In accordance with regulation 22 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (As Amended) Castle Point Borough Council submitted the New Castle Point Local Plan 2018-2033 to the Secretary of State on 2 October 2020 for examination. Information on the local plan examination process and the role of the Planning Inspectorate can be found here - www.gov.uk/guidance/local-plans
Procedural guidance for the local plan examination can be found here - www.gov.uk/government/publications/examining-local-plans-procedural-practice
The Inspector's task is to consider the soundness of the submitted New Castle Point Local Plan 2018-2033. The Inspector will also 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. Read MORE... https://www.castlepoint.gov.uk/examination-information/
Local Plan Hearing Sessions - Matter Seven (Day Three)
Rebecca Harris MP's Submission
I want to focus my remarks today on three main issues:
- Firstly, the issue of whether or not Castle Point Council has met the test of exceptional circumstances to justify Green Belt release.
- Secondly, the evidence base and conclusions contained within the plan relating to the group of sites previously known as the West Thundersley, or ‘Blinking Owl’ site.
- Thirdly, the highly unique circumstances on Canvey Island and the cumulative effects on development related to it.
The plan seeks to place a considerable number of homes in open accessible Green Belt sites - very treasured by the community I represent in Castle Point. Paragraph 137, b) of the NPPF outlines that this can only be justified when increasing the density of residential development sites in town centres has been exhausted as a means of meeting the local objectively assessed housing need.
Local policies relating to the density of development should be completely overhauled to accommodate far greater density of development of our local town centres to reduce the number of housing units that the plan includes on local sites in undeveloped green field Green Belt. This has the added benefit, of course, of providing a larger immediately local market for businesses in the town centres.
Density needs to be maximized as far as possible on sites in town centres and along main roads and I do not believe sufficient evidence was submitted in the plan to suggest that is the case. Paragraph 9.32 references the Essex Design Guide and ‘The Castle Point Large Site Capacity Assessment 2018’. The document itself is very limited in its scope, talking about mainly the big Green Belt sites in the Borough. It only details one brownfield site adjacent to a town centre, and that is the site that has since been built out along Kent’s Hill Road behind the parade of shops on the North side of the High Road. There is no detailed methodology about how that number was reached, and indeed, no evidence to suggest that the density of the site had been maximised as much as possible to relieve pressure on the Green Belt.
Paragraph 17.10 of the submitted plan makes it clear that the justification for building on Green Belt sites is based on “historic” work on constructing a local plan and previous SHLAAs. The revisions to the NPPF explicitly outlining the threshold of ‘exceptional circumstances’ was only released in late 2018. The Council should provide evidence that the densities based on historic SHLAA reports have been revisited and increased where possible to take the update into account. I do not believe they have done so.
A number of town centre sites, such as site reference 2013/8 (Hadleigh Island site), in the 2015 SHLAA, appear not to have been updated in subsequent SHLAA updates since 2018 (in fact capacity on that site seems to have decreased by two).
The Council must show they have revisited density on brownfield sites in our town centres and increased it as much possible, before they can justify developing on Green Belt. They do not appear to have done so. I believe therefore the plan does not prove the “exceptional circumstances” exist to justify the amount of housing development on Green Belt the plan includes.
Castle Point Council should undertake a comprehensive review of brownfield sites in the borough’s town centres and along main roads with a view to increasing their density where it is at all appropriate, in order to decrease housing pressure on the Green Belt if they wish to prove exceptional circumstances exist. Because they have not, I do not believe they have met that threshold and therefore a plan that necessitates building on Green Belt sites, especially ones that preserve the open semi-rural nature of the Borough and are treasured by so many residents, cannot be justified.
Given that the Council has decided they have exceptional circumstances, and therefore resolved to build on the Green Belt to meet their unmet housing need, it has been of concern to myself, a number of residents, and indeed Councillors, that more emphasis was not put on addressing the deliverability issues regarding the West Thundersley site, as this would actually have something to offer residents in terms of transport improvements and receive broad public support if put forward, instead of the other more open and unspoilt Green Belt sites around the Borough that the community truly value and utilise.
