Don’t forget, now is the time to comment on the Thanet Local Plan

What future for the Isle of Thanet?

We have covered the tortuous tale of Thanet District Council’s draft Local Plan with some intensity over recent months, so we’ll keep this reminder brief…
You have some five weeks to view and comment on the draft Plan, which was approved by the council in July and is intended to provide the isle’s planning blueprint until 2031.
This ‘pre-submission stage’ began on Thursday, August 23, and ends at 5pm on Thursday, October 4, with comments received going straight to the planning inspector; respondents might be then invited to speak at the Plan’s Examination in Public.
To view the Local Plan and make comments, visit here

It is also available at The Gateway in Margate, Pierremont Hall in Broadstairs, Custom House in Ramsgate and in any public library in the district.

For (a lot of) background on the Thanet Local Plan, visit herehere, herehere and here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Curiouser and curiouser… why would anyone back this Thanet Parkway plan?

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

The case for a Thanet Parkway railway station near Ramsgate seems ever weaker.
Details have been published of a damning government rejection of Kent County Council’s bid to win funding for the project.
KCC had put in a planning application for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, with the intention that a new station would open in 2021.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but local media outlets have reported that this figure has almost doubled.
KCC’s application for an £8.7 million grant was rejected last year by the Department for Transport, but a statement secured by Broadstairs man Ian Driver might make some wonder why such a project is even being considered.
“The panel considered that the proposal was not yet developed enough to support at this time as the project was still only at the GRIP [Guide to Rail Investment Process] stage one,” says the DfT statement.
“There were also concerns that the project would require extensive infrastructure work to allow the service to operate as planned, that no funding had been identified to cover the additional cost of this extensive infrastructure work, and that the new station would have a detrimental impact on the existing timetable.”
And the positives?
In truth, none seem immediately apparent, at least as far as the DfT is concerned.
“In particular, the panel was concerned that accommodating an additional stop at Thanet Parkway would add two minutes to the journey on the line between Ashford and Ramsgate,” says the statement.
“This means that Ramsgate and Margate would benefit from net improvements of only one minute, rather than three minutes as planned in the current journey time improvement scheme.
“In addition, the panel noted that building a new station would require Network Rail to redevelop a nearby level crossing, but that there were no proposals in the business case on how to cover the costs of this.”
Despite such a crushing critique of the project, KCC reportedly still plans to push ahead with its parkway plans.
These stretch back some years. In December 2010, the county council unveiled its Growth without Gridlock strategy, leader Paul Carter saying:
“A Thanet Parkway station would support economic growth in Thanet and accelerate development of Kent International Airport at Manston, while improved line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate would benefit all local rail users.
“With an estimated 1,000 new jobs generated per million new air passengers, these improvements would help create 6,000 jobs by 2033.”
The uncertain status of the airport – the development of which was supported financially by KCC before it changed tack and backed Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans for 4,000 homes at Manston – together with the fact that, far from improving line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate, a Thanet Parkway station would in fact increase them makes Cllr Carter’s trumpeting of the project seem puzzling.
And that’s before we even consider those, at best dubious, job figures…
Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish has already given his opinion on the idea.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

For more on this story, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Manston… airport DCO will be considered

Will planes be landing at Manston again? (pic Hamza Butt)

The Manston airport site might just have a future in aviation after all.
The latest phase of this long-running saga has seen the Planning Inspectorate agree to consider the case for the airport reopening through a Development Consent Order.
This will determine whether it should be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, paving the way for the relevant Secretary of State to grant seizure of the site.
RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) proposes to establish the airport as a freight hub, but site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd has its own plans to build some 4,000 homes, business units and sporting facilities there.
RSP had to resubmit its DCO application after an earlier bid was rebuffed by the Planning Inspectorate, which wanted more details on funding.
Now the application has been accepted, there will be an inquiry.
The public and other interested parties can register with the Planning Inspectorate as an Interested Party; to do this, a written ‘relevant representation’ must be made, giving the individual’s or party’s views.
The Interested Parties will then be asked to a meeting, run and chaired by an appointed Examining Authority.
This part of the process would be expected to last some three months, after which the Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out its examination. Interested Parties will be asked to give further written details of their views during this time, while there might be public hearings.
When all that is concluded, within the next three months the Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State, who then himself has three months to decide on the application.
Finally, there is a six-month period when that decision can be challenged in the High Court.
Thanet CPRE has chosen not to give a view on the airport as feelings on the subject are so mixed.

