Councillors will discuss resubmitted plans for a development in Ramsgate that was quashed after a Laleham Gap School parent took it to Judicial Review.
The proposal by Kentish Projects is for 23 houses,15 flats and parking on land off Stirling Way. In October 2020 Thanet council approved the plans for the build, sited in the perimeter of the Eurokent Business Park and bounded by Royal Harbour Academy and Laleham Gap Schools.
But the decision was challenged with the Judicial Review brought by the parent and last July the High Court allowed the claim on all six grounds in the parent’s claim and quashed the planning permission.
The Judge agreed that: the circumstances of the contract, which was for an application inclusive of land owned by Thanet council and Kent County Council under EKO LLP; the fact that it did not go to planning committee; the lack of explanation for why it had initially been scheduled for committee and then withdrawn, and other grounds in the legal claim, did mean that a fair-minded observer would have thought there was a real possibility the decision-maker was biased.
The development site, immediately adjacent to the school, is owned by an LLP joint venture in which Thanet council and Kent County Council are partners.
Owing to the council’s interest in the site for which it was considering the planning application, the Judge held that it was under an enhanced duty to engage with objections thoroughly, conscientiously and fairly. However, the application was approved by officers and not taken to committee despite more than 30 objections being lodged.
The result was an order for Thanet council to quash planning permission for homes at Stirling Way, overlooking the school playground, with the decision branded as unlawful and having the appearance of bias.
A new application was submitted by Kentish Projects in December and will be discussed by councillors on Thanet’s planning committee on March 16.
Laleham Gap headteacher Les Milton says the resubmitted plan has had no major alterations and has the same problems for traffic, congestion, air pollution , noise , privacy, emergency services access, environmental and ecological damage, drinking water catchment, loss of recreation and dog walking as before.
He will be speaking at the planning meeting to once again highlight the serious concerns of the school and parents.
He said: “The primary issue is the housing density which is significantly greater than in the local plan which was originally for 20 dwellings. There are now 38 and they are building the housing right up to the school boundary. This is literally 2m away from an area our students use as recreational space. The way the housing is designed means it overlooks not just our Post 16 area but also the primary play area which is just not acceptable.
“There will be even more pollution, even more noise, even more cars and congestion and a loss of public amenity which is an area where we walk with the therapy dogs and a nice space that our children use.
“This resubmitted plan has no real changes to the plan that the Judicial Review said was illegal. Thanet council is most interested in selling this land to the developer because it owns 50% with Kent County Council owning the other 50%.”
An objection to the proposal lodged by Mr Milton on behalf of the school and parents says: “As the Headteacher of Laleham Gap school I serve 217 pupils and their families. This development, if it proceeds will be detrimental to our community in the following ways:
“ The close proximity of some of the development to the post 16 provision (Phoenix Building) will negatively impact on our pupil’s ability to focus and concentrate.
“Construction noise and continuing impact on air quality will impact on pupil concentration and potentially impact on health.
“The houses and flats will overlook our primary play area and outdoor spaces for post 16 students. “This is clearly a loss of privacy for them. The density of housing in this application exacerbates all of our concerns which includes a detrimental impact on air quality, noise, privacy and road safety.
“The increase to traffic will adversely affect child drop-off and collection. Increased traffic will increase the risk for our young people who independently travel and participate in journey training. “As children from the age of 4 to 17 years with complex special educational needs any loss of quality to their educational setting or provision is in my view unacceptable. Please take this opportunity to review this plan to increase the space between the existing school and the new housing.”
Fifty-two letters of objection have been received against the resubmitted application.
The developer says measures will be put in place to reduce noise from the project and to address highways issues so students can still safely walk to school and one terrace will be ‘reoriented’ to deal with privacy concerns.
Thanet councillors are being advised to defer the decision to officers subject to safeguarding conditions and the submission of a signed legal agreement within 6 months.
The legal agreement will include the provision of 30% ‘affordable’ housing and contributions including £25,769.62 towards special education in the form of Foreland Fields School expansion, and £111,230 towards secondary education in the form of additional secondary places within a school expansion project within the district and £25,373 for new or replacement play equipment at Jackey Bakers Rec.
The meeting takes place on March 16 from 7pm.
Although the deadline for objections has passed concerns can still be raised by writing to TDC’s planning department quoting reference F/TH/19/0323