I believe that the conclusion related to the deliverability of the sites mentioned in the Local Plan Paragraphs 10.5-10.10, relating to ‘Land West of Thundersley’ is not justified. In important instances the conclusions in the evidence base do not seem to accurately reflect some of the evidence presented to support them, or they are based on evidence that makes flawed assumptions. The conclusions about the deliverability of the site also ignore well established means by which the Council could improve the deliverability of a site, or focus on the policies of Essex County Council that can and should be altered to facilitate delivery of the site.
The collective site is split up into 25 separate sites listed in the latest SHLAA, but most of it was previously considered as one site, referred to as a previous policy PGB42 / Site H18, as a whole it has been collectively previously been referred to by the Council and residents as the site ‘North West of Thundersley’ and most commonly ‘The Blinking Owl site’. Collectively, according to the SHLAA, the sites have capacity for around 2020 homes.
The ‘Regulation 18’ consultation has identified broad support from residents for developing that site, as opposed to other sites in the Green Belt in the urban periphery, and a number of SMEs have expressed interest in developing parts of the site already.
I believe that reasonable alternatives to the council’s approach in the plan that would improve the deliverability of the Land West of Thundersley are unexplored or ignored and the conclusions relating to the site as a combined entity are not consistent with the evidence presented.
The plan states the following about the collective sites, “major barrier to deliverabilty of housing development in this location is twofold:
- The site is presently significantly constrained by a lack of appropriate access and risks to the strategic network;
- the land is within multiple ownership with no commitment yet to bring forward a comprehensive development”.
The evidence in the SHLAA, relating to the ‘Suitability’ of the collective of sites, concludes that for all of them their suitability is “low - poor accessibility cannot be mitigated”. This conclusion is based on consultation with Essex County Council as part of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’, the key points of which are summarized in ‘Castle Point Transport Evidence Refresh’, specifically Paragraphs 7.3.1 and 7.3.2.
The key objection from Essex County Council to the site as the highways authority is that access to the A127 and A130 would be needed to realise the whole collective site for development and that would be contrary to their current policy relating to the A127 and the future strategic improvements to the Fairglen Interchange. The plan, and its supporting documents, show little or no evidence to suggest that efforts to find a highways access solution that would be compatible with Essex County Council’s future plans for the Fairglen interchange have been made. This approach would have been reasonable and may have found a solution to help realise the site, but there is little evidence it was taken.
I am unaware if you have been presented with the evidence relating to Essex County Council’s short term or long term plan for the Fairglen interchange, but they would appear to only need a small amount of land that could otherwise be used for development. This has not been questioned by Castle Point Council and Essex County Council have not given any reasons as to why it would prejudice the use of the entire site. I have seen no proof that there was an attempt made through the duty-to-cooperate to fully explore how the vast majority of the site could be realised for development, whilst still facilitating the improvements to the interchange.
Similarly, there is no evidence presented that Castle Point Council challenged Essex County Council’s access policy, either on the grounds of the large amount of housing that could be realised on the site without putting further strain on Castle Point’s current residential estate highway network, or on the basis that Essex County Council, as a top tier authority, should facilitate the policies of the plan as far as possible, even if it means adapting some of their own policy choices.
Essex County Council also state that they would object to the development of the combined site without access to the A127/A130, because “access from the existing urban area will exacerbate congestion at Tarpots (A13) and Woodman’s Arms junctions (A129)”. This argument can hardly be unique to this site. This argument would be true of outbound traffic from the majority of development sites in the plan. Indeed, every single large housing development in this current plan would ‘exacerbate congestion’ at the major junctions linked to Tarpots and the Woodman’s Arms, Sadler’s Farm and Rayleigh Weir, why uniquely is there a problem with this site? Essex County Council however do not object to the number of houses in the plan or argue that this should constrain housing development in the plan as a whole. So, this argument does not stack up in my view.
