We want to save our precious green belt: Castle Point Council being encouraged to rethink 4,000 homes

We want to save our precious green belt

We want to save our precious green belt

First published in Echo News Exclusive by

REBEL councillors are questioning whether Castle Point’s green belt can be saved after a meeting with Government planning inspectors.

Inspectors from the Department of Communities and Local Government visited Castle Point Council to give advice on forming a Local Plan as the authority is still formulating its housing strategy setting out sites for 4,000 new homes.

Controversially, half of them would be built on green belt – which has sparked protests from residents.

The meeting raised questions over whether the authority may have to re-think its housing strategy as councillors felt new planning policies mean they could get away with scrapping development on green belt altogether.

However, the council said they were misinterpreting the regulations and the authority could face having planning powers revoked if the local plan is not watertight. Simon Hart, Conservative councillor for Victoria ward, said: “The inspector was speaking generally about the local plan and that we could do it without any houses on green belt, if we can justify it and give reasons why.

“Castle Point is very small and therefore it needs a buffer to separate it from other areas, so we could try to prove we are stuck and ask them to accept a smaller amount of homes.

“This has thrown a spanner in the works, but a good spanner as this is definitely good news.

“It has given us hope. We do not want to raise people’s hopes as we have to get a plan past an inspector.”

Around half of the 4,000 homes will be built on green belt, including 800 homes on Jotmans, Benfleet, 430 homes on land east of Rayleigh Road, Thundersley, and 275 homes on the Dutch Village on Canvey.

This comes as developer Persimmon Homes recently lodged an appeal to try to push forward 265 homes on green belt off Jotmans Lane, Benfleet.

Last week, councillors also agreed to carry out further investigations into whether or not up to 1,500 homes could be built on the Blinking Owl site off the A127 to try to save the borough’s virgin green belt land.

A source close to the council said: “The inspector said he could accept a local plan that didn’t involve building on green belt whatsoever, which is very interesting.

“All we have to do is try to meet the housing need, but frankly I don’t think 4,000 homes is what we need.He said we have a responsibility to approach other authorities to see if they are willing to take some of our housing allocation.

“If they all turn around and say no, it doesn’t matter, we just have to show we tried.”

CASTLE Point Council says it can only keep green belt if it manages to find other sites for all 4,000 homes.

A spokeswoman said: “The visit was about plan-making generally.

“Green belt is an important part of Government policy – as is meeting housing needs and boosting the economy.

“The inspector made it clear alterations to the green belt boundary were a matter best dealt with as part of the plan-making process, something the council is currently considering.”

The spokeswoman said green belt could only be left untouched if the council met housing need and, if it couldn’t, it must ask other councils if they can take some of the new homes. If that fails, the council needs to persuade an inspector it has done all it can to meet the requirements.

She said green belt would be developed if there were no other, non-green belt sites to use.

She added: “All authorities must cooperate with each other.

“The council has presented its plan and background evidence to neighbouring councils.”

She also made it clear that any alterations of the green belt would not be imposed on the council by a planning inspector at examination as this was a matter for the local planning authority.

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:50am Thu 3 Apr 14

carnmountyouknowitmakessense says...

Sacrificial to the new builds, will become the reason for the loss of such land, land just waiting to be used for the more important purpose of living.
Sacrificial to the new builds, will become the reason for the loss of such land, land just waiting to be used for the more important purpose of living. carnmountyouknowitmakessense
  • Score: -4

8:18am Thu 3 Apr 14

pembury53 says...

as has been said many times on here, the council have no choice..... 4000 houses are coming, maybe a slightly different location, but same nightmare..... in fact it will probably be worse for locals if the council 'win' as saving the green belt will mean cramming the 4000 into already developed areas, meaning all those new london escapees will be right on your door steps........
as has been said many times on here, the council have no choice..... 4000 houses are coming, maybe a slightly different location, but same nightmare..... in fact it will probably be worse for locals if the council 'win' as saving the green belt will mean cramming the 4000 into already developed areas, meaning all those new london escapees will be right on your door steps........ pembury53
  • Score: -7

8:40am Thu 3 Apr 14

InTheKnowOk says...

We can't build on greenbelt land so why should the council have carte blanche?
We can't build on greenbelt land so why should the council have carte blanche? InTheKnowOk
  • Score: 8

9:24am Thu 3 Apr 14

Louisajo says...

