The Court of Appeal has rejected an attempt by Gladman Developments Ltd to overturn the refusal of permission to build up to 330 homes and an ‘Extra Care’ facility at Pond Farm, Newington, near Sittingbourne. The proposals were refused by a planning inspector and again by a High Court judge in 2017. Gladman took that decision to the Court of Appeal, where the decisions of the inspector and the High Court were upheld in a judgment handed down yesterday (September 12, 2019). CPRE Kent challenged the proposals as it was clear homes built in this location would be heavily dependent on car-based transport, and that building in this area would only worsen already unacceptable levels of air pollution along the A2 at Newington and Rainham. At the planning inquiry, Gladman argued that it had offered a financial contribution to undertake measures that would limit the effects of its development on air quality. However, CPRE Kent’s air-quality witness, Professor Stephen Peckham, argued there was no indication of how that contribution would be spent, nor any evidence provided that those measures would actually limit the use of petrol or diesel vehicles and in doing so reduce NO2 emissions. In refusing permission, the inspector agreed that air quality and human health would suffer if this development were to go ahead. Hilary Newport, director at CPRE Kent, said: “This important decision serves to underline that government simply must commit to its obligations on air quality. “We simply cannot continue to allow ‘business as usual’ planning decisions that ignore the impact of unsustainable transport on the health and well-being of communities. “We must act quickly to bring about significant changes in the way we plan for future homes, employment and travel needs.” Richard Knox-Johnston, vice-president of CPRE Kent, said: “We believe that winning this planning appeal represents the first time air-quality mitigation leading to health concerns has been given as a reason. “CPRE Kent used air quality in this case even though the local planning authority did not object. “In having this precedent tested in the High Court and subsequently in the Court of Appeal it has been shown that air-quality mitigation must now be taken into consideration in any planning application. “My thanks go to Professor Stephen Peckham for his expert advice without which we would not have been able to put our case.” CPRE Kent also wishes to thank the legal teams at Cornerstone Barristers and Richard Buxton Solicitors for their hard work and expertise.
Staff members and volunteers from CPRE Kent travelled to Westminster on Monday (September 9) to support campaigners against proposals for the country’s largest solar farm, at Cleve Hill, near Faversham. They were among a group of some people 50 who travelled to Parliament to listen to a debate on the impact of the plant on Graveney Marshes. It had been secured by Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately, but unfortunately the chaos of the day, which saw Parliament suspended by the Prime Minister, meant it didn’t get to be held. The adjournment debate, whereby the House of Commons is adjourned for a debate on a topic without a substantive motion being considered, is now due to held next month (October). The campaigners’ trip was organised by Graveney Rural Environment Action Team (GREAT), who brought a to-scale model of one of the raised platforms needed to support the solar panels, demonstrating the height of the development.
For more on the Cleve Hill proposals, see here, hereand here
To a mixture of horror at what it
includes and relief that it has finally seen the light of day, the Tunbridge
Wells draft Local Plan has finally been published.
Covering the period 2016-2036, the Plan is aimed at replacing the local authority’s
2010 core strategy, 2016 site allocations plan and saved policies from its 2006
Most contentiously, the draft looks to axe more than 5 per cent of the
borough’s Green Belt, primarily to accommodate 14,776 new homes, a figure that
includes a 9 per cent buffer above the government’s Objectively Assessed Need
total of 13,560.
The homes are apparently going to be built at a rate of 678 a year, a target
substantially more than double the 300-a-year featured in the 2010 core
strategy, produced in line with the former South East Plan.
Disappointingly, the draft does not designate any land to compensate for the
Green Belt that is set to be lost, which, as it stands, amounts to 5.35 per
cent of the current total.
The largest housing allocations are at Paddock Wood (4,000 dwellings in addition to the 1,000
already allocated) and Tudeley (2,500-2,800, with some 1,900 to be built
during the Plan period), as well as some 800 dwellings in the AONB at Cranbrook and 700, also in
the AONB, at Hawkhurst.
Liz Akenhead, chairman of CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee, said: “The Plan states that, overall, some
5.35 per cent of the Green Belt within the borough is to be de-designated and
that ‘in accordance with the NPPF the Plan does not designate other land as
“replacement” Green Belt to replace that to be removed, but rather sets out how
compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of
remaining Green Belt land can be made’.
“On a first reading, I have not noticed any evidence in the Plan that these
improvements will actually materialise.”
Consultation on the draft Plan begins on Friday, September 20, and is scheduled
to end on Friday, November 1. It is anticipated that the Plan will be adopted
in December next year.
