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Fury as Thorney Bay homes are approved
FURIOUS islanders and councillors stormed out of a heated meeting as plans to build as many as 600 homes on a Canvey caravan park were approved in principle.
Castle Point councillors approved businessman Jeff King’s outline application to build on Thorney Bay Caravan Park, off Thorney Bay Road, prompting protests and a walkout.
Council planners had recommended the planning committee to approve the application, with the fine details of the proposal still to be agreed.
However, when it came to the vote, councillors who opposed the plan joined residents who stormed out of the council chamber in anger.
They are worried the new homes will be too close to Canvey’s Calor Gas and Oikos terminals, both to the west of the site, and also think the development will clog up the island’s roads with extra traffic and put pressure on local schools and health facilities.
Canvey Island Independent councillors Neville and Grace Watson, Lee Barrett, Barry Campagna and Dave Blackwell, led the walkout.
During the meeting, Mr Watson said to fellow councillors: “Thanks for putting our residents at risk – you should be ashamed of yourselves. This is all on your heads if something goes wrong on those hazardous sites.”
Fellow islander and People Against Methane campaigner George Whatley had argued a decision on the homes should be delayed until the results of an Essex County Council’s review of safety near potentially hazardous sites were known.
However, Conservative councillors argued the development would be an improvement on the existing caravan site and give the council great control over who lived there.
Norman Smith, Tory councillor for Boyce ward in Benfleet , said: “The residents on that site are living in caravans which are in such poor condition they are certainly not suitable for children to be brought up in.
“I believe houses with walls and gardens are the correct place to house people, not inferior caravans.”
Ray Howard , Tory councillor for Canvey West ward, said: “If anyone asked me if I would like to go back to what it was like when I was young and it was a holiday park, I would say I would.
“However, I live in the real world and the previous council designated this as a future housing site in the local plan.
“The owner knows his rights and will fight his case. I would rather see homes here than the Dutch Village, and I would rather see 600 homes than 2,000 caravans.
“As a local authority, we have no way of knowing where the people in the caravans come from or who they are.”