By Jenny Matterface
St. Andrew’s Community Hall in Reading Street was packed for a public meeting yesterday (January 6) as residents met to discuss an application to build 74 homes on land off Convent Road/Reading Street Road which was refused by Thanet council and has now gone to appeal.
Prospective developer Land Allocation Ltd has appealed to the Secretary of State to overturn Thanet council’s decision to reject the plan to build on the prime agricultural land in Broadstairs.
The proposal provoked more than 140 objections when it was lodged with Thanet council with campaigners saying the development would put pressure on local infrastructure and especially on highways.
Among reasons for refusal was the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land.
The meeting, attended by a number of councillors from both Thanet district and Kent county councils, discussed the reasons for the refusal of the application by TDC and how to approach the appeal.
Those who had already submitted objections to the application were advised they would all be sent to the planning inspector and what was needed now was a response to the 315 page appeal document. Earlier objections could be mentioned on the grounds the concerns hadn’t been addressed.
The main arguments to support a rejection of the appeal were based on Kent Highway’s recommendation to refuse – in line with the National Planning Policy Forum’s grounds for rejection – due to the severe impact on highway safety and other reasons.
The appeal document referenced regular bus services to Margate, Ramsgate and Canterbury from the adjacent bus stops and that raised a laugh among the audience since there are no longer any daytime buses except on a Sunday to Westwood Cross. The only access to a bus is a lengthy walk to St. Peter’s Railway Bridge or up an unlit country lane without a pavement that is a 60mph zone.
The government has recently changed policy to remove compulsory house building targets for local authorities to make them negotiable in response to pressure from its own backbenchers. This means the argument Thanet doesn’t have a five year housing allocation is likely to carry less weight than it might otherwise have done. Government policy is now to build on brownfield sites to protect the Green Wedge.
The Convent Road site is in the Green Wedge and isn’t allocated for housing in the adopted Local and Neighbourhood Plans – blueprints for future housing and infrastructure – an argument that could support refusal.
Representations can be made on the Planning Inspectorate site until January 16, appeal case reference 3304235, at:
Jenny Matterface is a Broadstairs resident who has campaigned on issues including cuts to bus services and developments proposed for the town’s Green Wedge sites, including the Convent Road application.