance Industry does not share the Councils optimism
The short term solution Flood Re is a scheme funded by a levy on insurers that reinsures their customers’ flood risk, allowing them to offer flood insurance to those homes at risk at a more affordable price.
One of the most important aspects of Flood Re is that it provides time for insurers, the government and homeowners to address deficiencies in planning policy, invest in flood defences and improve the resilience of housing stock. The scheme is intended to be operational for 25 years, during which time there will be a role for central and local government, the insurance industry, environmental organisations, housing providers and homeowners in tackling flood risk. After this 25 year period, the Flood Re scheme assumes that improvements in flood resilience, as well as more sophisticated and readily available flood data will leave the insurance industry in a position to offer more affordable cover in a risk-reflective free market.
Properties built since 2009 are not eligible for Flood Re, which in theory should introduce pressure on planners to fully consider flood risk before new homes are built. However there remains a challenge in ensuring that a new property’s flood risk is properly communicated both to the buyer and the insurance industry, so that both parties can avoid any shocks further down the line.
As well as providing a period of breathing space for industry and policymakers, Flood Re also intends to provide a point of focus for the next 25 years, to continue the debate about addressing the root of the environmental and planning issues. But the inescapable realities of climate change, coupled with a seeming lack of a long-term approach to investment in flood defence measures means that the success of these ambitious plans is far from guaranteed.

Planning Guidance tells us that when :

Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan;
“As some areas at lower flood risk may not be suitable for development for various reasons and therefore out of consideration, the Sequential Test should be applied to the whole local planning authority area to increase the possibilities of accommodating development which is not exposed to flood risk.
More than one local planning authority may jointly review development options over a wider area where this could potentially broaden the scope for opportunities to reduce flood risk and put the most vulnerable development in lower flood risk areas”.
The latest Castle Point Local Plan failed the Duty to Cooperate requirement. The Examining Planning Inspector noted in his failure Report:

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

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

However, notwithstanding the lengthy and detailed engagement across south Essex there is no formal mechanism in place to distribute unmet housing need.

The problem is that this is once again only guidance and we have often been reminded by CPBC planning officers of this fact when they deliberate on planning proposal for Canvey Island.
It would seem that any guidance that has not been fulfilled can be ignored, as far as Canvey Island is concerned, as it is only for consideration purposes.

May Avenue, Canvey Island – Flooding Lessons Never Learned by CPBC- or were they never meant to be?

The controversial proposal to develop on a narrow green space in May Avenue, Canvey Island, returned for cpbc development Control committee consideration.

The previous application had been Rejected and on Appeal was upheld by the Planning Inspector.

The problem with cpbc being taken to Appeal over development is the crazy system of officers demanding Reasons for a development’s Rejection immediately the vote has been taken. There should be a process whereby the officers Report including Reasons for Objection is given further consideration before the officers are allowed to sign off their reports.

It is these Reports that stand as the Borough’s case during a written Appeal considered by the Planning Inspectorate and they appear to be practically made up on the hoof!

This time around some members voiced continued concerns, whilst the officer warned against the consequences of again Rejecting the proposal.

In the end a Motion to Defer the decision was Agreed.

One of the main issues MUST be that of the principle of Flood Risk.

No Objection from the Environment Agency, and the Developer indicated that the famed Canvey Integrated Urban Drainage study showed flooding, similar to that of the summer of 2014 would leave the proposed development dry.

Shame the same thing cannot be guaranteed for the Neighbouring Existing May Avenue Properties!

There is an agreed guidance between the Environment Agency and castle point council for small development sites.

Part of this guidance states;

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its supporting Technical Guidance Document set out the Government’s national policy on development in areas at risk of flooding. It seeks, wherever possible, to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding. Where it can be demonstrated that development is required in these areas, the NPPF seeks to ensure it will be safe over the lifetime of the development and will not increase flood risk elsewhere and where possible, reduce flood risk”

Developing what is a narrow greensward area between two properties can only add to the pressures on the Canvey Island drainage system.

Replacing a greensward with a bricks and mortar dwelling and driveway will likely increase the Flood Risk to Neighbouring properties, against NPPF requirement.

