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."