Tag Archives: Persimmon

Castle Point Residents Ill-informed or Gullible? Green Belt Saved or still in Jeopardy?

Be In No Doubt Canvey Island residents stand to be affected by the development of Jotmans Farm, as much as the Jotmans Farm residents do themselves!

Once all phases of the Jotmans Farm proposal is completed there is a plan to construct a Roundabout to allow traffic from the 800 dwelling estate, onto Canvey Way!


Not only that, but the much Heralded retail extension nearby Morrisons on Canvey Island with the promised Marks and Spencer / Waitrose food, B and M and Sports Direct outlets, will add more Motorists Misery, entering and leaving via the Waterside Farm Roundabout and the local areas!

Recently the Jotmans farm Green Belt campaigners have been left to “discover” that Persimmons have decided to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision in the High Court.

The Secretary of State’s decision, generally portrayed to Residents as being a signal that not only Jotmans Farm, but also Green Belt in General, was Saved from Development, was Released on the 21st April 2017.

And so we headed for the Polling Stations, on the 4th May for the Castle Point Borough Council Elections and the General Election on the 8th June.

Possibly, Unfortunately the Election Period of Purdah may play some legal significance.* See below.

Through an email released by the Jotmans Farm campaign group, we gather that they are being led to believe that none of the Lead Group of Castle Point councillors were aware, or felt it unimportant to make the information known to Residents, that High Court action threatened the Jotmans Farm Decision!

Castle Point Council are an “Interested Party” in the High Court action. One only has to refer to the Glebelands case to be aware that CPBC should be involved:

Case No: CO/10476/201




 Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Date: 17/01/2014

Before :







– and –










Would the Castle Point officers not have immediately informed the Lead councillors, could the councillors not have been Open and Transparent and informed their Residents, of the Legal move?

In the Echo newspaper it is reported that Jotmans farm residents clutch at the possibility that the Persimmon legal team, left it beyond the 6 weeks to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision. CPBC appear to leave this desperate hope hanging.

In our humble opinion we find it inconceivable, not only that the Persimmon legal team would be so inefficient, surely the challenge would have been dismissed should the 6 week time limit to challenge the decision have elapsed, but that some lead group Castle Point councillors to be unaware cpbc are an Interested Party in the High Court case!

CPBC are quoted in the Echo “As the Appeal is actually against the decision of the Secretary of State it is for the secretary of State to defend.” …..”councillors have been kept informed…”

We fear on behalf of Jotmans Farm and Canvey Island residents, on whom this development will impact upon, that the release date of the Secretary of State’s decision and the dates of the Local Elections may well have had some influence, as well as having some legal impact.

* “The term ‘purdah’ is in use across central and local government to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants are in place. The terms ‘pre-election period’ and ‘period of sensitivity’ are also used.
The pre-election ‘purdah’ period before general elections is not regulated by statute, but governed by conventions based largely on the Civil Service Code.
The pre-election period for the 8 June General Election will start on midnight on Friday 21 April 2017.
A ministerial statement gave details of the different ‘purdah’ periods for the different elections on 5 May 2016: The period of sensitivity preceding the local, mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections starts on 14 April”
Source: House of Commons Library Published Friday, April 21, 2017

A Tactical Withdrawal, temporary Reprieve? What is going on at Castle Point Council and its Local Plan?

In a letter from Castle Point Council, dated 31st May 2017, we learn of the latest developments in the Persimmons proposal to develop the Dutch Village Green Belt;

Dear Sir/Madam


Proposal: Erect up to 275 new homes and retail/community facilities (use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C2 and/or D1) with new roundabout junction onto A130 Canvey Road, associated parking, open space, ecological enhancements, landscaping, drainage and flood mitigation measures (outline)
Location: Land To The East Of Canvey Road Canvey Island Essex


I refer to my consultation letter in respect of the above application and write to advise you that the application has been withdrawn and the Council will not therefore take any further action in the matter.


I thank you for your interest in the proposal and I will ensure that you are consulted again if a further application is submitted in the future.


Yours faithfully,

S Rogers

Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods

Canvey Flooding, safe escape route too Congested?

Canvey residents are often questioned whether they are scaremongering when they express concerns over flooding and emergency issues. Now we learn through the Echo that CPBC’s own emergency planner has expressed concern that both the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority remain concerned over potential flooding issues at Persimmon’s proposed development at the Dutch Village Canvey.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

This apparent “good news” must be treated with some caution as the developer appears confident that the concerns can all be addressed.

The cpbc emergency planner has requested a copy of the evacuation plan, although a copy can be found on the cpbc planning portal.

Extracts from the developer Persimmon’s emergency Evacuation Plan may be of interest;

“The developer’s reasonability (Freudian slip, perhaps?) will end upon completion of the construction of the site.”

“Residents should remain in their dwellings until the emergency services or statutory bodies have advised that it is safe to leave. This could be for a pre-longed period of time (days rather than hours).”

“Whilst occupants can potentially remain at the site services such as water supply, sewerage, electricity and gas will be affected in the area and occupants are unlikely to be able to use these facilities”

The “Safe Escape Route” is indicated as being via Canvey Road to Waterside Roundabout and onto Canvey Way.

It has already been assessed, although not included within the Local Plan Evidence base, that an Evacuation of Canvey Island might take 19 hours.

The continued development in areas prone to flooding is an abuse, by developers and local authorities of the Flood RE insurance scheme.

Surely the continued intention of castle point council to increase the numbers of people at Risk of Flooding must be considered unacceptable.


Echo newspapers coverage can be viewed via this LINK.

