Tag Archives: unadopted roads

Canvey Island Dutch Village Estate “doers”, Get the Job Done! In the process they Embarrass the local authorities! Time to streamline local Council officialdom?

The treatment of Canvey Island residents, fronting and affected by the many Un-made Roads on the Island is nothing short of Shabby!

Whether it be the original developer, the old Canvey Island Urban District Council, Castle Point Borough Council, or that fine hierarchy that is Essex County Council, all have shunned responsibility where the situation of road maintenance and improvements are concerned!

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Even protracted legal discussions between ECC and CPBC have failed to reach a final decision on who should be responsible for changing the street light bulbs.

It is common knowledge that frontagers of these roads are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the road surfaces, however why have so many of these roads been granted permission to be constructed in such a temporary fashion?

Permission for the substandard access roads would have been granted in the first instance, across many developments by the local authority, we assume that a financial “contribution” for the roads eventual making-up would have been levied upon the developer.

It would appear that these funds may have been put into reserves by the old Canvey Island UD Council. These funds would then have been absorbed into the coffers of the Castle Point borough council when it was then formed.

Essex County Council is the Highway Authority.

Government have given legislative guidance that:

“Section 230 of the 1980 Act empowers the ‘street works authority’ (i.e. the county council or unitary authority) to order the frontagers to carry out repairs to a private or unadopted road which are “needed to obviate danger to traffic”. The legislation also allows the authority to carry out the work itself if the order is ignored and to recover the expenses incurred from the frontagers.

Section 230 of the 1980 Act may only be invoked where repairs are needed to obviate danger to traffic. In other cases a highway authority may decide that a private or unadopted road should be made up under the Private Street Works Code (PSWC), set out in sections 205 to 218 of the 1980 Act.”

There has long been friction and complaint in the instance of the Dutch Village Estate roads. Many approaches have been made through official and direct channels for action to be implemented. Residents on the estate both of the unadopted and adopted roads wished to just have a reasonable and safe surface to access the estate whether on foot, by vehicle or by mobility vehicle means.

Given that, as further above, it is likely that monies were held and passed on between the two local authorities and that the ECC as Highways Authority have the authority to have the works carried out and collect the funds to pay for the improvements.

It could also be suggested that between the 3 local authorities some responsibility to contribute to the works is fairly obvious, having received developer contributions and having collected a proportion of council taxes towards Highways!

Instead all approaches, as you may expect from our local authority, were Rejected! Not just recently, but going back some many decades, so austerity cannot be upheld as a viable reason.

Many years ago MP Sir Bernard Braine intervened on a few residents behalf. When he did, Castle Point borough council jumped, to get Highways work implemented. Those days are long past.

It is only fair to note that Cllr.Howard has over many years shown support on unadopted Highways improvements, and endeavoured to assist in achieving some progress. However the local authorities controlling Canvey Island have collectively frustrated and failed the residents.

Contrast this with Cheshire, where many years ago the local council realised the predicament that homeowners had found themselves in and decided to take some action on the issue!

“It is proposed that Cheshire East Council should have a policy for dealing with urgent repairs to private streets where expenditure is limited to £500 in any one street in any one year and that the budget for repairs to private streets be limited to £5,000 per annum where overall budgets allow this. The budget shall be managed by the Highway Manager.”

Contrast this with Castle Point borough council’s almost prehistoric position indicated within the Adopted Local Plan thus:

POLICY T7 – UNMADE ROADS THAT IN ALL APPLICATIONS FOR THE INTENSIFICATION OF DEVELOPMENT SERVED BY UNMADE ROADS, THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK APPROPRIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY. 

Never has a Policy been more appropriately considered;  too Little, Too Late!

Cheshire recognised the difficulty of a group of individuals to organise themselves as a collective, given the usual fractured communities we find these days, and have taken an initiative to offer some recourse to residents with a dangerous or deteriorating road surface is concerned.

What it has taken, in the case of the Dutch Village,is a very determined, very small group of residents to organise estimates, financial contributions and works to resolve the implementation of a flat road surface that all will benefit from, whether emergency vehicles with seriously ill patients, residents and their visitors and, not least and ironically, Council Refuse Vehicles which have been responsible in no small part for a level of damage to the old road surface!

Some of the funding has come from nearby residents not financially responsible for the Road requiring repair, some residents, with responsibility may have not been in a position to contribute, others owning but letting out property, may not have proved contactable.

Little wonder that a Policy on these and similar Roads should be forthcoming from Castle Point borough council! It is long overdue!

Few would argue that an Unadopted Road tax precept could not be charged on Council Tax payers, either generally or specifically on frontagers of Unadopted Roads, so as to build up a Ring Fenced Fund for the purpose of repairs. After all Canvey Islanders are charged an extra precept for our Town Council, police etc.

Look at the photograph above, and ask whether it is fair for residents to be left to organise such work themselves, especially given the Flooding issues on Canvey Island.

This has been quite some undertaking as nowadays many residents lease their properties thereby not being the owners responsible. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign were happy to allow the use of their bank account. And without a Residents Association the “bringing together” of all of the loose ends deserves great credit to the residents organising this undertaking!

