Cockering Farm housing approval: CPRE Kent slams ‘lamentable’ consultation

The planned development borders Larkey Valley Wood SSSI (pic explorekent.org)

CPRE Kent is concerned by the decision of Canterbury City Council’s planning committee to grant outline consent for the proposals for 400 homes at Cockering Farm, Thanington.
A spokesman said: “We fully respect the council’s right to approve the application, but we are deeply concerned by the proposals, which do not respect the comments of local people
“The scrutiny has been inadequate and the consultation lamentable for such an important site. The lack of detail is regrettable, making the whole situation doubly disappointing.
“People are only just beginning to understand the implications of this planned development and their concerns must be fully acknowledged if it goes ahead.
“CPRE, with other concerned parties in Canterbury, will scrutinise the details further, as and when the developer finally provides them.
“We will challenge the developer to shape the scheme into one that provides good-quality housing, respecting both the context and the need in the local area and the vitally important heritage of Canterbury.”
The proposed 42-hectare development by Quinn Estates Ltd lies immediately to the north of Larkey Valley Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and in a designated Area of High Landscape Value.
The decision to grant outline permission for the 400 homes, up to 3,716 square metres of business space, a community/leisure facility of up to 200 square metres and 18 hectares of open space, was made on Tuesday, September 18.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Annual General Meeting: Friday, November 9

Featured

Our president Graham Clarke with one of his wonderful poems at last year’s AGM (pic Paul Buckley)

This year’s AGM will be held on Friday, November 9, at our usual venue of Lenham Village Hall.
After positive feedback from last year, we will hold it once again in the morning, starting at 10.30am and ending after lunch, which will be served at 12.30pm.
As well as our usual presidential address we will be hearing from our keynote speaker, Rt Hon Damian Green MP.
This is a chance for you to meet the team in person and find out more about the wonderful work that CPRE Kent is doing.
We hope you will join us.
Please let us know if you would like to appoint a proxy to vote if you are unable to attend, or if you would like to join us for lunch after the meeting (the charge for lunch is £12 per person, cheques payable to CPRE Kent, please, to be received no later than Wednesday, October 31, or via BACS payment at the details in the invitation form posted below).

Invitation AGM 2018

Trustees report and accounts 2017-18

AGM draft minutes 2017

 Monday, October 8, 2018

Manston… airport DCO will be considered

Will planes be landing at Manston again? (pic Hamza Butt)

The Manston airport site might just have a future in aviation after all.
The latest phase of this long-running saga has seen the Planning Inspectorate agree to consider the case for the airport reopening through a Development Consent Order.
This will determine whether it should be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, paving the way for the relevant Secretary of State to grant seizure of the site.
RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) proposes to establish the airport as a freight hub, but site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd has its own plans to build some 4,000 homes, business units and sporting facilities there.
RSP had to resubmit its DCO application after an earlier bid was rebuffed by the Planning Inspectorate, which wanted more details on funding.
Now the application has been accepted, there will be an inquiry.
The public and other interested parties can register with the Planning Inspectorate as an Interested Party; to do this, a written ‘relevant representation’ must be made, giving the individual’s or party’s views.
The Interested Parties will then be asked to a meeting, run and chaired by an appointed Examining Authority.
This part of the process would be expected to last some three months, after which the Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out its examination. Interested Parties will be asked to give further written details of their views during this time, while there might be public hearings.
When all that is concluded, within the next three months the Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State, who then himself has three months to decide on the application.
Finally, there is a six-month period when that decision can be challenged in the High Court.
Thanet CPRE has chosen not to give a view on the airport as feelings on the subject are so mixed.

