Ministry ‘Too Busy with Brexit’ to Intervene on Castlepoint Local Plan

Echo

CANVEY residents are being “left in the dark” over future plans for homes across the island and Castle Point, it has been claimed.

Almost 5,000 homes are due to be built across the borough in the next 20 years, with Castle Point Council initially threatened with Government intervention in December 2017.

A draft proposal was completed but voted down by councillors in December, when it was stated Government intervention would take place “imminently”.

And Canvey residents feel they are now being kept in the dark with no news on what’s happening next, with a Canvey Independent Party councillor admitting the party has no information to feed back either.

While Norman Smith, leader of the council, insisted it is chasing the Government for answers.

Joan Thomas, 55, of Long Road, Canvey, said: “We are told all these homes will be built, we are told all the green belt is at risk, we are told the Government would intervene and we would have no say, then it just goes quiet. We have heard nothing since that December vote, what have the council been doing? Working to get a suitable plan? Or sitting on their hands waiting for central Government to take control? Nothing at all seems to be happening.”

Locations for all the proposed sites were released, with 1,399 set for Canvey on nine sites, and 2,823 for the rest of Castle Point on 20 sites – with room needing to be found for at least 600 more. At least 4,800 homes are needed, as well as 90 residential care beds.

A number of green belt sites have been released under the plan, but the council has insisted it is attempting to keep the number of homes on green belt to a “bare minimum”.

Barry Campagna, of the Canvey independent party, said: “When we were voting on these plans, we were told “if it is not approved, Government intervention will begin tomorrow”, but that has not happened. The threat was made to sound very serious, but we have heard very little since.

“As a Canvey councillor, we are not being told anything by Castle Point council, and we have not heard anything from Government, so we have nothing to feed back to our residents, the public are in the dark and that is when vicious rumours start.

Government ‘too busy with Brexit for Local Plan’

Castle Point council leader, Norman Smith, insisted the council feels just as ill-informed, insisting it is pressuring central Government for answers – and soon.

He has previously warned that Government intervention into the local plan would be imminent, following councillor’s rejection of a draft plan in December.

But weeks on, Mr Smith claims he is still to hear from central Government, adding that he does not expect an answer until Brexit negotiations are completed.

He said: “There is no update on the local plan and we feel equally left in the dark by the Government who are busy with Brexit.

“It is likely the Castle Point Local Plan is lower priority compared to the Brexit negotiations.

“I do not think we will hear until the Brexit is out of the way. We are talking to them on a weekly basis to find out if there’s any update. We are definitely not keeping anyone in the dark.

“We don’t know any more than the residents. It would be wrong to assume and tell residents what we think will happen.

“But as soon as we know more we will let the public know.”

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