At last week’s Castle Point planning committee, councillors were asked to approve an outline application for approximately 600 houses on Thorney Bay caravan site, Canvey .
I have been a member of the committee for nine years and this is the first time councillors have been asked to approve such a large-scale development, with no details of exactly how many houses there will be, the road infrastructure, drainage, and flood risk assessment.
This approach is like putting the cart before the horse.
Normally, a planning application has all the details presented to the committee first, so it can make comments if an application is valid, make conditions or turn it down.
At this meeting I raised many questions on the unsuitability of this site, which is on a high-risk flood zone and next to a gas site and sewage plant.
No answers were given to me because the officers said not all the investigations have been completed.
At Buncefield, where there was a major explosion, houses were so badly damaged, residents had to evacuate. At the inquiry, investigators said they had miscalculated the safe distances houses should have been sited from the tanks.
They concluded by saying valuable lessons have been learnt. How many times have we heard this?
It has also been said that the fact Thorney Bay has permission for caravans should not be seen as justification for allowing a major housing scheme in a location with high probability of flooding. Although all of these issues were mentioned at the meeting, the mainland councillors voted to accept the outline application, and all the Canvey councillors voted against it, but lost by a majority.
Residents on Canvey have told me they do not want any more houses built and want a third road off the island which does not connect to Waterside Farm.
Rosscommon Way will not relieve the traffic congestion, only a third road off the island will do this.
Councillor John Anderson
...I went to this meeting, with no agenda in mind, just to observe the proceedings. I am not surprised the application was passed, although I thought the officer had said she wanted more time to properly evaluate the application, rather than it gain approval.
Had the speakers never heard of the expression “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? Not one person who spoke in opposition to the plan seemed to refer to notes, spoke with any fluency, and I could not understand what they were talking about.
They had difficulty in sticking to the three-minute time limit and then, even though they all knew they only had three minutes, were requesting another chance to speak.
After they were defeated, they all left, which was a pity, because if they had stayed, they would have heard a very eloquent lady speak about development on Bread and Cheese Hill, Thundersley. She had a set of notes, which she referred to, she spoke clearly, got her point across very well and finished exactly on three minutes.
Perhaps she could give lessons in public speaking. One can forgive a member of the public, but an elected and paid councillor – surely they should know how to make a coherent speech.
...Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris has joined the fight to protect the green belt in Castle Point (Sep 7). While I congratulate her, I ask why she has only just come on board.
After Canvey lost a possibly life-saving flood plain this week for housing, the timing of Mrs Harris’s new fight strikes me as a little disrespectful.
Still, better late than never, and now planning permission has been granted on flood plain land, the residents of Castle Point will need all the support fighting the cause.
This last approval has opened the door for the developers to gain permission to build on green belt land throughout the borough.