For more on the tale of Manston, see here and here

For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Council approves its own plans for Princes Parade but the fight might not be over

If the scheme goes ahead, it will impact on the Royal Military Canal, a scheduled historic monument (image courtesy of Save Prince’s Parade, saveprincesparade.org)

More than 700 letters of objection, an e-petition of 6,292 names, opposition from Historic England, Kent Wildlife Trust and CPRE Kent, together with a peaceful protest by some 100 people, were not enough to stop Folkestone and Hythe District Council awarding itself planning permission to develop land it owns at Princes Parade in Hythe.
The council’s planning committee approved the application for up to 150 houses and associated buildings including a leisure centre, hotel and café or restaurant on Thursday, August 16.
The 100 protesters had gathered before the planning meeting, which saw the proposal approved by the tightest of margins, with five votes in favour, four against and one abstention.
CPRE Kent had objected to the council’s plans on ecological grounds, submitting a detailed report highlighting the harm that such a development would cause to the site’s wildlife and wider natural environment.
Our historic buildings committee had also put in an objection, citing the scheme’s unacceptable impact on the setting of the nearby heritage assets, namely the Royal Military Canal and its associated fortifications.
This was supported by government body Historic England, which expressed its concerns about the effect of the development on the setting of the canal, a scheduled historic monument.
Campaigners against the development were also concerned it could be approved even before the site’s future was fully considered as part of the overall planning process for Shepway.
In response to the application’s approval by the council, campaign group Save Princes Parade has asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to call it in.
Graham Horner, CPRE Shepway district chairman, said: “The loss of this green open space in an urban area is regrettable.
“The design of the leisure centre is ugly and it has been put in a position that severely compromises the heritage assets in that area.
“To raise the money needed to pay for the necessary clearing-up of the site, which is contaminated, there needed to be a lot of housing in the application and so we’re left with this monstrosity.
“We’re waiting to find out if this will be called in by the Secretary of State as Folkestone and Hythe has been deciding its own planning application – or effectively marking its own homework. I would support anything that brings about a rethink.”

  • For more on this story, see here
  • Visit the Save Princes Parade website here

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Learn about the draft Sevenoaks Local Plan: you still have time to comment

More demand on the River Darent seems certain (pic Glen Humble, flickr)

Consultation on the Sevenoaks draft Local Plan (2015-35) ends on Monday, September 10.
CPRE Kent has taken calls in recent weeks from residents across the district concerned what a proposed housing target of 13,960 new homes might mean for them and for the status of the Green Belt.
In response, we have produced a briefing that covers the core issues relating to new-housing allocation within the draft Local Plan. We also make our own observations on the document.
You can see the briefing and our observations here
Sevenoaks District Council has organised a series of drop-in sessions, where you can learn more about the Local Plan. You can still make two of these:

  • Swanley Link (BR8 7AE): Wednesday, August 29, 2pm-8pm
  • Sevenoaks District Council (TN13 1HG): Wednesday, September 5, 2pm-8pm

We can not stress strongly enough that if you have concerns about what is proposed by the council in its Local Plan, or you simply want to be involved in the future of Sevenoaks district, you need to respond to the consultation by Monday, September 10.
You can do that here

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New planning rule book: ‘a speculative developers’ charter’

CPRE has slammed the government’s revised planning rule book, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), as a “speculative developers’ charter”.
In a damning early critique, the organisation says the government has not fulfilled its promise to “build attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed”.
Indeed, the document, published on Tuesday, July 24, continues to “favour the delivery of any development, rather than development that meets communities’ needs, respects the environment, and adheres to policies in the NPPF other than those which deal with housing delivery”.
CPRE’s main worry is the introduction, in November, of a ‘housing delivery test’, which sees councils further encouraged to set high housebuilding targets – the new policy has clearly been designed to enforce those targets.
The test will mean councils are penalised when housebuilders fail to deliver homes in their areas; the ‘punishment’ is the removal of local control over planning decisions.
This, of course, will leave countryside open to speculative development.
Other CPRE concerns include:

  • a failure to provide an effective brownfield-first policy
  • the continuing failure to support provision of affordable housing in rural areas
  • the discouragement of neighbourhood planning because of uncertainty over the validity of Local Plans older than two years

Matt Thomson, CPRE’s head of planning, said: “Rather than delivering ‘what communities want’, as it claims to promise, the new planning rulebook and its new ‘housing delivery test’ will result in almost all Local Plans becoming out of date within two years.
“It is a speculative developers’ charter and will lead to the death of the plan-led system.
“Without a Local Plan, councils and communities have little control over the location and type of developments that take place. Local communities’ needs are ignored and valued countryside [is] destroyed for no good reason.”
Despite its disappointment with the revised NPPF, CPRE applauds some positive moves within it. They include:

