Tag Archives: Thorney Bay

Canvey Island, is there Foundation for Park Homes Boost at Roscommon Way’s Expense!

It almost appears inevitable that Canvey Island will once again supply the bulk of the Borough’s Housing Delivery in the near future!

The all important Local Plan 5 Year Housing Supply will be boosted, or drained, by the success of the Sandy Bay venture at the Thorney Bay caravan site.

The potential for 1,000+ dwellings, will impact upon the area for better or worse, one of the major impacts, is seemingly the death knell of the Roscommon Way final extension. That is unless the cpbc cabinet’s appeal to Essex County Council to intervene, produces a significant U-turn in the developer’s plans for the Park Homes site.

From the Map below it is difficult to envisage a different route for the Roscommon Way extension that would not divide or disrupt the Sandy Bay site and its community, nor one that would not involve substantial Compulsory Purchase Orders.

Screenshot (3)

copyright: Google

The Sandy Bay development is aimed at the over 50’s and retirees, people who will have invested substantial sums and expect the use of the facilities on offer as well as an element of peace and quiet. A main commuter route that may divide the Park Homes site would prove an obstacle in creating the proposed facility. One can only hope that ECC can come up with a solution, otherwise the almost annual, call for road infrastructure improvement funding for Canvey Island, will be added to that of Canvey Way and Somnes Avenue!

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Thorney Bay site the Green Light to switch tack from the application for 600+ “bricks and mortar dwellings, to an even more numerous Park Home development.

” ‘Park Home’ is the industry name for a caravan which is used for residential purpose.

National Planning Policy, as reflected in the NPPF, requires Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to produce Local Plans that will deliver the full, Objectively Assessed Needs (OAN), for market and affordable housing in the housing market area. The Government’s online Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) sets out the methodology for assessing housing need; it refers to specific types of housing which should be considered. No reference is made to Park Homes or residential caravans. Accordingly, there is no duty for LPAs to forward plan for provision of this type of housing.”

“”…the needs of people residing in or resorting to their district with respect to the provision of-  (a) sites on which caravans can be stationed…”

This suggests that local housing authorities (this includes District Councils and London Borough Councils) will need to start forward planning for provision of residential caravans.
This is a significant step change from other recent planning legislation because it is the first time non-gypsy caravans have been recognised as having a role in contributing towards the supply of housing in a given area.” *

All along CPBC have stated that their planning control powers are restricted to the point of no influence, this despite the apparent desire through the many versions of their Local Plan intending to seek central funding to provide the residents to the Eastern and Southern part of Canvey Island relief from the congested routes off of and onto the Island.

A balance between Homes, Congestion Relief and Profit, with congestion relief finishing an out of site 3rd!

Prior to the 2016 Housing Act it may have been necessary for a development application for Sandy Bay to have gone through the planning channels at CPBC. An apparent similar proposal went before Chelmsford Council’s planners, this site also is subject to Flood Risk so would have required sending to the Environment Agency, as consultees, for consideration. 

The use of the 2016 Housing Act, allows the Sandy Bay site to evolve outside of the Local Plan and cpbc planning processes.

Essex County Council may also have reservations in pursuing the remainder of the Roscommon Way link, as the original phases, whether as a cost saving exercise or not, were constructed with a shortened Life Span.**

The completion, however, of the final phase of Roscommon Way would increase usage of the existing phases from commuter, leisure and industrial vehicles, both hazardous and non-hazardous. ECC would need to ask what would be the likely effect of the increased usage on the road foundations, and subsequently the hazardous pipework beneath the existing Roscommon Way, especially where vehicles are filtered into the single lane areas of the carriageway?

Usually the provision of new Highways are restricted by the levels of new Business Use, rather than a level of commuter congestion. The completed stages of the Roscommon Way fulfilled this requirement, it will need compelling evidence, which may have come from a traditional “bricks and mortar” development at Thorney Bay, for the completion phase to be realised.

The problems of developing on Canvey Island are manifold, that one developer appears to understand ways of traversing these obstacles, is clear.

