Birchington Parish Council chairman compares 1,600 homes plan to ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ story

The Birchington site proposed for development

Concerns have been raised that developers of a 1,600 homes plan have disregarded Birchington Parish Council and issues over the scheme previously put forward.

At a Parish Council Planning & Highways Committee meeting last week (7th May) members said they felt the lack of developer investment in public, social and leisure facilities in the existing village showed a lack of understanding or concern about the impact of the proposed development on existing community infrastructure and services.

Members said they were also disturbed to read in a submission made by the applicant this month: “It is important to remember that the indicative masterplan only indicates one potential arrangement for the layout of the uses…”.

The parish council says this appears to be confirmation that there is no commitment by the applicant to deliver development that matches any of the positive images which had been displayed throughout the consultation process.

Birchington Parish Council Chairman Cllr Neville Hudson said: “We have stated and restated that such large-scale development is not justified or sustainable, yet in the face of considerable opposition Thanet District Council decided to allocate up to 1,600 new homes here.

“The Parish Council alone cannot change that decision, so we have worked hard to ensure that whatever is built would be compatible with the existing village, and will not have a detrimental effect on its character and the wellbeing of our residents.

“Therefore, it is most disappointing that despite our best efforts KCC and TDC officers have failed to acknowledge and impress upon the applicant many of our concerns and wishes. It is dumbfounding that the applicant should state that all the reassuring imagery that underpinned its promotional activities are not part of the application or the applicant’s promises to the community.

“This reminds me of the story of the ‘King’s (Emperor’s) New Clothes’, the warm and comforting illusional wrap that was round this application has now been removed; I hope everyone can now see this application for what it really is.

“I urge everyone who has an interest in these plans to take this opportunity to submit their views to TDC, to their District and County Councillors and to their MP.”

What are the development plans?

1600 home plan for Birchington (Ptarmigan Land)

The plan is 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 last year included a reduction in homes from 1,650 to 1,600 and additional green areas to preserve archaeological potential. There were also changes to the development boundary line.

The plan included 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.

A planning application for the new homes was received by TDC in December 2020, a revised version of the application was issued for consultation in July 2023 and most recently TDC  published further information received from Ptarmigan Land. Comments on this can be made up until May 24.

The latest information relates to contributions for the North Thanet Link Road, the siting of the proposed school, ecology and the Birchington Neighbourhood Plan.

Objections

The application as a whole has provoked an avalanche of objections over issues including extra traffic and pollution and why grade one land is being used when the development could instead incorporate grade 2 and 3 land further west.

A fresh objection has also been lodged by The British Horse Society, the UK’s largest equestrian charity with over 122,000 members, due to public right of way issues.

The Society says: “Kent equestrians have just 16.6% of the rights of way network, increasingly disconnected by roads which were once quiet and are now heavily used by traffic resulting from development such as this and those upcoming in the surrounding area.

“There are almost 1500 horses· passported to owners living in the Thane! district, contributing in excess of £1.5million to the economy, much of which is likely to be spent locally (vets, farriers, feed merchants, etc.)

“The immediate area surrounding this application site is densely populated with equestrian businesses: yards, riding school. As previously mentioned – and seemingly disregarded within the applicant’s PROW Management Strategy – we believe it is reasonable to ask that, if the council were minded to approve the application, it should be made a condition of approval that, where cycle routes are proposed, these should instead be dedicated as restricted byway or, as a minimum, bridleway to encompass all non-motorised users.

“Of particular importance are the Quex to Coast route, footpath TM37. The crossing for the former over the A28 must accommodate equestrians. The footbridge proposed over the railway line must facilitate use by equestrians as well as walkers and cyclists.”

Birchington Parish Council objected strongly to both the original and revised applications, and says that over the coming weeks it will examine the latest communication which claims sufficient agreements have been made with Kent County Council (KCC) and Thanet council officers to enable the application to progress to planning committee for approval.

