Ministers Need to Step in as Castle Point about to scrap local plan despite inspector finding it sound

This is the authority whose own Chief Exec described members as ‘failures’ for now at least eighttimes failing to vote to progress local plan

Southend Echoe

PLANS to build more than 5,000 homes across Castle Point are set to be entirely scrapped.

The council’s new administration, a coalition between The Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) and the People’s Independent Party (PIP), is moving to bin the housing plan which would have seen 5,284 homes to be built by 2033.

The local plan was put on hold following a vote in March, with the intention to develop a new plan, but the new administration now wants to throw it out with no replacement.

Councillor Dave Blackwell, the leader of the council, said: “I don’t believe that the local plan’s numbers coincide to what we need in this borough.

“I am more than happy if members want to withdraw the local pan. Right across the country, councils are doing the same thing,” the CIIP councillor added.

In neighbouring Basildon, councillors voted to axe the borough’s 18,000-home local plan in March.

In the following weeks a plan to build four town centre tower blocks, one up to 23 storeys high, containing 495 new homes were approved at appeal with the Government planning inspector citing the lack of a local plan in his reasoning for giving the scheme the green light.

But Mr Blackwell says the risks of speculative development being given preferential treatment at appeal are worth it.

“I think all local authorities are at that risk of massive development,” he said. “If they do bring planning applications, we will have to fight our case.

“Local authorities have got to start listening to their residents. I don’t know of any resident in favour of building thousands of homes on the green belt.

He added: “To say a small borough like Castle Point needs 5,000 new homes is nonsense. Our infrastructure is creaking now, let alone with that many new houses.”

Mr Blackwell pointed towards Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who in October of last year pledged to protect green belt land from development, signalling an intent to lead through planning reforms.

Castle Point’s Conservative MP Rebecca Harris had also previously described the borough’s local plan as “unsound”. {well squashed on that one by inspector]

“All these people far superior to me are saying we shouldn’t be doing what the planning inspector wants us to do,” Mr Blackwell said.

2 thoughts on “Ministers Need to Step in as Castle Point about to scrap local plan despite inspector finding it sound

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