Thanet council is considering around 200 sites on the isle that have been put forward as potential areas for development or open spaces.
Last year the council launched a ‘Call for Sites’ in which developers, landowners and members of the public were invited to put forward potential land for development.
The authority was looking for sites for housing, self/custom building, Gypsy and Traveller sites, employment space, retail, nature conservation and biodiversity offset sites and open/green spaces.
In response more than 200 plots were submitted which have now been listed on the council website. These will now be assessed against the needs in Thanet’s Local Plan review on criteria including suitability, availability and viability for the purpose proposed.
Thanet District Council has suggested two sites to be considered for affordable housing.
They are available to view on the Call for Sites page: https://thanetcouncilplan.inconsult.uk/TLPRCFS/consultationHome
Sites now being reviewed
Thanet council says: “The sites have not been selected yet. We’re reviewing them all now to see if they are suitable for the use that has been proposed.
“In September 2023, when we know which sites are deemed suitable for use, there will be a chance for members of the public to comment and share their views.”
The Thanet Local Plan was adopted on 9 July 2020. It is a blueprint for development in the district up to 2031 but the review is for a partial update to cover the isle’s needs to 2040.
The plan sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy.
Local Plan partial update
The update to the Plan includes the need for land/sites to accommodate an additional 4,000-4,500 dwellings. The housing need calculated up to 2031 was for 17,140 new isle homes but using the Government “standard method” the number to 2040 is 21,700 dwellings.
The plan update report from 2021 says some 548 affordable homes per year would be needed to fully meet local needs and there is also a need to include 2,100 housing units with support (sheltered/retirement housing), in both the market and affordable sectors; 1,000 additional housing units with care (e.g. extra-care), again in both the market and affordable sectors; 1,286 additional care bed spaces; and 860 dwellings to be for wheelchair users.
In addition, the Gypsy & Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) undertaken for the council identifies a cultural need for 7 permanent pitches and 5 transit pitches. The council has also previously identified the need to provide a “directed stopping site” in the district.
The purpose of the review is:
• To consider the implications of climate change;
• To review the provisions of the Plan in relation to Manston Airport in the light of a decision on the Development Consent Order;
• To assess the implications of the Local Housing Need Methodology on housing requirements for the district;
• To consider the provision of Gypsy & Traveller sites to meet the requirements set out in Policy HO22; and
• To ensure compatibility with the most recent National Planning Policy Framework.
However, The Telegraph is reporting today that Secretary of State for housing Michael Gove has scrapped mandatory housebuilding targets. This may mean changes to the Local Plan and a reduction in properties needed.
Target reduction plea
However, earlier this year Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee said she would be raising an argument with central government to get the housing need target for Thanet reduced and the review pushed back by 14 months, saying: “I do not think we are (currently) in a position to make a decision regarding an extra 4,500 homes.
“I’m asking for an extension to push it back by 14 months. That will give us time to raise more arguments regarding extra housing. There is a lot of work to push back the housing requirement numbers.”
Thanet councillors voted to move forward with the Draft Local Plan in July 2018 after it was initially voted down in January of that year. The January vote failed after 35 councillors rejected it due to revisions that included axing the aviation-use only designation at the Manston airport site.
The plan includes the re-allocation of 2,500 homes to greenfield sites in Westgate, Birchington, Minster, Margate and Westwood.
Campaign groups have been voicing their objections to large developments on farmland, including in Westgate, Garlinge, Birchington and Minster.
A spokesperson for Minster Action Group said: “MAG is horrified at the scale of sites offered up for the TDC call for sites. Minster Village and Parish and Monkton village are effectively under siege, literally surrounded on all sides by potential development. Both villages are at imminent threat of being turned into one large urban sprawl.
“We are concerned too that the TDC Sustainability assessment consulted on last year by the council has to date provided the public with no feedback and how this fits into the latest call for sites. It is seemingly being ignored currently. MAG urges TDC to be open and transparent, advising the public on their process for deciding which sites will go forward to be consulted on, what criteria will be used to assess the sites and who will decide, publishing clearly what evidence is used to assess suitability.
“What is really worrying is that the UK is in the midst of a food security crisis and the call for sites threatens even more of the Thanet prime agricultural land, lost forever once built on. That is an absolute scandal and we urge TDC to do their bit to protect this pressure commodity now.
“The latest news from Michael Gove is promising in terms of national policy change but nothing is certain in politics and we need our local representatives to support this cause.”
A update on the process can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuIHivtxNow