Tag Archives: Secretary of State

Dear Sajid, re: Intervention of 15 Local Plan Councils, didn’t realise it was a Race – it’s only been 10 years, Yours Castle Point Council!

We have to hope that the correspondence capabilities at cpbc Runnymede Towers, plus of course the delicate balance of political power in the council chamber, are such that Government intervention in the cpbc Local Plan process, as threatened by the Secretary of State Sajid Javid, will prove unnecessary following the cpbc response to gov. criticism.

On the other hand, how the emerging utopia, otherwise known as Sandy Bay, will be viewed by a Planning Inspector, should one be appointed through an intervention process, will be interesting to see.

The latest cpbc Local Plan vers.IV indicates Thorney Bay as scheduled to realise 600+ dwellings, Outline in Principle is considered to have already been granted for this including the condition that land is set aside for the completion of Roscommon Way, supposedly the answer to all of Canvey Island’s traffic congestion problems.

During the November cpbc cabinet meeting concerns, bordering on panic, were voiced by members that land required for Roscommon Way phase 2 may be being planned for development of the Park Homes development, namely Sandy Bay.

ThorneyBay

Sandy Bay – Roscommon Way route?

The Thorney Bay application for 600+ dwellings includes a Condition that reads;

“”Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension Land” Means the land to be retained unfettered and free from obstruction and any ransom strip that might fetter the ability to develop the Roscommon Way Phase 2 Extension” 

However a visit to the cpbc Planning Portal indicates that a decision on the Planning Proposal has yet to be determined and that the Conditions, or S106 Agreement remains unsigned and in Draft form only.

Meaning that the consternation of the cpbc cabinet members over Roscommon Way land becoming a “ransom strip” may be outside of their powers of control!

So a Local Plan Government appointed intervening Planning Inspector, would arrive at Castle Point to discover that the only large site identified in the Local Plan vers.IV is within a 3A Flood Zone, part of a Critical Drainage Area, within the Hazard Range of a Top Tier COMAH site and is now outside of Planning Control, due to Thorney Bay having been granted, long ago, permission as a caravan site!

As Olly Murs might sing;

“Dear Sajid, please excuse my writing.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking
‘Cause I’m cold and alone tonight.
I miss you and nothing hurts like no Plan.
And no one understands what we went through.
It was short. It was sweet. We tried.

Park Homes being simply a progression from caravans thereby a new planning application being unnecessary according to cpbc.

Being outside Planning Control there is an unknown potential for the number of Park Homes should the venture be successful, 1000 -1,600 being a possibility.

How can this guess-timate be part of a Local Plan Housing Supply, an Inspector might ask given the unplanned for numbers of delivery.

Fortunately Park Homes are counted as Housing Supply. Perhaps a Local Plan exception can be made in the case of Castle Point Council so that they may leave the 5 Housing Supply as an open ended figure, to be confirmed by the Park Home owners!

Alarm bells should be ringing at the apparent stalling of the Kiln Road delivery adding pressure onto the lack of annual Housing Supply, meaning Sandy Bay becomes more and more important inclusion in the cpbc Annual Monitoring Reports.

So an Inspector would become aware that the sole large delivering “Housing” supply site is on Canvey Island in a most inappropriate area, delivering unsubstantiated numbers of dwellings, whilst all of the mainland sites are, in one way or another, contentious!

This will not look good IF the cpbc “Dear Sajid” letter is unconvincing!

The likelihood of intervention may yet be unlikely as the High Court has twice denied the proposed developer of Jotmans farm site permission to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to disagree with the Planning Inspector’s Appeal decision.

One can only read into this that the allocation of Housing Supply sites are best done through the Local Plan process and that Local Plans are intended for local authorities to compile through the Town and Country Regulations.

As it appears that legal issues may require testing, the Government may be falling into the open can of worms with this Intervention initiative.

Maybe best if, even, Castle Point and the Sandy Bay developers are left to their own means!

 

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Jotmans Farm Green Belt Development Appeal Update

Following the Secretary of State’s decision following the Appeal inquiry into the proposed Jotmans Farm Green Belt Housing Development, the developer registered a High Court challenge over the decision of the SoS and Castle Point council.