For more on the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan, see here
A village in Swale that has already hosted substantial numbers of new houses in recent years is likely to see almost 500 more. The latest plans come from local operation G H Dean and Co, which is seeking outline permission to build up to 466 houses and a village hall in Iwade; the scheme also includes a nursery, along with a bid for full planning permission for a country park. The properties would range from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom houses. The proposed sites, which would be accessed primarily from Grovehurst Road as well as The Street, have been allocated for development in the borough council’s 2017 Local Plan. Agent Hume Planning Consultancy said in its document: “The development proposed in this application would add a further 466 dwellings to the east of the village, where the land is considered most appropriate for new housing, as set out in the 2017 Local Plan. “The village of Iwade has expanded considerably since it was first identified as a growth point in the 1990s, with some 1,200 new homes completed since.”
To see the plans, visit swale.gov.uk/planning and search for 19/503974/HYBRID
The new ‘villages’ of Ashmere and Alkerden in north Kent have moved a step closer with the approval of their masterplans and design codes. Some 4,600 homes are planned for the area of Ebbsfleet known historically as Eastern Quarry but that has since been renamed Whitecliffe. The approval by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee backs an urban park running through the middle of it. The 667-acre site is owned by Henley Camland. Michael Cassidy, chairman of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation board, said: “The process of giving planning permission for the ‘look and feel’ of the main next phase of housing at Ebbsfleet Garden City marks a historic turning point in the ambitions for this flagship enterprise. “It shows how intelligent use of planning powers and cooperation from landowners and developers can bring matters to a speedy conclusion and a quality outcome that befits a garden city.” Alkerden is intended to host a new ‘market centre’, with commercial, retail and community facilities and new homes. There will be a primary and secondary education campus, library, sports facilities and mixed-use centre with shops and cafes, business space, a doctors’ surgery and gym. Ashmere will reportedly contrast Alkerden with its “Kentish-influenced” design and commitment to garden city principles. Social-housing provider Clarion and developer Countryside have agreed to build up to 2,600 homes there. At nearby Castle Hill, work has already on a planned community of 1,600 properties.
In another blow to Canterbury’s rapidly diminishing
countryside, a High Court judge has dismissed an attempt to stop the building
of hundreds of homes to the east of the city.
The A28 Environmental Crisis Group had sought judicial reviews of the city
council’s approval of two neighbouring developments, one for 250 homes at
Hoplands Farm, Hersden, and the other for 370 at Chislet Colliery, a site that
had not been allocated in the Local Plan for housing.
The group’s case was based primarily on the argument that the local authority
had not taken into account the joint impact of the two schemes, especially in
relation to nearby Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve.
However, on Wednesday last week (July 24) Mrs Justice Lang ruled against the
challenges, concluding that the council had made the decisions lawfully.
The judge also denied the campaigners permission to appeal. However, Antonie
van den Broek told KentOnline that his campaign group would indeed be trying to
take the case to the Court of Appeal.
“Favourable rulings would potentially have set significant precedents for local
authorities and developers throughout the UK,” he said.
“But this is not the end of the story. We think errors have been made by
Canterbury City Council and the developers.
“This particular judge has said otherwise and also refused our applications for
permission to appeal her decisions, but we are going to take this to the Court
“These things are never about whether something is a good idea or not. It’s
about whether the law was followed.
“It’s an unusual situation in that there are two developments side by side and
by two different companies.
“Therefore, the law deems them as separate. We’ve been arguing you can’t do
that with the impact on the environment. The environment doesn’t care whether
it’s one developer or two.”
A Canterbury City Council statement read: “Between them, the two developments
will provide up to 620 much-needed homes for local people, together with
medical outlets, shops, open space and other benefits.”
Ian Thomas, chairman of the council’s planning committee, added: “We are
naturally pleased to have won both of these cases, which will allow these
important housing developments to go ahead.
“It is becoming increasingly common for opponents to new homes to launch these
types of legal proceedings. We are always very careful to ensure we follow all
the right procedures, so that if we do end up in court, we have a good chance
The decision follows a failed attempt to overturn planning permission for more
than 1,000 new homes in the Thanington area of south Canterbury.
The city council had, in July 2016, given Pentland Properties permission to
build up to 750 properties on a 73-hectare site at Cockering Farm, while in
November last year Quinn Estates was granted outline consent for up to 400
homes on a neighbouring site off Cockering Road.
