Tag Archives: Thurrock Council

Canvey Island 3rd Access Road – Traffic Chaos set to Continue! Local Plan Carrot to Residents Mashed, Report exposes Credibility doubts!

Any Canvey Island Resident ground down by the daily commute off of the Island, be prepared for Disappointment!

The latest attempt by a now desperate Castle Point Council, to produce a Local Plan under the close scrutiny of the Government Chief Planner, dangles the usual carrot of Highway improvements for Canvey Island within the Consultation questionnaire.

We are asked:

29a. Do you support dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm?

33a. Do you support a new junction on the A130 Canvey Way to provide access to the west of Benfleet?

scorpions

Beware the Sting in the Tail!

You will note at best, only Limited Carriageway Dualling of Canvey Way is aspired to, with a junction for traffic from a New and vast Housing Estate at Jotmans Farm converging with the already congested traffic leaving and heading to Canvey Island!

This short length of dualling of Canvey Way, is not a measure remotely likely to improve congestion on Canvey Way, one only has to look at the amendments at Sadlers Farm to see that. Sadlers Farm, sold as an improvement for Castle Point motorists, was intended as a “cheap” fix for the A13 / A130 transport to avoid the notorious Sadlers Farm roundabout!

The aspiration to relieve traffic congestion of Canvey Island formed part of the Transport Policies of the long out of date 1998 Castle Point Adopted Local Plan!

A130 Canvey Way dualling – Upgrading of Canvey Way to dual carriageway standard between Sadler’s Farm and Waterside Farm roundabouts and the creation of a grade separated junction at Sadlers Farm Roundabout. 

Despite the proposed improvements, the Council remains concerned in respect of highway infrastructure in Castle Point, and will continue to press the Highway Authority for improvements to the strategic highway network in the Borough, and in particular for the early dualling of Canvey Way.

POLICY T1 – STRATEGIC HIGHWAY NETWORK THE COUNCIL WILL URGE THE HIGHWAY AUTHORITY TO UNDERTAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE STRATEGIC HIGHWAY NETWORK IN AND AROUND THE BOROUGH, INCLUDING THE DUALLING OF CANVEY WAY.

No word then of the need for a “3rd Access” to Canvey Island!

Now in the latest Local plan Consultation we are tempted with:

32a. Do you support improved access to Canvey Island?

Note, not the long touted 3rd Access route to Manor Way Thurrock, just “improved access to Canvey Island”!

So should we assume this will infer to us all supporting the “dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way”, as in Q29A above, whether we do, or do not?

Because I would suggest that the dream of a true 3rd Access Route for Canvey Island remains an aspirational wish!

We have come across paperwork of a meeting in December 2013 that makes clear, not only is a 3rd Access Unlikely and definitely Un Funded, but also unsupported by any Evidence to suggest the benefits would warrant the vast Expenditure required.

The Castle Point Regeneration Team met with the then Secretary of State Patrick Mc Loughlan.

North Thames Link Road Proposal
On the 16th December 2013 a delegation from Castle Point Borough Council took part in a meeting with Mr Patrick McLoughlan. The Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the credibility of the above proposal.

A holistic overview of the above proposal and of the submitted supporting back ground documents was sought. This has resulted in the following preliminary observations designed to promote further work into the soundness and deliverability of the Councils aspiration.

The delegation consisted of Mrs Rebecca Harris MP, high profile CPBC Officers, Local and Essex County Councillors. The agenda was to seek support for a North Thames Link Road Proposal targeted towards the regeneration at the Canvey West Marsh area of the Borough of Castle Point Council, this being an aspiration of CPBC New Local Plan.

General observations for further discussion.

1. The most fundamental omission from the Background papers is the Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners Castle Point Borough Council commissioned “Employment and Retail Needs Assessment” final Report, completed as evidence for The New Local Plan in August 2012. Nathaniel Lichfield specialise in Planning, Design and Economics and their comprehensive report concluded, amongst other things:

“That the impact of improved access to Canvey Island by linking Canvey Island and Thurrock, that it was unclear on the basis of evidence currently available whether the positive economic effect associated with this would justify the significant infrastructure cost associated with providing a new highway, particularly within the context of strained public sector funding and ongoing road improvements elsewhere in the Borough (e.g. Sadlers Farm) which should improve accessibility generally.”

