November 26 2014 Latest news:
By Alistair Nelson
Friday, November 4, 2011
STRICT planning regulations are set to be relaxed in a new bid to clean up an Essex seaside town described as the most deprived area in the country.
A meeting set up by Clacton MP Douglas Carswell in Westminster has brought fresh hope of improving living standards in rundown neighbourhoods in Jaywick.
Attempts to redevelop the town’s Brooklands and Grasslands estates have effectively been “stymied” by the Environment Agency, said Councillor Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council (TDC).
“Until now they have had a policy of automatically objecting to any planning applications in Jaywick because of the flood risk, so people have given up trying,” he said.
“But the main risk to people’s lives here isn’t flooding, it’s deprivation and poverty.”
Following the meeting with Communities and Local Government Minister Greg Clark and Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, Mr Stock said their was “light at the end of the tunnel”.
He said: “We have an assurance that if what is built in the future is more resilient than the homes people currently live in – and therefore reduces the risk to lives – then it has to be a good thing and will not be opposed.”
Mr Carswell said that residents in Jaywick deserved a better deal, adding: “Part of that means allowing local people to get planning permission and allowing local innovation and improvements in housing.”
A new planning policy for Jaywick will now be drawn up which outlines exactly what can be built and what flood precautions must be taken.
A second meeting is due to be held next week between Mr Stock and Housing Minister Grant Schapps to address the issue of landlords who have no incentive to improve their housing stock because of the way the housing benefits system works.
“There are about 30 or 40 landlords who are being paid housing benefit of £455 a month from the Government to keep tenants in bad-quality housing,” said Mr Stock. “The state is subsidising squalor.
“Jaywick has become a benefits magnet. People are coming from miles and miles around because this is the only place where landlords don’t require a deposit.
“The town is attracting people at their lowest ebb; the poorest elements in society and the associated social problems that come with this.”
Councillor Daniel Casey, who represents Jaywick on TDC, said he was confident that if the Environment Agency relaxed their planning regulations then residents and landlords would improve their properties.
“A lot of these landlords have lived in Jaywick for many years and they want to see it improved, but they haven’t been allowed to do anything,” he said.
“This is going to allow developers to come forward with plans for decent housing.”