Local Plans–Why You Should Care!

Local plans are not the easiest things in the world to read….

In fact, they are really quite difficult to read, especially if you don’t have much experience of the planning process. I know that they aren’t particularly simple to get into, as for the first time ever I have been reading the draft Canterbury Local Plan.

Continue reading


No Gravett Award in 2013

Since 2011 it has been the practice of  the Historic Buildings Committee to make an annual award in memory of  HBC’s renowned founder-member and erstwhile chairman Kenneth Gravett. The aim is to present the Award (currently valued at £300) to a Kent-based architecture undergraduate whose work best displays excellence in the study of historic buildings.  Components of the work must show sound observation, draftsmanship, presentation, powers of analysis and interpretation (see elsewhere for the detailed  Specification).

Continue reading


Hire our boardroom!

Boardroom hire for all your event requirements!

Need a Boardroom to Hire in Ashford, Kent? Enquire about the room at Protect Kent now!

If you are looking for a reasonably priced meeting room for up to 15 people then we are able to help.

Our boardroom can accommodate 15 delegates for training or business meetings comfortably.

We are extremely well served by road and public transport links, and being based just outside Ashford, we are at the heart of the County for easy access. If travelling by car, we have a large and secure car park for your use, whilst we are just 5 minutes’ walk from the local train station.

For longer meetings, we have kitchen facilities with a microwave and dishwasher available for your use. We are able to provide secure Wi-Fi as well as projector facilities for all your meeting needs. The venue is accessible for everybody, with disabled access and toilets.

  • £35 per half day, £70 per day
  • Disable facilities
  • Comfortable and modern, well lit with natural light
  • Kitchen with microwave and dishwasher
  • Secure car park
  • Accommodates up to 15 people
  • Projector facilities
  • Cold and hot water dispenser

If you would like to hire our board room, please contact us on info@cprekent.org.uk or give us a call on 01233 714540

boardroom hire, Charing, Ashford, Kent boardroom hire Charing, Ashford, Kent boardroom hire, Charing, Ashford, Kent boardroom hire, Charing, Ashford, Kent boardroom hire, Charing, Ashford, Kent

A blot on the landscape

CPRE Protect Kent is firmly opposed to any new electricity pylons between Richborough and Canterbury. There are two routes which are currently being proposed in National Grids consultation. These routes would both likely to traverse open countryside in many places, and we find this unacceptable in 2013. Whilst one of the proposed routes would largely follow, and could replace, the existing pylons, CPRE Protect Kent believe that it is time National Grid started to invest in infrastructure for the future, rather than using this mode of transmission which blights our beautiful landscapes.pylons2

The new connection from Richborough through to Canterbury is likely to cut across some truly beautiful open countryside and we must ensure that this area is safeguarded against this type of inappropriate development. There are a number of reasons for objecting to this new proposed line of pylons in this area and we should all fight to ensure that our countryside is preserved for future generations, especially, when as in this case, there is another viable option. We would urge the public to respond to the consultation so that we can make sure these pylon plans are altered so that we might preserve our countryside for future generations.

A range of community consultation events have been planned. The details of these are below and we would encourage members of the public to attend and argue for undergrounding of the proposed pylons.

Date Venue Opening time for the public
Wed 26 June Chislet Centre 2pm – 7pm
Thurs 27 June Monkton Village Hall 2pm – 8pm
Fri 28 June Broad Oak Village Hall 2pm – 8pm
Sat 29 June Ash Village Hall 10am – 4pm
Thurs 4 July BayPoint Leisure Centre, Richborough 2pm – 8pm
Fri 5 July Hersden Community Centre 2pm – 8pm
Sat 6 July St Stephen’s Church Hall, Canterbury 10am – 4pm
Mon 8 July Sturry Social Centre 2pm – 8pm
Sat 13 July Wickhambreaux Village Hall 10am – 4pm

The Battle for Western Heights and Farthingloe

A housing estate on the White Cliffs of Dover? Surely not! Well, after Dover District Council on 13th June approved the application for development to build 521 new houses, together with a hotel and other assorted buildings in the Dover District, the iconic cliffs are looking threatened.

Farthingloe from Western Heights

The plan for this large development is especially damaging as part of the site, at Farthingloe, sits within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The other half of this coupled application is at the Western Heights, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and near to a number of other historic buildings. Despite local protest, as well as our own Senior Planner Brian Lloyd, speaking against the development, Dover’s Planning Committee decided to approve the proposals on the grounds that it may help regenerate the economy.

