Planning appeal to overturn green belt decision in Benfleets gets underway

First published in News

GREEN belt land in Benfleet should be built on because Castle Point Council is lagging behind in providing new homes, it has been claimed.

More than 50 residents turned out for the start of a planning inquiry into the refusal of plans to build 165 homes on green belt land between Sadlers Farm roundabout and Glebelands, in Benfleet, today, December 11.

The plans, which were thrown out in April, were submitted to Castle Point Council by Fox Land and Property and refused for three reasons:

- The site is on green belt land.

- Wildlife conservation proposals were inadequate.

- The developer failed to demonstrate commitment to providing affordable housing.

Peter Goatley, counsel for Fox Land and Property, said the firm rejects each reason for refusal. He also claims the council has failed to officially define green belt land in its planning blueprint so the land is not covered by the status.

He said: “If it is not found to be in the green belt, the application would not need to demonstrate special circumstances for its release.

“There is an acute need for housing delivery in Castle Point, there’s less than a five year housing supply as found by an inspector and an acute shortfall in the provision of affordable housing.”

Mr Goatley said within the development, 35 per cent of affordable housing would be provided, something which he expected to be “greeted warmly”, instead it was met with criticism by the council.

Alun Alesbury, representing the council, said: “It’s an unusual situation, but there’s no legal basis for saying the green belt has disappeared in Castle Point - it clearly hasn’t.

“This is not a trivial piece of the green belt that can be nibbled away at or given up, it’s worth preserving and fighting for.

“The council has been undertaking a considerable amount of work and identified areas of land in Castle Point which are suitable for adequate amounts of housing.”

Peter Gunn, 78, of Mandeville Way, has lived in the area for 50 years.

He said: “The crux of the matter is whether that area is green belt, if it is declared and accepted as green belt and if you grant permission to develop on that site you will set a precedent for the whole of England.”

Councillors Jackie Govier and Clive Walter also spoke at the appeal, along with Steve Guest, co-founder of the Glebelands and Sadlers Green Belt campaign group.

Mr Walter said life “will be hell” for residents already living near the site if the development is approved due to an increase in traffic and noise problems and existing services, such as the oversubscribed doctor’s surgeries in Rushbottom Lane, could not cope if more people moved in.

Government planning inspector John Felgate said he will be considering ten points during the inquiry.

1) Whether the site is in the green belt.

2) If it is in the green belt, the effects of the development on it, including how it will affect the area’s openess, functions and the character and appearance of it.

3) If it is not in the green belt, as it has been suggested, what policies would then apply in place of that status.

4) The effects of the development on wildlife, biodiversity and nature conservation.

5) Whether the scheme would make appropriate provision for affordable housing.

6) Whether the development would give rise to any other harm, including matters raised by members of the public such as traffic issues, road safety, parking and effects on local services.

7) The need for housing in the area generally and how far the council is from having a five-year supply of housing in Castle Point.

8) Effects of the scheme on the local economy.

9) Any other benefits of the proposed development.

10) Mr Felgate explained there is also a legal undertaking to consider and whether it meets relevant legal and policy tests.

The inquiry has been scheduled to last seven days.

Comments (6)

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5:37pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Eric Whim says...

build more houses next to where the councillors live first
build more houses next to where the councillors live first Eric Whim
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Nebs says...

How far the council is from having a five-year supply of housing in Castle Point? A million miles.
Croatia is set to join the EU in mid-2013. Average salary under £1,000 a month, nearly 20 percent unemployment, unemployment benefit about £100 a month.
Serbia 2015?
Bosnia-Hercegovina 2015?
Albania 2015?
Iceland if they sort out their money and fishing.

Where are they all going to live when the borders open.
How far the council is from having a five-year supply of housing in Castle Point? A million miles. Croatia is set to join the EU in mid-2013. Average salary under £1,000 a month, nearly 20 percent unemployment, unemployment benefit about £100 a month. Serbia 2015? Bosnia-Hercegovina 2015? Albania 2015? Iceland if they sort out their money and fishing. Where are they all going to live when the borders open. Nebs
  • Score: 0

11:43am Wed 12 Dec 12

whataday says...

What is the purpose of green belt? To prevent urban sprawl and to separate one town from another! If Fox Developers get to overturn this decision then it makes a complete mockery of the idea of green belt. If these developers are allowed to continue eroding green belt we might as well say we are part of Greater London because there'll be no boundaries soon. Still at least we would get a better transport system if we were part of Greater London
What is the purpose of green belt? To prevent urban sprawl and to separate one town from another! If Fox Developers get to overturn this decision then it makes a complete mockery of the idea of green belt. If these developers are allowed to continue eroding green belt we might as well say we are part of Greater London because there'll be no boundaries soon. Still at least we would get a better transport system if we were part of Greater London whataday
  • Score: 0

2:12pm Wed 12 Dec 12

G Man says...

http://canveygb.word
press.com/2012/12/12
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http://canveygb.word press.com/2012/12/12 /census-figures-canv ey-green-belt-the-en vironment-agency-cas tle-point-council-an d-the-consequences-o f-saying-and-doing-n othing/ G Man
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Whatthe* says...

The eyes of the Country are watching this case, its not just important for Castle Point.
The eyes of the Country are watching this case, its not just important for Castle Point. Whatthe*
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Aint it just the truth says...

Absolute rubbish. The UK population has increased by a third since WW2 but Castle Points population has trebled in the same time period. We have built more than our fair share, time for other areas to do the same, leave our precious green belt alone!
Absolute rubbish. The UK population has increased by a third since WW2 but Castle Points population has trebled in the same time period. We have built more than our fair share, time for other areas to do the same, leave our precious green belt alone! Aint it just the truth
  • Score: 0

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