Saving The Green Belt

Rebecca is passionate about saving the Green belt in Castle Point and preserving the special character of the area.

She supported the abolition of Labour's centrally imposed housing targets and the improved Green Belt protections laid out in the Government's new National Planning Policy Framework. She has spoken out in the House of Commons chamber on a number of occasions about promoting smaller brownfield sites for development to remove the threat of housing development or land banking from the virgin Green belt sites around Castle Point.

She is now urging Castle Point Borough Council to adopt a new local plan and to get it into place to protect our Green belt from speculative applications.



Recently Castle Point Borough Council requested I formally meet their Leadership to discuss planning policy, but I decided to go one further and arrange a meeting with representatives from the Council with the Minister of State for Planning, Rachel Maclean MP. The meeting was attended by the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Resources, as well as the Chief Executive and Head of Planning.

A lot of ground was covered and I am pleased that the Department will be assisting the Council in getting queries answered by the Planning Inspectorate regarding the weight attributed to evidence from the old draft local plan plan in future planning appeals.

One thing that is incredibly clear is that the best way the Council can protect the Green Belt local residents treasure from speculative applications by developers is by getting an adopted local plan in place. They have my full support to get it done as soon as possible.



Rebecca has called on Castle Point Borough Council to use a report released by Essex County Council into localised flooding last October to better defend the Borough against large speculative planning applications following the withdrawal of the previous draft local plan.

Commenting on the report, Rebecca said:

“The flooding in October last year was devastating for the residents affected. Many families in the Borough had the nightmare of watching water seep under their doors and into their homes, unable to do anything to stop it. I am pleased Essex County Council has agreed to follow the recommendations attributed to them in the report, but now the other flooding agencies need to do the same. Now Castle Point Borough Council must use this report to help prevent inappropriate housing development in our Borough. They now have proof of what local people knew anyway, that the drainage network can’t cope. It’s in black and white even before any extra houses are added. They need to use it to see off developers, who submit big planning applications on Green Belt sites, looking to exploit the fact the Council doesn’t have a local plan in place.”

You can find Rebecca’s responses opposing recent development proposals here:


MARCH 2022:

The Castle Point Borough Council’s New Local Plan is not yet adopted, and nor will it be until the Council vote to adopt it or the Secretary of State commands it. I fully support the local Conservative policy of using the time we have until the Government deadline to get a local plan adopted in late 2023 to explore any alternatives as part of the plan process that would protect our precious Green Belt sites.



Rebecca was immensely disappointed to hear that the inspector had declared the current local plan sound and knows that many local residents were disappointed as well. She had hoped that he would accept her and others arguments that the Council had failed to demonstrate its soundness.

It is important to remember however that the local plan is not yet adopted, and nor will it be until the Council vote to adopt it or the Secretary of State commands it. The Minister of State for Housing has stated that local authorities need to have their plan submitted by December 2023. The Inspector’s remit was only to consider the soundness of the plan presented and evidenced by the council’s planning officers, not to consider or come up with alternatives. Only the Council Planners can present a plan that does this.

However, Rebecca would not advocate they withdraw the plan unless or until they have an alternative that is evidenced and ready to proceed to a consultation that can be put in its place.

“Castle Point has been judged to have a large and historic unmet housing need and I have no doubt that if the plan were to be withdrawn, developers would look to quickly submit applications on individual sites with even greater housing density and little consideration to the requests for specific infrastructure or traffic mitigation that I understand the Council have secured in the “master planning” and site design meetings they have had with developers up until this point. As the Council would have withdrawn its plan without an alternative- it is likely that developers would use the fact CPBC do not even have an emerging plan to meet their housing need to win planning appeals in the courts.”

“Local councillors have been advised by council officers since 2010 that a local plan that includes the allocation of treasured local Green Belt sites is the only possible plan that we as a Borough could ever have had. I have fundamentally disagreed with this but I also fully understand that Councillors have an obligation to listen to professional advice from their officers. I have however at times arranged meetings whereby Council officers were corrected on their interpretation of national planning policy by a Government Planning Minister. I have urged the new Council Leadership to use the time they have to challenge this perception and look at all viable alternatives to their current emerging plan. Please be assured that I will continue to fight on this issue.”



JUNE 21:

The Planning Inspector's task is to consider the soundness of the submitted New Castle Point Local Plan 2018-2033. The Inspector must consider whether the Local Plan meets the requisite legal and procedural requirements. In order to do so, the Inspector will assess the Local Plan, the evidence base on which it was created, as well as all of the representations submitted during the public consultations.

Last week I addressed the public hearing and spoke to the Planning Inspector. As you may be aware I have never been in favour of development on Green Belt sites our community treasure. While I fully understand the need for more housing in our area, but I have always been of the firm belief that it should be sited away from the current area in the area known as North-West Thundersley on South of the A127 or what is commonly referred to as ‘The Blinking Owl Site’. This would have the advantage of not adding to issues of suburban traffic as most traffic would be directed onto the A127 or A130, and residents there would not have to use either Saddlers Farm, Rayleigh Weir, or the Eastbound A13 at Leigh. Development at this site would therefore add to the routes in and out of the Borough relieving pressure on our road network rather than increasing it.

As the local MP, I have of course no powers over planning matters in the area. I am not a Councillor and therefore do not have a vote on the Local Plan. The Councillors have been told repeatedly by Officers that they had no choice but to put many of the valued Green belt sites into the plan. I have tried to make the case to the planning inspector that the advice given to Councillors was incorrect.

I was very glad that the Planning Inspector acknowledged my points- that Green Belt and the infrastructure in Castle Point are valid constraints. You can read my full submission on my website here:

Castle Point needs a New Local Plan to shape the future of development in our Borough and give residents certainty, but I have long-standing objections to some of the conclusions reached in their evidence to support the current plan they are proposing. Please be assured I will continue to represent residents on the matter.