So, what now? The campaign to save this beautiful landscape must really begin! CPRE Protect Kent have written to the National Planning Casework Unit requesting the application be ‘called in’–that is, decided by Government. This will be a test case in many senses, as the AONB designation should http://propeciafinasteridestore.com afford this area the greatest protection against development. Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), AONBs should only be developed in ‘exceptional circumstances’ which will be in ‘benefit of the public interest’. We do not believe that the applicant, China Gateway International Ltd, has proven that this is the case. The site is not even in the Council’s own Core Strategy, approved in 2010, which determines where development should be allowed to occur within the District. In fact, the Council themselves ruled the site inappropriate in their Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA). If it was an inappropriate site in 2010, what exactly has changed now? Why should the Council allow development on an area of nationally important land which has both heritage and landscape designations protected under national policy? CPRE Protect Kent intends to challenge this decision and we hope that we will be able to protect this iconic and historic landscape.

If you would like to help our charity fight this development, as well as others throughout Kent, then click here to join the campaign!


NEW PROPOSED LOWER THAMES CROSSING

It is important during the consultation regarding a possible new Lower Thames Crossing that opposition to it is united. This will avoid the proponents of the crossing dividing the opposition to it. With that aim in mind I have spoken to many people his year and a possible common position has emerged. This is to make the point that any consultation on a new Thames crossing is premature.

 There are good reasons for saying this which are as follow:

  1. The high speed tolls at Dartford will not be fully operational until 2014.

  2. Road traffic has fallen recently bringing into question all demand predictions as they are based on 2009 figures.

  3. The new port in Essex effect on freight transport is not yet known.

  4. The proposed VIN tax on HGV’s entering UK ports could affect the number of HGV’s needing to cross the river Thames.

  5. More time is needed to access how a greater use of water and rail could reduce road traffic, which would generate more jobs and cause less pollution then a new road crossing.

  6. The number of junctions on the south side of the river is a major cause of traffic congestion. Changes to the road layout need to be examined as an alternative to a new crossing.

 

Much has been made of the jobs created at Dover by all the foreign registered lorries going through the port but very little is said about the cost of road repairs and the issues to the public’s Dartford_crossing_approachhealth that the pollution causes. The cost argument alone should rule out a new crossing.

There is evidence that the cost predictions are wrong for all of the proposed options. Option B does not allow for improvements to the A13 or the A13/ M25 junction. Looking at the map for option C it does not appear that the crossing allows for the predicted rise in sea levels. Past experience with projects such as the A2 widening at Gravesend show road building costs are often underestimated.

It is worth remembering that the closer a crossing is to the estuary the greater the cost. Unlike in Scotland any crossing will be paid for with tolls. The M6 toll project has shown how reluctant people are to pay any subsequent high fees.

Any new crossing will not solve the congestion problem, it will simply increase pollution in Kent. This is a hard concept for some people to grasp but there are lots of studies from this country and around the world that prove this beyond any doubt. This is why CPRE Protect Kent is so against a new crossing for so long. I personally remain as committed to fighting any new crossing of the river Thames in Kent as I have in the last 13 years as when I first became involved with this issue.

Alex Hills


The common appeal of walking…

I’ve spent some time recently reflecting on the variouswalking rewards that drive so many of us to walk in our leisure time. In England alone, more than 9 million of us walk recreationally at least once a month, making walking more popular than going to the gym or swimming. And in a poll of adults in 2011 that asked people to name the things that bring them most pleasure, walking came in at number 25 ahead of eating chocolate, eating cake and the smell of freshly baked bread.

Continue reading


Night Flights at Manston

Manston KIANight flights at Manston seem unlikely to make any real difference to the airports success, yet will certainly damage residents quality of life. Because of this Protect Kent says no to these night http://buysoma.net flights! The Regional Growth fund also seems to have felt that the case for nightflighs was weak as they’ve turned down Manston and KCC’s bid to them to develop the airport.


The Stack Is Back!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Kent is suffering under Operation Stack once again, as heavy goods vehicles are parked up on the M20, forcing other traffic (including some wayward HGVs) to divert onto the county’s smaller main roads.  The knock-on effect is increased congestion across Kent, with many people taking to rural roads to avoid the jams and delays.  The estimated cost to Kent’s economy is £2 million per day.  While some may argue that this is an unfortunate situation, due to very bad weather in France and therefore uncontrollable, the root cause is an inability by the ferry companies to be able to transport vehicles across to the continent.  As Kent’s residents will know, there can be many other reasons for this, but the resulting chaos is always the same.

