Loss of grade 1 agricultural land, a possible increased risk of foul flooding from the sewer network, a lack of assessment on impacted wildlife and possible congestion and impact on existing residents are some of the reasons a 115 home development in Minster has been refused.
The application to build up to 115 homes on arable land by Laundry Road in Minster was submitted by Gladman Developments but refused by Thanet council this week.
The outline application for the 115 properties included 30% affordable housing, structural planting and landscaping, formal and informal public open space and children’s play area, sustainable urban drainage, with main vehicular access point from Foxborough Lane, according to planning documents. The site covers an area of approximately 5 hectares and is on an arable field on the eastern edge of Minster. The area is not included in Thanet’s Local Plan for housing.
When the proposals were first revealed last year a Minster action group was set up by residents opposed to the scheme. Organiser Caroline Fleming, who is a business development manager, says the group is thrilled with the decision to reject the application.
She said: “The Minster Action Group is thrilled that the TDC Planning department has acknowledged the many issues facing the Foxborough Lane application including the devasting loss of agricultural land and the blight on the lives of existing villagers who would have had to cope with congestion and safety issues at the junction of Foxborough Lane with Tothill Street.
“Members of the Action Group spent many an hour campaigning and forensically preparing the detail needed to demonstrate that the application was untenable. I want to personally thank them for answering my call for help and for all the villagers who objected and supported the campaign. We now wait patiently to see if an appeal is lodged.”
The application prompted more than 300 objections including from residents, councillors Reece Pugh and Abi Smith, Monkton Residents Association, Campaign to Protect Rural England Kent, Minster Parish Council, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, Monkton Parish Council and even Southern Water.
In its objection Minster Parish Council said: “The site lies outside the urban confines within the open countryside, in an unsustainable location, contrary to local and national policy. The site has highway issues that cannot be mitigated by condition. Nothing has changed since the Local Plan was adopted, other than the approval of 250 more houses in the village. On this basis alone the planning committee should reject this application.
“The impact of 115 houses reaches far beyond the boundaries of the site into every aspect of residents’ lives including highways, education, public transport and community facilities. It is for this reason that Minster Parish Council declined the invitation of a closed online meeting with representatives of Gladman. Residents had many questions to ask about the proposed development and they had the right to receive a response in person.
“We invited the agent to meet with local people in a Covid 19 safe environment- there was no prohibition on public meetings provided guidance was followed, this was declined. Two further invitations were declined after all restrictions had been lifted stating they did not consider village hall gatherings to be effective. Once the planning application was submitted we arranged a public meeting and once again invited representatives of Gladman to attend. They declined again, adding that they were concerned for the health and safety of their staff. The excuses given are risible.
“120 people attended a constructive meeting to ask questions and share views, undoubtedly a missed opportunity for Gladman to demonstrate real community engagement. It is clear that their claims to have carried out effective community consultation are misleading in the extreme.”
The parish council, along with CPRE and many other objectors, raised issues including the loss of best agricultural land.
In refusing the application Thanet council said: “The expansion of the village onto undeveloped agricultural land would inevitably involve a change to the character of the countryside in environmental terms and result in the loss of approximately 4.97 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land.
“The development would result in significant harm to the Landscape character area which the site forms part of. Therefore there would be detrimental impact on the wider environment from the loss of countryside, change in its character through an artificial landscape character and loss of best and most versatile agricultural land. This harm is given significant weight.
“ It is considered that insufficient information has been submitted in relation to highway matters, archaeology, air quality to enable a full assessment to be carried out to ensure that the proposal would not have adverse impacts. In addition, there is insufficient information for a full assessment to be made to determine if there would be unacceptable impacts on functionally linked land for non-breeding SPA/RAMSAR site birds from the loss of the site or impact on surrounding land. In the absence of this information, the development may result in significant harm to the environment, including European designated sites.
“Furthermore the mechanism to secure the delivery of the necessary planning obligations required in order to mitigate the impacts of the proposed development on the local infrastructure and affordable housing (S106), as well as resulting in increased recreational pressure on designated sites without mitigation. Consequently, in this case the adverse impacts of the proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, therefore planning permission is refused.”
Two Minster sites are allocated for development in the Thanet Local Plan: one to the south of the site beyond Foxborough Lane for up to 35 dwellings and one to northwest of the site beyond Tothill Street which had an outline planning application for up to 214 dwellings permitted in September 2021.