Planning inquiry date set for controversial 450 homes proposal on Margate agricultural land

Harvest at the land in Shottendane that could be used for housing Photo Sarah Bowers

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.

Houses are planned for farmland off Shottendane Road Photo Sarah Bowers

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.

Campaigners Karen Farmer, Maureen Farmer and Sonia Stewart

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.”

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale

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

30 Comments

    • Much of Thanet’s land is tenanted. Land owners include St Johns college Cambridge, Quex museum trust and the Church.
      This site was tenanted/not owned by the farmer and the farming business is negatively impacted as a consequence.

  1. Build em on the largest brownfield site in Kent. The defunct Manston.

    Apart from Roger Gale who prefers prime arable land and TDC fudged the local plan to ensure of this.

  2. Emmeline, How many more times do you have to be told Manston Airport will be reopening as a airport. Get used to it and look forward to the fact that you will not need to pollute the roads driving to Gatwick to start your holidays when passengers will also be travelling from Manston as well as freight. Just like it used to be.

    • Ann,
      Some people never give up do they?
      Build on Manston and the rest of Thanet will be built on AS WELL !
      Thanet needs jobs, not London overspill housing – the locals on Thanet wages could never afford them if built anyhow.

    • There’s very little chance of Manston reopening as a viable airport, according to all the surveys so far, apart from Sally Dixon’s.

      People should not be driving or flying now, given the state of the planet.

      • Could we not all be given our own carbon allowance and choose how we live instead of being told to do by others with their own different priorities?
        I’d choose to keep my car, wear clothes till they fall off me, wear a jumper indoors in winter, limit internet use and eat home uk grown produce.
        Pretty sure that’d keep me within a sensible carbon budget.
        Is that a sensible proposition for you?

    • Ann: how many more times do you have to be told that, in the opinion of more than a dozen aviation experts, commercial aviation at Manston will never be a success.

  3. Those houses will be built as sure as eggs is eggs! The plans may be titivated at the edges but generally it will go through as requested. Wait and see.
    Yes, it is wrong, Thanet is being overwhelmed, cheaper here than London though isn’t it?

  4. What I find incredible is despite the house building all over THANET and Kent in general, Kent still does not have a major trauma centre seriously injured are taken to London. We are also losing the stroke unit as well. How many new doctors surgeries / new dentist. / new schools are being built to accommodate all the house building ?

  5. All councils might as well close down there planning departments when dealing with big developers. The council say no so off they run to the appeals process to gain approval. The whole system is a joke.

  6. There is so much talk about saving the countryside, the environment, wildlife etc. (And there SHOULD be such concerns!) But, in the end, no amount of green open space, and hedges, and wildlife, make any difference to the developers and their friends in high places. To think that our politicians at the recent Glasgow COP26 conference sounded like they were lecturing the rest of the world about doing more to protect the environment when they just let developers lay waste to swathes of our countryside. And encourage them to do it!
    This really is a sickeningly corrupt country.

  7. So much green land is already owned on behalf of developers, land banked and leased back to tenants.
    Land is very cheap in thanet,it really is. Lovely flat land, near to services (not gas) Thanet and other coastal areas are a developers dream.

    Anyway we need extra housing for the 1 way channel travellers and the local expanding community.

    Build back better ! clear the local slums.

  8. If they get go ahead to build,will they also pay to repair and pay insurance for flooding which will happen every time it happens. No is the answer and No to the building,no no no

  9. On the wider scale, you can blame the tory government for easing the way for their developer and builder chums; nearer to home, the blame lies squarely at the feet of UKIP, TIG and tory councillors. These people were pressured by vocal groups (for example Birchington Against the Local Plan) to scrap a LP that permitted things other than aviation at Manston.
    So TDC was forced to adopt an later, altered LP that had an increase from 11,000 to 17,000 homes. And since none could be built on Manston, they have to be built on Greenfields instead.
    Ironically, quite a lot round Birchington.

  10. what is affordable housing??this whole area is being blighted by new houses which local people cannot rent or buy, that is not affordable unless you come from London.Look at Poor Hole lane development all those wonderful trees/bushes gone and now no where for the wildlife to move on to,look around Thanet now and try driving around traffic is non stop around Westwood and Victoria lights

    • If you stopped driving around Thanet, it would create more road space for others.
      The Poor Hole Lane trees and bushes were landscape features planted by a previous owner, not ancient woodland. How many trees and bushes were chopped down to build the roads to Westwood Cross and the car parks there?
      If Thatcher hadn’t completely shafted Local Authority housing by introducing the Right to Buy scheme, there would be no problem with “affordable” housing.

      • Well given the names of some of thanets areas SouthWOOD, WestWOOD, NorthWOOD it’d be safe to say that in the dim and distant past thanet had a considerable amount of tree cover, how far back do we wish to go?

        • In the “dim and distant past” most of England was forested but by the beginning of the 19th century there was not much tree cover left in Kent.

        • Places are given fancy names that are quite unrelated to reality. Look at King St in Ramsgate (never seen a king) or Guildford Lawn (nowhere near Guildford)

  11. If Gladman knew there was a requirement for 30% affordable housing but the topography would not allow this, they should not have proceeded.

    • Of course they should proceed but they’ll present their business case and mitigating factors, when did it become necessary for the purchasers of homes to subsidise the cost of affordable housing ( the purchasers of the full price homes are effectively those that pay the bill) social housing provision is meant o be a state function funded from general taxation. Just another reason new housing is so expensive as is the need for developers to improve the local road infrastructure, another area that national/local planning should be doing.

  12. The way i see it, the developer employs full time professional planning people.
    Hopefully tdc does not spend to much ct payers cash on fighting professionals.

    Tdc will lose, its written in history

  13. As a percentage of spend TDC spends less on its planning department than most other local authorities. Recently Ms Homer declared that she is responsible for all staffing matters so we know where the buck stops on that one.
    Furthermore, the planning applications team has an approach that is biased and will allow anything unless there is an unavoidable reason to block it – hence their absolute failure to support councillors by making a ‘cogent’ case for objection. Ultimate responsibility, Ms Homer.
    In summary, we have a lightweight planning applications department which is out of its depth, culturally at odds with the wishes of councillors and local people, presided over by someone whose behaviours and management capabilities are currently under investigation.
    It doesn’t look good.

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