The residents of Canvey Island  are now encouraged by cpbc to direct their hopes and protest for highway congestion relief towards Essex County Council!

*The views of Sanderson Weatherall.                                                            http://sw.co.uk/property-consultancy/planning/911-the-housing-and-planning-act-2016

** http://planning.chelmsford.gov.uk/Planning/lg/dialog.page?Param=lg.Planning&org.apache.shale.dialog.DIALOG_NAME=gfplanningsearch&viewdocs=true&SDescription=14/00722/FUL

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Would you choose to get Involved with Castle Point’s Local Plan if you didn’t have to Sajid Javid?

Thorney Bay, Jotmans Farm, Green Belt, Flood Risk, Travellers, Duty to Cooperate, Period of Purdah, Reasons why the Government are Unlikely to Intervene in Castle Point Local Plan Process.

What are the likelihoods of Intervention, from an uneducated viewpoint?

The Intervention by a Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, in the Local Plan process at Castle Point would appear a highly unusual step to be taken.

Previous local intervention by SoS Sajid Javid included the Jotmans Farm Appeal and his Dismissal decision of his Planning Inspector, released on the 21st April 2017.

General Election 8th June 2017

Period of Purdah starts 22nd April 2017 (coincidence?)

Purdah: Purdah is the official pre-election period between the election announcement and final results which places restrictions of civil servants.                                                         Local and central governments will continue with business as usual, but must be careful not to take any action or make any announcements that could show affiliation to a political party. The litmus test is: “Could a reasonable person conclude that you were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?”

The Jotmans decision’s Pro and Cons included;

Report on the Examination of the Castle Point New Local Plan 2016, which concluded that the duty to co-operate had not been complied with. The Council determined to withdraw the dNLP 2016.

The CPBC’s failure to save LP Policy GB1, the Green Belt designation, shown on the Proposals Map, persists

Given the withdrawal of the dNLP, the Secretary of State takes the view that no weight can be afforded to the withdrawn policies.

He (SoS) further agrees that substantial weight should be given to any harm to the Green Belt.

He agrees that the degree of landscape harm caused by the proposal would be limited

He shares the Inspector’s view that the proposal could lead to an improvement in the existing situation, and that issues around flooding do not weigh against the proposal.

He considers that concerns about the potential impact of construction traffic can be addressed by means of conditions, or by the Highway Authority

He 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

He further agrees that the creation or securing of jobs, the generation of economic activity in the construction process and the stimulation of the local economy carry a considerable degree of weight in favour

He has also taken into account the Written Ministerial Statement confirming the Government’s policy 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’. He considers that this policy carries more force than the Inspector attributes to it.

The proposal is therefore in conflict with national policy on the Green Belt,.

*Green Belt and Flood Risk are both mentioned equally in regards to the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development at Footnote 9 of the NPPF, exceptions include;

policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

For example… land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space… and locations at risk of flooding…

*The weight given to “the best interests of the child” in regard to outweighing Harm to the Green Belt would quite reasonably be interpreted to include Flood Risk.
This would bear relationship to Travellers sites where guidance is given in the proposed siting; “do not locate sites in areas at high risk of flooding, including functional floodplains, given the particular vulnerability of caravans”
The type of Travellers Homes are likely to include caravans and mobile homes style accommodation.
Interesting then that Castle Point Council take no involvement, nor intervention in the Thorney Bay, shortly to become Sandy Bay development, given that the numbers of dwellings would make it THE largest Housing Supply site in the Castle Point Local Plan.

That CPBC are busying themselves with Cooperation Duties with our Neighbouring Councils, it may appear that Intervention measures by the Secretary of State of CPBC Local Plan processes may be considered surprising, should they eventually materialise.

But then you Never Know, do you?

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!

 

Since when did Canvey Island become the New Klondike?

Canvey Island, the only town with a Housing Crisis?

Well it certainly appears to be the ONLY town in the Borough of Castle Point to be!

Attracted by the apparent “open spaces”, according to the Echo, Canvey is now expected to be the answer to London’s Housing Crisis, as well as providing Housing for its own “Distinct Community”!