Canvey Dutch Village, Green Belt development back on the Scene!

For those Canvey residents that believe either the CPBC Local Plan consultation is not worth bothering about or that Large Development has gone away, you should be aware that our local council officers and Persimmons have been very busy behind the scenes working on the next Big Spanner in the Works in the Local Plan process!

Whether our “professional” officers should be spending time at our expense continuing to work on planning issues that, at least at present, appear to be clearly outside of the Local Plan 2016 proposals and Planning Guidance, is open to conjecture.

Those that believe a Neigbourhood Plan is too expensive, hard work and time consuming may have also missed an opportunity to have planned for Canvey’s future.

So whilst the Local plan 2016 may show just 760 new dwellings planned for Canvey, let us not forget those other flats and houses on the many small sites across the Island, PLUS whatever other plans that Developers, certain councillors and officers have for our Green Spaces, Plus the two large Industrial developments!

Those that believe the traffic issues have been bad these last few weeks, may need to think again.

IMG_0156 (2)

This email was added to the CPBC Planning Portal this week. It indicates that Persimmon have ditched Pegasus as Agents and have taken the East of Canvey Road, Dutch Village 275 dwelling project, back in-house!

From: Woodger, Mark

Sent: 7 Jun 2016 14:58:04 +0000

To: Kim Fisher;Steve Rogers;Keith Zammit

Dutch Village Canvey Island and Planning Application CPT/15/496

Good afternoon Ms Fisher.
I mail with reference to the above planning application.
As a brief introduction I work as a Senior Planner at Persimmon Homes Essex and have been in post since January.
In the last few months I have been dealing with your colleague Keith Zammit and Steve Rogers but I now understand that you are the lead officer who will be taking this application to Committee.
We’ve also had an organisational change here at Persimmon and we are no longer using Pegasus as our planning agents, it now falls to me to deal with our application. My objective is to see that all technical constraints can be mitigated as part of our proposals. There are currently 2 outstanding issues – Flooding, which has an outstanding objection from the EA and Highways, which have not commented on the application.
We are moving towards resolving these issues and wanted to offer you an update on both matters:
Flooding We have been working with our consultants in consultation with the Environment Agency to overcome what is shown on your website as an objection from the EA on the grounds of flood risk at this time.
It will be known to you that the EA have also recently published some new flood modelling data. This has meant that we have had to do a considerable amount of work to assess and model what impact this has had on our proposals. We have had to look at what mitigation we can put in place to ensure that the site is safe in terms of flood risk, and that our development does not prejudice flooding on any neighbouring sites.
We hope to have the additional details to you within 10 days and this will give you the opportunity to then consult the EA before making your recommendation with all the facts available to you. We have had verbally received approval from the EA for the changes to our proposals following the publication of the new modelling data and are therefore confident that we overcome the current objection.
Highways ECC have yet to issue their consultation response. We are continuing to chase this and have been verbally told they have no concerns and will not be objecting to our proposals.
These works are nearing completion and I would be grateful if we could agree an extension of time now to allow for the application to be presented at the August committee.
Persimmon Homes are committed to the application and your consideration of the above would be of value to us.
Kind regards.
Mark Woodger BSc, Cert Man, MRTPI Senior Planner

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.

Canvey Island, more like Fantasy Island! Persimmon put temptation in Castle Point’s way.

Persimmon’s proposal to develop  the Dutch Village fields has recently received added inducements to tempt the Castle Point council Development Committee members to support the scheme.

The inducements come under the guise of additional evidence in support of the Very Special Circumstances required to allow development, and come in the form of;

Safe Vehicle Access to Cornelius Vermuyden School

Additional Leisure services at Waterside Leisure Centre

A Pelican Crossing across Canvey Way (?) to the RSPB reserve

Lack of 5 year housing supply

Surface Water Drainage and Evacuation Zone

Public Open Space and Ecological Mitigation Land

Scheduled Ancient Monument Enhancements

Persimmon’s document draws attention to the existing surface water drainage problems on site and the possibility of “a major flood!”

In the circumstances the identification of the Dutch Village as site high on the list of sites suitable for development, appears questionable.

The offer of vehicular access to the senior school appears to encourage laziness of pupils and obesity due to lack of basic walking to school exercise. The timing of the submission of this latest inducement document is somewhat questionable. The Report refers to a meeting having taken place between Persimmon’s agents and CPBC during October 2015. As we are aware debates on the CPBC Local Plan took place during December 2015 and January 27th 2016, this additional Report was added to the Planning Portal (made public) February 3rd.

It could be questioned by some that if this information had become available just a few days earlier, one of the main supporters of the now rejected draft New Local Plan may have been required to declare an Interest given how strict the Interests consideration had been applied for the meeting, being a Governor of the School likely to benefit from the proposed new road access.

Persimmon’s Report acknowledges that unmet Housing Need is unlikely to constitute a Very Special Circumstance to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt, as Castle Point residents have learned through recent Planning Inquiries.

Despite this the report’s author then goes onto examine the meaning of the word “unlikely” and how the word suggests that there will be some rare occasions when housing need will constitute a Very Special Circumstance.

It may be reasonable also to suggest that if Green Belt land in the same Borough outside of a Flood Zone did not constitute the necessary Very Special Circumstances (VSC) to allow development, then Green Belt land inside the Flood Zone should also not be considered to constitute the VSC’s necessary!

The little used RSPB Reserve, has a badly sited entrance, likely to become more dangerous with the approval of the Business Development sites off of Roscommon Way. I have pointed out the dangers to officers on more than one occasion. The offer of a Pelican Crossing is inadequate and will remain a danger to youngsters attempting to cross the dual carriageway Canvey Road. Will this encourage more to attend the RSPB reserve, is questionable.