We recognise that Kent County Council are making efforts to resolve this problem, but unfortunately they still appear to be pursuing the singular solution of a huge lorry park at Aldington near Ashford.  CPRE Protect Kent have always been opposed to such a scheme, as it would be a ‘greenfield development’ that would deface Kent’s beautiful http://bestacnedrug.com countryside. The proposed site is also agricultural land which will be in great demand as food security rises in importance in the future. This would be particularly disastrous, given the infrequent use such a lorry park is likely to get.

Protect Kent believes that the Port of Dover must be made to take some responsibility for the mayhem caused by Operation Stack, implemented whenever cross-channel travel slows.  We have argued on numerous occasions that the unused Western Docks could be to provide lorry parking for periods when travel is not possible for whatever reason.  We believe that a lorry park on agriculturally valuable land at Aldington would be incredibly flawed, especially when the real problem is still another 15 miles down the M20 towards Dover.  It is the Port’s inability to cope with incoming traffic which leads to this situation, so they should be building a lorry park to free the M20 and the people of Kent from the burden of Operation Stack.

This is not a new problem, but a final solution seems to be as far away as ever.


Research is great…

The levels of unprotected countryside in the South East of England. In Kent we have 39% of our countryside which is unprotected by any specific designation. This could be in danger in the future.

Quite often CPRE Protect Kent does research in order to show how inappropriate certain developments are, or to make a point to decision makers. We recently used an excellent piece of research to help supplement our response to Gravesham Borough Councils planning strategy, and we think it may have been a significant reason for them changing their minds.

Our national office also spends a lot of time working on research, and they recently released an absolutely fascinating document which will hopefully begin to change our policymaker’s ideas about the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

One of our biggest problems with the draft NPPF was that although the Government appeared committed to protecting designated landscapes, they had completely omitted to mention the protection of undesignated landscapes. When you consider that the total English countryside area is 46,861 miles squared, of which 26,153 miles squared is unprotected countryside, you may begin to appreciate our concern. This is roughly half of all of our countryside which could be put at much greater risk because of the NPPF. This would be a real shame as planning policy has recognised the intrinsic value of our ‘ordinary’, undesignated countryside for many, many years. Our undesignated countryside is still special, and it still requires protection from urban sprawl and unrestricted development and the NPPF as it stood in its draft form was simply insufficient at protecting it.
So, what does this ‘ordinary’ countryside look like? The picture below is a landscape that would be freed up for development with little protection if the NPPF were to go through unchanged. I think that you’ll agree with me when I say; it’s worth fighting to save!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Within Kent we have two large chunks of our countryside which are largely undesignated and could therefore be open to more development. The majority of the Romney Marshes have no special designation, as well as north of the North Downs and South of Maidstone. The marshes are an iconic, tranquil and beautiful landscape that must remain protected by Government policy so let us hope that when the NPPF is next released we see some drastic changes.


Christmas in January

When is Christmas not Christmas? It sounds like a bad joke from a cracker, but last Friday CPRE Protect Kent had rather a delicious Christmas meal despite it being January 2013! If you have never been to one of Margaret’s events, you should certainly sign up for them as she always manages to put together unique, interesting and enlightening trips for our members!

Christmas LunchEverybody from the office attended the meal giving members an excellent opportunity to chat with the team about the range of campaigns we have been working on recently and our concerns for the year ahead.

If you would like to find out about Margaret’s events, and you’re a member, email us at info@cprekent.org.uk


Food vs. Energy?

The decision taken yesterday by Shepway District Council’s Planning Committee, to grant planning permission for a 46-hectare solar farm at Sycamore Farm, Old Romney, could have far reaching consequences for farming and food security in the UK.  While clean renewable energy is an important priority for all of us, the use of highest quality agricultural land for this sort of non-agricultural development may set a precedent that effectively promotes “industrialisation of the countryside”.

Had this been a proposal for a power station using fossil fuels, permission would have certainly been refused.  But while the proposed development relates to renewable energy, it appears this ‘trumps’ any other use of the land, even very productive food production.  Wind farms are a similar case, although thankfully some Local Authorities are recognising that these do have a detrimental effect on communities, the countryside and existing uses of the land, and are acting accordingly.Solar Farm Energy Production Kent

Perhaps the biggest issue that appears to have been overlooked is that the solar farm does not necessarily have to be constructed at this location:  there are a multitude of other possible sites, some of them being ‘brownfield land’, that could have been used instead of this best and most versatile grade 1 farmland.

