Tag Archives: population

Castle Point Councillors Resolve, to be Tested Again, as Local Plan and its Proposed Development of our Green Belt and Spaces re-emerges!

So, word is out that the Castle Point Council latest Local Plan will be, again, considered by council members during late October 2019, or is at least scheduled to be. This may or may not be subject to there being a Parliamentary Election later around that time, which may bring some bearing on the scheduling.

As we are all aware the CPBC Local Plan is a sensitive issue not least amongst the Castle Point Electorate! Ructions were caused when the previous attempt to adopt a Local Plan was bravely thwarted by those council members refusing to inflict certain damage to the borough and Canvey Island, through the draft Local Plan’s level of and siting of huge development sites. This they did under extreme and unfair pressure from Government, the cpbc controlling group and senior officers, insisting that Government Intervention was imminent. The Planning industry’s thoughts on the Intervention topic, and how this threat appears to have subsided were previously covered HERE.

This lessening of the Threat from Government of Local Plan Intervention, should give some encouragement to cpbc councillors to come up with their own Local Plan in line with Residents expectations.

Residents will once again be looking towards the resolve of our Council Representatives to Protect the Borough’s Green Belt and from Over Development. The delivery of supporting Infrastructure is abysmal, any development appearing to only compound issues and problems such as medical services, highway issues etc etc. These issues, however, are not solely confined to Canvey Island, what did concern Canvey Island was the necessary improvements to its Drainage System, some £24,500,000’s worth of remedial work.

Infrastructure Costs should also include the required Improvements to Canvey Island’s Sea Defences, but of course these are not included, nor allowed for within the CPBC Local Plan and its distribution of Housing Development Sites.

The CPBC Corporate Plan acknowledges that Castle Point is :

“a small Borough covering just 17.3 square miles, and an estimated population of 89,700. We are located in South Essex at the heart of the Thames Gateway South Essex sub-region, between Basildon and Southend.”

“Just over 55% of Castle Point’s land is designated as Green Belt. As a result, most of the Borough’s population live within one of four towns Benfleet (22%), Canvey Island (43%), Hadleigh (14%), and Thundersley (21%).”

“Castle Point has a population density of 19.21 persons per hectare, the second highest district in the county and considerably above the 4.0 average for the whole of Essex. The population density map below shows the highest rates of population are in the centre/south east of Canvey Island and within the towns of Benfleet and Hadleigh, although there are also expanses of low population density. Just 51% of the Castle Point district is classified as green space, the lowest proportion in the county (the Essex highest figure is 93% in Uttlesford): green spaces are important for wellbeing, community cohesion and for wildlife.”

The CPBC Local Plan needs to Highlight and expand on this with a suitable Housing Strategy, one that Residents can be comfortable with for a Healthy and Prosperous Future and not be resigned to a continued deterioration of the area as we know it.

We need to think carefully as to how our wishes are being Represented!

Other local authorities are struggling with coming to terms with the pressures of imposed development levels and respecting their Green and Open Spaces. Castle Point Council and its members, Our Representatives, must not buckle under pressure from either Cabinet members nor officers, in the knowledge we are not alone in this difficulty.

Lichfields January Insight, “Planned up and be counted, (Local Plan-making since the NPPF 2012)” clearly highlighted the problems surrounding local authorities affected by Green Belt constraints on development. :

“The majority (63%) of the LPAs which benefit from an up-to-date plan are unconstrained by Green Belt, whereas by contrast, 59% of LPAs without a post NPPF 2012 Local Plan are constrained by Green Belt, with these authorities twice as likely to not have a post-NPPF 2012 Plan as none Green  Belt authorities.”

“The Government’s early 2017 deadline for Local Plan submission has been and gone, and in March 2018 the Housing Minister announced an intention to intervene in three (Castle Point, Thanet and Wirral) of fifteen previously-named authorities who were being closely watched. With the Government’s intervention threat still in play and the bite of NPPF 2018 in force from 24 January 2019, can we expect a new rush on Plan-making activity?”

“Green Belt Reflecting the Government’s manifesto pledge, the NPPF 2018 changes Green Belt policy. Under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, its role as restricting development is tied to where it provides a “strong reason” for doing so, whilst those plan makers releasing Green Belt have first to show they have examined all other reasonable options, including brownfield sites, optimising density, and meeting needs in adjoining authorities.”

This final point we wish to point is exactly how site selection should also be viewed where development within Flood Risk zones through the Sequential Test, rather than the CPBC, Canvey Island “special case” method!

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Castle Point Elections, more Under Representation for Canvey? Under the Cloud of Intervention – Time for Change?

Canvey Islanders will likely be asking themselves, as the Castle Point Council election fast approaches, what is the point of bothering to Vote? With the Lady Petitioners revealing that Canvey Residents feel under represented at Council, even though there wasn’t the political will to seek a split away from Castle Point Council, is it now time to look at the local Voting System?

Canvey Island population was recorded in the 2011 Census as being 38,459,
approximately 43.7% of a total Castle Point population of 88,011.