Development Committee members will be aware of the financial difficulties developers have in even providing the agreed level of Affordable Housing, following their agreeing to cut the requirement at the apparently affluent Kiln Road development.

The list of inducements at the Dutch Village may equally be difficult for the developer to supply.

These now include amongst others;

A new Roundabout access on Canvey Road

Sustainable Urban Drainage System

Affordable Housing contribution

A Pelican Crossing to the RSPB Reserve

In an area with lower market House Price Values than elsewhere in the Borough.

Will Persimmon also be expected to contribute to the Sea Defence funding? Something that appears to have gone off of the S106 Agreement Radar of late!



There are just 5 Days remaining to lodge your objection on Persimmons proposal to develop the Dutch Village Green Belt fields with Castle Point Council.

It is apparent, going by the number of objections received, that Canvey residents may be disengaged with local issues. This apathy is possibly due to a feeling that those in authority take little notice of Canvey residents views and opinions.

This is no reason to not make your views known, as so many of you did when we held our Referendum, when such a strong feeling in favour of preserving Canvey Green Belt was expressed.

We are told that the number of objections is important, please use your right to respond, it will take just 2 minutes!

This LINK will take you directly to the Castle Point Planning Portal, East of Canvey Road proposal. From here you simply need to click on ” Make a Public Comment” and enter your objection.

The Canvey Green belt Campaign have registered an objection and it appears below.
Yours does not need to be so long winded.

Application Number: 15/0496/OUT

Land East of Canvey Road

Canvey Green Belt Campaign Group

Objection to the Proposal

The proposal seeks to “Redevelop” the site. No buildings currently exist that are planned to be redeveloped within this proposal. Therefore this proposal must be considered to be development within the Green Belt and as such inappropriate.


  1. Local Plan
  2. Housing Need
  3. Sequential Test
  4. Green Belt
  5. Amenity, Value and Loss Impact
  6. Castle Point Green Belt Review
  7. Castle Point Green Belt Functions Report
  8. Castle Point Green Belt Landscape Assessment
  9. Environmental Impact – 9a Ecology – 9b Wildlife
  10. Very Special Circumstances
  11. Ground Investigation Report
  12. Transport
  13. Flood Risk
  14. Surface Water Flooding
  15. Evacuation
  16. Flood Warning
  17. Insurance
  18. Financial Contributions
  19. Local Factors and Financial Influences
  20. Public Opinion
  1. Local Plan

The Adopted Castle Point Borough Local Plan Proposals Map indicates that the Land East of Canvey Road forms part of the Green Belt. The existence of the Green Belt in Castle Point has been tested and confirmed legally.

Whilst the New Local Plan has been a while in gathering evidence, carrying out of consultation and consideration of responses, there are clear signs that progress is being made, and having gone through the process so far, would be considered unreasonable if individual planning decisions were made that may not be Local Plan preferable, without allowing the LP process to first run its course.

An Approved planning decision on this particular application would by definition require the site to be included within the 1 – 5 or 6 – 10 Years Housing Supply, which would likely in itself render the Castle Point New Local Plan “unsound.”

Therefore this Application proposal can be considered Premature.

  1. Housing Need

Objectively Assessed Housing needs are being calculated through the Local Plan process.   The intention then is to apply the relevant constraints to development that apply locally.

Planning Guidance has been addressed locally through sessions with Government Ministers and a senior Planning Inspector reassuring councillors that there is no compulsion to release Green Belt land for development. Whilst this argument may appear tenuous, the added weight of this site also being in a Flood Zone as well as being within the Green Belt, means that the East of Canvey Road is a less sustainable, therefore less suitable site than most others for development.

Historically, since the formation of Castle Point in 1974, Canvey Island has absorbed the vast majority of the large development carried out within the Borough. This is evidenced by the extraordinary rate of population growth.

The population on Canvey Island has grown by 42.6% since 1971-2011.                                                                                                                                       In comparison the UK population has grown by just 13.5% and the mainland population growth by around 2.4% over the same 40 year period!

The historical distribution of growth towards Canvey Island, given the development Constraints, requires addressing.

The developer suggests there is a “known demand for housing and employment in the area.[1]

Regarding the developer’s reference to employment, two large business development areas on Canvey Island, set aside within the 1998 adopted Local Plan, remain undeveloped!

Regarding the developer’s reference to “known demand for housing”, whilst there may be some Local Need, being in Flood Zone 3A  and given the extraordinary population growth on Canvey Island since Castle Point was formed, the previous distribution of development brings into contention how the future housing need should be distributed.

The Castle Point Local Plan Sustainability Scoping Report states “Given the Risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing.”           These measures include “The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower.[2]

The developer appears prepared to ignore this Risk to the existing population’s safety, by seeking to continue adding to the population at Risk, contrary to CPBC Sustainability Scoping Report’s recommendation.

  1. Sequential Test

Within the Core Strategy, the Land East of Canvey Road was included as the sole large Green Belt development site proposed within the Borough for the whole Plan period, despite being Green Belt within a Flood Risk Zone 3A area.

Through the New Local Plan (NLP) the Sequential Test should be applied Borough-wide.                   CPBC appear to apply the Test specifically to Canvey Island, despite Castle Point being one of the smallest UK Boroughs.

