Diocese plan to build on Birchington agricultural strip hits Public Right of Way issue

The site proposed for nine homes Image JOHN BISHOP AND ASSOCIATES

A proposed residential development of agricultural land in Canterbury Road, Birchington, has been submitted by the Church of England Diocese of Canterbury.

The site between 310 And 318 Canterbury Road has historically been rented out to form part of the very large arable farm. However, the application may hit a problem as the site also contains a Public Right of Way.

The Diocese wants to build nine houses on the 0.87 acre block of chalk farmland which abuts agricultural land earmarked for housing as part of a 1,600 home development.

The Diocese says: “The site is flat, featureless, and treeless. It has been farmed on a monoculture basis for as long as records exist.

“The site lends itself to the development of 9 detached houses of modest size. This configuration would the meet the full range of planning requirements including delivery of satisfactory outdoor spaces and the safeguarding of visual privacy for both existing neighbouring residents and future occupiers. Vehicular and pedestrian access would be directly from the A28 Canterbury Road.”

The application document states: “Economic – the construction work would provide a temporary boost to the local economy. The new dwellings would bring new family household incomes to the locality.

“Social – the nine dwellings would be a very worthwhile contribution towards meeting the pressing need for more family houses. The occupiers of the new family homes would become part of the local community and help to sustain community services and facilities.

“Environmental – the site will no longer be a viable agricultural unit once the surrounding land has been developed as planned by the Local Planning Authority. The transformation from monoculture arable to garden land will provide an opportunity to significantly improve biodiversity, through planting, landscaping, and measures such as nest and bat boxes.”


However, Kent County Council’s Public Rights of Way & Access Service says the Diocese has made no mention of the Public Right of Way and should provide a new application “reflecting the existence of the right of way and indicating how it will be dealt with.”

The officer adds that  there are econcerns over vehicles traversing the public right of way to gain access to parking for the units 5,7 and 8 and askes what future plans are for the footpath which KCC has applied to install an upgrade from footpath to bridleway for shared pedestrian cycle use.

The rights of way officer adds: “Make sure the applicant is made aware that the granting of planning permission confers on the developer no other permission or consent or right to close or divert any Public Right of Way at any time without the express permission of the Highway Authority.”

The Diocese suggests the 9 home proposal will slot alongside the plan  to build 1,600 homes, a primary school, shops and a community park on farmland at Birchington.

The development is earmarked to take place on land off the Canterbury Road and is proposed by Ptarmigan Land and Millwood Designer Homes. The application was submitted in December 2020 but a decision has not yet been made.

Thanet council is also yet to make a decision on the nine home application. It can be viewed on the council planning page, reference OL/TH/22/1586.

Consultation events over plans for 1,600 homes, school and shops on Birchington farmland


  1. “… pressing need for more family homes…”?
    Thanet need? Or Canterbury need? Or London Overspill/White Flight need?
    Canterbury golf & institutions, whether ecumenical or varsity, do appear to have a lack of imagination concerning potential uses for land. Why is this?

  2. That footpath is much used (I use it myself at least once a week, and I nearly always see other people on there too). We should be encouraging people to exercise, not stopping them.

  3. Yet another money grab by remote/absent landowners without consdideration for the local community. There is a pressing need for affordable housing and starter/downsizing homes – this proposal is out of touch, misleading and aimed solely at maximising returns. Furthermore, reference to the proposed 1,600 homes development, school etc is speculation as nothing has yet been approved.
    Come on TDC planners, show some backbone for a change.

  4. Where all these new builds over the past ten years ,are the new schools ,gp ,dentist ,clinics been built ,all promised nought built

  5. Now it’s the Church getting in on the ‘Rape Of The Countryside’ business. Couldn’t they build on brownfield sites? They own plenty of it. Search for free PDF books by ‘Avro Manhattan’.

  6. “White flight” is a description imported from America. It implies that many/most people who leave a big metropolitan city, heading for the suburbs or small towns, are white people escaping from all the black and brown people who live in the city centres. Hints of bad behaviour, crime, noise, “odd ways” etc
    In fact , there are lots of reasons to leave the big cities, notably the cost of houses in, say, London. Also the level of pollution and traffic ,which diminishes once you are living in the countryside.
    Thanet has experienced a great deal of this flight in recent decades. If, say, you now own a house in a rapidly-gentrifying part of London that cost you £200K around 20 years ago, and is now worth a cool £million, and you are approaching retirement age, well, why not move to Kent or Sussex, by the sea? You will probably have enough money left over to appear on a “Homes in the Sun” TV programme and even, actually, buy one!!
    It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are escaping anybody for racial reasons at all (loads of young white people LOVE living in London and would love to get their own place there but can’t afford it, except by paying extortionate rents).
    But, it has to be said that Thanet did not become “UKIP Central” for nothing. The solid vote for far-Right candidates is based on ex-Londoners who retired to the coast to escape all the normal people in the capital. I suppose they would move even further east if they could as Thanet is also becoming more like England in having a variety of people as residents. But if they moved even further east ,they would either get very wet or would become residents of France!! Oh dear, NOT the intended result!

    PS I have lived in this area for decades and didn’t move here from London, where I have never lived. I moved here for work and local family connections.

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