Tag Archives: NPPF

CPBC Local Plan capitulation on Green Belt Housing Growth – Canvey Island, Jotmans Farm and Glebelands Back in the Frame?

And so the time has finally arrived when the good people of Canvey Island and the Castle Point mainland get to see an inkling of what cpbc have-planned for us, in the way of development in the Borough!

Contained in the special council meeting agenda and looking like a speed writing composition time trial, is the Local Plan timetable required to satisfy the Government’s secretary of state, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire.

On first viewing the cpbc 2018 Local Plan could be renamed the Marchant Plan, after the cpbc chief executive (ceo), given the upset this is going to cause local Residents throughout the Borough!

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

Council members have been issued with an Agenda, which appears based entirely on the cpbc ceo’s interpretation of Government requirement, followed by a list of consequential threats if actions are not followed. Once again council ward members are getting this information 3rd hand.

Over the course of the next 12 months we will learn what the new leadership of the Castle Point borough council are made of. Whether Infrastructure is delivered in good time as per recent promises, or whether Housing land is released on the recommendation of the “professional officers” and requirement of Government.

The cpbc leadership itself will be judged by actions alone!

The new leader, representing 88,000 residents, was elected by just 1,241 voters.

His deputy we blogged of in April 2013 thus; During the debate during Council’s announcement of the 5 year Housing Supply, Cabinet Member cllr Stanley referred to the Borough’s silent majority of residents that may well be in favour of large scale housing development in the Borough.
If cllr Stanley is correct, the Council will need to communicate with, and motivate those residents, for it appears by the reaction against these proposals the new draft Local Plan 2014 will be unpopular.
The issue, especially for Mainland residents is whether they believe the Council have come up with a sound 5 year housing supply and whether they can come to terms and accept the sites selected.

During the recent 2018 call for sites, it is possible to see on social media that there were some mainland residents willing to travel onto Canvey Island seeking, what they considered to be developable sites to add to the cpbc register.

One commented “I drove virtually the whole of Castle Point (yes including Canvey) and listed plots that could be used for development where they had fallen in to rack and ruin” – “There was a lot!!!! More on mainland than Canvey by the way. The issue though is ownership and getting it sorted for development. Some would need compulsory purchase. They are ‘green’ spots but not Greenbelt.”

Very noble of him, but I would add he did so with absolutely no concern towards the other Constraints that should be applied when considering increasing the Housing Development, and Population of Canvey Island.

These people have some influence within the “Ruling” political party at cpbc!

Green Belt Campaign groups and Residents objecting to development, is recorded within the 2018 Local Plan paperwork as being a Threat!

Creating a High Risk to the Local Plan.

A Threat described as: “The Local Plan will tackle contentious issues that could give rise to significant public opposition. Whilst every effort will be made to build cross community consensus, there remains risk of significant public opposition to the Local Plan proposals.

Logistically this could cause a higher volume of work in the processing and analysis of representations than accounted for in the LDS timetable, which could set it back. To help reduce this risk, responses from the 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plan consultations will be used to assess public opinion. The 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plans will form the majority of the new Local Plan so previous consultation responses as well as updated evidence will help inform the Plan.

The first admission that the intention is to allow NO NEW Consultation Submissions! If you did not make a submission you will have No Say!

And that the intention is to revert back to the old daft 2014 Local Plan, the one that caused so much political disruption and saw 5 UKIP members elected onto the council to represent mainland wards, and also the downfall of cpbc leader P.Challis!

The Agenda paperwork includes these concerning passages:

“Assessment of all sites will be carried out in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as revised, and the National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) – “assessing the suitability, availability and achievability of sites including whether the site is economically viable.”

The new Local Plan will have a timeframe of at least 15 years: however the housing delivery policies and site allocations will have a shorter timeframe of between 5 to 10 years. This shorter timeframe for the housing policy elements will ensure an upturn in housing delivery in the short term.

In 2017, the Government consulted on a standardised methodology for calculating housing needs, and this identified a need for 342 dwellings per annum in Castle Point.

Therefore the objectively assessed housing need (OAN) for Castle Point will be 342 dwellings per annum and previous evidence suggests that only approximately 100 dwellings per annum can be identified on brownfield sites. Whilst the plan must recognise nationally important physical and policy constraints, it is clear both from the evidence and from advice from the Chief Planner and consultants acting for the Secretary of State that some land in the Green Belt will need to be considered for housing.