 The draft New Local Plan states at 17.27 The NPPF sets out a sequential test that seeks for development to be located to avoid flood risk. Canvey Island comprises of around 40% of the borough’s area and is home to around 40,000 people. It is not therefore always possible to avoid development. This community will have development needs that change over time”

 It goes on to refer to the TE2100 scheme  stating; “proposals that meet local needs and re-use land within the existing urban area will need to be permitted, despite the sequential approach, in order to ensure the wellbeing of Canvey residents.”
This appears to be in conflict with Government Planning Guidance: “Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan”
The failure to apply the Sequential Test Borough-wide is specifically evidenced at New Local Plan Policy CC2d

This method of application of the Sequential Test will result in an un-necessary addition to the population put at Risk of Flooding. The correct approach to the development in a Flood Zone would see small development, and those seeking to add additional storeys to single storey dwellings.

Large development, especially within Canvey Island Green Belt, will see an inward migration adding disproportionately to the numbers at Risk of Flood.

The Local Authority applies the Sequential Test when considering previous applications as a means of preventing social and economic deprivation.

This is contradicted by the developer’s Planning Statement, in which it states, “Canvey is well-equipped in terms of its facilities and has a range of eating and drinking establishments, library, post offices, supermarkets, GP surgeries, dentists and a variety of employment.” It continues “Other facilities in the town include Concord Rangers Football Club, Canvey Island Football Club, Island Yacht Club and various areas of public open space including Canvey Heights Country Park.”[3]

Academically Canvey Island is very well supported with two new “state of the art” Senior Schools and a New Skills College on the site of the old Castle View School supporting the development of trade based education.

We would suggest that within the current Urban area of Canvey Island there remains enough development land potential to support the Town’s population and its Local Needs without altering the Green Belt boundary and releasing Green Belt land un-necessarily.

Furthermore, the Developer points out that Castle Point Borough Council, within its SHLAA 2013 Update, has “identified 38 Green Belt sites.”[4]

It appears illogical in the light of there having been identified 38 Green Belt sites within the SHLAA to then promote this site located within Flood Zone 3A as being appropriate for development within the New Local Plan period.

It further appears only correct on this evidence, to claim that justification exists for Castle Point Council to  re-apply the Sequential Test, Borough-wide in line with Planning Policy prior to a decision on this proposal, through the Local Plan.

  1. Green Belt

The Developer concedes: “The nature of development is not listed as appropriate and therefore the proposal represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt.”[5]

The Land East of Canvey Road site, according to the CPBC Green Belt Review, fulfils the Purposes of checking the unrestricted Sprawl of West Canvey and assists the countryside from Encroachment.

 Additionally the site in its current state provides an invaluable contribution that supports:

  • opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population;
  • opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas;
  • helps retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live;
  • and supports opportunity to improve damaged and derelict land around towns.

The two schools mentioned within the Developer’s Planning Statement, Cornelius Vermuyden and Northwick Park do not detract from the openness and character of the countryside.

The Developer claims that the proposed development “effectively infills an area of land between existing built development to create a more logical edge to the open land to the north of the proposed area of development.”[6]

This claim is disputable as the diagram at 3.41 of the Planning Statement illustrates the introduction of a 4 sided Green Belt boundary, with two northern most sides plus an eastern side.

Diagram 3.1 of the developer’s Planning Statement further illustrates that the development, rather than, as claimed, would allow the Green Belt to continue to fulfil its functions, would actually weaken this ability and encourage further  development, Northward to Waterside and to its far Eastern boundary at Church Parade.

The existing Southern and Eastern boundaries are far more clearly and logically defined and defensible, that being the existing line of the Hill Hall Dyke.

  1. Amenity Value and Loss Impact

The amenity value this Green Belt site has provided over many, many decades, prior to Persimmon “inheriting” the ownership, remains invaluable to local residents well being.

The developer states that the site “is not a formal area of public open space that the public are permitted to use.”[7]

And “The Application Site contains a Public Right of Way (PRoW) which forms the southern boundary. This is the only public access to the site.”[8]

This we dispute.

There have never been signs erected instructing people to Keep Off of the Land.

There are two formal access entrances, at Dyke Crescent and the bridge across Hill Hall Dyke near the Avenues estate, which are maintained. To the North there is complete open access from the Waterside area.

Apart from the Council Highway barrier alongside Canvey Road and back garden fencing of existing housing to the west and south, the East of Canvey Road site is generally open.

The local authority, maintain a large grass area on the site near the Dyke Crescent entrance, allowed as a play / recreation amenity presumably with agreement from the owner. Other areas are used for rambling, dog walking and horse riding, this is clearly evidenced by the worn pathway tracks across the site. Generally the Land East of Canvey Road provides a valuable area used for informal activities.

The nature of the land generally, grassland with hedgerows and an area of woodland, provides an outlet for occasional delinquent behaviour and vandalism.

Without this outlet this behaviour will likely be transferred to the nearby RSPB site across Canvey Road and the nearby Benfleet Marshes RAMSAR and SPA area where damage would have far greater consequences. The onsite Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Roman Saltern will also likely be impacted upon by the urban fringe being moved to its close vicinity.

The resulting Post Development Sprawl will result in an increase in urban vandalism simply due to the loss of a large open area that may have previously taken this type of behaviour away from the urban neighbourhoods and sensitive Ecological Impact Risk Zones.

There is an area abutting the site, known as the Avenues Estate, that is considered by the LA to be a somewhat deprived area.

To areas of deprivation access to Open Space is of the utmost importance. This is recognised by the Urban Spaces initiative. The Urban Habitats initiative is a cross border co-operation between the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Flanders.

