Tag Archives: Secretary of State

An Open Letter to Castle Point Councillors. Before your Decision on your Local Plan and the Green Belt Development, please consider the Alternatives.

Dear Councillor,

It is apparent, through conversations with Castle Point Councillors
and Residents, that the draft Local Plan 2018 that you are due to consider
Tuesday evening is giving serious cause for concern.

Tuesday evening’s Agenda Item 4 at Paragraph 4.9 indicates
that you as Councillors must, for the sake of this Plan, intrinsically accept “Growth.”

As you will be aware, this small Borough has various Constraints on Development, such as Flood Risk, from both Tidal and Surface Water, Green Belt and the Hazardous Industries. As well as parts of the mainland, the whole of Canvey Island is designated a Critical Drainage Area,  

Others may also consider traffic congestion and housing market forces are also relevant Constraining factors.

 The draft Local Plan’s Housing Strategy for 15 year Plan
period indicates a total of 5,295 dwellings, or 353 dwellings per annum, a
figure far beyond previous completions. Taking into account current short to mid term market forces, these numbers set an unrealistic Target. The Objectively Assessed Housing Need is calculated by the Government national fixed formula and not related to local needs.

 Green Belt is to be given Substantial Weight of Protection
against Development, whilst requiring evidence of “Very Special Circumstances” before allowing development.

 Flood Risk, of which Canvey Island is a Zone 3a area, requires the area must be Sequentially Tested. However officers have applied the Sequential Test to Canvey Island in isolation, rather than the whole of the Borough. Furthermore the Planning Framework suggests that failing that, the Test should incorporate areas further afield, ie other local authority areas. An
indication that we are NOT advocating that Canvey Housing Need need not be transferred to the mainland, an area with its own issues.

It has been suggested that the area to the North west of the Borough, around the Blinking Owl site should be included within the Plan and
ahead of some of the sites already included, despite officers indicating that it is unviable at present. However it is apparent that with CPBC’s partnership within the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, this site is highly likely to become strategically adopted as a Housing Development site within their Plans for the ASELA area.

A Loss for CPBC’s Local Plan due to being a Gain for an
ASELA strategic Plan!

Many of you Councillors will be uncomfortable with the proposals
for Housing Development included within the proposed CPBC draft Local Plan 2018 document.

 In light of the potential impact upon the Borough by a strategic ASELA Plan, the Constraints on Development in the Borough, the above average Previous Completions Housing figure proposed in this CPBC Local Plan, and the apparent fact that the Secretary of State, rather than enforcing Intervention, appears to be generous in recognising Castle Point Council’s difficulties in achieving an agreeable Local Plan, we call for you as our representatives to:

Reject this draft Local Plan.

And to instead Amend to propose a constructive and open debate with the input of all members under guidance of a Planning Inspector, in the hope that an amended document can be achieved acceptable to all Residents, Councillors and Inspector alike.

Kind Regards, the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group.

“APATHY” Castle Point Council’s Secret Ingredient to Develop on Canvey Island’s Green Belt and Achieve a Local Plan!

Apathy, Apathy and yet More Apathy, is what Castle Point Council are relying on from Canvey Island Residents, so that their daft Local Plan 2018 with so much new Housing Development, may be submitted to the Secretary of State following Tuesday’s Council Meeting!

Surprisingly at a pre Local Plan meeting, to which a Canvey Green Belt Campaign colleague was an unexpected Guest, it emerged that Apathy was in fact a Resident’s failing that assisted CPBC through the Local Plan process. Evidently it appears timely to require CPBC council members to consider this damaging Local Plan whilst we are occupied by the farce that Brexit has become and before we approach a possible General Election. This is a sad state of affairs and I have always been one to  consider that a strong Evidence base makes a better means of objection to Council matters, whereas, evidently, CPBC are more likely to react from being shouted and protested at by the many!

This is what Development they have planned for Canvey Island over the next 15 years:

 Land east of Canvey Road  300 Dwellings

Land west of Canvey Road  196 Dwellings

Land at Thorney Bay  510 Dwellings

Land at The Point  100 Dwellings

Walsingham House  32 Dwellings

Land at Admiral Jellicoe  40 Dwellings

Land south of Haron Close  10 dwellings

Haystack car park  14 Dwellings

Kings Park  50 Dwellings

Plus the many other infill and green space “Windfall” sites, to count as extra Dwellings, And the Huge levels of Business Development taking place around the Roscommon Way area!

Adding to this, to assist our Friends on the Mainland and relieve their traffic congestion when 800+ dwellings are developed at Jotmans Farm, the daft Local Plan 2018 states: “The Tarpots junction is an issue in this regard. In order to overcome this issue, a new access and egress onto the A130 Canvey Way from this site will need to be provided as part of this development within the land of the highway authority and the landowner. This junction will need to take the form of a roundabout, with a segregated northbound carriageway for existing traffic from Canvey Island.”

