RAGE - Residents Against Glyders Expansion

Main website: www.rage15.wix.com/rage

e-mail: rage1@outlook.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/ragecastlepoint

Reeds Hill Farm Poster

click for poster size version

Extract from June 2014 Newsletter:

History – The land on Reeds Hill Farm at the bottom of Essex Way (southern side), owned by County Councillor, Jillian Reeves, was included in the Draft New Local Plan for the development of 35 Homes and is identified as H15, but generally referred to as “Land off Glyders”. This plot of land, which has been described as being of no use to the Reeves, is under agreement to be sold to Linden Homes for £1.5m subject to planning permission.

In the late 1970’s, planning permission was refused for the building of just 11 homes, and it was further rejected at appeal as being structurally unstable and unsuitable for development. It has come to light that land on the opposite side of Essex Way has been purchased by Barratt Homes for just £200,000 to potentially build around 150 homes, but this has not been included in the Plan which would not allow it to be developed until after 2031. Curious though that H15 is worth seven and a half times as much for a quarter of the properties!

RAGE was formed earlier this year when residents discovered the Council’s intentions and it was soon discovered that there were numerous reasons why this land should not be considered for building purposes in addition to its rejection 35 years ago, such as:

Extensive piling would be essential and not necessarily successful as the steep incline, composed of unstable clays, is constantly shifting.
Existing properties could be damaged in the process.
Invasion of privacy and light deprivation to existing properties.
Surface water drainage has been a problem in Essex Way and Eastleigh causing flooding in recent years during heavy downpours of rain. Concrete added to the south side would exacerbate the situation.
Existing water supply pipes cannot adequately cope with the supply of fresh water.
Additional traffic congestion on Glyders, Eastleigh and Highcliff onto Essex way by potentially 50 vehicles would add to this accident black spot already recognised as such by the Poilice.
Land south of Essex Way is already identified as being within the 10% most deprived nationally for air quality and road injuries – this development would increase pollution.

Half of H15 has been neglected and has consequently become a haven for wildlife. As a result badgers, foxes, squirrels, bats, lizards, butterflies and damselflies all enjoy this natural environment. Various aspects of the Government Planning Practice Guidance on protecting green belt land have been ignored.

Full details of these findings were sent to Steve Rogers, Head of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods, whose basic response was that these points would be addressed if and when a planning application is received in relation to this site and that guidelines can be ignored as they are merely “guidelines”. A meeting was arranged with Councillor Norman Smith which was fairly positive with his pledge that he would do everything in his power to prevent development of this site. This of course depended on his being re-elected, which he was.

Everything now hinges on whether H15 is actually included in the final Local Plan; results from the consultation will be released later in the year. If it is still included, we have been assured that no development will take place for 5 years, thereby providing ample time to take our protests further, possibly by obtaining legal advice.

RAGE had contacted the Reeves to suggest that, if the land is unsuitable for building, that it be donated to the community, in this year of the centenary of the First World War, as a memorial to those who died fighting for this country. Mr & Mrs Reeves were not prepared to attend a meeting.

Extract from August 2014 Newsletter:

Mr and Mrs Reeves have refused to meet with RAGE! representatives to discuss the future of the land Glyders [H15] and the prospect of turning it into a memorial ground for the First World War Centenary. This was their response to a letter on our behalf from Rebecca Harris:

The site off the Glyders was earmarked for future development back in 1998 when the greater part was separated from the main part of the farm. “When the Castle Point Borough Council Local Plan Review was commenced in 2001 a submission was made to the Council for the inclusion of this land. At that time the informal discussions with the Council planners by Strutt & Parker would have indicated a wish for the land to be used for development of “first-time buyer” homes as it is of particular concern that young people who were born in Benfleet cannot afford to live here when they settle down and wish to buy their own houses.

