Concerns over noise and air pollution at Manston Airport

We have today (12th July) submitted our consultation response to RiverOak Strategic Partnership’s consultation into the future of Manston airport.

We are concerned that the environmental and social impacts of noise and air pollution outweigh the claimed economic benefits. In contrast, the opportunity to convert this brownfield site to mixed commercial and residential use offers more realistic employment opportunities and would help of safeguard the best quality agricultural land which would otherwise be required to meet Thanet’s objectively assessed housing need.

Manston airport by Simon Moores, flickr

Director Hilary Newport said “We don’t think a new airport here would provide any overall social or economic benefits, and there is a real danger of converting the site into an airport is that is highly unlikely to be viable, and would therefore again become a blight on the area, and retard the more useful, and economically and socially beneficial uses for another decade.”

CPRE Kent also considers the negative impact of night flights on surrounding communities to be unacceptable.

The consultation period closes on 23rd July. You can read our consultation response here.

12 July 2017

Protecting our heritage – new guide

Kent is blessed with an exceptional wealth of historic buildings and structures and archaeological sites – from our cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester and great houses, like Knole, to tiny cottages and barns, and from well-known sites like Richborough and Kit’s Coty to medieval hedgerows and field boundaries. This rich heritage is under severe threat from intense development to accelerate house-building, promote economic growth and improve roads and other infrastructure.

Landscape by Vicky Ellis

CPRE Kent has produced a new guide to protecting that heritage. “Looking after heritage through the planning system” deals in turn with listed and unlisted historic buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and archaeological sites, parks, gardens and battlefields and heritage landscapes. It sets out as simply and briefly as possible the legal protections which apply and the procedures to be followed by developers and local planning authorities in addressing them.

Oak tree by Vicky Ellis

We hope people will will find it both of interest and of practical use in engaging with the planning process, when Kent’s precious heritage is at stake. It is available to download below or do contact us on info@cprekent.org.uk if you require a printed copy (donations requested to offset our costs).

looking after heritage through the planning system June 2017

July 4th 2017.


Tunbridge Wells housing numbers too high

We have responded to the latest consultation on Tunbridge Wells local plan challenging the huge housing numbers planned which would cause severe environmental damage, loss of countryside, green space and ancient woodland.

CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee has raised many concerns in its comments on the Issues and Options consultation.

We dispute the need to provide 650 to 700 houses per year. Given that employment growth in the borough in the 21 years from 1991 to 2013 was zero, the jobs forecasts which project an ever-rising volume of employment seem unduly optimistic and if the increase in jobs is not forthcoming, this volume of housing development could turn the borough into a dormitory for businesses elsewhere. The population and household formation forecasts on which the housing need assessment is based may also be too high.

View from Horsmonden Church by James Stringer

Committee chairman Elizabeth Aikenhead said: “Most importantly, housing development on this scale together with its infrastructure clearly cannot be accommodated in a borough with so many environmental constraints without causing serious damage to the environment.”

It is also contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework. CPRE Kent does accept that there will have to be new development within the borough but this should continue to be at no more than the rate previously required under the Core Strategy. Even that amount of development will be very difficult to provide without serious environmental damage.

Lamberhurst in Spring by Jonathan Buckwell

Taking the proposed Strategic Options one by one, Continue reading

Legal action challenges 4,000 homes in south Canterbury

Good news that campaigners have been granted permission to challenge the decision to allow a huge development of 4,000 homes in south Canterbury at Judicial Review.

Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell, supported by many including CPRE Kent, have mounted the legal challenge over the failure of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government not to call in the application on air pollution grounds.

little-barton-farm

They say: “The legal challenge will also force Canterbury City council to adopt a legally compliant Air Quality Action Plan and to support planning proposals that actually reduce air pollution and makes life better for all Canterbury residents.”

They have today won permission to have their case heard by a judge.

mountfield-3

CPRE Kent is concerned about Mountfield park because of the impact on the heritage setting of the world heritage site of Canterbury, the impact on the already terrible traffic problems and the air pollution this will cause and the impact on the countryside.

For more information or to support or donate towards the JR, contact climaterecovery1@gmail.com

May 3rd 2017

 


CPRE Kent response to Medway Local Plan

CPRE Kent is calling for a commitment to improve the environment and community health as well as save valuable farmland in its response to the Medway Local Plan consultation.

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

We will be asking Medway Council to:

  • recognise the contribution of agricultural land to local sustainability, and invest in improving ecosystems for healthy communities, well-being and resilience;
  • Include “access to nature” when planning growth;
  • enhance the understanding of biodiversity conservation across whole landscapes;
  • make adaption to climate change a priority;
  • proactively assess underused or vacant sites (especially brownfield) that might contribute to regeneration or meeting housing need, including small sites;
  • consider sustainability when assessing sites (such as the employment park at Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula), including transport infrastructure and other services;
  • consider accessibility of local people to space and countryside;
  • ensure Green Belt is given the highest level of protection, as specified in the recent Housing White Paper;
  • continue with the designation of development gaps and areas of local landscape importance;
  • consider the impact on air quality of all development and associated travel.
  • Photo: diamond geezer

    Photo: diamond geezer

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

CPRE Kent Planner Jillian Barr said: “A strong and ambitious vision is necessary to deliver growth, protect the environment, but also to deliver improvements to the environment and community health. This is essential to Medway’s future. We are pleased that the council is consulting so thoroughly at this stage of the plan process and recognise that there are challenging targets. There is a proven link between access to nature, space, dark skies and tranquillity and the health of communities and we hope the council will take this fully on board now and when looking at sites over the next 18 years.”

