GDPR and CPRE Kent’s new privacy policy

CPRE Kent’s privacy policy incorporates the requirements of the new GDPR legislation

Well, it’s finally here!
Friday, May 25, 2018… a day that will linger long in the memory (maybe). It is of course the day the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into being.
The legislation is intended to give us all more rights over how our information is used and, despite preparation for it proving something of a headache, its introduction is viewed generally as a positive move.
Organisations across the country have laboured long and hard over developing a privacy policy that incorporates the requirements of GDPR – and now CPRE Kent is proud to present its very own privacy policy doing just that.
It is available to read on this very website, right here

Friday, May 25, 2018

 

Charing public inquiry takes a break until April

‘The people of Charing have made it clear, both in their emerging Neighbourhood Plan and in their submission to the inquiry, that they do not want this development,’ said CPRE Kent’s Richard Knox-Johnston

It’s time for a breather at the public inquiry into Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes at Pluckley Road in Charing.
CPRE Kent has been giving evidence at the inquiry, but today (Wednesday, March 28) was the last session before the break, with tomorrow’s planned site visit postponed.
The visit should now take place in the over-run week of Tuesday to Friday, April 24-27.
Today’s events at Ashford Civic Centre were devoted to a cross-examination and re-examination of Gladman’s witness over the council’s housing figures and whether the local authority can show it has enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy the five-year supply test.
Points raised by CPRE Kent in its evidence included:

  • The appeal site is outside the village envelope and disconnected from the village centre
  • Few people in Charing use the village train station to get to work, questioning the scheme’s sustainability
  • Increased vehicle movements and the attendant risk to both drivers and pedestrians, including children coming home from school
  • The setting of the village on the edge of the Kent Downs AONB
  • The importance of the countryside in promoting health
  • The planned development would add an unsustainable 30% to the village population
  • The site is in a flood zone so could be flooded
  • The risk of contamination to boreholes providing water to local people

In his opening statement, CPRE Kent’s Richard Knox-Johnston said: “The site of this appeal is a large open and rural field to the south of and distant from the Charing village envelope.
“This application by Gladman is speculative and is typical of applications they have made throughout the country, as described very clearly in the BBC One programme Countryfile, where the appellant [Gladman] declined to be interviewed.
“The comment in this programme was that these speculative applications were at the expense of local communities on a no-win no-fee basis.
“Gladman are not developers themselves, they are speculators and, having gained planning permission, will sell it on to a developer at a considerable profit. They make serious profits out of this fault line in the planning system.
“They specialise, as in this case, in submitting development applications on land that is not being considered in the draft Local Plan. Having then gained permission, either through a planning appeal, such as this, or through a High Court case, if the appeal is dismissed, they sell on to a developer or retain the option by land-banking, so increasing the value of the land.
“Selling on to a developer takes time. When a developer buys the permission they then, more often than not, ask for a viability assessment.
“This means renegotiating the original permission and conditions in order to ensure a minimum 20% profit margin.
“This also lengthens the time and causes further delay. Even if this appeal was to be successful, there would be a considerable delay in completing the development.
“It would therefore, in all likelihood, not assist with the five-year housing supply in Ashford.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Permission for judicial review on Woodcut Farm is refused in High Court

Woodcut Farm… ripe for development, believes Maidstone Borough Council

CPRE Kent, in its application to the High Court for a judicial review, was not granted permission by the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE against Maidstone Borough Council’s inclusion in its Local Plan of land at junction 8 of the M20 (Woodcut Farm) as a designated site for development.
CPRE had submitted a pre-action protocol letter to the High Court  in November 2017 against the council making a decision on the Roxhill Developments planning application for the site.
In spite of our action and considerable protest from parish councils and local groups, the council chose to grant outline planning permission for the site.
Richard Knox-Johnston, vice-president of CPRE Kent, said: “This is very disappointing and rejects the views of local people who are being ignored by Maidstone council.
“It also flies in the face of two inspectors at previous inquiries that the setting of the Area of Outstanding Beauty, the visual amenity and that it will be in the setting of a heritage asset were enough grounds to reject previous applications in the same area.
“We believe that the inspector and Maidstone councillors have been misinformed by their planning officers and that this will come to light in the future.
“We also believe that the dismissal of considerable evidence on deterioration of air quality in Maidstone not only affects health in the borough but is especially dangerous for young children.
“Their application, at present, is only an outline application and we shall continue to examine the details in the future, particularly those that affect the environment.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Make your voice heard in Kent Voice!