  • National Parks and AONBs reinstated as having the “highest status of protection”
  • Maintenance of Green Belt protections and an improved definition of “exceptional circumstances” for releasing land from Green Belts
  • Exclusion of National Parks, AONBs and Green Belts from the Entry Level Exceptions Sites policy
  • “Social housing” reinstated in the definition of affordable housing

Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent, said: “Unfortunately, the revised NPPF carries on a situation where too much of the power within our planning system lies with developers.
“The housing delivery test, for example, does nothing to restore the balance that’s needed so local planning authorities can direct the development that’s needed to the places it’s needed.”

  • For more on CPRE’s response to the revised NPPF, see here

    Friday, August 3, 2018

Goodwin Sands dredging: widespread concern over approval of DHB plan

The chairman of CPRE Kent’s Dover committee has expressed his disappointment over the approval of plans to dredge some three million tonnes of aggregate from the Goodwin Sands.
Derek Wanstall said: “We’re fully behind everyone who objected to this scheme. The truth is no one knows the effect any altered drift caused by the dredging will have on our coastline and, of course, on the Sands themselves.”
The dredging application was made in 2016 by Dover Harbour Board, which intends to use the sand for building work at its Western Docks.
The proposal sparked a storm of protest, including a 12,000-name petition handed to 10 Downing Street, while there were three periods of public consultation.
Nevertheless, on Thursday last week (Thursday, July 26), the Marine Management Organisation granted the harbour board its licence to dredge a stretch of the Goodwins seabed, which is owned by the Crown Estate.
The organisation’s chief executive officer, John Tuckett, said the licence was granted because “sufficient measures were proposed to protect the marine environment, prevent interference with legitimate users of the seas and mitigate impacts to any other relevant matters”.
Much of the upset was due to the Sands’ role as the resting place for airmen killed during the Battle of Britain, along with possibly thousands of seamen from shipwrecks.
David Brocklehurst, chairman of the Battle of Britain Museum in Hawkinge, was reported by the BBC as saying that some 60 aircraft had crashed during four months of 1940 at the Sands, with the loss of at least 74 airmen.
“There are thousands of airmen and seamen there, whose remains will be sucked up, and they are unlikely to ever be identified with this method [of dredging]… it’s dishonourable and disgusting,” he is reported as saying.
“It just shows a complete lack of understanding – how would they feel if it was their grandfather, or uncle?”
The Goodwins – which comprise 10 miles of sandbanks some six miles off Deal – also form a valuable wildlife habitat.
The petition Goodwin Sands SOS – Stop the Dredge!, which has more than 15,600 signatures, says:
“The Goodwins are home to a colony of 500 grey and harbour seals. They are also the spawning and nursery grounds of a variety of fish and shellfish, with many shipwrecks providing a semi-natural habitat.
“The colony of seals use areas adjacent to the proposed dredging zone as their ‘haul out’ sites, ie where they rest on land at low tide.
“The noise and vibration from the huge dredgers will disturb them in their natural habitat; there is also the possibility of them being injured by collision with the dredgers and propellers as they are naturally inquisitive creatures.”
The petition also highlights potential problems for the Kent coastline: “Coastal flooding along the east Kent coast is a continual problem and one which would be exacerbated by dredging the Goodwin Sands due to lowering the level and changing the topography (shape) of the seabed.
“The sandbanks absorb the energy from the huge rolling waves coming in from the North Sea which would otherwise be crashing straight onto the Kent coast with destructive results.”
Stephen Eades, co-ordinator of national marine conservation organisation Marinet, said of the decision: “It will likely cause severe damage to the marine life and the aircraft remains. This is a decision which respects neither of these two things.
“The DHB could easily go elsewhere for the sand, but they have allowed commercial interests to rule.”
The MMO decision is all the more disturbing because the dredging area falls within a site proposed by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as a Marine Conservation Zone.
The dredging is due to take place from September 2019 to September 2020.
Campaigners have vowed to appeal against the MMO decision; they have already taken legal advice and stated their intention to launch a CrowdFunding campaign.
For more on this and to sign the petition, which is still live, visit https://goodwinsandssos.org/