The latest Carrot dangled before local politicians is the £2,000,000,000 extra government funding to assist the country’s “Broken Housing Market”.

Whilst Thorney Bay has been the answer to many local authorities own housing problems, the regeneration of the site into Sandy Bay, now appears to mean these housing problems are now, solely Canvey Island’s problem!

The lack of Affordable Homes has been created by weak local authorities, as is castle point council, that have accepted “viability” as an excuse by developers to negate their conditional agreements to supply affordable dwellings. In Castle Point this was demonstrated when the Kiln road developer was excused affordable housing provision by development committee consent, even though houses were being sold for £600,000 each!

The impression given now by cpbc spokesperson is that the rehoming of Thorney Bay residents will be Canvey Island’s responsibility. Fair enough except that the current London influx means the crisis may not be Housing but Services and Transport.

The Borough have accepted Taxes from Thorney Bay, quite obviously re-housing IS a Borough responsibility! Why are Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley areas allowed to cower down behind Canvey Island? Why isn’t the stagnant population growth and ageing population a problem in other parts of Castle Point?

How far we are expected to believe the enormous figure of £2,000,000,000 towards affordable housing will stretch?

There are 326 in England alone, with Castle point being one of the smallest. Supposing the money was distributed evenly, which is unlikely, cpbc may receive £6 million.

If a Flat could be supplied at £150,000, this would attract a subsidy out of the £6 million of approximately £41 per dwelling !

wolf

Cpbc are energetic in attempting to receive their fair share of government grants, but their record in actually receiving the requested funds and infrastructure, such as the second access route for Canvey and the £24,500,000 on drainage improvements, appears less successful.

Until the Constraints, identified within the NPPF, are addressed fairly and evenly across the Borough, within the draft New Local Plan vers.III, then these appeals for Government Cash are quite correctly going elsewhere to more deserving causes. 

Perhaps cpbc members have cried Wolf, once too often!

Photo: Favim.com

We Must Build on Canvey Island in the interests of Sustainability, regardless of no future plan to Care for those made Homeless! And Inside Housing Report on Thorney Bay.

Soon Castle Point Council may well be faced with a Housing problem. One that has not been publically discussed, but nevertheless will one day soon need to be addressed. One that is out of the local authority’s ability to address or control.

Thorney Bay is “Home” to many people and families who, through no fault of their own, are in need of decent living accommodation.

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

Some families may have been relocated to Canvey Island from distant areas, and now consider Canvey AND Castle Point their home.

Castle Point Council point out;

“In a very broad sense the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement. To this extent the proposal does therefore have sustainability benefits. However, it must also be remembered that at the present time the site is occupied by park homes. These are single storey, relatively lightweight structures, which would offer little resistance to flood waters. The replacement of these structures with robust brick buildings, incorporating flood resilience measures and providing safe refuge in the event of a flood is considered to represent a significant sustainability benefit which far outweighs flood risk. In risk terms the proposal is considered to offer significant benefits for occupiers of the site”.

So as far as the “No Threat from Tidal Flooding” brigade are concerned, CPBC are also, it appears scare-mongerers! Or at least they are when it suits them!!

How kind of them to consider that they are compelled to continue developing on Canvey, for our own benefit!!!

Never mind that the increased Population and Property at Risk on the Island may have less sustainability benefits, and indeed may cause Economic Blight!

The substantial Land Raising that has been carried out on the Thorney Bay site, appears to be of little or no concern of Castle Point Council, this despite the implications for off-site Flood Risk, both from Tidal and Surface Water sources, to neighbouring properties in the Thorney Bay area!

Currently Thorney Bay has been identified in “recent” draft editions of their Local Plan as being allocated for Housing development of in excess of 600 dwellings.

Permission has been levered through,by CPBC development committee,  for a first phase of 89 Detached Dwellings plus 24 Flats.

Surprisingly, or perhaps Not, prior to any “bricks and mortar” dwellings, which would offer more “resistance to flood waters”, the site owners are going ahead with installing a new Park Home estate.

