Protecting our heritage – new guide

Kent is blessed with an exceptional wealth of historic buildings and structures and archaeological sites – from our cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester and great houses, like Knole, to tiny cottages and barns, and from well-known sites like Richborough and Kit’s Coty to medieval hedgerows and field boundaries. This rich heritage is under severe threat from intense development to accelerate house-building, promote economic growth and improve roads and other infrastructure.

Landscape by Vicky Ellis

CPRE Kent has produced a new guide to protecting that heritage. “Looking after heritage through the planning system” deals in turn with listed and unlisted historic buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and archaeological sites, parks, gardens and battlefields and heritage landscapes. It sets out as simply and briefly as possible the legal protections which apply and the procedures to be followed by developers and local planning authorities in addressing them.

Oak tree by Vicky Ellis

We hope people will will find it both of interest and of practical use in engaging with the planning process, when Kent’s precious heritage is at stake. It is available to download below or do contact us on info@cprekent.org.uk if you require a printed copy (donations requested to offset our costs).

looking after heritage through the planning system June 2017

July 4th 2017.


Our concerns about air quality

We have submitted our concerns about air quality in the consultation “Improving air quality: national plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities”.

London air pollution by David Holt

We are very dissatisfied with DEFRA’s (Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) proposed measures to address the problem:

  • We do not accept that devolution of responsibility for air quality to local planning authorities is an appropriate way forward. Local authorities lack the resources, capacity and expertise to shoulder the responsibility.
  • We are concerned that each local planning authority will act in isolation with regard to air quality. The government is committed to delivering 1 million new homes by 2020, and it is clear that the adverse air quality impacts of increased traffic, increased congestion and air pollution in pinch-points, will be experienced across more than one planning authority area and we are aware of no overarching strategy that can address this.
  • Within Kent, we are particularly concerned at the conflict between the requirement for air quality improvement and policies and decisions on transport. Kent’s channel corridors provide for the movement of some 60% of freight between the UK and mainland Europe. Kent County Council’s Freight Action Plan seeks to facilitate increased traffic, rather than engage in sustainable freight movement strategies which reduce the nation’s reliance on this route. The Port of Dover’s expansion plans will have concomitant impact on the highways network further afield, not least at the existing Dartford Crossings. It is because of the congestion, delays and exceedance of air quality limit values that already exist at Dartford that DfT recently announced a third Thames Crossing to be sited east of Gravesend. However, Highways England have acknowledged that the construction of this crossing would be expected to divert only 14% of the traffic using Dartford to the new crossing at Gravesend; it will not resolve the existing problems at Dartford, but it will create new problems at Gravesend.

Continue reading

Tunbridge Wells housing numbers too high

We have responded to the latest consultation on Tunbridge Wells local plan challenging the huge housing numbers planned which would cause severe environmental damage, loss of countryside, green space and ancient woodland.

CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee has raised many concerns in its comments on the Issues and Options consultation.

We dispute the need to provide 650 to 700 houses per year. Given that employment growth in the borough in the 21 years from 1991 to 2013 was zero, the jobs forecasts which project an ever-rising volume of employment seem unduly optimistic and if the increase in jobs is not forthcoming, this volume of housing development could turn the borough into a dormitory for businesses elsewhere. The population and household formation forecasts on which the housing need assessment is based may also be too high.

View from Horsmonden Church by James Stringer

Committee chairman Elizabeth Aikenhead said: “Most importantly, housing development on this scale together with its infrastructure clearly cannot be accommodated in a borough with so many environmental constraints without causing serious damage to the environment.”

It is also contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework. CPRE Kent does accept that there will have to be new development within the borough but this should continue to be at no more than the rate previously required under the Core Strategy. Even that amount of development will be very difficult to provide without serious environmental damage.

Lamberhurst in Spring by Jonathan Buckwell

Taking the proposed Strategic Options one by one, Continue reading

Remembering Alan Holmes

One of CPRE Kent’s most valued and committed members, Dr Alan Holmes, has passed away at the age of 89. He joined the charity in 1999 and served as Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Trustee, Vice President, South East Regional Treasurer and Chairman of the Canterbury Committee.

Alan was awarded an OBE for services to the food industry having run Leatherhead Food Research Association, a laboratory with an international reputation. He undertook many voluntary roles with organisations including Citizens’ Advice Bureau, the Rotary, East Kent Council for Voluntary Services, East kent Hospitals Trust, the Canterbury Credit Union and the Westgate Hall Conservation Trust.

Alan lost his first wife Ann to cancer in 1975 and his second wife Sue, also to cancer, in 2013. He had three children, bob, Michael (who died in 1995), and Rosie and five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He died after a short illness.

