The Laleham Gap School Parents Association has taken the first step of legal action against Thanet council – for a second time – over the approval of a development of 38 homes next to the school.
The Kentish Projects development is for 23 houses,15 flats and parking on land off Stirling Way, in the perimeter of the Eurokent Business Park and bounded by Royal Harbour Academy and Laleham Gap Schools.
The original application, which had been granted approval by Thanet council in October 2020, was quashed by the High Court in July 2021 after a parent took the case to Judicial Review.
The development site is owned by an LLP joint venture in which Thanet council and Kent County Council are partners which gave rise to claims of an appearance of bias by the council, something the judge agreed with.
The result was an order for Thanet council to quash planning permission for the homes overlooking the school playground, with the decision branded as unlawful and having the appearance of bias.
The application came back to Thanet council this year and, following a site visit, a decision was made to defer to officers to grant approval for the development.
The Parents Association sought legal advice and a solicitor’s pre-action protocol (PAP) letter has now been sent to Thanet council to try and resolve the dispute before Judicial Review (JR) proceedings are started again.
A spokesperson for the parents’ association said: “We need the land to remain undisturbed as a green buffer nature garden around the school to protect against noise and disturbance.
“In 2014 Laleham Gap secondary was moved from its 10-acre site of mainly quiet playing fields and the primary was moved from 4 acres of woods and parkland with 150 meters of sea front at Dumpton Gap to the present site next to the overloaded Haine Road.
“The school was squashed from 14 to 4 acres in order to accommodate property developers, And now in 2022, despite losing the 2021 Judicial Review case outright, TDC is giving priority to the developer to build on land that is used by the school for its cycle shed and post 16 education.
“Houses cannot be built quietly within 12 meters of noise sensitive, autistic children without causing stress. The 550 houses being built on Haine Road are to be marketed at commuters and those coming from outside of the area, why not build these houses and flats up the road and not on land the school and local residents, dog walkers and wildlife of Stirling Way area, are using.”
A Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) letter is also called a ’letter before claim’ or a ’letter before action’.
The Parents Association is now fundraising to help cover potential costs from the legal action.
The spokesperson said: “We are committed to another High Court repeat of last year and will require some financial support from parents and the good citizens of Thanet to protect the claimant in case of claimant losses. They need to be protected from the capped losses of about £5000 and about £1600 court costs. A small amount of money is needed to cover some costs like train fare and lodging in London and some paperwork.
“The solicitors and barristers are kindly taking the risk themselves of not being able to recover all their labour costs, they do not work on legal aid. Please donate to the Parents at Laleham legal fund. Large donations over £100 can be offered for return if we win, what is not returned of smaller donations will be used to fund what is not covered by winning.”
At a council meeting last year a representative for Kentish Projects said the developer did not think the plan was “controversial” as the land was earmarked for housing in the Local Plan. However, this designation was made after Laleham Gap had submitted the application for their school site in 2014.
She added that Kentish Projects would be paying significant developer contributions including £25,769.62 for Foreland Fields School expansion and £25,373 for new or replacement play equipment at Jackey Bakers Rec.
Laleham Gap headteacher Les Milton previously said the Local Plan identified 20 dwellings for the site not 38.
He added that the resubmitted plan 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.
Thanet council says the entire area is earmarked for 550 homes with 500 homes off the New Haine Road granted approval. There is also approximately 5.45 hectares which is earmarked for commercial development.
Parents at Laleham Gap School
Ref Legal Fund
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