Call for planning re-think on Western Heights and Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has called on Dover District Council planning committee to re-think its decision to grant planning permission for hundreds of homes which would cause untold damage to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Photo: Graham Jones, flickr

Photo: Graham Jones, flickr

The plan for 521 houses and a 90 dwelling retirement village in the AONB at Farthingloe and a large hotel on the historically important Western Heights was agreed in June last year; but 18 months on the promised £5 million Section 106 agreement has yet to be finalised. We objected strongly at the time and are calling on planning committee members to think again when the proposal is discussed on Thursday (18th December).

“This plan would cause significant, irreversible harm to this beautiful and historic landscape,” said CPRE Kent Dover District Chairman Derek Wanstall.

“We do not believe that there are exceptional circumstances which justify this destruction. The planning committee now has an opportunity to re-assess and protect this important area.”

The applicant had pledged £5 million for conversion of the Drop Redoubt at the Western Heights into a museum and visitor centre but this agreement has not yet been finalised.  A draft agreement, to be considered by the committee, proposes that the payment is phased, depending on people moving into the new houses. The largest payment of £2.25m, to be paid in 12 phased payments, is linked to that part of the development which is the most visually prominent part of the site as seen from the wider Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A further £750,000 is to be paid in a further four phases.

“Linking the bulk of the payment to the most sensitive part of the site just rubs salt into the wounds,” said Mr Wanstall.  “This is a complex agreement, which should see the full £5m paid over a period of years.  I am not sure that this drip-feeding of contributions, which could be turned off by the developer if development stops, will secure the improvements to the Drop Redoubt sought. We would question that it provides the certainty of funding required and provides any justification for the Council’s continued support of the development,”

Also, there is no affordable housing included in the scheme and there will be no element of this on site – only off site if there is any money left over from the infrastructure budget. Plus the countryside access area (the open space between the two locations) was originally intended to be 116 hectares and is now only 42 hectares.

16th December 2014

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