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

This isn’t just about Kent: message from lorry park meeting is loud and clear

About 60 people gathered at Pope’s Hall to learn about possible lorry park plans

Some 60 people gathered in the rain (an incredible event in itself this summer!) near Lenham on Friday (July 20) to air and share their worries that a giant lorry park could be built in the area.
The meeting had been organised by landowners Kenneth and Sally Alexander in response to a letter from Highways England (HE) telling them an ecological survey was to be carried out on their land near Boughton Malherbe in relation to its potential as a site for such a development.
Helen Whately, Faversham and Mid Kent MP, was there to take questions and tell people what she knew about HE’s possible plans.
In truth, she revealed, that wasn’t very much as the process of finding a solution to congestion at the Channel crossings and on the M20 was only in the early stages, with HE simply going through the process of contacting landowners along the motorway route.
The concern of those who had turned out at Pope’s Hall, Sandway, was clear, with many fearing the ‘site’ – which lies south of the M20 roughly between Platt’s Heath, Boughton Malherbe and Bowley Farm – had been shortlisted for a lorry park.
However, Mrs Whately said she did not believe there was a shortlist, a view supported by county councillor Shellina Prendergast (Maidstone Rural East), who said HE had been in touch with a number of landowners, and indeed some landowners had contacted the agency about a possible lorry park.
She said HE expected to publish the results of its investigative work in November or December. There was a range of factors to be considered in addition to the ecological findings, most notably access, while it was not even known how much land would be needed.
Mrs Whately stated that Operation Stack had held back some 6,000 lorries at its peak, and that figure would need to be catered for.
She added that options outside Kent were being looked at, while it wasn’t certain whether one large holding park was the best option, as opposed to multiple smaller sites. There were also on-road solutions such as a moveable barrier to consider, as well as the matter of the M2/A2 corridor.
Some 150 parcels of land were being surveyed but, as some of these were conjoined, that didn’t equate to 150 sites.
Two representatives of CPRE Kent were present, one of whom, vice-president Richard Knox-Johnston, blasted the “appalling” communication from HE.
He highlighted the fact that a new range of properties were now blighted by the agency’s investigations and would be until a decision was made. HE needed to work to a strict timeline, he said.
Mrs Whately said she completely agreed.
Mr Knox-Johnston also said that the problem of lorry freight was a national problem and was not just to be dumped on Kent – HE should understand that.
Mrs Whately replied: “Yes, they should. It’s absolutely a national problem and should be recognised as such.”
While there was widespread acceptance that Kent would have to provide part of the solution, the idea that locations elsewhere in the country should also contribute drew perhaps the greatest showing of support of the meeting.
“Perhaps that what you should take away from here – this isn’t just about Kent,” said one gentleman.
No one disagreed.

Monday, July 23, 2018

 

 

 

Thanet’s draft Local Plan to go to public consultation

Yes, the question of Manston still dominates…

Thanet is a step closer to having a Local Plan.
After months of political posturing and squabbling, including the rejection of an earlier version, district councillors voted on Thursday evening (July 19) to recommend the draft Plan go to public consultation.
The full council’s backing, by 31 votes to 21, of ‘Option 2’ for the Plan represents a decision, certainly, but a large degree of uncertainty still clouds the way forward.

After the public consultation, the Plan will go back to the council, which will decide on any amendments before submitting it to an inspector for the Examination in Public.
A main sticking point had been the status of the Manston airport site, but last night’s decision, which went against the recommendation of officers, sees it retained for aviation use, at least in the short term.
That means the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for Manston in the earlier – and subsequently rejected – draft Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000 homes)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)
The total housing target is 17,140 new homes up to 2031.
The decision to recommend the Plan comes against the backdrop of potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) having submitted a revised application for a Development Consent Order (DCO), which could force site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
As for Stone Hill Park, the company has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that includes 3,700 new homes.
Further, the council’s Local Plan process is ‘in intervention’, with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government having stepped in to ensure the local authority finally delivers its Local Plan. It is unclear to what extent the ministry drove the latest proposals, or indeed to what degree it will be involved from here.
There were two amendments to the draft, resulting from the earlier meeting of the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel:

  • The 2,500 homes reallocated from Manton would be phased towards the second half of the Plan period, which ends in 2031.
  • The status of the Manston site would be reviewed after a minimum of two years if a DCO or compulsory purchase of the land had not been agreed by that date.