It’s that time! Winter’s late if ultimately unspectacular splutter into life means one thing to us at CPRE Kent Towers… it’s the season to start putting together the spring/summer edition of Kent Voice.
This, of course, is the biannual magazine for our county branch of CPRE and carries a range of articles, features and updates on more technical matters such as the current state of play with Local Plans across the county.
We are always keen to carry the view of our members – and indeed anyone with opinions on what we as an organisation do or what is going on in the Kent countryside.
If you would like a letter printed or wish to respond to what has been included in previous editions, please email the magazine’s editor David Mairs at david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk or phone 01233 714547.
If you need any further convincing, you can read the Autumn/Winter 2017 edition here
We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Inspector dismisses developer’s appeal against refusal of housing scheme

The government inspector dismissed the appeal by Quinn Estates

Just when some benighted residents had perhaps begun to feel that the onslaught of housing development on the county could not be held back, news comes of a victory in the village of Ash, near Sandwich.
A scheme by Quinn Estates for 104 homes, business units and a Scouts hut north of Sandwich Road had been turned down by Dover District Council at the start of last year, but the developer chose to appeal that decision.
At a hearing last month, however, the planning inspector dismissed Quinn’s appeal, citing the loss of high-quality agricultural land and the damage the proposed development would cause to the rural setting.
Further, the inspector noted that DDC was able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.
CPRE Dover was represented at the inquiry, objecting to the planned development – on a site not allocated for housing in the council’s Local Plan – noting not only the loss of farmland but also the highways problems it would bring the village.
CPRE Dover chairman Derek Wanstall said: “We supported the council on the grounds it had given for rejection and also stressed the highways issues the scheme would bring.
“With the impact of other developments as well, we would effectively be reverting to the time before the Ash bypass was built – the place would grind to a halt with the amount of added traffic.”

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Now we wait for Brabourne Lees decision

Brabourne Lees is surrounded by glorious countryside

CPRE Kent is in what has become over recent months a familiar position of waiting… in this case for the outcome of the public inquiry into a proposed housing development at Brabourne Lees.
The two-week inquiry into Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes in the village at the foot of the downs ended on Friday last week (January 19).
The local authority was defending its decision and the CPRE team gave the bulk of their evidence to the hearing, at the Civic Centre in Ashford, during the first week of proceedings.
We have been told to expect the inspector’s decision on or before Monday, April 16.
In the meantime, CPRE Kent is preparing to give evidence into next month’s public inquiry into Gladman’s plans for 245 homes at Pluckley Road, Charing.
It is scheduled to start on Tuesday, March 13, and expected to last six days.

Friday, January 26, 2018

There’s a storm over Thanet… so the time is right for CPRE’s district committee to meet

