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.”
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Monday, June 28, 2021