Photos Krisztian Elek
A turnout of some 100 people joined a protest held in Monkton today (February 25) objecting to road lay-out changes planned as part of a 49-home development on a greenfield site.
Monkton Residents Association organised the demonstration to show how motorists will be held up due to the new lay-out which will affect traffic flow.
The development on a field off Monkton Street was approved in December, with conditions, at appeal after Thanet council refused it three times. The decision was made on the basis that Thanet council cannot demonstrate it has a 5 year supply of land for housing. Developer Heyhill Land was also granted costs against the council.
Residents are concerned about the road changes, including a one-way system at the narrowest point in the village, a waiting area outside the village school, a path build out reducing road width even further and a loss of parking.
Monkton Residents Association chairperson Beth Johnson said: “The turn-out for a small village really showed the strength of feeling against the proposals and the fact that they are being imposed on us without any true consultation purely to enable a building development which had already been turned down three times.
“We also had a situation on Tuesday where all traffic was being diverted through Monkton due to an accident on the main road. It was chaotic, however traffic was able to move slowly, but if the proposed system had been in place there would have been total gridlock.
“Unfortunately we feel this sort of situation will occur much more regularly due to the ever increasing building going on around us.
“The protest also brought home how close the waiting traffic will be to the school and how narrow the road will become with the addition of a pavement.
“We probably can’t stop it but that doesn’t mean we can’t show how much we are against it and I think the protest did that.”
The protest was joined by Thanet councillor Reece Pugh and North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale.
Cllr Pugh said: “Earlier today I attended the protest march in Monkton against the road changes to Monkton Street with Sir Roger Gale and my fellow councillors.
“As residents know, I fought hard to try and stop the Monkton Street planning application that will result in Monkton Street being narrowed by traffic measures. I called the application into committee twice and worked hard to get both applications turned down, only for the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the most recent refusal.
“I continue to work with both Sir Roger Gale MP and our County Councillor, Derek Crow-Brown, to see what can be done to prevent these traffic measures being implemented. Monkton is a wonderful village and whilst we do need housing for future generations, it can’t be at the detriment of the village and safety.”
Also at the protest was Villages Green Party Councillor Abi Smith, accompanied by two Green TDC colleagues and several other supporters.
Cllr Smith said: “It was heartening to see the Monkton community out in force against this possible development, but frustrating to see it raised yet again, despite its likely impact on locals’ safety, security and access to essential amenities and services.
“As Green Party Councillors, we’ve repeatedly advised TDC that the imposed house building targets are outdated, inaccurate and fail to address local needs for sustainable and truly affordable housing provision. TDC’s Leader has stated that she will resist pressure from central government, but we’ve been disappointed to see almost no action on this front to date.
“Southern Water’s recent failure to supply reliable drinking water to homes and businesses in the district prompted us to ask TDC to request information from the company to inform future planning applications, but Cabinet refused our proposal that could have given us better-informed, more responsible and ‘joined up’ planning decision-making.
“We must protect Thanet’s Grade 1 agricultural land and the wellbeing of our communities, before both disappear under rows of uniformly unsustainable new houses, many of which will become second homes or AirBNBs rather than providing much-needed housing for local families.”
According to the appeal document from the Planning Inspector, Heyhill Land will have to provide 10 new public parking spaces. These will be within the development site, which has 100 spaces earmarked for future residents/visitors. The application, which resulted in dozens of objections, will include pedestrian and cycle access.