We will remember Alan for his passion for the countryside, his chairing of so many meetings, his dog Buddy who accompanied him to all those meetings and his down-to-earth approach to planning and outspoken views on some of the major issues in Canterbury.

 

 


Airspace and runway concerns

CPRE Kent has taken part in two consultations on airports – the UK Airspace Policy consultation and the Department of Transport Runway Consultation.

We do not accept that there is a case for additional runway capacity in the south east. Under-used runways exist within the UK and to add capacity in the south east will only further aggravate the north-south economic divide. Plus, there will be further impact on the environment and it will further damage the UK’s efforts to control carbon emissions, there will be additional pressure on transport and housing and more people affected by noise and air pollution.

Read our response here.

Photo by Chris Sampson

Photo by Chris Sampson

In the Airspace consultation we raised concerns about flight paths and noise including:

  • More call-ins by the Secretary of State to changes in flight paths – there have been three major changes to flight paths at Gatwick over the past four years (the ADNID trial, the concentration of approach routes to the east of the airport, and the concentration of departure routes). These changes have caused thousands of complaints, yet none of them would have fallen within the proposed criteria for call-in so it needs to be much wider.
  • We consider the proposals for compensation to be inadequate. The proposals for increased noise insulation would only apply very close to the airport and would provide no benefit to those who wished to open their windows or spend time out of doors. Compensation for new or changed flight paths should be paid by the airport concerned.
  • We are disappointed at the proposal to retain unchanged the guidance which states that noise should be given priority up to 4,000ft, while noise and climate change should be given equal priority between 4,000 and 7,000ft. We do of course recognise the importance of limiting climate change emissions, but we are aware that many of our members are severely disturbed by the noise of aircraft at heights of 4,000 to 7,000ft and even higher. This is particularly true in areas where ambient noise is low.
  • We strongly oppose a policy of transferring some noise controls to the airports. It would be wrong in principle to put such controls into the hands of a commercial business, which will always put profit first.

Continue reading


Protect our Green Belt

We must protect our Green Belt for future generations. It prevents urban sprawl as well as providing countryside for recreation and relaxation, tranquillity, important habitats and areas for nature, the environment and farming.

Much of west Kent is Green Belt – in fact it covers 93% of Sevenoaks, 77% of Gravesham, 71% of Tonbridge and Malling, 56% of Dartford and 22% of Tunbridge Wells.

Strengthening the protection for Green belts and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an important point in our 2017 election manifesto. Have a look at the video below to see how much the Green Belt is loved.

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May 15th 2017

Concern over potential cuts to train services

CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee has raised fears about cuts in train services for villages in the consultation on the South Eastern rail franchise.

One of the proposals is to reduce the frequency of trains on “less well used stations” which we believe could include Pluckley, Headcorn, Staplehurst, Marden, Paddock Wood, High Brooms and Hildenborough. It is well hidden under the heading “to speed up longer distance journeys” on page 21 of the consultation.

Arriving at Headcorn, photo Joshua Brown

Arriving at Headcorn, photo Joshua Brown

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “To cut or add uncertainty about rail services for villages where development is being deliberately focused because of the stations is madness. It will lead to more land banking, more unbuilt permissions and more 5 year housing land supply failures. Plus, there will be uncertainty and unfair changes for the communities already living close to and relying on these stations. Residents of villages that have a rail station must have confidence in the service.”

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Staplehurst station by Liz Poycock

Arriving at Pluckley, photo Joshua Brown

Arriving at Pluckley, photo Joshua Brown

Read our consultation response here.

May 22nd 2017

 

 


Legal action challenges 4,000 homes in south Canterbury

Good news that campaigners have been granted permission to challenge the decision to allow a huge development of 4,000 homes in south Canterbury at Judicial Review.

Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell, supported by many including CPRE Kent, have mounted the legal challenge over the failure of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government not to call in the application on air pollution grounds.

little-barton-farm

They say: “The legal challenge will also force Canterbury City council to adopt a legally compliant Air Quality Action Plan and to support planning proposals that actually reduce air pollution and makes life better for all Canterbury residents.”

They have today won permission to have their case heard by a judge.

mountfield-3

CPRE Kent is concerned about Mountfield park because of the impact on the heritage setting of the world heritage site of Canterbury, the impact on the already terrible traffic problems and the air pollution this will cause and the impact on the countryside.

For more information or to support or donate towards the JR, contact climaterecovery1@gmail.com

May 3rd 2017

 


CPRE Manifesto for 2017 election

CPRE’s manifesto calls on all parties in the election to recognise the countryside’s huge contribution to the economy and our sense of who we are as individuals and communities, and to develop policies that will protect and enhance rural areas.

