450 Shottendane homes plan ‘officially’ refused after third time at planning committee

Harvest today (July 22) on the Shottendane farmland Photo Ros Tapp

The highly contentious planning proposal for 450 homes on farmland off Shottendane Road in Margate has been rejected – again – after being brought to Thanet council’s planning committee for a third time.

However, there was confusion over what exactly could be voted for in the official reason for refusal and the need for a second show of hands after a miscount.

The proposal by Gladman Developments Ltd was 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.

In June the application was rejected yet again by Thanet council’s planning committee due to an “insulting” affordable housing offer of 15%, flood risk, harm to wildlife and agricultural land and concerns at the inability to provide required health care for new residents.

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 latest plan offered 68 properties as affordable housing on an 80% affordable rent and 20% shared ownership mix. There would also be approximately £4.9million in contributions to community and highways infrastructure.

The application was discussed again last night (July 21) to agree on reasons for refusal which can be used as defence if the case is taken to appeal.

Councillors were advised by officers to vote to reject the development because the harm of not providing 30% affordable housing outweighing the benefits.

The refusal statement was: “The proposed development, by virtue of the proposed level of affordable housing, would not meet the identified need for affordable housing in the district, thereby not providing the required homes to create a balanced and mixed community.

“This harm is considered to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the development, therefore the proposal would not constitute sustainable development and is contrary to Strategic Priority 3 of the Thanet Local Plan and the objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework.”

During the meeting concerns over the application were once again raised with Cllr Bertie Braidwood saying he hoped to see the application finally “kicked into the long grass” adding that the 5% rise offered for affordable housing showed “margins can be increased when needed,” although he suggested “greed” was also evident.

Cllr Braidwood and ward councillor Candy Gregory also raised the recent Judicial Review won by a Laleham Gap school parent which branded the granting of permission for another development unlawful. Both pointed to one reason, which was Thanet council’s financial interest, with land ownership an issue in the Laleham Gap case and an overage agreement which could finally benefit TDC applicable to Shottendane.

Cllr Gregory was ‘shut down’ when raising issues around freedom of information requests about the Gladman development, being told by officers it was ‘not relevant.’

Fellow ward councillor Pauline Farrance questioned why the 30% affordable housing figure could not be reached, saying: “ Apparently it isn’t viable because Gladman have to make a profit of £20 million. Am I alone in being bemused by this figure? Why could  Gladman not make a smaller, but very handsome profit, and meet TDC’s policy for 30% affordable homes?

To put this in context, and to quote from the officer’s documents before us –

Currently 29% of the population are on a low income of less than £16,000 per annum. Our average earnings are within the bottom 20% of the whole of England. So more than 80% of the population in Thanet, cannot afford to buy an averagely priced terraced house.

Those who are renting in the private sector are spending over 50% of their earnings on living costs. To be affordable, the National Housing Federation identifies that only 30% of income should be spent on housing costs.”

She also raised the issues of the lack of biodiversity surveys and mitigation, wildlife, the loss of farmland and the issue of greatly increased pressure on access to healthcare services.”

Cllr Steve Albon said the reason the site had been included for housing in Thanet’s Local Plan – a blueprint for development and infrastructure on th isle – was solely to facilitate the completion of an inner circuit (roads) and he believed the development would increase rather than decrease congestion.

He added:”We have to make a stand, we have to make a stand for our residents and we have to make a stand for ourselves. If we lose it, we lose it and we know there will be costs.”

However, officers reiterated that there were “no cogent reasons” in planning policy to refuse on any basis other than the lack of affordable housing and said this still left the council at risk of costs via an appeal.

Cllr Mike Garner disagreed, saying there was solid evidence of issues over flooding, wildlife and healthcare and those reasons should be included in the refusal.

He added: “I agree with everything Cllr Albon said especially the need for us to make a stand and that’s exactly what we did at the last committee meeting.”

However, the final vote rejected the development on the basis of the lack of affordable housing outweighing any benefits.

This was passed despite confusion over whether other options could then be taken if members wanted other concerns included in the official reason for rejection.

The vote had to be taken twice due to a miscount.

A comment caught on the mic at the end of the discussion between the chairman and chief executive about pressure groups ‘popping up everywhere’ and the hope it was not the start of ‘rejecting’ all developments has provoked some anger with the Westgate and Garlinge Action Group Against Housing taking to twitter to comment on “TDC’s attitude to objectors.”

Gladman Developments may now take the application to appeal.

19 Comments

  1. The applicant’s repeated refusal to meet the requirements clearly stated on eaxh occasion seems to be harassment – and wasting the valuable time of TDC officers and councillors

  2. I was there last night and was utterly appalled by the way the council treated the councillors and the public gallery. Councillors continually shut down and time limited while the council spoke at length about anything they wanted. Shambles at voting as no one knew what was going on. I was concerned at the start as there wasn’t even a show of hands to vote to agree the minutes of the last meeting. It was just waved through by the chairman even though councillors and the public who were there last time disagreed with their authenticity. Public told not show any appreciation of speech’s for or against. No wonder Laleham went to JR. So will this…if this is TDC democracy in action then there really is no hope for Thanet. Big applause for all the councillors that stood up for the residents of Thanet.