There’s more to Thanet than Manston! This is Joss Bay, Broadstairs

These are tumultuous times in Thanet, following the district council’s rejection of its own draft Local Plan last week (Thursday, January 18).
The political fallout for the country’s only UKIP-led local authority has yet to settle, with the council leader under pressure to step aside, largely due to his stance over the future of the Manston airport site.
When, in October last year, the local authority cabinet approved a draft Local Plan that included an allocation of 2,500 houses at Manston, it appeared to be backing plans by owner Stone Hill Park Ltd for housing (the figure could rise to 4,000), business units and sporting facilities there.
However, last week at a meeting of full council 35 members voted it down and now adoption of a revised Plan is likely take anything up to 18 months.
The concern is that Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will now step in, with his department imposing its own plan on Thanet, possibly including an increased housebuilding target – up from 857 a year (a total of 17,150 up to 2031) to 1,063 (more than 21,000) – if proposed new government methodology is accepted.
Meanwhile, would-be airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) says it has the plans and the funding in place for the site to be revived as a freight hub.
So… Manston and the Local Plan are certain to be discussed during tonight’s (Thursday, January 25) meeting of CPRE’s Thanet district committee at Monkton nature reserve, but they will not of course be the only issues covered.
Other topics on the agenda include heritage strategy, the government’s 25-year plan for the environment (A Green Future), planning applications and Neighbourhood Plan updates.
Tonight’s meeting is at Monkton nature reserve at 6pm.

You can read more on Manston and the Local Plan here and here
For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

So what now for Manston? And for Thanet?

Manston… its future hangs in the balance

In a collision of some of Kent’s more enduring stories, the thorny subject of Thanet District Council’s Local Plan is being voted upon tonight (Thursday, January 18), with housing numbers and Manston airport certain to be among the main factors debated.
The Plan of course covers a range of issues, mapping out the isle’s planned development until 2031, but the subject that has attracted the greatest coverage and sparked the greatest division of opinion is the future of the Manston airport site.
Manston’s days as an airport could be numbered, following the revelation of plans by site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd to build 2,500 homes (a figure that could rise to 4,000), business units and sporting facilities there.
Those proposals appeared to have been backed in October last year when the local authority’s cabinet approved the draft Local Plan, which includes an allocation of 2,500 properties at Manston, but tonight it is to be voted upon by the full council in circumstances so contentious that some are predicting a change in regime at the local authority.
That could occur should council members refuse to adopt the Local Plan, a situation intensified by that fact that Thanet is one of 15 councils to have been put “on notice” by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for its lack of progress in putting forward its Plan for examination.
If the Plan is refused tonight, its adoption is likely to be set back by anything up to 18 months, prompting Mr Javid’s department to step in and effectively impose its own plan on Thanet, most notably, it is feared, an increased housebuilding target – up from 857 a year (a total of 17,150) to 1,063 (more than 21,000), assuming proposed new government methodology is accepted.
In contrast to the Stone Hill proposals for Manston, meanwhile, would-be airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) has stated that it has the plans and the funding in place for the site to be revived as a freight hub.
It says this would be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and the Secretary of State can grant seizure of the site through a Development Consent Order (DCO).
It had intended to apply to the Planning Inspectorate for the DCO by the end of 2017, with a subsequent decision from the Secretary of State expected by the end of this year.
RSP says the granting of the DCO would allow it to have a refurbished airport back in business by 2020, but such hopes nosedived when a TDC-commissioned report concluded that Manston was not viable as an operational airport.
However, a recent leaked email from the council’s chief executive revealed a proposal for a two-year deferment on accepting the scheme for housing and business at Manston. This would give RSP time to pursue the DCO.
So… a rejuvenated airport or Manston new town? What is the opinion of CPRE on the isle?
Geoff Orton, Thanet district secretary, said: “We have agreed not to take a view on the airport as feelings are so mixed.
“Those in favour of an airport, though, see the airport as an employment opportunity. What would be the point of building 21,000 homes without it? If there’s no airport, what economic future does Thanet have?”
As for what appear to be eye-wateringly high housebuilding targets, Mr Orton echoed the views of many in highlighting their constant increase alongside a local economy that has almost been a byword for unemployment.
“The official figure of 17,000 was already a hike on the previous 12,000 – now we could be looking at a figure north of 20,000. And all this without the airport?
“Further, we’ve lost the deaf school in Margate, along with two care homes – and more rumoured to be going. And with retail becoming more automated, what are Thanet’s young people going to do for work?”
In what is looking increasingly like a perfect storm, the loss of Thanet’s remaining open space is another likely depressing outcome of the forthcoming political machinations, but Mr Orton believes that could be offset to a large degree through brownfield development.
“Thanet is the worst district south of Bolsover for empty properties, while we have a real problem with our high streets. There’s also the deaf school site, while the Canterbury Christ Church University campus is due to be closed. All can be used for housing.”
And a final word from Mr Orton?
“The longer Manston is held in reserve as a relief lorry park, as suggested by the Transport Minister is a possibility – and we know all about the Stack dilemma – the more opportunity for a sensible Local Plan assisted by neighbourhood planners to develop, and the more strategic value our threatened Class I farmland assumes.”
Indeed. Tonight’s meeting at the Thanet District Council offices in Margate should be interesting…