A submission was made to the Council in response to their Core Strategy and Generic Development Control Policies Development Plan Document in 2006. Further discussions took place between Strutt & Parker and the Council planners in 2008 and the site in question was included under the Alternative Option SP1 3 (several small urban peripheral site). A further submission to the Castle Point Local Development Framework Further Preferred Options Consultation made by Strutt & Parker in 2009 reiterated the opportunity for first time buyers and affordable housing. A further submission stated: “There are suitable sites to deliver such housing aimed at different types of need in mainland areas such as South Benfleet, for example the site to the south of Essex Way which could offer the 35% affordable housing provision and a further provision for example to be reserved for shared ownership. The site is able to offer a number of benefits which includes assisting young people in accessing the housing market, while still providing a range of local benefits such as improving the bridleway link and improving access to the Country Park. There is little more to add –for over 15 years it has been the intention that the land should be used for residential development - and this is now being pursued through a property developer with an option to purchase the land.”

It was pointed out to Norman Smith who heads up the Task and Finish Group that will assess the consultation document returns for the New Draft Plan, that being born in an area does not bring entitlement to buy houses there if house prices are prohibitive. You have to live where you can afford to live.

Also, with the associated cost of building the dwellings and associated infrastructure (drains, roads etc.) the property cost will be far from “affordable”. Mr Smith advised that the developer is anxious to proceed but is being held at bay by the Council. He also assured the group that all our points, along with other residents’ comments will be taken into full consideration by the T&F group and we should wait to see whether Glyders is actually included in the results, published later in the year, before proceeding.

Interestingly the ECHO article 24th July 2014 mentioned that green belt land usually fetches £5,000 - £10,000 per acre. H15 constitutes about two acres - with a valuation of £10,000 to £20,000 it is no wonder the Reeves are keen to sell for £1.5m and push for development! Must be gold in them hills. Of course the recent heavy rain caused substantial flooding and water damage to Essex way and Eastleigh Road resulting in my letter to the ECHO: “Although not as bad as Canvey, Essex Way was flooded over the weekend and sewerage flowed in the roads because of the heavy rain. The obvious answer is to propose building another 35 homes off Glyders where the addition of several thousand tons of concrete will clearly aid future drainage. Reassuring to know that those living in Vicarage Hill who will benefit financially will be able to look down on the poor local residents drowning below.”

Extract from October 2014 Newsletter:

I spent a considerable amount of time scouring through the extensive paperwork supplied to the Task & Finish Group in respect of Castle Point Local Plan Consultation results. I extracted all the pertinent documentation relating to H15 – Land off Glyders and sent this pack to each of the ten Councillors in the Group – Cllrs Smith, Blackwell, Anderson, Dick, Isaacs, Ladzrie, Sheldon, Varker, Tucker & Watson. (David Blackwell was the only councillor who had the courtesy to thank me for my effort.) I also included a copy of a letter to Steve Rogers (Head of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods) which pointed out some of the inaccuracies, misleading comments and outrageous statements made in the results as well as requesting answers and clarification of various points, many of which have been avoided &/or ignored in the past.

Ludicrous comments like 4,000 homes in Castle Point will introduce around 4,000 residents (as though they will all be single occupancy) and there will be no expectation of any significant increase in crime (as though they will all be law abiding and not victims of crime either.) Rogers’ response was to simply confirm he had passed my letter to the T&F Group, despite knowing they had already received it. He continues to refuse to answer specific questions and respond to concerns as he maintains that none require any detailed rebuttal at this stage unless and until the Council has considered whether H15 will be included in the Plan based on the representations it has received.

Another resident wrote to Mr Rogers on 26 August 2014 raising a number of issues only to receive the non-committal response on 1 September 2014:
ROGERS: It remains my view that the consideration of the issues which you raise is for the New Local Plan Task & Finish Group to consider. I consider it inappropriate at this time, in advance of the Group’s meetings, for me to pre-empt its consideration of this, or indeed any other, site or representation which it is about to consider.

RESIDENT - 22 September 2014: Will the Task & Finish Group please assure me that our personal privacy will not be compromised by the proposed development at H15?

ROGERS - 24 September 2014: If the Council decides that the New Local Plan should allocate this land for housing purposes, then detailed matters such as the design of new dwellings and their relationship to neighbouring dwellings would be considered if and when detailed planning applications were made.

