Revised Lower Thames Crossing plans miss Easter target date

‘It’s been a really busy time for the project,’ according to a Highways England statement

Highways England has failed to hit its own target in resubmitting plans for the Lower Thames Crossing.
In November, the government agency withdrew its application for a Development Consent Order to build the Lower Thames Crossing, saying it would put in revised plans to the Planning Inspectorate by Easter.
However, they have yet to appear, Highways England just offering the following statement:
“It’s been a really busy time for the project as we continue to work hard to submit our revised planning application later this year.
“We’re absolutely determined to bring you these benefits as soon as possible, so it’s essential we continue to maintain momentum on the project.
“We initially submitted our planning application back in October, which we then withdrew following some feedback from the Planning Inspectorate.
“They have asked us to provide some more information on some technical elements of our application.
“We’re busy bringing this information together, but we also see this as a great opportunity to strengthen our application as we continue to work with key stakeholders to make the Lower Thames Crossing the best it can possibly be.”

For more on this story, click here

Friday, April 16, 2021

Thanet council proposals to charge public in planning process: we question lawfulness, lack of democracy and equity

Thanet council plans to charge a fee to process public comments it deems long and complex

A consultation on Thanet District Council’s Statement of Community Involvement closed last week – and CPRE Kent is less than impressed.
A Statement of Community Involvement sets out how a council intends to engage the local community and others in planning matters. It is an important document that should help ensure that planning process is fair, open and accessible to all.
Or not, in the case of Thanet.
While CPRE Kent made several comments on the detail of the document, it is TDC’s intention to charge a fee to process public comments that it deems long and complex that has caused us most concern.  
Not only do we question the lawfulness of this, but we also point out that it is undemocratic and potentially discriminatory.
We have called for this proposal to be removed from the document. If it is to remain, as a minimum we have asked for the basis on which the charge is deemed lawful to be reported back to members.   
The outcome of the consultation, along with any resulting changes, will shortly be reported back to Thanet council members before formal adoption.
We will be watching the response very closely.

  • For more on Thanet planning issues, click here

Monday, April 12, 2021

‘Six long years of dither and delay’: the countryside charity reacts as DRS is pushed back to 2024… at best

We had hoped the DRS might result in a lot less of this (pic Brian Yurasits/Unsplash)

The much-anticipated deposit return scheme (DRS) is to be delayed until at least 2024, sparking a sharp response from CPRE Kent, the countryside charity.
It was three years ago almost to the day that then-Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced we would all be paying a deposit of up to 22 pence on plastic and glass bottles, as well as on aluminium cans. That deposit could, of course, be reclaimed.
It was suggested the DRS might arrive as early as 2020, although a year later the government said it would be brought in for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2023.
However, yesterday (Thursday, March 24), in announcing a second DRS consultation, the government said such a scheme would not be introduced until late 2024, at the earliest. Unsurprisingly, this has not gone down well with the countryside charity, which has campaigned long and hard for a DRS.
Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, said before the announcement was made: “‘Despite huge public appetite to tackle the waste crisis, we have mountains of litter piling up in our countryside.
“New research shows that around eight billion drinks containers are landfilled, littered or burnt every year. Despite all this, the government looks set to delay a deposit return scheme until the end of 2024 – essentially shirking its responsibility and waiting for a new government to show any leadership on the issue. This amounts to six long years of dither and delay.
“This delay is so much more than kicking the can down the road – it seems that in the face of industry lobbying, ministers would prefer to stick their heads in the sand rather than tackle the problem of waste head on. 
“The public want to see action, not just warm words. The evidence is clear that an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme is the best option for people, planet and our economy, yet the government is showing no leadership on the issue at all.
“It beggars belief that when the evidence is so clear that an ‘all-in’ deposit system is needed, it is still unwilling to make the polluter pay.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Swanscombe wins SSSI designation… but there’s a four-month consultation to come

The peninsula hosts some wonderful natural habitat (pic Paul Buckley)