For more on the Manston airport saga, see here

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

CPRE Kent team stands up for Brabourne Lees at public inquiry

Brabourne Lees sits at the foot of the Kent Downs AONB

These are lively days indeed for CPRE Kent.
No sooner has the dust settled from our appearance in the High Court, where we gave evidence in the successful battle for Pond Farm, Newington, and our Supreme Court victory in saving Farthingloe Valley from destruction by developers than we have a team involved in a public inquiry.
This time we are giving evidence to a planning inspector hearing the appeal by Gladman Developments Ltd against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes at Brabourne Lees, a village at the foot of the Kent Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
The local authority is defending its decision and the hearing, at the Civic Centre in Ashford, is expected to conclude by the end of this week (Friday, January 19).
And – after that – we’re giving evidence in another public inquiry, this time into a proposed development at Charing. It’s scheduled to start on Tuesday, March 13, and expected to last six days.
All the best to our team… fighting, as ever, for Kent’s countryside and quality of life.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Plans are back for a bigger Kent Science Park… oh, and 11,000 houses

An image of rural life in north Kent… but for how much longer will this chime true?

It wasn’t so very long ago that we were wishing you all a happy Christmas and New Year. Those sentiments still stand, of course, but all too predictably a large dark cloud has loomed over the horizon to dim any remaining festive thoughts.
We refer to the re-emergence of plans to extend Kent Science Park on the edge of Sittingbourne… and how they have re-emerged!
This long-running venture has had a range of incarnations, but the scale of the latest proposal is staggering, entailing the building of a new town to the east and south of Sittingbourne, together with commercial development and a relief road.
To quote one local woman, Monique Bonney, an Independent councillor on Swale Borough Council, the whole thing is “monstrous” and “a disaster for the local rural villages and town”. To be precise, the proposals particularly affect south Sittingbourne, Rodmersham, Tunstall, Bredgar, Milstead and Bapchild.
No planning application has yet been made, but the developers have applied to Swale council for an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Screening Opinion – the first stage in asking the local authority to judge if an EIA will be needed.
The application, which can be found here, reads: “The EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Screening Opinion is for a mixed-use development including up to 11,250 residential dwellings, commercial space (circa 120,000 sqm/1.2 million sqft), new infrastructure to create new junctions onto the M2 and A2 joined by a new relief road, new retail and health facilities, leisure facilities, educational facilities and community facilities at land to the south and east of Sittingbourne.”
That’s right… more than 11,000 houses are being targeted for this attractive rural area.
Cllr Bonney said: “Historically, the previous grandiose Kent Science Park proposals have been thrown out by government planning inspectors during the last three Local Plan cycles over the last 12 years or more, allowing only a small extension on one side of the site that has not materialised.
“Locals should not be railroaded by this new plan, especially given all previous concerns over the environmental constraints (high-grade agricultural land, countryside gaps and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), ancient woodlands and local road infrastructure, with its devastating consequences on the rural lane network.”
Talking about how best to tackle the scheme, Cllr Bonney said: “We need as much help as possible from all the locals around Rodmersham, Bapchild, Tunstall, Bredgar and Milstead.
“The Five Parishes Opposition Group (FPOG) – made up of a representative from each of Rodmersham, Bapchild, Milstead, Tunstall and Bredgar parish councils – will actively lobby against this proposal, but we need your help, too.
“Follow FPOG here and our Facebook page here.” 
And finally, an appeal: “FPOG would welcome any offers of help and resources with regard to planning, environmental consultants, transport consultants, funding and donations.
“Please contact me at montybon1@aol.com or FPOG through its website.”
Here we go again…

Friday, January 5, 2018

What a year for CPRE Kent! Happy Christmas from us all…

CPRE Kent will be continuing the fight for all that is good about our county’s countryside and coast. See you next year!