Residents of Canvey Island may be well advised to Attend the CPBC Council Meeting on Tuesday 22nd October 7.30pm in the Runnymede Council Chamber, to let Councillors and officers know how this level of Development will bring further Harm to our Island Way of Life! There has been a big ongoing mainland campaign to get their Residents to Attend, which is receiving a great Response. Canvey stands to be out done and on the receiving end!

Fears Mount as Castle Point Council Election Candidates Concede loss of Green Spaces? Local Plan Intervention decision being Supressed?

Listen, don’t mention the Local Plan! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it alright. (PA Photo/BBC)

With the threat of continued inappropriate Housing and Business development on Canvey Island and across Castle Point generally, we have to ask “Are our Local Politicians now less committed to Saving our Green Belt and green spaces?”

As the CPBC Lead group of prospective Councillors release their Election Addresses on social media, it appears they may well be!

Of the 10 Lead group Candidates, shockingly only 3 candidates have even mentioned Development on Green Belt!

This includes one candidate who has declared an interest and is excluded from participating in the Local Plan process! Even then, none mention fighting for Green Belt as a Constraint on Housing and Business Development!

The Commitment from just 3 of the 10 lead group candidates amounts to:

“I will continue to oppose any development in our Green Belt that doesn’t provide homes for our residents and Government Funded Infrastructure Support.”

“Overbuilding must never threaten our area or our beautiful undeveloped Green Belt land.”

And coincidentally, as if written by the same hand;

“Overbuilding must never threaten our area or our beautiful undeveloped Green Belt land.”

Our concern must be that while a Local Election fast Approaches, Bad News of the Government’s intention to Intervene in the Castle Point Local Plan, is being Suppressed from Residents!

In November 2017, 15 Councils including Castle Point BC were served notice that the Government had begun the formal process of intervention in their Local Plan. The letter to cpbc commencing, “Following your Council’s persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place, on 16 November 2017, I expressed concerns about the lack of progress your authority has made on plan-making.”

Following on from receiving a letter from the CPBC leader,  SoS Sajid Javid responded by rejecting CPBC’s lengthy attempts to placate, by informing within a letter dated 23rd March 2018 “My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting Essex County Council to prepare a Local Plan for Castle Point and with the neighbouring authorities on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.”

Twelve of the least tardy miscreant local authorities appeared to have done enough to fall off of the Government’s radar except, CPBC, the Wirral and Thanet local authorities.

Accordingly during January 2019, The Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, informed the Wirral and Thanet LA’s, that “Having considered Thanet and the Wirral’s performance against the Local Plan intervention criteria, I am satisfied that intervention action is justified.”

However Castle Point Borough Council, 4 whole months after Refusing to Approve the 2018 version of the CPBC Local Plan and 18 months after originally being served Notice, “appear” not to have heard whether Intervention will be imposed upon the Borough!

 It is highly concerning for Castle Point Council to “act” as though no word has been received from the Government as to whether Intervention has been imposed upon us. It may be perhaps convenient that no implementation of Intervention should be imposed ahead of the Local Elections, this would not make for a leader’s “Good News” story!

It may be a total coincidence that neither the Wirral nor Thanet are conservative controlled Boroughs. Come what may, the fact that the CPBC Lead Group, once so vociferous in their defence of Virgin Green Belt and Green Spaces against Development, now appear on paper to be less committed. The concern must be that those prospective Candidates, not wanting to be associated with Bad News so likely to be announced soon after the Election, are content with the level, or lack of, Development in their own neighbourhoods, and are resigned to being forced to adopt the 2018 Local Plan!

A Reminder, in the Graphic below, for prospective local Councillors of the importance that the Electorate places on Green Belt and its protection through the Election process.

Residents of Canvey Island left to Face the Risks, whilst Castle Point Council, Fail to Develop an Adequate, operable Emergency Plan!

38,459+ Residents living on Canvey Island, seemingly oblivious to the everyday Risks and potential Harm facing them!

Whether the Risk is Tidal from the Estuary, Surface Water flooding or from the Hazardous Industries on the Island, a suitable Emergency Plan involving the Residents is essential.

The old Adage “we are safe from the Sea” is bunkum, as Castle Point Borough Council’s own evidence Highlights!   

 “Given the risk to the population, various measures are required to deal with the concerns to human health and wellbeing. These include:

• The need for an emergency plan to be in place;

• The need for sea defences to be maintained and improved;

• The need to maintain the population living in the flood risk zone at current levels or lower;

• The need for existing homes to be made more flood resilient, and include areas where people can remain safe in the event of a flood;

• The need for new development to incorporate design elements that make them safe in the event of a flood for occupiers;

• The need for building techniques to be used that enable easy restoration in the event of a flood.” (1)

Further CPBC Local Plan Evidence Documentation enforces the issues;

10.4 Tidal and fluvial flooding poses the most significant flood risk to the Castle Point Borough, in particular Canvey Island and Hadleigh Marshes. The topography and location of watercourses on Canvey Island means that the whole island is at risk from tidal and fluvial flooding. Although much of the Island is protected by the presence of defences, the island is still at residual risk of flooding if the defences were to fail or to be overtopped.

