Councillors agree 214 house development at Minster can be approved by planning officers

The site in Minster Photo by Minster's Future Matters

An application to build 214 houses on agricultural land in Minster will be delegated to planning officers for agreement.

Councillors at a planning committee tonight (April 14) approved the measure despite airing concerns over traffic, school places, adequate medical facilities and the number of houses on the site.

The total application area is 34.67 acres, with proposed residential development and associated open space and services on approximately 32.27 acres and a reserve site of 2.40 acres proposed for the future extension to Minster Cemetery.

The land on the west side of Tothill Street, Minster, is owned by St. John’s College Cambridge and Spanton Farms Limited.

The site, which is on a Special Protection Zone, includes the expansion to the west of Minster cemetery.

The development has provoked more than 40 objections with concerns including the loss of Grade 1 agricultural land, loss of habitat and views that brownfield sites should be developed before greenfield sites.

The application was called in to be discussed by Councillor Reece Pugh who said it would change Minster village ‘beyond recognition.’

He raised concerns that there would not be sufficient school places at Minster and the plan for new youngsters in the village to go to a proposed Manston Green primary school was inadequate with the risk that that school may not be built in time – or at all.

Councillors on the committee raised concerns that traffic mitigations to add an extra lane at the Tothill roundabout and pay £166,000 for junction work at Spitfire Way were not adequate to cope with a possible 200-300 more vehicles trying to enter and exit the village.

Cllr David Hart, who voted against the recommendation, was vocal in his disapproval of the scheme.

He said: “This is not in the right place. The school does not have capacity, where are all these young people going to go? It is not a well thought out plan, it is not the right place. You cannot put over 200 houses in an area you can’t get in and out of (on the road).”

Planning manager Iain Livingstone said councillors had already allocated up to 250 houses at that site by approving the Local Plan.

Cllr Hart responded that 20 or 50 houses would be more acceptable but more than 200 was not.

Cllr Albon said the traffic mitigations were not sufficient and a bridge should be considered rather than a pedestrian crossing on Tothill Street. On being told Kent Highways was happy with the transport arrangements he replied: “Kent Highways may not have an issue but we do.”

Despite almost all councillors raising issues with the application seven voted in favour to approve the recommendation.

Councillors David Hart, Heather Keen, Paul Moore and Linda Wright voted to refuse the application but were outnumbered.

The site is allocated for housing under the Local Plan. Originally it was suggested 150 homes could be sited at Minster but this was increased to 250 after a vote to retain the Manston airport site for aviation and so redistribute housing numbers that had been allocated to that site.

The proposal, put forward by agent Savills on behalf of the landowners, will require developer contributions of:

Special Protection Area (per unit figure)

Primary Education £4,535 per house and £1134 per flat

Secondary Education  £3,534 per house and £798 per flat

Libraries  £10, 275

Community learning  £4,414

Social care  $16,424

Health Provision  £144,000

Spitfire Way Junction Highway Works  £166,000

30% on-site affordable housing provision

Off-site highway works to Tothill Street Roundabout junction

Resurfacing of Bridleway

The application has now been delegated for approval by officers, subject to safeguarding conditions, and the submission of a signed S.106 agreement.

The vote

For: Mick Tomlinson, Steve Albon, Keith Coleman-Cooke, Alan Currie, Jill Bayford, John Dennis, Mike Garner, George Rusiecki

Against David Hart, Heather Keen, Paul Moore, Linda Wright

(Pat Moore no vote as she left the meeting early to attend town council).