This report also states:

“That it is unclear whether supply chain linkages between Canvey Island firms and London Gateway would improve significantly as a result of a more direct route.”

The report points out a significant point at 7.53. “It is also important to note that four of the demographic/housing led demands estimates result in a negative requirement for employment space in future compared with the current position. This largely reflects an ageing population, which for the modest increase in housing proposed, produced a lower number of working age residents and hence a lower demand for future jobs and employment space.

It is understood that Castle Point Council may be inclined towards a scenario based on 200 dwellings being built per annum. If this were to be the case, it would imply less employment space being needed in future and fewer local workers to support economic growth in the Borough.”

2. The significance of the failure to identify within the North Thames Link Road supporting documentation, the work undertaken for the authority by Nathaniel Lichfield has had the effect of compounding further towards a poorly informed badly evidenced appraisal.

The following points need to be considered:-

3. Did those attending the NTLR regeneration meeting, who may have had an interest, declare that interest?

4. There are long outstanding uncompleted infrastructure issues within the 1998 Local Plan, such as the duelling of Canvey Way and the completion of the Roscommon Way. Was funding for these existing issues discussed if so? What was the Ministers response?

5. Calor Gas and Oikos are incorrectly identified as refineries!

6. For the CPBC NTLR proposal to mention that redundant contaminated Brownfield sites would benefit from becoming available, is somewhat short sighted. Contaminated Sites are not very desirable due to the expense of reclamation, having the effect of limiting the economic viability opportunities

7. The reference to Canvey Way is surprising given that there is no proposal for betterment, the CPBC NTLR proposal details the limitations of this route. The mention of the DMRB Design Manual for Road and Bridge specifications opens up a huge can of worms not only for this proposal but for the New Local Plan

8. With reference to the above guidance process the application would have been expected by the Minister to have the support of a VDM viable demand model as part of the preliminary assessment procedure. This is not evident in the submission.

9. The submission relates to a previous feasibility report which noted that the construction of a road in that area was not without
significant environmental and ecological SSSI constraints. It is difficult to identify within this background report how this will be averted.

10. With reference to note 9 the estimated cost at that time of the previously proposed road was between £45 and £70m which seems conservative given todays examples. However it would seem that to finance this project through private enterprise seems to call in the issue of viability.

11. Reference to the London Gate Way Port and Business Park as if the project would benefit from the access to the North Thames Link Road presumably being able to access Canvey Way should be the most significant reason as to why this proposal should not take place. The submission identifies capacity problems at the A1014 and the Canvey Way, Sadlers Farm junctions, this factor alone negates the benefits to any future employment areas needing to use the North Thames Link Road.

12. There is no evidence that the HCA Homes and Community Agency has disposed of the West Canvey Site into the private sector nor is there any evidence that 4,000 jobs will be created for local people. The trend has been the provision for low paid local employment this tends to multiply deprivation. This factor will not support the argument for large scale market price housing development in this area.

13. The reference to the fact that 100,000 tonnes of LNG Liquid Natural Gas being stored at the Calor Gas site is dangerously misinforming the Minister. This calls into question the integrity of the whole CPBC NTLR document with regards to the reliability of its content when much of it contains unreliable poorly researched evidence.

14. To suggest that the economics of the development of Canvey Town Centre is weak and in need of the potential impetus from the implementation of the Thames growth hubs to enable the town centre redevelopment to become a reality, is a damming indictment for the deliverability of the Canvey Town Centre regeneration aspiration.

15. The non-attendance of an Emergency Planning Officer or any mention of the benefit that this project could bring to the community of Canvey Island by way of assisting in its evacuation, has not been thought worthy as an argument to support the reasoning for a third
road. It can only be concluded from this, that the possibility of a Major Industrial Accident, Surface Water Flooding, Breach and Over Topping of our sea defences (ref: Scott Wilson CPBC SFRA 2010 document ) are sound reasons why not to support further urbanisation of this part of the Borough.

16. Unfortunately the aspiration for further large scale development on the Zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island was not previously supported within the Planning Inspectors final report following the examination of the withdrawn Core Strategy. This fact has not been recorded in the submitted Back Ground documents despite being known to many of the delegation members presenting evidence to the Minister.

17. There has been very little if any consultation undertaken either with local elected representatives or the local community with regards to this proposal. It is strongly felt locally that once again development of Canvey Island will come forward without the appropriate supporting infrastructure and proper scrutiny.
It is undisputable that Canvey Island has not benefited from the previously identified necessity of the duelling of the Canvey Way or the completion of the Roscommon Way internal linkage route.