10.5 In the event that a breach in the existing flood defences was to occur, or a failure of one of the existing flood barriers (residual risk), significant depths of floodwater would be experienced on Canvey Island and the southern portion of the mainland.  Given the low lying nature of these parts of the Borough, floodwaters would propagate rapidly across Canvey Island thereby reducing the time for warning and evacuation of residents. (2)

During the Local Plan Intervention fiasco, CPBC informed the Secretary of State of particular physical circumstances of the Borough, considered to be legitimate constraints as to why the Authority could not provide for its Housing Development Needs.

“Of the urban areas of the Borough, Canvey Island, with approximately half of the Borough’s population, is defined by the Environment Agency as Flood Risk Zone 3a, being at or below sea level.

Further land is likely to be required on Canvey Island by the Environment Agency for improvement to existing sea defences in the lifetime of a Local Plan, further restricting opportunity for development

The Health & Safety Executive require significant exclusion areas to be maintained by the Local Planning authority around two top-tier COMAH sites on Canvey Island’s Thames Estuary frontage”, (3)

Direct Recommendations detailed within the CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment state:

“The majority of the sites will rely on the provision of adequate emergency planning measures to mitigate the residual risk of tidal flooding in the event of a breach in the tidal flood defences.

It is therefore strongly recommended that the suitability of locating more residential accommodation on Canvey Island and the capacity of the existing egress routes off the island is further discussed with the Emergency Planning Team at Castle Point Borough Council and/or Essex County Council prior to site allocation” (4)

Remarkably, CPBCs Development Control Committee has taken responsibility, (having only aspirational resolutions for the various preventative requirements), for successfully seeing-through Housing developments at Canvey Island since January 2012.

In doing so exposing an increased number of residential and commercial population to Residual and/or Actual Societal Risks.

Emergency Plans supporting increased development on Canvey Island are seemingly only “Generic”, where by dealing with a wide range of possible scenarios such as for example Influenza Pandemics, with no “Specific Plans” that relate to a particular emergency.

Specific Plans are a detailed set of arrangements designed to go beyond the generic arrangements, when the latter are likely to prove insufficient in particular cases such as breaching of flood defences or total LPG tank failure. (5)

It would appear that CPBC have not considered the value of Specific Planning in relation to Canvey Island, if they have, they have not included the involvement of the community in the production of specific planning for viable emergency incidents.

Editor, I will leave the reader with an opportunity to provide a Rationale as to how our local authority, Castle Point Borough Council has managed “Residual Risks” via its Local Planning strategy.

Document References

  1. The CPBC Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report, New Local Plan January 2012
  2. Castle Point Borough Council New Local Plan 2018 Technical Evidence: Summary Document June 2018
  3. CPBC Response letter to Sajid Javid 31st Jan 2018, regarding why Government Intervention in the Local Plan process was unnecessary.
  4. Revised Castle Point 2018 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment
  5. Chapter 5 Cabinet Office Revised Emergency Preparedness. Definitions of “Generic” and “Specific” Emergency Planning.

Castle Point Councillors divided between Green Belt Turncoats and those Unprepared to be Tied to the Small Print! Resident Lock Outs and a Not so Narrow defeat? The Local Plan Devil, is in the Detail.

Castle Point Councillors, Jekyll and Hyde appear to have now taken over the reins of the emerging, or is it submerging, Local Plan 2018!

Appropriately for this end of year Green Belt blog post, the CPBC Special Meeting, held to force forward the 2108 Local Plan, the Minutes were “signed off” during the CPBC December full council ordinary meeting.

These minutes exposed the devious methods being employed by those lead councillors and officers now in control of the Plan-making process locally.

Anything passed by the Council is considered to have been resolved Democratically! Therefore a Local Plan Examining Inspector would make allowance for radical or unpopular decisions, if the majority of councillors had approved those decisions.

Therefore it was imperative, well at least for those of us living in South Benfleet and Canvey Island, that the 2018 Local Plan was Rejected, despite the Leader’s and chief executive’s threats of the Armageddon of Intervention due to be imposed on Castle Point the very next day following the Plan’s Rejection!

The Minutes taken of the Special council meeting paint a puzzling picture, some of which written include:

“The Leader explained that whilst some Members felt that they had not had sufficient involvement in the process, the timescale was intended to deliver a draft plan and Members would have input at the appropriate time.”

And yet it was revealed that councillors were only invited to “briefings” rather than actual involvement. We, and they, are apparently left to imagine when “the appropriate time” would arise!

