Thursday, January 05, 2006

The White Whale of Westwood

I did get up in the air after all, just in time for the cloud to descend to seven hundred feet over North Foreland. But passing over Broadstairs I noticed how truly enormous the site is that lies behind Tesco and runs straight up to the Christchurch Campus.

I will go and take some photos of this particular area once the weather improves again but you could lose a small town in the blank muddy space that is now prepared for building. What impact this will have on local roads I can only guess but in the space of eighteen months, what was a modest shopping centre at Westwood Cross has now become a giant whale which is busily swallowing the centre of Thanet.

For all the benefit and convenience of the shops that this brings to local residents, me among them I’m not sure that an expansion of this size and at this speed will really serve the best interests of the population when the infrastructure requirements and concerns are lagging so far behind the development.


Anonymous said...

I must have missed something! I thought it was the general idea, that Westwood Cross would be the huge Thanet shopping area. Once this door is opened, anything can happen, as seen already. I have heard that IKEA, PCWorld(=Dixons)and a couple of the other mutiples are showing great interest. The only ones who know the truth are the Thanet District Council, because they are the ones that allow this to happen, by issuing the neccessary permits. Do not be mislead!
He who pays most, wins! (correct Mr Godden?)

Cllr David Green said...

Anonymous is right in the sense that the concept (by Labour) was to bring the big stores to Thanet that we couldnt over many years attract into the three towns. THe motives being to bring emplyment and so trap more money in the local economy. The concept is in danger of being too succesful for KCC, who opposed it and have failed to provide the infrastructure requried. The expansion requires careful treatment to protect the three town centres as much as possible. Hence many Labour Councillors opposed the location of Argos to Westwood because of the resk local stores

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I read somewhere that the roads "might" be widened/improved to deal safely with the increased volume of traffic that will eventually be either moving very slowly, or at a complete gridlock around that place. One good accident is all it would take. Still, it's like the threat of a thousand new homes to be built there.... where will the extra water come from..... If I were in charge of the Thanet Council.... I think I would prefer a Desalinating Plant to an Art Gallery... It wouldn't cost £30,000,000 to build. Food for thought?

Cllr David Green said...

The question of services is a complicated one. Whenever a development is proposed, the Council has to, by law, consult all the utilities including water to ask them to agree they can forfill their statutory duty. So far they say they can, and of course they were consulted over the local plan precisely on the homes at Westwood.
In the longer term, there are difficulties arising out of the privatised utilities reluctance to invest in new facilities until there is a end purchaser. Any potential developer is then reluctant to be the first on any site because they are asked to bear much of the costs. To overcome this the previous Labour administration at TDC set up The Spacial Development Company using SRB/EDRF to take the initial risk of funding infrastructure, then charging the costs back to developers to fund future projects. We were the first in the country to do this, and because of the bureocracy involved, the fruits are only now beginning to show.

Anonymous said...

Anon answers..
The question of services is only as complicated as a Council make it. I was pleased tho to read of the Spacial Developement Company. Good to know that some thought is being devoted to the future. However, something should be organised BEFORE the houses are built (only to stand empty, because of no water supply would be a shameful waste).

My question, at this point is, has the Council ever considered such an alternative?

As a guideline, the Costa Brava in Spain, a favourite of British Tourists, has showers in the Hotels that have a mild sea water/freshwater mix. Washing machines and WC's in the homes run on sea water. This supply comes filtered, to the Hotels and homes.

I see there was no referal to the road problem, but, that can wait....not much longer tho!

East Cliff Richard said...

This debate is all very interesting, but so far nobody has asked the burning question: why was a multi-million pound shopping centre built amongst fields of fart bushes (brussels sprouts)?

I think we should be told.

From one of the recently arrived London millionaires on Ramsgate's East Cliff.

Cllr David Green said...

I dont know about the economics of using sea water. It would need a seperate supply. I would imagine it might be more feasable when building a new town, such as some of those in coastal Spain?

As to the road problem. There are plans for dealing with it. Have been since before the shopping centre was built. It falls to County Council to finance and implement them. I know our local members (both parties) are pressing the issue but no joy from County Tories yet.

Anonymous said...

Spain started that system in the 60's, as water was always a problem for them. Now, it is becoming a MAJOR problem for us...
but as usual, it will be left unmanaged until it's too late.