It’s easy to overstate the hyperbole at such times, but 2017 has been an extraordinarily busy year for CPRE Kent. Busy and momentous…
The highlight came late in proceedings, with this month’s Supreme Court victory where we successfully defended the Appeal Court’s decision to quash planning permission for more than 600 homes in Farthingloe Valley, in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
It was a complex case, but suffice to say the Supreme Court agreed with the Appeal Court’s earlier ruling that the planning committee at Dover District Council had not given legally adequate reasons for its decision to grant permission for a development it acknowledged would cause significant harm to a protected landscape.
It was a victory that should have far-reaching implications for both the performance of our local authority planning committees and the protection of AONBs.
Another success in which we were involved came at Pond Farm, Newington.
The dismissal in the High Court of a developer’s appeal against an earlier planning decision was the first instance in the UK of air quality proving a critical factor in such a judgment.
CPRE Kent had been in court in October giving evidence as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government defended a planning inspector’s dismissal of two linked appeals made by Gladman Developments against the local authority’s refusal of planning permission for its scheme.
The issue of air quality is now rising up the wider agenda, leaving, we suspect, some of our planners not totally certain of the way ahead.
Fantastic victories, for sure, but at CPRE Kent we’re always keen to stress that we are not opposed to all development. Indeed, we want to see an emphasis on new affordable housing that will give people across the county the opportunity to live in their own home.
While we believe that the Farthingloe application, for example, should never have progressed as far as it did – and it is disappointing that it was left to CPRE Kent alone to contest it – we are aware that housing does need building.
Our viewpoint, happily, is simple: right homes, right places.
One extensive development is at Ebbsfleet, where there appears to be some progress on a project for which planning permission was granted some 15 years ago and should ultimately deliver about 15,000 houses.
CPRE Kent has not objected to this plan, but we will be monitoring it to see whether its concept of sustainability is met.
Things are very much different at Otterpool Park, a scheme adding a staggering 12,000 houses to Shepway District Council’s current identified need of 8,800 homes.
This is a development that has little going for it other, perhaps, than the pumping of a few council egos.
The area is already congested and prone to water stress, but with the Department for Communities and Local Government backing the project and the district council being both applicant and judge it is hard to see where we can get any purchase on opposing it.
So it hasn’t all been plain sailing, evidenced further by a 12km line of 5m-high pylons across east Kent being granted planning permission in August. Supposed mitigation for this highly intrusive scheme appears negligible.
Similarly disappointing was the approval of a Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend, which now has three lanes each way planned. CPRE Kent does not believe the new road will, should it be built, ease the problem of either congestion or air pollution at Dartford.
Staying with transport, we all accept that the implementation of Operation Stack is not acceptable and must be tackled, but CPRE has never backed the building of a huge lorry park at Stanford. Happily, the government is reconsidering the plans.
The battles will, we are sure, continue to come thick and fast. We support renewable energy, for instance, but that doesn’t mean every such scheme should be accepted without question.
The colossal scale of the proposed 890-acre Cleve Hill solar farm, near Faversham, for example, is surely too great. There have to be better ways to deliver energy, we believe.
CPRE Kent is also involved as a Rule 6 participant in two another inquiries that will run into next year – Woodcut Farm and Brabourne Lees – while our work in relation to Local Plans and any number of development applications is constant.
Whatever 2018 holds, we will, as ever, be fighting for this county’s countryside.
As for now, it’s time to take a break and we wish you all a happy, peaceful and fulfilling Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your support…

