You don't have to build on green belt

Spared: Green belt land could stay protected

Spared: Green belt land could stay protected

First published in South Essex news by

GREEN belt land in south Essex could be spared from thousands of homes being built after a senior planning inspector said it was a matter for local councils to decide.

Keith Holland, an inspector for the department for communities and local government, is shown on video telling Castle Point councillors they would not be forced to release green belt to meet housing targets.

His assurance, made in a video leaked to the Echo, is at odds with what Castle Point, Basildon and Rochford councils have told residents while they prepared local development plans for the next 20 years.

Castle Point and Basildon are planning to allow the building of 5,000 and 11,000 homes respectively, with large swathes of them on green fields, while Rochford had its plan for 2,500 new homes adopted this year.

Mr Holland said in the video of the meeting in March: “I want to be absolutely clear. If a local authority wishes to amend its green belt or use some of its green belt land for development, that is a decision for the local authority. It is not a decision which the planning inspector will impose on a local authority.

“It is purely your decision if you want to use green belt land or not and the National Planning Policy Framework is very clear.”

Councillors have said failure to get a housing plan in place would lead to decisions about green belt land being made by government planning inspectors, but Mr Holland added: “We will not impose that on you, we will never go to an examination and say to an authority you must use green belt land to accommodate your development.

It is your decision.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Leaked: Still from the video

In the video, he also says councils will not be forced to build the homes if flooding is an issue, such as happened recently on Canvey and across Rochford.

Andrew Sheldon, a Castle Point Tory councillor at the inspector’s briefing, said: “This is the complete opposite of what planning officers have been telling members, which is that if we don’t designate enough house building sites, then they will be imposed on us by the Planning Inspectorate, but here the inspector could not have been clearer this is not the case.”

This week, Phil Turner, Tory leader of Basildon Council, accused Billericay Action Group, which opposes 2,500 homes being built on green belt around the town, of being Nimbys.

He claimed inspectors would impose the housing if it wasn’t allocated by his council.

Adam Adshead, a Billericay town councillor on the action group said: “This goes against the message from the council that it is being forced to release this amount of green belt.

“The inspector clearly says if they can argue they don’t have the land elsewhere then green belt would not have to be released in this way.”

Basildon and Rochford councils dismissed planning inspector Keith Holland’s comments and said they were doing what was right for their green belts.

Braintree and Witham Times: Green belt land South of Melliker Lane, Hook Green

Protected: Green belt fields

Ian Ward, Tory responsible for planning at Rochford, said: “The inspector is explaining local authorities should identify need; identify constraint; work with their neighbours to meet the duty to cooperate and then a local authority may prepare a plan to say the identified needs can’t be met.

“However, the inspector has made it abundantly clear a local authority is going to be hard pressed to demonstrate its plan is sound and can be adopted with housing allocations that do not meet the identified needs.

“That being the case, Rochford’s sensible, pragmatic approach to identifying land for development to meet the needs of the district in a planned way is the correct approach to fulfilling the requirements of the national planning policy framework.”

Basildon Council pointed to the fact communities minister, Eric Pickles, said it would in future have to release green belt land when he refused plans for 750 homes on green belt at Little Chalvedon Hall, Bowers Gifford, in June.

A spokesman said: “In preparing the local plan the council has used a robust evidence base, as required by national policy, to determine the borough's development needs and evaluated these against the requirements of Government policy, other legal requirements and the practical merits of meeting those needs within the borough.”

Castle Point Council was unavailable to comment.

Braintree and Witham Times: Rebecca Harris MP - making her speech in Parliament

Known for months: MP Rebecca Harris

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, who arranged the briefing to council members, said she had been telling the council for months green belt in the borough could be protected.

She said: “I asked the Minster if he could send an inspector to speak to the council, as some councillors kept talking about Government targets forcing building on green belt, despite the fact the incoming Government changed the law, abolished housing targets and just asked councils to provide for what they could prove they needed and could find appropriate space for.

“The Government’s view is clear. If councils want to allocate green belt sites in local plans it is their decision, but the Government won’t impose it.

“Frankly I was fed up with the Government’s view being misinterpreted.

I accept planning law is confusing. I am grateful that the planning inspector spelt it out in crystal clear terms.

“I have always fought to protect the beautiful, virgin, green belt local residents treasure.