What are we to make of it all?
Geoff Orton, secretary of Thanet CPRE, said: “It’s common sense that you can’t develop a coherent Local Plan for Thanet without the future of Manston having been decided, so we can only wait on that one.
“The county council document Growth without Gridlock puts emphasis on Manston as the economic driver for east Kent, so it is difficult to see how the employment needs of Thanet and beyond will be met without the airport, especially considering the potential arrival of thousands of new households.
“Even if we do get an airport and it produces 10,000 jobs, they are unlikely to offset the job losses predicted to be caused by technological change – a possible 15,000 in Thanet.
“As for the housing, what developer is going to invest in houses that won’t get sold? And who are those houses targeted for anyway?”
The public consultation is due to run from Thursday, August 23, to Thursday, October 4. Any comments must be submitted during that period as earlier submissions will not be considered.
These, together with the (possibly amended) draft Plan will then go to the inspector for the Examination in Public, with public hearings expected to start in February next year.

Friday, July 7, 2018

For more, visit here, herehere and here

Civic award pays tribute to Hilary Moorby

Jeff Moorby receives the civic award on behalf of his late wife Hilary from Jessamy Blanford, Mayor of Ashford

Tribute has been paid to Dr Hilary Moorby, a former chairman of CPRE Kent, at an awards ceremony.
Hilary, who was one of our most passionate and devoted campaigners, passed away in March but was remembered at Ashford Borough Council’s second civic awards ceremony, held on Thursday, July 5, at Chart Hills Golf Club, Biddenden.
The event highlighted the efforts of 12 of the borough’s ‘heroes and heroines’ who had worked to make their community a better place in which to live.
The civic awards were launched in 2012 to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as “Ashford’s opportunity to honour local people who had helped others in a voluntary capacity, in their own way, at a local level”.
A council spokesman said: “In every corner of the borough there are people who are quietly remarkable.
“There are people who possess great strength of character, who make a substantial contribution to their community, people who enrich the lives of others and improve where they live.
“There are also people who have made a huge personal sacrifice in order to achieve something fantastic. These people are largely unrecognised – until now.”
Hilary’s civic award, made from glass and granite, was picked up by her husband, Professor Jeff Moorby, after the following tribute had been made:
“Our last award tonight is one that is slightly different. It’s for someone who set up a village society and was a champion of all things green.
“An active member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, amongst many other things she fought hard for conservation fields between Ashford and Kingsnorth and she planned and executed a community orchard to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.
“The difference about this award is that Hilary is, sadly, no longer with us, but the Honours & Awards Board felt strongly that, had Hilary still been alive, she would have been an obvious contender for an award.
“That she was nominated, posthumously, is a tribute to her ongoing influence and passion, and recognises the difference she made to her village and to the borough.”
We at CPRE Kent echo wholeheartedly those sentiments.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The debacle that is passing for planning in Thanet… the next step

Thanet… a great place to live but for how much longer?