CPBC Councillor A. Sheldon has issued this notice:

Dear Residents,

I have just received the news that the Developers have not been granted permission to appeal the Jotmans decision by the Secretary of State!!!

This means that no appeal hearing will take place. They made an application for an appeal and it got refused!!! THE DECISION STANDS. JOTMANS WILL NOT BE BUILT ON.

I have received word that they are looking to get this decision reviewed (the decision not to review the decision…..), but I am confident this will get thrown out. With every unsuccessful legal bid they make, the case they have grows weaker and weaker. As your local councillor I will keep on monitoring this and keep you updated.

Our message to the developers: “Democracy has won. Take your money and build homes on sites the community want, not ones that are easy”.

Well done again to all those who kept the faith and supported our cause. I also want to thank the Jotmans Farm Action Group who fought this application hard from day 1. We can all rest that little bit easier now.

We are not completely out of the woods just yet, but we one last step away and I will be dammed if I am going to let anything make us stumble now.

I will be putting out a letter to let the rest of the estate know at the weekend and if anyone could volunteer to deliver their road I would be grateful.

Kind regards,

Councillor Andrew Sheldon

Jotmans Magaret March Benfleethistory.org.uk

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!

sadlersjpeg

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

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

 Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Date: 17/01/2014

Before :

THE HON MR JUSTICE BLAKE

Between:

 

FOX LAND AND PROPERTY LIMITED

Claimant

 

– and –

 

 

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

-and-

CASTLE POINT BOROUGH COUNCIL

 

 

 

Defendants

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

Fair Play for Canvey Island in the light of the Jotmans Decision or are we still a “Special Case”?

And the Necessity for Castle Point Borough Council to produce a Local Plan is?

“National planning policy places Local Plans at the heart of the planning system,”

Even so, the National Planning Policy Framework states as early as Paragraph 14;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless:

– any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole;

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

Paragraph 14, Footnote 9 Reads; “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.”

“so it is essential that they are in place and kept up to date. Local Plans set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design.”

The Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss the Jotmans Farm Appeal in the light of the Inspector’s recommendation, raises some questions.

Is the Planning Inspectorate’s reading of the NPPF and Guidance similar to that of the Government’s?

There was agreement between the SoS and the Inspector that, Castle Point Council are only able to identify 0.4 years worth of the required 5 Year deliverable Housing Supply, this is an even worse supply than in 2013 when the SoS considered cpbc had a realistic housing supply of just 0.7 years!

In the case of the Glebelands 2013 Inquiry the SoS used a “totting-up” method of measuring harm to the Green Belt;

“the Secretary of State has identified moderate harm in respect of urban sprawl, moderate harm in respect of the merging of neighbouring settlements, and moderate harm to the visual appearance of this part of the GB.  The Secretary of State considers that together this represents a considerable level of harm. ”

” He also wishes to emphasise that national policy is very clear that GB reviews should be undertaken as part of the Local Plan process.”

So we appear to be in a situation where, as long as Castle Point council are in an apparent perpetual process of Local Plan making, the whole of the local Green Belt can be considered safe from development!

Residents should now be looking for a new, up to date cpbc Green Belt Review, based on the SoS’ guidance and embracing the protection afforded by Footnote 9 of the NPPF.

As was pointed out earlier in this post;

“Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, … unless: – ….  specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted – For example, those policies relating to …. land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, … and locations at risk of flooding.”

This appears to be the clear desire of the Secretary of State’s interpretation of planning direction. The archived cpbc Green Belt Review was dated 2013 and produced in-house in support of the rejected daft New Local Plan, and clearly out of line with the Secretary of State’s consideration of  levels of “harm.” A new GB Review should be commissioned urgently, indicating the protection available through NPPF Policies and Guidance!

It would appear that the Castle Point council’s Local Plan2016, despite their failure to comply with the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring local authorities, may have been more in tune with the Secretary of State’s interpretation of what is possible with Local Plan-making and stood a chance of being considered adoptable. Whilst an Inspector may feel the Local Plan2016 was worthy of withdrawal, seeking intervention via the Secretary of State, may supply a different decision, once the Duty to Cooperate has been complied.

More importantly, with Canvey Island in mind, is that NPPF Footnote 9 offers no  difference in the weight and importance that should be applied when considering whether a site is appropriate for development between that of Green Belt or Flood Risk!

