An inquiry to decide on an appeal over the refusal for a contentious application for 450 homes on agricultural land off Shottendane Road in Margate will be held in January.
The planning proposal by Gladman Developments Ltd was rejected by Thanet council three times – in April, June and then July of this year.
The proposal was initially 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.
In July it was again rejected on the grounds of an unacceptable percentage of affordable housing although councillors had raised numerous concerns including the lack of biodiversity surveys and mitigation, wildlife, the loss of farmland and the issue of greatly increased pressure on access to healthcare services.
However, council officers said there were “no cogent reasons” in planning policy to refuse on any basis other than the lack of affordable housing.
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 with approximately £4.9million in contributions to community and highways infrastructure.
Gladman’s appealed to the Secretary of State against the refusal and the inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate will open at 10am on January 11.
The hearing is at Thanet council’s offices and is scheduled for four days. The public can attend.
Gladman’s say the site is one earmarked for housing in the local plan and added complexities such as topography and the funding of a link road reduce the viability of providing 30% affordable housing.
The developer’s appeal statement says: “Site conditions combined with infrastructure requirements generate significant abnormal costs that have had to be considered as part of the proposals. These costs are in addition to other development costs such as the requested Section 106 contributions.”
Thanet council’s statement says: “The proposed number of homes, their types and the level of affordable homes, do not comprise an adequate and reasonable contribution to meeting local housing needs as required by the Local Plan. In view of the local needs housing objectives of the Strategic Site Allocation in the Local Plan, and the desperate need for affordable housing as set out in TDC’s Housing Strategy, TDC considers that it is a failure of the Appeal proposal to not exhaust all options to provide 30% affordable housing on the site, through proposing or testing the viability assumptions around alternative schemes.
The Westgate & Garlinge Action Group (WAGAG) and Salmestone Ward Residents’ Association are fighting the appeal and urging residents to turn up to the hearings.
WAGAG’s statement to the Planning Inspector will outline concerns raised by residents including loss of farmland, loss of wildlife, potential for increased flooding particularly associated with Tivoli Brook, increased traffic and lack of appropriate infrastructure including GPs, and sewerage issues.
SWRA are taking a full and active part in the appeal as a Rule 6 party which means they will support the council’s main reason for refusal around the lack of affordable housing.
A planning consultant has been engaged and the advice of other experts will be sought as needed. A fundraiser to cover the costs of the battle is being run by SWRA and the Westgate action group has made a donation to this.
WAGAG says in its statement: “We support Thanet District Council’s (TDC) refusal of the proposed development and firmly believe that the appeal should be dismissed.
“However, the reasons for refusal are not considered to be sufficiently comprehensive because they do not reflect the wider range of issues associated with the application – several aspects of which are contrary to Local Plan policy.
“These issues are…in relation to landscape character, loss of productive farmland, inadequate bird and bat surveys,, surface water flooding, sewage pollution, traffic generation and the inadequate nature of local GP services.
“In addition, residents are aware that an overage agreement exists in relation to the appeal site, whereby the council would benefit financially from its development. Thanet District Council therefore has a vested interest in the land and this constitutes a serious conflict of interest.”
Development on agricultural land has been raised in a letter from North Thanet MP Roger Gale to Secretary of State for Housing Michael Gove.
In it the MP says there is “sufficient brownfield land” to meet short and medium term housing needs and use of agricultural land would damage ‘self-sufficiency’ aspirations. He adds that there is “a dismal lack of supporting infrastructure” and raises concerns over whether the sewage system will cope with the volume of new homes. He adds that he believes there should be a moratorium on further development until there is a satisfactory sewage system.
A petition by Westgate and Garlinge Action Group against development on farmland has now gained 5,177 signatures.
Find the petition here – https://chng.it/x7ss27xx
The fundraiser for appeal battle costs can be found here – https://gofund.me/bc229bb9