How planning by appeal cost Thanet one of its few remaining woodlands

A poor photograph but the damage to this piece of woodland is all too evident

This admittedly awful photograph shows what remains of one of Thanet’s last snippets of woodland.

With just 4.4 per cent tree canopy cover on the isle, Thanet is one of the least wooded districts in England – this was perhaps a contributory factor in the district council’s decision in August 2015 to refuse plans for 153 houses at Grade II-listed Westwood Lodge.

In explaining its decision, the council said: “The proposed development would result in a significant incursion of the built form into the Green Wedge, which would reduce the separation between settlements and result in a substantial loss of openness and established woodland habitat.”   

In these days of ‘planning by appeal’, however, Westwood Cross Developments did indeed appeal the council’s decision and in February 2017 the Planning Inspectorate duly approved the Broadstairs scheme, which entailed the felling of 150 Category C sycamore trees.

The inspector said the council’s position was weakened by its lack of a five-year housing supply.

Turning to the Green Wedge – the council’s long-standing policy that aims to keep open countryside between the three main towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs – the inspector said:

“Further loss of trees within the site, and the introduction of additional dwellings, would be partially visible. However, as the woodland visible along the northern and eastern site boundaries would be largely retained, its distinctive landscape qualities would not be prejudiced.”

The original developer Places For People Homes had pulled out of the scheme, but it was taken up by Rooksmead Residential working with L&G Modular Homes, which has been building the properties at an off-site factory before they’re moved to Thanet.

Property management company Love Living Homes subsequently launched the shared-ownership development, which includes two-, three- and four-bedroom properties.

The plans had included the planting of 450 trees, along with wildlife corridors, but it’s difficult to see how the natural environment has won out on this one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Blinded by the lights

The skies above Thanet Earth appear to be ablaze on some nights (pic Steve Geliot)

A vast glasshouse complex in Thanet is one of the greatest sources of light pollution in the country. Steve Geliot has been researching the potential impact on both people and wildlife and suggests that it really should not be too difficult to design structures that are kinder to us all.

In 2001 a movie called The Glass House tanked at the box office and lost a lot of money. Released just days after the 9/11 attacks, you could put this down to being the wrong film at the wrong time, but critics were generally in agreement about its shortcomings. The website Rotten Tomatoes says: “Due to obvious plot twists and foreshadowing, The Glass House fails to thrill. By the end it degenerates into ludicrousness”.

Birchington has what many might call a ludicrous glasshouse story of the literal variety – one that, in terms of environmental credentials, might merit a rotten tomato or two.

In my work as a campaigning artist, I have found myself becoming a citizen scientist using remote sensing from satellites to map and measure light pollution, thanks to some amazing mentoring from Professor Chris Kyba in Potsdam.

The group of glasshouses near Birchington known as Thanet Earth stands out as one of the worst sources of light pollution in the entire country.

Its green-and-blue-branded website states that the site grows tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers – vegetables that one might normally import from the sunnier parts of southern Europe. This could potentially be a good thing since it avoids emissions created by long-distance hauling of produce.

The website boasts that “Britain’s leading glasshouse complex sits proudly within the landscape of East Kent” and adds that “innovation, environmental concern and a focus on quality combine with cutting-edge technology, international expertise and the best growing conditions in the UK to produce unrivalled taste on a commercial scale”.

If we are avoiding all the carbon emissions of shipping produce from Spain, surely these are fair claims?

Well, maybe not. I’m not an expert on hydroponics, so I don’t know what sort of chemical fertilisers or pest and disease controls are used, or if any of these things find their way into the environment. However, as well as having a rough idea of electricity consumption, we can measure the light emissions without putting a foot inside the building.

The units (summed radiance nW/cm2sr) can seem confusing, so let’s make a quick comparison. An area of about 4 sq km in the West End of London, including Leicester Square, emits about 3,600 units and is actually decreasing in brightness by 0.5 per cent a year, owing to small improvements in street-light design. By comparison, the same area at Thanet Earth is emitting about 12,000 units, and this is increasing annually by an average of 12.5 per cent a year. That is three times as bright as central London.

