By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Esson
Planners behind a new industrial estate in Margate have been sent back to the drawing board amid concerns its design is “an accident waiting to happen”.
The proposals for 58 new light industrial units on a disused railway yard in All Saints Avenue were recommended for approval by Thanet District Council (TDC) planning chiefs, but have been knocked back for a second time.
Developers Roe Group lodged the plans with the local authority for the site, which already hosts one large building with a handful of industrial units in it.
The bid was previously turned down in December amid concerns about the location of a proposed cafe on the site and insufficient parking.
This time round, developers added eight more parking spaces and an acoustic fence to the scheme and removed the cafe plans.
Documents penned by council planning officers argued: “This development would provide space for a large number of businesses to be located in a sustainable location as well as providing improvements to the accessibility of the existing industrial estate.
“The economic benefits of the development would outweigh the limited harm and it is recommended that members approve the application.”
At the meeting of TDC’s planning committee on March 15, member of the public Peter Hodgman spoke against the proposal.
“The applicant has put in for 58 units on this site, which I think is too many for the size of the site,” he told councillors.
“The distance between the new warehousing and the actual road is going to be 5 and a half metres wide, which is nowhere near wide enough for this I don’t think.
“The waste vehicles apparently are up to 13.5 metres long. Now, if a 13.5 metre long vehicle goes into the site and it’s only 5 and a half metres wide, there’s no way it’s going to be able to turn round. It’s going to have to back out.
“This is an accident waiting to happen like this, it needs to be changed.
“I accept it would mean the loss of a few of the units, but this is just not right.”
A planning officer reassured members: This does not make the situation any worse than the current turning arrangements that are on the site for the existing businesses,” and added that KCC’s highways department raised no concerns.
Members echoed Mr Hodgman’s concerns, worrying that the placement of eight units close to the access road would limit large vehicles’ ability to turn and emergency vehicle access.
However, firefighter Cllr Paul Moore (Con) told members: “From my personal perspective there is no issue with emergency vehicles.”
Cllr Rebecca Wing (Green) raised fears the number of large vehicles could cause pollution which would affect residents of nearby homes.
But planning officers told her: “That was assessed by the environmental health team and it was considered that it was within an acceptable range without harming human health.”
Cllr Steve Albon (Lab), said: “This is a well-needed area for these kinds of units, it’s the perfect place for them.”
But he said he would not vote to approve the bid due to concerns about the eight units next to the access road.
Members voted to refer the plans back to council officers, tasking them with finding valid reasons for refusal, and attempting to convince the developer to remove the eight units about which members expressed concerns.
As such, it will come before the planning committee again in future.