RESIDENT - 25 September 2014: Thank you very much indeed for your clear and concise response. From this, together with the responses received to earlier raised concerns, I can now rest happy that I have the absolute assurance of a senior official of Castle Point Council that, in the event that the possible development of area known as H15 goes ahead:

  • Our established right of way to both Glyders and the Country Park will be maintained and protected
  • Our [property] will not be subjected to any additional risk of flooding
  • The established wildlife community in the area will not be adversely affected and
  • Our privacy will not be compromised by being overlooked by any new building in the area
You have my very sincere gratitude, sir; your assurance is thankfully received and will be faithfully applied!

ROGERS - 25 September 2014: I am pleased you found my reply helpful. However in response to your latest e-mail, may I please point out that, whilst it is entirely a matter for you as to how you interpret my advice, nothing in my reply should be construed as an assurance on any of the issues you raise, since these are matters of detail which, as I mention, “would be considered if and when detailed planning applications were made”. I hope that this clarifies matters for you.

RESIDENT - 25 September 2014: Many thanks for the clarification! I now understand that Castle Point Council’s official view is that any decision they might make to allow building in H15 will not guarantee that my [property] will not be flooded as a direct result of building work arising directly from that decision, the Council will only “consider” the risk.

I also understand the same view pertains to our established rights of way under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which we may have to pursue in the appropriate courts, remembering, as I am sure you are well aware, the law assumes that if the public uses a path without interference for some period of time – set by statute at 20 years - then the owner had intended to dedicate it as a right of way. In the same vein, you have made it perfectly clear that Castle Point Council will not guarantee, only consider the impact of any compromise of my personal privacy, nor of my neighbours also that the Council gives no assurance that the abundant variety of wildlife in H15 will not be displaced by their decision. I think I now fully appreciate the true position of Castle Point Council in relation to my concerns and I thank you for your time and consideration in providing this clarification.

Extract from December 2014 Newsletter:

There has been no development in the development on H15 and with regard to the matter of Glyders and flooding, planning authorities should be provided with information regarding the likelihood of insurance cover and its premium with any application for planning permission. The possibility of flooding would no doubt have an effect on the price and the keenness of developers to proceed.

Very little appears to have been established by the Task & Finish Group regarding the green belt development proposals mentioned in the Draft New Local Plan [DNLP]. The meetings so far have discussed

  • how the original 7,000 prospective homes for the Borough was calculated,
  • how the revised 4,000 was established and
  • revoking the proposed increase from 2,100 new jobs within Castle Point to 3,000 as it would be futile to suggest there are job opportunities without corporate investment within the area.

Until the infrastructure is conducive to transport to encourage businesses to operate here, beyond the existing retail and public sector employment, there is little to persuade new business and associated job opportunities. It cannot offer the new jobs just to Castle Point residents, therefore workers coming from outside the Borough would merely add to the road congestion that already exists. It has to be accepted that Castle Point is predominantly a residential thoroughfare and to expand the existing Trading Estates in the hope that the accommodation will be commercially accepted, particularly when there is already a substantial amount of vacancies on these estates, is pointless.

As far as residential development in accordance with the DNLP is concerned it is anticipated that the concerns and responses from the public will be not reviewed until next year.

Extract from January 2015 Newsletter:

Once again there has still been no advancement on the proposed development of H15 – Land off Glyders. In fact the Task and Finish Group have generally achieved very little other than to qualify that they are not a decision making body, merely a recommendation committee to analyse the statistics and community responses to then be presented to the Council for decisions to be made. Discussion of H15 is not on the cards for the foreseeable future.

In the News:

2 Apr 2014 - Echo:
  500 raging against green belt housing

12 Mar 2014 - Echo:
  Tory failed to declare landowner was her friend and party colleague

12 Mar 2014 - Echo:
  Campaigners win bid to extend consultation on 4,000 homes plan

10 Mar 2014 - Echo:
  Petition: Send 4,000 Castle Point homes plan back to drawing board

Housing Targets
Green Belt
Action Groups:
BAG - Billericay
BGNBRA - Bowers Gifford
DCA - Dunton
GRIT - Thurrock
HISOV - Herongate and Ingrave
HOOGB - Daws Heath
HRA - Hullbridge
JFAG - Jotmans Farm
RAID - West Basildon
RAGE - South Benfleet
RAG - Rayleigh
RBR - Ramsden Bellhouse
RDR - Rochford
WAG - Wickford