For more on the tale of Manston, see here and here

For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Dr David Neden: a tribute to a CPRE champion

Dr David Neden fought tirelessly for Pegwell Bay and the surrounding area

Dr David Neden, once one of the most active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent and a co-founder of the Pegwell & District Association, has died.
His passing, on Friday, July 20, means east Kent bids farewell to one of the most passionate and determined campaigners for the natural environment in our area.
Dr Neden was born in Carshalton (then Surrey, now London) in January 1929 and went to school in nearby Sutton, gaining Higher Certificates in zoology, botany, physics and chemistry before heading to University College London and then University College Hospital medical school.
Eighteen months of house jobs at medical school preceded two years’ National Service, from 1954-55, which he saw out as a doctor in the Royal Navy.
Two more hospital jobs followed before Dr Neden became a general practice trainee in Middlesex. Just a few months later, however, in late 1957, he took a job as a GP at the Grange Road surgery in Ramsgate, where he was to stay until retirement in 2005.
Moving with him to Thanet was wife Irene, the pair having married during Dr Neden’s spell in Middlesex; they had met during his time at medical school.
Settled happily in Ramsgate, the couple brought up their children Sarah, John (himself a GP in Ramsgate today) and Andrew.
Although his last home was in Grange Road, Dr Neden had lived for many years on the West Cliff with Irene, who passed away in 2009.
Dr Neden had enjoyed a strong Christian faith since his school days and was a regular at Christ Church Ramsgate and a trustee of the Sailors Church by the harbour.
Moving to Thanet sparked an interest in the natural environment and this formed the bedrock of his involvement in the creation of the Pegwell & District Association in April 1987.
This had been prompted by a London developer’s plans to run a railway line through the Pegwell cliffs, along the West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour.
The battle against the scheme was won, although eventually, after further proposals and public inquiries, a publicly-funded tunnel and road to the harbour were built.
Reflecting many years later on the outcome, Dr Neden had said: “The amazing irony was that the very day the road opened, the ferry company Sally, which was operating out of Ramsgate, went bust.”
He also drew a typically positive outcome from what had happened: “The tunnel, I suppose, was the best of a bad job.”
Both Dr Neden (he only stepped down from the committee last year) and Irene carried on their work for the Pegwell association, while they were active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent.
The Pegwell association flourished to the point that at one time it had some 230 members on board, with a healthy social scene that included parties and a range of outings to places outside the area.
Asked what he considered to be the association’s greatest achievement, Dr Neden had said: “We added to the opposition to unseemly development and have continued to be alert. And we have made friends out of it.”

  • Dr David Arthur John Neden died on Friday, July 20, 2018. He leaves daughter Sarah and sons John and Andrew. There will be a thanksgiving service at 11am on Thursday, August 30, at Christ Church Ramsgate. It is asked that donations in lieu of flowers go to Pilgrims Hospices c/o HR Palmer, Funeral Directors, 30 Hardres Street, Ramsgate CT11 8QF.

 

Thanet’s draft Local Plan to go to public consultation

Yes, the question of Manston still dominates…

Thanet is a step closer to having a Local Plan.
After months of political posturing and squabbling, including the rejection of an earlier version, district councillors voted on Thursday evening (July 19) to recommend the draft Plan go to public consultation.
The full council’s backing, by 31 votes to 21, of ‘Option 2’ for the Plan represents a decision, certainly, but a large degree of uncertainty still clouds the way forward.

