Westgate action group urges residents to join up and ‘Save Our Fields’

The group wants to save farmland Photo Ros Tapp

A group set up in a bid to save Westgate agricultural land from being developed hopes to mobilise residents into action.

The Westgate Action Group Against Housing Development says a planning application for a huge 2,000 development of a ‘new town’  on farmland at the edge of town will mean a massive population increase, lost green fields and a change of environment ‘forever.’

Millwood Designer Homes wants to create up to 2000 homes, including up to 100 Extra Care units, a care home, two form entry primary school, health centre and shops, cafes and restaurants on 237 acres which includes agricultural land either side of Minster Road.

(Image JTP/Millwood Homes)

The site can be broken into three main parcels, divided by the existing roads. The first parcel is on the west of Minster Road. The second parcel lies between Minster Road and Garlinge High Street. The third parcel extends east of Garlinge High Street.

A full application has been submitted  for 120 homes earmarked as a “new Dent-De-Lion neighbourhood,” with views of the Dent-De-Lion Gatehouse and fronting on to a village green with a ‘feature pond.’ This site will be accessed from Garlinge High Street / Dent-de-Lion Road.

2,000 homes are planned for greenfield sites either side of Minster Road in Westgate

The development has been named The Gallops. Millwood say the new town will include green spaces, play areas and walking and cycle routes. Plan amendments have been made based on feedback from community meetings and exhibitions, including one held last November.

But the action group says members are concerned about: “the decimation of prime agricultural land and that this development will increase the population of Westgate from approximately 7500 to 11,500 changing the character of Westgate forever.”

A spokesperson for the group said: “Our aim is to raise awareness  of the planning application and provide information to support and mobilise residents in responding .

“We believe this development cannot be considered separately to other similar developments planned for Birchington and Shottendane and so we aim to collaborate with other groups in Thanet .

“We believe it is important to ensure there is sufficient time to consider the application in the light of a number of significant changes and additional evidence.

“The first phase planning application was made at a time of national emergency and many people were not aware of it. There are questions regarding the algorithm used to calculate housing numbers  and why Thanet been allocated 10% of the Kent housing quota when it  represent only 2.7% of the area and has significant food production.

“The application appears to extend beyond the designated allocation as agreed in the Local Plan.

(Image JTP/Millwood Homes)

“One of our members, Ros Tapp, estimates we are losing one third of the central undulating chalk farmland cited as area of character in local plan.

“We do not believe the application has fully considered the extensive wildlife population on the farmland. There has been a climate emergency declared locally, nationally and internationally. It is incomprehensible why there are plans to proceed to decimate acres of prime agricultural land, failing to protect this for food production now and for future generations at a time when we need future food security.

“We are urging residents to contact their local town, district and Kent county councillors , MPs and Secretary of State for housing.”

The Gallops (Image JTP/Millwood Homes)

Millwood says it is planning to include wildflower meadows and bug and bee hotels as well as areas for foraging, an orchard and a heritage trail. There will also be natural play and sensory areas.

Planning documents say: “This first phase of development provides an opportunity to create a visually striking gateway and set a high standard for the future phases of development. The Gallops, Land at Westgate and Garlinge, has been designed comprehensively, demonstrating the potential to deliver up to 2000 new homes in a sustainable manner, with no fundamental constraints on development that cannot be appropriately mitigated.”

The proposed site is larger than that suggested in Thanet’s adopted Local Plan, which is a blueprint for housing, development and infrastructure on the isle up until 2031.

Westgate was originally allocated 1,000  homes but a vote in 2018 to retain Manston airport as aviation-use only instead of mixed-use development meant 2,500 proposed homes had to be reallocated to new sites.

The reallocation included 1,000 homes for greenfield sites either side of Minster Road in Westgate, bringing the draft plan total for the town to 2,000.

Millwood Designer Homes is involved with a similar plan for development in Birchington.

Action group poster

Westgate Town Council has also opposed the development plan. A statement says: “We have always been opposed to the building of houses on the grade 1 and 2 agricultural land, the loss of separation between Westgate and Garlinge, the loss of open space and the over development of our small town.

“We believe that other, preferably brown field sites should have been chosen for a development of this size. We understand that there is a need for housing, however we have always been concerned that the methodology used to calculate the housing need in Thanet caters for developers and those moving to Thanet from outside the district, more than local residents.

“We are concerned that this methodology which does not value agricultural land will result in Thanet becoming more and more densely populated with no concern for the over-arching impact on our towns, our residents or the environment.