There has been no evidence brought forward, other than in support of further unwarranted development, that the duelling of Canvey Way is not by far the best option. This factor alone will support any future major repairs to the existing Canvey Way infrastructure once completed. Should this proposal in any way resemble CPBC previously outdated Local Plan policies, it is likely that material considerations in particular the emergence of the NPPF and also new evidence, will be afforded considerable weight in the decision of soundness following the examination of the New Local Plan.

QAJZU1 E12 PW SPEEDCAMERAS

pic courtesy of Echo News

Photo courtesy: scarymommy.com
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Canvey Residents – Ignore the Castle Point Local Plan Consultation at your Peril! Changes – Development – Pipe Dreams and Promises are Afoot!

Whether you Bother to Answer, and How you Answer, the CPBC consultation questions, will have a direct bearing on how much Canvey Island changes in the immediate Future! Council Leaders and officers will have appeasement from the Government threat of Intervention in the cpbc Local Plan, uppermost in Mind!

Paddocks

The Paddocks community centre, Canvey Island

Make no Mistake, Development, both Housing and Business, on the most easily accessible large Green Field sites is the likely outcome of Castle Point’s Local Plan consultation!

Once the Local Plan consultation period is over the “Tricks of the Trade” of those charged with “interpreting” the responses come into play.

Previous consultations have seen many objections against cpbc proposed Local Plans, this has led to cpbc council Leaders suggesting that the “non responders” views mirrored those of the council Leaders, despite them having no evidence to suggest they did!

It is for this reason that Canvey Island residents should not only take part in the Local Plan consultation, but also be very careful how the questions are responded to!

Your responses may well be construed to mean something very much different in the hands of cpbc!

An eagerness for infrastructure, may be construed to indicate that residents are in favour of more large developments on Canvey Island. Whilst the Infrastructure improvements amount to pipe dreams, be sure that, the developments will be forthcoming!

Consultation Question 9, for example asks;

Which approach described below in providing new development is most suitable for the borough?

A Intensify existing built up areas with new development and increased density
B Create new settlements in the borough
C Disperse developments to the edge of the built up areas

Before you Answer A, we should remember that Canvey Island is already the most densely Urbanised part of the Borough!
Answer C flies in the face of the Purposes of the Green Belt, that is, “to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas”
Answer B would appear to have implications for residents elsewhere in the Borough.

Answer Question 11 without an explanation and you will be considered to support large site development on Canvey Island!

11. What type of housing do you feel is best suited to your area? (tick all that apply)
Affordable rents, Buy-to-let, Elderly care homes etc, etc.

None of which can be provided without Private Investment, likely off the back of large scale, market price, private development!

Housing allocations
“The new Local Plan 2018 will revisit all potential sites considered within the 2014 and 2016 Plans and assess their future suitability through technical studies,”

No they will not! All Canvey sites, with the exception of the “Triangle Site”, behind the Dutch Cottage Canvey Road, for some reason, were considered to be developable whether Green Belt or Brownfield, or in a Flood Risk zone or Critical Drainage Area, which incidentally the whole of Canvey is!

The Constraints on development revealed in the Technical Studies are all dismissed by cpbc where Canvey Island is concerned!

13a. Do you support the potential residential development at land at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey Island?

Absolutely irrelevant Consultation question. The owners have permissions in place for a Park Home site and are successfully developing one. CPBC have no jurisdiction over the likely loss of the Roscommon Way final phase land.

14a. Do you support the potential residential development at land at Point Road, Canvey Island?

The Business site was first proposed as a housing development, then returned with a vastly inflated figure of Housing, drawing many, many objections from local residents not least because of the reliance on the tiny roundabout access area and the Flats proposed. And, where would all of the current businesses be re-housed, well no doubt onto more Canvey Green field land around the Roscommon Way area!

20a. Do you support the potential residential development at land west of Benfleet?

Ask ourselves, can we really take more traffic on Canvey Way? And by the way, this is Jotmans Farm if you didn’t recognise the site name.

22a. Do you support the potential residential development at land east of Canvey Road?

Do they really need to ask? This is the Dutch Village Green Belt site, the one that out of the 6,534 Referendum Votes cast, just 56 Canvey Islanders said they were comfortable with persimmons developing!