The website accepts Thanet Earth uses some 40,000 lights, each of which is 1,000 watts. Just think about it for a moment: that equates to some 40 million watts of electricity being used.

The Eye Hortilux High Pressure Sodium bulbs used are not efficient and pump out a huge amount of heat. I know because I bought one to test.

The lights at Thanet Earth come on at night but can stay on during the day to supplement daylight – so maybe they are burning for about 17 hours a day during winter.

The website talks about blinds to screen off the light and that unavoidably there are some small gaps; however, when I visited at night and photographed this impressive volcano of light pollution I could see no evidence of such blinds. There was some ragged black plastic mesh on the sides of the glasshouses, but a vast amount of light and heat was bouncing straight up into the sky without any effective measure to contain it.

If we are going to take any environmental claims seriously, we need to see some comparative figures for the emissions involved in transporting tomatoes from Spain against the emissions, including light emissions, from these glasshouses. Only then can we assess what is going on from a net-zero perspective.

Why does it matter? Well, the climate-busting use of electricity is obvious, but science is showing that artificial light at night is driving insect declines, impacting on bird migrations, and evidence is growing about the ways in which light pollution impacts human health.

Artificial light increases obesity rates and drives anxiety and depression, especially in teenagers. That is why the screen colour of iPhones changes in the evening. These well-researched harms to your health are known and manufacturers don’t want to be sued.

Chronic exposure to artificial light at night also makes it a little more likely that pre-cancerous cells in breast tissue change and become active cancer. If you already have breast cancer and are on a drug called Tamoxifen, then that drip-drip chronic exposure to artificial light at night makes the Tamoxifen less effective and reduces the chances of recovery.

Artificial light at night and poor sleep are also implicated more generally in inflammatory illnesses, while there is growing evidence about its role in thyroid cancer.

The light pollution from Thanet Earth blights much of the east Kent night sky (pic Steve Geliot)

We can take a more detailed look at how light pollution affects birds. I have been filming the iconic starling murmuration here in Brighton for the last eight years and as part of that have been learning about the science of how and why these dazzling birds do it.

I have also investigated the causes of the dramatic declines that have brought our Brighton murmuration from 100,000 birds in the 1960s to 10,000 last year and just 6,500 this year. The main cause is thought to be insect declines, meaning the starlings don’t have as much to eat.

These insect declines are caused primarily by pesticides, but light pollution also plays a significant role in driving insect decline. Maybe there is even more to consider. Our dwindling UK starling flocks consist of birds that live here year-round that are joined in autumn by many hundreds of thousands that migrate to the UK from areas of north-east Europe with cold winters.

These migrations across the North Sea between The Netherlands and Norfolk take place at night. The Dutch and Belgian coasts are the brightest part of Europe due to the hundreds of greenhouses just like Thanet Earth. This light pollution, mainly from the area known as Westland, close to Rotterdam, is six times as bright as that in New York.

To navigate at night, starlings, as well as many other birds, use a sense called magneto-reception, meaning they can literally see Earth’s magnetic field. However, it is quite a subtle sense and seriously disrupted by light in the yellow to red part of the spectrum, which is exactly what is emitted by these huge greenhouses.

Starling mortality appears to be occurring mainly in juveniles failing to make it past their first year. Juveniles have not yet established or learned their migration route, so their first journey is an epic challenge. Their magneto-reception is only just forming and is probably weaker and more vulnerable to this kind of sensory pollution. My theory, and it is only a theory that has yet to be researched, is that some losses might be explained by juvenile birds not successfully navigating their first migration past that huge wall of light on the Dutch coast.

Brightly-lit glasshouses in the UK will probably also be problematic for bird navigation.

If you mess with the natural day-night arrangement to the extent that is happening at Thanet Earth, and on an even larger scale in Westland, you are not really a friend to wildlife and it is questionable whether you are a friend to the wider community.

If we take a forensic look at the cost of these huge, arguably badly-designed glasshouses in terms of climate, in terms of wildlife and in terms of human health, we can only conclude that, in this instance at least, modern farming degenerates into ludicrousness.

