Tag Archives: Secretary of State

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.

Maldon shows Castle Point the Way for our Developer driven Local Plan?

The speed of progress, or lack of, with the Castle Point Local Plan has been noted by the potential developers of the Glebelands Green Belt site (Echo July1st).

It was during a Councillors Conference as long ago as  September 2011, that the required additional sites were considered, at the Core Strategy(CS) Examination Inspector’s suggestion.

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Since then the CS was withdrawn by the Council, despite the offer of assistance to officers and councillors by the Planning Inspector.

A daft New Local Plan was published for consultation during January 2014.

The resulting consultation responses being considered by a Task and Finish group from the 39th July 2014 up until 4th March 2015, when the work appears to have effectively become suspended.

The Glebelands Appeal appears to be dictating the direction the Local Plan process may take.

At the previous Glebeland Appeal the Secretary of State, in his decision to dismiss the Appeal, was assured “the Council accepted that the new Local Plan should adopt a housing target of 200 dwellings per annum (plus a 20% addition); that a number of strategic locations be included within the first 5 year period; and that this included a number of GB sites…”

The Secretary of State considered that;

“He share’s the Inspector’s conclusions that the requirement figure for assessing the 5-year forward supply should be 2,350 dwellings”

Furthermore; “he does not agree with the Inspector’s comment at IR339 that the current programme for adoption looks somewhat optimistic, especially in the light of the Council’s experience with the now aborted Core Strategy (CS). In the Secretary of State’s view, whilst the now withdrawn CS was in preparation, there were no real drivers to ensure that the Council pressed ahead. With the publication of the NPPF, he is more positive than the Inspector that the Council can achieve its’ programme for LP adoption, especially given the drivers within it.”

The views of the Secretary of State were delivered 26th June 2013.

The Local Development Scheme timetable, issued January 2014, indicates the intention to submit the Local Plan during September 2014 for Examination during December 2014 aiming for Adoption March this year (2015) !

In the light of the Local Plan’s timetable “over run” and the Secretary of State’s support of CPBC, the Department’s confidence may have become tenuous!

During this timetable we have noted the effort of our MP Rebecca Harris in organising  “private” training sessions for councillors involving a senior Planning Inspector plus two meetings with senior Government Ministers for further advice and direction.

In the background councillors have exhibited unrest with the daft New Local Plan and sought to examine an alternative Green Belt site with huge development potential off of the A130 / A127 albeit with ownership, access and utility constrictions.

This hesitation in direction of the Local Plan will add strength to the Glebeland’s developers Appeal defence.

It does however highlight the lack of support that residents have for the Local Plan as it currently appears.

In the background we have heard descriptions of virgin and precious being applied to some Green Belt land whilst other possibly similarly functioning Green Belt areas may be receiving less support against development.

Rebecca Harris points out the Planning Guidance issued to support the NPPF indicates means of defending Green Belt from development when Local Plan making.

The stalling of progress with the direction the CPBC Local Plan appears to have taken suggests that the Lead Group of councillors are unclear whether it is prudent to revise the New Local Plan or to stick with the current unpopular version.

The delay in decision making may be for fear of looking over their shoulders and seeing Glebelands developers taking advantage./

This is leaving the decision making down to the Planning Inspectorate.

In the case of large development in the Green Belt it is usual for the Secretary of State to make a final decision, as it will be in this case although whether it is also usual for the examining Inspector to not give his decision also, I am not so sure.

This may well save political embarrassment.

I would assume, following her interventions, our MP may well be becoming frustrated at the ineffectiveness of councillors in re-directing a Local Plan to suit the Borough.

Recently Maldon Council, also frustrated by the Examining Inspector’s views on their Local Plan have taken an initiative that may well have been noted locally. They have issued a statement that reads;

Published on Wednesday 10th June 2015

Maldon District Council has welcomed that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, has “directed that Maldon District Council’s emerging local plan is submitted to him for his approval.”

Following a request from Maldon District Council for the Secretary of State to intervene, he has ‘issued a direction’ on the basis that this is “to test whether the planning inspector has taken a proportionate and balanced view on the local plan as a whole in the light of national planning policy.”

Whilst this request revolves chiefly around the supply of travellers pitches, it does indicate the potential value of our local MP seeking, and receiving, the planning policy advice of senior Ministers.

This knowledge could then be filtered into the Local Plan making process with some confidence that a suitable acceptable Plan may be achieved.

Our process seems focussed and stifled by the fear of what may be achieved by developers in the interim. This may well lead to disappointment either way, whether the Plan is altered or not. What can be certain is that indecision will solve nothing.

1049

Perhaps “Our Becky’s” working relationship with senior Ministers could be the important advantageous factor in this process!