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.
A scheme from land agent Gladman Developments for 450 new houses on farmland on the edge of Margate will be reconsidered by Thanet councillors this evening (Wednesday, June 23). The plans were narrowly refused by the planning committee on Wednesday, April 21, with seven voting against them, four in favour and two abstaining. Loss of farmland, flooding, challenging topography and impact on wildlife were all cited as reasons for refusal, but the primary concern to councillors was the proposed cut in affordable housing from 30 per cent to 10 per cent. Planning officers had argued that potential infrastructure funding made the cut in affordable housing acceptable. Now Gladman has come back with the level of affordable housing increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent – still half the target figure set by Thanet District Council planning policy. Thanet CPRE has lodged an objection to the revised proposal, referring to several issues. Of course, it is difficult to see how the plan could now be deemed acceptable simply because of the risible increase in affordable housing. David Morrish, Thanet CPRE chairman, said: “It’s an outrage that one part of Thanet council is producing a plan for 30 per cent affordable housing while another part appears to be negotiating that figure down to 15 per cent. “Of course, if this scheme is approved, it will set the benchmark for every other developer here to push for lower levels of affordable housing – eventually, no affordable housing will be built. “These apparent negotiations appear to have been done behind closed doors, with no community involvement. This pathetic increase from 10 per cent to 15 per cent is insulting to the wider local authority and the people it represents. “A further concern is that councillors, or at least some of them, did not appear to have been given the information that the local authority is likely to benefit to the tune of £2-3 million should the development proceed. This is due to a covenant involving Margate Town Council, which formerly owned the land. “There are many issues with this scheme – for example, there is no clear strategy for disposal of foul-water, which will have to be pumped to another system, while the effect on surface drainage is certain to be detrimental. “Long-running problems with water quality where Tivoli Brook meets the sea will only be exacerbated by this development if it goes ahead. As if the beaches of Margate haven’t had enough of such problems in recent years!”
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.
A consultation on Thanet District Council’s Statement of Community Involvement closed last week – and CPRE Kent is less than impressed. A Statement of Community Involvement sets out how a council intends to engage the local community and others in planning matters. It is an important document that should help ensure that planning process is fair, open and accessible to all. Or not, in the case of Thanet. While CPRE Kent made several comments on the detail of the document, it is TDC’s intention to charge a fee to process public comments that it deems long and complex that has caused us most concern. Not only do we question the lawfulness of this, but we also point out that it is undemocratic and potentially discriminatory. We have called for this proposal to be removed from the document. If it is to remain, as a minimum we have asked for the basis on which the charge is deemed lawful to be reported back to members. The outcome of the consultation, along with any resulting changes, will shortly be reported back to Thanet council members before formal adoption. We will be watching the response very closely.