This argument also ignores the fact that the large unit capacity at that site would mean considerable financing through a Section 106 agreement and Community Infrastructure Levy for considerable junction improvements at both Tarpots and the Woodman’s Arms. Similarly, Essex County Council also object because strategic access to the site would be required through routes which are currently unmade, when the large amount of housing at the site could more than pay for those roads to be adopted and made up by them as the highways authority via a Section 106 agreement and Community Infrastructure Levy.
In fact, most of the problems with the potential minor access options of the combined site listed in the Castle Point: Transport Evidence for the New Local Plan Transport: Phase 2 (CPTE Phase 2), Table 5.1, (specifically references 1-10) could be mitigated via Section 106 and CIL funding.
Essex County Council also state that works to the Rayleigh Spur roundabout to provide a strategic access would not be economical. I don’t find any evidence submitted with the plan to uphold this assumption. However, even if this is the case, the CPTE Phase 2 report includes consideration of a strategic access via the A130 away from the Rayleigh Weir Spur junction. Incidentally it also would not contravene Essex County Council’s policy of not allowing further or improved access to the A127, and it would also not interfere with any of Essex County Council’s plans for the Fairglen interchange. The CPTE Phase 2 report designates this option with reference 16, and to quote the report directly states that, “In its current form, the access is not suitable to serve developments at the Site H18. It may be possible to provide an enhanced LILO arrangement with dedicated entry and exit lanes, although careful consideration would need to be given to the effects on the roundabout to the north (junction of the A130 with the A1245) and the layby immediately to the south. In addition, traffic arriving at Site H18 from the A130 (south) would need to perform a U-turn at the A130 roundabout junction with the A1245. Similarly, traffic wishing to depart Site H18 at this access to travel northbound would need to first travel south to Sadlers Farm junction and perform a U-turn at that roundabout. If this option were progressed, the impact on those junctions would need to be examined.”
So, despite the report clearly indicating that realising this option is a possibility, that would require further research to progress, I cannot find any evidence that this research was undertaken when it would have been reasonable to do so to fully explore the possibility of realising this site.
The fact that the above points were not taken into account and no further research was done, means that conclusions of the SHLAA, that suitability of the collective sites known as North West of Thundersley is ‘low and that poor accessibility cannot be mitigated’, cannot be fully justified. This means that the reasonable alternative of including this site in the plan to meet our housing need, in order to remove others, could not have been fully considered.
These flawed conclusions in regards to the highways access to the site, also inform conclusions about the ‘achievability’ of delivery of the site in the SHLAA, which states for all of individual sites in the collective that the exceptional costs that damage achievability, are ‘archaeological investigations and public transport accessibility’. The supporting evidence for the local plan does not as far as I can see, include any evidence to back up the claim that archaeological investigation of this site would be more prohibitive than for any of the other large sites included in the plan, and the problems with access to public transport are of course based on the discredited conclusions about highways access to the site I have already mentioned.
We are a very constrained Borough in terms of vehicular access and transport. We currently have only really three main access routes out of the Borough for a population of around 91,000 residents; East on the single carriageway A13 to Southend, West on the A13 to Sadler’s Farm junction, and North onto the Rayleigh Weir, all of which are already under immense traffic stress. The North Thundersley site is the only one which could provide an extra exit and access to the whole Borough. Without this site every single vehicle from the 5000 extra homes this plan accounts for, will have to go via those existing main roads and junctions to leave the Borough. This is the only site that would provide infrastructure that could realistically cut congestion in the Borough and I do not therefore believe that to leave possibilities unexplored and highways authority policies unchallenged is acceptable, nor does it mean that discounting this site can be justified.