Since all South Essex authorities are constrained by Green Belt, concerns are likely to be expressed again by those authorities if the Council has not taken difficult decisions on some Green Belt release.

The most important issue to bear in mind is that the Secretary of State needs confidence that the Council will prepare a local plan. If he detects that there is an unwillingness to commit to an accelerated timetable to have a plan prepared quickly, or to commit to difficult decisions regarding the allocation of sites for housing (including those in the Green Belt), then he will direct that others (either a County Council, or consultants) prepare a plan for him, at cost to the Council. If that were to occur the Council will then play no further part in planmaking.

Notwithstanding this work, and acknowledging that the plan must recognise nationally important physical and policy constraints, it is nonetheless clear that some land in the Green Belt will need to be considered for housing. Informal indications from emerging evidence and technical assessments, as well as discussions with Ministry officials and consultants, suggest that the figure in the new Local Plan will need to be significantly closer to the OAN as a reasonable and appropriate target.

For this reason, sites indicated for development in the draft New Local Plan 2014 will need to be considered again. For the avoidance of doubt these will include all those sites identified in the draft New Local Plan 2014 for development.

It is highly likely that almost all suitable, available and achievable sites will be required for the plan, including those in the Green Belt, to achieve a target which is likely lower than the OAN but which would be acceptable at Examination.

The first contentious point will be to learn which councillors will be allowed to participate in the Local Plan meetings, for amongst the council members maybe land owners, property agents and those with registered interests that may be considered to influence decision making.

Next week’s meeting will be the first in which we will see whether constraints such as Infrastructure, Green Belt, Hazardous Industries, and Flood Risk are priorities or just sound bites to be shelved in succumbing to the ceo’s interpreted Government’s cpbc Local Plan!

Let’s have no councillor Crocodile tears, this Plan has been 11+ years in the making!

Advertisements

“Time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need?”

Green Belt is put under further pressure from Housing and Business development by the fashionable approach that an area’s Rural Idyllic Value should become an addition to the existing agreed list of Functions.

A Point is made to support Green Belt being released for development that “over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities“. This only proves that using an exaggeration provides a headline rather than gravity to the claim, that the answer to fixing our broken housing market, lies in the Green belt!

Releasing Green Belt isn’t the easy fix, especially where the need for affordable homes is concerned. Indeed quite the opposite, for despite the comparative ease and economics of developing on Green Belt over previously developed areas, levels of affordable housing being provided is low, apparently through viability reasoning!

Of course a Review of Green Belt should be included within a Local Plan process but challenging or undermining of the Green Belt Functions should not be the only test for release.

In the case of Canvey Island, Green Belt, what little that remains, and Green Field land perform far more than the 5 Functions.

Local planners would do well to remember this before it is too late and we have far more to worry about than “pouring pollution” into the urbanised area!

The level of proposed releases of Green Belt is concerning, it will not bring an immediate Fix to the Broken Housing Market. Developers will not build at a rate that would collapse the housing market values!

A balanced approach is required on Housing Supply and Population levels in areas able to support and keep safe current and future residents in appropriate areas. isn’t that what Sustainable Housing should be based on?

Politics of Planning blog posted, 11May 2018:

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh has called for unused ‘wasteland’ in the Green Belt to be developed. The Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden argues that the development of such land would go some way to addressing the housing crisis, whilst preserving genuine areas of natural beauty.

Ms McDonagh is advocating that an extra million new homes be built in London, where 22% of the land within its boundaries is Green Belt, and has made a written submission to the NPPF consultation to this effect. She says that she has found many examples of such land within minutes of train stations across the country.

Commenting on the situation, Ms McDonagh said:
“I have no desire to call for building in our countryside or on the flowing fields of green that we should be so grateful to have. My frustration is not with parks and hills or areas of natural beauty. And of course, I have no intention of calling for housing in areas with environmental protection… There are 128,000 children in England living in temporary accommodation, desperate for a place to call home. In the hearts of our towns and cities, and close to public transport, scrubland, rubbish tips and car washes are inappropriately designated as Green Belt land. It’s time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need. It’s time to grasp the nettle and to stop promising new homes without the means of providing them.”
Siobhain McDonagh said that the idea has support across both parties and amongst a number of thinktanks. Matthew Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute agrees with Ms McDonagh, and believes that there is a common romantic misconception over the true nature of the Green Belt. He commented:
“Far from rolling hills and daisy strewn meadows, the Green Belt is anything but a rural idyll. Over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities.”