A Park Homes development at Thorney Bay, or Sandy Bay, presumably will side step the “agreed” requirements for the developer to provide;

affordable housing, £241 per Resident Dwelling towards the provision of adult social care, £73,774 per 100 Residential Dwellings towards post sixteen education services, £97.42 per Residential Dwelling towards adult education services, Net Early Years and Childcare Pupil Product contribution, £281.48 per Residential Dwelling towards the County’s library services on Canvey Island, additional access onto Thorney Bay Road in the form of a roundabout junction and access road, this Schedule requiring the Developer and Owner to transfer free from incumbrances the Roscommon Way Phase 2 Land to the County or the County’s Nominee, the provision of a 19m undeveloped and unfettered development protection zone, measured from the landward toe of the existing tidal defences and the financial contribution of £100,000 Index Linked towards the capital construction costs of the first phase of tidal defence improvements required by c.2040. 

CPBC themselves, appear to have a very low and demeaning opinion of the current occupants of Thorney Bay, indicating no comments on the local authority’s responsibilities towards their likely re-homing requirements;

” It is considered that Thorney Bay has contributed in the region of 330 additional permanent residential homes to the overall housing provision within Castle Point in the period 2001 to 2011.”

” Due to the relatively low costs of this accommodation compared to that on offer in London, the site has been advertised there, attracting a large wave of migrants in addition to local people in need of cheap and/or quickly available accommodation. This has resulted in the rapid creation, since 2006, of a low income, vulnerable community including many families with children.”

“when compared to other local authority areas in England, Castle Point has the 2nd highest proportion of households living in caravans in 2011.

In 2001 Castle Point had the 31st highest proportion of households living in caravans.”

“Due to these issues there is support for proposals to redevelop a significant proportion of the site (Thorney Bay) for traditional homes. However, it is the intention of the owner to retain a smaller caravan park of 300 caravans for residential use towards the west of the existing site.

The Council need to consider how it will ensure that the socio-economic issues that have arisen on the larger site do not occur again on the smaller site, and also how this smaller site should be brought forward in a way that co-exists happily alongside the larger community as Holehaven Caravan Park, Kings Park and Kingsley Park do.

In this regard it is recommended that the Council work with the Thorney Bay owner to ensure that the quality of accommodation, the tenure arrangements and the pace of provision are appropriate to ensuring the health and well-being of residents and creating a more stable community.”

“Thorney Bay meanwhile, also experiences issues associated with unemployment and crime. There are also a number of young people living in income deprivation upon the site. This has long-term consequences for the ability of these children to achieve their potential, and for the community in terms of supporting an economically inactive population. “

“Thorney Bay however has wider implications for the local community and the local economy. The use of mobile homes for accommodation has acted to concentrate low income families, resulting in a concentration of unemployed people, children experiencing income deprivation and increased criminal activity. “

This issue has been picked up on by the UK’s building and development press:

Inside Housing article

Thousands of people on low incomes are choosing to live in caravans and mobile homes.

Martin Hilditch uncovers a hidden world that raises questions about the housing benefit system.

” Leanne McGowan lives with her daughter and two sons in a three-bedroom caravan in Canvey Island. It’s a squeeze. Her three-year-old son and seven year-old daughter share, while Ms McGowan and her fourteen-year-old son sleep in the remaining rooms.

Lack of options

The kids are at school now, but their scattered playthings mean their presence is still felt – a toy gun and motorbike lie on the floor and four Teletubbies are lined up like ornaments on a shelf in one corner of the room.

Ms McGowan occupies one of hundreds of static caravans that are sandwiched between a small, sandy beach and the looming terminals of a Calor Gas plant. She’s lived on the site for two years and housing benefit covers most, but not all, of the rent. She has to pay£18 a week top-up to cover the remainder. “It ain’t easy,” she says.

She ended up on the site after the landlord of the nearby private rented home she previously lived in sold the house.

“I didn’t have a choice when I moved here,” she says, adding that she thought the move would “just be short term”. But trying to get into another house that is affordable on housing benefit has proved impossible. “I phoned up all the [lettings] agents,” she says. “They never have anything at all.”