Castle Point Council members total 41 councillors, of which Canvey Island representatives number just 17 members. This indicates a reasonable argument that Canvey should now have an extra councillor representative, with the mainland being allocated one councillor less. A small start at redressing the balance!

However looking back at the 2018 CPBC local elections the total number of Votes recorded might indicate that the Lead Group are allocated too many members and with it far too much Control to boot!

This is of course the result of the First Past the Post UK election system. As with the EU Referendum with just a 2% majority in favour of Brexit, whatever your views, it is understandable that the 16,141,000 Remain voters are left feeling disenfranchised.

In the case of the 2018 CPBC local Election the number of Votes cast by Borough Residents was 20,399, however ONLY 10,420 votes were for what is the Lead Group!

With the Lead group being allocated 9 councillors, and one opposition group just 5 councillors at the 2018 local poll, some 9,979
Island and mainland voting residents, given the balance of control at cpbc, were left clearly under represented.

Electoral reform may have seen Labour and UKIP being allocated councillor positions to represent their supporters within the Borough. But others may, rightly or wrongly claim that this would lead to CPBC’s difficult decisions being unaddressed, and a lack of clear policies being passed. Also an argument used in support for the retention of the CPBC Cabinet system!

Part of the CPBC Constitution indicates its Purpose is to;

enable the Council to provide clear leadership to the community in partnership with citizens, businesses and other organisations;

support the active involvement of citizens in the process of local democracy;

help councillors represent their constituents more effectively;

enable decisions to be taken efficiently and effectively;

create a powerful and effective means of holding decision-makers to public account;

How then are we left in such a mess with our Local Plan process? After abysmal progress, or lack of, has been made with the Core Strategy (withdrawn 2011), the Local Plan 2014, the Local Plan 2016 and the Local Plan 2018 all failing, we now look forward with trepidation to Government Intervention which we can expect as soon as the local and European Elections are behind us!

It would be fair to ask whether a more representative Council could have arrived at a more agreeable Local Plan Housing allocation and distribution policy to have avoided the shambles that Castle Point residents will be forced to live with.

CPBC Leader N.Smith

Canvey Flatsland – Island to be Re-named after rumours of Jellicoe future emerge?

The Admiral Jellicoe Public House site is to be re-developed into between 40 and 50 Flats, according to rumour that has reached us!

pub

Preparation work to the site appears to have commenced, this despite a search of the cpbc Housing Portal revealing no application paperwork. If there is paperwork published, then it is very well hidden.

The opportunity for residents to comment appear to have been denied, if the rumour is true. Local parking, for one, must be a huge concern for local residents and businesses alike. The surface water flooding issue will not doubt be dismissed by reassurances supported by officers!

The probability that the government’s call for a Brownfield Site Register will include the Admiral Jellicoe site within Part 2 of the Register, sites granted planning Permission in Principle, is highly likely if cpbc’s Register is published by the December 2017 due date.

Alongside this is the news that the option has been confirmed to consider replacing the Canvey Island Paddocks with a new Hall financed by even more Flats.

The numbers of Flats needed to finance a new Paddocks Hall will undoubtedly be very many, given the Viability issues with the lack of provision of Affordable Housing emerging from lucrative developments of late.

The Canvey High Street is also the location for 2 more Flatted development sites, the old Dairy, and the 125-127 approved proposal, whilst the old Council Building in Long Road is also under threat from the Government call to release local authority land for Housing Development.

The Castle Point Council Crystal Ball indicated this profound finding;

“It is not thought that flatted developments on Canvey will become viable however, due to the additional costs associated with flood resistance and resilience.” *

Well the current frenzy of Canvey Flats development has blown that consideration out of the water!

On social media of late protests that Canvey isn’t more likely to be subject to development than any other part of the borough have emerged from mainland sources. And yet Thorney Bay is the largest actively promoted development site!

More relevant than Housing numbers as an indication of castle point council’s Housing Distribution record, is the population growth in the Borough.

During the last Census decade the distribution of the population increase, Canvey Island was 2.6% up whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

During the time period Castle Point has existed as a Borough; 

Historically, between 1971 and 2001 Canvey Island saw an increase in population of over 40%.  The Mainland saw just a 2.4% increase during the same period.

Quite clearly the demand exists for Housing, exactly where, and why in Castle Point, may require some close examining!

The removal of 8 Green Belt sites from the Local Plan Housing site Supply is to be commended, however the driver for this is questionable as a strategic area in the north of the Borough is to be promoted for release despite it being Green Belt, albeit partially previously developed. Only 1 notable site, of these 8 Green Belt sites, being on Canvey Island.

The cpbc focus of targeting Housing on Canvey Island appears to border on obsessive.

As recent as the 2016 Local Plan amongst their “evidence” to support Housing growth distribution the Sustainability Assessment focussed as early as Pages 4 and 15 of a 258 page document this point was repeated twice!;

“This has caused some people to choose to live in poor quality accommodation at Thorney Bay Caravan Site resulting in health and social issues arising. Housing land supply should be sufficient to enable a stable and regular supply of new homes that respond to local demand”

We suggest that in such a small Borough as Castle Point the focus on the “local” in Housing distribution, especially given the constraints, is too tightly focussed on Canvey Island!

