John Barar: Birchington, the Local Plan and the need for Green Wedges

Retaining Green Wedges and Wildlife Corridors for Birchington

John Barar is a member of the Birchington Parish Council Neighbourhood Plan group which is working  to look at areas of the village affected by Thanet’s Draft Local Plan.

John hopes the plan can be amended to retain some of the rural character of the village.

He said: “My passion and desire is the implementation of a beautifully simple concept of a measured retention of some of our greenfield, brownfield land, left just like it is (unmanicured by developers) as green wedges and wildlife corridors.

“It is our natural heritage and legacy. If successful, it could be implemented everywhere and everyone benefits.”

Ahead of the sending out of Birchington appraisal questionnaires to residents to gain their views on the plan, John talks about the value of Green Wedges and Wildlife Corridors:

Since the presentation of the ‘Local Plan’ was tendered by Thanet District Council for consultation and feedback by Thanet residents, it has invariably attracted a great deal of  strong, negative feelings and objections for many reasons. The cost, feasibility, necessity and practicality of the proposed areas to be developed, have all been discussed at length.

However, while none of us, honestly wish for further development of our village on the scale quoted in the original ‘Local Plan’ to go ahead, there is a dire need for affordable housing to accommodate the next generation of Birchington residents. Likewise, a great many of us, wish for the tranquillity and natural scenery in and around our village, to be protected as far as possible.

Therefore, whilst we have to accept that a measured and, hopefully, well thought out housing expansion will happen in the next few years around Birchington, the green field and countryside surrounding our village, needs equally, to be reciprocally subject to a measured retention also as ‘Green Wedges / Wildlife Corridors’

The quintessential character of our village must be retained and these natural areas should be enjoyed by all village residents, whether as an open space for informal recreation, or as a green view. Therefore ‘softening the edges’ of proposed housing developments (new next to the old) with footpaths, cycle paths, areas convivial to indigenous wildlife and countryside views, will become managed areas of Birchington that will preserve a tranquil quality to our village.

There is a varied mix of agricultural land and open spaces currently. This landscape provides the beautiful backdrop to the built areas. In a different layout as a ‘green buffer’ between developments, these should remain undisturbed in their current, un-manicured, natural surroundings.

Please review the maps of Birchington below which are the ‘Local Plan’ drafts from Thanet District Council which are self explanatory.

The modification of the original proposal affords views across the fields and countryside

  • Views towards and from Birchington
  • Retention of some existing pockets of Open Space
  • Public Footpaths
  • Places of natural interest
  • Inclines and slopes within Birchington
  • Access to public open spaces, footpaths and wooded areas
  • Consideration for cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians.

Wildlife corridors / Green Wedges areas would help to reconnect and restore landscape so that wildlife is no longer struggling to survive in isolation. This supports a living landscape, which benefits both people and wildlife and makes nature more resilient to future change. They provide vital wildlife corridors for many species, particularly reptiles, birds and mammals.

More recent developments in Thanet have been designed around a central and communal car-parking space or condensed in size so as to maximise the availability on the land available to build on. This is not traditional to our village and provides little positive character or sense of place.

There appears to be a distinct absence of any kind of consideration for ‘Green Wedges / Wildlife Corridors’. A mutually beneficial policy such as this would be favourable for both the existing and potential residents of our village in terms of satisfying the need for housing, whilst preserving the character and serenity of our village.

Please give your views in the forthcoming village appraisal as once the developers begin building it may be too late.



  1. I like this idea. We know that we need more housing because we are living longer and, so, tend to occupy our houses beyond the time that the next generation used to expect to have a home to move into.

    But there is no reason to just pack houses in close together. There should be “wildlife corridors” of rough grass(NOT developer-planted tough Rye-grass, proper native wild grasses) between small estates. Also, hedgerows of native shrubs and trees.

    Some house-building firms just leave a big open space in the middle of a cluster of houses which is useful for a childs playground but otherwise lacks a purpose. They probably do it to meet some criterion about leaving a certain square footage of open area but don’t look to use it wisely. A good example of this is found in Collarmakers Green in Ash where the houses are ringed round an open space which is a wildlife “desert” , though nice for the younger kids.
    We have to keep our eyes firmly fixed on these developers and on Councils that don’t seem to monitor their activities closely enough. We need small housing units for older people, genuinely affordable homes for young people starting out, and wildlife /green areas all round new developments. And fewer of these expensive “Executive-style” homes. I know the building companies make more money out of big detacheds but , if they are not able or prepared to build what the people actually NEED they should step aside and let Local and National Government build them. Cut out the money-making “middle man”!

  2. This is a really useful report. Thank you MrBrara. Two linked thoughts to make it even better. (1) High quality agricultural land used to be protected – national policy and was in old TDC policies (which were more tightly implemented when I was a cllr) so I would refer to that. (2)Michael Gove is saying all sorts of interesting things on the environment (eg latest big policy paper) and that is worth bearing in mind, too. Also, at some stage you will need to make it clear to Thanet MPs that the Conservative logo is still a green tree – they need to put their policies where their logos are!

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