The Birchington site is a large scale, strategic housing allocation in Thanet’s Local Plan – a blueprint for development up until 2031.

Submit comment

The deadline for comments is 24 May; to view the application documents – reference OL/TH/20/1755 – and submit comments visit: https://planning.thanet.gov.uk/online- applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=QLP5UWQEMA800

21 Comments

  1. Do remember that the Tories claim for local housing planning is that it should be discussed with local people. The Parish Council is a legitimate representative of local people . So , when this commendable practice actually happens, the developer tells them to bog off, they will do what they want and have other plans they won’t talk about.

  2. Once again greedy developers are doing what they do best ignore the local people and pass around their cash filled,, envelopes too many,, on TDC.

  3. there wont be any farmland left soon , they will need something bigger to push the brown envelopes , its scandalous whats happening in thanet , build a new doctors that will solve everything – how many people will occupy 1,600 houses ?

  4. The promises from developers about Doctors surgeries ,school shops etc never come to fruition,name one development where it has happened

  5. This government and KCC , TDC, labour really don’t care about this country.
    Happy to destroy the hole of great British society and values.

  6. I really do not know the point of Parish Councils, they don’t seem to have have any real power, and are only advisory.

  7. great new quality housing, with landscaped parks,and more built on a large are of brown field site in Thanet, however they are instead building on agricultural land which will mean within 15 years or less there will be no expanse of separation between the towns or in the centre of Thanet. Should have built on that brown field eye sore, at Manston multiple times failed airfield. Reap what you sew.

    • Bit heavy, unless you’re speaking of RSP and Fraud man, along with our useless, pointless MPs. In which case very appropriate.

  8. Tories do not keep promises as proved by the present incompetent toxic government, especially when there’s money involved! The General Election cannot come soon enough!

  9. Should not be building on agricultural land, what happens when we run out of fields, where will you grow the crops for this over populated country. To much building going on in Kent destroying our Kent countryside. Leave Birchington along.

  10. This country cannot feed itself, we do not grow enought and for all the tory promises to farmers and the nation that they, we, and the country would be better of and they will be supported. THEY LIED.

  11. Judging by the comments on here, and the feelings of all my neighbours and friends in Birchington, I hope I’m speaking for the majority when I say this appalling and unreasonable development must be resisted at all costs. 1600 houses? Another 3 or 4 thousand people (I’d guess mostly incomers with no local jobs who will have to commute?), 2 or 3 thousand more vehicles? Bearable if we had the space, but we don’t, Thanet is a tiny corner of the far south east, an (ex) island. Birchington is already at the end of a concrete coastal sprawl beginning at Pegwell, interrupted only by George VI Park and a couple of golf courses, and a bit of farmland at North Foreland. This development is a further huge bite taken from our island. More invaluable farmland will be destroyed, concreted over, wildlife pushed out, millions more gallons of precious water required from local aquifers, there’ll be more sewage and runoff in the sea, iconic views to Reculver will obliterated, and years of traffic chaos will ensue as the utilities are installed on the huge estate. Birchington, and Thanet in general, is full up, the roads, medical centres and hospital already overwhelmed. Those fields are a precious space to many of us. If anyone says we are NIMBYs, I’d say we’ve already had our back yard built on, now the money grabbing developers, encouraged by the government, want to build on our living room too. We must fight this, and if it does go ahead, accept that we don’t matter, and the pursuit of more riches by the already wealthy will always win.

    • And to top it off, the bus service to Minnis Bay is going to be axed in the near future (at least according to one of the 34’s drivers!). So even more people will have to rely on cars.

  12. Let’s face it Manston Airport will never happen if your going to build houses which the government want then Manston is prime land for building houses, school and Doctor Surgery and even creat a Park for recreatinal. However having said that just build up North where there’s more space.

  13. If you care, contact your district councillors and tell them; tell your friends and family to do the same – it is the TDC planning committee that will decide whether this goes ahead…..advised by their ever reliable planning officers!!

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