Taskforce convened to tackle Canvey Island’s “Holy Grail” of improved access

The leader of Castle Point Borough Council has pledged to address the “Holy Grail” of improving access onto Canvey Island.

Residents have consistently highlighted the existing traffic issues in accessing the island given that currently there are only two access roads, which join at Waterside Farm roundabout.

All access has to go through this roundabout leading to regularly heavy delays.

Council leader Andrew Sheldon said he was convening a task force to look specifically at delivering a third access point, which would ideally require the building of a new bridge and road.

He said at its ordinary meeting on September 29: “this is something that has been talked about it’s been the political Holy Grail of Castle Point pretty much ever since its inception.

“We all know that getting around Canvey Island and indeed with it most parts of Benfleet and Hadleigh that when there are snarl ups it is a nightmare.

“And it has been talked about for ages that there is simply a need to look at access and improving access to Canvey Island.

“There have been various proposals that have been talked about and gone nowhere. There have been various talks of bids that have been put forward and gone nowhere.

“What I’m proposing is this administration will be bringing forward a task force to bring together those highways agencies and those interested parties, those community groups, that really do want to see this done, to get together and work out a road map to achieving improved access onto Canvey Island.”

As well as current difficulties, concerns among residents have also been raised that further housing development would exacerbate this situation, if a third access is not implemented.

Additionally, Canvey is also prone to flood risk and with two top tier Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) sites – Calor Gas and the Oikos Storage Terminal – residents have also highlighted major concerns that the access would not adequate if there was a major emergency and the island needed to be evacuated.

A Statement of Common Ground between Castle Point Borough Council and Highways England in January this year set out a shared position between Castle Point Borough Council (CPBC) and Highways England in respect of the Castle Point Local Plan which said “whilst CPBC recognise the issues raised by HE in its representations, CPBC remains committed to securing better access to Canvey Island for its 40,000 plus residents.

“Despite its large resident population, the Island is home to two top tier COMAH sites and is also at risk of flooding from the Thames, although substantially defended in this regard.

“There is therefore a need to improve access to Canvey Island not just in respect of relieving congestion at access points at peak hours, but also to improve the resilience of the Island and its population to risks.

“At this time, there is a strong-held belief within the Castle Point community that this is best achieved through the provision of an additional access to the Island away from the current access point at Waterside Farm”.

However, one possibly route that has been raised has been knocked back by Thurrock Council.

“Thurrock Council has consistently stated in its representations on the New Castle Point Local Plan, that it fundamentally objects to the proposals for a New Canvey Access comprising a road from Northwick Road in Canvey Island to the A1014 Manorway in Thurrock,” it has stated in its representations in May.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter