Birchington Parish Council to seek national Design Review of ‘poorly designed’ 1600 home plan for village

1600 home plan for Birchington (Ptarmigan Land)

Birchington Parish Council has published a consultation response to amended plans to build 1,600 homes in the village and will seek a national Design Review of the development.

In a strongly worded and detailed document the parish council has objected to the plans, saying: “The Parish Council believes the proposed development is poorly designed, insufficiently defined and at high risk of non-delivery. The development would be prominent on the landscape from within and outside the village and it would have a profound effect on the local environment.

“On this basis the Parish Council seeks a National Design Review of the full application with the CABE team at the Design Council.”

Design Review Panel

The Design Review Panel is made up of independent, multi-disciplinary construction professionals working in the field of the built environment

The Panel provides impartial expert advice to applicants and local authorities on design issues in relation to important new development schemes and proposals for important public spaces.

The Panel’s feedback is a material consideration for local authorities and the planning inspectorate when determining planning applications.

What are the development plans?

(Ptarmigan Land)

Consultation has been held over amended plans to build 1,600 homes, a primary school, shops, care home, expansion of Birchington medical centre and a community park on farmland at Birchington.

The development is earmarked to take place on land off the Canterbury Road and was first proposed by Ptarmigan Land and Millwood Designer Homes in 2019 with a planning application submitted in December 2020.

Millwood Designer Homes is no longer part of the scheme. The joint applicants are now Ptarmigan Birchington Ltd, Places for People Homes Ltd, landowners The Master Fellows and Scholars of the College of Saint John The Evangelist in the University of Cambridge and The Birchington Pool Trust.

Amendments lodged this year include a reduction in homes from 1,650 to 1,600 and introduce additional green areas to preserve archaeological potential. There are also changes to the development boundary line.

The plan includes a new strategic link road between Minnis Road and Manston Road, alterations to existing junctions and new access arrangements from Minnis Road, Park Lane, Canterbury Road and Manston Road/Acol Hill and a new recreational and leisure shared-use link between Minnis Road and Park Lane.

‘Significant errors’

The Birchington development site

Birchington Parish Council says the application is not a positive response to issues raised by BPC in 2021 and “contains significant errors and  important omissions.”

The BPC response says: “The revised application appears not to take material account of the impact of planned simultaneous development of 2,000 dwellings at Westgate.

“The Submitted Plans fail to meet national, county and district strategic aims and objectives, and breach multiple Local Plan policies.

“Collectively, the Submitted Plans paint a picture of a largely high rise (up to 15.5m), dense development inconsistent with the existing village, heritage assets settings and surrounding areas. A development divided by a major road predicted to carry high volumes of light and heavy vehicles; a major road that separates a high proportion of the proposed dwellings from open spaces and amenities.

“With the exception of 110 dwellings located in restricted access cul de sac (Phase 1B) movement on and off the development will be via pinch points at Minnis Road, Canterbury Road and Park Lane. These junctions are modelled to 2031 but development and its lasting impact would continue long after that year, so the modelling results must be considered unreliable.

“Modelling of traffic at The Square and on Park Lane suggests both would suffer from increased congestion and pollution during 12 years of development and beyond.

“Delivery infrastructure as part of the North Thanet Link Road scheme is critical for successful delivery of the development and for the wellbeing of the existing community.

“There is considerable uncertainty about funding of this scheme and the impact on other S106 mitigation schemes if the Highways Authority bid for government MRN funding is unsuccessful or falls short of requirements.

“For this reason, it would be a huge risk to bring this application forward without guaranteed assurance of funding and delivery of the North Thanet Link Road scheme and guaranteed protection of the other agreed S106 schemes.

“For many years when new development has been proposed villagers have sought to create a village and not a housing estate. The lack of active and sustainable travel options, connections to Birchington village and the inaccessibility of amenities and open spaces on the proposed development suggest it would be an uninviting place – a place vastly different from the existing village, with bleak streets enclosed by high buildings, noise and pollution from traffic on the nearby relief road and major roads to cross to access home, a convenience store, school or leisure facilities.”

‘Planning policy breaches’

The parish council says the changes of boundary lines mean that including the seven homes granted for Gore End Farm and an additional piece of land allocated for development for up to 100 homes, the build would actually mean 1707 extra homes, more loss of agricultural land and involve several breaches of local planning policy.

BPC says the school, community hub and shop are in the wrong location; building heights would overwhelm existing properties; the sports area is too remote and landscaping plans are absent; the proposed route for the link road is not acceptable; proposals for active and sustainable travel are inadequate and there are no viable options included for improving walking and cycling routes across the railway line to replace the foot crossing at Brooksend. There are further concerns about traffic and highway changes and BPC says the entire masterplan is “inadequate.”

