Councillors refuse to back plans for 450 properties – with ‘insulting’ affordable home offer – on Margate agricultural land

Farmland at Shottendane that was earmarked for housing development

An outline proposal for 450 homes on arable land in Margate has been rejected again by Thanet council’s planning committee due to an “insulting” affordable housing offer, flood risk, harm to wildlife and agricultural land and concerns at the inability to provide required health care for new residents.

The proposal to build on farmland off Shottendane Road had already been sent back to the drawing board by councillors in April with the developer told the 10% affordable housing offer was inadequate. Thanet council’s Local Plan policy stipulates 30% affordable housing unless proved that this figure is unviable.

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 latest plan offered 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.

However, Cllr Kerry Boyd said this was still far short of the 135 that would be included at 30%. She said: “It simply is not good enough.”

Cllr Boyd also read a statement from Cllr Reece Pugh who had been unable to make the meeting to say the affordable housing level was “unacceptable” and the development would “devastate the countryside.”

Speaking at the meeting, but unable to vote due to not being committee members, councillors Bertie Braidwood, Pauline Farrance and Candy Gregory made strong objections to the development.

Cllr Braidwood said 15% was “an insult to the community and council,” and did not meet the Local Plan rules. He added: “We cannot bend the rules to suit developers. If they can’t meet the requirements, then don’t buy the land.”

Cllr Gregory highlighted the flood risk at the site, demonstrated by water gushing down the road in last week’s heavy rains, and said it would lead to homes that were “unsaleable and uninsurable.”

She said without the natural drainage of the land water containing pollutants would swell Tivoli Brook and end up through the watercourse into Margate Harbour, impacting beach quality and having “a disastrous effect” on Thanet’s tourism economy.

Cllr Pauline Farrance

Cllr Farrance said: “The paltry rise to 15% of affordable homes, when TDC policy is at least 30%, is totally unacceptable.”

She outlined once again the lack of GPs in Thanet, with 6,000 patients per GP at The Limes medical centre. She said: “The planning application may include costs for a new surgery or extension but a building is no use to residents when there are no GPs to care for them.”

She also raised the lack of a bird survey despite Skylarks being present at the development site.

Birchington councillor Phil Fellows  questioned the ability to provide adequate healthcare and school places while Cllr Mark Hopkinson was just one of the councillors to highlight the near £20million profit predicted for Gladman, asking why some of this could not provide more affordable homes.

Farmland off Shottendane Road Photo Sarah Bowers

Cllr Helen Whitehead said national legislation forced councils to choose between “providing for some or providing for none,” later adding: “It (central planning legislation) does not work for Thanet.”

Officers said that 15% affordable housing was acceptable because Gladman had demonstrated a higher rate would not be financially viable and this had been corroborated by an independent assessment for the council. The planning and legal officers said to reject the application would lead to an appeal which Thanet would likely lose due to having no evidence to dispute the developers case – leading to significant legal costs to the council.

Despite officers’ recommendation to defer to officers for approval the committee overwhelmingly voted to reject the application.

The planning officer suggested getting a second opinion on the viability of the affordable housing figure but the committee were not swayed.

Cllr Mike Garner said: “With all due respect to everybody who has spoken, we have debated this twice, long and hard, we have listened to all the evidence and we have rejected it. We have said no to this application.

“We can go away and try to get it up to 18% or try and persuade us again around some of the evidence but we have said no. We need to stick to what we have said, we have rejected it.”

The legal officer said it was “not enough to say no” and a short deferral should be taken so officers can report back with evidenced reasons for the rejection.

Cllr Garner proposed officers come back to the next committee meeting with a report documenting reasons for the refusal based on the committee’s discussions which would be used to defend the decision in any appeal the developer may make.

The report will be brought to councillors to agree at next month’s planning meeting.

Campaigners Maureen and Karen Farmer and Sonia Stewart

Westgate and Garlinge action group against housing development  were not able to make a statement at the meeting as no public representations were allowed but they thanked members who spoke out.

Karen Ault, from the campaign group, said: “The strength of public opinion and the hard work of those that have gathered and collected data and turned it into good solid reasons for valid opposition to the large scale developments on inappropriate sites has now given our councillors the ammunition to vote with the courage of their convictions.

“Thanks to the efforts of our group we saw the previous vote increase from 4/7 to 1/11 against approving the application and sent a clear message that the public expect the council to represent our interests over the interests of developers and may be a turning point for how future similar planning applications are dealt with.

“While we are really pleased about the outcome of yesterday’s vote we are under no illusion that the fight is over.

