Thanet Trees group ‘zombie’ protest over wildlife concerns at Westwood Lodge homes development

The outline scheme for 153 affordable homes was approved in 2017

The Westwood Lodge pier gates Image Orion

The Thanet Trees group is calling for protesters to join them, dressed up as zombies, in a demonstration over development on land at Westwood Lodge, which they say will destroy wildlife on a nearby ‘plague pit’ site.

The group will hold the Plague on Westwood Village demonstration on Thursday (February 20)  at 12.30pm, at the Westwood Lodge gates.

Members want Thanet council to ask for a halt in works at the 153 house development site off Poorhole Lane, which is private land, so full ecology surveys can be completed, planning conditions can be approved and more information shared about the apparent Black Death burial pit.

Image Orion

A spokesperson added: “We believe precious habitat has been destroyed in advance of full planning permission without adequate ecology surveys to identify rare species of wildlife at risk. This housing estate was refused planning by Thanet District Council because of the destruction of essential woodland habitat but won at appeal because we have no Local Plan to curb the continued urbanisation of Thanet. We have just 4.4% tree canopy coverage in Thanet.

“It has been nearly five years since initial, basic, ecology surveys were carried out at this site.The new planning application, including an updated EMP (Environmental Management Plan) was published on February 13, well after clearance works had begun.”

The group say there are concerns for birds, bats, slow worms and reptiles that could inhabit the development site. Pipistrelle bats were found to be present during surveys in 2015. Protesters say the site also offers potential habitat for badgers, dormice and hedgehogs.

The Environmental Management Plan submitted by the developer to Thanet council this month, says new wildlife surveys are required as there is potential “for protected species to be present.”

Image Thanet Trees

Outline planning permission for the development was granted, by appeal, in 2017. The original application in 2015 was rejected by Thanet council for reasons including concern at additional pressure on Sandwich Bay protection area and: “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.”

However, the Planning Inspectorate decision states Thanet council’s case was weakened by a lack of a 5 year housing supply plan. On the issue of green wedge the inspector found: “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.”

Reserved matters planning documents submitted by applicant Places For People Homes Ltd this month say trees on the south of the site and east and north boundaries will be protected and new street trees planted.

The design document states large specimens and small groups of TPO trees will be incorporated into the development of  69 shared ownership houses and 84 affordable rent houses. The houses will be ‘modular,’ meaning they will be built off site and then craned in.

The scheme proposes 16 four-bed, 82 three-bed and 55 two-bed homes plus 243 car parking spaces with 31 visitor spaces including 10% with electric charging points.

The Grade II listed main house of Westwood Lodge, built in 1864, the 17th Century cottage and the gate piers will remain intact on the site.

There are proposals for a new road network and access from the south, off Poorhole Lane.

Image Fusion Architects

Design documents from Fuse Architects say: “The design concept creates a new, welcoming community, with high quality architecture, materials, landscape and planting to produce an overall village feel with high quality placemaking.”

Referring to the ‘plague pit’ the document states: “There is some speculation that the origin of the place name Poor Hole, derives from the burial of paupers and plague victims and that the reason the original route of Poorhole Lane diverted north then west was to avoid such a pit.

“This possibility was considered in some detail in the archaeological desk-based assessment and it concluded that the evidence for this was not compelling. It suggested that it was equally likely that the name was derived from a local family name and a local hollow formed from quarrying activity, which was widespread in the area.

Image Fusion Architects

“Sources from the 18th and early 19th centuries were reviewed, and they make no reference to such a feature, and suggested that if such a pit were present or even rumoured at the time, these sources would have been expected to mention them. As such it is considered that the potential for this feature to be present is low, based on current evidence.”

Contractors have carried out ground surveys and there is an archaeological dig taking place but no ‘burial’ evidence has surfaced.

The Thanet Trees group is also querying possible ground water pollutants at the site from a Sericol leak of cyclohexanone into the chalk and groundwater which was discovered in 1994. The leak is said to have come from buried pipes and/or tanks.

Remedial works removed some 470 tonnes of solvent from the chalk aquifer but the volume of the spill is not known.

Westwood Lodge history

Image Orion

Westwood Lodge was built in 1864 as a holiday retreat for Spencer Herepath, a Kensington stockbroker whose firm specialised in South American Railway securities.

