Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Consultancy report by WASPS: Economic and Social Study of Asset Disposal
Cost to TDC £0
This parcel of land lies between two busy bays. It consists of chalk grassland and has a backdrop of interesting chalk cliffs. It is an informal green space which has become a haven for wildlife.
The coast where it lies has SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) designation and is adjacent to a European marine site. The recent Marine and Coastal bill has significant implications which require careful consideration of all coastal sites.
The land is in part an historic landfill site.
There is a high risk of flooding according to the Department of the Environment.
It is an important site for the Turnstone population that winter here and which use this land to roost on in bad weather.
The site is used extensively by local people for leisure activities like dog walking, bird watching, kite flying, etc. and it has well trodden paths by walkers. Dog walking is banned on the adjacent beaches during the summer.
Proposal for Disposal and Development
According to TDC’s Asset Manager the proposal is to lease this land but it cannot be a disposal unless it is in excess of 11 years. He states that the disposal would not be freehold or a long lease. For the purpose of this report we assume it to be a short term lease of 12 years.
Likely Development Potential
The potential for development of this site is minimal, if any, with the flood risk and suspected contamination of this land due to landfill.
Any development would also be heavily restricted by environmental issues and restrictions by Natural England.
“Site will not involve significant built development. Any use will be community related.” Thanet Matters issue 37. May/June 2008.
Any commercial enterprise would be ill advised to take on a lease any longer than 12 years due to rising sea levels; therefore the income would be low. Bearing in mind that the estimated freehold value of the Montefiore site in Ramsgate was £45,000, a 12 year lease on this land must be worth considerably less.
Any development would need planning permission and there would be considerable opposition from local residents.
Potential Costs of Disposal
1. Cost of dealing with contamination due to landfill £20,000.
2. Legal costs of lease £2000 (even if done in house).
3. Legal costs fighting Village Green Application £20,000. Based on HOOT enquiry. (There are 110 witnesses for this village green application).
4. Seeking permission from all the interested departments £2,000.
5. Any development will mean loss of vegetation on cliff face. This will destabilise the chalk cliffs requiring scarping. Cost £10,000.
6. If development later removed cost of reinstating site to prevent dilapidation. Cost £10,000.
7. Costs of Consultants, contract management and planning. £10,000.
1. Loss of an informal green open space which is enjoyed by many people for recreation. Thanet is poor in this area having less than half that recommended by English Nature. Destroying open spaces affects local resident’s health and well being.
2. There would be a loss to nature and the knock on effects on our survival and those of birds and insects important for natural balance.
3. Loss of an opportunity to create bio-diversity on this site involving the community and schools.
4. Overdevelopment of our coast will have a negative effect on more diverse tourism.
5. Likely to cause an increase in vandalism.
6. Rising sea levels will put demands on the council to increase the sea defences similar to proposals for Margate in order to protect site. If left alone this would not be necessary.
7. The cycle trail passes this site. Development would conflict with cycling and make the trail less interesting.
8. Loss of confidence in council and democracy in Thanet.
The figures given for costs are estimated and could be more or less but it is very likely that disposal of this land will cost considerably more than any likely financial gain.
I think questions should be asked as to the viability of this disposal. The council could be making a big mistake.
The residents of the surrounding area are very opposed to this development. They are one of the highest council tax payers in Thanet. Their demands are very few on the council’s resources. Would it not be beneficial if this land was preserved for their enjoyment and that of others?
If this land is left alone it will cost the council very little in maintenance. In fact it is likely that funding could be attracted to create biodiversity on this site.
It could provide an opportunity for community involvement.
Apart from the economic costs there are serious social costs.
It would be extremely difficult to develop this site in view of the need for wildlife protection, environmental considerations and other legally binding restrictions.
Likely cost of disposal £74,000
Even if the costs estimated are half it is probable that we end up with a loss to council tax payers.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
New Venue For Association
The Westgate and Westbrook Residents' Association, who are supporters of WASPS, are going to vary meeting places between Westgate and Westbrook. Tom King the chairman of the Association said "we represent both Westgate and Westbrook and want to encourage more people from Westbrook to be involved with the Association. To facilitate this we will be meeting at Bowling Green Pavilion at Westbrook on 12th July 2010 at 7.15pm."
There are several incidents of concern in Westbrook and the relevant authorities need to be made aware and be kept in check. The Association has a record of getting things done. Whether you are a member or just want to check it out you will be most welcome.
Friday, 4 June 2010
Click to enlarge.
Well Well Well. Would you believe it a legal bill of £20,000 and still rising fighting residents trying to preserve a green open space. Well done to the Isle of Thanet Gazette (28 May) for persevering to get the information that TDC did not want released. Others have estimated the cost to the taxpayer more like £80,000.
Today's IoTG (4 June) letter page has a mass of letters condemning TDC's asset disposal policy.
It appears a great shame that local politics is not doing us any favours. The loss of green open space is a social cost to all of us. I quote from the Open Spaces Society "Selling green spaces is a false economy. If you rob people of their playgrounds they are much the poorer. Green spaces help to keep people healthy—it’s far better to spend on prevention than cure".
TDC's recent record on green open spaces is not good. We need a change of attitude before developers cover our island in concrete.
We now have the Marine and Coastal Bill. I wonder if anyone has looked at that in relation to asset disposal of coastal sites. We wouldn't like our council to do the wrong thing.