Thanet’s Draft Local Plan overwhelmingly rejected by council scrutiny committee

The local plan is a blueprint for new housing, business and infrastructure on the isle

Thanet councillors at an Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting have voted overwhelmingly to reject the isle’s draft local plan.

The Local Plan is a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure for the isle up until 2031.

It sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Allocating land through the plan is designed to give the council greater control over where and what type of developments can take place.

Consultation was carried out earlier this year on revisions to the plan, including axing the aviation-use only designation at Manston airport and putting forward two new isle sites at Manston Court Road and Haine Road.

These changes were approved by Cabinet members at a meeting in October but still needed to go to the Scrutiny panel. They will now be debated again by Cabinet and then Full Council.

Rejected

But Scrutiny members ignored the recommendation to approve the amended plan, instead voting 9 to 1 to reject it.

They did not, however, put forward an alternative recommendation.

Campaigner Craig Solly, who spoke at the meeting about his concerns over the plan, said the vote was a victory for common sense.

Mr Solly raised concern over the soundness of the draft local plan, including the number of houses Thanet is expected to deliver each year, issues with infrastructure of roads, utilities, water and KCC services, the question of funding and how it should come from grants and developers, the ‘last minute’ transport plan and whether it could be sound given the uncertainty over the future of the Manston airport site.

He added: “I am glad Scrutiny members have seen common sense. I spoke about issues with the soundness of the local plan in its current form. I would welcome all parties coming together to try and create a new plan that will benefit Thanet and hopefully pass the soundness test. But time is running out to devise a credible plan.

“I think the whole point is that it should be a democratic document which it clearly is not at the moment.

“We need a collaborative council that cares about Thanet’s future, with or without an airport. Ultimately we are the people who have got to live here.”

The rejection will have to be considered by Cabinet members on December 14. The plan will then go forward for vote at Full Council on January 18.

Central Government threat

Last week Thanet council was told it would be served notice that central government may start the process of ‘taking over’ the isle’s housing and business plan.

A statement issued by Secretary of State Sajid Javid, from the Department for Communities and Local Government, said the failure of Thanet and 14 other authorities to meet deadlines to put a local plan in place means the government has now served notice of its intention to intervene.

In the statement Sajid Javid says: I am particularly concerned about the 15 local planning authorities that have recently either failed the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes, the public timetable that all local planning authorities are required to put in place.

“I am therefore writing to the local planning authorities of: Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield,North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.

“These letters will start the formal process of intervention we set out in the housing White Paper.”

The White Paper is the Government’s proposal to enable it to deliver one million new homes nationally by 2020 and a further 500,000 by 2022.

Final decision

Thanet council has until January 31, 2018, to justify to Government the failure to produce a Local Plan.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has met with the Secretary of State to explain Thanet’s position.

Thanet Conservative party leader Bob Bayford told last night’s meeting: “Savid Javid has been made aware of Thanet’s particular circumstances and we are unlikely to feel the full weight of government wrath.”

Thanet council chief executive Madeline Homes said TDC had not yet responded to the government letter.

‘Incompetence’

Sir Roger Gale MP

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said it is Thanet council’s leader andCabinet members  “blundering incompetence” and refusal to “reflect the wishes of the local electorate” that has led to delays and the threat of government intervention.

He added: “It is likely, and I personally hope that this will be the case, that unless Cllr Wells and his “Cabinet” withdraw the proposed change of use for Manston  airport then the Local Plan, when it is debated and voted upon in early January of 2018, will be defeated and I would welcome the intervention, at that point, of the Secretary of State.

“At a meeting with the Housing Minister a week ago I indicated that Thanet has more than sufficient brownfield land and other available sites to meet its` local housing needs without sacrificing swathes of Grade 1 agricultural land and most certainly without smothering a national asset, Manston airport, with an estate that will almost inevitably be used as a dumping ground by London Boroughs for overspill housing for people who will then have no jobs to go to. I believe that that point has been taken and understood.”

‘Put up or shut up’

Thanet council leader Chris Wells responded to Sir Roger’s comments by telling him to ‘put up or shut up.’

In a statement Cllr Wells said: “I read Sir Roger’s comments with interest. He appears to be in direct conflict with his own government’s agenda in advocating delay to the Local Plan process.

“I was however, delighted to hear of his recent meeting with the Housing minister, when Sir Roger explained that, “Thanet has more than sufficient brownfield land and other available sites to meet its local housing needs”.

I am excited to hear such a simple solution is available to us. So please Sir Roger, list those sites where the housing your government wants for this area can go. That is all that anyone consulted really needs to know to make an informed choice about the Manston site.

“It’s time to ‘put up or shut up.”

Thanet’s timetable

The current Thanet timetable plans for council approval in January, submission to Planning Inspectorate in March 2018 and examination in June 2018.

The isle’s last active local plan was adopted in 2006.