The Swanscombe peninsula – the area of north Kent being targeted for the building of the country’s largest theme park – has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
National England announced today (Thursday, March 11, 2021) that the peninsula’s “nationally important invertebrates, breeding birds, plants and geology” warranted such recognition.
The government advisory body said: “The 250 hectare site, alongside the Thames Estuary, forms a corridor of habitats connecting Ebbsfleet Valley with the southern shore of the River Thames between Dartford and Gravesend.
“The site has an incredible assortment of grassland, scrub, wetlands, grazing marsh and saltmarsh habitat in a relatively small area, providing ideal conditions for a unique variety of wildlife.
“The area is home to over 1,700 invertebrate species, which includes over a quarter of the UK’s water beetle species and more than 200 species that are considered of conservation importance. It is one of just two places in the UK where the critically endangered distinguished jumping spider is found.
“The rich and varied habitats on the peninsula also provide great conditions for breeding birds such as marsh harrier and bearded tit, and for nationally scarce plants threatened with extinction in Great Britain, such as the divided sedge and the slender hare’s ear.”
James Seymour, NE’s Sussex and Kent area manager, added: “The designation of Swanscombe Peninsula as an SSSI is great news for one of the richest known sites in England for invertebrates, ensuring essential refuge for many rare and threatened species that sadly are not able to thrive in the wider landscape.
“Right on the doorstep of some of our most densely populated towns and cities, this new SSSI will also offer wonderful opportunities for people to connect with nature via the England Coast Path.
“This area is living proof that some of our most important species can thrive hand in hand with businesses and transport infrastructure. Special places like this will form the vital backbone of a national nature recovery network.”
The new Swanscombe Peninsula SSSI includes the previously-designated Bakers Hole SSSI, which covers 6.9 hectares with geological and archaeological features.
The designation is undoubtedly good news, but this is only the start of the process, not the end, as there will now be a four-month consultation before potential SSSI confirmation. 
Natural England said: “As of 11 March 2021, the SSSI has been formally notified to landowners and occupiers and other interested parties.
“There will be a 4 month period in which anyone can make representations or object to the notification. If all objections are resolved or none are submitted, the designation will be confirmed. If there are unresolved objections the Natural England Board will hear all of these; they must then decide whether to confirm the designation (with or without reductions).
“If the notification is not confirmed within 9 months of the date of notification, the notification falls.”
And, in a clear reference to the proposed London Resort theme park, it said: “Natural England recognises that there is interest and consideration of potential development opportunities in the Swanscombe area.
“Designation of this site for its nationally important wildlife features is an important step towards ensuring that its environmental value is recognised and taken due account of in any future planning decisions.”
In January, the Planning Inspectorate accepted the application by London Resort Company Holdings for a Development Consent Order to build the London Resort theme park on the peninsula.

  • For more on this story, see here

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Does Transport Secretary revelation scupper plans for Lower Thames Crossing?

Lower Thames Crossing… where do we go now?

Campaigners against the building of the Lower Thames Crossing between Kent and Essex have been encouraged by the news that the Secretary of State for Transport ignored the advice of his own officers in refusing to review the government’s road policy.   
The Guardian’s front-page story revealed how Grant Shapps had dismissed the advice from civil servants that the policy should have been reviewed on environmental grounds.
The newspaper says: “It has been a legal requirement to take into account the environmental impact of such [road] projects since 2014. Shapps appears to have pressed ahead despite the advice of civil servants in his own department.”
It suggests that the £27 billion expansion of England’s road network – described by Chancellor Rishi Sunak a year ago as the country’s “largest ever” roadbuilding programme – “has been thrown into doubt” by the revelation.
It came as Transport Action Network sought a judicial review of the strategy to develop such road projects as the Lower Thames Crossing, the Stonehenge tunnel and the A46 Newark bypass.
The Guardian says evidence that Mr Shapps had overridden Whitehall advice was disclosed only “at the 11th hour to the claimants” in the High Court case. That advice had been to review the 2014 National Policy Statement on national networks.
The TAN claim centres on the decision not to review all or part of the NPS and has now been amended to introduce Shapps’s decision to dismiss the civil servants’ advice; this runs alongside the original grounds that the roadbuilding policy was not compatible with commitments to the environment and air quality.
David Wolfe QC states in his submission: “On the day before the limitation period for issuing this challenge was due to expire, the defendant [Mr Shapps] provided the claimant [Transport Action Network] with the advice of his officials, which was that it was appropriate to review the NPS.”
He adds: “The claimants have been presented, on the one hand, with official reasoning in support of a review, and on the other, with a decision by the defendant not to review the NPS, with no explanation of why, or on the basis of what information or considerations, he chose to depart from his officials’ advice.”
Government lawyers, however, claim Mr Shapps has no duty to give reasons for his decision and that the claim is baseless.
Chris Todd, Transport Action Network director, said: “The largest-ever roads programme and world-leading emissions cuts were always the strangest of bedfellows.
“Far from ‘building back better’, the government’s £27bn roads plan would pollute communities, tear through treasured green spaces and turn up the heat on the planet, while making congestion worse. Our legal challenge seeks to end this nightmare and prioritise what’s important to people.”

