Archaeological and biodiversity concerns raised over new Costa Coffee on Ramsgate ‘grassland’

The Costa Coffee proposed site (red cross)

A planning application for another Costa Coffee site in Thanet at land off Canterbury Road East at Ramsgate could impact on archaeological remains and biodiversity, according to Historic England and Kent County Council’s Ecological Advice Service.

The proposal is for a Costa Coffee and a 2,000sqft drive thru unit with parking to be constructed across the entire site just off the Lord of the Manor roundabout. It would be the firm’s seventh Thanet outlet.

The plot is currently grassland and hedgerows and is also within the area of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery scheduled monument.

This is a burial ground dated to the 6th and 7th centuries. It was discovered during construction of the adjacent railway, and partial excavations have taken place during the 1840s, and in 1966, 1977 and 1980-2. Burials have been found that are cut into the underlying chalk, infilled with similar material, and in many cases capped with sandstone slabs.

The burials contained grave goods including metal weapons and other valuable items. The scheduled monument also contains a ring ditch, which indicates the presence of a Bronze Age barrow. Similar remains, including burials, cremations, stone foundations and ring ditches, have been identified adjacent to the proposed development area and may be of equivalent significance to the scheduled monument. Remains of Roman settlement activity has also been found nearby and may be present within the monument.

Historic England says the application has insufficient information and either more should be provided or it should be refused.

The Costa application says: “Archaeological work to the south of the site at Haven Farm uncovered evidence of intensive occupation during the Roman period and established the presence of a medieval stone quarry. Part of the site is occupied by glass houses while the rest is either Tarmacadam or has been re-surfaced for the nursery’s purposes. As a result, any archaeological features which may have been present on the proposed site may have survived below the modern surfaces.

“It remains, however, to be established if any such remains do in fact still survive. (The) majority of the findings were recorded outside the application site with some findings to the north and east of the site. The proposal has taken the points recorded within the archaeology report into consideration and so a large area of the existing site has been retained against the north and east boundaries for landscaping and archaeological purposes.”

Kent County Council’s biodiversity response also suggests more detail is needed as the site, saying there could be ecological value and “the potential for protected species presence that must be taken account of in the planning decision. As such, a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) must be undertaken by a suitably qualified ecologist.”

An ecological survey was submitted by Betts a day after the biodiversity response and this recommends more work before any development is considered feasible.

The report says: “From observations of this walk-over examination, is further work likely to be needed regarding notable/protected species, habitats, planning policy, biodiversity duty or related regulatory compliance.”

The site was found to be habitat for birds including the Linnet and possibly reptiles and dormice.

Costa want to construct an 1800 sqft  facility with internal seating area, customer toilets, separate kitchen space and a dedicated drive-through hatch.

The application says there will be a total of 48 parking spaces, including 2 electric charging spaces next to the entrance, and 2 disabled parking spaces next to the drive-through.

There will also be a waiting bay at the exit of the drive-through. The filling station will have a total of 39 spaces including 3 disabled spaces. This puts the site parking to 87 in total.

An entrance to the site would be on Canterbury Road East. The Costa application says the site would provide around 15
part-time and 20 full-time jobs.

A decision is yet to be made on the application which can be viewed on Thanet council’s planning page, reference F/TH/21/0043