After the public consultation, the Plan will go back to the council, which will decide on any amendments before submitting it to an inspector for the Examination in Public.
A main sticking point had been the status of the Manston airport site, but last night’s decision, which went against the recommendation of officers, sees it retained for aviation use, at least in the short term.
That means the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for Manston in the earlier – and subsequently rejected – draft Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000 homes)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)
The total housing target is 17,140 new homes up to 2031.
The decision to recommend the Plan comes against the backdrop of potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) having submitted a revised application for a Development Consent Order (DCO), which could force site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
As for Stone Hill Park, the company has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that includes 3,700 new homes.
Further, the council’s Local Plan process is ‘in intervention’, with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government having stepped in to ensure the local authority finally delivers its Local Plan. It is unclear to what extent the ministry drove the latest proposals, or indeed to what degree it will be involved from here.
There were two amendments to the draft, resulting from the earlier meeting of the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel:

  • The 2,500 homes reallocated from Manton would be phased towards the second half of the Plan period, which ends in 2031.
  • The status of the Manston site would be reviewed after a minimum of two years if a DCO or compulsory purchase of the land had not been agreed by that date.

What are we to make of it all?
Geoff Orton, secretary of Thanet CPRE, said: “It’s common sense that you can’t develop a coherent Local Plan for Thanet without the future of Manston having been decided, so we can only wait on that one.
“The county council document Growth without Gridlock puts emphasis on Manston as the economic driver for east Kent, so it is difficult to see how the employment needs of Thanet and beyond will be met without the airport, especially considering the potential arrival of thousands of new households.
“Even if we do get an airport and it produces 10,000 jobs, they are unlikely to offset the job losses predicted to be caused by technological change – a possible 15,000 in Thanet.
“As for the housing, what developer is going to invest in houses that won’t get sold? And who are those houses targeted for anyway?”
The public consultation is due to run from Thursday, August 23, to Thursday, October 4. Any comments must be submitted during that period as earlier submissions will not be considered.
These, together with the (possibly amended) draft Plan will then go to the inspector for the Examination in Public, with public hearings expected to start in February next year.

Friday, July 7, 2018

For more, visit here, herehere and here

The debacle that is passing for planning in Thanet… the next step

Thanet… a great place to live but for how much longer?

The troubled, if not farcical, saga of the Thanet draft Local Plan is expected to make progress of a kind tonight (Wednesday, July 11, 2017) when it goes before the district council’s executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel.
This latest stage follows last week’s adoption by the council cabinet of an option that could see the Manston airport site retained for aviation and more than 17,000 homes built on the isle by 2031.
The news came as no great surprise as the other option had been rejected by the council in January, a move that saw the UKIP administration subsequently lose control of the local authority.
That first option had allocated Manston for mixed-use development and 2,500 homes, sparking further conflict between those who wanted to see the return of an airport and those who believed commercial aviation was a not a viable concern there.
Last week’s cabinet decision, made on Monday, July 2, went against the recommendation of officers and means that the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for the airport site in the original Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle.
As things stand, the extra homes are likely to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The cabinet decision will be welcomed by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) as it proceeds with its application for a Development Consent Order, which could force the owner of the site, Stone Hill Park Ltd,  to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
To confuse matters just a little further, Stone Hill Park has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that now includes 3,700 new homes.
So what happens if the DCO application fails… will the housing allocation return to Manston?
Or – and here’s where it could all get even uglier – will Manston be built upon, in addition to the alternative sites that have been put forward?
And will the final housing target end at 17,000, or will new (and widely derided) government methodology push the figure north of a frankly ridiculous 20,000?
Then, of course, there’s the little matter of central government having threatened the council with losing control over its own Local Plan if it doesn’t get it published… and soon.
Shambles? The word doesn’t come close…

For more on this story, if you can bear it, click herehere and here
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thanet: a draft Local Plan could soon be upon us