The cpbc planning officer was dismissive of these concerns stating that the local authority’s position regarding Sequential Testing (where development should take place in less Flood Liable Zones) falls within the usual mantra;

“With regard to the sequential test, the proposal seeks to provide dwellings on Canvey Island. For residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it would need to be located within, or immediately adjacent to, that settlement.
Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available alternative sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding that could accommodate the proposed development. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.”

This is ambiguous! The first paragraph implies that the community of Canvey Island should remain where it is, no migration allowed! Castle Point is one of the smallest Boroughs in England however, no similar concerns are applied to Benfleet, Hadleigh nor Thundersley.

These mainland towns have populations that are barely increasing, and yet they face no similar Flood Risks.

The cpbc New Local Plan Sequential Test for Housing Site Options states;

In order to deliver 200 homes per annum for the period 2011 to 2031 (4,000 homes in total), it is necessary to identify developable sites with a further capacity to accommodate 2,400 homes. Approximately, 500 of these homes will be secured at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, and 99 at the 101 Point Road, Canvey Island. It is expected that redevelopment within the existing residential areas of the borough will secure approximately 380 additional homes in this period also. Therefore, the sequential test will be seeking to identify developable sites with a capacity of 1,421 homes.

Quite clearly, development on Canvey Island is in support of the Borough’s Housing Needs! Therefore this isolationist application of the Sequential Test by castle point council, to Canvey Island alone, has No Justification!

It should be remembered that the National Planning Policy Framework gives Equal Protection to Green Belt land and Land at risk of Flooding;

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

9 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.”

Committee members concerns whether surface water flooding could be prevented by Attenuation Tanks were wide of the mark. Canvey Island has a notoriously High Water Table, create space for a tank below ground simply pushes flood waters higher and wider!

See if these extracts ring any bells, you should all, Canvey Islanders anyway, recognise where these words come from and relate to;

“pumps are the final element of a long, incredibly complex and interlinked surface water drainage system comprising of drains, culverts, sewers, open watercourses, main rivers, pumps and storage areas all with varying capacity, which need to be operating efficiently in order to drain the island. Rainfall on the island may flow a substantial distance before reaching the pumps, through infrastructure owned or managed by a large number of different organisations and individuals and in some cases without a clear understanding of ownership. Any constriction on flow either due to blockage or insufficient capacity for the rainfall event can affect the effective operation of the entire drainage system”

“The pressure on the drainage system on Canvey Island has intensified over the last 50 years due to further development, and it is evident that in some locations some drainage infrastructure is no longer at the necessary capacity to provide sufficient drainage”

” Given the unique nature of the drainage system and the scale of investment needed, to achieve significant results in Canvey Island will require that special support be provided by DEFRA. With this understanding, multiagency cooperation and additional Central Government funding it may be possible to make necessary and feasible improvements to the drainage system and effectively reduce flood risk in some areas.

The population of Canvey Island consisted of 38,459 people back in 2011, and yet cpbc position is that unless the population continues to grow, the Island will become unsustainable.

What utter Tosh!

There are 38,500 people at Risk of Flooding, local agencies have proven they cannot cope should we suffer from Surface Water Flooding, and yet the Local Plan proposal is to put more and more people at Risk!

If that is not what unsustainable development means then I don’t know what does!

The Sequential Test, as adopted by CPBC, is out of date!

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is out of date!

The agreement between the Environment Agency allowing Castle Point Council to decide (take responsibility for) the safety of new development over its Lifetime is out of date!

That Canvey is a “Special Case” where development is concerned, is out of date!

The £24,500,000 required to mend the Canvey Island “Broken” Drainage System has never materialised!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group maintain the position that the Island’s population should be maintained at the current levels or lower. All planned development on Canvey should be the subject of the Local Plan alone!

The infrastructure cannot cope with more, whilst the Island’s economy is reasonable given the UK’s circumstances. Whilst the Town Centre may be showing some signs of struggling in the more expensive locations, this is not helped by out of town commercial development in the pipeline.

Lessons clearly are not being learned despite assurances from senior officers!

Green Belt in Cheap Sell Off? Under-the-Counter Cooperation!