Birchington ward councillor Phil Fellows said: “I applaud the response from Birchington Parish Council to this application for 1600 houses.

“It’s clear from the Parish Council’s response that this application should not progress any further through planning in its current form. It’s does not comply with TDC’s own local plan policies and is flawed in so many ways.

“We have to hope that Planning Officers see it as we do and send it back to the applicant’s drawing board.

“Birchington residents and councillors will keep fighting this application, it’s clear from the thousands of recent objections submitted that residents here will not give up our grade 1 agricultural land without a fight.

“We are not NIMBYS in Birchington. It goes much deeper than that. We know that houses are needed but it needs to be appropriate. The sheer size of this mass development will destroy this beautiful part of Thanet forever.

“We cannot go back once this application gets the go ahead, they’re just not making any more farmland. There are so many things wrong with this scheme. This is not a sound planning application and we will do what we can to try to stop it.”

Concerns

Following the original submission of plans Birchington representatives said there were questions over how an expanded medical centre and a school would be funded. They also said there were concerns over extra traffic and pollution and over who would maintain the green areas shown in the development proposal.

A petition was also raised by resident Gary Fowler questioning why grade one land is being used when the development could instead incorporate grade 2 and 3 land further west.

Concerns over the increase in population, stretched medical services and the loss of countryside and paths have also been raised.

The original plans also prompted a furious letter to government from North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, a forceful objection lodged by Birchington Parish Council and some 200 public objections.

The amended plans can be seen on the Thanet council planning portal, reference OL/TH/20/1755

48 Comments

  1. Well done BPC for raising all of their issues and concerns. WTC and residents now need to look at this report and lean from it.

  2. Deary me.
    If the noble burghers of Birchington had not so vociferously helped to scuppe the draft Local Plan, these houses could have been built on the derelict site at Manston.

    • There’s plenty of more suitable building land a few miles west of Thanet. What’s with this “It HAS to be within boundary lines” attitude?

  3. If they are not NIMBYs, they certainly sound like it! The derelict airport could be an alternative , just decide which!

      • How about realising that towns and places evolve and grow, and if you reject that evolution, you end up like the dinosaurs. Left in the dust.

        We get it, you don’t like change and want everything to stay the same as it you’ve always known it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more people in the world than just you select few.

  4. Andrew and Keith, keep up. TDC under the leadership of Councillor Everitt voted to adopt a plan that put most of the 17,140 new homes for Thanet on prime agricultural land. Since then the people of Thanet have woken up to this madness and are starting to push back against a “yes minister” bunch of TDC officers and members and a spineless KCC.
    GET WITH IT – JOIN THE PUSH BACK AND SAVE THANET AS WE KNOW IT

    • The Local Plan which requires the building of 17,000 houses was adopted by a Tory administration some years ago.
      This came about because the previous draft Local Plan (with a requirement for 11,000 houses) was booted out by the Tories/UKIP, encouraged by organisations such as “Birchington against the Local Plan”. They objected to the fact that the draft plan didn’t reserve Manston for aviation only.
      The situation facing the new Labour administration is not of their making.
      No amount of pushing back is going to make any difference, unless Michael Gove makes a nationwide change in policy.

    • “17,140 new homes for Thanet on prime agricultural land.”

      Logically speaking, using critical thinking…It is not PRIME land if it makes more financial sense for the farmers to sell up and leave farming. It shows the farm business isn’t commercially viable, long term.

      “JOIN THE PUSH BACK AND SAVE THANET AS WE KNOW IT”

      Why? Don’t you want change and growth and new opportunities for the younger generations of your family?

      • These houses won’t be for locals, there’s no point building a new school or extending a GP practice if for one you don’t have the doctors to run it and a school KCC won’t be able to afford to kit out and staff, the infrastructure cannot cope now so how will this be addressed, more or the same from southern water and total gridlock on the roads.

      • Ramsgate High Street. There are LOTS of empty shops there, that will never be fully occupied. Ditto Margate High Street and Northdown Road. Better than on prime farm land.

        • Commercial units are often not fit for human habitation(living in). They often run off water tanks, which aren’t safe to be used domestically(hence not drinking water stickers on most commercial taps).

          Again, you mention “prime” farmland, ignoring the elephant in the room, that if it were PRIME, then it wouldn’t make more financial sense for the farmers to sell up. Its almost as if they’re telling you indirectly, that there’s no money in farming these days…

        • Reclaim land at Pegwell Bay. It’s a plan that was first considered in Victorian times, and an ideal compromise imo.

