Next steps for Thanet 20 year blueprint for development following Planning Inspectorate report

The draft Local Plan to be decided for Thanet Image Lewis Clarke / Thanet : Thanet Scenery

Thanet council’s Draft Local Plan has been deemed as having an ‘appropriate basis’ to be adopted – but only if a list of modifications are included.

The council has now received the Planning Inspectorate report on the draft plan – a blueprint for housing, roads, business and infrastructure on the isle (from 2011 when the last plan expired) up until 2031 – and it will next  be considered by Full Council. The modified plan is expected to be adopted by the Summer – present coronavirus crisis allowing.

The Inspectors’ Report follows the Examination of the draft Local Plan last year. The Report concludes that plan as modified with changes which were consulted on in December last year, meets the necessary requirements.

The Report supports:

  • The overall amount of housing development in the Plan

  • The proposed locations and sites for new housing development

  • The approach to employment land and sites set out in the Local Plan

  • The council’s approach to environmental, infrastructure and other matters in the Plan

The Report also includes recommendations for:

  • A lower level of housing in the first five years of the plan

  • A new policy for Manston Airport to recognise the current Development Consent Order process

  • A new policy to reflect the intention to carry out a review of the plan within six months of its formal adoption by the Council. 

The six month review will need to look at areas including the implications of climate change; the provisions of the plan in relation to Manston Airport which will be based on whether or not the DCO is granted; the implications of the Local Housing Need Methodology on housing requirements for and the provision of Gypsy & Traveller sites.

Modifications also include a stipulation that development will be expected to provide proportionate contribution to necessary offsite highway improvements in the  Westwood Relief Strategy and to the A256 from Lord of the Manor.

A new paragraph highlights the requirement for the council to “recognises the need for a new Lifeboat station in the Margate area, capable of accommodating the latest class of lifeboat. It is recognised that there are limited opportunities for such a facility, and the council will work with the RNLI to identify a suitable location to meet their operational requirements.”

A number of changes have been made to housing allocations and some open space requirements have been reduced. Large portions of the plan’s wording has also been struck out with alternatives supplied.

Council leader Rick Everitt said: “It has taken hard work and dedication to get to this point and I would like to thank everyone involved, including residents who took the time to provide us with feedback during the whole process and those who took part in the Examination.

“I welcome the Inspectors’ careful analysis of the issues and am pleased that they have agreed with our overall approach and concluded that the Plan is sound.

“Priorities in the Plan include creating jobs, meeting housing needs, providing genuinely affordable housing and supporting growth with the necessary infrastructure and regeneration strategies for key locations.

“If Full Council agrees to adopt the Plan, it will provide the basis for decisions on all subsequent planning applications. It will also provide a higher level of protection for land the council has identified as unsuitable for development, which I know is important to many residents.”

Plan upheaval

Thanet councillors voted to move forward with the Draft Local Plan in July 2018 after it was initially voted down in January of that year. 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

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. This was then superseded by a Labour administration in October 2019 following a vote of no confidence in Conservative leader Bob Bayford.

The newest draft plan includes the re-allocation of 2,500 homes to greenfield sites in Westgate, Birchington, Minster, Margate and Westwood as part of a pledge to retain aviation use at Manston airport.

The plan sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Government guidelines currently suggest a build of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031.

The Inspectors’ Report is available to download at https://www.thanet.gov.uk/info-pages/latest-news/