“The Chief Executive presented the comprehensive report to the Council.”
“Within the section dealing with Delivering a Sufficient Supply of Homes the strategic sites forming a crucial part of the plan were identified together with commentary about each site. Council was reminded that this was a twenty year plan and it might be some while before any of sites came forward for development and because of the sequential test those on Canvey were more likely to be towards the end of the plan period

The Irony here may easily be lost by both an Outsider or somebody living on the mainland!

No Housing development proposal has, to our knowledge, been refused “because of the Sequential Test” since the cpbc grovelling appeal some time ago, to the then Sir Michael Pitt and the Environment Agency, to lift the restriction on development on Canvey island due to the threat from Flooding.

That is of course with one Exception, the proposal for Stables for Horses!

The officer Report stated in refusing the application “The proposal seeks to provide a stable facility within Flood Zone 3, an area identified at risk of flooding and is not accompanied by,…..evidence that it meets the requirements of the sequential test”!

In effect it is unreasonable to put horses at Risk of Flooding, but residents and their properties, well that is just fine, as it suits the housing development growth distribution in the Borough.

How perverse are our Councillors, and how complicit our officers???

On Intervention
“11.2 A report was presented to Cabinet on intervention and its consequences in September 2018. Council is reminded that Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice. Intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a local plan. The Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process in Castle Point.”
“the Government”…..” will not allow the local plan, once agreed, to be frustrated by the development control process”

“The Secretary of State may direct that (development) applications that give effect to the proposals are “called in” for his own determination.” 

This may have appeared a confused threat to councillors and residents in the Jotmans Farm and Glebelands areas of the Borough, as on two occasions the Secretary of State himself had overturned the decisions of the Planning Inspectors in respect of Appeals against major Housing proposals in these areas!

Despite the Leader’s threat, to expect a telephone call from the Sec. Of State, in the morning following the decision, no Intervention update was available at the time of the December council meeting.

“Debate took place during which Members acknowledged the difficult decision (whether to approve the Local Plan) before the Council.

A number of Members recognised that they would have to set aside their views concerning the use of Green Belt land for building in order that an effective Local Plan could be delivered to retain control of local plan making in the Borough and future planning decisions for the benefit of the community and avoid the serious consequences of intervention.” 

Strange that this summary, above, of the debate should highlight this one aspect of the debate, as though some level of lesser thinking was employed by those councillors who refused to support the Local Plan 2018 motion.

“At the conclusion of the debate a vote was taken on the recommendations by show of hands which was lost narrowly by one vote.”

Quite a close run thing you may think until you note the councillors who were Absent:-” Councillors Mrs W. Goodwin, R.C. Howard, B.A. Palmer, J.A.Payne, Mrs. J. Payne, W.K.Sharp, A. Taylor and Mrs L. Wass”  “cllr Dick was taken ill during the meeting and left the chamber”.

Of these absent councillors 2, at least, were excluded from participation through their personal Interests.

That leaves 5 councillors who may have been reasonably expected to Vote Against the 2018 Local Plan’s adoption, that would have made a majority of 6, far, far less than a “narrow defeat!”

And besides why should councillors, if they consider a Plan to be bad for the local residents, be forced to support it?  Many of those councillors voting in favour of the Local Plan, were elected on saving the Castle Point Green Belt tickets. They may have been representing areas intended for far less development and far less loss of Green Belt compared with others, their argument weakened by the fact that one of the more undersubscribed schools in the Borough was supported against its proposed closure, by the CPBC ceo’s letter claiming that much new housing development was proposed via the Local Plan, within that school’s catchment area!

Councillors may have also voted against this Local Plan, due to being totally misled by the continuous promises of aspirational Highway and Junction improvements, contained within it!

No mention in the Council meeting Minutes of those many, many Residents locked out of the Council Building and prevented from attending the Local Plan meeting!

Was it just to appease the agitated residents, having made the effort and given up time on a cold, damp night to attend, that officers requested them to sign an attendance sheet so that “Councillors could be informed how many” were in the lock out predicament?

A poor and typical show from Castle Point council, that this appears to have not been considered worthy of reporting!

It would also appear contradictory for Government to appear to be refusing to support a so called, by some, national Bad Plan, that has been grabbing some headlines over the last couple of years, whilst denying CPBC the right to refuse to be strait-jacketed into accepting this Local Plan!

Jotmans Lane Tank.JPG.gallery

 

 

 

Residents in Castle Point wait to hear the Up Side of retaining the Local Plan In-House, rather than facing Government Intervention! Oh and how much Green Belt to be Released!

The latest public “announcement” on the Castle Point council Local Plan will be made during the cpbc cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19th September.

Residents will learn exactly what cpbc spokespeople actually meant when they stated they must keep the Local Plan within the council’s grasp, rather than face Government Intervention and all that that entailed!