“Despite the very clear statements that this application should be rejected on a number of grounds, the planning officer seemed to manipulate the meeting once again into agreeing the matter is returned for further consideration of the evidence to support the decision to reject on the grounds of affordable housing.

“We still assert that this development should not go ahead for many reasons including flooding risk and the lack of biodiversity assessments and mitigation. We will continue lobbying to stop this and developments on Garlinge and Westgate farmland.”


  1. Cllr Jill Bayford was the sole councillor in favour of the development. She stated she was intimidated by all the emails she received objecting to the proposal.

  2. Will be interesting how this one plays out. Either a) The officers got this totally wrong and the developers will end up offering far higher numbers of affordable housing or b) The Councillors got this totally wrong and the developers will end up successfully appealing it and we’ll be stuck with the original numbers of affordable housing offered with a shed load of extra costs being incurred.

    • You’re right on every point.. but what’s the alternative.? Well done to the councillors for doing the correct thing. Please don’t make them fearful of appeal costs or everything will just get voted through without debate.

  3. For the planning officer not to persuade the chair of the planning committee is amazing however, I feel more devious discussions will take place. There is the potential for this to go to appeal. Who will write the report for reasons for refusing this 2nd application A pro for the development or an against development and will the report be presented to the planning committee for approval before being sent.
    Trust in TDC as a whole has to be earn’t and is not automatically given. There are many residents and some business who justifiably distrust TDC and have done so for years. pvp

  4. The builders will build eventually, Central Government needs to keep its promises re climate change, which would stop all development on arable land nationwide.

  5. Development of Thanet’s agricultural land should be halted completely as the risk of flooding is too great a danger. Concreting over the natural drainage is a disaster waiting to happen as we can see when we get heavy rain. The paltry 15% affordable housing case should make no difference as even with a promised 30% the land should not be developed as of the flooding issue. We cannot accept flooding at any price or allocation amount.
    Before any other developments are accepted Thanet needs to have the infrastructure in place. The back roads are being turned into main routes for the other developments that have begun which is crazy planning. All we are going to have is even more traffic jams in Thanet. It is already bad through stupid planning. Unless the bigger new main route is put in place through Thanet adjoining towns along with bigger hospital, more GP surgeries, new sewage plant, water excavation, wider roads, etc, etc then the crazy planners at TDC must put a stop on all this. Too many people and not enough infrastructure results in misery for all.

  6. I think gladman will make more that 20 million out of this site. I know what rates these company’s pay. Its a 200 million pound site at a property value of 3 to 400k.the access road is a race track road. You drive at a sensible speed and its not long someone’s tailgating you.

  7. For me the great breakthrough here is Cllr Garner telling the officers to go away and compile a case in support of the decision the councillors have made – not to go away and find more reasons for telling the councillors (their employers fgs) that they’re wrong. That would surely be a first for Thanet. Well done Mike.

  8. The Planning Inspectorate, down in Cardiff, will most probably be sent an appeal by the Developer, and if no-one complains directly to them (PI) it will probably be passed.
    Cardiff has no idea where or why the Developer wants to build there. They are blind to our situation, as has often been witnessed previously. In my view, this is somewhat criminal, and site visits by the PI should be mandatory. Let’s wait and see Developer and TDC’s next move.

    • The PI will look at the proposed development within the context of the Local Plan and national planning frameworks.
      If the plan contravened any of the regulations, then the PI will support the Council.
      If, on the other hand, no regulations are broken, the developer will get the green light.

  9. TDC has a Local Plan, agreed (eventually) by Councillors.
    The LP acknowledges the number of houses the government has imposed on Thanet, and where the areas designated for housing development are (and aren’t).
    So options open to the council (officers and councillors) are limited.

  10. Hopefully change is coming to this broken planning process as opposition rises against the government’s plan to further relax planning and weaken environmental protection. The Chesham and Amersham by election result has set a new tone and the Climate Change Committee report 16 June provides the sound scientific evidence that the system has been failing

    • Ditto that Edward! Johnson’s master plan to make objections by locals to any old developer who wants to build on green land, will make it impossible for local councillors, or anyone to object to further desecration of our Green and Pleasant Land!

  11. Hopefully the councillors have made a legal and safe decision, tdc please dont get into a legal squabble with the developers.Remember your using council tax payers cash against a developer that has seen it all before.

    Oh, a solution to two current councillor concerns. Allow the developer to go ahead and allow the developer to built a traveller site adjacent.

    All sorted !

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