The architect is not at present known but there is speculation that it could have been Henry Winnock Hayward (1825-1893) who had built houses of a similar style in Phillimore Place, Kensington near Herepath’s London residence.

Image Thanet Trees

Herepath’s daughter Marion married Linley Sambourne, the celebrated Punch illustrator, in 1874. After Spencer Herepath died in 1884, Mrs Herepath lived there until the property was sold in 1893.

The next owner was Harry Rickards (1841-1911), a celebrated music hall artist who became a music hall impresario in both England and Australia. This was his English estate. By 1911 he was considered probably the largest single-handed music hall manager and proprietor in the world. Subsequent owners were the Farrell family. The property has been in continuous ownership by one family from 1948 until the present day. From 1929 the estate was used for farming and market gardening.

The entrance piers, gates and wall to Westwood Lodge were built circa 1865 in Gothic style.

Image Orion

The 17th century flint cottage is possibly listed as no 599 on sheet 2 of the Tithe Apportionment of 1838 for St Peter’s and Broadstairs, a house and garden owned and occupied by Mary Packer, connected with three arable fields. After 1865 it came into the same ownership as Westwood Lodge.

The reserved matters application can be found on the Thanet council planning portal ref R/TH/20/0174.


  1. Destruction of Thanet forthwith, happens all over the place. Too many houses crammed into a beautiful little corner of Thanet. Why so many? GREED of builder’s, nothing more, nothing less. I know Broadstairs TC is against these plans. Ridiculous!!!.
    It must be the TDC Planning Office pushing for this! Hmmmmm!
    Needs more thought!
    My thoughts only….

    • TDC turned down the Application (it says so in the piece). Their objection was overturned by the Planning Inspector partly because TDC had no local plan, because some rather short-sighted Councillors voted it down.
      Another fine mess they’ve got us into …

      • That’s the Thanet Independent councillors group for you. Thanking they know better. Just like when they started a coup, oh that went well..!!

  2. The loss of even more trees in Thanet can only be described as environmental vandalism. Thanets local wildlife and Nature doesn’t stand a chance against the greed of the developers.
    The last pockets of wildlife and tree coverage in Thanet are being decimated by greedy developers and an inept council who doesn’t seem to care. I am completely disgusted by the developers, the council and the planning inspectorate.
    What’s next ? Clubbing baby seals to death and building in the Goodwin sands.

    • Leve it as it is. Thanet councils could not care a less
      All they are interested in is the money that they will make from the development. They do not care only the money they can grab from the houses. It must be stopped now

      • I really don’t understand that kind of response. People need houses. Where do you propose that they are built?

    • I think I may be the lone voice in the wilderness here but I think the plans for this site are realistic and sensitive. AS long as the developers are true to their word, they are retaining as many of the mature trees as possible and incorporating a ” woodland trail” and play areas. This land will now be open to ” the people” instead of being private. Is that not what all the socialists in Thanet Trees want?

      • I agree with “Interested Bystander”. It had occurred to me that this site is almost invisible to the public and has been for about 150 years.

  3. Please stop banging on about the greed of the developers. I don’t know what on earth you expect from commercial mass builders. Altruism?

    Who has said that they want 17000plus new homes built in Thanet in the next few years? Who is making it very difficult indeed for local councils to reject planning applications for large amounts of housing?

    And who did most of the electorate vote for?

    • The disused airport at Manston could be used to build over 4,000 new dwellings, complete with Business/leisure parks, medical, and school facilities! Instead an American Hedge Fund company want to re-open it for the use of Cargo aircraft (No Passengers!) 2 to 3 an hour day and night, flying in at 300 meters over Ramsgate Harbour, 250/200 meters high over Ramsgate Town, before touchdown at 100 meters height over Nethercourt! This will destroy Ramsgate as a resort, and devalue thousands of properties under the flight path! Instead they want to uproot hundreds of natural English trees, and destroy a small urban woods, that is home to thousands of small animals, and birds! Duuurh!

      • Thise complaining about a cargoe hub, obviously were not brought up under the flight path when the Americans were based at Manston in the fifties. They would suddenly screech overhead, as low as they could, you never heard them coming. I used to run indoors screaming. If Thanet can survive that, it can survive a few cargo planes. An historic airport.