The troubled, if not farcical, saga of the Thanet draft Local Plan is expected to make progress of a kind tonight (Wednesday, July 11, 2017) when it goes before the district council’s executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel.
This latest stage follows last week’s adoption by the council cabinet of an option that could see the Manston airport site retained for aviation and more than 17,000 homes built on the isle by 2031.
The news came as no great surprise as the other option had been rejected by the council in January, a move that saw the UKIP administration subsequently lose control of the local authority.
That first option had allocated Manston for mixed-use development and 2,500 homes, sparking further conflict between those who wanted to see the return of an airport and those who believed commercial aviation was a not a viable concern there.
Last week’s cabinet decision, made on Monday, July 2, went against the recommendation of officers and means that the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for the airport site in the original Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle.
As things stand, the extra homes are likely to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The cabinet decision will be welcomed by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) as it proceeds with its application for a Development Consent Order, which could force the owner of the site, Stone Hill Park Ltd,  to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
To confuse matters just a little further, Stone Hill Park has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that now includes 3,700 new homes.
So what happens if the DCO application fails… will the housing allocation return to Manston?
Or – and here’s where it could all get even uglier – will Manston be built upon, in addition to the alternative sites that have been put forward?
And will the final housing target end at 17,000, or will new (and widely derided) government methodology push the figure north of a frankly ridiculous 20,000?
Then, of course, there’s the little matter of central government having threatened the council with losing control over its own Local Plan if it doesn’t get it published… and soon.
Shambles? The word doesn’t come close…

For more on this story, if you can bear it, click herehere and here
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

And now villagers in Charing can also smile as Gladman quits appeal

Charing has been spared a large unwanted development

It’s the gift that keeps on giving…
Hot on the heels of the news that Gladman Developments Ltd had withdrawn its appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes in Brabourne Lees comes word that it has similarly pulled out from an inquiry in Charing.
In this case, land agent Gladman was appealing against the council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes in Charing’s Pluckley Road.
CPRE Kent had given evidence to the public inquiry into this appeal as a Rule 6 party (permitted to cross-examine participants) and we expected to hear the result by Wednesday, August 22.
However, we believe the new evidence the council had prepared for its Local Plan examination – and that had proved so crucial in Gladman’s decision to withdraw from the Brabourne Lees inquiry – also persuaded it to pull its appeal in Charing.
Thanks to that evidence, the Local Plan inspector had confirmed the council had more than enough sites to meet its housing targets, demolishing Gladman’s principal argument – that the council could not demonstrate a five-year housing supply.
Either way, villagers can breathe a healthy sigh of relief and pour themselves a richly deserved drop or two of their favoured tipple this evening.
CPRE Kent would like to thank them all – and the planning and legal teams at Ashford Borough Council – for their efforts.

For more on this story, see
here,
here
and here

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gladman drops appeal in Brabourne Lees housing battle

A happy day for Brabourne Lees

And now for the good news… Hospital Field in Brabourne Lees is safe from the cement-mixers and tarmac-layers.
Gladman Developments Ltd has withdrawn its appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes at the site.
The village at the foot of the Kent Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) had been targeted by land agent Gladman for the housing scheme, but the local authority’s refusal to back it sparked the appeal.
CPRE Kent had given evidence to a planning inspector hearing the two-week inquiry into the appeal, held at the Civic Centre in Ashford, in January.
It had been due to reopen on Tuesday, July 10, for two days after Brabourne Parish Council’s request that the inquiry inspector look at new evidence the council had prepared for its Local Plan examination.
As a result of that evidence, the Local Plan inspector had confirmed the council had more than enough sites to meet its housing targets. Indeed it was even told to delete some of the less sustainable sites in its Plan.
This pulled the rug from Gladman’s principal argument – that Ashford council could not demonstrate a five-year housing supply – and it would appear at this point it did not think it worthwhile pursuing its appeal, rendering the scheduled reopening of the inquiry pointless.
CPRE would like to thank Brabourne Parish Council and the people of the village for their efforts in seeing off this wholly inappropriate scheme.
The news comes after last week’s announcement that the High Court had quashed planning permission for a Gladman development at Blean Common, near Canterbury.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thanet: a draft Local Plan could soon be upon us