  3. Looking at the ‘Affordable Homes’ on offer, they appear to be mostly flats! It’s family homes that are needed…. but not on farmland that will decimate the environment & lead to floods & pollution

  4. We, through our elected representatives must reject the further destruction of green spaces. This only illustrates the rampant greed of developers and their contempt towards residents. Enough is enough develop on sites around the towns. Use empty buildings and provide family homes for low rents.

    • Local councils cannot afford to buy and repair empty buildings. This is the case all over Britain. This is why we don’t have nearly enough social housing. Plus, of course, no government has dared to rescind Thatcher’s introduction of the right to buy- and then resell-the council house or flat of which you are a tenant.

    • Wrong Chris! Its the Tory government that has insisted local authorities MUST build hundreds of thousands of new homes nationally, I stand corrected, but I believe its something in the region of 17,000 in Thanet alone!

  5. And now they will try again until they get their way. Something must be done, We live here & deserve quality of life. Not concrete jungles built on farmland. Just go away.

  6. This should be taken to JR also if the developer appeals.
    TDC are happy to roll over and allow the developers to rub their tummies but at least the councillors are taking this important stand. And yes, I do hope this is the start of a rebellion against all these homes being built on farmland meant for growing our crops. We are supposed to be the Garden of England but this is being eroded away piece by piece.

  7. Councillors are trying to fight back against the developers, seems they have to fight against their own planning officers aswell. Councillors are always getting bad press but you can see they are trying to do right thing. As they are in many issues.

    • I wasn’t at the meeting but I agree, from other experiences that the planning department seems to operate in a bubble, insulated from the wishes of local residents and immune from councillors.
      There could be several expalnations:
      We’re all wrong and don’t understand?
      They’re incompetent?
      They consider there is some (unseen by anyone else) benefit is permitting clearly unsuitable schemes?
      Something else?
      As for the reported contempt expressed by the chief executive, she neeeds a good talking to and if she doesn’t like it can push off.

  8. Trouble is, we need 30% of Social Housing to remain, as is a requirement.
    If Councillors on our Planning Committee give in now, it will set a precedent for other “developers” to follow suit.
    This would be a ridiculous situation to be left in.
    I believe that our Councillors are correct in voting this plan off.
    If Developers cannot supply 30% of Social Housing, as is a requirement, then Permission should not be granted…. end of!

    • Unfortunately it’s 30% Affordable Housing. Mostly part buy/rent that anyone can buy. The actual percentage of social housing is much less, probably less than 5% and usually made up of flats.

  9. If they are making £20 million profit (minimum profit) that is sicken. For that amount you would think they could at least offer 50/50 on homes built. These new homes are nothing special just boxes poorly built. But more than this they should never be built on this land EVER END OF. as for the rest they want to build then 50/50 split should be what offered nothing less

  10. TDC really do not want to be transparent. Here is the FOI that I submitted to scrutinise their meetings with the “developer”, the well known predator, Gladman.

    1. With regards to this application [OL/TH/20/0847] can you please provide the notes and/or minutes of any meetings between the developer and any TDC officer, or with any member of the Planning Committee to date. Within the SCI (Statement of Community Involvement) a number of meetings are referenced, can you please confirm if this is exhaustive?

    Response: We confirm that we hold the information that you have requested however we consider that it is exempt under Section 36(2)(b)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – the effective conduct of public affairs. This is because disclosure of the information under the Act would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank provision of advice from the planning officer to the applicant. The disclosure of any contemporaneous notes/minutes of informal meetings would be prejudicial to the conduct of public affairs because discussions remain ongoing and are confidential.

    Furthermore, we believe disclosure of any pre-application information provided by a potential developer to the Authority to be their data held in confidence, the disclosure of which would constitute an actionable breach of confidence. This information would therefore be exempt from disclosure under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Section 41 (1) Information is exempt information if – (a) it was obtained by the public authority from any other person (including another public authority), and (b) the disclosure of the information to the public (otherwise than under this Act) would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other person.

    In considering these exemptions, we have carefully considered the public interest test and the requirement on public bodies to be open and transparent. However, it is the opinion of the Council that disclosing information which is likely to impede free and frank discussions between the parties may be prejudicial to the Council’s ability to make unbiased decisions. Furthermore, there is an expectation of the applicant of confidentiality in their discussions. They would only expect the Council to publish the information which is required to be published during the planning application process. On balance, the Council believes that the interest in disclosure is outweighed by the interest in maintaining these exemptions.

  11. Plenty of space up at Manston, that available brownfield site until TDC ring-fenced it for their pet cargo aviation. Building on the brownfield would protect valuable arable land for years to come.

    • Yes, it’s a trade off but on balance it must be best to build on Manston rather than fields. Keep all the new houses in one place. Close to dual carriageway too for commuting as no one working in Thanet will be able to afford any of the houses.

  12. Emmeline once again states/reiterates the obvious and so simple solution to Thanet’s future developments and housing needs – and still safeguarding our much needed agricultural/and valuable environmental concerns.
    Years ago and repeatedly governments have pledged to build on “brown field” and redevelop empty properties – is it all just election promise, keeping mushrooms in the dark? Or are the “little powerful” entities only interested in “what serves their pockets best? Need one ask!
    Keep the ball rolling, Emmeline.

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