Siobhain McDonagh’s intervention came in the same week as the National Planning Summit, held on 10 May in London. Her opinions are in step with Christine Whitehead of the Government’s Build-out Review Panel – the Letwin Review – who told the Summit that a “very large proportion” of the problem of why planning permissions fail to be built out is an over-reliance on large housing sites. Ms Whitehead added that “between 2008 and 2014, over 50% of permissions were on large sites, and five per cent of the output was on large sites.”

Ms McDonagh’s idea would certainly free up many small sites within London, and it will be interesting to see whether this issue is considered by the Letwin Review, which is due to be published before the Autumn Budget in November 2018.

Castle Point Local Plan Intervention – No Exclusion Zone! Are we being Misled ahead of May elections, or are we in Safe Hands?

The fear of Government Intervention over Castle Point Council, hangs over the Borough like some big Bogey Man in a Nightmare!

maco

I have seen it quoted on social media that “No Housing” is not an option for our Area.

The Secretary of State, having read cpbc’s explanation as to why they were amongst the 15 local authorities causing him most concern over their Local Plan replied, “In terms of the intervention criteria, Castle Point appears to have failed to make progress on plan-making, the policies do not appear to be up to date and there is high housing pressure. Given that your Council has said it will not produce a Local Plan until after the Joint Plan has been produced and that the Joint Plan is not due to be submitted until 2020 it appears possible that Plan production could be accelerated through intervention.”

And yet the cpbc leader Cllr riley suggests under the Echo introduction – NOT a single house in Castle Point should be built until plans for infrastructure has been in put in place, a council leader has claimed – despite the threat of government intervention looming over his head.

“We have never had the infrastructure contributions we should have had in Castle Point, and we are now in this position.” “They go hand in hand and we have been prioritising the infrastructure, and I think most of our residents would appreciate that.”

The previous attempts at a Local Plan, first saw Canvey Island basically stitched up to provide the Dutch Village Green Belt release for the Borough’s Housing Supply, then the Challis, Stanley, Smith 2014 Plan to again promote the Dutch Village release but this time to also include contentious mainland green belt sites.

There followed a massive reaction from Green Belt campaign groups on the mainland that came to a head at the local elections which saw a rise in ukip voting with the unseating of the then cpbc leader Cllr Challis.

Since then a 2016 Plan has been found to fail the Duty to Cooperate. Criticism has also been aimed at the lack of proposed Housing Numbers contained in the Plan. With some members of the Lead Group apparently suggesting that the officers failed to note the wish amongst some council members that the Blinking Owl should be released from the green belt so as to contribute to the Housing Supply.

This is an isolated site that is in need of infrastructure which may be what Cllr Riley had in mind.

The timing of the press response alongside the lack of information from cpbc as to the procedures of the Local Plan and the Intervention, may be an invite to speculate that Intervention is more likely than not.

What you make of the competency of the Local Plan makers is for you to decide.

Local Plan making is expected to:

“Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. They should address the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change.”

“Local Plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where. Only policies that provide a clear indication of how a decision maker should react to a development proposal should be included in the plan.”

“Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the area in the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver: ● the homes and jobs needed in the area;”

“the provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development; ● the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, ”

“Local planning authorities with Green Belts in their area should establish Green Belt boundaries in their Local Plans which set the framework for Green Belt and settlement policy. ”

” When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.”

Given the concerns of some Castle Point Residents and Green Belt campaigners fearing that Intervention would remove local interests, concerns and input from the Planning process, it is good to hear this official message regarding the current situation:

From the Horses Mouth:

“Castle Point has failed to convince the Secretary of State that they are doing enough to get a Local Plan in place.

A final decision is still to be made and will be made once the Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain has provided the Secretary of State with further advice on the current status of Local Plan production and what can be done to speed it up.

If intervention were to occur then a Local Plan that meets all of the necessary legal and procedural requirements would be produced which would include consulting with members of the local community.” 

Link to the Echo article is HERE.

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!

IMG_1557

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.

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!