Councillors refuse permission for 141 home development in Cliffsend

Architect image for the phase 2 development at Cliffsend (Image prp-co.uk)

An application to build 141 homes on agricultural land in Cliffsend has been rejected by councillors despite an officer recommendation to delegate for approval.

Monson Homes planned to build 141 homes on the land south of Canterbury Road West which would connect to an already constructed 62-home project by the same developer.

The plans included eight 1-bed flats, 60 two-bed dwellings, 59 three-bed homes and 14. four-bed properties alongside a children’s play area, orchard and wildflower site and 288 resident parking spaces plus 47 visitor spaces,

A representative from Monson Homes told a planning committee meeting this week: “Monson Homes is ready to deliver 141 high quality, sustainable new homes, key infrastructure and almost £2.5m investment to support and improve existing community facilities.”

Monson Homes is a subsidiary of Town & Country Housing. The site was earmarked to provide 22% affordable housing – a cut to the required 30% due to ‘viability issues’ – and these would consist of 31 properties. Of those 65% would be affordable rent, 32% first homes and 3% shared ownership.

(Image prp-co.uk)

A viability assessment says that would result in an ‘actual’ adjusted profit of £6,283,868 which equates to 14.8% on market housing, 12% on First Homes and 6% on affordable housing. Planning guidance suggests profit should be 15-20%.

However, the application received 21 objections, including from Cliffsend Parish Council which raised numerous issues.

Parish councillor Paul Chapman said the development was over and above areas already identified for growth in the Local Plan, adding: “This will increase the size of Cliffsend to over 40%. This is how to destroy a rural village.”

Planning committee councillors were also concerned that the site is on land not allocated for housing in the Local Plan, that the development would mean the loss of Grade 1 agricultural land and that affordable housing had been dropped to 22%.

Cllr Brenda Rogers raised concerns over extra traffic on Foads Hill, which connects the south and north of the village but has no footpath.

Cllr John Davis said: “We should not be building on agricultural land….it’s not necessary, not in the Local Plan, not allocated and has only 22% affordable housing. The first phase (62 homes) did not sell and has gone 100% affordable so why only 22% in phase 2?”

The council planning officer for the scheme highlighted that the development would include a contribution for a footpath connecting the village to Thanet Parkway station and said a primary school was due to be built at the Manston Green project although following a question from Cllr Jenny Matterface it was confirmed this would be a one-mile walk from the Cliffsend development.

Cllr Steve Albon said: “It’s a nice development. It’s laid out very well, but for me it is in the wrong place. The reason I say that is, the report says it forms a natural expansion of the village but we have already had one expansion of the village and now we will have an extension on an extension.

“We have enough land allocated in the Local Plan for development and now we are asked to accept a piece of land that’s not within the Local Plan to put 141 houses and flats on.”

He added that the build would mean the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land.

Cllr Mike Garner highlighted the same issues and pointed out the council’s strategic planning manager’s comment that: “Any assessment of Cliffsend as a sustainable settlement that could support greater levels of housing will take place through the LP review/update process.

“However, that would have to be considered alongside a comprehensive review of an appropriate range of services to be delivered alongside any housing, given the limited range of services currently available in Cliffsend.

“The Parkway Station is now operational. However, this alone does not create a sustainable location for increased levels of development, and this is acknowledged by the Local Plan Inspectors.”

Cllr Garner said: “This is an unsustainable development.”

The development site for 141 houses

The application was rejected on the grounds that the land is not allocated in the Local Plan; that it would result in the loss of countryside and harm to the characteristics of the Wantsum North Slopes Landscape Character Area and the rural character of the village; it would result in the irreversible loss of best and most versatile agricultural land; that the applicant failed to enter into a legal agreement to secure affordable housing, and the delivery of the necessary planning obligations required.

Green councillor Mike Garner

Following the meeting Cllr Garner said: “”It was certainly a good, well-informed debate that resulted in us overwhelmingly rejecting this application to build on prime agricultural land opposite Thanet Parkway.

“Among the reports attached to the application for our consideration, one which stood out for me was from the council’s strategic planning manager who reminded us that when the Local Plan was reviewed by the Inspector three years ago it was agreed that ‘Cliffsend is a settlement with limited services that was not considered suitable for a significant level of housing growth’.

“Although a few plots around the village were allocated for housing in the local plan, this one wasn’t.

“Another report that I found frankly quite astounding was the one from National Rail who, among other things, stated that, despite spending upwards of £45m on the Thanet Parkway station which opened just a few months ago, ‘At present, customer facilities at the station are rather basic and as such, would benefit from improvements.’

“They asked for a developer contribution of £9,000 for 2 shelters on the ticket machines! I suspect we’ll see a few more requests for money from developers as future applications are considered.”

