Parents fight developers for green corridor next to Cliftonville school

Cliftonville Primary School - Green Space Design

By Jodie Nesling

A plot of land earmarked for a new housing development could be transformed into a garden oasis for Cliftonville Primary School children.

Parents and residents have united to oppose the 20-house development at the former Laleham Gap site saying it would be overbearing and intrusive – especially for Reception and Year One children.

The land is owned by Kent County Council and acts as a natural buffer between the school on Northumberland Road and the Mulberry Place housing estate.

Developers, Orbit Homes submitted a planning application on October 8 which has so far attracted a staggering 57 objections due to its proximity to the school playing field and loss of green space.

One comment argued there were safeguarding issues as the houses would directly overlook the children. The school issued a letter to parents saying KCC had promised the land would not be developed but the authority has not confirmed this.

Eager to offer a pragmatic and positive proposal, parents created plans  of how the land could look with the potential for educational classes and nature-themed activities.

Parent Georgina Griffiths says their alternative vision of a woodland oasis would support both council’s green pledges. She said: “This could be a great opportunity and we hope to collaborate to create a green corridor and work with KCC and TDC on some of their green initiatives and also help meet government net zero carbon targets.”

Gene Innes and Oscar Bolton attend Cliftonville Primary School

“Covid has caused huge health and economic problems exacerbating mental health conditions. We hope this will be a haven for the community and also provide the potential for educational and learning benefits for all – especially for Cliftonville West which has one of the highest levels of child poverty in the county.”

She added: “We’d like to plant one tree for every child at the school as well as finding other ways to boost biodiversity. The space will help with air quality while providing and protecting important natural habitats.”

KCC has previously pledged to plant 1.2m trees for every person in Kent and Thanet council passed a Climate Emergency motion dedicated to

KCC has confirmed it is in liaising with the Cliftonville Primary School over the development.


  1. Pull your finger out Barry Lewis.

    What do you plan to do about this? Any comment? I’ve not seen any comments from you internally about this either.

  2. “The space will help with air quality ..”
    Another way to improve air quality would be to stop driving your kids to school.

  3. I hope the families succeed. Living in the town centre we don’t have a garden and there’s not much greenery around the area. I think it’s the same for children around Cliftonville that many of them won’t have gardens of their own. It’s sad the thought of children going through every day surrounded by concrete so having the green area at school is really important. We’re blessed to have the beach and fresh sea air but kids need to have green in their environment too, to inspect bugs, learn about wildlife and get dirt under their fingernails from time to time.

  4. Thanet Council’s climate pledge isn’t worth the paper it is written on. They show a blatant disregard for tree coverage in Thanet and have been encouraging people into their cars for short journeys with free Christmas parking instead of subsidising bus travel. Actions speak louder than words and we are still waiting for some action.

    • OMG! And I (for once) agree with Lesley.
      Not only will walking not harm children it will be positively beneficial. Good exercise, and an opportunity for mums, dads and children to talk about the things that have happened in school that day. (If you are focused on your driving, you’re not focused on your child)

  5. Like others have said why dont the parents leaving their big 4×4 at home and walk if they are worried about the environment. Guess the parent that worried. I live in a little village and at school time our little road is blocked with all the 4×4 parking anywhere, making the road very unsafe and as for the poor bus drivers trying to get through the village !!

  6. One comment argued there were safeguarding issues as the houses would directly overlook the children.

    So every person who lives in a house is a safety issue to children ?
    What sad little planet thanet is that people think the worse of people.

    There are schools all over Britain which are over looked by houses, yet it’s a problem in cliftonville. Think if that’s the case I wont be moving to cliftonville.

    Schools cause gridlock across that with the parents driving their kids to school I dont see how those same parents can call the environment card. Perhaps they should be looking at what they are doing by driving plus we need houses.

    • I think people are using the “safeguarding” issue as yet another reason for keeping the green screen. There are endless schools and school playgrounds overlooked by houses; the roads leading to schools are lined with houses. It’s nonsense.
      However, I’m in favour of greeing as much as we can. But let’s do it for sensible reasons.

