Public examination hearings to establish the viability of Thanet’s draft local plan will take place from April.
Thanet councillors voted to move forward with a new Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for housing, roads, business and infrastructure on the isle (from 2011 when the last plan expired) up until 2031- in July last year after it was initially voted down in January 2018.
The January vote failed after 35 councillors rejected it due to revisions that included axing the aviation-use only designation at the Manston airport site, which was shut down in 2014
The change of status for Manston was to be mixed-use designation pending resolution of the DCO bid by RiverOak Strategic Partners for compulsory purchase powers to enable the creation of a cargo hub. The land belongs to Stone Hill Park which has submitted a planning application for homes, businesses and infrastructure on the site. The hearings for this process are currently taking place and expected to conclude in July.
That vote caused the collapse of the UKIP administration at Thanet council with a minority-led Conservative party taking the reins at the end of February last year.
The newly-drafted plan voted through in July includes the re-allocation of 2,500 homes to greenfield sites in the villages, Margate and Westwood as part of a pledge to retain aviation use at Manston airport.
Members of UKIP and Labour spoke vehemently against approving the option, saying the plan was unsound and would lead to rejection at the public examination stage.
The authority’s ruling Conservative group and most Thanet Independent Councillors (TIC) backed the option as the best way to protect aviation at the airport site, saying they were honouring the election pledges made to residents.
The homes reallocation will be: Birchington 600 homes; Westgate on Sea 1000 homes; Westwood 500 homes; Hartsdown, Margate 300 homes and Tothill Street, Minster 100 homes.
The lack of progress on the plan has led to Government intervention. In November 2017, the government confirmed it would consider intervention in 15 local authorities, including Thanet, where there had been a failure to produce a local plan.
In March 2018 the intervention process was continued in Thanet, Wirral and Castle Point. A team of planning experts led by the government’s Chief Planner provided advice to the Secretary of State on the next steps.
This month Secretary of State for Communities, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP wrote to Thanet council to confirm there will be continued intervention to speed up the process of the Local Plan publication.
There is now a period for submissions to be made before the series of hearings take place.
26 February – deadline for any comments on the Inspectors’ Matters, Issues and Questions for Examination
5 March – deadline if you are not currently listed to appear, or no longer wish to be appear or wish to attend an alternative session
19 March – deadline for submission of Hearing Statements and Statements of Common Ground for Weeks 1-3 (Matters 1-10)
2-4 April – Hearings Week 1 – Ruby Room, St. Augustine’s
9-12 April – Hearings Week 2 – Ruby Room, St. Augustine’s
16-18 April – Hearings Week 3 – Ruby Room, St. Augustine’s
7 May – deadline for submission of Hearing Statements and Statements of Common Ground for weeks 4-5 (Matters 11-18)
21-23 May – Hearings Week 4 – Austen Room, Thanet DC
29-31 May – Hearings Week 5 – Austen Room, Thanet DC
What is the draft plan
Thanet’s Draft Local Plan –which runs until 2031 –sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Allocating land through the plan is designed to give the council greater control over where and what type of developments can take place.
Government guidelines currently suggest a build of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031 -some 1,555 homes have already been constructed; another 3,017 have been given planning permission; 2,700 are accounted for through windfall housing –sites that have historically had planning approval and may be put forward again – and 540 are already empty homes.
This leaves 9,300 properties to be accommodated.
.The figure could rise to more than 20,200 homes, raising the requirement from 857 dwellings per year to 1063 dwellings per year, if new government guidance is followed.