Council adopts new plan for development in Thanet up to 2031

The Local Plan Image Lewis Clarke / Thanet : Thanet Scenery

Thanet’s Local Plan, a blueprint for development in the district up to 2031, has been formally adopted at a Full Council meeting tonight (July 9).

The Local Plan includes modifications recommended in the Inspectors’ Report, sets out policies and proposals that will be used to guide investment and decisions on development and regeneration. It details where homes, jobs, community facilities, shops and infrastructure will be.

There are also carbon reduction policies for the increased use of public transport and energy and water efficiencies.

Thanet council says the Local Plan will provide a higher level of protection for land identified as unsuitable for development.

Some 1,541 comments were received during consultation and the plan has also been examined by an independent Inspector and found to be legally sound.

Review and modifications

A six month review will need to be undertaken to look at areas including the implications of climate change; the provisions of the plan in relation to Manston Airport now 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.

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.

‘Years of hard work’

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Rick Everitt said: “Today’s vote is the culmination of many years of hard work and extensive consultation with residents and stakeholders to help ensure a successful future for the district.

“Our new Local Plan determines how we will deliver the homes and housing services; jobs; community facilities and infrastructure that Thanet needs over the next decade. At the same time, we aim to preserve the things that make the district special now such as our beautiful coastline and open spaces. I’m pleased we’ve agreed to adopt this Local Plan.”

Westgate concerns

However Westgate councillors Sam Bambridge and Matthew Scott says they do not think the plan is ‘aspirational’ have reiterated opposition to the housing numbers and the plans to build on greenfield sites.

Cllr Bambridge said: “Many of us councillors have opposed the excessive housing figure for Thanet of 17,140 additional homes up to 2031, but we haven’t been able to get anywhere in reducing the number, despite the fact we have the largest density of population and highest unemployment figures in Kent.

“As a Westgate councillor I am aware that Westgate is overwhelmingly resistant to the 2000 housing number it has been allocated.  The housing is earmarked to be built on high quality, best and most versatile agricultural land, and I’m sure that the lessons of Covid 19 and consequent clear need to have access to local produce has taught us we must value our land for food supply.  Also the allocated Westgate site is not an ideal location and is not supported by the appropriate infrastructure. “

Cllr Bambridge said she has suggested alternative sites like Cliffs End Farm and Spanton’s farm as “far more strategic.”

She added: “Overall, in my opinion, this is not an aspirational plan.  Fuelling economic growth by building excessively on green fields, is neither a realistic or acceptable strategy.”

Cllr Scott said the plan was too focused on building, saying: “Thanet is already a high densely populated area and I personally feel the local plan focuses more on just building houses and ignores providing and supporting infrastructure such as job opportunities, medical centres, adequate water supply and so on and so forth.

“We are gifted with some of the best agricultural land in the UK, which is mostly being Grade 1 and 2 in quality, of which over 8000 houses is set to be built on, stretching from Westgate On sea, Birchington-on-Sea, St Nicholas at Wade, Monkton and Minster.

“As one of the Westgate ward Cllrs and also a resident of Westgate, I have been adamantly against the allocation of 2000 houses on our agricultural land, acknowledging the devastating effect it will have on our environment and extreme pressure it will put on our already limited infrastructure.

“I am unhappy with some of the aspects of the plan in my ward and totally understand the concerns raised by residents and absolutely agree with them.

“However, I have to begrudgingly acknowledge that this is a district wide plan which if further delayed will be at risk of intervention by Central Government and will take control and the decision making out of the hands of the council which will result in a free rein for developers.”

That view was echoed by Birchington councillor George Kup, who said: “I voted against adopting the Local Plan -the only councillor that did – as I do not believe that it is fit for Thanet and I do not believe that it will benefit our district.

“When I was elected as the councillor for Birchington South, I said I would try and fight a lot of houses being built in Birchington, by voting against this plan, I hope I have represented the thoughts of the majority of Birchington.

“I believe we must have development in Thanet, but not to the extent that the, now adopted, Local Plan will allow.”