Only in the minds of those in Control of Decision-making within Castle Point council, is Canvey Island deemed a “special case”!

If not now, then I do not know when, given the position of the cpbc Local Plan, and the direction given by the SoS, it would be more Timely and more Appropriate for Canvey Island Town Council to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan!

The Secretary of State is clear Footnote 9 should be applied to protect Green Belt from Harm.

It is obvious that an area within a Flood Risk Zone and with unresolved Surface Water Flooding issues, can expect that same level of protection using Neighbourhood Plan Policies under-pinned by that same Footnote 9!

Quite simply Canvey Island is thought to be unlikely to Flood. This is supported by no factual Evidence, simply that it is “unlikely”. The continual loss of Green Space to development on Canvey that serves as potential displacement for flood water, fails to register any concern to the planning decision makers!

The FloodRe insurance scheme is limited, limited so that it specifically discourages development in Flood Risk areas.

The list of properties excluded from the remit of Flood Re has been subject to significant debate however it has been agreed that the following properties will not be covered:

  • All commercial property
  • All residential property constructed since 1 January 2009
  • All purpose-built apartment blocks

Who will weigh this against Financial Sustainability? It appears nobody at Castle Point council!

It is time for the reservations contained within the NPPF Footnote 9 to be considered appropriately and evenly across the whole of Castle Point!

” ” All quotations lifted from the NPPF, Planning Guidance, Glebelands Inquiry and the Jotmans Farm Inquiry.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! or cynical! Jotmans Farm Appeal decision Overturned! To Castle Point Residents Relief!

A decision that can only be described as A-m-a-z-i-n-g  for the residents of  Jotmans farm, as they will be relieved to hear that the Secretary of State has overturned the Planning Inspector’s decision to grant planning permission for the initial 265 dwellings proposed by Persimmon’s!

Jotmans Lane Tank.JPG.gallery

Despite the Secretary of State considering that Castle Point Council have only identified 0.4 years Supply of the necessary 5.0 Year Supply of Deliverable Housing, which he considered as “falling well short of expectation”!

The SoS “further agrees with the Inspector that the proposal would bring forward market and affordable housing in an area where there has been a longstanding failure to provide sufficient new housing, and that in view of the prevailing housing supply situation in Castle Point, that carries very substantial weight in favour of the scheme.”

And that he ” agrees with the Inspector that the ecological benefits attract significant weight in favour of the proposal.”

However in relation to Green Belt issues the SoS considers “The proposal would represent inappropriate development in the Green Belt of a significant size. It would permanently reduce openness, and conflict with several of the purposes of designation. These harmful impacts on the Green Belt attract substantial weight.”

Then using Planning rules more intended for Travellers “unauthorised sites” than settled dwellings the SoS applies great weight to the rule that “subject to the best interests of the child, personal circumstances and unmet need are unlikely to clearly outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances”.

This “Good News Story” for cpbc, despite the obvious response from cynics that the Secretary of State’s release of the decision of an Appeal held on the 11 September 2015, during the very same week of an announcement to hold a General Election, is conveniently “Timely”, Green Belt campaigners will take some comfort, albeit possibly temporary.

The fear remains that with a new 5 year term of government the likelihood of a Legal challenge in light of Castle Point’s chronic lack of a 5 Year deliverable Housing Supply, may yet be our undoing!

Canvey Island residents must therefore remain concerned that, in the eyes of the majority of cpbc development committee members, Flood Risk does not act as a Constraint on development, making this part of the Borough more liable to growth as has been the case over the previous 4 decades!

In the light of this decision, the actions of CPBC to Withdraw its Local Plan2016 and to Archive the Plan document and Evidence Base, must be of some concern!

The hope now is that similar ruling and defence of Green Belt will apply across Castle Point, congestion will not be increased and the Local Plan2016 may be resurrected.

The link to Secretary of State’s decision and Inspector’s report is below.

Jotmans Lane Castle Point 2216062 (1)

Photograph courtesy; Echo newspaper

Thorney Bay development to go ahead, through “Hell or High Water”?

Interesting times on Canvey Island, hopefully our representatives are aware of what may be being fashioned.