She’s lived in the caravan ever since. “It is cramped,” she admits, saying ultimately that “I don’t think it is suitable for families to be in here.”

Sitting between two electric heaters, Ms McGowan admits that the caravan gets “ever so cold” in the winter – and keeping it warm is an expensive business. She has spent £4 on heating in less than 24 hours. In the winter months the family sometimes keeps warm by effectively living in the lounge. “We get the mattresses in here,” she says. “We sleep here sometimes, yes. I don’t mind being cold, but it’s the kids. It is like we are camping out in the front room.”

The site itself is “not a bad place to be”, says Ms McGowan, who is on a waiting list for a council home.She adds that it’s well-maintained and there’s a friendly atmosphere. “There are some nice people on here and they look after each other,” she says. “It’s nice in that respect. We are all in the same situation.”

She’s not wrong there. In fact, there are currently 268 housing benefit claims registered to addresses on the site. Research carried out by Inside Housing this year has revealed Canvey Island’s Thorney Bay Village has more housing benefit claims registered to it than any other caravan or mobile home site in the UK. Last year, £1.9m of housing benefit was paid to addresses here. Our investigation reveals that the residents of Thorney Bay Village are far from unique. In fact, we found that there are thousands of people on low incomes currently living in caravan and mobile home parks across the UK. Responses received between May and August this year reveal the 271 councils that provided information to Inside Housing made more than 12,000 housing benefit payments to addresses on caravan and mobile home parks in the UK – with 11,162 of these being made in England (an average of 47 claims per authority. See box: Caravan counts).

The payments, obviously,do not reveal people’s motivations for making these choices – and clearly there will be variations in quality between permanent mobile homes and holiday caravans that people are occupying permanently.Nonetheless it does reveal a significant number of people living in non-traditional housing that the majority of councils know next to nothing about. Almost everyone Inside Housing spoke to at Thorney Bay Village cited affordability as one of their central reasons for ending up on the site.

The research certainly raises some serious questions, according to Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at homelessness charity Crisis.

“This investigation has revealed millions of pounds of benefits being spent on keeping people incompletely substandard living conditions,” he says. “This sorry state of affairs is a direct result of cuts to housing benefit combined with the failure of a succession of governments to build enough decent, affordable homes.”

Certainly, the availability of housing benefit is driving decision-making for a number of residents living in Thorney Bay Village – and housing benefit did not even cover the full rental cost of a caravan for any of the occupants Inside Housing met. Rents ranged from £145 to £175 a week, based on the people we spoke to. One woman, who lives in a van with her young children, said she was topping up her housing benefit to cover the rent. She picked the site because“it was this or a hostel”, she adds.

Other residents are more enthusiastic. Dean Simmonds and Helen Davies live in a three-bed caravan with Ms Davies’ two children. Helen has lived there for more than four years since moving from her native Wales (and a Welsh flag hangs proudly outside the couple’s home). Their front room is the picture of domestic life, with paintings by the kids decorating the wall and photos of the children dotted around the place.

“I love it here,” Ms Davies says. “The camp is very clean all the time.” The couple’s van is spotlessly tidy, but Ms Davies admits that the festive season is more complicated when you live in a caravan. “At Christmas time you have got to think about what [presents] you’re getting because you have got to find somewhere to put it,” she says with a laugh. Ms Davies pays £18 a week top-up to cover her rent, and says she has fallen slightly into arrears as a result. A similar story is told by a couple of other residents.

Clearly the fact that housing benefit can’t even cover the cost of a static caravan – when people on low incomes are choosing to live there because they are seen as the most affordable option locally – raises its own questions. Like Mr Downie, a spokesperson for Castle Point Council points a finger at the housing benefit system. The council is currently making 468 housing benefit payments to addresses on caravan and mobile home sites – more than any other local authority in the UK.

Thorney Bay’s caravanners’ struggles to cover the rent from housing benefit “is not unique to Thorney Bay”, the spokesperson suggests. “This is the story behind the majority of housing benefit cases within the private sector, where housing benefit is based on Local Housing Allowance rent levels, which do not reflect the increase year-on-year of the private rental market.”

