Friday, 30 January 2015

Thanet Local Plan - "The Road to Hell"

Thanet's local plan is it a work of fiction or a masterpiece of planning?

Having read the 263 pages I believe it is neither.

As a work of fiction the plot is still a mystery to me. Unfortunately the pictures and illustrations in the book are unreadable and of poor quality. The charts are in some cases missing the legends which makes it impossible to determine their point.

As a local plan I believe it is not fit for purpose. It gives the impression of something cobbled together without a sound basis of local knowledge or public opinion. The public meetings have shown very strong feelings against its housing needs projections in particular.

It was suggested to me that I should read Swale's Local Plan. What a breath of fresh air I could understand what they were talking about. It was based on sound evidence and research which Thanet's is not. Thanet's does not even look at fundamentals like have we got enough water. Is there a robust infrastructure in terms of roads and can we cope with a massive increase in sewage? Southern Water has a poor track record with our beaches having serious incidences of sewage contamination.

Thanet residents are revolting, they are incensed with the prospect of their island being concreted over and the loss of prime agricultural land to housing. There are petitions and action groups being formed to attack this plan.

Swale's vision is to create 7,000 jobs and provide 10,800 houses. So how can Thanet create 5,000 jobs and require 12,000 houses. Creating jobs in Thanet is an aspiration too far when the Island is being asset stripped and jobs destroyed. It would take a massive catalyst like Manston becoming a hub airport to create 5000 jobs.

If there are 5,000 empty properties and potential brownfield sites for another 5000 homes so why destroy agricultural land and open spaces? Developments like 1000 homes in Westgate will devastate their community as it will with others. Thanet already has 30% urbanisation the public have spoken they do not want any more.


Is the consultation an inclusive exercise? I believe many people will be excluded from the consultation due to lack of computer skills. You need three screens for; the plan, the questionnaire and the evidence. In order to complete the questionnaire you need to set up an account with a user name and password. This is beyond many peoples skills.
You can obtain a questionnaire and complete it with a pen but you need to refer to the plan which you can only read on line. Thanet District Council are not providing hardcopies.

If this plan gets to the planning inspectorate the prediction is that it will be thrown out on grounds of failure to consult and a poor evidence base. This will be a waste of millions of pounds. TDC councillors need to wake up and listen to what local people are saying. Don't let the Thanet Way become "The Road to Hell."

Monday, 19 January 2015

Thanet Local Plan Public Meeting 16th Jan and Westgate and Westbrook Residents Association Meeting Minutes 12th Jan 2015


Thanet Local Plan Enough is Enough
I had hoped to report on the public  meeting last Friday at the Westgate Pavilion but although I arrived in good time the venue was already packed and like many others we were unable to gain entrance. Judging by the mood outside there was anger at the numbers of houses the Local Plan is suggesting especially in Westgate.
Reports back from the meeting indicate that the meeting was very robust. There were 300 chairs and there must have been at least another 200 standing: packed to overcapacity.
Reports suggest that the planning officer got short shrift: he was trying to give a presentation from notes about what he would not talk about and that got everyone very cross. The chairman did a good job and cut the presentation short to allow people to ask questions. Reports indicate that these were not well answered by the planning officer. 
Several people spoke who were knowledgeable and articulate and exposed some of the basic flaws in the local plan as its stands currently.  These fault lines give a lot to base an opposition upon. Some of these articulate people have agreed to join the steering group. Many others have joined the Facebook group.
I think the meeting gave a very strong message to government and local government that "Enough is enough, do not mess with Thanet."
Anyway here are the minutes of






Tom King, chairman and councillor, thirty members, and KCC Cllr Jeff Elenor.


The chairman welcomed all to the meeting.



Apologies had been received from Kath Bonner, Mick Rooney, Chris Smith, and John and Mavis Vaughan.





The minutes of the last meeting, (8th December 2014), which had been circulated, were adopted on a prop by Don Eacott sec by James Brazier, and signed.



1)      TDC Chief Executive.  Questions were asked about about this resignation and possible severance package, as notice was not being served.  Tom reported that councillors have been called to discuss the recruitment of a new chief executive, and that the other details requested may be released later. 

2)      Business Rates £196 reported as Paid in last Treasurer's Report.  The secretary, Richard confirmed that the appropriate form to apply for small business rates relief had been sent in and produced a reduction in the amount payable.  James Brazier thought the rates relief should have been 100% so that nothing was payable.

3)      Attendance of Councillors at W&WRA General Meetings.  Derek confirmed that this would be published in the next magazine.




KCC Cllr Jeff Elenor:

1)      Administration of Libraries etc.  A consultation period will run until 8th April concerning the trust that will be set up to run these.

2)      Plan for New Houses.  This will be discussed in full later during the meeting.

3)      Pedestrian Crossing, Westgate Bay Avenue.  Jeff had brought in a copy of the technical drawing for this crossing which would be used for the consultation period.

4)      Local Children's Nurseries.  Jeff had made representations to the appropriate people at KCC concerning a local nursery.



Tree roots in Rowena Road had become a trip hazard, and had caused at least one accident.

Railway Footbridge.  It was reported that two out of the three lights were not working, Tom said this came under TDC responsibility and he would chase it up.




1)      123, Canterbury Road, (Summerlands).  Application for erection of four detached dwellings to the rear and formation of access road, following partial demolition.

2)      15, Wellesley Road.  Request for certificate of lawful development for single storey extension. (If granted this would then not require a planning application).

