Thanet Green Party is calling for a halt to all housing developments across the isle until significant improvements have been made to Southern Water’s infrastructure.
The call follows a series of interruptions to water supply due to faults at the Rumfields water tower and sewer outfall incidents around the coast.
The number of water outages has increased over the last 12 months, with three already this year.
Thanet Green Party Chair Cllr Mike Garner, whose ward covers the water tower, said: “It is becoming abundantly clear that Southern Water’s current infrastructure is unable to supply a reliable service to the current population of Thanet, let alone the thousands of new homes which are planned between now and 2030. Without considerable improvements, the new homes being built are bound to make matters worse.
“We therefore believe that until Southern Water have completed the significant upgrades needed to make their infrastructure fit for purpose, no new housing developments should be approved.”
The move would possibly mean having to defer all decisions as refusal would have to be based on planning considerations, such as over development, and that would run the risk of costly planning appeals.
However, local planning authorities should usually make a decision on planning applications within eight weeks. If it takes longer, the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State with responsibility for planning.
Housing development motion
Green Party Cllr Abi Smith proposed a motion at last October’s council meeting which would have routinely requested more detailed evidence from Southern Water that its systems could cope when applications for housing developments were being considered.
Senior officials from both Southern Water and the Environment Agency would have been invited to attend meetings to answer questions about plans to improve the infrastructure and ensure it was fit for purpose. A debate and vote on this motion was denied and the matter was referred to Cabinet.
Thanet Green Party Councillors will be attending this week’s Cabinet meeting to ask the administration to reconsider their rejection of the motion and to follow the example of other councils across the South which have implemented similar proposals.
Request for answers
Labour councillor Rob Yates has also requested answers from Southern Water about the continued water outages affecting residents.
He said he had received reports that the lack of supply had caused damage to combi-boilers installed on nearby houses, residents being left without heating and local businesses such as Bannatynes and schools including Upton Junior School having to close.
Southern Water has now agreed to attend a council overview and scrutiny meeting to let residents and councillors know what is happening with water outages and low water pressure around Westwood Cross and Broadstairs.
A date is yet to be agreed but it will need to be by March due to publicity restrictions that come into force when elections are due to take place.
Resident Liz Larvin has raised a petition asking Southern Water to attend a public meeting to explain the constant issues with water supply in Broadstairs.
She says on the petition page: “While some incidents may be weather related, Southern Water’s communication with impacted residents has been woeful. And those residents who are on the vulnerable list are left without water for several hours, despite having additional needs.
“We call on Southern Water to meet with the local community to explain why frequent interruptions to supply are recurring, what compensation is being offered to residents, and what remediation plans are in place to ensure we can drink, bathe and keep our houses clean.”