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We are calling for:

  • stronger protection of Green Belts and AONBs
  • investment in urban regeneration, especially brownfield sites
  • funding for farming to ensure we are a resilient nation in terms of food and environment and to reverse the decline in nature, in soils and in landscapes
  • an overhaul of transport policy in favour of a better integrated and sustainable approach
  • reduce waste and pollution by committing to resource efficiency schemes, such as deposit return systems
  • transpose all EU environmental protections into domestic law and introduce an ambitious new Environment Act
Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Read our manifesto here.

April 27th 2017.

Radical rethink needed on Thames crossing solution

No-one who has crawled through traffic congestion at the Dartford crossings can doubt that there is a problem that needs fixing, and it needs fixing now. Nor do the residents who suffer from dangerously high levels of air pollution need reminding that this is a situation which has long been intolerable.

Our first thoughts on the location are here. But now that the dust is beginning to settle on the announcement of the likely location of the Thames crossing, there’s an opportunity to reflect on what this means for Kent and beyond.

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

As a solution to the problems suffered at Dartford, the tunnel east of Gravesend performs very poorly indeed. Highways England’s consultation acknowledged that, on opening, the tunnel would draw just 14% of the traffic from Dartford, which is a woefully poor improvement on a situation that is intolerable now and can only become worse in the time it will take a tunnel to be built.

We know from years of observations that building roads to remove congestion is counter-productive; new roads fill with traffic faster than the roads they are supposed to be relieving. CPRE’s report published only last month showed the most comprehensive evidence to date that building new roads is not the solution.

A huge proportion of the goods we trade with mainland Europe and beyond travel through the Channel Port of Dover and the Channel tunnel, and there are ambitious plans to grow traffic through the port of Dover. If the experience of past road building schemes has taught us anything at all, it is that before long Kent’s highways network, even with an additional tunnel across the Thames, will be back at or beyond capacity and we will have endured the environmental and social damage of building and using a tunnel for no long-term solution.

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

Before destroying communities, landscapes and designated sites, we want urgent attention to be given to developing a sustainable transport strategy. Fostering and encouraging the continued growth in traffic through Kent is not good for the country’s economic resilience. The unprecedented events of 2015, leading to over 30 days’ implementation of Operation Stack, should have taught us the lesson that focusing so much of the country’s imports and exports through the already constrained M2/M20 corridors cannot make economic sense.

We urge government to take a radical re-think of the focus on funneling so much traffic on roads through the South East. We need modal shift which will take freight off roads and on to rail, yet the plans for the new Thames crossing are totally silent on the possibility of addition non-road capacity.

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

April 24th 2017

 

 

 

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/lower-thames-crossing-consultation/user_uploads/lower-thames-crossing-consultation-booklet.pdf

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

CPRE Kent response to Medway Local Plan

CPRE Kent is calling for a commitment to improve the environment and community health as well as save valuable farmland in its response to the Medway Local Plan consultation.

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

We will be asking Medway Council to:

  • recognise the contribution of agricultural land to local sustainability, and invest in improving ecosystems for healthy communities, well-being and resilience;
  • Include “access to nature” when planning growth;
  • enhance the understanding of biodiversity conservation across whole landscapes;
  • make adaption to climate change a priority;
  • proactively assess underused or vacant sites (especially brownfield) that might contribute to regeneration or meeting housing need, including small sites;
  • consider sustainability when assessing sites (such as the employment park at Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula), including transport infrastructure and other services;
  • consider accessibility of local people to space and countryside;
  • ensure Green Belt is given the highest level of protection, as specified in the recent Housing White Paper;
  • continue with the designation of development gaps and areas of local landscape importance;
  • consider the impact on air quality of all development and associated travel.
  • Photo: diamond geezer

    Photo: diamond geezer

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

CPRE Kent Planner Jillian Barr said: “A strong and ambitious vision is necessary to deliver growth, protect the environment, but also to deliver improvements to the environment and community health. This is essential to Medway’s future. We are pleased that the council is consulting so thoroughly at this stage of the plan process and recognise that there are challenging targets. There is a proven link between access to nature, space, dark skies and tranquillity and the health of communities and we hope the council will take this fully on board now and when looking at sites over the next 18 years.”

CPRE Kent has now submitted its full response to the plan – read it here.

June 5th 2017

Disappointment at Thames crossing announcement

CPRE Kent has said it is disappointed at the Government’s decision to press ahead with a hugely damaging new Thames crossing east of Gravesend.

Artist's impression of the bored tunnels

Artist’s impression of the bored tunnels

“This will devastate the countryside and the environment and will not solve the terrible congestion problem at Dartford,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport.

“We have long argued that simply building new roads does not result in less traffic – in fact it often has the opposite effect.”