Environmentally speaking, I believe these really are rotten tomatoes. It is frustrating because it is simply a matter of design. We have world-class glass manufacturers in the UK, so surely it would be possible to develop a world-class design for a glasshouse that allows light in but doesn’t allow light out.

‘When I visited at night and photographed this impressive volcano of light pollution I could see no evidence of such blinds’ (pic Steve Geliot)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Eco Expo is back! And it’s bigger and better than ever

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

Thursday, May 6, 2022

Developer’s assault on Thanet Green Wedge repelled with refusal of plans for housing estate

Thanet’s Green Wedge policy is designed to stop towns merging through indiscriminate development

A chunk of Thanet’s Green Wedge has been spared with the decision to refuse permission for a 74-unit housing estate on the edge of Broadstairs.

Developer Land Allocation Ltd, from Hull, had chosen to ignore Thanet District Council’s long-standing Green Wedge policy, which aims to keep open countryside between the three main towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs, and build on farmland at the junction of Reading Street and Convent Road.

The council’s decision notice said the planned development would mean the “irreversible loss” of Green Wedge and “best and most versatile” farmland. It also referred to the cramped nature of the proposal, additional traffic and increased recreational pressure on the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Special Protection Area and Sandwich Bay and Hacklinge Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The site was not allocated for development in the Local Plan.

Jenny Matterface, speaking for Fight the Reading Street Road Development, said: “They [local people] felt very strongly about this because if the Reading Street part of the field was to go with the 74 homes, they could see the next area which would go.

“People also felt incredibly strongly about the loss of prime agricultural land.”        

Thursday, March 10, 2022

So Gladman wins again… Shottendane decision shows how government policy backs developer profits and betrays the people waiting for affordable housing

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 [1].
However, last year, just 69 affordable houses were built in Thanet [2]. 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 [3].
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 [4]:

•          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.

References

[1] Local Housing Needs Assessment August 2021 – Thanet Council (GL Hearn) – https://thanetcouncilplan.inconsult.uk/gf2.ti/-/1334370/119547045.1/PDF/-/Housing%20Needs%20Update%20Report.pdf

[2] Thanet Authority Monitoring Report – https://www.thanet.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AMR-2021-Final-2.pdf

[3] again from Local Housing Needs Assessment August 2021

[4] all figures taken from Expert Report In respect of Financial Viability and Affordable Housing by Edmund Couldrey BA (Hons) MSc MRICS submitting in support of Gladmans Appeal

  • You can read the appeal decision here
  • For more on the saga of Shottendane, click here

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Another 1,500 houses added to the Thanet mix

How Humber’s Mill might look (pic Axis Land Partnerships)

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.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Shottendane housing scheme: inquiry into Gladman appeal begins this week

Shottendane Road: “a poor and late allocation in the first place”

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 planning.services@thanet.gov.uk 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

Monday, January 10, 2022

Manston report: airport hopes dealt another grim blow

If nothing else, the saga of Manston airport has had enough twists and turns to hold the attention

Is it the final blow for Manston as an airport?
An independent report has concluded there is no national need for the Thanet site to reopen as a freight hub.
Its long and convoluted saga since closure in 2014 included the granting in July 2020 of a Development Consent Order to RiverOak Strategic Partners to reopen the airport.
The decision was made by Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Transport, who effectively dismissed the conclusions of the four-man Planning Inspectorate’s Examining Authority, which had been clear the DCO should not be granted.
Mr Stephenson’s move was slated by Dr Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent, who said: “It is shocking that four inspectors spent some nine months preparing a report and concluded very strongly that the DCO should be refused.
“The developer was not able to demonstrate need, there were adverse impacts on traffic and transport and there were concerns over noise pollution.
“Most importantly, though, the Examining Authority recommended the Secretary of State refuse the DCO due to conservation of habitats and species regulations.
“In short, the inspectors’ conclusions were ignored.
“This decision flies in the face of the Heathrow third-runway judgement where the Court of Appeal ruled that proposals had failed to consider this country’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
The developer’s delight, however, did not last long as in February this year the granting of the DCO was quashed, the Department for Transport accepting that the approval letter from Mr Stephenson had not contained enough detail on why the conclusions of the Planning Inspectorate’s Examining Authority were pushed aside.
After that turn of events, Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, demanded further evidence from interested parties while also commissioning the independent report before the DCO decision could be redetermined.
And that report, by Ove Arup & Partners and released on Thursday, October 21, concluded that any potential increase in demand for air freight could be met by other airports such as Heathrow.
It stated: “The Examination Authority recommended there was no need case for the proposed development.
“Overall, the independent assessor concludes that there have not been any significant or material changes to policy or the quantitative need case for the proposed development since July 2019 that would lead to different conclusions being reached with respect to the Manston development.”