Manston: at the core of the Thanet debate

So, after all the political game-playing and the sometimes shambolic manner in which Thanet’s planning process has been tackled, it is believed tonight (Monday, July 2) will see the adoption of the district council’s draft Local Plan.
Members of the Thanet District Council cabinet are expected to approve the isle’s planning blueprint for the next 20 years, the most high-profile element seeing the Manston airport site retained for aviation use, which apparently necessitates a further 2,500 homes being built elsewhere on the isle rather than at Manston.
The cabinet’s recommendations will be reviewed by the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel before going to full council on Thursday, July 19, for a final verdict.
In January, councillors rejected the draft Local Plan put forward by the UKIP administration, which subsequently lost control of the council. The main bone of contention was a proposed change of status for Manston from aviation-only to ‘mixed use’, including 2,500 homes, while there was also concern over proposed housing numbers.
Following the rejection of that draft, Sajid Javid, then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – frustrated with the local authority’s “persistent failure” to produce its Plan – wrote to council leader Bob Bayford, announcing he would be sending Chief Planner Steve Quartermain to intervene.
A fresh call for housing sites was made by the district council. Now ‘in intervention’, it must publish a new Local Plan or face possible further intervention by government.
Council officers have reportedly presented two options for consideration by the cabinet: the draft that was rejected in January and another that keeps an aviation-only policy for Manston and reallocates the 2,500 homes from there elsewhere on the isle.
The local authority says this will allow an application by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for a Development Consent Order to proceed.
This was submitted in April but withdrawn the following month because of Planning Inspectorate concerns. RSP says it will be resubmitted in due course.
If the second option is accepted by cabinet, the extra homes – which are in addition to the numbers already proposed for those areas – are expected to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The isle already faces a target of 17,140 new homes by 2031, but revised government methodology suggests this figure could rise to 20,200.
It is a monstrous figure that would entail the loss of a vast amount of greenfield land (Thanet is already the second most urbanised district in Kent), while it is anybody’s guess what the incoming thousands will be expected to do for employment.
Perhaps best not think about it…

Monday, July 2, 2018

To read more on this lengthy tale, click here and here

County council puts in planning application for Thanet Parkway station

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

Thanet CPRE has given a cool response to news that the county council has put in a planning application for a Thanet Parkway station near Ramsgate.
It is planned for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, and intended to open in 2021.
An initial application had been expected last year, but amendments to junction design and pedestrian and cycle access delayed it.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but this figure, The Isle of Thanet News reports, has almost doubled according to new estimates.
The plan is to cut journey times between Ramsgate and London Stratford International station to about an hour, a reduction of some 15 minutes on the current shortest time between the town and the capital.
A Kent County Council spokesman is reported as saying: “An application for the proposed Thanet Parkway station was submitted last week.
“It will go through a period of validation and, once this is completed, people will be able to view and comment on the Kent.gov.uk planning site.
“Once validated, we will also notify all residents who requested updates on the project at the public consultation held last year.
“All residents affected by or in the immediate vicinity of the proposals will be contacted as part of the planning process as a matter of course.”
However, Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish was less than impressed by the plan.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Thanet and its Local Plan… where are we now?

Manston has hogged the Thanet headlines for so long… perhaps too long?

We have reported the machinations of Thanet and its Local Plan before on this website – and the tale is set to develop as district councillors prepare for the latest stage in this lengthy saga.
To remind you of the backdrop, in January Thanet district councillors voted down the draft Local Plan that had been presented to them, the future of Manston airport the most high-profile issue contained within it.
The council’s cabinet had earlier approved the draft Plan, which included an allocation of 2,500 properties at Manston; this appeared to be endorsement of site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans to build 2,500 homes (a figure that could rise to 4,000), business units and sporting facilities there.
However, January’s vote by the full council saw that draft Plan rejected.
Divisive an issue as Manston is, many saw the voting as politically motivated and indeed the leader of the council, UKIP’s Chris Wells, stepped down from his role the following month, Conservative Bob Bayford subsequently taking over as leader of a minority administration.
No sooner had this unfolded than, in March, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – frustrated with the local authority’s “persistent failure” to produce its Plan – wrote to Cllr Bayford, announcing he would be sending Chief Planner Steve Quartermain to the isle to intervene.
It is understood that two government planners have been left effectively in situ to ensure the Plan is finally published. In other words, the government has taken over production of the Thanet Local Plan from the district council.
This month councillors will receive a set of papers briefing them on the forthcoming adoption of the Plan, which will map out the isle’s development until 2031 and is due to be published this summer.
There is uncertainty over how matters will proceed from here and to what degree Thanet councillors will have any say in the Plan’s adoption. Indeed, how much public consultation will there be?
What we do know, in a situation that still seems very from clear, at least to the wider public, is that the council has put together three options for the Manston site in the Plan:

  • Manston is designated for aviation use, with 2,500 homes allocated for other sites in Thanet. It is understood these are Westgate (1,000 extra homes), Birchington (600), Westwood (500), Hartsdown (300) and Minster (100).
  • A  decision on Manston is deferred by the council for two years, allowing RSP, the group behind plans for a cargo hub airport, to push for a Development Consent Order, which would force Stone Hill Park to hand over the site.
  • Manston would be recognised as appropriate for aviation use, but it would not be designated as such for two years.

Quite what’s going on with the third option might not be readily apparent, but, either way, Thanet CPRE hopes to be involved in the Plan’s development:
“We are looking forward to engaging with the Chief Planner,” said chairman David Morrish. “A lack of public consultation was highlighted by the DCLG earlier this year as a failing in the Thanet process, so we hope that doesn’t repeat itself this time round.
“And with crazily high – and unsustainable – figures of some 21,000 new homes being rumoured, it’s important as many people as possible get involved.”
It is also worth recalling the earlier words of Geoff Orton, Thanet CPRE secretary, in relation to Manston airport: “What would be the point of building 21,000 homes without it. If there’s no airport, what economic future does Thanet have?”
As for those ridiculous housebuilding targets, Mr Orton said: “The official figure of 17,000 was already a hike on the previous 12,000 – now we could be looking at a figure north of 20,000. And all this without the airport?
“Further, we’ve lost the deaf school in Margate, along with two care homes – and more rumoured to be going. And with retail becoming more automated, what are Thanet’s young people going to do for work?”

For more on this saga, see here

For more on the Manston airport site, see here

For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Pegwell Bay’s own defender of the realm, Eileen Randall

Eileen and Oggle the goose, Christmas 1980

Eileen proudly presents the yucca tree in her garden, August 2011

Eileen tackles a pumpkin, January 2010

This is an extended version of an article by David Mairs, CPRE Kent campaigns and PR manager, that appeared in the most recent edition of Kent Voice  

In a previous life as chairman of CPRE Thanet, I was supported by a small but stoic group of volunteers who battled all weathers and circumstances to help keep the district group alive.
One of them was Eileen Randall, who also helped create the Pegwell & District Association, a member of CPRE Kent. This piece pays tribute to the kind of volunteer so important to what we do.  