        • This is 2020, not 1950 you numpty! Tens of thousands of people are dying due to noise, and air pollution each year, and those aircraft you are referring to did NOT fly over Ramsgate Harbour 2 or 3 an hour, 24 hours a day! In any case that did not NOT make it right! After the war thousands of people died weekly, yes weekly, due to SMOG! For younger viewers that was Smoke and Fog! This changed when the Clean Air Act came in, and smokeless fuel! Its called progress Wendy, and flying aircraft over Ramsgate Harbour etc, will devastate the Tourist industry, and put hundreds out of work. Destroying a small woods in Broadstairs is totally unnecessary, when these houses could be built at Manston!

    • Give it a break Marva, you and Barry are pretty much boring now. Bringing politics into everything.

      But if you so much assist on doing that, than let me remind you, Labour fell at the GE. Rightly so.

          • I replaced my older sister, after she was killed by German bombers, so does that make me a “Boomer” too? Those of us who survived the war, gained a certain amount of wisdom over the years, or should have! People who criticise us for making a go of things, when the country was on its knees, with 14 million damaged or destroyed houses, 4 million homeless, with rationing worse than during the war, rebuilt the country! Now we have good for nothing, feckless workshy, British layabouts begging because its more lucrative than working!

            People voted for a proven liar as Prime Minister because of xenophobic resentment, Johnson even tried to con the Queen, and he fooled the majority of people into voting for him, because they thought he would get rid of “all the foreigners” as I once heard someone say! Yeah, right! Now the chickens etc, because there soon won’t be enough foreign workers to do all the dirty jobs the Brits wouldn’t do, what then? The Tories will suck the country dry to sell it off to their business mates, that’s how capitalism works!

            They couldn’t care less that pollution kills millions, as long as they can make a bob or two! That’s why they prefer to destroy a small urban words, home to millions of different wild life, when there is a vast open space up the road begging to be built on, Duurh!

        • I agree Life is politics but I cannot stand all the discussion of Party Politics on local matters. In theory ( haha ) all councillors should be working for the betterment of people in their own area. That is the whole point of having a local council. I don’t care which ” party” runs TDC I just hope ( I cannot trust ) that they will do their best for local people. This article quite clearly states that TDC turned down this planning application. I don’t necessarily agree that they should have done so, but they had valid reasons.

  4. Get a grip Marva, let’s not forget that your precious Labour Party wanted to build over a million more homes in England, are you that naive to believe if they would have won power that they would have left Thanet alone? Perhaps you should have read their manifesto before spouting nonsense.
    It doesn’t help that Manston will be retained as an airport. If Manson was developed for housing at least some sections of Thanet would be saved from over development. The thousands of homes that should have been built at Manston will now be built on the last of our greenfield sites and farmland. Nostalgia wins and our last wildlife gets killed off in the process.

    • I don’t think the Labour Party has had anything to do with planning legislation for over a decade. The rules and regulations are all down to the tory governments. It is they who have decided the number of homes Thanet has to build.
      If the Council had adopted the Draft Local Plan when it should have done ( several years ago) then Thanet would have had to accommodate far fewer houses.
      But the stupid UKIP and Tory councillors voted down the DLP. And so, as we had no plan in place, we’ve been saddled by the (Tory) government than we previously had.
      However, as Concerned said, quite a lot of them could have been built on the old Manston airfield.
      I suspect they still might be. Aviation sure as heck won’t.

    • What nonsense have I been spouting? It is indeed the Tory Party (in power for the last 10 years) who are imposing the current number of new homes on Thanet.

      • The nonsense you and Barry always sprout on here. I’m just happy members are now getting wise to it.

        You keep bring up Tories, so… quick question, which party won a landslide victory at the last general election? It’s called democracy, and you still talk rubbish.

  5. Andrew, direct from the Labour housing manifesto,
    “We will build one million new genuinely affordable homes over 10 years, and ensure every council every year builds or commissions Labour’s new affordable homes”.
    I was stating to Marva that if Labour had won the election that they would have still been building homes all over Thanet.
    Unfortunately the population of England is exploding, hence the need for more housing and not one of the political parties has the guts to even talk about it. Until the political parties start talking about over population they will continue to commit ecocide and concrete over precious farmland, destroy our last wooded areas and annihilate our last wildlife.