Green belt and the future of our borough is too important to lost because of confusion or to be used for political point scoring.”

Comments (16)

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7:45am Fri 5 Sep 14

Sim0n says...

Despite the press release from CPBC officers I believe that Castle Points Virgin or previously un developed Green Belt or as it is referred to in the inspectors meeting " Precious Green Belt " is defendable.
It will need officers to work hard to gather evidence to build constraints to reduce the Objectively Accessed Housing Need number to get to an acceptable housing number .
As a Castle Point Councillor I will fight to get these new Government guidance ( March 2014 ) is followed and Cadtle Point gets the best Local Plan available at this time.
Constraints that need applying are
Flood Risk on and off Canvey
Highway Infrastructure
Green belt protection
Hazardous sites
Reducing population
Water and Waste water supply/disposal
Ageing population
Lack support through duty of cooperation by ECC

It will not be easy but officers must support Cllrs in this matter and not sit safely behind their non elected positions.
Despite the press release from CPBC officers I believe that Castle Points Virgin or previously un developed Green Belt or as it is referred to in the inspectors meeting " Precious Green Belt " is defendable. It will need officers to work hard to gather evidence to build constraints to reduce the Objectively Accessed Housing Need number to get to an acceptable housing number . As a Castle Point Councillor I will fight to get these new Government guidance ( March 2014 ) is followed and Cadtle Point gets the best Local Plan available at this time. Constraints that need applying are Flood Risk on and off Canvey Highway Infrastructure Green belt protection Hazardous sites Reducing population Water and Waste water supply/disposal Ageing population Lack support through duty of cooperation by ECC It will not be easy but officers must support Cllrs in this matter and not sit safely behind their non elected positions. Sim0n
  • Score: 1

9:37am Fri 5 Sep 14

Kim Gandy says...

One of the worst Tory ideas ever.

Building on green belt.

Gives a green light to all the lowest forms of scum to make stacks of money; illegal developments and other abuse.
One of the worst Tory ideas ever. Building on green belt. Gives a green light to all the lowest forms of scum to make stacks of money; illegal developments and other abuse. Kim Gandy
  • Score: -4

9:55am Fri 5 Sep 14

thecoat says...

WH Smith's will be selling out of brown envelopes very soon......
WH Smith's will be selling out of brown envelopes very soon...... thecoat
  • Score: 0

10:49am Fri 5 Sep 14

TheWizzard says...

This week, Phil Turner, Tory leader of Basildon Council, accused Billericay Action Group, which opposes 2,500 homes being built on green belt around the town, of being Nimbys.

Is this the same phil turner publicly stated that he objected to building in Billericay?
This week, Phil Turner, Tory leader of Basildon Council, accused Billericay Action Group, which opposes 2,500 homes being built on green belt around the town, of being Nimbys. Is this the same phil turner publicly stated that he objected to building in Billericay? TheWizzard
  • Score: 9

3:03pm Fri 5 Sep 14

rain an says...

If the Tory run castle point council is saying we don't need 4000 homes Which they have been telling us for the last 8 years we do,would they tell us their new number.
If the Tory run castle point council is saying we don't need 4000 homes Which they have been telling us for the last 8 years we do,would they tell us their new number. rain an
  • Score: 0

3:37pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Simon Hart says...