Castle Point is not a member of the initiative, however that does not mean that the aspirations of the initiative are not relevant. The initiative recognises that as a result of growing economic activity and population levels there is increasing pressure on the sparsely available natural space. And that this space is essential for the quality of the urban living environment, offering recreation possibilities and contributing to conservation of nature and biodiversity in urbanised areas.

  1. Castle Point Green Belt Review

This is an in-house produced review. The fact that this site is rated Amber can be given little weight as so many other sites within the Borough are also Amber rated, sequentially that should require this site being delayed for, or Refused for, Release.

  1. Castle Point Green Belt Functions Report

This is an in-house produced report. The function of “Regeneration” should be added to the East of Canvey Road site. The Canvey Town Centre is only 1.8 miles away just a 34 minute walk.[9]

Little progress’ beyond aspiration level’ has emerged as far as the Canvey Town Centre regeneration is concerned.

The new Castle View School, in the Town Centre, was funded by Government bodies. Little interest has been evidenced that leads residents to believe the regeneration scheme will make progress in the near future.

The approval of this East of Canvey Road proposal will potentially hamper the development of town centre housing, creating doubt over its immediate viability.

  1. Castle Point Green Belt Landscape Assessment.

This document has been compiled by an outside source, Essex Landscape Design.

Of East of Canvey Road it considers:

The area lies within the Canvey Marshes Historic Character Area, which has the following historic landscape character: 

‘This zone is bounded to the north by Benfleet Creek and to the west by East Haven Creek. Although the north of the zone, bordering Benfleet Creek, retains its saltmarsh, the zone consists mostly of reclaimed marshland, the central and western part of which has EU-designated Ancient Land status. This is an area of grazing marsh, comprising blocks of regular and irregular fields bounded by drainage ditches with often sinuous boundaries reflecting their origins in marshland creeks. The boundaries are mainly of medieval/post medieval origin resulting from the creation of grazing marsh.”

“Cultural Factors are recorded as: Retained historical field pattern and boundaries, currently well-used for formal and informal recreation.

Aesthetic Factors recorded as: The apparent character is extensive, open and distinctive.

Landscape sensitivity High

Visual sensitivity: High

 There are constraints on development due to the high landscape and visual sensitivities and the designation of the Coastal Protection Belt.”

  1. Environmental Impact

The proposed site is situated at the nearest single entry point the “Gateway” to Canvey Island.

Currently the green area sets the scene for Canvey as being a semi rural coastal area.

The developer’s proposal will reduce the “village” feel of this “Gateway” area and introduce Urban Sprawl.

Canvey Island already being the most densely urbanised town in the Borough.

The intention to site 2.5 – 3 storey dwellings fronting Canvey Road and opposite the open-space RSPB site will create a totally out of character street scene at this part of Canvey Island.

The developer’s reference, within “No development Alternative,” to demand for housing, whilst there may be some Local Need, being in a Flood Zone and given the extraordinary population growth on Canvey Island since Castle Point was formed, the previous distribution of development, should also be used to inform how the future housing need should be distributed.[10]

The Castle Point Local Plan Sustainability Scoping Report states “Given the Risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing.”           These measures include “The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower.[11]

The developer lists the Constraints affecting developing the site, yet fails to mention the Green Belt.[12]

The developer appears to be relying on Castle Point Borough Council removing East of Canvey Road area from the Green Belt, this must be considered initially Sequentially, and secondly through an Examination in Public of a Local Plan, once it has been finalised.

A further constraint, at 4.2.2, is shown as the “need to protect and enhance the location on site of the scheduled ancient monument.” 

This may prove difficult given the intention to Land Raise by approximately 1 metre an area already susceptible to high water table around the Roman Saltern mound.

The developer also proposes “The provision of new community facilities for the benefit of existing and future resident.”[13]

Given the difficulties in realizing the affordable housing promise on other far more financially viable local development sites, the necessity for a maintained pumped drainage system, the new access roundabout, the flood risk mitigation measures and the generally lower priced housing market in this part of the Borough, the provision of these new community facilities may be considered simply aspirational.

9a Ecology:

The developer’s Environmental Statement’s (ES) Ecology section, notes the site having suffered from some vandalism, by way of burnt fields.

The East of Canvey Road site is indicated as being within the SSSI Impact Risk Zones – to assess planning applications for likely impacts on SSSIs/SACs/SPAs & Ramsar sites (England)” according to the Magic Map service managed by Natural England.

The developer’s ES report at 6.3.4 refers to the site’s close vicinity to the areas Designated Sites those being: Southend and Benfleet Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Ramsar, (0.7km), Thames Estuary Marshes SPA, SSSI and Ramsar (3.3km), Canvey Wick SSSI (0.9km), Holehaven Creek SSSI (1.2km), Canvey Lake Local Nature Reserve (LNR)(0.9km).

Non statutory sites within 2km of the Application Site Include: West Canvey Marshes Local Wildlife Site (LWS) (0.7km), The Lake LWS (0.8km), Canvey Village Marsh LWS (1km), Thorneycreek Fleet LWS (1.8km).

The close vicinity of the proposed development and the loss of the “vandalism buffer zone” the East of Canvey Road site appears to offer, suggest the impact on the SSI Impact Risk Zones, including the SPA and Ramar and RSPB sites cannot be disregarded!

9b Wildlife:

The developer’s proposal to increase the Urban Sprawl by developing this site will remove an outlet for low impact vandalism and increase the opportunity to take this behaviour further afield.

Already there have been reports of such problems at the RSPB Canvey Marsh site.