We call on politicians and planners alike to recognise the importance of clear policies to protect the farmland which is so important to the country’s economy and food security.


Darent Catchment Improvement Group

In 2012, a range of partners from organisations, community groups, charities, local councils and government agencies joined to form the Darent Catchment Improvement Group (DCIG). This group is working to improve the River Darent and ensure it can reach Good Ecological Potential/Status by 2027.

The priority for the DCIG is to develop, promote and deliver a Vision and Catchment Improvement Plan for the River Darent by the end of 2014.

The Catchment Improvement Plan will include priorities for the River Darent including flood prevention, pollution control and fish passage as well as identifying local issues such as poor quality http://buycialisquality.com habitat, access and recreation. Actions will be developed detailing the projects that need to be done to achieve the overall aim to improve the river and will help to guide the work that will be delivered.

The DCIG is currently Chaired by Louise Smith of North West Kent Countryside Partnership (NWKCP). Membership of the DCIG currently includes:

  • NWKCP
  • Environment Agency
  • Angling clubs
  • CPRE Protect Kent
  • Darent River Preservation Society
  • Darent Valley Consortium
  • Dartford District Council
  • Kent Fisheries Consultative Association
  • Kent Wildlife Trust
  • National Farmers Union
  • Sevenoaks District Council

There is also an opportunity for your views to be raised through our representative at the DCIG meetings by contacting;

Jamie Weir


Come rain or sunshine, water is important!

As I drove towards the Kent Events Centre on the 26th of last month, it seemed like a particularly bad day to talk about water sustainability in the South East! The rain lashing down (as it has for what seems like months now) made talk of drought in Kent appear laughable.  But as the day progressed, listening to the various presentations made me realise that actually, water sustainability needs to be on all of our minds throughout the year, not just when we have a drought. As the press officer at CPRE Protect Kent, I’m not technically versed in watery issues within the county; however our Campaigns Manager Andrew Ogden, is very much a specialist in the field. Earlier in the year, when the county was facing severe water shortages, we decided that as a leading conservation and environmental charity, CPRE Protect Kent should bring the key players in the water industry together to kick off some real changes in water resource planning. Our aim was to achieve more synergy between these organisations and create a more sustainable water framework for Kent.

The conference was extremely well attended by a variety of planning consultants, councillors, local authority officers, environmentalists and even the Chairman of Kent County Council, Richard King! We heard from some truly excellent and extremely knowledgeable speakers on a variety of issues; from the supply side through Southern Water (who also sponsored the conference), to those who use water in industry such as the brewer Shepard Neame. We also had a fascinating insight from the Environment Agency who are on the front line managing the critical water situations that both our county and the whole country face at times. Unfortunately, whilst we were supposed to be hearing from the Minister responsible for water in the UK, Richard Benyon MP, due to the extreme weather we have recently had he was required to be in the South West. However, we were lucky enough to be treated to one of his colleagues at DEFRA who gave an excellent talk and then answered questions from the floor.
We were treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch, although I barely had time to eat anything as we ran a series of roundtable discussions on different watery issues. I think that I had one of the more ‘impossible’ questions on my table, which was seeking to address the further reaching global issues of water shortages, but my group gave a lively and spirited effort at giving a solid answer to this problem!
If there were one over-riding lesson that I personally took from the day, it is that even when it is raining and pouring outside, we still need to keep one eye on water sustainability in Kent. Whilst we all tend to think that water is plentiful when experiencing this kind of weather, it only takes a few dry months to create a serious problem with our water supply. We are an incredibly water stressed county and now is the time for us to really get a solid plan to ensure that Kent can become water efficient and ensure that it isn’t wasted and we can move into the future a more sustainable county. Hopefully yesterday has got participants thinking and will be the catalyst required to ensure real change for the future. However, whilst the various agencies and others were all there, a lot of the real change needs to come from you, the public. So, I would like to ask you to think “what am I going to do today to make sure I don’t waste water unnecessarily”! It’s only when we all begin to ask ourselves this question that water sustainability will become less of a problem, although whilst we have a growing population, all competing for the same resources, it’s unlikely to ever go away…