    • It doesn’t matter what’s in Labour’s manifesto: it’s academic. The tories are in power, and have been for a decade. It is their policies, and theirs alone, that dictate how many and where the houses go.

  6. There is very little left for wildlife or human to breath in Thanet, cant they see that. We must keep what little is left for all our sanity Good luck zombies.

  7. There is a huge expanse of concrete lying idle at Manston where houses should be built instead of all over the towns with increasing velocity so much so that we will not have seperate towns anymore as they are building on the green corridors between them which should never happen. The few trees left and wildlife is being decimated all over Thanet for the sake of whatever government is in charge and the increasing population which could but isn’t controlled.

  8. How many times have we got to say it?
    Build on Manston !
    Save the trees off Poor Hole Lane and even extend the tree cover there , if the owners can be persuaded/bribed by grants.

    Thanet’s remaining open, green areas are being sacrificed to save an airport that has no future.

    As for which Party is responsible for the housing demand, this is fairly irrelevant as the NEED for housing exists anyway. I’m afraid we will have to stop living longer and keeping our ageing grip on our houses while the younger ones have to wait to get one. Of course, shamefully, we are the only developed country that has begun to see the average age of death REDUCING, in the last few years. But that won’t have much affect immediately.

    On another point, isn’t it suspicious that , when a possible building site becomes available and there is understandable opposition, the developers announce that there would have been “affordable”(tiny) homes, and homes for rent being built there so opponents are being cruel to the local people waiting for a home?
    But, everywhere else, the developers fight tooth and nail against ANY talk of affordable homes and insist they can only survive by building big “Executive” houses?

  9. The scheme proposed in 2015 only had 30% affordable housing. How are the developers supposed to know that there is local opposition? The revised plan was published on the 13th February and there is only one public comment, which is an objection.

  10. Thanet District Council only care about profit and a friend of mine who is a surveyor and who has been working on this project has said that there has been many (golden handshakes) taken place between the developers and TDC since last year. No other council in Kent is as corrupt as TDC that is why all the housing developments are in Thanet. Soon Thanet will have no green spaces left and will be one big Ghetto of ugly redbrick housing.

  11. National politics has nothing to do with the local planning mess TDC has got us into.

    There almost was a local plan, which made sensible use of the former airport site including heritage aviation.

    However, Bob and crew turned indie from Kipper to topple the UKIP leader and take control and vote that plan down and why? So they could ring-fence Manston for their cargo plane spotting activities.

    Meanwhile, TDC thinks its a good alternative to build on the green belt and ruin Birchington.

    All of this is about aviation obsession based on sentiment, not reality. The business case doesn’t add up, there’s no need or viable business case for a cargo hub at Manston.

    There is a need for houses though, and thanks to TDC, development is not strategic, properly thought out nor in our better interests as why? No local plan.

    Never seen anything like it.

  12. The new plan for the Westwood Lodge site looks very much better than the earlier one. A pity that so much land is going to be used for car parking, but at least secure bike storage is also in the plans.

    • I am so pleased you like the look of the plans you obviously do not live in the Poorhole Lane area otherwise you would not make such crass remarks.plan to move to the site do you because it has secure bike storage? you saddo

  13. I have just read that the government’s own figures reveal that, across the country, Planning Permission has been given for over 2 million new homes already. Yet over 1 million of these have not been even started, let alone built.
    So the land has already been allocated. It’s not local Councils that are holding it up. It’s landowners waiting for the price of land to go up or developers stalling. This comes at the same time as new immigration laws that would stop more construction workers coming to Britain as they are deemed as unskilled and on too low a wage. Even though the employers are begging for the new workers.

    I know, I know “train British workers as bricklayers , carpenters etc”. This has been the call for years but the government has just not done it. Or the potential skilled workers have to fund their training themselves.
    Anyway, even if you take suitable British workers away from low paid work in shops, cafes and warehouses, to become skilled building workers, who will then take the jobs in the shops and warehouses?

    Years of low pay, uncertain hours and insecure jobs have taken their toll. And that kind of low wage society looks like it will be the governments future plan. Especially in the projected “Freeports”.

  14. I’m sure the owners would be happy to sell to the public and therefore retain the trees if the money that the developers are offering could be matched ?

Comments are closed.