Farthingloe: the developers are threatening its future again

Under threat again? Farthingloe Valley, on the outskirts of Dover

Plans to develop the Farthingloe Valley in the Kent Downs AONB appear to be resurfacing.
When, in December last year, the Supreme Court confirmed that planning permission for more than 500 houses and a 90-apartment retirement village at Great Farthingloe Farm, together with associated development at nearby Western Heights, remained quashed, the decision of CPRE Kent to challenge Dover District Council’s granting of planning permission back in 2015 was vindicated.
The Supreme Court was confirming the Court of Appeal’s verdict that DDC  planning committee had not given legally adequate reasons for approving the application. DDC had challenged that Court of Appeal decision, necessitating the Supreme Court case.
Now, however, the applicant, China Gateway International, has requested DDC provide a scoping opinion for an updated environmental impact assessment in preparation for a renewed application at the site.
Little seems to have changed in relation to the application itself. The planning consultancy says in its scoping report: “The Farthingloe layout is currently being reviewed in consultation with Dover District Council and consultees.
“The layout will include minor changes to reflect comments made by the council and consultees following submission of the application in May 2012.
“Progress on the Farthingloe layout to date includes; a reduction in the area of land to be developed with an increase in accessible green space, and; reorganisation of the proposed built development to reduce the height of buildings in the south west corner and to comply with the required setback distances for the existing sewer in the north east corner.
“It should be noted that between submission of the application in 2012 and permission being granted in 2015, the proposed housing development at Western Heights was reduced from 93 units to 40.”
Dr Hilary Newport, CPRE Kent director, said: “These plans are essentially unchanged from those initially submitted back in 2012.
“They remain as wrong and as unacceptable in an AONB now as they were then.”

Monday, June 4, 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

Radical rethink needed on Thames crossing solution

No-one who has crawled through traffic congestion at the Dartford crossings can doubt that there is a problem that needs fixing, and it needs fixing now. Nor do the residents who suffer from dangerously high levels of air pollution need reminding that this is a situation which has long been intolerable.

Our first thoughts on the location are here. But now that the dust is beginning to settle on the announcement of the likely location of the Thames crossing, there’s an opportunity to reflect on what this means for Kent and beyond.

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

As a solution to the problems suffered at Dartford, the tunnel east of Gravesend performs very poorly indeed. Highways England’s consultation acknowledged that, on opening, the tunnel would draw just 14% of the traffic from Dartford, which is a woefully poor improvement on a situation that is intolerable now and can only become worse in the time it will take a tunnel to be built.

We know from years of observations that building roads to remove congestion is counter-productive; new roads fill with traffic faster than the roads they are supposed to be relieving. CPRE’s report published only last month showed the most comprehensive evidence to date that building new roads is not the solution.

A huge proportion of the goods we trade with mainland Europe and beyond travel through the Channel Port of Dover and the Channel tunnel, and there are ambitious plans to grow traffic through the port of Dover. If the experience of past road building schemes has taught us anything at all, it is that before long Kent’s highways network, even with an additional tunnel across the Thames, will be back at or beyond capacity and we will have endured the environmental and social damage of building and using a tunnel for no long-term solution.

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

Before destroying communities, landscapes and designated sites, we want urgent attention to be given to developing a sustainable transport strategy. Fostering and encouraging the continued growth in traffic through Kent is not good for the country’s economic resilience. The unprecedented events of 2015, leading to over 30 days’ implementation of Operation Stack, should have taught us the lesson that focusing so much of the country’s imports and exports through the already constrained M2/M20 corridors cannot make economic sense.

We urge government to take a radical re-think of the focus on funneling so much traffic on roads through the South East. We need modal shift which will take freight off roads and on to rail, yet the plans for the new Thames crossing are totally silent on the possibility of addition non-road capacity.

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

April 24th 2017

 

 

 

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/lower-thames-crossing-consultation/user_uploads/lower-thames-crossing-consultation-booklet.pdf

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

Seeking leave to appeal Judicial Review decision on Farthingloe

As you know CPRE Kent is challenging Dover District Council’s decision to grant planning permission for more than 600 homes on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Farthingloe.  We took our challenge to the High Court for Judicial Review on 15/16 December. The judge agreed that this was an important case, but did not accept our arguments in favour of protecting the AONB.  We are continuing to challenge this very wrong decision.

Farthingloe, photo by Vicky Ellis

Farthingloe, photo by Vicky Ellis

We have today (January 6th) applied to ask the Court of Appeal to consider the issues raised by the Farthingloe application, which the High Court acknowledged were “important”. Dover District Council’s planners recognised that the Kent Downs AONB would be seriously damaged if this development goes ahead, without any mitigation of the harm that would be caused. Planning permission was granted on the basis of a “composite” planning application which would include the housing development at Farthingloe and a contribution to work at the Western Heights Drop Redoubt. We maintain that this was unlawful, went against planning regulations and must be fought. We have decided to take this next step because protection of the Kent countryside, particularly the designated landscapes of AONBs which should be protected by law, is fundamental to our cause.

We will update further when we hear back from the Court of Appeal.

For more on the Judicial review see here and here.

January 6th 2016

Why we are fighting to save the countryside at Farthingloe

You may have noticed some recent media coverage (BBC South East and Dover Express) where Dover MP Charlie Elphicke claimed CPRE Kent was against all development and was wrong to challenge the decision to grant planning permission for more than 600 homes on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe (which he mistakenly claimed was brownfield land). Here CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury sets the record straight and explains why this campaign is so important for Kent:

We are absolutely not against development in Dover. Our planning expert, Brian Lloyd, spent a huge amount of time working on the Dover Local plan to help make it a good plan. We want Dover to  be successful as much as anyone. We also want the Western Heights to be conserved and restored: they are just as important as Dover Castle and both are incredibly important parts of our national heritage.

Dover Farthingloe from Mount Road Vic 030

What we have to challenge is when the wrong things are being proposed. The Farthingloe site was specifically rejected as an unsuitable site in the local plan process, and the statutory agencies Natural England and the AONB unit, as well as non-statutory bodies, the National Trust and ourselves, thought likewise. But it has fallen to CPRE to take the fight on. It is a pity Charlie Elphicke takes a challenge against one thing that is wrong as a challenge to everything. He is incorrect about it being a brownfield site. A key principle of all good construction projects is that civil engineers make as light an impact as possible on the ground they only need temporarily, and restore it afterwards. That was the commitment at Farthingloe, as it was at  many other sites along the subsequent Channel Tunnel Rail Link construction line through Kent. There will always be those who try to claim brownfield status. It is unfortunate and misleading that Charlie has taken up this line .

On the lorry park, that was a necessary campaigning phase in Dover Port taking greater responsibility for the wider impacts across Kent of the huge volumes of lorry traffic passing through Dover:  Their latest plans do make more provision for trucks needing to park up, though this will no doubt be an ongoing issue.

We do  acknowledge progress and we continue to work hard to get the right things to happen.  But we will continue to challenge when we see the wrong planning decisions being made. We will see in December whether the courts agree. We did not take this action lightly but if CPRE does not take a stand to save our countryside who will?

Dover is a really important part of Kent – we will continue to campaign to look after it as we try to do for all of Kent. We have fantastic countryside and a great county which we need to protect for future generations.

November 17th 2015