Adrian Corder-Birch, D.L.
President The Essex Society for Archaeology & History
Dear Mr Corder-Birch,
24th October 2016
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Riley, has forwarded to me a copy of your e-mail dated 15th October 2016 to him, regarding your unanswered enquiry to me concerning the historic environment in Castle Point.
I am sorry to learn that you have not received a reply to the e-mails which you have addressed to me. ....
However turning to the substantive points which you raise in your letter dated 4th August 2016, I have read this with interest and have noted the long and illustrious background to the Society and its interests.
Thank you too for taking a close interest in the historic environment in Castle Point, and I am delighted that you too recognise the rich and varied nature of the natural and built assets in the Borough.
Your particular enquiry seeks to understand how the Council as local planning authority deals with historic environment issues now that it no longer has a Service Level Agreement in place with Essex County Council regarding advice and recording of this unique heritage.
The Council has always recognised the importance of the historic environment in the Borough. In the adopted Local Plan 1998, environment and conservation policies are incorporated which cover the protection of important landscapes, including trees and woodlands, conservation areas, listed buildings and archaeology.
The Council's New Local Plan was submitted for examination in August 2016, and has carried this work forward. It shows relevant historic and natural features of the Borough on the Constraints Map, and has a suite of polices in two chapters dealing with the conservation of the natural and historic environment, reflecting the advice in the National Planning Policy Framework, and Planning Practice Guidance.
Indeed you may be interested to learn that the County Council noted and welcomed the changes which the Borough Council had made to the historic environment chapter of the Plan, based on its comments on an earlier draft. I also note that the Society was invited to comment on the Plan.
Turning now to planning applications, in appropriate cases, applicants for planning permission are required to submit evidence to demonstrate that proposals have taken full account of heritage assets.
In addition planning conditions will also be imposed in relevant cases requiring the investigation and recording of matters of heritage interest, and the subsequent publication of relevant findings.
In the event that a particular proposal raises significant heritage issues, bespoke advice would be sought on that case from the County Council, with the applicant being required to underwrite the costs involved.
Of course the Society may also be in a position to comment on cases of this kind. I would welcome any comments from the Society on relevant planning applications.
Furthermore, and as I am sure you are aware, all planning applications and their supporting documentation submitted to the Borough Council are published on the Council's Planning Register so that there will be a permanent record of proposals and how their effect on the historic environment has been assessed and recorded.
I acknowledge that the County Council is an important source of advice and information regarding the historic environment across the County and indeed in Castle Point.
Unfortunately however, in these times of austerity for local government, it is simply no longer affordable for the Borough Council to continue with the Service Level Agreement which was in place with the County Council until 2014.
I hope that this response is helpful, and once again offer my sincere apologies for the delay. Furthermore, should you or the Society seek any further advice or information on the Borough Council's approach to heritage assets, please feel free to contact me using my e-mail address below, and I shall be pleased to help.
Steve Rogers Head of Regeneration & Neighbourhoods
C.C. Councillor Colin Riley Leader of the Council Caroline Barker PA to Leader and Cabinet
David Marchant Chief Executive