Especially as the short length of road concerned is costing some 10’s of thousands of £’s !

It occurs to us that what is actually needed is some type of collective responsibility in the form of an elected group with powers to implement improvements, general maintenance, contracting resources and planning for future issues.

But then we came to the conclusion that what we really need is a Council fit for purpose!

What these Dutch Village Residents will have achieved, has been done despite councillors and officers!

So perhaps with these heady days of strategic planning, with the likes of the grandly titled “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) or “The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”, both of which Castle Point council are an eager part of, it is now time to reduce the burden on the local tax payer and abandon the layers of executive “professional”officers at local authority level and reorganise a single authority for decision making across the region with lesser devolved powers implemented at a local level.

After all, in this instance the local authorities have failed, and continue to fail the people they are supposed to represent and carry out duties on behalf of, the Local Residents!

Despite the many unmade roads in the Borough, I cannot see many achieving what these Canvey Dutch Village Residents have achieved.

Hats off to them!

Daily Mail Photo

Responsibility for street lights on unadopted roads denied

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Canvey Island Nimbyism? RTPI attack on Ageism amounts to Stereotyping – who else to “Watch this Space”?

Protest against Green Belt development in Castle Point, is definitely not the sole domain of Canvey Islanders.

Whilst we feel we have more to protest about than most, despite being considered to be “not living in the Real World”, even by some of our own representatives, it cannot be argued that issues facing Canvey Island are not unique.

Whether it be the fact Canvey Island is the most densely urbanised part of the Borough, the removal of Canvey’s Rapid Response Vehicle, the 3rd access Road saga, the broken drainage system, the Roscommon Way Racers, lack of street lighting on unadopted roads, or living alongside 2 major Hazardous Industrial sites, concerned Canvey residents are often greeted with a “them again?” luke-warm welcome!

But that is not to exclude our mainland neighbours who are equally willing to object against planning issues where Green Belt and other supposedly worthy development proposals are concerned.

Now it appears it has been recognised that the majority of those willing to get involved in the planning process are of a certain age group.

“Currently, the majority of those who engage in planning are over 55 years. Response rates to a typical pre-planning consultation are around 3% of those directly made aware of it. In Local Plan consultations, this figure can fall to less than 1% of the population of a district. Yet planning decisions are based upon this sample.
Well-managed consultations start early, seek a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers to engage, but they too frequently fail to engage with the younger age groups – yet we are planning their future. What other organisation would base important decisions on this level of response without checking to see if it was ‘representative’. Yet this is what happens in planning decisions.”

So says Sue Manns, the Regional Director of national planning consultancy Pegasus Group, in an article for the Royal Town Planning Institute. Pegasus being the planning group involved in the Jotmans Farm development Inquiry.

The article appears to suggest that through the lack of engagement with a “younger” consultee audience, modern development plans struggle to be adopted through the objections from those more senior amongst us residents.

“We need to start a nationwide conversation around the spatial impacts of technology change, embrace young and dynamic thinkers and those who see change as exciting, and let’s rebalance the objection-driven engagement culture which has dominated planning over the past 50 years.”

Whilst Canvey residents may not be considered by cpbc, and perhaps Sue Manns, to be dynamic thinkers, they would be wrong in their assumption to consider us as not recognising change when it is exciting, as long as it is realistic!

The cpbc promise of the grandly titled “Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan” is a case in point. Unfortunately scepticism was well founded, as the lack of tangible progress alongside the failure to incorporate the proposed Dutch / seaside architectural features into new proposals, has led to blandly designed and cramped Flatted and Retail developments to pass approval!

 

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Building materials to reflect the overall palette, drawing on the Dutch, Coastal Town and Art Deco influences to create a scheme with a unique identity.
Colours should be vibrant to establish the new retail area as a destination. Shop front improvements along Furtherwick Road should be designed with the distinctive features of an English Seaside Town.

With prose being used, similar to that above, to encourage support for aspirational design schemes, it is hardly any wonder that Sue Manns has identified a failure of the industry to engage with a younger audience in planning consultations. The lack of younger generation involvement may be true, but that is not a reason to support the thought that adult and senior views should be ignored simply to support any particular development plan that may indeed, not be suitable for a particular area.

We on Canvey Island have seen the value of “local knowledge” within the Plan making process!

When the 2009 cpbc Core Strategy attempt at a local plan was published the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, through “local knowledge” recognised the attempt to mislead the Examining Inspector with its “inappropriate housing site selection” policies, which “commits to Green Belt release in an area of potential high flood risk”, as well as it being obvious he would not be “convinced that maintaining the current distribution of development across the Borough is justified given the existing constraints”.

This despite cpbc officers being party to the clear intent of the mainland lead group to allow themselves to be influenced by, and produce a local plan driven by, what the Inspector politely described as “Local Factors”!

In this light, of course we HAD to get involved, despite being within the age bracket that Sue Manns and her planner colleagues have an issue with!