In regards to the other obstacles listed by the local plan to the development of this site, that “the land is within multiple ownership with no commitment yet to bring forward a comprehensive development”, I cannot see evidence that ‘multiple ownership of the site’ is an obstacle backed up by the ‘availability’ report in the SHLAA, as all but one of the individual sites that makes up the wider collection of sites has the same listing, “Landowner responded to Fact Checking 2018 exercise and confirmed the site can be considered as available”. There is in fact only one of the sites where the landowner could not be contacted to verify availability. I do not believe the aforementioned conclusion in the plan about the site reflects this.
Although there are admittedly greater difficulties in realising sites that are in multiple ownership, it is clear that all but one of the landowners is willing to explore further development. In fact, on top of the evidence included on the availability of the site, I know that approximately eight years ago, the vast majority of the landowners of the collective site signed a document at the instigation of a local councillor to say they would be willing to consider selling their land for development.
I should stress that this councillor had no financial interest of any kind in the matter, but was merely anxious to find alternative site to protect the treasured open Green Belt of his residents living in his ward.
Even if only one or two landowners could not be contacted to discuss the availability of the land, or attempted to resist perhaps in order to secure unfair land values, the Government have made it clear that they will support the use of compulsory purchase powers by councils to deliver strategic housing sites.
I have not seen that the Council have evidenced any effort to invite developers to discuss the realisation of this site for development, either individually or via some sort of cooperation vehicle. It is worth noting of course that several major developers have advanced interests in other sites currently included in the plan, so they may have no current incentive to enter into such a vehicle or discussion, or indeed inform the Council it is even a possibility, even if it would be supported by residents.
An alternative option to realise the site that the Council have not considered in the slightest however, is to form a ‘development corporation’ themselves to ensure the deliverability of the site – suppose another perfectly possible thing for them to do.
Again, by not fully exploring the means to improve the deliverability of the site, the Council cannot claim to have fully explored this as a reasonable alternative to the site allocation policies in their plan. Which means their plan is not fully justified and in my view is therefore unsound.
The final point I would like to make about this site is about Green Belt openness. Planner have been contending to myself and to Councillors since 2008 that the level of Green Belt in the Borough is not enough of a constraint to restrict housing development to just brownfield sites. This is despite a colleague of yours, Mr Keith Holland, attending the Council chamber here in Castle Point in September 2014 to address councillors, and planners, and telling the planning officers that the Green Belt was a valid constraint on housing numbers, and indeed myself taking the former chief planning officers and former leaders of this council to meet no less than three separate Planning Ministers to explain the same. The officer advice in Castle Point has none the less remained the same and despite many people being very unhappy at this, councillors have been told that that the development of the Green Belt sites in this current plan is unavoidable. I have gone into detail about why this should not be the case earlier in my submission, but if that is indeed the case now, given how long it has taken for the Council to get a plan together that has a chance of being passed by councillors, then it seems perverse to me that the only site considered for development in the Green Belt that does not impact on the openness and visual amenity of the Green Belt for residents, the only one that does not have mass public opposition from residents, and the one whose inclusion could save the other Green Belt sites in the Borough that residents treasure, and indeed is the only one that could deliver a genuine extra major road access into and out of the Borough, is the only major Green Belt site not included in the plan.
But before I conclude my remarks on this topic, I just want to touch on the Council’s response to my written consultation, where I first outlined the concerns I raise today regarding their conclusions about the West Thundersley site, I am unsure whether you have access to them?
I would be grateful for the Council for its response, however it does not actually address any of the points I made. It states that ‘the evidence is that this site is not deliverable’. However, it fails to address literally any of the concerns I raised about the evidence and the conclusions that the plan reaches based upon them.
Because of these reasons I believe the plan has to fully explore every viable option to make it deliverable. The evidence the Council have submitted to support their plan does not consider a number of reasonable and viable options to overcome the issues of access and multiple ownership that stand in the way of North West Thundersley site being delivered and therefore the plan is not justified in its conclusion that this site should not be included at the expense of other large Green field Green Belt sites that our community really treasure.