On first mention, it might seem an irony that the founder of an organisation devoted to the protection of arguably Thanet’s finest stretch of coastline hails from somewhere about as inland in this country as you can get.
But then again, when you learn a little of the family background, everything falls into place.
Eileen Randall was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and educated in Bedford, but it was her father’s love of the sea that brought this woman who would play a such a role in the protection of Pegwell Bay to east Kent.
“My father was an old sailor in the Merchant Navy and he had always wanted to live by the sea,” said Eileen.
“We were living in Bedford during the war, but afterwards my father immediately looked for a property here – and one in Ramsgate took his fancy.”
So for William Pangbourne and wife Emily life was about to take a sharp turn as they moved to the golden isle (or Thanet, as it is also known) in 1946.
Buying a guest house, Allandale, in North Avenue, the couple utilised the catering skills they had developed during their time running a restaurant in St Albans.
Living the dream certainly, but the lure of nearby Pegwell was too strong and the family’s association with the bay was set in train when the property that was ultimately to evolve into Eileen’s Driftwood home came on the market.
“The coastal areas that had been closed to the public during wartime were opened up again,” said Eileen, now 88. “Land was being released by the Army and being put up for auction through Daltons Weekly.
“The building we’re in now was built on the ruined foundations of the old coastguard station – a long, narrow building divided into little rooms with a passage down one side. The blockhouse next door was the armoury, with 2ft-thick walls with slits that you could just about peep out of. There were rolls and rolls of barbed wire and deep slit trenches – it took about a year to clear it all.”
Eileen sold teas and home-made cakes on the lawn at the front, and with help from her father managed to save enough for the deposit for the bungalow to be built. She slept in an old army pillbox as all the work was going on.
“We called it Driftwood, which was appropriate because we used to get wood washed up at the bottom of the cliff.”
Work began on the bungalow in 1960, but other aspects of Eileen’s life had also been moving apace: in December 1951 at St George’s Church in Ramsgate she married Derek, who had just been demobbed from the Army, specifically the Household Cavalry based at Windsor.
It was all hands to the pump, meanwhile, as the family established themselves in Thanet, Derek taking on a range of jobs locally before travelling up and down to Luton as he re-engaged with his former work at Vauxhall Motors. Like most ex-servicemen, Derek had difficulty settling to a civilian life.
With Eileen and Derek’s sons Christopher, born in 1953, and Julian (1954) on the scene, everything seemed rosy in the garden, but there were dark clouds on the horizon.
It was in the late 1980s that plans were revealed for a railway line cutting through Pegwell Bay and the West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour.
Linked with the expansion of the harbour and the construction of a new port and breakwater, the line would cross fields from a junction with the present line and break through the cliffs in a cutting where The Pegwell Bay Hotel still looks out over its gardens to the shore.
Paradise was in danger of being lost.
“People were up in arms about it,” said Eileen, a woman who was never going to engage simply in some wild waving of limbs, physical or metaphorical. The fight was on.
The first move was the creation in April 1987 of the Pegwell & District Association after about a hundred folk had gathered on the lawns of Driftwood to discuss a response to the scheme.
Eileen was the principal driver, aided and abetted more than ably by Jacqui Williams and Mike Houghton.
The plans for the railway line were beaten off as Pegwell residents flexed their muscles as well as their powers to have fun… for this was no collection of hatchet-faced moaners with a taste only for gloom and doom.
Instead, as the association looked to raise both funds and awareness, Driftwood hosted regular garden parties and meetings, while there were outings to more distant parts and annual summer fairs throughout the ’90s… it there was an upside to the battle forced upon the bay and its denizens, it was the strengthening of social ties between a range of people brought together in a common cause.
It is, sadly, a fact of life in our part of the world that the savouring of any victory for the environment is only ever short-lived – there will invariably be another threat rearing its ugly head before very long.
And sure enough, a new road was now proposed, to be built in a similar cutting through the cove next to the hotel.
Another fight, another victory, this time a government inspector throwing out the plans at public inquiry, encouragingly on the grounds of nature conservation.
Encouragingly… and remarkably, as it was the discovery of a rare algae on the cliffs that won the day. Needing the sea splashing on it to ensure its survival, a new road would have jeopardised that process and of course the future of this little-known species.
Again, though, there was soon another plan to be fought, this time for a road tunnel through fields opposite Chilton and emerging on the lower promenade.
The association objected due to the intrusion into the fields and the imposition of traffic on the undercliff, but, as developers and their friends in local government know, if they keep hammering away long enough ultimately the wishes of local people and the value of the environment they seek to protect can be overcome.
Another public inquiry was held, with the result that a publicly-funded tunnel and road to the harbour was to be built.
It was, in a way, a defeat, but the general feeling among residents was that the newly-accepted scheme represented the best of a bad job… certainly Pegwell had escaped the horrors of a road or railway line wrecking its fragile environment.
“It’s absolutely a very special place,” said Eileen. “The wonderful wildlife that’s here and the fact that we have one of the few unspoilt cliff-faces in Thanet… it gives great pleasure to many people.
“The thought of a railway or a road along the bottom of the cliff was dreadful. It wasn’t ideal itself, but we preferred the idea of a tunnel and in the end had to go along with that.
“We weren’t against the port, but we were against developing the bay.”
Today Eileen’s health doesn’t allow her to be involved with the association, but son Chris has inherited her love of Pegwell and an awareness of the fact that its beauty can’t be taken for granted.
“There’s a constant threat,” he said. “There are so many people wanting to do something to the place, wanting to develop it.
“I remember two of our neighbours getting very ill fighting the threat of development – one of them died as a result of the stress of it all.”
So many giving so much for Pegwell, while, aside from the public inquiries and battles with well-heeled developers, there were also any number of minor, unpublicised tussles to be had, as Chris recounts:
“I can recall Mum getting up and racing down the lane every time she heard someone dumping rubbish to give them a mouthful. ‘You can pick that up and take it back where it came from!’ she would tell them.
“She was so well known locally – I remember well the councillor who said ‘You don’t upset Mrs Randall!’.”
The Pegwell association still fights the corner of this wonderful place, but Chris can not help but remark upon a change in both demographic and attitude.
“There are threats to this area as we speak, but also we’ve got so many people from outside buying properties and renting them out to others who might only be here for a short time and are not interested in protecting what we have.”
If the future is, as ever, unclear, one thing is certain: Pegwell needs its district association. Without Eileen, of course, there would be no association… and Pegwell itself would in all probability be a very different, and sorrier, place.
We might also reflect that, without her efforts to foil the misguided efforts  of our local authorities, the Viking ship Hugin would almost certainly not be in its traditional place on Pegwell cliff-top.
That’s a story for another time, but for now we’ll simply pay tribute to a special person who fought for a special place.
Eileen lost Derek, whose role in putting together and distributing the association newsletter should not go without mention, in February 2015 at the age of 88, but her love and passion for Pegwell remains undimmed.
Driftwood has had some important visitors over the years. In September 1940, Winston Churchill arrived with military chiefs to inspect the Pegwell battery as part of his tour of south-east England’s coastal defences.
What this country’s arguably most famous Prime Minister could not have known was that a defensive HQ of a very different kind would one day be established nearby.
It was of course from here that Eileen and Derek Randall led the fight against the ravages of developers who seemingly knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Those who love Pegwell owe Eileen Randall a lot.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meet the chairman of our revived Thanet committee