Manston: at the core of the Thanet debate

So, after all the political game-playing and the sometimes shambolic manner in which Thanet’s planning process has been tackled, it is believed tonight (Monday, July 2) will see the adoption of the district council’s draft Local Plan.
Members of the Thanet District Council cabinet are expected to approve the isle’s planning blueprint for the next 20 years, the most high-profile element seeing the Manston airport site retained for aviation use, which apparently necessitates a further 2,500 homes being built elsewhere on the isle rather than at Manston.
The cabinet’s recommendations will be reviewed by the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel before going to full council on Thursday, July 19, for a final verdict.
In January, councillors rejected the draft Local Plan put forward by the UKIP administration, which subsequently lost control of the council. The main bone of contention was a proposed change of status for Manston from aviation-only to ‘mixed use’, including 2,500 homes, while there was also concern over proposed housing numbers.
Following the rejection of that draft, Sajid Javid, then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – frustrated with the local authority’s “persistent failure” to produce its Plan – wrote to council leader Bob Bayford, announcing he would be sending Chief Planner Steve Quartermain to intervene.
A fresh call for housing sites was made by the district council. Now ‘in intervention’, it must publish a new Local Plan or face possible further intervention by government.
Council officers have reportedly presented two options for consideration by the cabinet: the draft that was rejected in January and another that keeps an aviation-only policy for Manston and reallocates the 2,500 homes from there elsewhere on the isle.
The local authority says this will allow an application by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for a Development Consent Order to proceed.
This was submitted in April but withdrawn the following month because of Planning Inspectorate concerns. RSP says it will be resubmitted in due course.
If the second option is accepted by cabinet, the extra homes – which are in addition to the numbers already proposed for those areas – are expected to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The isle already faces a target of 17,140 new homes by 2031, but revised government methodology suggests this figure could rise to 20,200.
It is a monstrous figure that would entail the loss of a vast amount of greenfield land (Thanet is already the second most urbanised district in Kent), while it is anybody’s guess what the incoming thousands will be expected to do for employment.
Perhaps best not think about it…

Monday, July 2, 2018

To read more on this lengthy tale, click here and here

Blean greenfield site saved (for now) in High Court win over government

The land at Blean Common saved from development
(pic Canterbury City Council)

CPRE Kent welcomes the news that a greenfield site in east Kent has been saved, at least for the time being, after a High Court victory for the local authority over the government.
Canterbury City Council took the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to court after a planning inspector granted planning permission for 85 homes at Blean Common next to the Royal Oak pub.
The council’s planning committee had previously refused the application, but the applicant, Gladman Developments Ltd, appealed the decision.
During April’s subsequent court hearing, the council argued the inspector had misinterpreted policies in both its Local Plan at the time and the then-emerging Local Plan concerning development in the district and on greenfield land specifically.
And yesterday (Tuesday, June 26) in the High Court, Mr Justice Dove backed the council’s case, quashing the decision of the planning inspector, meaning the appeal must be redetermined by a different inspector.
Further, the Secretary of State was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £19,218. There is the right of appeal against the court’s decision.
The council had refused the planning application on grounds including the fact it was a sporadic form of development outside of the village area of Blean, would represent a harmful form of development in a rural location and was detrimental to the character and appearance of the surrounding rural environment in general.
Simon Thomas, the council’s head of planning, said: “It’s highly unusual for us to take the government to court in this way, but there were important issues at stake here.
“Our Local Plan has very clear policies on where we will allow development and on the protection of our precious countryside.
“The inspector misinterpreted these and reached a decision that we felt we had no option but to challenge on behalf of local residents.
“It is not the end for this specific planning application, though, as the Planning Inspectorate is now required to reconsider the appeal.”
Land agent Gladman has been involved in planning conflicts across the country, much of its approach entailing working at the minutiae of local authorities’ five-year land supply, arguing they are not providing the new housing required of them by central government.
Gladman does not build the homes itself. Rather, it seeks to win planning permission allowing developers to put up developments not planned for by local councils.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to disputes up and down the land, with many cases going to public inquiry.
The company’s website says: “Gladman is the UK’s most successful land promoter with an unrivalled success rate of over 90%…
“We have achieved planning permission for over 10,000 new homes and have secured planning permission on over 60 sites in the last year.”
The behaviour of speculative land agents is one of the most taxing issues facing local authorities and countryside campaigners today.
Tom Fyans, CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, said: “We are deeply concerned at the stress and impact this sort of speculative behaviour is having on our countryside, wildlife and on rural communities – land promoters actively work against local wishes for the sake of their own profit.
“Changes must be made to close these loopholes in national planning policy to ensure the planning system drives developments that are needed and welcomed by local authorities.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018