THOUSANDS of people are fighting against council plans to build more homes on Canvey.
Castle Point Council has received 4,600 objections to proposals for 4,000 new homes which will be built in the whole of Castle Point in the next 20 years.
However, most of the outcry came from islanders who feared the loss of green belt and the danger of an increase in flooding as well as the impact thousands of families would have on traffic, schools and health services.
The least popular of 15 key development sites was the Thorney Bay Caravan Park where 600 homes have been proposed.
More than 1,700 people, more than a third of the people who responded, were against the park being redeveloped as a housing estate.
Castle Point residents were asked for their views between January and March this year and the results have just been made public.
The report said: “The highest levels of objection were seen with regard to sites on Canvey.
Land at Thorney Bay Park had the highest overall level of objection at 35 per cent of respondents.
This was closely followed by land at Point Road and land east of Canvey Road, with 32.8 per cent and 32.1 per cent of residents objecting to these proposals respectively.
“The response indicates a clear concern among residents with regard to the provision of new housing. The comments highlight there are significant local concerns about the impact of new housing on transport infrastructure capacity in particular, but also with regard to the capacity of other services.
The loss of green belt and open space are also key concerns.”
Planners now have to look at everyone’s views before the council sends the proposals to a Government inspector for approval.
But Canvey residents are unlikely to see a reprieve as the report said the weight of objections alone was not enough to reduce the numbers, and views of developers and neighbouring authorities who favour high house-building levels across Castle Point also have to be given weight.
The report added: “The residents’ response runs contrary to the views expressed by developers and neighbouring local authorities, who point out that the evidence indicates that there is a need for a higher level of housing provision in Castle Point.”
Neville Watson, independent councillor for Winter Gardens who is on a task and finish group set up to look at the responses, said he understood residents’ concerns but that the council may even have to up its house building targets to get its plan approved.
He said: “I think if we put the level of 200 a year before an inspector they would throw it out. The trouble is the levels in the 1998 local plan have not yet even been built and these are minimum levels with a 20 per cent buffer zone.
“Canvey is a flood cell and Rebecca Harris MP has said there should be no more building on the flood zone.
“The trouble is we have hardly built on the mainland, so we are going to have to look at sites there.”
He said Thorney Bay site was not really viable because of flooding concerns and the fact it is next to two hazardous industrial sites.
200 homes a year target looks the most likely plan
CASTLE Point Council deputy leader Bill Sharp said the authority may reluctantly have to press on with the 200 homes a year target.
He said: “If 70 per cent of residents oppose it I can tell you 100 per cent of councillors do too, but we have to take advice from officers to get the plan through. The advice is the minimum that would be accepted is 200. We have tried to get evidence to support a case for less building but at the moment that has not been forthcoming. Even though the average level over the past few years has been about 80 a year, that is not acceptable to the inspector as an argument to reduce it.”
Turning to Thorney Bay, Mr Sharp said while canvassing in May he found no one in the road opposed to the plan.
He added: “That has been in the plan since 1998 so if we removed it we would lose on appeal. At the end of the day you are replacing mobile homes with quality housing. The last site I would expect to see developed is at the Dutch Village.”