Dartford crossing, photo: Highways England

Dartford crossing, photo: Highways England

A CPRE report out only last month (Monday 20th March), following the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England, reveals that road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment. (1)

We believe that spending up to £3 billion on a new crossing is the wrong answer. It has instead called for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross-channel movement of freight. We need a sustainable transport strategy.

The option for the new crossing chosen, two bored tunnels east of Gravesend, will destroy ancient woodland, destroy important wildlife habitats which are home to protected species and destroy productive farmland, needed to feed our growing population. It will ruin the beautiful landscapes and panoramic views which make Gravesham so special. And it will have a devastating impact on Shorne Country Park, one of the area’s most important educational, environmental and recreational assets, used by so many people, including horse riders, walkers, cyclists, runners and families or those who just seek the tranquillity and peace so vital to our busy lives.

Shorne Woods, photo KCC

Shorne Woods, photo KCC

shorne-wood, Visit kent

Shorne Wood, photo Visit Kent

The crossing itself will not cause all the damage. It is the approach road and the new transport corridor it will create that will be so environmentally damaging. This option will mean the loss of all the open land between Gravesham and Medway changing the character of Gravesham for ever.

A major justification of the need for the new crossing is the volume of road freight traffic – up 80% in the last 20 years to over 3.7 million trucks per year travelling through the M20 ‘Channel corridor’ in Kent along the foot of the Kent Downs AONB. 60% of all UK freight travels on HGVs via the channel crossings: most of this is travelling to or from places north of the Thames, some of it even crosses at Dover to travel on to Scotland or even Ireland. Clearly this overdependence needs to be addressed. The huge volume of freight traffic also significantly affects air quality, particularly in Dartford and Dover.

We want other options considered – as well as diverting more freight to alternative ports, there should be more use of rail for freight, the use of smart technology to manage freight through our motorway networks, measures to promote cycling and walking for local journeys and better public transport.

Meanwhile, we continue to argue that any new housebuilding should be sited in sustainable locations, close to employment and services and with public transport links – this would also help regenerate our urban centres. Too many developments are being built in greenfield locations only accessible by car.

(1) http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

12th April 2017


New Kent Voice out now!

The spring/summer 2017 issue of Kent Voice is arriving on doormats this week.

cover photo for web

The magazine includes our latest article on the housing crisis – this time looking at the challenges and dilemmas facing a local planning authority. Other articles include the orchid treasures of Kent, a profile of our president, the artist graham Clarke, heritage, and wildlife and farming. Of course the regular campaigns, planning and district updates are also included.

There are some beautiful photos including this cover shot by Bjorn Sothmann and a few more, seen below. Thank you to all our supporters and members who contributed words or photos.

To read Kent Voice click on the magazine cover above or click here.

Elmley National Nature Reserve, Sheppy, Kent.

Cute lamb by Su-May Scords view, for FWAG article

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The end of the road?

CPRE Kent  has long argued that increased road building in fact leads to increased traffic, does not reduce journey times and does not bring the promised economic growth to areas. Plus it can destroy beautiful areas of countryside.

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Traffic by Jon Coller

New research published by CPRE today (March 20th) reveals that road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment [1].

No wonder we are so concerned at the wisdom of potentially spending £3billion on a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend which would have a terrible economic impact and not solve the problem of congestion at the Dartford crossings.

The research, the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England, arrives as Highways England starts consulting on which road schemes will receive funding, set to triple to £3 billion a year by 2020 [2].

Drawing on the research, CPRE’s report The end of the road? directly challenges government claims that ‘the economic gains from road investment are beyond doubt’ [3]; that road-building will lead to ‘mile a minute’ journeys; and that the impact on the environment will be limited ‘as far as possible’ [4]. The report shows how road building over the past two decades has repeatedly failed to live up to similar aims. Continue reading

Thanet Parkway station consultation

We have submitted our comments on the Thanet Parkway new station consultation.

Thanet-Parkway-consultation-banner

These include the impact on the countryside: “It’s a jarring urban intrusion in an otherwise largely rural landscape, and the station’s proximity to St Augustine’s Cross will significantly erode the tranquillity of its setting.”

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St Augustine’s Cross, photo: shirokazan

We also fear there will be more car journeys to reach the station:

“The station as originally envisaged was intended to serve Manston Airport, and therefore to reduce the need for passengers to and from the airport to travel by car. Under the current proposals, this station will be a significant generator of additional car journeys as it encourages out-commuting.”

Plus there is not a good enough alternative way of getting to the station:

“We note the cycle and pedestrian access from Cliffsend, but the fast dual carriageways which form much of the approach to the main entrance to the north of the station are not at all conducive to walking or cycling from other directions.”

The consultation ends on Sunday (19th). Read our comments here.

March 15th 2017.