‘Significant risk’

During the meeting in October, and again at last night’s Scrutiny meeting, council deputy leader Lin Fairbrass warned of the dangers of delay with the plan, saying: “If the draft plan is not submitted for examination by next March 31 there is “significant risk” that higher housing numbers would be imposed by Central Government.”

Government intervention could mean the housing numbers required for Thanet will rise. Government guidelines currently dictate a build of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031. But following a government proposal to standardise the way local authorities work out housing need new proposals could see that figure rise to more than 20,200 homes, raising the requirement from 857 dwellings per year to 1063 dwellings per year.

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Sir Roger Gale had been voted as a Thanet MP at every general election since 1983. Cllr Wells was voted as a UKIP councillor in 2015 (having defected from the Conservative party which he now appears to vilify.). Cllr Wells was not elected for KCC at the county elections this year and It is unlikely that he will retain his seat at the local elections in 2019. This is the second time he had told Sir Roger to “put up or shut up” which shows fully one of the reasons he is so hated in Thanet. He was elected on the promise of a reopened Manston Airport so perhaps the person who should “put up or shut up” is Cllr Wells himself?

  2. I also would like to know where we have brownfield site’s as it appears that most of the building of new houses are being built on greenfield site’s When TDC come to build, there will be little land left except at Manston

  3. Most of the election candidates in Thanet made naive and unresearched promises to reopen Manston airport. Chris Wells must have realized very quickly that there was little chance of Riveroak’s running a successful airport. The most recent events (the Maidstone representations by York aviation, as well as RSP’s shoddy local consultations) have proved him right. Do Bob Bayford and the other Tory councillors really wish to lumber Thanet with even more new housing? For that’s what we’ll get unless the council puts aside party rivalry and spite, and considers the health and welfare of the inspectorate rather than their own egos.

  4. York Aviation have delivered a withering assessment of Manston’s prospects, and have stated, publicly, that RSP misrepresented their findings. Along with Avia, they don’t see a future for the airport. Against this background, how is it possible to pass a local plan which reserves the site for aviation? It may well be the case that a large bunch of ignorant and ill-informed people still “want” an airport. But we don’t always get what we “want” in life. Local plans are required to be realistic, flexible and pragmatic. The local plan needs to be passed and, with no viable plan on the table to reopen the airport, it would be unrealistic to insist on this. It will simply mean that the owners land-bank it for the next 20 years until a more enlightened generation take the reins.

  5. Electorate, not inspectorate! (Well, maybe them as well, if the government steps in…)

    What are Thanet’s “particular circumstances”, and how will they avert the government’s wrath?

  6. Sir Roger really does need to shut up or put up as Cllr Wells says. Cllr Wells is the only sensible person that is looking out for Thanet. If the Council will not agree on the plan then the Government will take over and dictate what homes goes where and how many. These selfish cabinet and scrutiny members need to buck up and put their own views aside or we will be forced to have housing and much more than is planned by SHP at present. And Sir Roger needs to stop acting as the spokesman for a private company out to grab a large piece of Thanet land. He needs to act for his constituents and not just his band of merry protesters. This is not all about Manston. He is the bane In our side.

  7. The contributions by Pinsent Masons and York Aviation commissioned by Stone Hill Park elicited a “devastating” response quite quickly from RiverOak’s lawyers, Bircham Dyson Bell, but those visiting or tuning into the KCC consultations yesterday or the Stone Hill Park public consultations this week might be forgiven for thinking that wasn’t so.

    In truth the Pinsent Masons letters are full of nonsense and were easily rebutted by reference to decided DCOs and caselaw.

    York Aviation also did themselves no favours by their contributions, not least because they speak as though they are airport master planners when in fact they are not; they support the Avia Report without noting the caveat within the Avia Report that states that Avia knew nothing about RiverOak’s business plan or infrastructure development scheme; they ignore the outcome and evidence produced at the Stone Hill Park Appeals; they complain about Dr. Sally Dixon’s work while taking bits of it out of context and without considering the whole of its evidence base, and they fail to understand that the approach taken by Dr. Dixon is in fact very conservative, has been thoroughly peer-reviewed and is NOT overblown.

    Pinsent Masons make much of RiverOak’s use of the 2009 Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations without observing that the Secretary of State’s scoping report required them to do so. They are and were entitled to rely on transitional arrangements. At the relevant time (the time of the original Scoping Report), the new 2017 Regulations had not been published. Stone Hill Park strive desperately to make distinctions between the difference between the original DCO process initiated by the American-based RiverOak Investment Corporation and that of its successor, RiverOak Strategic Partners, but the latter is clearly and unmistakably the successor of the former in terms of rights and interests and purchased those rights with due consideration. The lawyers and consultants are the same, the scheme is the same, three of the directors are the same, and there are precedents aplenty that show that in such cases the successors are entitled to rely upon the continuity of the project begun by their predecessors. Had they now been successors in title, they would not have been able to use the same lawyers, who in fact supervised the succession and have acted for both ROIC and RSP.

