Castle Point to Waste £1.6million in Needlessly Doing Local Plan Again – and no Guarantees on Green Belt

Essex Lives More than their entire annual Planning Budget

Castle Point Borough Council has committed to spend up to £1.65m to develop a new local plan – but cannot guarantee green belt will not be ultimately earmarked for development at the end of the process. The money – to fund the “unavoidable costs of examination and the evidence” – comes after around £685,000 was earmarked to develop a plan for 5,325 homes that was started in 2018 but scrapped earlier this year.

It is anticipated that work on the new plan will start in January 2023 with a period of engagement to find out what people value about the places in Castle Point, and what people would like to see changed. At the same time, work will be undertaken to collect data about the borough and importantly to see if all its allocation can be accommodated in brown fields and urban areas. Among the major concerns with the 2018 plan was to allocate land in Canvey Island for housing.

The council decided in June to start afresh to develop a plan “that reflects local need” even though the unadopted local plan was deemed to have been sound and suitable for adoption by the Government inspector. Castle Point Borough Council has been since urged by the Government to deliver its new and revised local plan “at pace” in light of its decision to start the process all over again.

Within the previous draft east of Canvey Road had been allocated for 300 homes, land west of Canvey Road had been allocated for 199 homes and land at Thorney Bay caravan park had been allocated for 820 homes. Ian Butt, head of place and policy at Castle Point Borough Council, warned against predicting the outcome of the new process – including any pre-judgements against building on green belt.

He told Castle Point Borough Council on November 30: “This is the beginning of the process of the new local plan. We have a long process to go through, we have to make sure we follow the legally compliant process as laid down by Government. Everything will be done to try to ensure we can accommodate local needs appropriately and within urban areas as far as we possibly can.

“But I would caution members in terms of pre-determining the process by assuming that it will not be necessary to make any changes to the green belt. At this moment in time we just don’t have that answer. But the process we are going through will build the data and the evidence to give us that answer.

“And as part of the process one of the first tasks we are going to be doing is a very deep dive into the capacity of our urban areas to see what can be accommodated and run various scenarios around that capacity. And if that capacity is sufficient to meet our needs then that will provide us with the answer.”