The Council also adopted the Thanet Landscape Character Assessment as a Supplementary Planning Document. Both documents come into force with immediate effect.

The Thanet Local Plan to 2031 can be found online.

12 Comments

  1. It is quite difficult trying to imagine any serious comments, or suggestions from Cllr Rick Everitt, when a photo of him, makes him look like one of the Goodies.

    Goody, goody yum, yum.

    • Cheap remarks are easy to make.,why be personal?
      His performance In leading TDC is always open to critique of course but why the need to make comment about his physical.appearance? Not at all helpful or constructive.

  2. It’s all a matter of timing. With the dubious permission to create an airport at Manston, the option of meeting all of Thanet’s building requirements on the one main site will have to be delayed.
    So residents of Westgate or Birchington or other communities will be faced with extra housing around them, often on green belt land.
    BUT the airport plan is still not viable, with Stansted , Luton and even Gatwick facing reductions in traffic and even closure.
    It just depends on how long it takes for the penny to drop and for us all to learn that the funding for an airport is just not there.
    The problem is that the current owners appear fixed on the airport plan so the whole idea will go on being spun out for as long as possible.
    But local house builders may have pound signs in their eyes and may want to start building on green fields any moment soon.
    There is a danger that we will have our new houses in blocs all round Thanet while the logical place for them, Manston, remains empty and waiting.
    Almost the worst of two worlds.
    Not only getting new estates of expensive houses that few locals can afford, but with an empty runway at Manston that could, eventually get built on AS WELL.
    What it won’t become is an airport! With 23,000 jobs!!?? Puleeze!!

  3. Houses and Manston that’s the deal.These Cllrs supported the airport, so they have to accept the houses in their communities.Blame Roger Gale, they voted for him and his policies .If this does not go through Jenrick will add more houses in Westgate and Birchington.
    Take the pain now and make the best of it or receive far worse down the line.
    They were warned but thought they could dump the housing on others, it hasn’t worked out that way.

    • Highly Built up areas will bring a bearing on Thanet Residents Health and well being ie, Depression Stress unsociable behaviour along with these new areas will require policing, of which TDC and the Poluce are stating is (already shirt staffed) Bin collection of which TDC are again stating the bin collection is stretched to over its limits due to being (Short Staffed) We need the coastal areas brought uoto date like Brighton Southend on Sea Bournemiuth and the like. Our Council just can’t see any further than there pockets. This 4 and a half percent PAY RISE they area giving them selves isn’t humain its titaly outrageous.

  4. The Draft Local Plan, was a ridiculous a concept from the start. It was accepted by TDC Officers, from the highest to the lowest ranks.

    We have the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

    Until things change at the top, we have to accept whatever they sling at us!
    Time for change!
    It works in other places, it could/should work for Thanet!

  5. What a bit of luck for RSP that the DCO result was publicized just before a TDC meeting where the new local plan was(presumably) on the agenda.

  6. The response from TDC Councillors can handily be summed up as “no house building in our constituencies – build them somewhere else”

    At least there will be plenty of jobs for everyone living in the new houses when Manston is a roaring success and employs 20,000 + locals!

  7. Once again we are still facing this terrible threat of thousands of houses being built on excellent agricultural land Does this mean we are down to a cup of water a week and a sticky plaster apart from this virus we have had to wait for doctors appointments and taking our sleeping bag to A&E I like thousands of others moved to CT7 for relaxing and countryside now I am faced with looking out of my garden onto houses and roads plus cars which our roads are not suitable for even if they build new roads for there houses we still are going to be congested in our local roads as it is now my road is a short cut and a race track at times

  8. I realy love the slogan, let’s sort it out on the side of all the waste disposal vehicles and I would like to say it seems like 95% of the people in Thanet are doing their part with recycling and taking litter home or using bins, the other 5% seem to think that places like Millmead like to live in an environment that resembles a landfill and that all the main roads everywhere with any kind of shrub Bush hedge are choked on rubbish, hey, let’s sort it out.

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