Parish council calls for major housing development decisions to be deferred until North Thanet Link Road funding outcome confirmed

North Thanet Link relief road proposal

Birchington Parish Council is calling for a decision on a 1600 homes development on village farmland, and other major house builds, to be deferred until the outcome is known for a government funding bid for the new North Thanet Link Road.

The link road is a measure intended to reduce the impact of new developments in North Thanet and to limit traffic growth and congestion on the A28 Canterbury Road. It would run on a newly built road through the proposed 1,600 homes development, from Brooks End Hill to Manston Road in Birchington and along upgraded Manston and Shottendane roads.

It would also provide a direct route to junctions in Margate at Hartsdown Road, Coffin House Corner and Manston Road, and would be expected to carry 22,000 vehicles per day by 2043.

A planning application for the £60m project is expected to be lodged within the next 12 months and construction estimated for completion by the end of 2028.

But a full business case is yet to be submitted to the Department for Transport and so a decision on whether it will be approved for  £50m government funding has not yet been made. If the grant is not approved the cost will fall to Kent County Council and developer contributions.

Thanet council officers have advised that if the Kent County Council bid for the government grant for the North Thanet Link Road (NTLR) scheme is rejected then most of the money earmarked for community schemes and affordable housing in the 1600 home proposal would have to be withdrawn and put towards the cost of the NTLR project instead.

(Ptarmigan Land)

The homes, primary school, shops, care home, expansion of Birchington medical centre and  community park 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.

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.

A change to contributions?

At its meeting held on 14 May 2024 members of Birchington Parish Council discussed contributions the council would seek from the developers.

Members heard that three community schemes, adopted by the council several years ago and intended to mitigate the impact of major developments, had recently been discussed with officers at Thanet District Council.

During that discussion it emerged the developer claims to have been experiencing financial pressures due rising costs of materials and labour and these would inevitably reduce funds available for community projects.

Affordable housing provision could be reduced from the policy requirement of 30% to 10%.

New information provided by the developer, and posted on the TDC Planning Portal, confirms that over £19m of funds earmarked for community schemes and affordable housing in Birchington, known as Section 106 contributions, would have to be diverted to pay for the NTLR if the government grant is not approved.

If the grant is approved then developer contributions of £5.7m will be paid for the link road.

Parish councillors say they were alarmed to learn the planning committee would be asked to make major strategic decisions without sufficient certainty about the link road grant.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Nick Blankley, Chair of the parish council Planning & Highways Committee, said: “This trade-off between delivery of infrastructure and provision of quality living conditions is an issue for all communities in Thanet, particularly where major development is proposed. If the dash to build 4,000+ new homes (also including 2000 at Westgate and Garlinge) is permitted in North Thanet, then the link road must be built first and it should not come at the expense of affordable housing and essential public and community facilities.

“Birchington, Acol, Westgate, Garlinge and Margate could all suffer dire consequences if TDC presses ahead with seeking decisions on major developments without being candid about the risks and certainty about the finances.

“When the Birchington application is put to the TDC Planning Committee, the committee will need to ask searching questions about the risks and uncertainty that come with it.

“KCC has a policy of ‘infrastructure first’, TDC should follow this policy and ensure that adequate infrastructure, affordable housing and amenities would all be provided in a timely and effective way before there are any more permissions for major housing development.”

District and Parish Cllr Phil Fellows added: “This is an impossible situation where the TDC planning committee could not possibly make an informed decision therefore the application should be rejected. This application is unsound.

“Plans for funding and building this relief road must be determined before any decisions are made about major developments.

“Anyone who has tried to travel through The Square at Birchington in recent months will know how sensitive our road system is to delays and congestion. It would be madness to press ahead with approvals for even more new homes without knowing how this essential piece of infrastructure would come about.”

Birchington Parish Council has until 31 May 2024 to respond to informal consultation about the new information provided by the developer concerning highways, education, ecology and the Birchington Neighbourhood Plan.

The latest  documents can be seen at: https://planning.thanet.gov.uk/online- applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=QLP5UWQEMA800

15 Comments

  1. That’s far too sensible, so what make birchington think they deserve special treatment over what has happened on the haine rd, margate rd and ramsgate rd.

    • Birchington have people fighting for what everyone in Thanet wants – less housing and overcrowded roads etc. So we should all learn and take lessons from what is happening at Haine Road, Margate Road and Ramsgate Road and support those in Birchington from the same problems and support them in their very valid arguments.

  2. Infrastructure should also included watse water treatment centers not just roads. Once Southern Water has improved that to handle the amount of people the new houses will hold then they can be built not before

  3. Do we all think the importance of a relief road or sewage and water infrastructure improvements will hold any sway with the algorithm obsessed nabobs who made the decisions to destroy Thanet with thousands of houses?
    The political eunuchs at the TDC, and the well meaning reps of Birchington Parish, must realise these houses will be built and there is nothing that will change this narrative.
    The face and future of Thanet, is being destroyed before our collective eyes and short of civil disobedience it’s unstoppable.

  4. This is happening across much of Britain however this is the worst example of it, it’s as if it’s Cllrs and MPs have decided to make Thanet a sacrificial lamb with a disastrous multiple times failed airfield and the building at all cost attitude. There is no joined up thinking no future proofing no thought of consequences no respect for the area, the environment or Thanet residents, one thing which has been a success is it has shown the people the tax payers the residents the business owners that for all the smiling empty gestures and valued promises that the MPs and Cllrs cannot be trusted to look after the interest of the area and do the right thing by the residents. Building homes is inevitable however there must be stiff control measures, which party removed these controls, oh yes the useless Tories. This wouldn’t happen in other areas however they would refuse it and keep it wrapped up in red tape for decades to find new ways of stopping this from happening. Builders out there, find out where the MPs live then go get planning permission to build on there door step, bet you can’t.

    • True,MM. From what I can glean this sadistic house building epidemic is equally egregious in the Medway towns and the Ashford area.
      I’d be more agreeable to events if the developers were honest brokers. Prescribed social housing quotas are too low and are altered by the developers post facto.
      Where there is social housing included in the overall numbers it should be at least 50 percent of the total.
      Promised schools , green spaces and other amenities should be initiated from the beginning of development.
      Lack of fulfilment of these criteria should mean the immediate loss of contract and significant fines.
      The incestuous relationship between the Tories and the developers explains the laissez faire attitude that exists regarding developer behaviour.
      No one complains about incremental development, but what we see before us in Thanet, is monolithic, unprecedented and destructive.

  5. Rather like the dulling of the road from St Nicholas roundabout through to Sandwich the proposed North Thanet road will be 10 years away. The houses will be built first. It will only be after a very serious road accident on the existing road network that this road will be built. It took Pfizer to move out of Sandwich before KCC highways woke up to the necessity of the road improvement to the Pfizer site and onwards before they woke up

  6. In 2016/2017 KCC Highways were £30 million short of funding for the inner circle plan. We have to assume things haven’t improved?.

  7. It’s really quite unlikely that the lack of roads is going to stop the developments, most would probably agree that having a roof over your head is more important than more congestion on the roads. It’s just a way for the nimby’s to justify their objections to more housing.
    So whilst the country catches up with the demand for housing and going forward has the huge numbers we allow into the country and the South East remains the favoured place people to live , more homes will be built.

    If people want it to stop, then vote against migration, lose weight get fit, work harder. ( so we don’t need to keep importing ever more labour) . The country is skint and living in an economic never never land , everyone is fixated on their own small issues and there’s to little attention to the big picture.

  8. It’s not surprising that Birchington is experiencing such problems due to having voted for out-of-touch Tory councillors at the last TDC election. Including Emma Dawson who lives in St Peters and has no connection with Birchington. Cllr. Emma Dawson works as a Tarot card reader for a psychic phone line. She’s obviously not as gifted as she claims or she would have foreseen these logistical problems.

    • 6 miles away is hardly a “logistical problem” (I walk more than that most days). Besides, I often see her in Birchington.

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