Committing to attending a 2 week Examination following production of a lengthy consultation submission is not achievable by all, however when your own local authority have schemed and approved such a discreditable document, it must be challenged and exposed for what it was. Not everybody is in a position, or willing to commit to taking part in plan making process, as it bound to require taking unpaid leave or using holiday periods. Something those with young families for instance may be unwilling or unable to commit to.

Perhaps Planners and developers would prefer that no residents, whatever age bracket they fall into, take part in the planning process? One thing we did find was that the Examining Inspectors appear to welcome local input!

The feedback from our Referendum equally challenged Sue Mann’s assumption that a younger demographic would automatically give the different response that she and her  planner colleagues would hope for, by achieving “a more balanced engagement and encourage the ‘strategic’ thinkers”.

Castle Point council gave evidence, indeed if it can be considered of value, that they extended their consultation to specifically target established groups of youngsters as part of the Core Strategy consultation.

What the Canvey Green Belt Campaign witnessed however, was perfectly clear. By calling on residents at their homes and putting to them our Referendum question, it was absolutely clear, that the loss of yet more Canvey Green Space to the Borough’s Housing Need was indisputably opposed across generations!

Planners may begin to achieve the respect they crave if they were more driven by an local area’s actual needs. Aspirational architectural computer imagery with green spaces screening dense urbanisation deceive nobody.

Equally the promises of Affordable Homes, later challenged as being unviable, is a deception we are getting more and more familiar with, especially in the light of Green Belt release and sky high housing prices.

RTPI and Sue Manns, nice try, but must try harder!

ps Lets not feel too much sympathy for the industry: “The chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon has insisted he deserves his £110m bonus because he has “worked very hard” to reinvigorate the housing market.” (Guardian)

A link to the Canvey Island Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan can be found HERE.

The full blog post by Sue Manns can be found via this LINK.

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The State of Castle Point – Roads that is! Passing the Buck needs to Stop!

The problem of Unadopted and Private streets and roads in Castle Point and Canvey Island in particular, has dragged on far too long. With the potential to deal an “unexpected” heavy financial blow to residents at anytime, this is another ticking time-bomb affecting Canvey Island and some parts of the Castle Point mainland. 

This matter was recently discussed by Castle Point Cabinet during the January 2017 meeting.

Essex County Council says it will work with Castle Point Council to solve the issue.

Despite many-many complaints from residents over many years, the subject more likely has drawn some interest from the local authority through the actions of ex-councillor C.Letchford in changing a couple of street lamp bulbs.

The CPBC chief executive moved at the time, February 2016, to persevere in determining with ECC that the County Council are responsible for the street lighting maintenance, even on unadopted roads.

One year further on Castle Point cabinet have resolved to……… continue trying!

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Our local authorities can be very sensitive souls, so care must be taken in approaching County and should all of cpbc’s efforts be thwarted, only then may they consider court action. In effect it appears our representatives are more concerned about how it would appear should the Borough authority take out a legal action against the County authority , rather than the potential injury and criminal activity against us residents! 

During the January cpbc cabinet meeting the member responsible for finance suggested residents expecting  the council to fund the maintenance of street lights and bulbs were being “ridiculous”.

It would therefore appear that cpbc are chiefly concerned only for those roads where Castle Point Borough Council are actually “frontagers” themselves, thereby being responsible for maintenance of roads AND lighting!

With some private and unadopted road surfaces deteriorating to the point of being dangerous the question must be raised as to responsibility. The likelihood is that on purchasing a house fronting an unadopted road the buyer would be made aware of responsibilities by their solicitor, however unless maintenance is approached collectively, repairs are likely to be of little effect.

A street light holder may be unsafe, should it fall, this is likely to affect only the nearest property. Likewise if one lamp fails, those who only ever pass by in a vehicle using headlights will be unconcerned.

It has been accepted that crime increases during “lights out” periods.

Roads, some without pavements, have deteriorated to a standard that is both dangerous to pass and, more importantly, may be considered seriously discriminatory against those less-able to pass!

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Many years ago, houses were developed under the agreement of Canvey Island Urban District Council, with monies reportedly collected from the developers held to meet the future making up to standard of the roads. Sometime between the monies collection and the passing onto Castle Point Borough Council, these funds appear to have become unaccountable for.

Many roads are now in an unacceptable condition to the detriment of car users, pedestrians and most importantly the less-able, many street lamps are in need of changing. Of lesser importance, but still relevant is the “Pride of Place” issue.

These issues have reached a stage where it is unfair for Individual Residents to be held responsible, the only approach can be a Collective approach!

A Collective of Individual Residents, we suggest, is actually a “Council”!

Why, with all of the substantial “Rainy Day” Reserve Funds that our local authorities have, cannot it be arranged for an annual budget (of residents council taxes) to be used to bring roads and lighting up to an acceptable and safe standard?

These funds could then be re-couped off of the responsible residents via various sympathetic methods and time period, and used to replenish the original outlay!

Why must it always be acceptable for such slow progress to be made in matters concerning local authorities, in this case the 43 years that Castle Point Borough Council was formed!

And even in the “light” of their own inactivity, our local authority still felt entitled to criticise a resident taking the initiative!

See “Councillor changes Light Bulb” newspaper report HERE!