CPRE Kent has now submitted its full response to the plan – read it here.

June 5th 2017

Giant phone masts rejected

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

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

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

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

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

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

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

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

Our full responses can be read here and here.

January 30th 2017


Good news – appeal dismissed into 330 homes at Newington

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

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

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

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

pond-farm-newington-vic Continue reading

Our fears over 4,000 homes approved for south Canterbury

The biggest housing development ever proposed in Canterbury has been approved. Canterbury City council has given outline planning permission for the 4,000-home Mountfield Park ‘garden city’ in south Canterbury. It stretches from Canterbury’s southern edge as far as the village of Bridge and includes shops, office space, sports pitches, two primary schools and a potential new site for Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

mountfield-7

Photos: Vicky Ellis

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We fear that Mountfield Park will have a severe negative impact on Canterbury. It is not an appropriate site because it will damage the visual setting of the world heritage cathedral.

Canterbury Committee chairman Dr Alan Holmes said: “The development will be on some of our best and most versatile farmland – it is vital to preserve this because we already import over 60% of our food and food security is an important issue. There are other low grade sites or we advocate prioritising development on brownfield sites.

“We also fear there will be a considerable worsening of traffic congestion, particularly on the Dover Roads, and this will in turn worsen air pollution. The Royal College of Physicians has raised concerns over deteriorating air quality as the result of traffic emissions and the serious impact this has on public health.”

To read our submissions on Mountfield Park click here and here.

November 14th 2016

Otterpool Park

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

 

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

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

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

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

Fore more information see here and here.

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

November 14th 2016

Pond Farm, Newington Planning Inquiry

CPRE Kent has set out its case against proposals to build up to 330 homes on greenfield land at Pond farm in the village of Newington near Sittingbourne.

We will be taking part in a planning inquiry into the plans by Gladman Developments Ltd. next month. Gladman is appealing against Swale Borough Council’s non-determination of the outline planning application.

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

Pond Farm, Newington, Photo Vicky Ellis

Concerns include:

  • the site is not allocated for housing in Swale Borough Council’s local plan
  • it would increase the village size by 30% and change the character and landscape of both Newington and nearby Hartlip
  • loss of grade 1 farmland (orchards), loss of hedgerows and risk to protected wildlife
  • it would increase air pollution on Newington High Street above acceptable EU levels, add to congestion and have an impact on safety on the A2
  • it is unsustainable with no proper transport infrastructure plans
  • the Ramblers Association is joining with CPRE Kent to object to the permanent loss of important footpaths used for recreational and health purposes
  • harm to the setting of important heritage assets

pond-farm-newington-vic

To read our full evidence papers click here and scroll down to consultation responses – there are seven papers in total.

October 18th 2016.

Victory as judges quash planning permission at Farthingloe

We are delighted that we have today (14 September) won an important victory in our lengthy legal battle to save an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe near Dover.

Two judges at the Court of Appeal have quashed the planning application to build 521 homes and a 90 apartment retirement village.

Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Simon allowed the appeal against last December’s judicial review on the basis that Dover District Council’s planning committee failed to give legally adequate reasons for granting permission, contrary to an officers’ recommendation which had made “trenchant criticisms” of the density, layout and design of the proposed development.

farthingloe-1 dover-farthingloe-from-mount-road-vic-030

Council planning officers had made huge efforts to mitigate the harm while ensuring the scheme was still financially viable. They recommended a reduction in the number of homes to 375 and changes to the density and design to protect the most sensitive part of the landscape. This was ignored by both the developer, China Gateway, and the planning committee.

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is excellent news – we have been absolutely determined to save this beautiful and historic area of countryside. The developer and planning committee knew the scale of the development – one of the largest ever proposed for an AONB – would cause severe damage but rejected all efforts to mitigate this. This case is not just important to the people of Dover but for the principles of planning law because AONBs have the highest possible level of protection.”

In his judgment, Lord Justice Laws acknowledged that it was “an unusual case” and that “the scale of the proposed development is unprecedented in an AONB”. He said: “A local planning authority which is going to authorise a development which will inflict substantial harm on an AONB must surely give substantial reasons for doing so.”

He went on to conclude: “I consider that the Committee (Dover Planning Committee) failed to give legally adequate reasons for their decision to grant planning permission.”

dover-farthingloe-vic-022 south-across-the-valley-to-site-b-from-little-farthingloe-farm-1

CPRE Kent, Natural England, the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the National Trust all opposed the decision at the time and it is astounding that the case was not called in by the Secretary of State despite the strongest advice to do so from his own advisors.