23a. Do you support the potential residential development at land fronting Canvey Road?

This is beside the Dutch Cottage, Green Belt site, I am sure the extra traffic filing down from Sadlers Farm to Thorney Bay Road every evening, is something we could do without.

26a. Do you support the extension to Roscommon Way?

Given that there is no funding, and that Essex Highways do not wish to burden themselves with future maintenance costs, and that the Thorney Bay part of the land required may not be available for development anyway, this appears simply an unlikely aspiration.

27a. Do you support widening of Sommes Avenue?

Of course we do, but wouldn’t the installation of the cycle way along the North side of Somnes Avenue by ECC, mean that there is no space for the widening of Somnes Avenue by ECC?

29a. Do you support dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm?

Or put another way, do you support development of Jotmans Farm with access an access onto Canvey Way.
Really?

32a. Do you support improved access to Canvey Island?

Well of course we do, but it will be at the likely expense of much more land released for development. Thurrock Council opposition will not remove their objection and cpbc will have to overturn their own Local Plan Evidence findings that; “it is not obvious that a new road access to Canvey Island could enable the area to benefit to a much greater extent from the major port and distribution development at London Gateway in Thurrock. The cost of such infrastructure would also need to be weighed against the scale of economic benefits likely to accrue to Canvey Island, and the extent of these do not appear likely to be major.”

And Finally, as they say:

34. Do you have any additional comments on the new Local Plan 2018?

Not unless you feel the fact that Canvey Island, the whole of which, is a Critical Drainage Area, is also a tidal Flood Zone 3a area, and has 2 Top Tier Comah sites, meaning should there ever be a need to evacuate the Island, the Emergency Services would be unable to cope with the current levels of Canvey’s population, has some bearing on the Consultation that castle point officers appear to be overlooking or ignoring!

Castle Point Leader drops Gov. Minister Green Belt Bombshell! Whilst Canvey is Carved Up and expected to put trust in behind closed doors meetings!

It would appear insensitive, lacking openness and transparency and disrespectful for Canvey Island Town Council, as representative of the largest Town in Castle Point, to have not been invited nor allowed representation, in even an observational capacity, at the “collaborative” local area Planning meetings being undertaken by cpbc,  Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend–on-Sea, Thurrock and Essex County Councils.

These meetings fall under the umbrella of work “to create a vision and sense of place for South Essex through the Association of South Essex Local Authorities”.

More fundamentally it is the South Essex Local Authorities attempt to fulfill their failed efforts to Cooperate within their Local Plan processes.

During last weeks cpbc Special Council meeting, we heard from the ceo that both the Local Plan work and the work of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, or ASELA for short,  are Intrinsically linked.

Carving

Canvey Island on the Menu

BEWARE! 

If you find yourself at the Dinner Table, without having received an Invitation,

It is very likely that you will be forming part of the Menu!

With Canvey Island currently supplying the largest sites of both Housing and Business Development in Castle Point, it is requiring almost foolhardy trust, given the previous track records, for Canvey residents to simply accept their interests are being represented to the best of cpbc Leader and officers ability!

The Leader said during the Special Council meeting that up until ASELA commenced working, cpbc was considered as “small fish” amongst south Essex councils. Off the bottom of the list, and having to fight tooth and nail to keep, schemes such as, Fairglen Interchange in the frame.

In effect Islanders are having to put our trust in Cllr Riley’s word, in reporting back to his confidents at cpbc.

Remember that no updates of work achieved or fulfilled have been made public, nor updates on how any agreements will impact upon the intrinsically linked Local Plan, with its Housing Need and Distribution of Housing Growth causing concern to many.

With Cllr Riley’s calling for trust in council members and residents alike, it was most surprising then to hear him state during the council meeting, that he himself held no trust in the Government’s Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, of whom he claimed, he didn’t “believe the minister cares whether we build on our green belt or not”!

In fairness to Cllr Riley his concerns may have some “legs”, as despite the SoS dismissing the Jotmans Farm, Benfleet development Appeal, he did so only on the day of the commencement of the Period of Purdah ahead of the General Election 2017! *

Residents may remember that the Jotmans Appeal was conducted during September 2015, so the decision was with the SoS for likely over 18 months awaiting his decision. No doubt he would have had in mind the progress being made with the cpbc Local Plan before making his decision, however since then he has reacted by placing cpbc on his list of 15 most local authorities likely to face Government Intervention! More recently, Sajid Javid’s ministry has been renamed to that of “Housing, Communities and Local Government”!