David Morrish in Spain (not Thanet!) with his wife Pat

CPRE Kent sprang back to life in Thanet last autumn with the formation of a district committee, bringing to an end far too lengthy a period without a formal CPRE presence on the isle, where we have some 60 members.
At a meeting in October that attracted a healthy turnout of 16 people, David Morrish was elected chairman, and it’s a pleasure to introduce him here to a wider audience.
David was born and bred in Birmingham and had his epiphany in 1959 when despatched for a three-day Scouts expedition through the ‘Blue Remembered’ Shropshire Hills, where began his love for the tranquility of the English countryside.
At 18, he went north to study civil engineering at Leeds University, explore the dales and fells and learn the finer arts of ‘coarse rugby’. His final-year interests were traffic and transport and architecture.
After graduating, David returned to Birmingham to work for Freeman Fox as a fledgling transport planner on the West Midlands Transport Study and in new-town planning.
The latter opened the door to training as a civil engineer with Telford New Town Development Corporation in glorious Shropshire, where he met Pat, a Shropshire lass and the love of his life. The couple were married at the delightful Thomas Telford church of St Michael’s, Madeley, Telford, in 1968.
In the 1970s David and Pat moved west to Staffordshire, where David worked for local authorities on highways traffic and transport schemes. Meanwhile, the advent of three sons saw David rejoin the Scouts as a leader, with expeditions and hikes into the Peak District and Wales… and a compulsory back-to-basics camp each year in the Shropshire Hills!
His professional career ended with a proud 10 years as chief technical officer for Stafford Borough Council, where, as well as highways, drainage and other municipal engineering, David was involved in all aspects of planning and carried the can as accidental custodian of Stafford’s High House (an Elizabethan town house built in 1594 – the largest timber-framed town house in England (way bigger than any in Stratford-on-Avon!) – the ancient cottage of angler Sir Izaak Walton and Stafford’s Norman castle.
Early retirement gave David the opportunity for a variety of challenging assignments, including motorway network management at the Highways Agency, strategic public transport planning at Birmingham City Council and devising ‘recovery plans’ for the transport department at an inner London authority.
In 2015, with two of David and Pat’s sons and their families out of the UK, the couple moved 250 miles “down Watling Street” to Kent to be close to their youngest son and his family… they chose Thanet, they say, because it has the best coastline in the South East and a relaxed lifestyle.
Shortly after arriving, David became embroiled in protests against the Draft Local Plan; looking through the groups involved in consultative planning, he realised CPRE Kent offered the most cogent support and professional advice and made the decision to join and get involved.
With a group of new friends, it was decided Thanet needed its own CPRE committee to share information and offer support.
Last word to David: “I feel very honoured to have been elected as District chair and I will do my best to serve and lead us forward.
“In the three months since being elected as District chairman it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity of meeting fellow CPRE members from across Kent and to be made to feel so welcome.”