  • To read about the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, see here

Monday, March 8, 2021

‘Greenest Budget desperately needed but not delivered’

‘There’s nothing green about the jobs created by a new coal mine in Cumbria’ (pic West Cumbria Mining)

Today’s Budget (Wednesday, March 3) represents a missed opportunity to help tackle the climate emergency, according to CPRE, the countryside charity.
Responding to Rishi Sunak’s Budget Statement, Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “The Chancellor’s Budget simply doesn’t add up – the government can’t claim to have a ‘real commitment to green growth’ while using funding models that systematically disadvantage rural communities and worsen the climate emergency” said Mr Truman.
“By levelling up between urban and rural investment, not just north and south, we could regenerate many rural towns and villages that have been long forgotten.
“It’s just not right that government spending per person on public infrastructure is 44 per cent higher for urban areas than it is for rural areas with no major cities. We risk levelling up northern cities to the level of London and leaving rural areas stuck in disadvantage and decline.
“Today, the Chancellor has also missed a golden opportunity to prove that the government really means business when it talks about the UK being a genuine world leader in tackling the climate emergency.
“What we need is for the government to help create green and sustainable jobs up and down the country that help real people, while also making the UK economy greener.
“The Chancellor mentioned ‘green growth’, ‘green industries’ and ‘green projects’ nine times, but there’s nothing green about the jobs created by a new coal mine in Cumbria.
“He should be stimulating jobs in areas like Cumbria with renewable energy and energy efficiency, rather than through a coal mine that will be disastrous for carbon emissions and disastrous for our international reputation on climate in equal measure.
“All in all, a disappointing Budget for climate, communities and the countryside.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

‘A depressingly stark example of how strategic planning should not be done’: Canterbury councillors back ‘deeply flawed’ housing plans