The Castle Point Local Plan2016 attempts to appease the majority of those residents most concerned about the protection of the Borough’s Green Belt, however the Examination of the Plan may be conducted under pressure from government.

Westminster politicians “should not stand in the way” of councils who propose green belt development, providing “all the options” have been considered. 

Green belt swaps allow a council to suggest some protected land is freed up for development, often to help meet demand in the housing market. 

In return, a separate area of land is proposed for new protections, meaning the total amount of green belt land does not fall.”

IMG_0160

A Telegraph report suggests that those local authorities struggling with allocating development land outside of the Green Belt, may well be advised to release some Green Belt land and, presumably under the Duty to Cooperate, “gain” some Green Belt from elsewhere or from a neighbouring authority.

This is not something new. Already the NPPF in Paragraphs 81 and 82 indicate this potential;

81  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.

82  The general extent of Green Belts across the country is already established.

New Green Belts should only be established in exceptional circumstances, for example when planning for larger scale development such as new settlements or major urban extensions. If proposing a new Green Belt, local planning authorities should:

  • demonstrate why normal planning and development management policies would not be adequate;
  • set out whether any major changes in circumstances have made the adoption of this exceptional measure necessary;
  • show what the consequences of the proposal would be for sustainable development;
  • demonstrate the necessity for the Green Belt and its consistency with Local Plans for adjoining areas; and
  • show how the Green Belt would meet the other objectives of the Framework.

This does call into question the sentiment behind the Minister’s thinking. Castle Point council have stated that all of the borough’s Green Belt fulfils the “Function” of Green belt in some way.

To release one area and “swap” the designation with an alternate green field area calls into question, why the alternative area was not already designated as Green Belt!

This would infer that a newly designated area of Green Belt would be somewhat lacking in obvious function and purpose, and likely be an obvious target for future release for development.

Furthermore, “There are perfectly reasonable planning objectives that are not addressed in the five purposes. Whilst the landscape around a town may be of high value, for instance, and may benefit from the restriction on development afforded by Green Belt policy, the conservation of that quality cannot be a reason to designate the area as Green Belt.”

It must be said that, in Canvey Island’s case, NPPF Paragraph 81 “local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt” should be interpreted to include the important function of acting as an area Flood Water can disperse over.

“The basic concept of Green Belt was established back in 1902 by Ebenezer Howard in Garden Cities of Tomorrow.  From the first guidance in 1955 to its current expression in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (March 2012),  and the Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) there have been ‘purposes’ for which  Green Belt has been able to be designated and used, and land can only be included in Green Belt to achieve these purposes.”

Once again there appears another opportunity for the NPPF to be legally dissected and decisions being finally resolved through the law courts, rather than being left to local authorities to decide.

The Telegraph article can be found by using this LINK.

 

 

 

 

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.

castlepointmap-e1394532638198

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!

 

 

 

Will the Castle Point development committee swallow this? Going by recent decisions YES!

Persimmons refuse to give up on Canvey Green Belt development.

Being fully aware that Canvey Island is affected by Surface Water flooding issues and potentially Tidal flooding issues these “Prospective” developers are also aware that development regulations leave them supposedly charged with not increasing flood risk off site.

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The National Policy Planning Framework  goes further, it expects developers to lessen off-site flood risk;

 “a site-specific flood risk assessment must demonstrate that the development will be safe for its lifetime taking account of the vulnerability of its users, without increasing flood risk elsewhere, and, where possible, will reduce flood risk overall.”

Persimmon, possibly having noted the leniency with which the castle point council development committee apply rules and policies, admit that their proposed development at the Dutch Village does not comply with the NPPF, expecting Canvey Residents to take comfort that their development will only increase flooding a little!

Persimmons latest HYDRAULIC MODELLING TECHNICAL NOTE states;

“For all events considered, the proposed development is shown to have a very small impact on flood risk elsewhere. During the 3.33% AEP event, differences are small, with a minor increase in maximum depths of <50mm along Dyke Crescent – a highway already flooded by approximately 200-250mm. These small relative increases are isolated to flooded highways only, no properties are effected.”

Homeowners in Dyke Crescent and Limburg Road beware!