‘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.”

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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