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Planning and Development (Essex)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The Petition of J Everett, the residents of Castle Point and others,

Declares that they suspect that there is a hidden agenda in respect of the public open space bounded by the Chase Thundersley on the north side, and by Runneymede Chase on the east side. They have reached this conclusion firstly because a large area adjacent to the annex of the SEEVIC College has been fenced off and they challenge the legal right for this to have been done. Second because Castle Point councillors have decided to no longer regularly cut the grass allowing it to become largely overgrown, and they suspect this is an attempt by councillors to deter people from using the public open space so that the land can be developed. Third, because lately it appears that students of SEEVIC College have been allowed or encouraged to take over the area during breaks, making other users of this public open space feel like interlopers and leaving the space littered with food wrappers, drinks cans and bottles and other rubbish, adding to its dereliction. They further believe that this land, like all public assets, belongs to the people, not to the council or the councillors, and councillors should respect that fact and keep the public fully informed of their and their officers' discussions and intentions regarding land use and the future of all our public assets. They therefore urge councillors to return this land to full and proper public use and to protect it in future, for many valid planning and community interest reasons, and to ensure that this matter is dealt with by councillors rather than officers given its importance to the wider community and the need to protect their valuable public open spaces.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to press all Castle Point councillors, since they have the direct responsibility for this matter, to ensure this public open space is retained for its ancient and established previous use and to immediately publish its discussions and intentions regarding land in this area and behind the Runnemede swimming pool and to be transparent in future with the public on all planning and land use matters.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 2 July 2008; Vol. 478, c. 994.] [P000227]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 31 July 2008:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the land bounded by the Chase Thundersley on the north side and by Runneymede Chase on the east side.

It is our understanding that the land which is subject of proposals by SEEVIC is not public open space and has been allocated for Local Government purposes. This area has been fenced and SEEVIC have applied to Castle Point Borough Council for planning permission to build on this land. The land concerned is bounded to the north by an area of public open space which has not been fenced. Further information on planning, including the minutes of meetings of the Planning Committee are publicly available on the Council's website.