  7. This could become a bit of a test case. I mean, if KCC own the land, we will find out if the Conservatives are as “green” as they have started claiming.
    Or are they in the pockets of the property developers as before?
    It sounds like an excellent idea to create a green space for trees and wildlife.
    Let us see which Parties, at which level of Local Authority, will opt for houses and which ones opt for the environment.
    Let’s not be blindsided by the argument “but we need the houses!”
    We need small affordable houses and flats for single people and couples. Either affordable to buy or owned by the Council and let at sensible rents.
    There is almost NO need for more three or four bedroom executive houses at prices most people can’t afford. THAT is the way to attract people who can already buy lots of local houses anyway.
    Our local need is for homes for the people currently overcrowded into the in-law’s house or renting substandard properties from private landlords.
    Let’s see what kind of houses are proposed for the site by the school and let’s see who is prepared to grant planning permission. And make clear that our votes will be influenced by what we find.

  8. NEVER EVER trust KCC or come to that TDC. The builders here at Mulberry Place say they are considerate builders. A joke as no builders are considerate. Money is all it is about. If KCC are offered enough money this bit of land will be sold. Children don’t matter when it comes to money. KCC and its green policy is a joke as well.

  9. Orbit are clearly immoral. Let’s see if KCC are too! If they allow this build to happen, we have proof that they are more interested in money than the children that live here. I also have to say that not all parents drive to school… many walk and the building is proposed to go right up to that green gate you can see in the picture. Literally metres away from where the reception children play. It’s not necessary to build that close to a school and I can’t see why anyone would think that that was a better option than a woodland/green space.

    • The cavalier manner in which they treated the trees on the Mullberry Site despite what had apparently been agreed at planning. But seeing as orbit has historical roots with tdc its no surprise they do as they please.

    • Yes what ‘local chap’ says below and I also think it’s wrong to seek to build that close to a school. It’s greedy and unnecessary.

  10. We lived in The Ridgweway and we were invited to go to the planning meeting held at old Laleham school. If I remember correctly there was suppose to be a road exiting the new housing onto Northumberland along side the school leaving an area of green land for the school but it’s not been put in place?

    • This was in place but now they want to build on the strip of land that originally they said would be left. It directly overlooks the playing field and the playground. Hopefully as this was promised the council will keep this in place.

  11. See this link for a description of Orbit.

    They’re not a private developer as such but an organisation that originated from a thanet community housing body ( hopefully someone will be able toclarify the history) and are pretty much a housing association with a development for pofit arm that then subsidises social housing ( as far as i understand). So they get preferential access to land previously owned by public bodies, kcc , tdc.
    Its another example of cosy relationships where different rules apply. So the staggering number of objections will (like the similarly staggering number of objections to a hostel for junkies opposite a primary school in St. Johns Road , willfully ignoring / aiding and abetting the flagrant breaches of planning and listed building law,) be most likely just ignored.

  12. I think there should be much more social housing, including housing associations and social housing- I lived in housing co-ops for about 30 years.

    • The private sector could provide housing far more efficiently and cheaper to the tax payer than social housing ever could, the epic levels of waste and mismanagement within social housing is beyond belief. But as subsidies to social housing providers are hidden for the most part the true cost is never seen.
      Yet there is a fixation across the country with buy to let lanflords being subsidised by the tax payer, if the aim is to provide homes for people with taxpayers money then let it be dome in the most efficient way possible. You’ve only to look at Tdc /Ekh performance to have doubts over their real value for money. The current grenfell inquiry is making much of the failures of private contractors but is deafeningly quiet about the building build and management as social housing over its entire history.
      It never from the day it was built complied with fire safety regulations, a particularly notable example is the lack of a wet riser, the absence of which was a major hindrance to fire fighting efforts. Thought the fire service are complicit in its lack of provision as will be any fire surveyor over the buildings history, it will be interesting to see if this aspect of the building receives the attention the cladding is.

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