Oh dear, what a muddle! No sooner had plans for almost 1,100 new homes at Sturry been approved by Canterbury City Council than permission for part of a nearby relief road was refused at county level.
The city council’s desire for a relief road intended to ease congestion at the A28 Sturry level crossing had been central to its backing for the housing. It was Tuesday, February 9, that Canterbury’s planning committee gave outline permission for 630 new homes and a primary school at Sturry and full permission for 456 homes at Broad Oak, where more than 800 square metres of commercial space at Broad Oak won outline permission.
Developers of both housing schemes – which were treated as one strategic site – were each to put £8.8 million towards the relief road, with another £1.2 million provided by the builder of the Hoplands Farm housing estate at Hersden.
However, the county council’s refusal to back a critical part of the scheme means more than £5 million earmarked for the road by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership will now not be forthcoming.
It is understood that the spine road through the Sturry development, which was approved by city councillors, will still be built. However, on Tuesday, March 9, a three-lane viaduct over the River Stour to a new roundabout at Sturry Road fell foul of County Hall, which slated the proposal to stop traffic heading towards the city from using the level crossing, the prospect of drivers using rat-runs to avoid the link road, potential danger to pedestrians on Sturry Hill and the impact of the viaduct on boats on the Stour.
CPRE Kent had earlier objected to both housing projects, along with many others, including Sturry and Broad Oak Action Group, the Woodland Trust and Sturry Parish Council.
Sturry resident Peta Boucher is one of many who had campaigned against the housing schemes’ shortcomings. She is among those who suspected deeply flawed development would be pushed through because Canterbury planners feared losing the SELEP funding, which had a mid-February deadline.
Sharon Thompson, KCC head of planning applications, had stressed the potential problems of refusing permission for the viaduct.
“The housing developments will still go ahead regardless,” she said. “In the event of refusing the application, all of the housing growth in the north-east of Canterbury would use the existing and constrained highway networks.
“KCC and the Planning Inspectorate have identified that network as being inadequate to take that growth.”
In other words, if traffic congestion at the Sturry level crossing is bad now, the scale of the impending housing development is going to make it a whole lot worse.
Last word to Ms Boucher, speaking after the city council had approved the mass housing development back in February: “Its acceptance is a depressingly stark example of how strategic planning should not be done.”
Can anyone seriously argue?
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Friday, March 12, 2021