*CPBC Strategic Housing Land Availability 2014

Photograph: Echo

 

May time approaches and Canvey Island must Know its Place where Elections are concerned!

Once again May time approaches and this year it is the turn of the County Council elections to take place.

Seemingly, as far as Road infrastructure investment is concerned, the south of Essex County fares less well than areas around and to the north of Chelmsford.

Whether this being main highways or the funding of the currently contentious street lighting of Unadopted roads, Castle Point routes appear to suffer from neglect.

It is also high time that representation from Castle Point is reassessed. Whilst population growth is relatively low, it is strikingly more so, on the mainland part of the Borough.

shutterstock_boot_crushing_man

Castle Point has seen little increase in population, a 1.6% increase since 2001 – 2011, from 86,608 to 88,011.

However the distribution of this increase is interesting, Canvey Island was 2.6% up whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

Canvey Island population is 38,459, whilst the mainland population is 49,552.

As far as Representation goes at Essex County Council, Canvey Island continues to be represented by just 2 members whilst the mainland enjoys 3 members.

Proportionately this is now becoming unbalanced: 88,011 residents being represented by just 5 members.

This means that each mainland County Councillor will represent just 16,517 residents.

 In comparison each Canvey Island County Councillor will represent 19,230 residents!

There is little likelihood, taking into account the distribution of councillors at Castle Point council, that the balance of population growth in the two parts of the Borough will alter in the future.

Canvey being Urbanised at Denser levels of Housing Growth, so it is fair to ask, at what point will Canvey Island receive equal representation?

It would not be unfair at this stage to suggest that there could well be justification in the proposed Boundary changes suggested OR that the 5th Castle Point County Councillor should be appointed in some other fashion rather than simply on an area / ward basis.

That is until Canvey Island population becomes equal to that of the mainland, which going by current growth should not be too long now!

Picture copyright; shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Wellman wrote for Estates Gazette:

pwellman  Paul Wellman can be followed on Twitter via @PaulWellman_EG

More pressure piled onto the Castle Point Local Plan 2016!

Castle Point capacity led Local plan 2016 Housing Supply projections comes under further pressure from the latest projections.

Described as a disproportionate growth in population in London and the South East we can expect a rough ride during the local Plan 2016’s Examination. (Canvey Island knows well enough what disproportionate population growth means!)

The question is though, what steps are being taken to alleviate this surge in growth? More development is required is part of the answer, but that is controlled in no small way by market forces.

Build more houses as an answer, simply leads to; building even more houses!

The bigger picture is, the areas that are in population-recession require an injection of investment. Employment, infrastructure and housing would boost a local economy and an areas stagnation is arrested.

Having come through the banking crisis and with uncertain times ahead, we won’t be expecting investment as a solution in the near to medium term future!

Hold onto your Green Belt everyone it looks like it’s going to be a rough ride!

Barney Stringer writes on his wordpress blog:-

England’s Southward tilt

2014-based 20yr growthEngland’s population is shifting further south according to the latest official population projections. The overall population is growing fast, and growing almost everywhere, but the growth is disproportionately in London and the South East.

The Office for National Statistics “Sub-national Population Projections” (SNPP) are the first local breakdown of the official 2014 projection for England’s growth .

Today’s new 2014-based SNPP (and the household projections that will later be based on them) are hugely important for planning. They frame the debate on where we need to build more homes, and will eventually feed through to the housing targets set in local plans.

The last breakdown, two years ago, projected growth almost everywhere, but disproportionately in the South East. These latest projections confirm this trend. There are projected to be 7.1m more people in England in 20 years time, 13% more than now. But London is shown growing by 21% while Greater Manchester grows only 10.2%.

If these projections are correct then the capital would account for over a quarter of all England’s new population, while Greater Manchester’s share of the national population would fall. These are trend-based projections, not forecasts and do not take account of policy decisions – Greater Manchester is currently reviewing its housing targets, and a more ambitious growth plan could help it keep up with national growth rates.

While the overall pattern is a shift in the balance of population to the South, there are plenty of exceptions, with the Midlands also showing strong growth. Corby and Coventry are both projected to grow by more than 1% a year for the next 20 years.

Of particular interest to planners is how these projections differ from the previous ones (2012-based SNPP). Here the picture is more mixed with growth revised up or down across the country. In the map below, while almost everywhere is growing, the pink areas show areas where those growth projections have been scaled down, blue is where the projected growth has been raised.

2012-2014 growth change

The fastest-growing district, Tower Hamlets in London has also had the biggest upward revision of its growth, with a projected increase of 35% in the next 20 years, compared to 30% previously projected. The population of the fastest shrinking district (Barrow-in-Furness) is now projected to fall by 8% rather than 4%. In between these extremes the pattern is very varied, with the biggest proportional reductions in growth projections coming in East Cambridgeshire, Swindon and Slough. The north-south population shift is still progressing rapidly, but on these projections it is not accelerating.

DCLG plans to bring forward the household projections that are based on these population projections, with publication possibly this summer. See here for discussion of previous household projections and their implications.