The pollution over the last few days would be much worse if these new homes are built - it would mean thousands upon thousands more cars in the Borough decreasing quality of life for all of us existing residents. In addition the roads in and out of the area just wouldn't cope. There is no question of improved leisure facilities or more schools, doctors surgeries, play areas etc - because there is quite simply not the space.
We are seeing a steady erosion of the attractiveness of living in this area and our property prices will very soon begin to reflect this. Then we will all be stuck here, in an over populated conurbation, just existing in a sprawling , jam packed, morass of concrete.
Our green belt is a very small buffer zone and we need it kept intact!
This tiny Borough already has a population density far, far higher than most towns and Boroughs in the rest of the UK.
This Borough is stuffed full to bursting. It's up to our council and our county councillors TO FIGHT OUR CORNER and STAND FIRM.
They must all put aside their own personal interests and desire for monetary gain and approval from developers who do not live in this area or care one iota about its residents. They must listen and represent the people of Castle Point and put forward our concerns. If in this instance they don't - well, can they live with themselves?
Openness, honesty and integrity is what we want and expect from our representatives.
( Those residents at last years council meeting regarding the Kiln Road development saw the outrageous behavior and lack of backbone from our council - lets watch with interest and not put up with such dangerous nonsense this time.)
The pollution over the last few days would be much worse if these new homes are built - it would mean thousands upon thousands more cars in the Borough decreasing quality of life for all of us existing residents. In addition the roads in and out of the area just wouldn't cope. There is no question of improved leisure facilities or more schools, doctors surgeries, play areas etc - because there is quite simply not the space. We are seeing a steady erosion of the attractiveness of living in this area and our property prices will very soon begin to reflect this. Then we will all be stuck here, in an over populated conurbation, just existing in a sprawling , jam packed, morass of concrete. Our green belt is a very small buffer zone and we need it kept intact! This tiny Borough already has a population density far, far higher than most towns and Boroughs in the rest of the UK. This Borough is stuffed full to bursting. It's up to our council and our county councillors TO FIGHT OUR CORNER and STAND FIRM. They must all put aside their own personal interests and desire for monetary gain and approval from developers who do not live in this area or care one iota about its residents. They must listen and represent the people of Castle Point and put forward our concerns. If in this instance they don't - well, can they live with themselves? Openness, honesty and integrity is what we want and expect from our representatives. ( Those residents at last years council meeting regarding the Kiln Road development saw the outrageous behavior and lack of backbone from our council - lets watch with interest and not put up with such dangerous nonsense this time.) Louisajo
  • Score: 7

9:30am Thu 3 Apr 14

Howard Cháse says...

These rebel councillors will be ones that don't have any land to sell to housing developers I suppose......
These rebel councillors will be ones that don't have any land to sell to housing developers I suppose...... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 5

2:10pm Fri 4 Apr 14

S.Ainsley - Jotmans Farm Action Group says...

The clue really is in " NEED" What is local need? its not 4000 houses, thats for sure. The housing numbers have been calculated using projections of in-migration over the next 10 -15 years. It is therefore not based upon Local need. Castle Point has 1350 Long term empty properties and Castle Point has 1200 people on the waiting list. By introducing legislation which allows compulsory purchase orders on long term empty properties we can reduce the requirement for new homes. This would also be ellible for the new homes bonus. There is also a Government Grant available to anyone who wants to renovate a property. It is not repayable provided the owner agrees to rent it out to someone on the Boroughs waiting list.
Why is our council so hell bent on building on Greenbelt?
Because the Developers want the Land.
At a recent meeting of Greenbelt Groups and the Council, to which I was invited, Cllr. Jeff Stanley said " We only looked at sites that the Developers were intersted in", this was after Cllr Norman Smith had pleaded that "They had left no stone unturned!"

the NPPF gives clear guidance on protection of the Greenbelt. The Secretary of State, on the Glebelands appeal said, the fact that CPBC had not got a plan in place did not outweigh the importance of protecting the Greenbelt.
This and the Panning |nspectors comments in the article above, sends a message that we do not have to surrender huge amounts of our precious Greenbelt for Development. The NLP, contrary to Pam Challis statement, removes 100% of the Greenbelt from St. Mary's Ward, 100% of the Greenbelt from Appleton Ward and approx 80% of the Greenbelt from St Georges Ward. This area forms a Barrier, a green Lung protecting Castle Point from pollution along the A130 & A13. We need to protect this and all the Greenbelt on the Mainland and Canvey Island.
The clue really is in " NEED" What is local need? its not 4000 houses, thats for sure. The housing numbers have been calculated using projections of in-migration over the next 10 -15 years. It is therefore not based upon Local need. Castle Point has 1350 Long term empty properties and Castle Point has 1200 people on the waiting list. By introducing legislation which allows compulsory purchase orders on long term empty properties we can reduce the requirement for new homes. This would also be ellible for the new homes bonus. There is also a Government Grant available to anyone who wants to renovate a property. It is not repayable provided the owner agrees to rent it out to someone on the Boroughs waiting list. Why is our council so hell bent on building on Greenbelt? Because the Developers want the Land. At a recent meeting of Greenbelt Groups and the Council, to which I was invited, Cllr. Jeff Stanley said " We only looked at sites that the Developers were intersted in", this was after Cllr Norman Smith had pleaded that "They had left no stone unturned!" the NPPF gives clear guidance on protection of the Greenbelt. The Secretary of State, on the Glebelands appeal said, the fact that CPBC had not got a plan in place did not outweigh the importance of protecting the Greenbelt. This and the Panning |nspectors comments in the article above, sends a message that we do not have to surrender huge amounts of our precious Greenbelt for Development. The NLP, contrary to Pam Challis statement, removes 100% of the Greenbelt from St. Mary's Ward, 100% of the Greenbelt from Appleton Ward and approx 80% of the Greenbelt from St Georges Ward. This area forms a Barrier, a green Lung protecting Castle Point from pollution along the A130 & A13. We need to protect this and all the Greenbelt on the Mainland and Canvey Island. S.Ainsley - Jotmans Farm Action Group
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree