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 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

Freight Action Plan consultation

CPRE Kent has responded to Kent County council’s consultation on its Freight Action Plan.

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HGV selection by Barry V

We expressed concern about the negative impact of HGVs, including:

  • the increased wear and tear on the county’s roads;
  • air pollution;
  • the number of serious traffic incidents;
  • the danger, noise, litter and nuisance of fly-parking;
  • damage to rural verges and hedgerows.

We also stressed again our opposition to a single gigantic lorry park as a solution to Operation Stack.

To read our full response click here.

March 14th 2017

 

 

 

2017 Housing White Paper

CPRE Kent has welcomed the renewed commitment to protect the Green Belt made in today’s Housing White Paper.

We support the following initiatives:

  • Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land and regenerating estates.
  • Maintain existing strong protections for the Green Belt and clarify that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements.
  • Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.

 

Building site 'Cox' restoration 018

Bluebells Street Scene

Bluebells Street Scene

Director Hilary Newport said: “We need this commitment to the Green Belt and other protected areas, particularly in Kent where so much of our beautiful countryside is Green Belt or in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We have long campaigned for a brownfield first policy and pleased to see a national commitment to this.”

Pentland Builders

Pentland Builders

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of CPRE nationally said: “We welcome the White Paper’s promise to address failings of the housing market, rather than just meddle with the planning system. Builders must build, not just sit on land. We look forward to seeing the Government’s plans to turn unused planning permissions into homes, and brownfield sites regenerated to bring new life to towns and cities.

“If the focus is on genuine need, achievable targets and good quality design that fits with the local environment, we can build the homes the country needs without losing further precious countryside.”

housing image for NPPF

The White Paper promises a further consultation on how local authorities should calculate housing need. For those concerned about our countryside, the outcome of this consultation is the acid test. Until local authorities are able to set realistic and deliverable housing targets, with an emphasis on meeting genuine need rather than aspirational demand, the countryside and Green Belt will continue to be threatened by poor quality and speculative development.

Shaun Spiers concluded:

“The Government has made a good start in this White Paper and Ministers should be congratulated for listening. It is vital that we build more homes, but it is also essential to do so in ways that have popular support. The focus on brownfield development and other measures in the White Paper will help with that agenda. We now look forward to measures to ensure that housing targets are reasonable, deliverable and focussed on affordability.”

To read the White Paper click here.

February 7th 2017.

Giant phone masts rejected

Planning applications for two huge communications masts have been rejected by Dover District Council planning committee.
Very similar reasons for objections were listed by the planning committee members, describing the structures as “unsightly” and lacking “significant benefits”.
Councillors considered an application by Canadian firm Vigilant Global to build a 322m structure at Richborough Power Station, followed by New Line Networks’ proposal for a slightly smaller 305m tower at nearby Kings End Farm.
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Photo Tamsyn Steadwood

Councillors said they would impact on heritage assets such as the Grade I Listed St Peter’s Church in Sandwich and change the landscape’s character. There were concerns over the footpath which would be used in construction in Vigilant’s proposal, a lack of official ecological assessment and objections from the National Grid.

CPRE Kent had objected to plans for two phone masts because they would cause heritage, landscape and ecological harm.

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Both would disrupt important views across heritage landscape. The area is near the Wantsum Channel, the setting of the historic Richborough Fort. Due to the flat, open nature of the landscape, the proposed masts would represent a substantial and unpleasant feature, ruining views to and from Richborough Castle across this beautiful and distinctive area.

CPRE Kent also believed that the applicants had not demonstrated that they have fully considered alternative sites and other technologies which would avoid harm to landscapes of historical, cultural and archaeological importance. Plus, there was no indication that the applicants have discussed the schemes to see if they could share a mast.

The sites also have notable bird, invertebrate, mammal and reptile species, including golden plover (a Special Protection Area species). The risk to birds was a significant concern of CPRE Kent and this issue should be discussed in detail with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

Planner Jillian Barr said: “We were very concerned that masts of this great height would spoil an important and historic landscape and could harm bird and other wildlife populations. We have called for alternative sites and technologies to be considered and for mobile phone operators to work together and share masts so there are fewer to spoil our landscapes.”

Our full responses can be read here and here.

January 30th 2017


Good news – appeal dismissed into 330 homes at Newington

A planning inspector has refused two appeals by a developer to build up to 330 homes on greenfield land at Pond farm in the village of Newington near Sittingbourne. CPRE Kent was a major participant in the planning inquiry last November.