Campaigner Camilla Swire then won permission to seek a judicial of the Quinn
planning permission and the council’s approval of variations to the Pentland
Properties consent, arguing that the two developments should have been
considered as a “combined masterplan”.
By the time the case came before a High Court judge, however, building had already
started on the first phase of the Pentland development, following the council’s
approval of reserved matters.
Both sites, which lie close to the Larkey Valley Wood Site of Special
Scientific Interest and in a designated Area of High Landscape Value, are
treated as a single unit in Canterbury’s Local Plan, but, with them in
different ownership and being developed separately, it was argued by Ms Swire
that the local authority had breached its own policy through failing to have
the combined masterplan.
In response, the council claimed any potential breach was merely a technicality
and that, in reality, the impact of both developments had been considered
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith appeared to concur, saying all that was missing was “a
single piece of paper” showing the two planning applications had been
considered alongside each other.
He refused the judicial review, concluding that a combined masterplan “would
have made no difference whatsoever” to the outcome of the planning
This is something most of us would surely like to see more often: housing development on brownfield sites. Proposals for 185 new homes in two such locations have been approved by Dover District Council’s planning committee. Planning permission was granted for 150 homes at the former Buckland Hospital site, with backing for another 35 at the former Stalco engineering works in Great Mongeham. Both brownfield sites were allocated for housing development in DDC’s Allocations Local Plan. Nick Kenton, DDC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “I welcome the committee’s decision to approve these sites for housing development, which will go some considerable way towards meeting the target set by the government to build 629 new homes in the district every year. “The development of brownfield sites is challenging but one that we need to embrace if we are to reduce the pressure to build on greenfield sites.”
Plans for a combined heat and power near Sittingbourne have been approved despite its visual impact on the Saxon Shore Way. Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced in a letter that he would issue a development consent order for the Kemsley Mill K4 Combined Heat and Power Generating Station. He concluded that its benefits would outweigh any potential negative visual impacts. The order grants development consent for the construction and operation of a gas-fired combined heat and power generating station with a gross electricity-generating capacity of up to 73MW; it will be built within the boundary of Kemsley Paper Mill. The letter said that a planning inspector had examined the application and concluded that “the potential adverse visual and landscape impacts of the proposed development when viewed from certain vantage points along the Saxon Shore Way… cannot be entirely mitigated”. The applicant had apparently “assessed that while there would be no significant adverse visual or landscape impacts from individual locations in the vicinity of the development, a person walking along the Saxon Shore Way designated footpath would encounter a much greater degree of impact”. The applicant “did not offer any mitigation as it felt that it would not be possible to achieve a meaningful reduction in impact”. The letter added that Mr Clark had noted that a report from Swale Borough Council concluded that the development “would not add any adverse visual or landscape effects to the existing industrial cluster of buildings”. “The [inspector] also notes that the design features of the development – including the colour scheme – would be subject to approval by Swale Borough Council and that the final agreed design might lead to mitigation of the impacts,” the letter continued, adding that Mr Clark agreed with the inspector that the visual and cumulative effects would not outweigh the benefits of the project. Those benefits included “meeting national need for additional electricity generation capacity”.
Proposals for a 2,000-home garden community at Marden have sparked a huge wave of opposition. After almost 2,000 people marched through the village (still!) in protest during the spring, a petition carrying almost 3,000 names was handed to 10 Downing Street on Friday (July 12). The March for Marden, on Saturday, May 18, organised by Marden Planning Opposition, had seen protestors take to the streets wearing yellow and black – the colours that have bedecked much of the village on window posters and hedge banners over recent weeks. Meanwhile, the group has set up a website (see here); drawn national media coverage; and seen its Facebook group attract more than 1,000 members. Chairman Claudine Russell said: “The scale of this proposal is truly shocking and has united the people of Marden in fighting this development. “We simply don’t have the infrastructure or services to support 2,000 more houses and two new schools, and it would mean Marden would cease to be a village and instead become a town. “We are determined to show the council the strength of opposition as early as possible in the process. The scale of this development, which effectively doubles the size of Marden, is unthinkable in terms of traffic congestion on country roads, loss of wildlife habitat and negative impact on both the village’s heritage and the well-being of the people who live here.” The proposals have been submitted to Maidstone Borough Council by three landowners, developer Countryside Properties and consultancy DHA Planning in response to the local authority’s Call for Sites ahead of its Local Plan review in 2022. Countryside Properties has argued that Marden would benefit from the scheme through new facilities and better links to Maidstone town centre; it also says it is speaking with people who live and work in the village. The campaign against the plan is supported by Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, who said: “We need to make sure the homes we need are built in the right places with the required infrastructure, and this proposed development is simply not in keeping with the beautiful rural community of Marden.”