The Environmental Statement refers to Canvey West Marsh, separated from the site by just the Canvey Road, and lists the area supporting:

at 6.3.7 Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (on passage), Dark-bellied Goose Bernicla bernicla, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Knot Calidris canutus. Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance, the area qualifies under article 4.2 of directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 water fowl. Over winter, the area regularly supports over 30,000 individual water fowl including Dunlin Calidris alpine alpine, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Knot, Grey Plover, Dark- bellied Brent Goose, populations of European importance.

The close proximity of these sensitive areas will lead them to be impacted upon by the problems of urban development.

The loss of the East of Canvey Road Green Belt site will affect loss of habitat for: Butterflies, Marble whites, Common Blue, Hollie Blue, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Essex Skipper, Tortoiseshell, Peacock, 5 Spotted Burnet. Grass snakes, Adders (both protected), birds include Corn and Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Whithroat, Skylarks, Meadow Pippit, Wren, Dunnock, House Sparrows, Jay, Kestrel, Swift.

The developer claims “The proposed project is not therefore expected to produce likely significantly effects upon the integrity of the Canvey Wick SSSI or the conservation status of its important invertebrates. The confidence in these predications is near – certain”[14]

Whilst with “Local Knowledge,” and in direct contrast to the developer’s claims, the loss of this site to development will demonstrate a squeeze on the habitat area that is Canvey Marsh, and the “bigger picture” would likely result in, should this development be given approval, an impact upon the close-by sites at Canvey Marsh, Canvey Wick and Benfleet Marsh to a serious extent.

A little land management would see an improvement to the East of Canvey Road site.

The developer Environmental Statement claims “6.7.4 The proposed development at the land east of Canvey Road will provide an opportunity to achieve positive outcomes for notable species and biodiversity in general securing, creating and managing habitats in the long term. This mosaic of habitats and species will provide a living sustainable landscape which will be enjoyed by the local residents and allow wildlife to thrive. The future of the green infrastructure onsite will be secured through the ongoing revision of the sites management plan as conditions on site change.               The biodiversity of the landscape will also provide a valuable educational resource to local residents, in particular school children who can learn about Great British wildlife and even become involved in the management of habitats that will provide improved environments for a multitude of species including amphibians, reptiles, birds, invertebrates and small mammals (including bats).”

The developer’s claim is quite simply “aspirational nonsense,” given the current lack of general funding for essential local maintenance.

  1. Very Special Circumstances.

This site is an inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

Planning Guidance suggests that Housing Need does not in itself amount to Very Special Circumstances for the release of this site.

Openess.   The loss of Land East of Canvey Road as Green Belt will impact upon the Openess of the area, viewed both from the neighbouring area and especially from the higher ground at Benfleet.

The site is at the “Gateway to Canvey” and as such “sets the scene” that Canvey was originally a green, rural marsh area, rather than the densely urban area it has become.

Sprawl.   The site prevents Urban Sprawl. The site is the last large green field area, within the Canvey road network. It is generally unaltered from the ancient landscape that formed the Canvey marshland reclaimed by the Dutch in the 17th Century.

Encroachment.   The site forms an important buffer between the urban area, and both the RSPB site to the west and the Benfleet Marsh to the north.

Using the Government Secretary of State’s accumalitive methodology, as in his decision of the Castle Point versus Glebelands Appeal CPT/7/12/OUT, the resultant loss of Openess, harm in respect of Urban Sprawl and harm by way of Encroachment, posed by the East of Canvey Road site proposal, we consider the resultant effect amounts to causing Considerable Harm to the Green Belt.

We suggest site selection is considered Sequentially flawed, and that therefore the very Special Circumstances required to allow for development do not exist.

  1. Ground Investigation Report

Indicate negative readings, and also state that they are incomplete despite having been published in 2012.

  • The Hydrological report indicates a High Water Table that is affected by the tidal flow.
  • The Geological report indicates a potential health hazard by the leakage of methane.
  1. Transport

The effects of the proposed importation of 100,000cubic metres of Land Raising material, estimated 10,000 lorry movements and the construction vehicles appears to be underestimated.

Highway surveys appear out of line with residents commuting experiences.

These large slow vehicles cannot fail to impact upon Canvey Way, Waterside Farm, Somnes Avenue and Sadlers Farm junctions especially during Peak Periods.

The possibility that Dyke Crescent, currently offering the only vehicular access to the East of Canvey Road site, being used by delivery lorries ahead of what will be a difficult planning, financing and development exercise to introduce the site’s new access Canvey Road Roundabout, cannot be dismissed.

  1. Flood Risk

The proposal indicates an intention to Land Raise the site. The developer recognises this will increase off site flooding,

This is unacceptable as it will inevitably create an increase in off-site Flood Risk, the amount is irrelevant, to neighbouring property and land, contrary to NPPF Paragraph 102.

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment indicates that Canvey Island, including the development site, is at Actual Risk of Flooding. This document states: “It is strongly recommended that the information in these Chapters is used to inform planning policy with respect to development control decisions across the borough.”

Should a breach in the sea defence occur the site would experience flooding.

Should the Benfleet barrier be left open, as has occurred on two known occasions the potential exists for the site to flood.

Should a breach of the sea defence occur, whilst the possibility is rated as low, the effects could be catastrophic.

The development of the site, if permitted, will dramatically channel the flood water flow paths in and around the existing dykes increasing the level of danger to existing residents.

The Canvey Island drainage system is incapable of coping with the resultant flood water should a Breach of the sea defence occur.[15]

  1. Surface Water Flooding

The CPBC Surface Water Management Plan is not relevant to Canvey Island, the methodology is reliant upon undulating land. Canvey Island being mainly flat, at or below sea level, relies on gravity and a network drainage system, recognised as “complicated” by the Environment Agency, supplying the drainage pumps.

