Around 35 to 50 people, including some ‘zombies,’ turned out for a protest at Westwood Lodge today (February 20).
The Thanet Trees group want Thanet council to ask for a halt in works at the 153 house development on the lodge site, off Poorhole Lane, for full ecology surveys, approval of planning conditions and more information can be shared about a rumoured burial pit.
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.
Outline planning permission for the development, which is private land, 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 “a significant incursion of the built form into the green wedge.”
However, the Planning Inspectorate decision states Thanet council’s case was weakened by a lack of a 5 year housing supply plan and “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.
A build of 69 shared ownership houses and 84 affordable rent houses are planned for the land.
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.
Developer documents say evidence for a burial pit is “not compelling.” It is understood that contractors have carried out ground surveys and there is an archaeological dig taking place but no ‘burial’ evidence has surfaced.