An outline proposal for 450 homes on arable land in Margate which was sent back to the drawing board due to concerns over the small percentage of affordable housing will be reconsidered on Wednesday (June 23).
In April councillors on Thanet’s planning committee voted against moving forward with the application for the development on land off Shottendane Road because only 10% – instead of the recommended 30%- of properties would be affordable housing.
Other concerns were raised about the impact on medical services – with Thanet already suffering from a shortage of GPs and hospital staff – extra traffic despite planned road improvements and the building on agricultural land which is also at risk of flooding.
The development, submitted by Gladman Developments Ltd, proposed 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.
Thanet council’s planning manager said the reduction in affordable housing was considered fair because of the cost and complexities involved with the site which resulted in an exclusion area to preserve archaeological finds, areas which would be green space because flood risk meant housing could not be built on those spaces and extra costs for the link road and junctions work. A viability assessment said the development would be at a ‘deficit’ if 30% affordable housing was demanded.
However, a majority of the committee members disagreed.
Gladman Developments is now offering 15% affordable housing, meaning a rise from 45 to 68 properties on an 80% affordable rent and 20% shared ownership mix. There would also be approximately £4.9million in contributions to community and highways infrastructure.
A report to councillors says: “The benefits from the application, including but not limited to the provision of housing, new road infrastructure, contributions towards community infrastructure and 15% affordable housing, is considered to demonstrably outweigh any harm created by the development, including not achieving the target for on-site affordable housing.”
Members are being advised to delegate the application to officers for approval.
But, it is understood that councillors Candy Gregory, Pauline Farrance, Bertie Braidwood and Reece Pugh will speak against the development. Councillors Gregory, Farrance and Pugh had also raised objections at the April meeting.
Cllr Gregory and Cllr Farrance say the development will create too much pressure on health services. A developer contribution of £338,000 to health bosses would still not attract medical staff to Thanet, they said.
Westgate & Garlinge Action Group also object to the development. The group says the highways proposals carves up even more land belonging to a farmer who had not been consulted over the plans.
They say numerous concerns include the loss of farmland, the increased risks of flooding – demonstrated this week by water gushing along Shottendane Road – the inability of soakaway to deal with an additional 2,000 homes that are planned by developments on the stretch from Shottendane to Quex and the financial viability of the scheme.
The group’s objection says the rise to 15% affordable housing is “laughable,” adding: “Thanet needs affordable housing and if this site cannot deliver that then should it be in the Local Plan?”
The group also questions a lack of biodiversity assessment, saying: “There is no breeding bird survey and the developer has provided no farmland bird mitigation. Skylarks are prevalent on this site – we’ve seen and heard them since February this year, and these birds have been here for decades and probably centuries. Ignoring their presence is failing to follow policy guidelines.”
A question of possible contamination of water at Tivoli Brook, which could then run into Margate Harbour is raised and the group say an overage agreement would indicate that Thanet council benefits financially from development at the site and so has a pecuniary interest.
The group’s objection says: “We are aware of the overage agreement that TDC have on this site and TDC appear to benefit from 50% of the increased value between the existing value of the land, (agricultural and agricultural land used in connection with farming and farming residence) and the value of the land following a consent to change use.”
The action group also says climate change – and the impact on weather- also needs to be considered.
A letter sent to councillors says: “Our drainage system was never built to cope with this type of weather – we’re getting tropical style deluges more and more frequently. And we are warned that this is likely to be the norm. We must prepare for much wetter and (conversely) hotter, drier weather in between. This has been the pattern for the last few years but we are not ready. We are not even preparing. Adding 17140 houses (the total housing planned up to 2031) onto a system that already cannot cope is complete and utter madness.”
The group has pledged to: “scrutinise every aspect of this site, and its development at every step of the way until councillors and developers finally accept it is not a viable development. “We will endeavour to highlight and monitor the issues flagged until our voices are heard.”
The planning committee will discuss the application at the meeting on Wednesday (June 23) which starts at 7pm.