As you know, CPRE is strictly non-political. So, without any comment on the Conservative Party leadership contest, we simply present here your opportunity to tell the next Tory leader, and indeed Prime Minister, what matters most to you. The survey has been put together by the Conservative Party, which urges respondents to “tell us what matters to you – and we’ll tell them”. It really is the quickest of surveys and gives you the chance to tell government how much the countryside and environment matter to you. Click here if you would like to take part.
Some 10,000 people are expected at Westminster this week (Wednesday, June 26) to call for urgent action on climate change. Do you want to join them? The rally has been organised by Greener UK and The Climate Coalition, which says: “The government has taken a step forward by setting the long-term target of ending our contribution to climate change, but we need policies to get us on track and slash our emissions now. “To tackle the environmental crisis, we also need our politicians to pass a strong Environment Bill that can restore nature, cut plastic pollution and improve air quality. “We need as many people as possible showing their MPs that now is the time for bold action. “On June 26, thousands of us from every corner of Britain will take our message straight to Parliament in what we hope will be the largest mass lobby for climate and the environment the UK has ever seen.” The Campaign Against Climate Change adds: “Around 10,000 are expected to gather in Westminster, in groups with others from their constituency. It’s an opportunity to talk to your MP and demonstrate that their constituents are calling for urgent action on climate change!” Many will be going to the rally, labelled The Time Is Now and which runs from 1pm-4pm, as individuals, families and friends, but many organisations and charities are taking part, among them CPRE. The CPRE website has a form, which you can fill in here if you would like to go. This will give an idea of how many people are going and from which district. CPRE has clarified the aims of the rally on its website: “The Time Is Now as a group will be calling on government to: “Commit to a target of reaching ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2045. This is the technical way of saying we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to a level where the UK no longer contributes to climate change. “Bring in legally binding targets for nature’s recovery, focusing on important things like clean air, waste and resources, soil, water quality and biodiversity. “We’ll also be raising other issues with MPs, such as opposing the government’s proposals to fast-track fracking and making sure new homes are built to be energy efficient.” We are encouraging as many people as possible to be at Westminster on Wednesday; we have CPRE Kent signs here at the office if you would like to take them (phone 01233 714540). Further, it would be helpful if you could share this story on Facebook and Twitter.
Canterbury air-quality campaigners are asking for your help in their bid to raise £10,000 to challenge the government in the Supreme Court. Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell launched their case against the government in February 2017, saying it had not complied with environmental legislation because of the “dangerous levels” of air pollution in Canterbury. They will need help with their funding, however, and have set up a crowdfunding page, which can be reached here: www.crowdjustice.com/case/air-quality-on-trial-a-local-c Emily said: “More than 40,000 people die prematurely of air pollution annually in the UK. Thousands of others, especially the young and the elderly, suffer from diseases partly or fully caused by air pollution, such as asthma, cancer and dementia. “There are 16,000 new homes and other developments planned in and around Canterbury, a city already crippled by unlawful air pollution. These new developments will obviously make the situation worse. “Our case seeks to establish that the government is responsible for ensuring that air pollution does not breach legal limits and, when it does, the government must ensure levels are reduced to legal limits as soon as possible. “If we succeed, the dangerous air pollution levels that plague hundreds of other cities and towns across the UK will also have to improve. The government will no longer be able to shirk from its duties. “We believe we have excellent grounds for a hearing in the Supreme Court, but to do so we need to raise a further £10,000 to meet all our legal costs.”
