Plans to build nine homes on farmland in Canterbury Road, Birchington, have been rejected by Thanet councillors citing the loss of best agricultural land and harm to character landscape.
At a meeting last week councillors on the planning committee overwhelmingly spoke out against the proposals which have been submitted by site owner the Church of England Diocese of Canterbury.
Birchington resident Craig Solly spoke against the development, highlighting that the land is not allocated in Thanet’s Local Plan for development, that there had been a lack of consultation, issues with access from the busy Canterbury Road and that the plan for 1600 homes on neighbouring land has not yet been approved and so could not be used to predetermine the nine home proposal.
He added that despite the Bible’s phrase to ‘love your neighbour,’ “The diocese is all out of love for the community.”
Birchington councillors Phil Fellows and Emma Dawson also spoke against the application, again impressing that the land is not allocated for housing and is an agricultural site currently being farmed by the tenant.
Cllr Fellows said the church should “rethink the development” and do “the Christian thing” and return the former allotment land to the parish to become allotments once more.
Cllr Steve Albon said it was “the wrong development in the wrong place,” while Cllr Mike Garner branded it as a “speculative application by the Canterbury diocese taking the opportunity to try and make a fast buck.”
The proposal was to build the homes on the 0.87 acre block of chalk farmland which abuts agricultural land earmarked for housing as part of the 1,600 home development
The site between 310 And 316 Canterbury Road has historically been rented out to form part of the very large arable farm.
‘No longer viable’
In the application the diocese said: “The site will no longer be a viable agricultural unit once the surrounding land has been developed as planned by the Local Planning Authority. The transformation from monoculture arable to garden land will provide an opportunity to significantly improve biodiversity, through planting, landscaping, and measures such as nest and bat boxes.”
However, councillors did not agree and there were no speakers in favour of the development.
More than 20 objections to the plans were lodged with Thanet council raising concerns such as increased traffic, impact on GP and dentists services, schools and water and sewerage.
Comments suggest brownfield land should be used instead and that the agricultural site contains bird and bat nesting habitat.
Birchington Parish Council raised several concerns including the proposed new access on to the A28 which it says is “unacceptable as it would create additional congestion and potential accidents.”
Councillors voted against the officer recommendation to approve and instead rejected the development proposal.