Christine Drury added: “This is exactly why CPRE is here – we will never give up on the countryside. I would like to thank our legal team, our members and everyone who supports us in our campaigning.”

view-across-valley-towards-site-b-from-field-to-north-west-2

Read the judgment here.

September 14th 2016

Safe under us?

Safe under us report coverA report, published today, shows how government housing and planning policies have led to an unprecedented scale of threat to London’s Green Belt

The London Green Belt Council and CPRE London have published a joint report “‘Safe Under Us?’ An investigation into widespread threats from housebuilding in the London Metropolitan Green Belt”

The report shows that government policies and sanctions appear to be forcing councils to release Green Belt land for development.

Drawing on local evidence provided by CPRE branches in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London and Surrey, the report demonstrates that the London Green Belt is likely to be under greater threat than ever. There are now plans for 203 sites within the London Green Belt including proposals for 123,528 homes.  Within the 42 local planning authorities that were surveyed covering nearly 84% of all London Green Belt land, the majority of the proposed homes (94%) are on sites allocated by councils in their Local Plan documents. The London Green Belt is also under pressure from infrastructure such as schools and roads.

 

Lullingstone Park, photo by Susan Pittman

Lullingstone Park, photo by Susan Pittman

The report finds that there is national pressure being applied to Local Planning Authorities to deliver inflated housing targets. These targets are being inflated by unrealistic economic growth forecasts, forcing councils to give up Green Belt land.

Continue reading

CPRE Kent protests about phone mast plans

CPRE Kent has objected to plans for two phone masts, both over 300m high, at Richborough because they would cause heritage, landscape and ecological harm.

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Richborough, photo: Vigilant Global

Plans for two separate masts have been submitted to Dover District Council – one at the former Richborough power station and one at land to the north of Kings End Farm. Both would disrupt important views across heritage landscape. The area is near the Wantsum Channel, the setting of the historic Richborough Fort. Due to the flat, open nature of the landscape, the proposed masts would represent a substantial and unpleasant feature, ruining views to and from Richborough Castle across this beautiful and distinctive area.

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

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

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

The full responses can be read here and here.

July 27th 2016


Shepway’s Otterpool Park – huge intrusion on landscape and villages

Shepway District Council (SDC) has announced plans for a “Garden Town” which would engulf Westenhanger, Newingreen, most of Lympne and some of Sellindge, together with up to 700 hectares (1730 acres) of countryside, bordering on the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Somehow, the council expects local residents to support this while the leader, Cllr David Monk, answers his critics with words like “It is not green space. Most of the time it’s brown, it’s mud, brown mud. It’s cockalooloo land. It is agricultural fields. You can’t say we can’t build on fields. It hardly affects anyone.” (quoted in Folkestone Herald 12/5/16).

Sheep in fields at Otterpool

Everything in this view, as far as the windmill (white tower), would be urbanised, photo by Graham Horner

CPRE fought hard to halt the urbanisation of this area through the examination of Shepway District’s Local Plan and the inspector agreed with us, throwing out proposals for just 400 houses on the Folkestone Racecourse site.  Now up to 12,000 houses are contemplated in the same area.  Shepway seem intent on filling up all land which is not AONB or on the Marsh with housing or allowing it to be concreted over for lorry parks.

Hilary Newport said “The garden city/village principles have merit, but CPRE believes that housing delivery should focus on putting effort into the regeneration of those brownfield sites that blight urban areas and communities. This site, by contrast, is in open countryside, near villages that are already struggling under the pressure of overdevelopment, and would be a huge intrusion on the landscape – indeed the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (a nationally important designation, equivalent in importance to a National Park) surrounds this area on three sides: walkers and riders on the North Downs Way national trail to the north would have their views across open landscape blighted.”

Otterpool Park 4 Otterpool Park 2

 

Photos by Graham Horner

May 16th 2016.


Great news – we have been granted leave to appeal on Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has been granted leave to appeal against the judicial review judgement in our fight to save the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe near Dover.

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

An appeal court judge has said that our arguments over mitigation to the AONB “raise an arguable point which has real prospects of success.”

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is great news – we have been determined to save this beautiful area of countryside. The harm to the AONB cannot be justified and we are heartened that the judge has agreed to our appeal on this important point.”

We argued that the judicial review judge had been wrong to conclude that the application to build 521 houses and a 90 home retirement village at Farthingloe complied with planning law (paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy framework (NPPF)).

Dover District Council planning officers had criticised the density and layout of the scheme and recognised that it would have significant adverse impact on the AONB. Councillors ignored this advice and agreed to the proposals without any mitigation measures.

CPRE Kent, Natural England, the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the National Trust all opposed the decision and it is astounding that the case was not called in by the Secretary of State despite the strongest recommendations from his advisors.

Christine Drury added: “We will never give up on our countryside. I would like to thank everyone who continues to support us in this important battle. It is absolutely central to our cause that we fight to protect beautiful, protected, unspoilt areas of countryside for future generations.”

We will now prepare for the Court of Appeal hearing which could be some months away.

Read more on the background to this hereherehere and here.

May 10th 2016.