Life in Sturry and Broad Oak is going to be very different

Almost 1,100 homes will be built on the outskirts of Canterbury after councillors made a U-turn from their previous decision.
The city council’s planning committee had in November refused a scheme for 650 new homes in Sturry, a decision that sparked the withdrawal of a linked application, for 456 properties at neighbouring Broad Oak.
Last night (Tuesday, February 9), however, both schemes, which comprise one strategic site, came back to the committee, which at its ‘virtual’ meeting approved them by seven votes to five.
The Sturry plan had been marginally revised, the number of properties being cut by 20 homes to 630. A new primary school and – perhaps critically – funding towards a Sturry relief road were part of the wider package.
Planning officers said earlier reasons for refusal, including concerns over traffic, issues with environmental impact, absence of affordable housing, excessive density and poor design, had all been tackled.
CPRE Kent had objected to both proposals, along with many others, including Sturry and Broad Oak Action Group, the Woodland Trust and Sturry Parish Council.
The Sturry development won outline permission only, while the Broad Oak element’s 456 properties were given full permission. More than 800 square metres of commercial space at Broad Oak won outline permission.
CPRE Kent has been working on the proposals with Sturry and Broad Oak Action Group, which gave the following reaction to the Canterbury City Council verdict:
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the planning committee to push through this deeply flawed application for hundreds of houses on the edge of the city.
“The committee’s justified concerns over traffic, issues with environmental impact, absence of affordable housing, excessive density and poor design all cited in November’s decision to refuse the application are still just as relevant.
“Issues with planning law have not been addressed, while the developer’s slight reduction in the number of properties does not change the fact that the Environ Design (Sturry) scheme remains wholly unacceptable.
“We believe it has been accepted because of council fears that SELEP [South East Local Enterprise Partnership] funding for a related Sturry relief road would be lost if it were not approved by SELEP’s mid-February deadline.
“The new road is not even about relieving traffic at the Sturry level crossing – rather it is about opening up potential housing sites for miles to the east of the city. The resultant urban sprawl does not bear thinking about.
“Additionally, the new road, which will run through the middle of the estate, will do little more than shift traffic congestion a mile or two down the A28 towards Canterbury.
“We are concerned for the residents living in the new estate who will have to endure an extremely busy road effectively on their doorsteps – traffic will have to include the transfer of sewage from the tank built to deal with its waste.
“Such issues alone could make the new properties close to unsaleable anyway, while potential new residents might also notice the lack of any playing fields and the fact that the suggested tiny community hall sits on a roundabout, making it effectively inaccessible.
“There are serious concerns for neighbouring Den Grove Wood, where the council has not heeded or acted on Natural England’s standing advice for ancient woodland.
“We have never denied the need for new housing in our city, but we should be pressing for the highest of standards – not the lowest, which is what this scheme represents.
“The level of mitigation work necessary to address the damage caused by it will blight the area for years. Its acceptance is a depressingly stark example of how strategic planning should not be done.”

  • For more on this story, click here

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Swale Local Plan: consultation begins within days

Further to yesterday’s story on discussions over the Swale Local Plan, borough councillors voted 30-17 last night (Wednesday, February 3) that pre-submission draft consultation should begin on Monday (February 8) for a statutory six-week period.
An amendment to the Plan was agreed to permit inclusion of the Quinn Estates scheme for 675 new houses at Wises Lane, Borden, should it be granted at appeal.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Swale – why the rush?

Tonight (Wednesday, February 3), Swale councillors will be voting on where 22,814 houses are going to built in the borough. They also need to find 56 hectares of employment space, which includes 15 hectares of office space, and the infrastructure to support this. As part of the package, a new relief road for the section of the A2 through Teynham is in the frame.
With such a monumental decision to be made, you would rightly expect this to be the cumulation of an iterative process informed by robust community engagement.
Well, the only meaningful community engagement occurred back in the spring of 2018 and simply involved a high-level discussion on the issues and options facing Swale.
In any event, it appears these comments were ignored, with the chairman of the Local Plan Panel informing the panel on January 19, 2021:
“I think it is fair to say that when the new administration took over in 2019 the Local Plan team had to work to a radically different strategy. Meaning that much of the work they had done for the previous year didn’t really contribute much to this, to the direction that the new administration went.”
More significantly, a promised further consultation to include the council’s preferred sites to inform the final version of the Plan to be submitted has conveniently been sidestepped. Instead, Swale residents are to be presented with this final version as a fait accompli. It is being left to the Planning Inspectorate to make any changes.
As it is, Swale councillors have been given less than a week to familiarise themselves with this Plan, along with 12 separate reports totalling some 1,193 pages. No mean feat, though arguably impossible when you realise much of the evidence to back up the “radically different strategy” (as the Local Plan Panel’s chairman called it) is incomplete or still a work in progress.
This incomplete work includes concept diagrams yet to be provided and, crucially, vital transport modelling that is not anticipated until “Spring 2021”.
This urgency was blamed on a proposed increase in the numbers of houses the government might require Swale to build. This increase is now not happening. There are, however, likely to be changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, currently out to consultation, that this Plan is likely to need to take account of.
Swale councillors are reminded that the Local Plan must be prepared in accordance with the council’s latest Local Development Scheme and that consultation must be carried out in accordance with the council’s Statement of Community Involvement.
It is CPRE Kent’s view that the 2018 versions of these documents created a legitimate expectation that there would be a Regulation 18 Draft Preferred Option Public consultation stage on which to comment – not least as this is what the council said would happen.
To be voting to approve a Plan without this additional consultation is at best foolhardy.
To be voting on a Plan without this additional consultation and that is not yet finished is positively irrational.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