3)      2/62, Cuthbert Road.  Application for permission to erect an eternal staircase for a fire exit.  



1)      Dementia Helpline.  There is now a twenty four hour helpline available.

2)      St Mildred's Road/Westgate Bay Avenue.  An email had been received concerning many incidences of poor and illegal parking, which had also been experienced by many members present.






Derek requested articles for the next edition, now required as soon as possible.





Rosalind reported that membership numbers had held up well this year, and reminded  the meeting that membership could be offered to local residents when discussing the housing consultation.



Westgate Heritage Centre (in St Saviour's Church).  Next meeting is Saturday 7th February at 10.30am when there will be a talk by Chris Wyer about Westgate's Post Boxes.



Richard told the meeting that last month's report was more condensed, and had been published in full in one edition of the Gazette.



1)      Quiz Night.  Next quiz to be held on Friday 20th February.

2)      New Year Lunch.  Eighty seven members and guests had attended the  lunch which was very enjoyable.  The raffle made £151.  Rosalind and all helpers were warmly thanked for their work.



1)      Consultation for Proposal of 1,000+ Houses at the Back (South) of Westgate. Tom told members the W&WRA has organised a public meeting this Friday 16th January at Westgate Pavilion. Leaflets had been delivered to many roads and given out from a table in Station Road and were welcomed by local residents.  Speakers accepting invitations to the meeting include those from the CPRE, Doctor's Surgery etc, officers from TDC will be present.  BBC South East and the Gazette had been invited. The Cabinet Advisory Group had declined the invitation, and Sir Roger Gale MP was unable to attend.  There will be an independent chair person. Garlinge RA are holding a meeting at the Methodist Church on Monday, and Birchington also are to have a public meeting and exhibition. The new housing estate could stretch from the Quex grounds to Garlinge and beyond.


Ron Rolfe told the meeting that this Westgate Development features well in Facebook and a vote of thanks was made to Hannah and helpers who had prepared this.

Tom said that as yet no drop in meeting in Westgate had been arranged by the  TDC as they had thought that the public meeting would be sufficient.  Since many local residents may not be able to attend in the evening or negotiate the steps, the secretary, Richard was asked to email the TDC concerning a drop in meeting, and also to invite/remind local ward councillors re the meeting.  Tom said Friday's meeting would be assessed to consider if a further meeting should be held.

Dave Morrish, who has had considerable experience in local government, thought the consultation was poor as it was all electronic, and many facts were wrong.  He also pointed out that “Examinations in Public” meetings will be held.  High growth is wanted by councils developers and land owners, whereas most residents do not want this.  Representations/presence at these meetings will only result if there have been proper responses.  The plan should be examined thoroughly for valid reasons of objection such as a sudden increase of population by 50%, and the fact that the updated census was not used, traffic problems etc to give a full considered response to say that the plan is unsound.

Tom had spoken to the TDC planning consultant Ismail Mohammed about expressions of interest in providing land in Thanet, and there had been sufficient for 22,000 houses.  The Westgate CAAG was working with Tim Ingleton.   Abigail pointed out that this was an area of high poverty/deprivation.  The question of agricultural land with grade one agricultural soil could be considered, but if specified in the local plan it made it easier for such land to undergo change of use so that it could be developed. A number of members recalled the  severe flooding experienced in 1973 in Canterbury Road and area around the Walmer Castle when a resident was drowned, due to sudden heavy rainfall, and how this situation could be worsened by concreting over the agricultural land.

Members present doubted very much if such a development would provide employment for local people, many projects in the  past had not done so.

A proposal was then made by Dave Morrish seconded by Tony Sykes that a sub-committee be set up to prepare a response to the TDC draft local plan which would be subject to the  full committee approval.  This was unanimously agreed.

Tom said that anyone with expertise and contributions to make would be welcome to the sub-committee.



 Monday 9th February, in the Town Hall Buildings. 7 pm for 7.15 pm


There being no other business the meeting concluded at 8.35pm.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Thanet Local Plan Storm Clouds are Gathering.

Resident's  Meeting

Last night's meeting of the Westgate and Westbrook Resident's Association was lively to say the least when the Thanet Local Plan was discussed. In particular the threat of building 12,000 new homes, 1000 of which to be located in Westgate on prime agricultural land was the major topic.

Proposed Agricultural Land for Development

Minster Road to Dent-de-Lion

Minster Road to Quex

Dent-de-Lion To Belmont Road and Canterbury Road

Dent-de-Lion to Minster Road


Plan Criticised

The plan was severely criticised for the assumptions it makes over the number of houses needed.

The proposed development is thought not to have any relation to social, economic or demographic needs and is not sustainable in terms of jobs, utilities or infrastructure.

If the planned development was allowed to go forward unchallenged it would change the nature of our towns and villages completely.

Action Group

A motion was passed that an action sub committee be formed to fight the plans.


It was reported that there is a petition and people in Westgate have been queuing up at the Bakehouse (HQ of the Association) to sign it. It is expected to reach several thousand signatures. The Majority of those present last night also signed.


Concern was expressed that because many people are not computer literate and that commenting on the Plan would be made difficult for them.

Public Meeting

Since Thanet Council refuses to hold its road-show in Westgate the association has called a Public Meeting for this Friday 16th January 2015 at the Westgate Pavilion at 7pm. Local Councillors, TDC officers, MP, Press and BBC TV SE News have been invited.  It is in everyone's interest to be there.