The developer’s proposal indicates the instalment of an additional pumping station to assist drainage.

These plans were evolved prior to the Canvey Island surface water flooding events of 2013 and 2014.[16]

The experience of these flooding events exposed the likely failures of pumping stations during storm events, those being cuts in electrical power, over heating of the drainage pumps and debris blocking filters preventing drainage water flow.

Maintenance levels to drainage assets were specifically highlighted as being reasons for the level of flooding during the 2014 event.

There can be no guarantee that future maintenance regimes will be kept to the necessary levels.

The developer references the Atkins Study of 2007 within the Flood Risk Assessment.

Canvey Island is currently the subject of an Integrated Urban Drainage study, development proposals should use the resultant IUD study report as the basis of all Surface Water flood assessments.

Foul Water Effluent: “The Proposed Development will create foul water effluent flows from both residential and community centre uses. The unmitigated flow will be a fundamental change from the baseline conditions, with the sensitivity of the surrounding area being high. Prior to mitigation features this foul water effluent flow would have a major adverse effect on water quality for the site and surrounding area.” (Agent’s emphasis)  [18]

Increase Run off:  “The Application Site is proposed to be developed as a primarily residential development. The change in impermeable area across the Application Site will increase the rate and volume of surface water runoff from the Application Site. The unmitigated change in runoff rate and volume is a fundamental change, with effects on the local scale. The increase in runoff and volume for the Application Site will have a major adverse effect on the existing surface water drainage system, due to discharge limits set to the existing pumping station at the Hill Hall Dyke.”   (Agent’s emphasis)  [19] 

 EA Letter from Robertson, Graham to Purcell Simon cc Knowles, Stephanie; Geary, Adrian dated 19th May 2011.                                                                                                                                                               States; “The pumping stations and their upstream arterial feeding drainage channels perform for operating standards that are less than the current day 1 in 100yr (significantly less in most circumstances) storm event.”

“The upshot of these constraints is that conventional solutions for surface water control/attenuation at source are problematic, particularly if you are looking at site volumetric control measures in excess of the calculated greenfield rate of discharge for the site.

Similarly, unconstrained discharges into the open watercourse system upstream of the EA’s Dutch Village Pumping Station will lower the existing standard of protection that this system provides, possibly to the detriment of existing development close to the pumping station and the Hill House Dyke.”

“I think that the solution to this dilemma may be to look at the potential for a bespoke pumping station arrangement to serve the site efficiently and rather than looking at significant attenuation on the site, look to move water with significant flow capacity away from the site (perhaps there may be potential “on-paper” options to discharge to the wide marsh catchment to the west of Canvey Way”[20]                                            

This solution has since been rejected by the RSPB.[21]

Of further concern is the Diagram of Anglian Water Assets, mapping the neighbouring Dutch Village drainage system.

This existing neighbourhood, known as the Dutch Village Estate, would be sandwiched between the developer’s site and Canvey Road.                                                                                                                                        The Dutch Village Estate is, in parts, below the level of the Canvey Road and, should Land Raising be employed as a means of mitigating the developer’s site flood risk and drainage issues, in effect become a basin between the road and new development. The two elements of Canvey Road and the new development would likely create flow paths through the Dutch Village Estate in the event of an extreme flood event.

The Flood Risk Assessment Map of the Dutch Village Estate indicates the limitations of the neighbouring Dutch Village Estates drainage system.

Large parts of the estate are unmade roads and as such are not served by drainage gulleys. The northern part of Limburg Road and eastern part of Holland Avenue in part appears to be served by drainage unconnected to the main system (marked blue).[22]

Overall Flood Risk casts a Viability issue on this proposal.

Adverse Run off and Foul Water Effluent contamination levels must be considered unacceptable in a sensitive estuarian area given the drainage methods.

  1. Evacuation

The proposal’s paperwork indicates introducing an unacceptable level of confusion for the safety of new residents and existing residents in the event of a flood event. The proposal to introduce an evacuation point, contradicts the CPBC emergency advice of “Go in, stay in, tune in” which in itself may be endangering to residents in single storey dwellings.[23]

The provision of a Refuge point within the Community facilities requires some consideration.

A health and safety hazard may be introduced should residents attempt to reach this facility during a flood event. Routes may be considered extremely onerous to cross, given the likely lifting of  drainage covers and the introduction of swales etc as a SUDs regime, alongside other storm event hazards.

Evacuation has a questionable success potential. The estimated time to evacuate Canvey Island in the event of an Emergency could take up to 19.7 hours.[24]

The CPBC “Be aware, be prepared, be resilient,” has achieved little awareness amongst Canvey Island residents.

The proposed site is situated at the nearest single entry point to Canvey Island. As such, should an Flood or other Emergency event occur, the site’s new residents, being nearest the entry to Canvey Island, would likely receive priority attention ahead of the existing population of 38,459 residents.

Those new site residents who are able to, may become some of the first to evacuate, leaving those existing residents to the South and East part of Canvey Island, those  in single storey dwellings and the most vulnerable, being delayed longer than necessary during what already appears a potentially dangerous and complex evacuation / rescue operation.

Thus effectively increasing the level of Risk to others contrary to NPPF Guidance.

  1. Flood Warning

The Flood Warning scheme operated by the Environment Agency is effective in only one of the three possible flood scenarios.

In the event of a breach of the sea defence, the EA would be reliant themselves of being made aware by local residents.

In the event of surface water flooding through a storm event, the EA would only be able to give a general potential warning.

It is likely that only in the event of a surge tide, the EA would be able to give Canvey residents advance warning of flooding caused by “over topping” of the sea defence.