London Resort theme park makes it to examination stage

You never know, this is what the proposed theme park could look like (pic LRCH)

Plans to build a huge theme park on the Thames estuary have passed their first hurdle.
The Planning Inspectorate has accepted the application for a Development Consent Order to build the London Resort theme park between Greenhithe and Northfleet.
This means the project, submitted by London Resort Company Holdings on New Year’s Eve and received by the Planning Inspectorate on Monday, January 4, can proceed to examination.
The decision to accept the 25,000-page application was announced in a Planning Inspectorate letter dated Thursday, January 28.
The project, targeted for the wildlife-rich Swanscombe peninsula, has been roundly condemned by conservation groups including the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife.
There is also widespread concern about the scheme being designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the first ‘business or commercial project’ to be accepted as such by the government under the Planning Act 2008. It is feared such status means it will not be subject to the same scrutiny that would be applied through the regular planning process.
The examination, in which CPRE Kent intends to take part, is expected to begin two to four months from now and must be completed within six months of the start-point.
Although it is too early to comment extensively, it is apparent that plenty of work needs to be done in relation to transport.
The Lower Thames Crossing proposed for nearby does not appear to have been factored into the plans, while the developer will need to show how it can take people to and from the site on the existing transport network.
Once the six-month examination has been completed, the final decision on the project will be made by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

  • For more on this story, click here
  • To learn more about the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign, see here

Monday, February 1, 2021

CPRE joins coalition in call for a better planning vision

The government should rethink substantial elements of its controversial planning proposals and work with stakeholders to deliver a planning system that puts people, climate and nature at its heart.
The call comes from CPRE, the countryside charity, as part of a broad coalition of 18 environmental, housing, planning, transport, heritage and public-health organisations that have worked together to forge their own alternative ‘Vision for Planning’ in response to the government’s Planning White Paper, published in August last year.
The government is expected to make a further announcement in March about whether and how it will take forward the proposals in the White Paper.
The joint Vision for Planning was launched yesterday (Friday, January 15) at a virtual debate, with speakers including Chris Pincher, Minister of State for Housing.
Commenting on the new joint ‘Vision for planning’, Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “We are calling on the government to plan back better and work with us to develop a planning system that puts people, and tackling the climate and ecological emergencies, at its heart.
“We all deserve a home we can genuinely afford to live in, and to have a say in shaping the communities around us. And for over 70 years, a toolbox has been in place to make sure that can happen: the planning system. But as things stand, under the government’s current proposals, the opportunity to influence what happens and where in our communities would be halved.
“Before Christmas, the government announced a welcome revision of its housing numbers ‘algorithm’. However, this was only one small part of a range of potentially damaging proposals put forward by the government last year. That’s why we’re calling on ministers to take an equally pragmatic approach to improving policies relating to community voice, affordable homes and access to green spaces. Together, we can develop a planning system fit for the 21st century.”
Julie Hirigoyen, UK Green Building Council chief executive, added: “The government’s proposed planning reforms do not adequately reflect the important role of the planning system as a key strategic vehicle for decarbonising the economy, enhancing climate resilience and reversing biodiversity decline.
“If we are to deliver new development that does not compromise our progress towards net zero, the planning system – as outlined in this vision paper – must ensure all new buildings are net-zero by 2030 at the latest, with new homes to be net-zero as soon as possible.”
Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England, concurred: “Nature is in freefall decline and we have a climate in crisis. Our wildlife is declining at an alarming rate, with much-loved species at risk of extinction if things continue.
“A good planning system is critical not just for providing us with homes with access to nature-rich greenspace and the other services that we need but also for ensuring that our amazing nature is protected and given the space that it needs to recover and thrive again.”
The message was echoed by Shaun Spiers, chief executive of Green Alliance: “For a resilient society, we need environmental and climate priorities to be right at the heart of our planning system, so we hope the government takes careful note of this coalition’s recommendations.
“To cut pollution and climate impacts, reforms to the planning system must ensure that every home has easy access, via public transport, walking and cycling, to amenities, green spaces and local workplaces. Good spatial planning will be integral to the UK meeting its net-zero carbon goal by 2050.”