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

The inspector has now dismissed the appeals on the grounds that “even after considerable weight is given to the social, economic and environmental benefits …… the substantial harm that the
appeal proposals would cause to the character of a valued landscape and their likely significant adverse effect on human health would significantly and demonstrably outweigh those benefits.”

Jillian Barr, CPRE Kent Planner, said: “This is great news for this beautiful part of Kent. The development would have drastically changed the character and landscape of the villages and we were extremely worried about the effect on air quality and human health. The inspector agreed with us on these important points and also agreed the harm caused could not be adequately mitigated. There would also have been a detrimental effect on heritage assets.”

pond-farm-newington-vic Continue reading

Communities help to plan low carbon future

Local communities have a new way to help the country meet its obligation to tackle climate change, following this month’s approval of the historic Paris Agreement [1]. With the need to develop a genuinely sustainable energy system more pressing than ever, a new consultation tool  published today [30 November] lets towns, villages and neighbourhoods shape their own genuinely sustainable local energy plans.

Published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and CPRE, it aims to bring communities together to share their passion for local landscapes with their enthusiasm for a more sustainable future.

energy-image-from-cpredscf1051

CSE and CPRE’s new ‘Future Energy Landscapes’ approach shows that putting local people at the centre of energy planning can result in ambitious vision and targets. Through a series of participatory workshops, with visual tools and consumption calculations, communities are empowered to combine their understanding and views of their landscape with planning for energy needs Together, local planners and communities can create robust energy strategies that could deliver radical reductions in carbon emissions and enjoy genuine local backing. Continue reading

Motocross ban to protect species and prevent noise disturbance

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal into motocross on a site in the countryside on a former quarry between Harrietsham and Sandway. The appellants had sought permission to use the land for the riding of motorcycles for 28 days per year and this was refused.

motocross-site

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Photo: Wildlife Wanderer

CPRE Kent had raised concerns about the Great Crested Newts on the site – they are a protected species and it is unlawful to kill, harm or disturb them. They would be at risk of being crushed on the track or harmed by sand spray.

CPRE Kent also raised concerns about noise disturbance to nearby residents.The inspector agreed that “the proposed development would have a significant adverse impact on the health and quality of life of surrounding occupiers, with particular regard to noise and disturbance”.

The appeal decision is attached below:

motocross-appeal-decision-3143679-november-2016

November 29th 2016

 


Landowners can help solve the rural housing crisis

Report suggests ways to help landowners provide affordable housing for local communities

A new paper released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that rural landowners can play a crucial role in solving England’s rural housing crisis, and sets out ways to better enable them to do so [1].

Photo: hastoe

Photo: Hastoe

Under current policy, rural landowners can provide sites at below-market prices to build housing for local people in need – but recent legal and financial changes have made this increasingly difficult. On Solid Ground shows how we could make it easier for landowners to offer their land for affordable housing, including through changes to tax legislation and to councils’ waiting list systems for social housing.

Rural communities are particularly hard-hit by dwindling affordable housing stock: 8% of rural housing is classed as affordable compared to 20% in urban areas [2]. This has seen the average age in rural communities rise as young people are priced out, and services like post offices, pubs and shops have closed as workers and potential customers are forced to move elsewhere [3]. Continue reading

Otterpool Park

CPRE Kent has raised concerns about the proposed development of 12,000 homes at Otterpool Park near Westenhanger in Shepway.

 

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

The masterplan, by Shepway District Council, has won the backing of Government including a pledge of £750,000 capital funding.

However, there is no objectively assessed need for housing on this scale in this area. It will be more than half the size of Folkestone and well over twice the size of Hythe. We are concerned about increased congestion and inadequate infrastructure.

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “People living in villages nearby are already being impacted by the huge Operation Stack lorry park. This will blight our countryside and affect our communities. We believe in positive place-making but this needs to be done in the right place with sustainable communities and where there is a proven need. The priority should be for brownfield sites and to build out those planning permissions already granted.”

Fore more information see here and here.

Residents are meeting for an update and to plan their reaction to the plans at 7pm at Lympne castle tomorrow (November 15th). For more information see https://www.facebook.com/nootterpoolnewtown/

November 14th 2016

Directors’ report and financial statements available

The CPRE Kent directors’ report and financial statements for 1015-2016 are available to view now.

You can read about our campaigning on issues such as the Lower Thames Crossing, the Operation Stack lorry park and aviation as well as our engagement with local plan preparation and planning issues in general. Plus details of the charity’s financial activities.

autumn-endings-by-rachel-kramer

You can read the report and accounts here.

The report and accounts will be discussed at the AGM on 18th November. For more information click here.

November 1st 2016.