  1. Insurance

The Environment Agency continue to recommend that Castle Point Council consider whether new Canvey Island properties can obtain Insurance against Flood during the lifetime of the dwelling.

Insurance specialists are more specific;

“The ABI strongly believes that unwise development in flood risk areas should not take place, and has made it clear that such developments may struggle to access property insurance.”

O.Thoreson ABI Director General.

“Flood Re will exclude developments since 2009 – just as the Statement of Principles did. This is because we do not want Flood Re to become an incentive for inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding.”

Aidan Kerr ABI Head of Property.

Quite clearly Flood Insurance cannot be guaranteed over the lifetime of new property, thereby questioning the financial Sustainability of future dwellings.

  1. Financial Contributions

Within the Planning Paperwork there appears to be no offer of developer contributions toward the necessary future improvement of the sea defences.

  1. Local Factors and Financial Influences

Within the Core Strategy process this site, known as Land East of Canvey Road, was included as the Borough’s sole large Green Belt development.

Leaked information disclosed that this situation came about by way of a private Lead Group of Councillors meeting with CPBC officers.

During the meeting an attempt was made to negate a stalemate and move the Core Strategy Plan forward. Allegedly  it was suggested, by an officer (now ex-officer), that the Lead Group may wish to consider supporting the Plan if mainland Green Belt sites were omitted, whilst the East of Canvey Road, Canvey Island site was included.

The Lead Group of councillors pressurised by the mainland “Hands of Our Green Belt” campaign group, agreed to this proposal and the Core Strategy was duly published.

During the Core Strategy Examination in Public this information was put to the Planning Inspector Mr P.Crysell. He made further enquiries and was able to confirm how the site selection had been influenced, later referring to this as “”Local Factors” being given too much weight,” and “inconsistent and inappropriate site selection.”[25]

It would not therefore be unreasonable to presume that those members, who had been in attendance at that private Lead Group of Councillors meeting with Officers, may have effectively prejudged the principle of this proposal.

The possibility that an element of predetermination exists, cannot be discounted during the CPBC Development Committee’s consideration of the East of Canvey Road proposal.

Financial Influences:

Following the presentation to Cabinet June 2015, CPBC’s financial situation may be considered being a possible influence on future Planning decisions.

The seriousness of the Local Authority’s current financial situation is clearly highlighted in the Officers Report:

7.3 The position with regard to Council reserves is also serious.

7.8 To clarify the position regarding reserves – No funds have been set aside to fight appeals. All that has been done is to quantify a financial risk that may materialise as a consequence of not having a local plan.

The Council does not receive any New Homes Bonus for any new houses allowed on appeal.

The East of Canvey Road application coming forward at this time, may be considered by the Local Authority as “timely.”

Given the current Appeal Inquiries expenses that CPBC are faced with, it would be of some concern if this were to influence its approach towards timely development applications.

It cannot have gone un-noticed the developer’s suggestion that;

“A development of 300 houses will deliver to the Borough in excess of £2,100,000. Essex County Council receive £422,298.”[26]

These sums must not perpetuate into a material consideration.

  1. Public Opinion

 The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group carried out a Referendum widely across Canvey Island.

The Referendum paper read “Should there be any further development of Canvey Green Belt Land?”

And included clear “Yes” and “No” Boxes to place a tick, and a space for the respondent’s signature.

This involved a group of volunteers visiting as many homes as possible over a two week period between 25th May and 10th June 2009, offering residents the opportunity to register their opinion.

Collectors were issued with a list of streets to visit, so that duplications were kept to an absolute minimum.

The outcome revealed Six Thousand five Hundred and thirty four residents indicated there opinion by secretly marking a ballot paper, signing and placing in a sealed jar.

The results indicated that:-

Total Votes recorded 6,534

No votes 6,437,

Yes votes 56,

Spoiled papers 41

This indicated a majority of  99.13% of residents polled, were Against further Green Belt development on Canvey Island.

The sealed jars were opened and counted under the adjudication and verification of: R.Howard ECC and CPBC Councillor, David Blackwell ECC and CPBC Councillor, D.Williams ex CPBC Mayor, and G.Whatley resident.

Voting papers .

[1] Developer’s Environmental Statement 4.2.2

[2] CPBC Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report New Local Plan p27

[3] Pegasus Planning Statement

[4] Pegasus Planning Statement 3.10

[5] Pegasus Planning Statement 6.3

[6] Pegasus Planning Statement 6.14

[7] Planning Statement 5.4

[8] Developer’s Environmental Statement 2.14

[9] Pegasus Planning Statement 2.12

[10] Developer’s Environmental Statement 4.2.2

[11] CPBC Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report New Local Plan p27

[12] Environmental Statement 4.2.4

[13] Environmental Statement 4.2.4 Opportunities

[14] Developer’s Environmental Statement Conclusion 6.4.17

[15] CPBC CEO D.Marchant Essex County Council Flood Report

[16] Developers FRA page 23

[17] CPBC Scrutiny meeting Evidence of ECC Highways maintenance representative (webcast).

[18] Developer’s  Environmental Statement 12.4.17

[19] Developer’s Environmental Statement 12.4.15

[20] Developers FRA Included as EA correspondence following Page 36

[22] Developer’s FRA Appendix C

[23] Developers Planning Statement 6.26

[24] Floodsite “Evacuation and Traffic Management” T17-07-02 March 2008

[25] Planning Inspector Mr P.Crysell’s letter to CPBC Mr S.Rogers dated 11th May 2011

[26] Developer’s Planning Statement Appendix 2