Frankly, it has baffled me over the past 13 years that I have been observing this process, that the Council has not made a concerted effort to plan-positively and work with other authorities to overcome the deliverability issues which would lead to a far more sustainable and popular site for residents, which could actually benefit the Borough by providing new access to the wider road network our Borough so sorely needs.
So to conclude on this topic, this is a site of huge importance to the plan and local people. It is a site that if it were included in the plan, could accommodate the amount of housing equal to all the other sites in the local Green Belt included in this plan, sites like Jotmans Farm, Dutch Village, Chase, Daws Heath, sites that the development of which local residents definitely do not support and I believe are essential to the semi-rural character of our Borough.
Finally, I wish to talk about Canvey Island in particular. I will try not go over the very high-quality submissions that already have already been made by concerned residents and I understand that no doubt many communities come before you to resist a large development siting their very ‘unique’ circumstances and arguing they should be a special case. However, I doubt that there are many towns you have come across in the face of your work base the challenge of living many feet below sea level, housing two large top tier COMAH sites so close to their open spaces and homes, whose 40,000 or so residents can only access the mainland via a single junction, namely Waterside Farm roundabout.
In 2014 there was a major surface water flooding event on Canvey. The Government’s then Chief Scientific adviser (Sir Mark Walport) came down to do an in-detail report on that flooding at my instigation. Since then I am assured that over £15 million has been spent on improving the drainage and pumping network to hopefully ensure this never happens again, but there is still more work to be done. The cumulative effect of extra housing will put very unnecessary pressure on a complex drainage system that was not designed to support the volume of development it already has. That is a factor that is entirely relevant, but I don’t believe is fully accounted for in planning law or guidance as it stands.
Canvey is also constrained all around by the Thames and already in desperate need of a third road for its existing population.
There are mitigation measures proposed to the issues Canvey faces that are applied to the sites within the plan and in isolation they may well appear to stack up. But because of a highways access issues and the issues surrounding flood risk, they should be considered together. An issue at one end of the island, particularly the western end, effects the whole of the island within minutes.
What I would ask you to consider in regards to Canvey is not the inclusion of the sites on Canvey individually, but to consider them as the whole of the island as being one site.
Would it be permissible in current planning law and practice guidance to allow the realisation of a site or a single planning application that planned to connect 20,000 households, an industrial estate, two huge commercial areas to the west of the UK road network via a single roundabout junction? I would be very surprised if it would.
Would it be permissible in current planning law and practice guidance to allow the citing of two large top tier COMAH sites next to each other so close to residential development? I would be surprised if it would.
Would it be permissible in current planning law and practice guidance to allow the construction of 20,000 households on land via a drainage system as complex as Canvey Island’s? I would be amazed if it would.
That will be the cumulative effect on the infrastructure of this plan on Canvey and I would very much urge you to consider the plan in those terms.
Thank you very much for your time today Sir. I will send a written copy of this submission to you now, although I am of course very interested first to hear the responses regarding the points I have raised here from the Council first.
So, having made my points, I am very grateful for your indulgence and the time you give me, I’ve tried to be as fast as I could be. I will certainly send you a copy of this shortly, if you would like it and I will of course be very interested to hear any responses regarding the points I have raised here from the Council. Thank you very much.
Lewis Philip (PINS)
Thank you, yes very helpful if you could send a written copy of your statement and that could be then put into the examination library for others to read at their leisure. In terms of some of the points you raised, I'm not really going to respond to them in any great detail at the moment, but what I will say is that I'm examining the plans as before me, I hear what you say about the site North West of Thundersley - that's not in the plan and so I will be considering your comments in the round of sustainability appraisal and the assessments that have gone into the preparation for plan, in terms of legal compliance and soundness. Because the way that the examination works, I have to examine what's before me, what isn't before me, and so that sort of site is generally termed an omissions site and because it's not before me, I can't consider the merits of it. But I can consider how it was taken into account along with all other potential omissions sites by the Council through the preparation for plan and indeed we've had discussions about sustainability appraisal and other parts of plan on that basis. (37:00)
Rebecca Harris MP
It is actually, unusually though, it is actually in the plan, as being a future potential site or is that not right?