We, Castle Point residents that is, have an unpopular stalling Local Plan, no 5 Year Housing Land Supply and no adopted Housing Need figures.

Development on Green Belt is rejected and nearly half the Borough is in a Flood Risk Zone 3a area.

Following on from the disaster that was the Core Strategy a new list of preferred sites was announced, this included the encouragement of the awakening of the proposal to build on Thorney Bay, following which an application to develop was lodged in December 2011.

Currently the dwellings on-site are static caravans. An outline proposal for 600 dwellings and residential institutions was passed by the development committee.

This was despite the proximity of the Calor Hazardous Industrial site and the Flood Risk. The marginal betterment of protection from bricks and mortar being preferred to a caravan type dwellings being the reasoning.

The Local Authority are in a desperate position with the Local Plan due to the unpopularity of the selected mainland Green Belt sites identified for housing development. This position of desperation may appear to be leading the LA to be adopting a controversial position regarding development in the Flood Risk area that will set a precedent for future decision making.

An Environment Agency spokesman pointed out that less than 1 per cent of the total number of homes that were proposed in planning applications last year were rejected.

Most planning applications the EA protest to are resolved or dropped.

“Last year we responded to over 30,000 planning applications and enquiries. Of the 57,000 homes that were proposed, only 570 were built against our advice. Our advice to Local Planning Authorities helps to ensure that developments are safe and resilient.”

Extract from Louise Gray’s report for the Telegraph 2013. Remainder of report can be found via this LINK.

A planning proposal for part development of the Thorney Bay site was lodged in November 2014.

The Environment Agency issued a Holding Objection in December 2014 suggesting that the “issues are rather complex” and remain since the proposal was first lodged in 2011!

Since the EA’s December Objection, no updated reports on flood issues have been loaded on to the CPBC Planning Portal, however during late August a raft of information on the types of Housing and plans have been loaded.

Could it possibly be that Castle Point Council intend to approve the application for development despite and against the Environment Agency’s advice?

Paragraph: 044 Reference ID: 7-044-20140306

For any major developments within Flood Zones 2 or 3, or on land within Flood Zone 1 which has been notified to the local planning authority as having critical drainage problems, which are the subject of a sustained objection by the Environment Agency on flood risk grounds, the local planning authority (and applicants) should bear in mind the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, if the authority is minded to grant permission for the development. In such cases, the authority, the Agency and the applicant should try to agree what changes could be made to the application that would enable the Agency to withdraw its objection.  If the Agency concludes that it is unable to withdraw its objection and the authority is still minded to grant permission, the Direction requires the authority to notify the Secretary of State.

In this context, “major development” means:

  • in respect of residential development, the provision of 10 or more dwellings, or a site of 0.5 hectares or more;

We are all aware of the current relationship between Castle Point Council and the Secretary of State through the defence of our Green Belt.

However this case will be different, CPBC have just 0.5 years worth of the required 5 year Housing Supply, the majority of Councillors have voted in favour of development at Thorney Bay, Officers are in support of the proposal. Interestingly the Revised determination date is the 30th September 2015.

Will it be with the Secretary of State’s approval that such a large development in a crucially sensitive area will be given the Green Light?

Glebelands Appeal – Secretary of State delivers early bad news on Castle Point Green Belt?

An initial appraisal by the Secretary of State, ahead of the Glebelands proposed development Appeal Enquiry, appears to deliver some good news for the developer Fox Land and Property.

The SoS considers that after considering factors, such as the proposal’s nature, size and location will not lead to a significant effect on the environment.

He also recognises that there maybe temporary effects during construction however taking the proposed site’s position in mind, being nearby the A130 and London Road, there is little likelihood that flooding, traffic, noise, waste, contamination nor complex construction will lead to significant impact.

The SoS points out that with this in mind the Glebelands development cannot be considered sensitive, as defined by the Regulations.

Given the nature and scale of the development, impacts would not be significant in terms of the receiving environment.

Any potential effects in terms of the local infrastructure would be subject to established planning procedures and measures, and no significant effects are considered likely.

This is all pretty much in agreement with the Secretary of State’s predecessor and Planning Inspector’s conclusions following the previous Appeal for the 165 dwelling proposal for the Glebelands site.

Residents will be aware that one hurdle to prove Exceptional Circumstances has been overcome.