In a report compiled by the ceo D Marchant, that may more aptly be delivered by wearing the cloak of the Grim Reaper, members will hear in clear terms the penalties that will befall residents of Castle Point, if they were not to fall in line and endorse whatever local plan messrs Smith, Marchant and Rogers enforce into publication.

Obviously there will be the intention to release more Green Belt land than was previously agreed, otherwise there would have been little need to delay progress of the 2016 local plan.

Instead Bureaucratic measures by this miserable triumvirate have taken over what should have been a democratic and public exercise!

“Intervention by Government in any area of local government business is a last resort and follows poor decision making and failure to follow Government direction and advice.

We have been reminded by Government that intervention is a sanction and should not be considered as an alternative mechanism to deliver a Local Plan.

We are aware that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to intervene in the local plan process.”

There then follows a further threat to Cabinet members, and other council members in attendance;

“In terms of decision-taking, the Government will wish to make certain after intervention that the statutory development plan and policies for the Borough will be implemented and will not allow the local plan once agreed to be frustrated by the Development Control process.

Consequently as the Borough Council had no role in the preparation of the plan, indications from the MHCLG are that the Secretary of State will exercise powers available to him to direct that any strategic planning applications submitted pursuant to the plan will be referred to the Planning Inspectorate directly rather than the Borough Council,”

“As one of the very few planning authorities under intense scrutiny by MHCLG* the Council remains at great risk of intervention and this will lead to considerable reputational damage on a national scale.”

*Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

BUT what if, this likely release of Green Belt and denser Urbanisation of previously developed land, fails to see Developers and Builders deliver the required Housing Needs of London and Castle Point?

It would be naíve to think that developers would build at a rate that would jeopardise the Market Price of Housing. What if the Governor of the Bank of England’s worse projection, a 30% fall in house prices following a bad Brexit, comes to fruition?

Will more land be required to be released because other developers have put forward alternative proposals to those in the Local Plan, which they suggest they are more able to deliver?

Government and local authorities cannot manipulate the market. previous delivery rates ARE relevant, especially when you remember that only Glebelands and part of Jotmans Farm have seen applications lodged and rejected in Castle Point for, a Total of 405 dwellings since 2010!

A cpbc Local Plan that proposes to Release anymore than the 100 Dwellings per Annum agreed by the local council in the 2016 local plan, will not only see protests by residents but will also likely lead to Polling day reaction.

We were promised Localism as the way forward in Plan making.

Instead we will likely see a Bureaucratic plan delivered by the leader of cpbc intended to satisfy the national government.

A Local Plan padded out with aspirational and undeliverable infrastructure and Sea Defence improvements AND a Plan that is Sequentially corrupt!

A new Report by  Lichfields warns of difficulties for local authorities in satisfying the Housing Delivery Test.

Lichfields write;

The housing delivery test (HDT) will become increasingly difficult to satisfy

“The HDT is a monitoring tool the Government will use to demonstrate whether local areas are building enough homes to meet their housing need. Based on the outcome of this monitoring, councils may be required to undertake further action in the near future.”

“In November 2018, the test will compare housing delivery (net additional dwellings plus communal housing) to housing need (the lower of the three years in an up-to-date local plan or household projections plus unmet neighbours’ need).”

The full Lichfield report may be read via this LINK.
maco

Local Plan – is it “Coming Home”, or Not? Roll up, Roll Up! Two Plans for the Price of just One – Castle Point’s Never had it so Good!

Canvey Island and Castle Point residents are being asked to add their opinions and thoughts to the latest Local Plan 2018 consultation process.

Town Centre
This is despite the fact that the Secretary of State, through the opinion of the Government’s Chief Planner, has yet to decide whether Castle Point council are deemed willing and capable of completing the Local Plan publication process themselves to the point of adoption!

The whole Castle Point Local Plan process is being carried out in a Rush under the threat of Intervention!

This despite the Secretary of State’s own office taking from 18 December 2015, when the Inspector issued his report into the Jotmans Farm housing Appeal inquiry, until the 21st April 2017, 16 whole months, to come to a decision. Apparently no hurry then to come to a planning decision, until an Election was imminent.

Residents entering the LP2018 process will note that there isn’t a Local Plan to actually consider, instead there are 2 !

Two Local Plans, from a single Evidence Base!

This shows, as Canvey Islanders should by now be aware, how “Local Factors” and politics can distort and manipulate the contents of Local Plans!

According to the cpbc Chief Executive officer up to 100,000 consultees are invited to respond, despite the 2011 population of Castle Point being just 88,011 and many of these being young children. this may lead to the Consultation response rate being skewed low! Previous response rates have been around just 12%

These Low response rates can lead to distortions of the “Feed Back” by the cpbc officers and our elected representatives. Previously, through these influences, we have seen Housing Growth directed onto Canvey Island despite Flood Risk being an issue, and the reduction of Housing Numbers, due to the concerns over Green Belt loss.

