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.
As a very basic principle, Council should improve any situation if they can. To identify a hazard, such as the lack of turning room for large vehicles in the current site, and not improve this in the new plan is negligent.
For Council to rely on the opinion of one of their own who happens to be a firefighter is stupid beyond belief. They should, obviously, get a professional view from a competent person. What is Cllr Moore’s expertese – water squirter, can climb a ladder, user of BA or third party qualified fire risk assessor? A full fire risk assessment will only be suitable once the site is occupied but, the planning stage allows design features to facilitate good fire management at this end point.
Lastly, that emissions from vehicles won’t harm human health? And what did the Environmental Health Team do to conclude this? What health hazards did they consider? What tests did they run? Have they shared their analyses? Probable answers – no consideration, no tests run so no results to report.
This bunch are negligent or worse, corrupt. May 4th elections, choose your candidate with care.
There was loads of slowworms on that plot of land 30+ i recorded in the summer a thew year ago what a shame
Anything they do there has got to an improvement. The roadway is diabolical and dangerous. Flytippers paradise last time I went to kandoo the place was full of fridges. Just remove a row of units and spread the remainder out a bit. Didn’t think there was that much call for that many units as Manston has a lot there with easy access.
Yep, any normal person would see the current state roads on that estate as being the biggest hazard for any emergency response vehicles. The place is a disgrace.
Surely all that land should be utilised for housing rather than much of it being used as a dumping ground ?
On the one hand , it’d be a huge amount of traffic onto roads that couldn’t really cope, especially as it’d really need the whole allsaints site to be turned into housing to avoid the obvious conflicts of mixed use, and on the other if there’s to be a move towards less personal transport going forward then there needs to be more localised places to work /run small businesses.
Yes, who needs jobs and industry?
That place reminds of the old tv programmes in the 80’s I keep expecting the sweeney to come flying round the corner in their fords. Or minder, or the professionals or life on Mars!!.
This place is a throw back.
Why not leave it as it is and call it art ? Or as a working museum
Pirate Jenny is absolutely right – council officers and some elected members take on a wierd persona when conducting council business, who in their right mind argues in favour of a dangerous proposal because it is no worse than the current situation?
Do these people go home with the same attitude about their electricity supply, water or the air around them?
‘That bare live electricity cable in the bathroom was hanging down again, so I wrapped it round the washbasin tap’
‘ The gas is still leaking in the kitchen so I closed the kitchen door’.
Get rid of these brainless, no hopers.
Probably because the extent of the “danger” is subjective and as such each person that looks at the situation will form their own opinion. The point of contention is the space available for vehicles and large vehicles in particular, they will be operation at low speed and driven by professional drivers, so how great is the risk in reality? On that basis is the argument the last chance objection from those that oppose the scheme?
My point is that it does not make sense to recognise that a situation is dangerous and use that as justification to create a different equally dangerous or worse situation – surely ‘development’ is about improvement?
In what capacity do those that say it’s dangerous make the opinion? Are they road safety experts , with an in depth knowledge of the vehicles, movements and accident statistics for this particular situation, do they understand risk assessments and risk analysis matrices along with mitigation to reduce risks identified? If they are then they have valid opinions, if they aren’t then they need to engage properly qualified professionals to support their position.
I’d hazard a guess that the station roundabout has a greater risk than the proposed development.
Are you expert enough to have a guess like that?
No, which is why i used “hazard a guess” , perhaps the councillors should add the same caveat to their opinions.
But i do understand the principles of hazard awareness, risk assessment, mitigation and risk analysis matrices.
As for the roundabout, 4 exits, 2 lanes, slightly confusing markings, the merging lane onto the seafront exit, pedestrian crossing , visual distractions, road users from out of the area, would from a quick glance to me be more likely to have incidents than a trading estate with little traffic, plus the concerns relate to large vehicles which will most likely be driven by professional drivers. But that is just a casual onservation and acknowledged as such.
That, of course, is about relative risk rather than an absolute risk assessment which is the focus of the planning application debate and my original point. Just because something elsewhere is risky it does not justify creating something else of equal or greater risk.
You know all the principles, the aim of development should be to bring about improvement, surely you understand that simple logic?
I assume you’ve been onto the allsaints estate? To call it a post apocalyptic wasteland would be overly generous, the scheme can be nothing but an improvement. But despite the professional planning officers deeming the proposal suitable for approval and kent highways having no objections we have councillors who think they know better, which is all well and good but where is the evidence and data to support the objection? The objections are based on little more than personal opinion and seemingly a desire to show they have authority. The scheme has already been amended once, removing the cafe from the scheme , adding additional parking and an acoustic fence in response to points previously raised. It’s also been said that the scheme provides much needed units in a good setting. But councillors have instructed the planning department to find “legitimate” grounds for refusal , which rather suggests they accept that the traffic issue is not a legitimate one.
All this from the same council that aided and abetted in the conversion of a building without planning or listed building consent (instead waiving through retrospective applications) , chose not to go to committee after receiving over 50 objections and didn’t consult with people living in sight of the building. All because it suited the councils agenda. Where as this application being done properly and being approved by the planning deppartment is deemed to need a legitimate reason for refusal. TDC is a proper circus.
Barely a week passes without there being a report on the IoTN news of another traffic incident which is often the result of excess speed, drink, drugs etc. When it happens a councillor will leap forth demanding reduced speed limits and curbs on traffic, irrelevant drivel for the most part as why do they believe the irresponsible are going to obey a speed restriction that’s lower than the one they’ve already ignored, it becomes little more than pointless posturing.
Yes, I agree – the planning process in Thanet is poor and leaves a lot to be desired from officers and elected members.
Surely, anyone who is any good and pursuing a career in planning would seek the rewards of private practice and consultancy, not a job in a backwater local authority.
As for elected members, I find they are generally people who have time on their hands and/or have politics as a primary ambition and/or have an ego to satisfy…and, to be fair some, genuinely try to make a positive difference for their community.
With the amount of cars of people working there .58 units could mean over 100 cars parked. Then you have customers parking up then a few 40 tonnes delivering +then existing business. There will be a few knocks it’s enevitable something will happen