In the meantime, we wonder what Wheeling and Dealing goes on at these ASELA gatherings, Canvey Island residents with no representatives present, if we were informed, would learn 3rd hand at best!

* LINK to Jotmans Appeal decision

 

CPBC Local Plan2016 Duty to Cooperate Failed. Plan Withdrawal Recommended!

Much as had been predicted by far greater planning minds than ourselves, it has been announced that the Examining Inspector of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 has Failed the LP at the first hurdle – the Duty to Cooperate.

This will be a great disappointment for some, whilst no doubt others will take pleasure in proclaiming “we told you so!”

Given the somewhat aggressive nature of the other neighbouring authorities, especially Thurrock, it is difficult to guess how the position can be brought together.

One can only assume this may cause quite some delay.

From the Inspector’s remarks and conclusions it may be assumed that the hasty conclusion of the cpbc Local Plan Task and Finish group work contributed to the demise of the process.

Whether certain senior councillors should have been aware of this pitfall is open to conjecture.

Officer and councillor work on progressing the Local Plan2016 appears uncoordinated.

This in turn has cost residents some great extra expense.

Furthermore the Jotmans Farm developer may press for the Appeal Inquiry decision and the Dutch Village developer see a loophole in the Green Belt policy in the light of this Duty to Cooperate Failure.

Cherry picked copy and pasted extracts of the Planning Inspector’s letter appear below. The full letter is available on the LP Portal.

Taken as a whole throughout the preparation period from 2011 to August 2016 it appears that cooperation was structured and frequent. Whilst there may have been some loss of focus on strategic planning matters between 2014 and the early part of 2016, activity did not come to a complete stop.  There is no chronological record of what took place when but the picture painted by all those involved is one of active and more or less on-going engagement.

However the information provided is weaker in showing how cooperation actually influenced the New Local Plan.

The New Local Plan is based on an objectively assessed need for housing of 400 dwellings per annum.  Paragraph 13.22 recognises that the target for new homes does not equate with this but it reflects the capacity of the Borough to accommodate growth.  A subsequent updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) in May 2016 gives a range for objectively assessed need of between 326-410 dwellings per annum.  Be that as it may the draft New Local Plan proceeded on the basis of providing 200 dwellings per annum but this was reduced to 100 dwellings after the failure of the Task and Finish Group to reach agreement on the release of Green Belt land for housing in November 2015.

As far as the Council is concerned no amount of further conversations would have altered the difficulties in meeting its objectively assessed needs within its boundaries.

…….

  1. The questions of whether the strategy for housing is the most appropriate one and therefore justified and whether it is consistent with national policy, including paragraph 14 of the NPPF, are soundness ones. However, paragraph 179 of the NPPF provides that:

Joint working should enable local planning authorities to work together to meet development requirements which cannot wholly be met within their own areas – for instance, because of a lack of physical capacity or because to do so would cause significant harm to the principles and policies of this Framework.

……..

This is precisely the situation in Castle Point. Indeed, the officer report of July 2014 which set out the full document representations on the draft New Local Plan (CP/05/008) includes the following as an action point:

………..

Given that the Council has not been able to identify a sufficient supply of housing to meet its objectively assessed needs, it is also necessary to engage with neighbouring authorities under the auspices of the Duty to Cooperate in order to determine how the objectively assessed need for housing, and other strategic matters, will be addressed within the housing market area.

  1. However, notwithstanding the lengthy and detailed engagement across south Essex there is no formal mechanism in place to distribute unmet housing need. In order to comply with the duty there is no requirement for this to be done by any particular means.  Indeed, the outcome of joint working in this respect could take a variety of forms and it is not for me to say what they should be.  Nevertheless, the position is that there is simply nothing in the New Local Plan to indicate how the unmet need for housing will be tackled.  This is because the authorities have not yet deliberated about the matter in any meaningful way.  Therefore the question of how the objectively assessed need will be addressed, as raised by officers in 2014, has not been adequately grappled with.
  2. The Council is now anxious to ensure that the delivery of its objectively assessed needs is addressed with neighbouring authorities and intends to play a full and active part through the various DtC mechanisms that are now operating. There is no reason to doubt this but a failure to demonstrate compliance cannot be corrected after submission (PPG ID 9-018-20140306).