These influences on the Housing Growth have chiefly been in response to mainland residents concerns, indicated through the previous draft Local Plans consultations.

In recent times we have witnessed the pressure of residents and mainland councillors protest be successful in the prevention of the proposed Essex County Council closure of the Deanes school. This was strengthened by the cpbc chief executive’s supporting statement that there was to be a large Housing development site in the surrounding area, residents of which would be attending the Deanes to bring the attendance numbers nearer ECC expectations.

In contrast Canvey’s Castle View school, serving the most densely urbanised part of Castle Point and South Benfleet, was simply Closed!

A public facility closed, and sold off to a sectarian private enterprise.

The Paddocks, allowed to deteriorate despite money being available some years ago for improvements with a top up from CPBC funds, is now seen as a potential Housing development site.

If Canvey Island residents are tired of being dictated to, they must take the trouble to involve themselves in the Consultation.

This is crucial as, not only will a low response rate allow certain councillors to suggest that he, or she represents the “silent majority”, but will allow a potential disastrous Local Plan to emerge just so that it may appear CPBC are compliant with the 2 new strategic “Quango’s”, the “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) and the “Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”!

Dalliance with either or both will lead to major growth changes, both in population from the 90,000 dwellings across the area and traffic especially locally, with no infrastructure improvements. Canvey Island, purely due to its situation will always remain an outpost. However many people are managed to be housed here, little infrastructure will be forthcoming simply because we are in Austere times.

Infrastructure requires maintenance, ECC are not looking to spend more on maintenance!

For all of the Canvey Island Petitions and Referendum the past has proved that election words and promises are cheap, we need to accept that due to our location, the area is seen as Developable, whether Housing, Business or Industrial, yet little benefit or financial return is gained by Infrastructure improvements.

As it stands your Local plan consultation response, in the first instance, will be weighed against mainland responses.

If you  as a Canvey resident consider;

that Canvey Island has become over developed to the point that New Large Housing development sites are unviable,

that the Traffic Issues mean the potential congestion is unreasonable,

that Tidal Flood Risk is not taken seriously enough when distributing Housing Growth,

that the whole of the increasing Urbanised area of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area and the ever increasing development is putting too greater strain on the drainage system,

that the Road Access is inadequate for the current population, many of whom commute, and unsuitable and especially inadequate in the event of an Emergency Evacuation,

that in a severe Emergency, whether Flood Risk or Industrial, the sheer number of Residents on Canvey Island and the island’s location, mean that any response by the Emergency Services will be inadequate and a Danger to Life, despite responders best efforts,

that our Green Spaces and Green Belt are important to our well-being and should NOT be developed,

that our Town Centre is badly in need of Regeneration and Re-development and under serious threat from out of town shopping areas,

then you really should make the effort to Log onto the Castle Point council website and respond to the Consultation.

Otherwise it will be left to the Government, Council officers and the majority mainland representatives to impose on us “their” Local Plan.

To add your thoughts and concerns to the cpbc Local plan Consultation, log on HERE.

To view the documentation, log on HERE.

Canvey’s Dutch Village GB site back under Threat? Castle Point bc, not only can we produce a sound Local Plan, but we can do so at High Speed! “Watch this Space” indeed!

Short-termism appears to be the “Get Out” approach for Castle Point Borough Council to appease the Government’s intervention team.

Despite no Local Plan emerging over the past 20 years, the latest approach appears to be to crash out an interim 10 Year Plan including Green Belt development sites allocation, and hope for the best that normal service will be resumed with the assistance of our neighbouring Boroughs!
shutterstock_boot_crushing_man

The questions are, which Green Belt sites will be sacrificed in the rush to develop, and which Green Belt sites will developers actually agree with cpbc to build on?

Certainly potentially in the region of 900 dwellings are being installed at Canvey Island’s Sandy Bay, but the distinct threat remains that Canvey Island’s Dutch Village is also cpbc’s preferred Green Belt site in danger of development!

The opinion of outsiders is always useful to keep our feet on the ground, and to help us with that Planning Resource publication have produced their view of the position Castle Point council currently find themselves in, ahead of the secretary of State’s decision on whether cpbc are now trusted to be allowed to produce their own Local Plan under the watchful eye of Government.

As we know a greatly truncated approach has been adopted as the preferred approach of our Borough council, as a means of warding off Intervention in the Plan making process.

CPBC’s interpretation of the situation is directly below, whilst further below is how the “trade” press’ view.

“the Government has confirmed that it will intervene in plan-making in areas where councils without a post 2004 local plan have not submitted a plan for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate. This will reduce the control the local planning authority has over such matters. In March 2018, the Council received a letter from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming the intention to commence Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan. As of June 2018, the form of this Intervention had not been confirmed, but dialogue with the Ministry has confirmed the need for a Local Plan to be prepared to an accelerated timetable, and this Plan must focus on bringing forward new homes in the early part of the Plan period.”