Monday, 19 March, 2018

We’re back! CPRE has a Thanet committee again

 

Thanet’s coastline again has its champions… the CPRE district committee

Thanet has a CPRE district committee again.
Sixteen people were at Monkton nature reserve on Monday afternoon (October 23) to take part in the welcome – and long overdue – revival of a committee for the isle, the only CPRE district in the county not to have been regularly represented in recent years despite having some 60 members.
David Morrish, the newly-elected chairman, gave the reasons for looking to reinstate the committee, noting how the community’s approach to planning proposals had previously been “too disjointed and piecemeal”.
He said that parish and town councils had failed to represent their electorate’s views, citing the outline planning application at Salmestone as “a blatant example” of this.
Geoff Orton, who will be district secretary, told the meeting that almost three years ago a meeting in Pierremont Hall, Broadstairs, had been addressed by CPRE Kent director Hilary Newport and senior planner Brian Lloyd, expressing reservations about Thanet’s ability to cope with a then-target of some 12,000 new houses. Now, with new planning methodology in the pipeline, that figure was likely to be close to a staggering 24,000.
If ever Thanet needed a strong CPRE presence, it is clearly now!
Other officers to be voted in were Suzanne Brimm as vice-chair and Colin Bridge as treasurer, while Peter Lorenzo, Alan Gimes, Craig Solly, Mrs M Bawden, Bernard Clayson, Natasha Ransom, Beth Johnson and Sonya Smyth all agreed to stand on the committee, meaning CPRE Thanet had a healthy coverage across the isle.
Finally, it was agreed that in principle Thanet CPRE should aim to meet on the last Monday of every month and, to accommodate as many people as possible, at 6pm. This, of course, might be subject to change on occasion.
Thanet Countryside Trust, which owns Monkton nature reserve, was thanked for its hospitality.
The date of the next meeting, again at Monkton nature reserve, is Monday, November 27, at 6pm.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Thanet Local Plan Consultation

We have set out our concerns about the unrealistic and damagingly high target for new homes and jobs in the draft Thanet Local Plan.

The plan sets a target of 5,000 new jobs. We believe this is unachievable, mainly because the catalyst for growth on which it is based – Manston Airport – has gone. We are advocating a lower target of 3,100 jobs and this would mean the housing target could be reduced.

The housing target of 12,000 new homes is based on population information that is out of date and unreliable. It fails to take account of housing proposed in neighbouring districts – especially Dover. Dover has already set a high growth housing target of 14,000 new homes. In addition, Dover District Council has recently granted planning permission for even more houses – including 500 at the Discovery Park. The Dover and Thanet housing markets are closely aligned, and we believe that Dover will inevitably meet some of the Thanet housing need. This has not been taken into account in Thanet District Council’s assessment of housing need. Continue reading