There is no duty to agree (PPG ID 9-00320140306).  However, whilst it might be firmly in view now, there is no clear evidence that consideration of this admittedly difficult issue was attempted as part of the preparation of the New Local Plan.  Within that process it has been treated as an ‘afterthought’.

all the indications are that in this respect the Council decided to ‘plough its own furrow’.  Failing to address the wider impact of its ‘last minute’ decision to lower the housing target by a considerable amount is the very opposite of cooperation in plan preparation.

the Council fell well short of making every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing before submitting the New Local Plan for examination.  The engagement undertaken as part of its preparation was fundamentally flawed.

Whilst the Borough may not hold all or any of the answers to the shortage of (travellers) pitches in Basildon it should attempt to play its part.  Ultimately it might be that providing more traveller sites in Castle Point is not the best planned solution but there is a duty on the Council to try.  In preparing the New Local Plan it simply has not done enough in this respect and there has been a DtC failing.

In specific terms the housing policies have failed to address how unmet need will be dealt with across the housing market area.  This is exacerbated by the lack of consideration of this matter when reducing the housing target by 50%.

However, there have been fundamental shortcomings in the steps taken, or not taken, to secure the necessary cooperation on the strategic cross-boundary matter of housing.  In addition, the Council has not made every effort to consider how it might deal with the significant unmet need for traveller sites in south Essex arising, in particular, from Basildon.

Therefore my final conclusion is that the duty to cooperate has not been complied with.  Clearly this is not the outcome that the Council would have wanted and it is not a view I have reached lightly or without full consideration of the material put to me.

Nevertheless I must recommend non-adoption of the New Local Plan under Section 20(7A) of the 2004 Act. In this situation the PPG advises that the most appropriate course of action is likely to be for the local planning authority to withdraw the plan under Section 22 and engage in necessary discussions and actions with others.  That is the course of action I would favour.  The alternative is to receive my report but the content of this would be substantially the same as this letter.

Eyes of Developers, councillors and Planners have a Duty to focus on Castle Point!

Castle Point council are probably aware of the Inspector’s decision as to whether the Duty to Cooperate on strategic matters has been complied with. The decision should be made public next week.

The Duty to Cooperate “places a legal duty on local planning authorities, county councils in England and public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of Local and Marine Plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters.

The duty to cooperate is not a duty to agree. But local planning authorities should make every effort to secure the necessary cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters before they submit their Local Plans for examination.

Local planning authorities must demonstrate how they have complied with the duty at the independent examination of their Local Plans. If a local planning authority cannot demonstrate that it has complied with the duty then the Local Plan will not be able to proceed further in examination.

Local planning authorities will need to satisfy themselves about whether they have complied with the duty. As part of their consideration, local planning authorities will need to bear in mind that the cooperation should produce effective and deliverable policies on strategic cross boundary matters.”

Castle Point representatives pointed out that through the Thames Gateway and South Essex Partnerships cooperation was underway between neighbouring authorities. Whether the areas of cooperation, and the levels of strategic success were satisfactory  in important areas, will be decided by the Inspector, Mr David Smith.

Development Committee

 

Castle Point is the smallest of the neighbouring Boroughs and therefore may not be expected to take lead responsibility in setting strategic cooperation agendas. By implication, should their duty to Cooperate be considered to have Failed, it could also be considered an indictment of the efforts of Essex County Council, the Unitary Authority that is Thurrock Council and Rochford, Basildon and Southend Councils.

Rose Grogan a barrister with 39 Essex Chambers and a specialist in planning and environmental law wrote, in March 2016;

“One particular issue is the question of how to get local planning authorities to engage with one another on the issue of housing.

The government’s answer to this in 2011 was the creation of a ‘duty to cooperate’ in the Localism Act. At the time, it was hailed as a better alternative to regional planning, removing an unnecessary layer of policy while still setting the framework for strategic planning across local authority boundaries.

On its face, the duty appears to provide a much-needed framework for addressing strategic planning problems. Local authorities are required to cooperate with one another on cross-boundary issues, and face having their plans found to be unsound by inspectors, leading to considerable delays in bringing forward a plan if the duty is not complied with.