Gathering evidence

Other councils have been investigating their caravan and mobile home populations too in recent years. In 2014, Folkestone Council found“emerging evidence from around the district that some residents are occupying holiday-let caravans as their main or sole home”. It found 45 occupants in receipt of housing benefit from holiday-let caravans. Denbighshire Council estimated that “175 individuals in the county were living all year round in‘holiday’ caravans.”

Some sites are marketing caravans specifically as a solution for people on low incomes. A post earlier this year on spareroom.co.uk advertised caravans in Greetham, Rutland for £90,stating that “DSS is welcome” and people could move into “not just a room – a full caravan to yourself at room rates”. And Falcon Mobile Homes makes an explicit pitch on Facebook to people on low incomes, asking: “Are you receiving housing benefit? If so you can rent one of our static caravans”.

Posts on property websites provide a snapshot into the lives of some people looking for or living in caravans. One 47-year-old man posting on Gumtree says he and his dog“desperately need a home as we have become homeless” and is looking for a flat,a house or a caravan. Other people are looking to move out of vans. One woman posts on behalf of her mother saying she is “currently sofa surfing from my house to a crabby broken caravan” and is “in desperate need of a home so she can have my brother live with her again”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions says it has “no evidence that use of this type of accommodation is increasing or that there is any link to welfare reform”.

While many councils appear to have little idea about the extent to which people are living permanently in caravans and mobile homes in their areas, some local authorities have carried out specific pieces of research – presenting them with an unanticipated windfall.

East Lindsey Council, for example, launched a review at the end of 2014 into the occupation of caravan/chalet sites and said residents had raised concerns about “breaches of occupancy at caravan sites”.

The results of East Lindsey’s research took it by surprise. It uncovered 502 residents living in mobile homes or caravans. In turn, the council effectively suggests the work has brought 502 “new” homes into use. This has led it to claim New Homes Bonus– the grant paid by the government to councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas.

Since the review was started it has successfully claimed £605,000 of New Homes Bonus for these properties, according to a council spokesperson. It’s not alone; a company called Mobile Homes Review claimed it has generated £4.2m in additional New Homes Bonus funding in 2014 by registering 700 mobile homes in seven local authority areas.

Ros Pritchard, director general of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, stresses that more research is needed to find out if claims were being made from high-quality residential parks (that look like “lovely bungalows”) or holiday accommodation.“Residential parks are an enormous form of low-cost market housing,” she adds.

Nevertheless, the scale of housing benefit payments uncovered by Inside Housing’s investigation suggests that more research should be carried out by councils and the government into the reasons people on low incomes are choosing to live in caravans and mobile homes – and the quality of the accommodation available to them.

Back at Thorney Bay Village, we meet Paul Birch and his husband Tom. They moved to the site after becoming homeless and had previously lived in a transit van for a month. The unpacked removal boxes in the corner of their room reveal the couple don’t see this as their permanent home. They have been on the site for the past year –and say winter is the worst time.

“The winter was hell,” Mr Birch states. “It is like a fridge.” His husband says they spent £35 a week on heating the van last winter. Both are looking forward to the future – as the removal boxes indicate. “As soon as we move out, hopefully it will be onwards and upwards,” Mr Birch says.”

Hypocrisy, the Use of Substitutes, a Deciding Vote and a Divided Borough? Sequentially Unsound!

It appeared that what can only be described as a level of Hypocrisy was displayed by certain Castle Point Development Committee members towards a view suggested by the opposition group at the 5th September’s meeting!

The suggestion appeared that Canvey was, put simplistically, being targeted for development so as to protect the mainland areas. It was expressed that Canvey should not be portrayed as an individual area, rather than an equal part of the whole Borough of Castle Point.

However the whole basis of the Flood Risk Sequential Test, as interpreted by Castle Point Council, is to treat Canvey Island in isolation!