Lewis Philip (PINS)
It’s referred to, but it's not a proposal in this plan and I think during the discussions we’ve had before, and I'm sure that maybe Mrs Parrot might want to mention this, the council have explained how it sees that site being considered for a future plan or review of the plan. But I’ll leave that for Mrs Parrot to explain, at this point.
Thank you Sir, so we prepared method statement two and we can send a copy of that across to Ms Harris if that's helpful to her, which does set out how we would intend to take forward the North West of Thundersley area and we've been in discussions with Homes England, as part of the seller partnership to get the resources and the framework in place to be able to deliver that particular scheme, but it isn't going to be easy. We need to do some work sort of independent of the County Council in 2015 to look at the access options to the North West of Thundersley area and the conclusions of that were that there really weren’t any suitable access options that didn't then involve significant changes to the strategic road network, which as Ms Harris mentioned are strongly resisted by the County Council. So it put us in a very difficult position at that time. So taking this site forward as part of a partnership approach with ASELA (Association of South Essex Local Authorities), which involves the County Council as one of those key stakeholders, it’s our intention to be able to bring this area forward, but it is a longer term site, it’s not something that we can deliver as part of the housing land supply at this point in time and I couldn't give a precise date at this point as to when that site would be considered to be deliverable or developable in the terms of the NPPF.
Lewis Philip (PINS)
Thank you, Ms Harris.
Rebecca Harris MP
Well I'm just concerned that we find ourselves in a situation where the council is working on a site, which they said is not suitable for presumably within the plan period, a site which I understand is an alternative to the sites they are currently working on, it does seem strange that you're already discussion with Home England about this site, which is not in within the 15 year plan period. I would see this as a situation we're going to find now where we will find that we were going to lose everything. We already have our assessed need being accommodated, half of it on Green Belt sites already, and this will site come forward and will be over and above. So we lose everything in effect and clearly the work is going forward on that already, on the West Thundersley site and there are discussions clearly going on, but for some reason or other they have been excluded, in effect, from this local plan and the plan period and I find that very worrying. We can quite well see that we will be finding that site will be coming up for development well within the planning period and we have a double whammy for my residents, rather than protecting the Green Belt sites they’re worried about.
Lewis Philip (PINS)
Thank you, I’ve got a note of that, in terms of the planning period, as move we discussed in the previous session, the Council isn't seeking to have a plan that will deal with the 15-year life of strategic policies, as is required in the national planning policy framework. So the plan isn't seeking to have a 15-year supply of housing, we've had discussions about that and whether there is a need for a review mechanism as within the plan in order to roll it forward in effect and so if that were my conclusions, the Council would then be able to consider bringing in other sites North West Thundersley, or other options if they exist, at that point for a review in the plan.
Rebecca Harris MP
But not until we have already conceded the point on the other Green Belt sites, which my residents wish to protect. So at that point, you’re confirming my fear and my residents suspicions I suppose, that the council will bring that site forward having already adopted a plan which was condemned the other sites, which they seek to wish to protect, the ones they've got you know amenity and access. So, I’m very in favour of prevising, but once the plan is set in stone those sites - given the sites apparently in the plan of Green Belt - are condemned in effect, so that sort of doesn't really help me and my residence and in protecting the sites that we treasure.
Lewis Philip (PINS)
Yes, I understand that point but that’s the basis of the plan the Council have put to me to examine, so, but I do understand your point and I understand the Council’s position as well and I will take those into account when I am deliberating on the soundness of the plan.