    All in all, the desperation of Stone Hill Park and their team is clearly evident from the manner in which they chose to use most of the time they were given to present their case to County Councillors yesterday to a one-sided attack on RiverOak. In doing so they also ignored the fact that Stone Hill Park’s existing planning application has remained dormant because they have not been able to get Southern Water, Heritage England, the Environment Agency and all other statutory authorities to agree that the Stone Hill Park project in its original form is acceptable.

    Does anyone believe that recent changes to the SHP plan are going to find favour with those statutory authorities? I certainly don’t!

    Stone Hill Park lost all four of their Appeals following the Public Inquiry held in March 2017. I expect them to lose every round during which they go head-to-head with RiverOak, save when they do as they did yesterday and opt act in a way and under rules that prevented RiverOak from rebutting Stone Hill Park’s attack. I expect RiverOak WILL deal with that in due course, and if/when they do, the outcome can hardly be in doubt.

  8. But why would the RSP be granted permission to build a brand-new airport a couple of miles from a town of 40,OOO people when the legal owners of the land wish to develop a scheme which puts a few thousand houses on a large brownfield site, not to mention workplaces and schools?

    SHP’s plans are exactly what the government would wish to see there. People who live near Heathrow, East Midlands Airport and similar large airports know that life under a flight path is an experience not to be wished for.

    Why do Thanet’s MPs want to inflict a cargo hub on their constituents? Have they read nothing about the damage to people’s health and to the environment caused by aviation? Why aren’t they doing their best to fight off this destructive threat to Thanet, instead of acting as unpaid advertisers for it?

  9. You know when SMA are rattled. Dr. Pritchard’s rambling diatribes get longer and longer. I prefer to deal in facts and it is a fact that RiverOak have missed yet another deadline for submitting their DCO application. Funny they didn’t mention that when they were presenting to KCC. We are now told it will be next Spring, but who really knows? It will be interesting to read what was actually said when they met the Planning Inspectorate at the start of the month.

  10. Dr. Pritchard claims that: “..the Pinsent Masons letters are full of nonsense and were easily rebutted by reference to decided DCOs and caselaw.” Perhaps the knowledgeable doctor can tell us where we can read this rebuttal?

    • Cheggers (whoever you are), if it mattered, I’d happily share that with you, but the fact that you haven’t a clue makes me smile, for you evidently have no wish or possibly any capacity to improve your understanding.

      Bircham Dyson Bell’s initial response to Pinsent Masons was well-considered, and the subsequent attempts by Pinsent Masons to amend or expand upon their initial submissions have not been persuasive in my view. You may recall that a year ago and at various points since, I offered to provide seminars on key issues, evidence and authorities on DCO law to elected Thanet District Councillors. I pointed out at the time that much that Mr. Wells and members of the Senior Management Team at TDC said, and from Stone Hill Park, was either errant nonsense or out-of-date. It spoke volumes that there were no takers. I am satisfied that RiverOak are in possession of the facts and that at this stage in the process there will be no advantage whatever in repeating the offer for Councillors made in the past.

      As the latest response from the Planning Inspectorate to Pinsent Masons shows, matters will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate and by the relevant Secretary of State who is free to give as much or as little weight to various factors as s/he wishes but will doubtless be guided not only by statutory authority but by caselaw, evidence and the desire of Parliament to support Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

      Pinsent Masons have no right to judicial review at this stage, and the way in which the Planning Act 2008 regime operates is intended to choke off pettifogging and vexatious complaints. Like it or not, the Stone Hill Park Appeals were lost and the results were not challenged. Belated attempts to row back on that judgment are likely to be resisted by HMG. In my opinion Pinsent Masons were always unlikely to prevail against RiverOak on the Manston DCO, but RiverOak’s likely success on their DCO project is if anything even more sure after RiverOak completes the further public consultation that they have now announced they will undertake.

      Marva Rees, the answer to your questions are (a) read and understand the documentation that RiverOak submitted at their previous public consultations and whatever they submit in the new public consultation early in the New Year; (b) Re-read Inspector Nunn’s decision and reasoning in the SHP appeals; (c) Thanet’s MPs and it would appear all other Kent MPs understand that the benefits of RiverOak’s plans vastly outweigh any detriments, and the environmental impact of SHP’s plans are far more adverse than RiverOak’s.

  11. Perhaps I had better point out that my last comment is of course, a polite way of saying “Why on earth are Thanet’s MPs pushing for a bloody great airport,when other MPs whose constituents already live near bloody great airports (and really don’t want them to expand) are trying to save their own electorates from being even more greatly affected by aviation noise and pollution than they are at present?”

    Perhaps it was Dr. Pritchard’s rudeness and condescending tone which caused his offer of seminars to have no takers.

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