A Thanet campaign group has launched a petition in a bid to stop further development of farmland across the isle.
Westgate & Garlinge Action Group against Houses on Farmland say building on 50 acres of land off Shottendane Road – which is earmarked for 450 homes by Gladman Developments Ltd – must be rejected when the decision goes before Thanet councillors next week.
Gladman Developments Ltd propose to build the homes, a new distributor link road connecting Hartsdown Road, Shottendane Road and Manston Road, two new roundabouts, public children’s play areas and recreational routes.
The 19.53ha site is made up of two arable fields -Tyrells’s Top and Tyrell’s Bottom – either side of Shottendane Road. Wheat is cultivated on the land.
The contentious plan has provoked more than 50 objections from residents and bodies including Thanet Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) which says Thanet has an impractical and unsustainable target for housing and the Local Plan needs an early radical review, which cannot be done whilst there is uncertainty about Manston airport. The group also raises the issue that only 10% affordable housing is pledged rather than 30%.
Margate Civic Society has also objected on grounds including traffic congestion and the loss of prime agricultural land.
The application has been called to Planning Committee by Cllr Candy Gregory on the grounds of loss of farmland, highway safety and capacity issues, impact on community facilities and flood risk.
Thanet council’s planning report says that planning policy not to grant significant developments on agricultural land unless “the benefits of the proposed development outweigh the harm resulting from the loss of agricultural land” do not apply to the Shottendane build.
It is being recommended that councillors defer and delegate the decision to officers for approval, as happened with a 214 home plan for farmland off Tothill Street in Minster earlier this week.
This is likely to be agreed because, as with the Minster site, the Shottendane land is already agreed for development as part of Thanet’s Local Plan – a blueprint for housing, infrastructure and jobs up to 2031.
The Westgate and Garlinge campaign group says the scheme does not address the need of residents for affordable housing as the application only allows for 10% affordable housing instead of the usually recommended 30%.
A statement on the petition page says: “The development is linked to proposed housing schemes at neighbouring villages of Westgate and Birchington via Section 106 payments for a new ‘inner circuit’ road. Together, they will mean the loss of some 750 hectares of farmland.
“The attractive character of central Thanet’s undulating chalk farmland will be changed forever by the proposed housing, roadbuilding and streetlighting.
“Open views from footpaths in the area enjoyed by so many of us will go, with some of the footpaths absorbed into new housing estates.
“Farmland birds, including our much-loved Skylarks, and other wildlife will lose their habitat. We need to safeguard the valuable ecosystems that thrive on Thanet’s highly productive farmland.
“Another chunk of Thanet’s long farming heritage will be lost.
“Farmland in the UK is challenged by environmental factors such as sea-level rise, flooding and carbon emissions. The country’s best farmland, including that in Thanet, should be retained for the benefit of future generations and their food security.
“If the Shottendane Road development is approved, further losses of nearby farmland are likely as farming in the area becomes increasingly unviable. We urge the council to reject this application.”
An estimated 600-700 acres of farmland is earmarked for housing under Thanet’s Local Plan. This includes 2000 homes at Westgate and Garlinge, 1,600 homes at Birchington, up to 250 in Minster, 785 at Manston Green
The Local Plan has provision for 17,140 homes to be built between 2011-2031. Of this number 2,704 had been completed by March 2019.
Between 2021-26 the plan indicates 1,200 homes should be completed each year, equalling a total of 6,000 properties, Across 2026-2031 this number rises to 1317 per year to total 6585.
In 2019 Thanet council delivered just 35% of its housing target. This was slightly higher for 2020 at 54% but the government delivery target is now set at 75% of the district’s total housing need.
Strategic sites that have been approved for development include:
Birchington on Sea 1,600
Westgate on Sea 2,000
Manston Green (planning permission granted so not counted in allocations)785
Land at Manston Court/Haine Road 1400
Land north and south of Shottendane Road 550
Fronting Nash/Haine Roads 1020
Other Housing Sites/Areas 1,691
Rural allocations are:
Tothill Street, Minster 250
Land at Manor Road, St Nicholas 10
Land at Walter’s Hall Farm, Monkton 20
Land south side of A253, Cliffsend 62
Land north of Cottington Road, Cliffsend 41
Builders Yard south of 116-124 Monkton Street, Monkton 20
Former Jentex site Canterbury Road West, Cliffsend 56
Foxborough Lane (South Side), Minster 35
Land at The Length, St. Nicholas 25
Young’s Nursery, Arundel Road, Cliffsend 12