“As the local plan was approved last year, we had to concede that this land will be used as a strategic site for housing against our will. We are now eager to ensure that if houses go ahead that they are future looking, take the environment and our residents into account and do not impact the town in a negative way, now or in the future.”

The full objection can be viewed here

 

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale this week called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce and immediate moratorium on the use of all farm land for housing until policy can be reviewed.

The PM said the request was “unrealistic” although he appeared to believed Sir Roger was calling for a halt on all construction.

The planning documents can be viewed on Thanet council’s planning page, reference OL/TH/20/1400

To join the Save Our Fields campaign email saveourfields2021@gmail.com

There is also a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram pages @saveourfields

20 Comments

  1. Why do they insist on building on prime growing land it will kill us eventually and is this an added plan to the birchington plan I think it’s disgraceful we don’t need new houses we need to recycle what we have don’t pander to the developers

  2. one road (Minster Road) from all those houses into Westgate, through the traffic lights — surely thats just a recipe for disaster. Lets say 2000 houses = 5000 cars. If just 20% go into Westgate between 8-6pm thats an extra 100 cars an hour–doesnt sound much, but where will they park. Sure there will be new shops on the new estate but there are over 30 shops, cafes, businesses in Station Road alone–not to mention the station. They wont be replicated on the new build area–they never are as one big shop selling something of everything usually means few small units survive. Yes we need new housing–not 2000 though.

  3. Rogers hypocrisy is breathtaking. Had he supported Stone Hill and their plans to build on the brownfield defunct airport we wouldn’t have this.

    If TDC had even had a local plan that wasn’t a decade out of date it would have been a start. As a consequence, they were wide open to the musical chairs we all witnessed at the top and thus forcing a change of proposed local plan to protect Manston.

    Someone please tell Roger he can’t have his take off cake and eat it over the greenbelt houses at the same time.

  4. Lol I bet all those moaning were quite happy for Ramsgate to be blighted by an airport. What was the saying? ‘Airport not Houses’. LMAO.

    Chickens are coming home to roost. Sir Roger is the biggest hypocrite of all and should have supported SHP so a good proportion of those houses put on the brownfield site at Manston as well as jobs being created already. His constant bullying of the local plan to preserve Manston for aviation use only has led to the houses going up everywhere else. Gridlocked Thanet here we come! Sir Rog couldn’t care less as he will be retired soon on a fat pension, whilst the Manston saga rumbles on for decades, Thanet’s population expands whilst losing it’s stroke unit and health services are already stressed, we are one of the highest areas of deprivation, all on his watch. When are the people of Thanet going to wake up? #nevertrustatory

    • It’s likely that the developer has bought an “option to buy” from the owner the option being exercised if the application is approved. As for the owner , a lot of the farmland around thanet is/was owned by oxford/cambridge university, the church of england , and the various farm estates, Quex would be a like.y candidate.

  5. Here, for anyone who is any doubt as to Roger Gale’s hypocrisy, is the man himself talking in 2018 about how TDC councillors must vote to change the Local Plan and push houses away from the brownfield site at Manston onto agricultural land in Westgate and Birchington as he believes “105% of the land required for housing” can be accommodated there.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5uoqajLv3w&feature=emb_logo

    (Key segment is from around 2mins 56 secs in the video).

    The vote to shift the housing from Manston onto agricultural land in Westgate, Birchington etc was subsequently carried on 19/7/18 by TDC – against the advice of council officers and the council’s own evidence base. This was a political decision largely thanks to Roger’s lobbying and interventions, and with the support of local councillors including Sam Bambridge (Westgate), Keith Coleman-Cooke, (Birchington) and Simon Day (Birchington).

  6. I think its terrible they have earmarked all that agricultural land to build 2500 houses, what about all the infrastructure more houses, people & cars etc. Westgate will not be able to cope. Build them up north loads of space up there. Thanet is congested enough!! Listen to the people for once. Save our green spaces!!

  7. It’s not for local people.These houses are for those wanting to move to our area!! And those that can afford them ..3 & 4 bedroom houses ,for 1st time buyers…REALLY!! SAVE OUR FIELDS!!!

  8. Millwoods still have not submitted the archeology or viability report, will they mention the bones that were found or to quote the archaeologist ” dent de lion gatehouse and the roman settlement alone holds too much to allow the building and to add our finds there is too much historical activity that will be destroyed by housing”

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