There are cases where inspectors have found that a local authority has not discharged the duty: Central Bedfordshire, Aylesbury Vale, and Hart District Council are three examples. These local authorities barely engaged with their neighbouring authorities, and so it was a clear case of failing to discharge the duty.”

In practice, however, the duty to cooperate has been the subject of criticism, in particular because it is a duty of form, not substance. In some ways, the criticism is justified. For a start, it does not require agreement. All that is required is evidence that attempts have been made to cooperate.

A further criticism is that the duty is all stick and no carrot, there is little positive incentive for neighbouring authorities to cooperate, and the enforcement of the duty currently depends on inspectors taking a robust approach. What is not clear from cases where local authorities have fallen foul of the duty is whether the threat of unsoundness had any impact on their decision to go about cooperating (or not) in the way that they did.

Surprisingly, there have been very few challenges to inspectors’ conclusions that the duty has been complied with. The courts have therefore not had the opportunity to bolster the duty, nor do they appear interested in doing so. Very early on, the courts confirmed that the test on review is whether an inspector’s decision was rational, and the court will not embark on a more searching analysis of whether the duty has in fact been discharged.

Without a requirement that local authorities reach agreement, the duty will continue to fall short of achieving the ultimate aim of getting local planning authorities to meet housing need.”

“Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.” George Patton Jr

Christmas – a season of goodwill to all men… Even Thurrock Borough Council?

The aspirational 2nd access route between Canvey Island and the Manor Way Thurrock which would serve Canvey Island, not only a means of congestion relief, but more importantly, a much needed Emergency Relief Road has caused some consternation between our local authority and Thurrock Council.

Castle Point Council appear to have the issue lodged somewhere between being essential and of low-level option, see HERE.

Some confusion as to the research and evidencing of the “need” for this emergency route became apparent during the evidence given by Essex County Council’s Highways representative.

Castle Point council’s efforts to secure funds to provide the evidence of vehicle capacity levels and usage of Canvey way and the need for a 2nd access route was apparently successful back in April 2014, see HERE.

Hopefully some evidence of need will come forward prior to the CPBC Local Plan2016 Examination, so as to support the intended and / or approved Housing and Business developments.

Thurrock’s approach to cpbc’s Local Plan and Duty to Cooperate efforts can be considered to rest somewhere between being un-neighbourly to downright unsympathetic!

marleys_ghost_original-ill-john-leech

Scrooge visited by Marley’s ghost, who is forever cursed to wander the earth dragging a network of heavy chains. Original ill. John Leech

In answering the cpbc Local Plan’s Examining Inspector’s questions on the Duty to Cooperate, Thurrock responded;

“Thurrock Council officers have consistently set out Thurrock Council’s objections to a Canvey Island to Thurrock link road through the consultation workshops and representations on the Castle Point New Local Plan and in discussions on South Essex transport infrastructure as part of South Essex officer scoping of key strategic matters (January 2016). However there has been no specific or formal meetings with Castle Point Council regarding the issue of the North Thameside Link Road either with Thurrock Council members or officers under the Duty to Cooperate (a more detailed response is included at question 15).

Thurrock Council is unaware of any detailed or specific meetings concerning a proposition for a North Thameside Link Road. No representations were received by Thurrock Council from Castle Point on the Issues and Options consultation of the Thurrock Local Plan that took place in February to March 2016.

 There have been no formal meetings or requests for discussions between Thurrock officers and members with Castle Point Council officers or members regarding a North Thameside Link Road. Castle Point Council have not formally requested such discussions as part of the local plan process. Furthermore Thurrock Council has not formally discussed this road link with Essex County Council as the highway authority.

 The Chancellor in his Budget Statement of March 2016 included a reference to a Canvey Island third road, this was in the context of (paragraph 1.319) which stated, “…The government will look at the case for other projects, such as the Canvey Island Third road, to be taken forward”. The statement does not directly commit the Government to the funding of a third road to Canvey or that it is linked to the Manorway Road in Thurrock.

  It is Thurrock Council’s understanding that Essex County Council are working with Castle Point Council in seeking funding for a feasibility study to consider an outline business case for access options to Canvey island and not specifically the case for the North Thameside Link Road or any road linking Canvey Island to Thurrock.

With regard to the North Thameside Link Road Thurrock Council had made objections to this proposal with regard to:  Lack of evidence;  Deliverability and programming;  Impact on the highway network  Impact on the environment;  Failure to meet duty to cooperate on this matter. Castle Point Council have not discussed any of these matters with Thurrock Council.