  • To learn more about the joint Vision for Planning, click here
  • For more on the government’s proposed changes to the planning system and our response to them, see here, here, here and here

Friday, January 15, 2021

Distress at plans for Dover border control site but MP points to ‘exciting opportunity’

The site lies to the south of the A2 (pic Google Earth)

A parish council has vowed to challenge plans for a border control site on the edge of Dover.
People in Guston were reportedly less than thrilled to receive a letter on New Year’s Eve from transport minister Rachel Maclean informing them that the substantial greenfield site close to the White Cliffs Business Park had been bought for use as an “inland border facility”.
HGVs entering the UK via Dover will have their details checked there – a process made necessary by Brexit.
Although a DfT spokeswoman said further planning consent was needed and nearby residents would be consulted, diggers have already moved on to the site.
“We understand concerns about resulting disruption, which is why we are working with the relevant authorities and our principal designer to ensure the surrounding roads are not negatively impacted by increased HGV movements,” she said.
However, Guston Parish Council has written to residents, saying it was “actively working to prevent such a development” and taking legal advice.
“There has been no response to requests for detailed proposals from the DfT and our MP Natalie Elphicke has responded to residents’ concerns with a generic letter setting out her support for the proposal,” wrote Tracey Creed, chairwoman of the council.
A report in The Guardian told how Guston residents believed they had been betrayed and trapped by the “lies” of the government over Brexit and were angry at the lack of consultation on the White Cliffs site, which it is feared will effectively be a lorry park rather than a border control site.
However, their MP, Mrs Elphicke, has said: “The proposals to invest in Dover at a new border control point are an exciting and important strategic opportunity for our community.”
The DfT says the site is needed as the port does not have the necessary space for the required checks; it will have spaces for some 670 HGVs and it is expected to be expanded to conduct full border checks from July. There will be structures designed specifically to check on animals, animal products and high-risk foods.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise to many that Kent seems to be taking a disproportionate hit from Brexit arrangements, with border control sites also being developed at Sevington, Waterbrook, Ebbsfleet and Manston, the latter at least cited as only temporary.
CPRE Kent believes the burden should be spread across the country, with HGVs unable to enter the county until it is certain they can leave the UK on schedule.
This could entail lorries not leaving their depots until being given the all-clear and possibly holding sites being used should circumstances, such as bad weather and industrial action at the ports, change.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Giant theme park planning process begins

This is what the theme park might look like… should it be built (pic LRCH)

The developer behind plans to build the country’s largest theme park in north Kent has applied to the government for consent to proceed.
London Resort Company Holdings submitted its application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate on New Year’s Eve (Thursday, January 31, 2020).
The scheme has been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the first ‘business or commercial project’ to be accepted as such by the government under the Planning Act 2008.
The theme park is targeted for the Swanscombe peninsula, between Greenhithe and Northfleet, with opening anticipated for 2024 after a 2022 start date.
It would cover more than 1,160 acres and LRCH says it would create “48,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs” by 2038.
The project website states: “Sustainability is at the core of our vision. We are exploring new and innovative ways of integrating sustainable and low-carbon principles into every area of design and operation of the London Resort. Our aim is to create one of the most sustainable theme park destinations in the world.”
It adds: “Our designs will integrate local public rights of way and a green network, with improved access to the river for visitors and local communities. The London Resort will showcase the natural features of the site, seamlessly integrating them into our designs. A large proportion of the peninsula landscape will remain undeveloped and will be enhanced.”
However, there are widespread concerns both for people employed on the peninsula who might see their workplaces lost and for the area’s wildlife.
Buglife has joined with other environmental campaigners to set up the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign.
To understand why the peninsula is so special, we will indeed turn to Buglife, which states: “The Swanscombe peninsula in north Kent is home to a remarkable mosaic of grasslands, coastal habitats, brownfield features, scrub and intricate wetlands. However, the proposed London Resort theme park threatens the future of this urban wilderness.
“Known as Swanscombe Marshes, this urban wilderness is home to thousands of invertebrate species, including over 250 species of conservation concern. This outstanding assemblage is of national importance, ranking with our best invertebrate brownfield sites.
“It is one of just two places in the UK for the Critically Endangered distinguished jumping spider (Attulus distinguendus), among the host of rare bees, beetles, moths and other invertebrates recorded there… the mixture of natural coastal features and human interference has created a brownfield of the highest quality for wildlife, as well as a valued community space for walking, birdwatching, angling and escaping the hustle and bustle of north Kent.”  
CPRE Kent intends to take part in the examination should it happen. It is too early to comment extensively, but an initial observation relates to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which does not appear to have been factored into plans – how would the two dovetail?
The Planning Inspectorate now has until Thursday, January 28, to determine if the application is satisfactory and the project can proceed to examination. Should it get that far, the Secretary of State would then decide whether London Resort should be built.