Friday, December 22, 2017 

Farthingloe Valley saved as CPRE Kent wins battle in Supreme Court

Saved! Farthingloe Valley, on the outskirts of Dover

CPRE Kent is delighted and relieved to announce that it has successfully defended the Appeal Court’s decision to quash a planning permission in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Farthingloe Valley near Dover.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Appeal Court that the Planning Committee at Dover District Council did not give legally adequate reasons for granting planning permission for more than 600 homes, which they acknowledged would cause significant harm in a protected landscape.
CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “This is the best possible news: we have been absolutely determined to save this beautiful and iconic area of countryside. Such significant harm to the AONB cannot be justified purely for economic benefit.
“This case is not just important to the people of Dover but for the principles of planning law; AONBs merit the highest possible level of protection. Today’s judgment confirms that not only was the decision flawed, but so was the planning committee’s decision-making process.”
When the application was originally considered, Dover District Council planning officers recognised the adverse impact and put forward comprehensive proposals to limit the damage to the landscape. Councillors rejected those mitigation proposals and granted permission anyway.
This permission was quashed by the Appeal Court in 2016 on the grounds that the planning committee did not give legally adequate reasons for permitting a scheme, against their officer’s advice, that they acknowledged would harm the AONB. The Supreme Court has now confirmed that the permission is quashed.
Kristina Kenworthy of CPRE Kent’s solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law said: “This decision brings much needed clarity to the need for public authorities to give reasons for their decisions. The Supreme Court has confirmed that planning is not a special case: the need for transparency and scrutiny means that people are entitled to know what has been decided and why, and if necessary enable effective recourse to the courts. This decision should lead to more rigour, better planning – and less argument.”
CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “We will never give up on our countryside. This was a really bad proposal which the planning officer tried hard to improve, and it should never have received permission. I would like to thank our legal team, our volunteers, our members and everyone who support us in protecting our countryside.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

See the judgment here: uksc-2016-0188-judgment

 

Join our lottery… everyone’s a winner!

Help conserve the county’s beauty… and give yourself the chance to win a bit of money

Join our 400 Club for the chance to have fun, raise funds for CPRE Kent… and win some money in our 2018 Lottery.

By joining the club you will be helping us raise critical funds – perhaps needed more now than ever – with at least 60% of takings being used for charitable causes.

And that leaves up to 40% for cash prizes!

Each share is £12 for a year and there is no limit on how many you can buy. It almost goes without saying, but the more you buy, the better your chances of winning.

And you can always give a share as a gift to someone special.

The 2018 Lottery begins in January, with draws taking place each month until December 31.

Click here to join the 400 Club

Woodcut Farm: CPRE Kent will continue the fight

Woodcut Farm: the challenge goes on

CPRE Kent can confirm that we will be challenging part of Maidstone Borough Council’s Local Plan.
The decision was made after last night’s (Thursday, November 30) approval by the local authority of a scheme to develop almost 17 hectares of land at Woodcut Farm, near junction 8 of the M20.
We had asked in a pre-action protocol letter to the council that it delay making a decision on the planning application, by Roxhill Developments, stating our belief that inclusion of Woodcut Farm as a designated site for development in the Local Plan was unlawful.
More precisely, we were challenging the council’s allocation of 16.8 hectares for up to 49,000 square metres of “mixed employment floorspace” at the site:  Policy EMP 1(4) of the Plan.
The letter was lodged through our solicitor Richard Buxton, asking that the council’s planning committee did not debate the Woodcut Farm application  last night.
However, the committee went ahead with the debate and made the decision to approve the outline application by seven votes to five.
Richard Knox-Johnston, CPRE Kent vice-chairman, said: “Maidstone councillors were given legal advice that our letter was only a threat and not a legal challenge in itself.
“That advice was not correct and we believe the council was misinformed.
“As a result we will be proceeding with a legal challenge early next week.”
Christine Drury, our chairwoman, said: “CPRE Kent will never give up on the countryside.”

Friday, December 1, 2017