rain an wrote:
If the Tory run castle point council is saying we don't need 4000 homes Which they have been telling us for the last 8 years we do,would they tell us their new number.
CPBC have not agreed any number it has been suggest in the Draft local Plan that 200 per year should be considered, bare in mind that the average amount of houses built in Castle Point over the last 10 years is around 150 per year .
The number of houses Castle Point needs to build over the next 15 to 20 years is sort of "Our " the councils decision as we have to weigh up the evidence pro and against new homes and submit a number within a Local Plan to an Inspector to decide if it is sound or not get it wrong and it is rejected or we end up with more houses than we could have asked for. This is happening all over the Country and some are passed and some are told to with draw the application and reconsider.
Rochford have their plan passed but is now on hold while a Judicial review takes place after a resident submitted papers against the local Plan, but since then ( March 2014 ) new Guidelines have been released hence the Inspectors visit to Castle Point to point out the changes that are “POSSIBLE” under these new guidelines.
Will these changes be easy to achieve ? I suggest NOT,
Will it be a lot of work ? Yes it will
Should we try? Hell YES .
The clock is ticking and not having a Objectively Access Housing Need number is delaying the process as it is the starting point for everything, the OAHN number will be high but valid reasons or constraints must be applied to reduce it, all the facts we have moaned about will count and reduce the number to a hopefully low enoughfigurer to allow us to protect our “Virgin “ or Precious Green Belt.
A massively important factor is always to have a 5 year housing supply and of course to set that properly we require the right housing target number get it wrong and the difference is by a factor of 5.
Contact your Castle Point Cllr and ask them to represent your opinions to the Task and Finish group .
[quote][p][bold]rain an[/bold] wrote: If the Tory run castle point council is saying we don't need 4000 homes Which they have been telling us for the last 8 years we do,would they tell us their new number.[/p][/quote]CPBC have not agreed any number it has been suggest in the Draft local Plan that 200 per year should be considered, bare in mind that the average amount of houses built in Castle Point over the last 10 years is around 150 per year . The number of houses Castle Point needs to build over the next 15 to 20 years is sort of "Our " the councils decision as we have to weigh up the evidence pro and against new homes and submit a number within a Local Plan to an Inspector to decide if it is sound or not get it wrong and it is rejected or we end up with more houses than we could have asked for. This is happening all over the Country and some are passed and some are told to with draw the application and reconsider. Rochford have their plan passed but is now on hold while a Judicial review takes place after a resident submitted papers against the local Plan, but since then ( March 2014 ) new Guidelines have been released hence the Inspectors visit to Castle Point to point out the changes that are “POSSIBLE” under these new guidelines. Will these changes be easy to achieve ? I suggest NOT, Will it be a lot of work ? Yes it will Should we try? Hell YES . The clock is ticking and not having a Objectively Access Housing Need number is delaying the process as it is the starting point for everything, the OAHN number will be high but valid reasons or constraints must be applied to reduce it, all the facts we have moaned about will count and reduce the number to a hopefully low enoughfigurer to allow us to protect our “Virgin “ or Precious Green Belt. A massively important factor is always to have a 5 year housing supply and of course to set that properly we require the right housing target number get it wrong and the difference is by a factor of 5. Contact your Castle Point Cllr and ask them to represent your opinions to the Task and Finish group . Simon Hart
  • Score: -2

7:09pm Fri 5 Sep 14

rain an says...

Sorry but at the last public enquiry cpbc planning officer Steve Rodgers stated castle point could take 4000 dwellings 2000 on the mainland and 2000 on canvey island .
Sorry but at the last public enquiry cpbc planning officer Steve Rodgers stated castle point could take 4000 dwellings 2000 on the mainland and 2000 on canvey island . rain an
  • Score: 1

7:15pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Sim0n says...

Yes but things have changed and Steve Rogers is an Officer a paid non elected official ,
Yes but things have changed and Steve Rogers is an Officer a paid non elected official , Sim0n
  • Score: -1

9:21pm Fri 5 Sep 14

ThisYear says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
One of the worst Tory ideas ever.

Building on green belt.

Gives a green light to all the lowest forms of scum to make stacks of money; illegal developments and other abuse.
You think you can make stacks of money from this idea?
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: One of the worst Tory ideas ever. Building on green belt. Gives a green light to all the lowest forms of scum to make stacks of money; illegal developments and other abuse.[/p][/quote]You think you can make stacks of money from this idea? ThisYear
  • Score: 0

4:39pm Sat 6 Sep 14

rain an says...

SimOn you say things have changed so I take it that mr rogers was giving his opinion not the Tory cpbc, if this is the case are the officers running the council and the councillors just lambs.
SimOn you say things have changed so I take it that mr rogers was giving his opinion not the Tory cpbc, if this is the case are the officers running the council and the councillors just lambs. rain an
  • Score: 0

4:55pm Sat 6 Sep 14

Sim0n says...

rain an wrote:
SimOn you say things have changed so I take it that mr rogers was giving his opinion not the Tory cpbc, if this is the case are the officers running the council and the councillors just lambs.
The things that has changed is the new planning guidance on Local Plans and Green Belt protection the Draft Local plan was a Officer recommended plan and was built to meet the then current regulations and there are conciquencues in not having a local plan.
[quote][p][bold]rain an[/bold] wrote: SimOn you say things have changed so I take it that mr rogers was giving his opinion not the Tory cpbc, if this is the case are the officers running the council and the councillors just lambs.[/p][/quote]The things that has changed is the new planning guidance on Local Plans and Green Belt protection the Draft Local plan was a Officer recommended plan and was built to meet the then current regulations and there are conciquencues in not having a local plan. Sim0n
  • Score: 0

6:50pm Sat 6 Sep 14

rain an says...

