Consultation events over plans for 1,600 homes, school and shops on Birchington farmland

The development area

Consultation events will be held next week over plans to build 1,600 homes, a primary school, shops and a community park on farmland at Birchington.

The development is earmarked to take place on land off the Canterbury Road and is proposed by Ptarmigan Land and Millwood Designer Homes.

Aims to develop the site are contained in the draft Thanet Local Plan  a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure on the isle up until 2031.

Development on the isle

A total of 17,140 homes are earmarked for completion by 2031. Of that number 2,182 have already been built (up to March 2018) with 4,500 scheduled for delivery by 2021; 5,500 between 2021 and 2026 and 5,585 between 2026 and 2031. A proportion of these already have planning permission – 4,294 – some are ‘windfall’ sites – 2250- and 357 are empty homes. Around 8939 still need to be accounted for.

A vote aimed at retaining aviation at Manston airport -a U-turn on the mixed-use development including 2,500 homes that was recommended in a version of the draft plan voted down in January – means the 2,500 homes have been reallocated to new sites.

The reallocation resulted in an extra  600 homes for Birchington, making a total of 1,600.

Birchington consultation

The plans for Ptarmigan Land and Millwood also include potential improvements to the Birchington Medical Centre, a network of new cycle and pedestrian links within the site and surrounding area and a strategic link road to help alleviate traffic in the village centre and wider Thanet area

The consultation events will be held at the Centre in Alpha Road on October 3, 1.30pm to 8pm, and October 4 noon to 8pm.

‘Sympatheic development’

A statement from the developers says: “We are keen to work closely and collaboratively with the local community to bring forward the best possible proposals for Birchington.

“We are therefore encouraging all existing residents to attend to find out more about our plans. This will also allow you to share your own ideas and aspirations for the development and help shape the final proposals.

“Following the event, all of the feedback received will be reviewed and will help inform our ongoing design process. We believe that comprehensive engagement with the local community helps to deliver a better designed and more sympathetic development.

“It is important for us to understand the unique nature and character of Birchington from the outset of the design process to enable us to create a valuable addition to the village.”

Ptarmigan Land and Millwood Homes will look to submit a planning application at the beginning of next year.

Expansion of the village

Resident and campaigner for Birchington action group against TDC Local Plan Craig Solly said: “Next week’s consultation marks the start of the planning process to build and develop Birchington’s expansion of 1600 homes, this is increasing the village by a third.

“The Thanet Local Plan is still waiting for the outcome of the examination that took place this year.  The government’s planning inspector may make modifications to the plan, and when this happens there will be a public consultation to gather comments.  The inspector will only accept the plan when it is deemed to be “sound”.  Thanet council will then go through the process to adopt the plan.

“Birchington Parish Council is preparing a neighbourhood plan that provides further planning policies, which are governed, by the local plan but provides greater detail for planning objectives and policies for the Birchington area.   Because of Thanet council being one of the last councils in the country in adopting a local plan, this process has been made harder to do and limited in time, which has been unfair on Birchington’s community.

“Expanding Birchington to this level has fundamentally been wrong and poorly produced and has been open to displeasure by many people in Birchington.  When objections came in by the thousands the council added even more houses to the area.

“I would hope that everyone takes part in the consultation to make sure Birchington gets the best outcome.  Please also take part in Birchington’s neighbourhood plan that will go to referendum when it’s ready.

“Losing the UK’s finest farmland to housing is not the way to deliver housing in the future, especially when there is passion to protect the environment and global climate.  It is a sad reflection of these times to destroy the arable soils that have provided food for generations.  Thanet and the UK has brownfield land which the focus of house building should prioritise, especially when national policy states it to do so.”