Birchington traders back parish council bid to highlight 1,650 home development plan

Village businesses are stocking the parish council leaflets

Birchington traders have backed a Parish Council initiative -Your Village, Your Voice, Your Say – which aims to raise awareness of an outline planning application to build 1,650 new homes on 185 acres of agricultural land south west of the village.

The parish council says villagers complained the application, which runs to more than 60 documents and 1,000s of pages, was hard to understand due to the volume of documents, the technical assessments and sometimes complex cross references.

Residents were also concerned that strict lockdown rules meant information was only available on the Thanet council website – and the developer’s website – which they found intimidating. Others without internet access felt excluded.

The outline planning proposal to build 1,650 homes, a primary school, shops, a 70 bed care home and a community park on farmland at Birchington has been submitted by Ptarmigan Land and Millwood Designer Homes.

Aims to develop the site are contained in the Thanet Local Plan  a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure on the isle up until 2031. A vote aimed at retaining aviation at Manston airport in 2018  resulted in a reallocation of properties, including a further  600 homes for Birchington, making a total of 1,600.

Birchington Parish Council says the planned development is such an important issue for the village that steps should be taken to better inform as many locals as possible about the plans through social media, social networks and more traditional print methods.

As part of the ‘Your Village, Your Voice, Your Say’ initiative the Parish Council has produced a short leaflet which sets out some key points from the planning application in easy to read language. The leaflet also explains how comments can be submitted during the consultation period. An eye-catching display dispenser has been designed so that the leaflet is easy to see and pick up.

Sixteen businesses in Birchington are supporting the initiative by having the leaflets and dispensers on display in their store.

Carol Adams, who has run Priceless Discount in Birchington for 30 years, said: “Something was needed to make these plans easier to understand; people are frustrated that they cannot comment properly because they don’t know what it all means. We hope that by supporting this initiative we can help the council to better inform people in the village.”

Neville Hudson, Chairman of the Parish Council, said: “We hope that by putting more information out to villagers in terms they can understand and by means that are comfortable for them, they will then be more engaged with the consultation process. This planning application proposes changes that are without precedent in Birchington, it is important that we do the right things for now and for future generations.

“The Parish Council is grateful to all those businesses that are able to help us distribute the leaflets, and to those who have expressed support but for various reasons have been unable to participate.”

A letter objecting to the plans has been sent to Thanet council by councillors George Kup (above) and Phil Fellows (below).

In it the Birchington representatives say there are questions over how an expanded medical centre and a school will be funded. They also say there are concerns over extra traffic and pollution and over who will maintain the green areas shown in the development proposal.

The ‘Your Village, Your Voice, Your Say’ leaflet is part of the Parish Council’s public information programme which is also being delivered across social media and through other established and informal social networks in the village.

Leaflets can be picked up, free of charge, from the following shops in Birchington:

Best One Store, Minnis Bay Priceless
Both Birchington Co Op’s Macy News
Monty’s Fruit & Veg The Village Florist
Mandy’s Deli The Bottle Shop
Poomastore, Station Road Harbour Bakery
Naga Mini Mart, Station Road Courts Pharmacy (Pending approval)
Brills Gulf Filling Station, Brooksend

The parish magazine, which includes an extensive article on the plans, is being delivered to every home in the village this week. The aim is to ensure that as far as possible local people know about the planning application, what it includes and how it might be implemented.