Castle Point should carry out a comprehensive and robust assessment of housing supply and Green Belt to ensure that the housing target in the plan represents the most robust allocation and target.

Thurrock Council recommends that due to its opposition and the uncertainty regarding the feasibility and deliverability of a North Thameside Link Road that it should be removed from the Castle Point New Local Plan and Proposals Map.”

Hopefully the Inspector will view this as a little misunderstanding and suggest that Thurrock should extend a hand of friendship to Castle Point  in the light of the need to work together in the interests of developing out the Thames Gateway corridor.

After all, it is the Season of Goodwill to All Men!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign would like to thank our reader for his continued support and wish One and All a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

The Gloves are Off, the Duty to Cooperate works both Ways! Castle Point – Thames Gateway!

“Seconds Out – Round 1” – Would have been an appropriate opening introduction to the Castle Point examination into their Local Plan Duty to Cooperate process.

The meeting was attended by 5 of the local authority neighbours, half a dozen councillors, a handful of residents and a group of developer’s representatives.

It was noticeable that the Thurrock council representative adopted a particularly aggressive position in pointing out apparent flaws in the cooperation work undertaken by cpbc.

Claims were made that meetings to discuss areas such as a joint local plan for the Thames Gateway area had been undertaken, and claims were disputed as being un-evidenced.

CPBC officer Rogers, it must be recognised, acquitted himself professionally and was able to support his statements and generally produce the necessary evidence to support his points-made as and when required.

Whether or not enough cooperation has been undertaken will be the inspector’s decision alone, the agreement and success of cooperation is not necessarily the deciding factor. Given the levels of inter-borough ill will individual cooperation between the 5 local authorities on non strategic issues is apparently unlikely!

The concensus between the Basildon, Thurrock, Southend, Rochford and Essex county authorities was that Castle Point should have re-consulted them once the decision was taken to lower the local plan Housing Delivery from 200 dwellings per Annum down to 100 dwellings.  They felt a delay on publication of the cpbc Local Plan2016 should have followed.

Perhaps in hindsight, delaying publication of the LP2016 for 1 month, until the negative responses were received in writing, may have proved evidentially worthwhile!

However, our neighbours have indicated that they are also unlikely to be able to fulfil their own Assessed Housing Needs, therefore it can be argued that delay would have been fruitless as no assistance with adoption of some castle point Housing Need would be forthcoming!

It is a fact the Castle Point is in a position of being required to push ahead with the local plan process, not simply to comply with the Government’s requirement to complete by 2017, but are expected to by the Secretary of State following promises made during the Glebelands development Appeal inquiry. During which it was considered premature to find in favour of the developer as good progress was being made in the local plan making process.

Whilst Castle Point have published a plan for examination, Thurrock, the most judgemental of neighbouring authorities, expect to submit theirs around 2020.

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Depiction by Sir John Tenniel.

Essex County Council representatives appeared most concerned about Highways issues. On the 2nd access to Canvey Island they revealed that they have not, as yet, been supplied with evidence of the Need for a new or improved access route! ECC claimed they have applied for funding to research the matter.

The barrister representing cpbc at this stage even went to the lengths to point out that the 2nd access route to Canvey, in particular the Northwick Road to Manor Way Thurrock, had been demoted to an aspiration, or “low-level” option, within the Local Plan2016 rather than a crucial piece of infrastructure!

This point should be explored as Canvey Islanders have long been fed the line that this is a priority  piece of infrastructure by castle point council!

No mention was made of the Roscommon Way final phase.

The reduction in the intended castle point Housing Supply was then used to suggest that not only the 2nd access route for Canvey Island but also the Woodmans Arms and A127 Fairglen interchange, meant that Government funding would not be released!

Interesting then that the news of this funding block was released in the press just days before this Local Plan meeting.

One can only assume that such major improvement as in the case of the Fairglen inter-change is being used as a lever by ECC as a means of over-riding the adopted Green Belt policy being sought for adoption by castle point council.

It was clear that Castle Point are no better or worse than other neighbouring authorities where cooperation is concerned, perhaps others should have adopted a less aggressive approach.

The inspector’s findings are intended for release by the 6th January 2017 at the latest. “Watch this space” – as Pammie would say!