Rebecca Harris MP
Lewis Philip (PINS)
I have nothing ready additional to add at this point in time. This plan only goes up to 2033 and as the Government policy is write, we need to be putting plans in place that provides for 15 years supply and obviously that moves forward every year as the Government’s policy currently stands there will always be an additional demand for future housing, as each year progresses. So, in a place like Castle Point, you're going to find a situation where once you've lost a site, you've then having to look at the next site and then the next site, as time goes on and I think that's just a consequent of the system that we have in place in this country at the moment, and I completely understand Ms Harris’s position and the frustrations that actually brings. It is tight in Castle Point and we are going to get the point where actually there probably aren’t any sites left and that's the importance of working at South Essex level, then to try and find solutions to how we accommodate the growth needs of South Essex in terms of both housing, but also employment and the community facilities that go with that housing and employment. It is quite a frustrating situation in this part of Essex.
Lewis Philip (PINS)
Thank you. Are there any points Ms Harris for your representations that you have made to the Council that you would want the Council to address now or are you happy for the Council to provide copies of its statements and its response in that way?
Rebecca Harris MP
I'm happy to seek answers in anyway, verbally or in written form, but as I said I was disappointed that I made a number of points about the evidence in the plan and the evidence against choosing - instead - the Thundersley site, instead of all the Green Belt they have put in the plan, and they have had many many years to bring the deliverability of that site, as I stated, and clearly they are in fact actually working towards that side even though it's not in the plan. So, I would very much like them to explain, if they can, the points I made, why they have got a situation whereby they have written the North West Thundersley site out of the plan, which therefore justifies putting in the rest of the Green Belt when it’s quite clear that even their own arguments against it they’re working to dismantle. I cannot see how the plan can be justified, because they are only able to put the Green Belt sites into the plan that they have by discounting the North West Thundersley site and we can call it an exception site, but that is how they constructed the plan. They have firstly, in my view, not justified the plan. They have not worked with other work that they needed to on the density of town centre and main road sites, and that’s clearly not evidenced, they've done that and they’ve said themselves it’s ‘historic’ work - they have not done that. So I don't see how they can justify moving onto Green Belt at all, because they haven’t demonstrated to me they’ve got the exceptional circumstances and we are constantly as well being told the objectively assessed need is not a target, there are other ways one can apply for strengths and we are very very constrained in many ways by water and infrastructure. But not only are they not in my view demonstrated through their policies that they have an exceptional circumstance, they then have by very poor evidence base to discount the Blinking Owl site have meant that we have to put in all these other Green Belt sites in their opinion and we now know that the Council is actually working to mitigate that site and could have done so in any times in the last 13 years. So it seems the plan, I do not think that is justified by the arguments I've made and the points on planning law terms, I think it is an unsound plan because they are working to make that site deliverable and have been quietly all along. So I think that there's evidence here that this is not a sound plan and you should consider the evidence based on that site. Thank you, I will leave it there.
Lewis Philip (PINS) 48.32
Okay, thank you. One point I will make is when I'm considering the plan in the round, I will be obviously looking at the National Planning Policy Framework because that's where the test of soundness apply to, particular paragraph 11 and paragraph 11 says that strategic policy should meet for objectively assess needs, accept where for example application of policies in the framework that protect that assets or areas of particular importance because there is a strong reason for not doing so, just to paraphrase really, or whether the adverse impacts would significantly and adversely demonstrate don't demonstrably outweigh the benefits and so whilst the national planning policy says that local authorities should seek to meet their full needs it does actually say in paragraph 11, effectively where you can, if they're really good reasons why it shouldn't happen and that's what I will be taking into account having heard the evidence on flooding and transport and everything else that we discussed and will no doubt continue to discuss in the last day or so of the hearings.
Rebecca Harris MP
Thank you very much. I think there are a number of very serious constraints, including counting Green Belt as constraint to the way the plan has been constructed that should have been applied including the fact that we are surrounded by water.