It set outs the principal reasons for its verdict:

  • The changes to policy, notably the withdrawal and reinstatement of the Airports National Policy Statement and adoption of the Thanet Local Plan, do not significantly change the policy context that was in place at the time of the Examination
  • The recent growth in e-commerce sales is not driving a demand for additional runway capacity for dedicated air freighters in the South East
  • Although there have been short-term changes in the balance between belly hold freight and dedicated freighter activity during the Covid-19 pandemic, these changes are not expected to be permanent, notwithstanding growth in e-commerce and changes to the UK’s trading patterns post-Brexit
  • There is unlikely to be a significant reduction in belly hold freight capacity (once the passenger market recovers) due to the introduction of narrow-bodied twin-engine aircraft
  • Despite the uncertainty concerning the timescale for the Heathrow Airport third runway, changes since July 2019 as described do not lead the Independent Assessor to reach a different conclusion on the need case for Manston Airport. East Midlands Airport has sufficient capacity to handle additional dedicated freighter services should the market demand them, while the planning determination at Stansted confirms that significant freight capacity remains available
  • There is no new evidence to suggest a different conclusion should be drawn in respect of the locational performance of Manston compared to East Midlands Airport, and to a lesser extent Stansted, to that of the Examination Authority report

Mr Shapps has written to RSP and interested parties, asking for comments on the report by Friday (November 19) before making his final decision.

For (yet) more on the tale of Manston, see here

Monday, November 15, 2021

The development that will ‘transform village beyond recognition’ but satisfies planning officers

How the planned development might look (pic College of St John the Evangelist)

The village of Minster is to grow substantially with the approval of a 214-unit housing estate.

The planning committee at Thanet District Council had agreed to give officers the final say on permission once legal documents had been completed.

The officers backed the scheme west of Tothill Street – by applicants and landowners the College of St John the Evangelist (University of Cambridge) and Spanton Farms – despite more than 40 letters of objection.

Loss of Grade 1 farmland, increase in traffic and impact on neighbouring properties were all cited as reasons for concern.

Reece Pugh, who represents Thanet Villages on the local authority, said: “I’m almost certain that it [the development] will completely transform Minster village beyond recognition.”

It has been estimated that the estate will create the need for 60 primary school places – this will apparently be met through the building of Manston Green primary school (work has yet to start on this).

The applicants claim 30 per cent of the development will comprise affordable housing.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Gladman pushed back for a third time: ‘a great day for democracy’

Harvest time on Thanet’s wonderful farmland: Gladman wants 450 houses to be built 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

Monday, July 26, 2021

CPRE Kent urges Thanet council to be bold and refuse Gladman application that runs contrary to Local Plan

Under threat from Gladman: countryside at Shottendane Road, Margate

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.

  • Our comments on the revised application are here
  • Details of the Gladman business model are set out on its website here
  • For more on this story, see here

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Delight as Thanet council ‘sticks to its guns’ and sends back Gladman housing scheme

The attractive landscape on the edge of Margate targeted by Gladman Developments

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.”

  • For more on this story, see here

Monday, June 28, 2021

Pathetic! CPRE Thanet chairman slams cut in affordable housing as Gladman tries again to push through housing scheme

Big deal! Gladman is raising its affordable housing commitment from 10 per cent to 15 per cent in its ‘revised’ scheme

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!”

  • For more on this story, see here

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Gladman pushed back in Margate… for now

A proposed cut in the scheme’s affordable housing was deemed unacceptable by the planning committee

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.

For more on this story, see here

Friday, April 23, 2021

Thanet farmland targeted by Gladman

The red arrows mark where Gladman would like houses to be built

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021