          • Pegwell Bay is also a national nature reserve and internationally recognised site of special scientific interest. You want to destroy nature, that thousands of people enjoy weekly and gives life to rare domestic species/migratory species, all so you can be a NIMBY fool and block progress?

  5. How about building a few more ugly tower blocks in Margate? After all, the arty mob simply ADORE Arlington House.

  6. The Pink Checksfield is a BANANA,build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone.I am afraid PC the remorseless wheel of capitalism will crush all within its path,even the short sighted ‘villagers’of the town of Birchington.No point in blaming the current administration at TDC as the die was cast years ago.
    The Tory party that so many in Birchington support including you PC is part funded by builders and even though the 300,000 house target has been missed by a moon shot and even if the quality, design and space of new build homes leave a lot to be desired HMG,will continue ramping up planning applications like this.If TDC object it will go to PINs and that will be that.
    The best thing BTC can do is make the best of a bad job and get as much out of any s106 they can from TDC.
    If we really want to solve the housing crisis,end the sale of council homes and prioritise 2 & 3 bedroom dwellings of innovative design and intensification, sheltered housing and prefabricated buildings.Until those priorities are set we will continue to be served up with the dreadful austerity designs as seen in the Barratt Spitfire Green estate.God help anyone living there.

    • What part of “How about building a few more ugly tower blocks in Margate” did you not understand? Let me know, and I’ll explain it more slowly to you.

      • Are you trying to have a discussion about housing in Thanet, or is your intention to upset people?
        You’re not furthering the former, and excelling in the latter.

        • Why aren’t tower blocks seen as a solution locally, as they were in the 60s & 70s? Surely better than building lots of scattered smaller building on prime farm land? I’m interested to know your views on this.

          • Tower blocks aren’t financially viable for developers. They take too long to produce and are often beset by snags pushing dev costs up astronomically.

            Building built on farm land, won’t be scattered. As you can see by all the other development in Thanet. Also, the farmland isn’t PRIME. If it were prime, then logically, the farmers wouldn’t feel the need to sell a commercially successful and long term multi decade viable business…as it stands, there is absolutely naff all money in farming…

    • George, many people vote Conservative because they are repulsed by Labour, not because they think the Torys are particularly attractive.

          • Ofc they find it entertaining. They don’t gaf about the people of Thanet, only keeping their expenses gravy trains going. Craig lives in Medway and only turns up for photo opps that help him spin positive PR…Roger is about as useful as a chocolate teapot (personal experience after raising several important issues with him) and doesn’t seem to care about you, your view, or your vote if you’re under 50.

          • “I wondered why the place is looking even filthier.”

            Because your heads firmly implanted in your harris, everything will look shi77y to you.

        • Phyllis Quot- that’s right. The present TDC consists of 30 Labour councillors, 5 Green, 17 Conservative and 3 Thanet Independent councillors. And one Independent councillor.

  7. Nothing wrong about being conservative,but this is not the conservative party.It is instead a poorly led, divided, rabble of conspiracy theorists,chancers and buffoons.Their only policy seems to remain in power at all costs,and to increase the wealth divide.In many ways the Labour party are the true conservatives, because they seem to want to revert to new labour.I am not particularly attracted to either, but let’s face it, does the Tory party deserve anyone’s vote? Only a year ago we saw the current PM rejected by the Tory party, who instead picked mad Liz Truss.A general election should have been held then and there,but the failings in the UK constitution were laid bare, when a PM nobody wanted took office.
    The Pink Checksfield and Mr Putin can try to explain away the continuing sense of chaos, and the appearance of nothing working in Britain, but I am not sure the public are ready to be convinced.
    If Mr Sunak was to pull off a win or score draw,at the next GE it may make the destruction of the Tory party more certain.Win or lose,they lose.

    The latest shambles over RAAC concrete is a case in point.
    Tower blocks in Birchington or Margate, are expensive, do not save on land, and if the all important maintenance is not done, well I needn’t tell you of the consequences. May I suggest everyone in Birchington,TDC and most of all in the construction industry checkout the designs of Peter Barber.

    • George Nokes- Cambridge University has been developing a large village or small new town called New Eddington. I visited it a few years ago. It shows that large new developments need not consist only of repetitive housing with no communal facilities. It is totally modern in its design – several architects have been involved. This particular development is intended to house university staff and students.

  8. The whole of the Birchington part of the DLP is based on spite.
    Cllr’s Brimm, Howes argued the point avidly with the TDC Planning Officers, with as much evidence as they could gather with and from Craig Solley amongst others.
    They were shouted down by TDC, even reprimanded byWells and Homer. TDC was, and remains the evil jester in this subject!

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