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

“Logistically this could cause a higher volume of work in the processing and analysis of representations than accounted for in the LDS timetable, which could set it back.”

“To help reduce this risk, responses from the 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plan consultations will be used to assess public opinion. The 2014 and 2016 draft Local Plans will form the majority of the new Local Plan so previous consultation responses as well as updated evidence will help inform the Plan.”

“In February 2017, the Government introduced the proposition that all Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) be required to prepare a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ (SCG) to help manage strategic planning matters across local authority areas and strengthen the Duty to Cooperate”

“3.5 Castle Point
Castle Point is a relatively small local authority area just 4,500 hectares in size, with a population of 88,000 people. It sits at the heart of the South Essex sub-region on the northern bank of the Thames Estuary between the larger settlements of Basildon and Southend. It is these larger settlements, along with London, on which Castle Point relies for its employment, services and leisure opportunities.
The key planning issues comprise:
• the challenge of meeting housing need in a borough of significant Green Belt and other environmental constraints and where land availability is confined to small scale infill sites in the built-up area;
• the need to improve infrastructure to address congestion, historic underinvestment and provide capacity for growth;”

“9.1
Castle Point currently has no up to date local plan in place and has therefore been subject to potential government intervention. The Council will therefore prepare an interim local plan covering the next ten years and focusing on planning for housing, with the ambition of meeting local housing needs in this period. In the longer term, local housing needs will be considered through the strategic assessment and allocations prepared for the JSP.”

“The current estimated need for housing across South Essex is 90,000 dwellings over the next 20 years, but with the right conditions to support growth, more could be achieved. As part of the consideration of long term spatial options, the authorities are therefore exploring whether the development of new ‘Garden’ communities could offer a strategic solution to growth.”

“The South Essex Authorities estimate that up to 4,500 new homes will be needed each year to meet housing needs.” *

Planning Resource publisher’s opinion of the situation Castle Point find our / themselves in are reproduced here;

A group of seven Essex councils this month published a draft statement of common ground (SCG) designed to make sure they meet the challenging duty to cooperate. The statement commits them to preparation of a formal joint strategic plan for a green belt-constrained area where local plan processes have been hobbled by an inability to resolve local opposition to much-needed new homes.

The statutory joint plan is being pursued by six districts and boroughs – Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock – and Essex County Council. At the start of the year, they formed the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) to formalise joint working arrangements. According to the SCG, the joint plan will provide an “overarching framework within which more focused local development plans will be prepared”.

Requiring unanimous approval from all seven councils to go forward, the joint plan will set out housing targets and distribution as well as key employment sites and infrastructure priorities. Its prime purpose, commentators say, will be to decide where to find space for the required 90,000 new homes in south Essex over the next 20 years, given significant green belt constraints.

Consultant Catriona Riddell, who is advising ASELA, said: “With the area’s large proportion of green belt, all the authorities have challenges in terms of meeting housing needs, so they have decided that looking at strategic growth areas across south Essex would be the most deliverable and sustainable option.”

Nick Davey, partner at Brentwood-based planning consultant JTS, said determining housing allocations has been a big problem. “I feel sorry for the planners,” he said. “They have to try to meet objectively assessed need and that means releasing green belt, but they just can’t get members’ buy-in. All that’s happened since the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework is procrastination.”

The draft SCG doesn’t grasp this nettle.

Instead, it identifies five “strategic areas of opportunity” where housing may be located, all of which straddle local authority boundaries and thus leave exact allocations undetermined.

Riddell said the body has now commissioned a strategic growth study to further develop these proposals. “Some authorities will ultimately have to take a disproportionate share of the homes – those are the issues we haven’t got to yet. They need to stick together like glue,” she said.

The joint plan comes in the context of delays in local plan preparation led to three of the districts – Basildon, Brentwood and Castle Point – being threatened with intervention by former housing secretary Sajid Javid last year for their slow progress. In March, Javid pressed ahead with sending a government team in to scrutinise Castle Point’s local plan preparation arrangements. He told Brentwood and Basildon they’d face no further action, but warned he’d keep a close eye on them.

Castle Point’s last attempt at a local plan, which left 300 of its 400 homes-a-year housing need unmet, was withdrawn last year after failing the duty to cooperate. It is now seeking approval from the government to develop an interim local plan covering just five to ten years, allowing it to avoid large green belt allocations and leaving responsibility for further allocations to the joint planning process.

Riddell said: “The vital thing is that any intervention doesn’t compromise the joint planning effort by forcing Castle Point to release green belt that, from a wider south Essex point of view, might not be in the right place.”