So your new local plan wil have less homes which comes to same qustion how many.
So your new local plan wil have less homes which comes to same qustion how many. rain an
  • Score: 0

7:15pm Sat 6 Sep 14

Sim0n says...

It has yet to be calculated, the process is complicated but I will try and explain it as I see it with the new guidance taken into consideration.
The first task should be to calculate the Boroughs Objectively Assessed Housing Need ( OAHN ) number which could be quiet high.
Work then needs to be done to identify constraints (reasons ) to reduce the OAHN constraints could be , Protect Virgin Green Belt, Flooding, Highways Infrastructure, Healthcare Infrastructure, Hazzardous Installations and lack of cooperation from other sources just to name a few .
Once the constraints are calculated a Castle Point housing number can be calculated. The Draft Local Plan was for 200 which is quiet a lot lower than what the Glebelands Inspector recommended so 200 is quie an achievement but in my opinion that is not low enough. Castle Point on average over the last 10 years have built 150 homes per year and if that continues for the next 20 years the life of the Local plan that would be 3000 homes.
Inspectors expect a realistic and deliverable 5 year housing supply this requires an accurate Housing need target and obviously the lower the target the lower the 5 year housing supply will be.

So to answer your question what is the number ? We do not know yet but I want it to be as low as possible but it must be backed up by evidence and stand the scrutiny of an inspector this revision of the Local Plan is vital and will require a lot of work from Officers and ALL Cllrs.
These are my opinions .
It has yet to be calculated, the process is complicated but I will try and explain it as I see it with the new guidance taken into consideration. The first task should be to calculate the Boroughs Objectively Assessed Housing Need ( OAHN ) number which could be quiet high. Work then needs to be done to identify constraints (reasons ) to reduce the OAHN constraints could be , Protect Virgin Green Belt, Flooding, Highways Infrastructure, Healthcare Infrastructure, Hazzardous Installations and lack of cooperation from other sources just to name a few . Once the constraints are calculated a Castle Point housing number can be calculated. The Draft Local Plan was for 200 which is quiet a lot lower than what the Glebelands Inspector recommended so 200 is quie an achievement but in my opinion that is not low enough. Castle Point on average over the last 10 years have built 150 homes per year and if that continues for the next 20 years the life of the Local plan that would be 3000 homes. Inspectors expect a realistic and deliverable 5 year housing supply this requires an accurate Housing need target and obviously the lower the target the lower the 5 year housing supply will be. So to answer your question what is the number ? We do not know yet but I want it to be as low as possible but it must be backed up by evidence and stand the scrutiny of an inspector this revision of the Local Plan is vital and will require a lot of work from Officers and ALL Cllrs. These are my opinions . Sim0n
  • Score: 0

8:17pm Sat 6 Sep 14

rain an says...

So the number you see has reasonable is 3000 . So the next question is where do you build 3000 Holmes without building on green belt.
So the number you see has reasonable is 3000 . So the next question is where do you build 3000 Holmes without building on green belt. rain an
  • Score: 0

9:27pm Sat 6 Sep 14

Sim0n says...

No I did not say that 3000 is acceptable , I just said what the average is , there is Green Belt out there that is not Green Field land that most would think is Brown Field land.
No I did not say that 3000 is acceptable , I just said what the average is , there is Green Belt out there that is not Green Field land that most would think is Brown Field land. Sim0n
  • Score: 0

9:26am Sun 7 Sep 14

rain an says...

If you start looking for faults in the green belt then by rights your going to destroy the very thing it was intended to do that is to stop building on it . what the condition of the green belt his will come down to someones opion ,my stance is there is so little green belt in castlepoint that none should be touch.
If you start looking for faults in the green belt then by rights your going to destroy the very thing it was intended to do that is to stop building on it . what the condition of the green belt his will come down to someones opion ,my stance is there is so little green belt in castlepoint that none should be touch. rain an
  • Score: 1
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