One in five people using a UK-wide deposit return system would donate the deposits they had paid on drinks cans and bottles to charity all the time, producing potential annual donations of more than £1 billion to good causes. The results came from a survey carried out by ICM Unlimited and published by CPRE on Monday (May 27). A further 19 per cent of respondents said they would donate their deposits most of the time, and more than a third (34 per cent) would donate at least some of the time. This could lead to a further £1.3 billion in donations to local charitable causes from the deposits on glass and plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans, the CPRE analysis found. The donations could be even higher if drinks cartons and pouches were also included in England’s deposit system – something Environment Secretary Michael Gove is considering. CPRE states that by including an option for the public to donate their deposits – something that is part of most other deposit systems around the world – we could build on the huge success of the carrier-bag charge, which, as well as reducing plastic bag usage by more than 80 per cent, raised £66 million for good causes in 2016-17. Samantha Harding, CPRE’s litter programme director, said: “Not only would the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return system put a stop to most of the environmental damage caused by drinks containers and boost recycling rates in excess of 90 per cent, it could also provide much-needed funding for good causes across the country. “It is fantastic and really heartening that so many people would be happy to donate their deposits in this way. “An effective ‘all-in’ deposit return system will bring an end to the growing disenchantment and scepticism around current recycling methods by doubling current recycling rates. “But it’s also evident that the deposit, as well as encouraging the right behaviour in terms of recycling, would allow for people’s generous natures to be realised when it comes to supporting others. ‘It’s important to ensure that England’s scheme includes every bottle, can, carton and pouch, whatever the shape, size or material. “Not only will this halt the devastation caused to our countryside and environment by drinks container pollution, but if every type of drinks packaging is included in the scheme, it could result in more donated deposits, benefiting nature and local communities.” In the UK, it is estimated that 28 billion single-use glass, plastic and aluminium drinks bottles and cans are sold every year in the UK, according to recent government figures. Due to ineffective waste collection and recycling systems, overall recycling rates in the UK have stagnated at about 45 per cent. This results in a large number of drinks containers either left polluting the countryside, waterways and streets or being sent for incineration or buried in landfill, rather than recycled. Through its monetary incentive, an effective UK-wide deposit return system has the potential to boost recycling rates for drinks containers to more than 90 per cent. CPRE is highlighting that this would significantly reduce the environmental damage they cause, as well as ensuring that the producers of drinks packaging become financially responsible for the full costs of the waste they create. Earlier this month, the Scottish government announced its plans to introduce a deposit return system for glass, plastic and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes. CPRE is calling for the UK government to build on Scotland’s ambition by introducing a fully comprehensive ‘all-in’ system, including all drinks containers of all sizes and materials, to make sure that England gets the most effective and economically viable deposit system in the world.
The battle to save some 1,000 acres of the North Kent Marshes from the building of the country’s largest solar farm began in full today (Thursday, May 30) in Faversham.
The preliminary meeting of the public examination into Cleve
Hill Solar Farm was held at the Alexander Centre this morning, triggering the start
of a six-month process.
Worried residents and campaign groups met to hear how the
examination will proceed and to learn the opportunities they will have over the
coming months to raise their concerns.
These will include, among many other things, damage to the
landscape and to wildlife, along with the industrialisation of treasured
It is estimated some 80 people were present for the meeting, with the next opportunity
to speak being the open hearings on Tuesday, July 16.
CPRE Kent was involved in Wednesday’s Court of Appeal hearing (pic BBC)
We hope to hear soon the outcome of Wednesday’s (May 8) Court of Appeal hearing of Gladman Developments Ltd’s Pond Farm challenge.
The decision is viewed as hugely important in the battle to have air quality considered fully in planning policy.
CPRE Kent was at the court last week as an Interested Party supporting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s renewed defence of an inspector’s dismissal of two linked appeals made by the developer.
They had been made by Gladman against Swale Borough Council’s non-determination of planning permission for a housing scheme at Pond Farm, Newington.
To give you the backdrop to events, back in November 2017 the High Court dismissal of Gladman’s appeals against an earlier planning decision represented the first instance of air quality proving a critical factor in such a judgment. CPRE Kent had given evidence in that hearing.
The saga had begun with the council’s rejection of Gladman’s plans for up to 330 homes and 60 residential and care units at Pond Farm on the grounds of harm to the landscape and increased air pollution, the latter factor relating specifically to the impact on the council’s Air Quality Management Areas at Newington and Rainham.
Gladman subsequently challenged that decision, but the Secretary of State’s inspector dismissed both of its appeals because of “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”.
Not content with that, Gladman then contested that dismissal on the grounds of the inspector’s treatment of future air quality and mitigation; the decision in relation to the Newington air quality action plan; and the decision’s claimed conflict with the emerging development plan for the village.
And (in November 2017) Mr Justice Supperstone of the High Court ruled that none of Gladman’s grounds of appeal had succeeded and dismissed its latest challenge.
However, Gladman subsequently won permission to take its case to the Court of Appeal, hence Wednesday’s hearing.
Pond Farm: the story so far…
Swale Borough Council refuses Gladman planning permission for 330 homes and 60 residential and care units
Gladman makes two linked appeals against council’s refusal
Planning inspector dismisses both Gladman appeals
Gladman challenges inspector’s dismissal of its appeals