  • For more on this story, see here
  • To learn more about the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign, see here

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Canterbury City Council backs 4,000-unit housing development on farmland

This is apparently what Mountfield Park will look like… seemingly it is what the cathedral city deserves (pic Corinthian Land)

Some 550 acres of farmland south of Canterbury are to be lost to a giant housing scheme.
Canterbury City Council has approved the 4,000-unit Mountfield Park “garden city”, which developer Corinthian Land says it will begin building next year and finish within 15 years.
Access will be primarily through New Dover Road, with Nackington Road and Pilgrims Way providing alternative routes. There will also be a 1,000-space park-and-ride site and a new junction on the A2, together with shops, office space, sports pitches and two primary schools.
The scheme had first been backed by the city council in December 2016, but legal challenges delayed matters until Tuesday’s (December 22) 7-5 vote to approve by the council’s planning committee.
Corinthian now has detailed permission for 140 homes and outline approval for another 3,860. The developer says 30 per cent of the development will comprise affordable homes.

  • For more on Mountfield Park, see here and here

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Environmental mitigation, impact on traffic and approach to consultation among Lower Thames Crossing DCO issues

Lower Thames Crossing… the saga rumbles on

We reported last week that Highways England had withdrawn its application for a Development Consent Order to build the Lower Thames Crossing.
Now we have been updated by HE on the issues relating to the Planning Inspectorate and the likely way forward.
A message to  stakeholders said: “… we’ve now had further dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate about their expectations around our application.
“The fundamentals of the Lower Thames Crossing, including its objectives and location, will remain the same but we will further develop some technical information related to some elements of the scheme before we resubmit our application next year.
“The feedback from the Planning Inspectorate includes requests for:
“Further information on the impact of the project on traffic during the construction phase. We recognise that stakeholders are keen to find out more information about our construction traffic appraisals and will be engaging with them on these issues.
“Further assessments about how an existing jetty on the River Thames near the northern tunnel entrance construction site could potentially be used during the construction phase. The operation of the jetty could, if used, impact river traffic. We will be developing Navigational Impact Assessment and engaging with stakeholders on this topic.
“More details on our approach for managing materials and waste, including how the different contractors will coordinate the reusing, recycling or disposal of waste.  
“An enhanced Habitats Regulations Assessment to provide a more detailed explanation of our approach to assessment of potential effects on European designated sites where we have indicated there would be no likely significant effects as a result of the construction and operation of the new road alone, or in combination with other projects.
“More detail on our approach to the long-term management of the project’s proposed environmental mitigation.
“The Planning Inspectorate has also shared some feedback from Local Authorities on our approach to consultation. We will consider this feedback carefully as we refine key areas of our submission ahead of resubmitting our application for a Development Consent Order.
“For a project of the size and complexity of the Lower Thames Crossing, it is reasonable for the Planning Inspectorate to ask for further information, and we are doing everything we can to resubmit our application at the earliest opportunity.”

Friday, November 27, 2020