Viability assessment

Thanet council requested Section 106 financial contributions amounting to £2,428,000

In July 2022 ULL Property carried out a Financial Viability Assessment (‘FVA’) which demonstrated that financial contributions of £2,463,000 (the slightly higher estimate made at that time) are not viable for this development, while providing the policy target of affordable housing.

The site is currently in agricultural planning use and is in the ownership of Monson Homes Limited. The site measures 5.9 hectares (14.58 acres).

The proposed planning application seeks permission for “development of 141 dwellings (including affordable housing), with open space, landscaping, access and associated infrastructure.”

The Gross Development Value for the scheme is £44,863,000 (rounded) based on the residential sales value and affordable housing transfer pricing.

The total scheme cost is £43,698,000 (rounded).

The Argus Developer appraisal for the proposed development calculates a residual land value for the proposed development of £1,165,000.

The Benchmark Land Value is assessed as £2,077,000 (rounded), based on the existing use value plus a premium. The net residual land value is, therefore, showing a shortfall of £912,000.

27 Comments

  1. fantastic news , enough is enough , the whole of that area would gradually turn into a new town if the devlopers had thier way , thanet has far too much going on now , very soon the area will be one giant traffic jam. what happened to the goverment saying we need farm land ??

    • What is evolving is very inferior to a new town. Proper new towns were designed by town planners, who gave a lot of thought to infrastructure, amenities, mental health, sustainable living, etc, etc. There are no town planners in Cliffsend, just greedy developers tripping over themselves in their hit-and-run projects.

  2. So £45 million spent on a brand new state of the art railway station and now described as “basic “ . Well done Kent County council for overseeing this BASIC white elephant

    • Mr Lewis – please give it a rest. We know your views on this railway station. Perhaps a comment on excess building around Thanet with no extra infrastructure in place would be better. No extra schools, no extra medical facilities, roads becoming locked and so on.

      • Politics is about priorities, building a railway station WITHOUT a connecting BUS service INCREASES road congestion and relies on more housing being built on greenfields nearby . Money wasted could have been spent on more public health services.

        • Your right Barry, Parkway railway station will never show a profit as few people use it so I understand, and the money spent on it should have gone to improving Thanet’s road/pavement surfaces! Using agriculture land for housing is not part of this governments policy, or is it?

    • It’s built now . Move on only time will tell if it’s a success or not. You never seem to have nothing positive to say about anything.

    • Please keep up the helpful commenting, Barry. FedupB and Supachip speak for themselves and not for people like me. We need to learn from these big mistakes rather than simply “moving on”

      • Ms Punk – my views are shared by many regarding pointless mutterings about this station. It’s now built and will not go away. As too ,we must learn from these big mistakes, how many times have us members of public heard this from politicians. Lessons are never learnt by these people.

  3. I hope this decision will see a complete review of TDC’s approach to large housing plan applications.
    I recall TDC Councillors voting down a recent motion from Mike Garner for a temporary halt to all large applications, to review our actual needs.
    That would have made sense and still does. All the reasons the Labour Cllr’s are quoted on here apply to all these applications. Have they now seen the light or is this playing politics?

    • That was to be a blanket moratorium on all developments over ten houses. That would mean no affordable properties as that only kicks in with ten or more. If the site is allocated in the Local Plan for housing developers could go straight to the government for approval by-passing planning here totally.

      This site wasn’t allocated for housing.

      • To be fair, we weren’t calling for a “blanket moratorium on all developments over ten houses”. It was a motion “to pause the granting of new planning permissions, for builds of more than 10 dwellings, and allow for a review into the impacts the current house building programme is having across Thanet”.

  4. Why build on golf courses when leisure facilities for the whole of Thanet are at a minimum. Manston Golf course is presumably owned by the farmer this one assumes is creating an income to substitute the loss of subsidies where as the Cliffsend site owned by the farmer creates no alternative other than further gridlock and the destruction of village/ rural life

    • Why does an area the size of Thanet need three of them? One should be sufficiant. That way, we can build on them while retaining farmland.

  5. The parkway station will be very much in demand once the airport gets up and running that is infrastructure that is needed, but Barry Lewis can see no further than his nose.

    • Freight doesn’t board trains at railway stations.
      And how would Thanet Parkway help even if Manston were ever to offer flights? It’s the wrong side of the A229,and would require a shuttle bus connection. No need to splurge £45M (and counting): just run a shuttle from Minster or Ramsgate.

  6. I was at the meeting. It was strange so see the Council officers seemed to be so enthusiastically supporting this development.

  7. What the chances when they try the appeals system . That some bod that’s. Never heard of cilffsend that will tick the box . Problem is you have allowed them to build homes so the precedence is set.

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