Thanet District Council will tonight (Wednesday, July 21) reconsider the Gladman Developments bid for planning permission for 450 houses at Shottendane Road, near Margate. CPRE Kent has long argued against this development, both during the Local Plan process and the current attempts to win planning permission. Despite this, only one significant ground of dispute appears to remain between the council and Gladman, and that is the issue of affordable housing. This is because Gladman only wants to provide half the amount of affordable housing that TDC considers should be provided. Thanet’s planning committee is reminded that Gladman is not in the business of building houses – rather, it is in the business of maximising land value through the securing of planning permissions. It is worth noting that Damian Green, MP for Ashford and former First Secretary of State (de facto deputy prime minister) highlighted Gladman as the only company with which he had “flatly refused” to speak. Gladman is a land agent or land promoter, taking on the costs of securing a planning permission on the basis that it then splits the resulting profits with that landowner when it sells to an actual housebuilder. This incentivises putting maximum pressure upon a council to approve as quickly as possible and encourages negotiating out as many future costs as possible so the permissioned land can be sold at a premium. As Gladman says on its website: “It is in our interests to optimise the value of your land as we, like you, only get paid when the land is sold.” The point is, this land has not yet been sold on, meaning everything is theoretical until this point. If the council insists on the full level of affordable housing being provided, the purchaser will need to reflect this in the price it pays for the land. This is exactly what planning policy guidance on viability expects should happen. For these reasons, CPRE Kent is calling on Thanet District Council to be bold and refuse this application as contrary to the adopted Plan.
The decision to refuse a revised planning application for 450 new houses on farmland at Margate has been warmly welcomed by CPRE Kent’s Thanet committee. The scheme from Gladman Developments had first been refused by Thanet District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, April 21, with seven members voting against it, four voting in favour and two abstaining. Loss of farmland, flooding, challenging topography and impact on wildlife were all noted as reasons for refusal, but the main concern was the proposed cut in affordable housing from 30 per cent (as set in TDC Local Plan policy) to 10 per cent. Gladman came back with the level of affordable housing increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent – a rise described as pathetic by David Morrish, chairman of Thanet CPRE – and on Wednesday, June 23, this was also refused by the planning committee, this time by an overwhelming vote of 11-1. Thanet CPRE had objected to both Gladman applications for the Shottendane Road site. This was despite council officers saying the 15 per cent figure was acceptable as Gladman had claimed a higher level would not be financially viable. They recommended the decision be deferred to officers for approval. “Thanet CPRE is delighted that Thanet council’s planning committee is sticking to its guns and defending its Local Plan policy to ensure that 30 per cent of all housing-zone major developments is genuinely affordable,” said Mr Morrish. “It has resisted attempts by a land promoter to chew into the countryside, resisting paying minimal costs to the community and placing profit above people. “It is great that councillors have not been cowed by ‘advice’ from planning officers threatening dire problems if the council turned down this application. “A CPRE national report showed that experienced land promoters, such as Gladman, which can afford expensive lawyers and multiple appeals, often win against local authorities at appeal, leaving them confident in their ability to gain planning permission that goes against local wishes. “For example, the Gladman website states: ‘Whilst we try to achieve planning permission locally, sometimes for a variety of reasons this is not possible and the site is refused permission at planning committee. This is nothing to worry about; on average around two thirds of our sites go through the appeal process.’. “Meanwhile, councils are retreating from the appeals process due to high expenses and the perceived low chance of winning – standing up for their own policies is seen as an unmerited expense. “Let us all hope that Thanet councillors will have the courage to not retreat on this important matter and follow their own consciences rather than the diktats of council officers and threats of greedy land promoters.”
A proposal by land agent Gladman Developments to build 450 houses on agricultural land on Margate’s Shottendane Road has been turned down… but it will be returning. The scheme was narrowly refused by Thanet District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening (April 21): seven voted against it, four were in favour and two abstained. There are many issues with the plan, such as loss of farmland, flooding, challenging topography and impact on wildlife, but the principal concern to councillors was the proposed reduction in affordable housing from 30 per cent to 10 per cent. It also became evident that support for it was down largely to its role in new infrastructure, being linked to other housing proposals at nearby Westgate (2,000 new properties) and Birchington (1,650) that, via Section 106 payments, will between them fund a new ‘inner circuit’ road complete with three roundabouts and two link roads. Planning officers argued that this infrastructure funding made the cut in affordable housing acceptable. Happily, enough councillors did not agree – although the committee did vote for the Gladman scheme to be brought back to it with amendments.
Tonight (Wednesday, April 21) Thanet District Council will decide whether planning permission should be granted for the building of 450 houses on agricultural land on Margate’s Shottendane Road. The applicant, land agent Gladman Developments, has already cut affordable housing on the site from 30 per cent to 10 per cent so is not addressing the issue of providing affordable housing for local people. The planned development is linked to proposed housing schemes at nearby Westgate and Birchington via Section 106 payments for a new ‘inner circuit’ road. Together, they would mean the loss of some 750 acres of farmland. The attractive character of central Thanet’s undulating chalk farmland will be changed forever by the proposed housing, roadbuilding and streetlighting, while open views from footpaths enjoyed by so many will go, with some of the footpaths absorbed into new housing estates. Farmland birds such as skylarks and other wildlife will lose their habitat. And another chunk of Thanet’s long farming heritage will be lost. CPRE Thanet has put in a strong objection to the proposed development, while you can read the submission from Margate Civic Society here
In the light of the government’s latest advice on the coronavirus pandemic, the Eco Expo event planned for Margate on Saturday, March 28, has been cancelled. It is hoped it can be held later this year, but that is of course subject to confirmation depending on events relating to the wider crisis.
The development onslaught on Thanet has surely never been greater. Its natural environment already trashed and degraded to a scarcely credible degree, you might be tempted to simply throw your hands in the air and give up as the diggers move on to yet another site. However, please don’t! You are not alone – other people do care about the isle and are trying to do help salvage something good from the wreckage. Some of those people will be at an event called Eco Expo being held in Margate this month – and CPRE Kent will be among them, hosting a stall at which you can learn more about what we do. The “ecological afternoon” includes Karen Jones from the University of Kent speaking on The Urban Green Idea, Dr Clive Nuttman addressing Biodiversity – Global to Local and Dr Hannah Scott talking on Verges – Nothing to be Wasted. It promises to be an uplifting event – please join us.
Eco Expo is being held at the Margate School (old Woolworth building), 33 High Street, Margate CT9 1EA, on Saturday, March 28, from 2pm