Some fear, however, that the joint plan process will be used to justify continued delay. Tony Collins, owner of consultancy Collins & Coward, said: “Joint plans take a long time to draw up and even longer to deliver. The government wants delivery but joint planning is only going to slow things down.”

Riddell recognised government fears that the joint plan promises “jam tomorrow”, but pointed out that the SCG, once approved, will commit the ASELA authorities to an “accelerated timetable” that will see a draft plan consulted upon early next year, with submission for examination a year later. “It’s really fast,” she said. “These concerns are totally unfounded.”

* 6 Jun 2018 – Special Meeting of Castle Point Borough Council agenda appendices.

To Intervene or to Not Intervene, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, as Simple Minded and Disobedient Canvey Folk suffer, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.

Much will be read and disclosed over the next year or so, when it will be wondered whether the June 2018 decision by Castle Point council, to rush into a Local Plan schedule, with the prospect of a New Local Plan approved by Council for publication by November followed by submission to the Inspectorate in April 2019, or alternatively to face the prospect of Government Intervention, is the best path to tread, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

And so it was, when the cpbc chief executive, the council leader and his deputy, stated the case for cpbc seeking to retain control of its Local Plan making, rather than allow Intervention from the Government Planner.

The councillors and residents were not permitted an address from the Government chief planner, choices and their consequences were expressed only third hand delivered by the cpbc triumvirate.

But whilst keeping control of the Local Plan process is in the very best interests of parts of the mainland, is it also in the best interests of Canvey Island, a reasonable question to ask?

Harking back to the Core Strategy we exposed a Plot by the “Ruling” mainland party to sacrifice Canvey’s Dutch Village Green Belt site, as the sole Green Belt site released for development, so as to appease their mainland concerns and allow publication of a cpbc Core Strategy, local plan!

We remember well, the mainland residents Green Belt campaign group, during the council Task and Finish group meeting, standing to address council members confirming that they agreed and supported the Plan “in its entirety!”

Where was the “united” Borough then?

When the Core Strategy was rejected by the Examining Inspector due to the unreasonable Housing Growth Distribution and the Dutch Village site being, a Green Belt site within a Flood Risk Zone, the cpbc ceo made sure that the Dutch Village remained within the list of Green Belt sites for development, whilst adding some mainland sites to meet the Housing Need of the Borough, within the 2014 daft Local Plan!

Of course the retention of the Canvey Dutch Village site, despite the Inspector’s opinion, meant that one large mainland site would be saved from development.

Now by returning to the 2014 draft local Plan as a starting place for the 2018 Local Plan, concerns return as to whether it is intelligent and responsible for Canvey residents to put their faith, as we are being told and advised so to do, within the “Ruling” party’s successful motion to Control the 2018 local Plan.

“sometimes orders given to the simple-minded have to be reinforced with a threat, a suggestion that something terrible will happen to the disobedient,”

The threat has been delivered and something terrible may still apparently happen!

We are reminded that the Dutch Village site is owned by Persimmon, implying that this would speed the process through Planning resulting in an early supply of Housing, For The Borough!

Meanwhile, the more lucrative development sites elsewhere in the Borough would, following this logic, remain undeveloped for longer, especially when the ongoing development of approximately 900 Sandy Bay Park Homes, also on Canvey Island, are put into the equation!

This may encourage some conspiracy theory, has the call for sites from cpbc entailed dealings between officers members and developers as to which site or sites would be released in which order, specifically if the developer were to agree to initially focus on Dutch Village first?

As it stands in practise cpbc focus on applying constraints on development in the so called “virgin” Green Belt areas of the Borough. Canvey Island Flood Risk is also applied to the constraints so as to limit numbers, but that constraint is applied to housing Need numbers across the whole Borough, rather than Canvey Island in particular!

Making cpbc’s approach to the application of the Sequential Test simply contrived and, a Farce!

But can Canvey residents be certain that the Government Planner would apply to Canvey Island, the supposed Constraints on Housing Development such as Flood Risk, the threat to what remains of its Green Belt and the Hazardous Industrial sites any less fairly than the cpbc “Ruling” party and officers?

Especially going by their proven Local Planning track record!

Under Cllr Riley’s regime Canvey fared better than during any of the previous attempts at Plan making.

Now Cllr Riley has been side lined by the Triumvirate now in control, and previously chiefly responsible for the 2014 daft Local Plan, despite two of them apparently also claiming to support the 2016 Plan’s attempt to constrain the borough’s Housing Numbers!

To mainlanders these thoughts may sound pessimistic and overly cautious, however being fed rumours and not having the access to decision makers that some residents appear to have, however furtive, leads to a lack of an Open and Transparent Local Plan process.

Faith in Leaders must be Earned, Blind Faith is a dangerous option.

PLANING-APPEAL-SIGN

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Plan making is expected to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Horses Mouth:

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

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

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

Link to the Echo article is HERE.