“it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

” Canvey needs continued development if it is to continue to thrive economically. A lack of housebuilding on the island could mean that the island stagnates in economic terms which is likely to affect opportunities for employment. “

Indeed the Thorney Bay proposal for 600+ dwellings  was subject to a CPBC Planning Policy statement stating that “the site was identified as having the potential to contribute towards the 5 Year Housing Supply (of the Borough)”!

Regardless of the application being considered, whether for a single unit or a proposal for over 600 dwellings on Canvey Island, it is fairly clear that using this interpretation of the Sequential Test to support development proposals, there is no likelihood of any planning proposal Failing the Test!

It is a convenient and flimsy argument to accuse Islanders of focussing on cpbc’s apparent approach to Canvey development, whilst the Sequential Test is used to do precisely that!

It should be of concern, that since Canvey land was designated for the use of Housing in the 1998 Local Plan, and that since the Sequential Test approach towards its application on Canvey development proposals was adopted by CPBC in 2007, these events have occurred and these Reports have been published;

  • The Pitt Review-Learning Lessons from the 2007 floods. (Published 2008) !!!
  • The CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment published in 2010. (In itself due an Update.)
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2013.
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2014.
  • Government Office for Science – Canvey Island Section 19 Report
  • The requested Drainage Improvement / Upgrade funding has not materialised.
  • We learned that the land on Canvey Island has a High Water Table, subject to influence by the Tidal Water encroaching Under the Sea Defences. (Land East of Canvey Road document).
  • The Integrated Urban Drainage Study was published, which challenged the credibility of the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan published 2012.

Quite clearly the Castle Point Council approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island in isolation, is Obsolete and Unjustified!

Attenuation Tanks were discussed as a means of a suitable drainage system. Had the committee not considered that Canvey has a High Water Table, now known to be subject to Tidal influence? In this case the Tank would be sunk into the application site property, how efficient would this system of drainage be?

Photo Police helicopter 2014

The focus of the drainage system needs to be to prevent off-site flooding of neighbouring property and land. Without going through the exercise of producing a Practical Model on Canvey island and monitoring over an extended period councillors should not be in a position to simply go by unsubstantiated opinion in their decision making!

Whilst the protection of Green Belt, which is admirable, is at the forefront of councillors minds, it must be borne in mind that Paragraph 14 of the national Planning Policy Framework contains Footnote 9, which indicates;

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

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.

Whilst this specifically relates to Plan making, it is clear that, if the concern is present amongst decision makers development in a Flood Zone and in a Critical Drainage Area, in which Canvey Island falls into both categories, caution should be the operative position to adopt.

Residents suffering the Canvey Island Flooding of 2013 and 2014 may well feel appalled at the rigid Rejection of development applications on Green Belt, whilst a less than cautious approach appears to be adopted where Flood Risk is concerned, by certain cpbc development committee members.

The cpbc officer appeared unaware that the whole of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area.

The questionable use of Substitute councillors to replace two absentees at the meeting, bearing in mind the technical issues highlighted in this planning proposal, proved to be decisive, as 1 voted to Approve and 1 voted to Abstain.

With the votes recorded as 5 to Approve and 5 Against, with 2 Abstentions, the Chairman chose to use his Casting Vote, and consequently rather than holding further deliberations on the subjects contained within this post and others not mentioned, the Application was Approved!

Roscommon Way to remain a Race Track until the thorny issue of Sandy Bay development is completed?

Any thoughts that Roscommon Way will serve any greater purpose than to satisfy the boy racers and the OIKOS transport vehicles should be put on hold.

The final Phase, providing a link to the Sandy Bay site plus residents and commuters living to the south west of Canvey Island, is unlikely to come to fruition in the near future.

With the Park Homes being placed on Sandy Bay costing in the region of £260,000 – £300,000 potential buyers might be put off by the absent final phase, of the Roscommon Way link to the development site passing close by the scene below.

Looking at it Canvey Village, Long Road and the approach via Thorney Bay Road would hold far greater appeal to potential buyers as they approach Sandy Bay, even if they are stuck in the regular traffic congestion!

OIKOS Roscommon Way