Contrary to popular belief, Thanet does still have a natural environment – and on Saturday it will be celebrated at Margate’s second Eco Expo. The event is billed as “an afternoon of collaborative discussions to further our collective eco-education” – and who wouldn’t want to be part of that?! Speakers include Dr Hannah Scott talking on Thanet & the Climate Emergency, Peter Hasted revealing all about Thanet’s Urban Forest and Tim Craven telling us about Trees in British Art. And there’s a whole load more than that – please do come along!
Eco Expo is being held at The Margate School, 31-33 High Street, Margate CT9 1DX, on Saturday, May 9, from 2pm
CPRE Kent was disappointed, though not surprised, to see Gladman Developments given permission by appeal for 450 houses at Shottendane Road, near Margate. This was despite the scheme only offering half the required affordable housing. For us, it is yet another sorry example of greenfield land being sacrificed to deliver developer profits rather than much-needed affordable housing. As we highlighted only this month, this thinking needs to change urgently. Thanet, like Canterbury, has a significant need to provide affordable housing. In fact, the local authority has recently identified there needs to be 548 affordable homes built a year to rent . However, last year, just 69 affordable houses were built in Thanet . Amazingly, this seemingly low number was in fact the highest amount by some margin achieved over the last five years – though still some way from the 548 needed. Again like Canterbury, part of the reason so many affordable houses are needed is because market house prices have increased so significantly in recent years. For Thanet, it is by some 174 per cent since 2002. This is now at a point where only 27 per cent of current renters in Thanet have sufficient income to buy the cheapest quarter of open-market houses . So why, with such a pressing affordable housing need, did the planning inspector agree with Gladman that only half the council’s requirement of 30 per cent affordable houses should be built? Because if the inspector agreed any more than this, the development would not be deemed ‘viable’. The viability appraisals submitted with the appeal supported this position and have now been subjected to robust scrutiny. They have been found to be technically correct and fully in line with Government policy.
Which makes it even more depressing when we consider they show :
• Gladman expects to sell 382 open-market homes for an average of £305,824.17. The median salary in Thanet is £24,444 per annum. That means each of these 382 homes will be 12.5 times the average Thanet salary.
• It has allowed just over £4.7 million to buy the land. This assumes that, while the existing farmland is worth £25,000 per hectare, it would need to offer at least 10 times this amount to entice the landowner to sell.
• The inspector agreed that the developer’s profit should be ringfenced at 17.5 per cent. This was appraised to equate to just over £21 million profit.
… which is probably why Barratt Developments (with pre-tax profits of £432.6m for the six months to December 31, 2021) has just brought Gladman Developments for £250 million.
Not bad work if you can get it. Just don’t tell that to the people waiting for affordable housing.
Just when you thought Thanet couldn’t be any more over-developed, along come plans for another 1,500 properties on greenfield land.
The Humber’s Mill scheme will cover 166 acres west of Nash Lane, Margate, and has been put forward by Axis Land Partnerships, a “land promotion and development company” that apparently “offers a mutually beneficial partnership approach to promoting land for development”.
Together with the housing development, the proposals also include a primary school, cafes, shops and “significant green infrastructure including a country park”.
The site is allocated for development within the Thanet Local Plan.
A planned housing development that has been refused permission three times goes before a ‘virtual’ appeal inquiry tomorrow (Tuesday, January 11). The scheme, from land agent Gladman Developments, entails the building of 450 properties on farmland at Shottendane Road on the edge of Margate. Thanet District Council is hosting the inquiry, which is being held online, with no in-person meetings. It starts at 10am and could take anything up to a week to complete – if you would like to speak, email firstname.lastname@example.org asking for details of how to take part. Proceedings will be live-streamed to the council’s YouTube channel. Gladman’s third bid to win planning permission for the scheme was refused by Thanet District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, July 21. The decision followed previous refusals by the committee in April and June. CPRE Kent, through its Thanet committee, has contested the Gladman scheme throughout on a range of issues, particularly viability and the proposed cut in affordable housing from 30 per cent (as set in TDC Local Plan policy) to 10 per cent on the first application and then 15 per cent on the second. And it is the level of affordable housing that has most concerned the planning committee, although loss of farmland, flooding, challenging topography and impact on wildlife have all been cited as further reasons for refusal. As part of its third attempt, Gladman offered 68 properties as affordable housing on an 80 per cent affordable rent and 20 per cent shared-ownership mix. It also claimed it would make almost £5 million in contributions to community and highways infrastructure. However, this was not enough to convince the TDC planning committee, which also looked to agree on reasons for refusal to be cited should the case be taken to appeal by Gladman. Sure enough, the appeal to the Secretary of State came and this will be heard at inquiry this week. CPRE Kent has made an eight-page submission and a representative of our Thanet committee will be speaking tomorrow. Salmestone Ward Residents’ Association and Westgate & Garlinge Action Group have played principal roles in fighting the appeal and over the coming week the scheme’s viability and the level of affordable housing will be highlighted, with new evidence presented and witnesses cross-examined. The inspector has agreed to discuss biodiversity and flooding. There is also the fundamental issue of whether the Shottendane Road site should have been included in the Thanet Local Plan at all. Michael Hand, a planning consultant speaking against the Gladman appeal, believes it has so many flawed aspects that it should not have been. He views it as “a poor and late allocation in the first place” that was only included in the Local Plan to fill a gap left by the loss of another potential site, while documents justifying its inclusion do not appear to have been prepared.
A petition calling for the site to be protected attracted more than 5,500 signatures, while SWRA’s crowd-funder for the appeal costs reached some £3,400 – you can contribute here
“A great day for democracy,” was how the chairman of Thanet CPRE described the third refusal of plans to build 450 houses on farmland at the edge of Margate. The Gladman Developments bid to win planning permission for the development at Shottendane Road was rejected by Thanet District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, July 21. CPRE Kent, through its Thanet committee, has contested the Gladman scheme throughout on a range of issues, but the principal concern for the planning committee has been the proposed cut in affordable housing from 30 per cent (as set in TDC Local Plan policy) to 10 per cent on the first application and then 15 per cent on the second. As part of its third attempt, Gladman offered 68 properties as affordable housing on an 80 per cent affordable rent and 20 per cent shared-ownership mix. It also claimed it would make almost £5 million in contributions to community and highways infrastructure. However, this was not enough to convince the planning committee, which was looking to agree on reasons for refusal to be cited should the case be taken to appeal by Gladman. In the end, the statement for refusal read: “The proposed development, by virtue of the proposed level of affordable housing, would not meet the identified need for affordable housing in the district, thereby not providing the required homes to create a balanced and mixed community. “This harm is considered to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the development, therefore the proposal would not constitute sustainable development and is contrary to Strategic Priority 3 of the Thanet Local Plan and the objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework.” David Morrish, Thanet CPRE chairman, said: “This is a great day for democracy and common sense. Let’s hope it’s a lesson to other would-be speculative developers that Thanet council won’t be deterred from defending its own policy to provide affordable housing. “It took three meetings of the planning committee, but it’s been good to see councillors defending the housing policy.”
For more on this scheme, as well as the way Gladman operates, click here
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