Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thumbs Up for Two Chimneys - Thumbs Down for Local Concerns

Just in from one of our regular readers:

“I’ve just been told Two Chimneys planning application to extend their site has been approved and that the march of the caravans continues. It was approved this evening by the whole committee except Councillor Anne Chater. What upset my source was that the discussion time given to this important local issue was minimal and about one-tenth of the time was spent in discussion of unapproved doors in someone's barn. It fulfills the management training example of more time spent by the Board discussing the colour scheme for the executive toilet and the type of toilet tissue to be used than on the purchase of a multi-million pound computer system.

My source is thoroughly dispirited by this first experience of our local government in action and the way in which decisions are taken but that’s democracy in Thanet for you.

As you said in an earlier thread "It’s just another brick in the wall". I wonder if there is any point in trying to enhance the attractiveness of this area as has been done for the past ten years by planting over almost 17,000 hawthorns and trees into 4km of hedgerows, when the local council allows such an eyesore to occur and then allows it to expand.

Ed: I’m very disappointed in this decision by our council to allow the expansion of what is visibly a second permanent village on the outskirts of Westgate. I am unable to see any valid reason for allowing such an expansion, given the environmental impact it will undoubtedly have on the area and from what you have told me, I would have liked to have thought that the matter would have been debated with a little more attention to the interests and requests of local people. Apparently not and I look forward to reading any comments on this thread from other observers and local councillors who may have attended.


Anonymous said...

anon again!

Once again, the Council manages to "Bulldoze" anybody else's wishes aside.... typical.... I hope that their 'multi million pound computer system' gets a 20p VIRUS.
Could we have a revolution please... any volunteers?

Anonymous said...

Years ago there was a story going round that Arlington House was built just to win a a bet by the builder that he could get any building, however inappropriate and ugly, approved in Margate if he paid off the right councillors.

Surely nothing similar could have happened with the caravan park?

James Maskell said...

I went to the meeting (I was the one with the suit and the blue tie for anyone who wondered who I was)and feel there was enough discussion on it. Every Councillor who wished to speak was given an opportunity to do so. Thanks must also go to Cllr Charles Hibberd, Ward Councillor for Thanet Villages, for his short speech on why the application should be refused, though I dont ignore Cllr Chater in my thanks. As the only Cllr on the floor speaking against the application, she did very well and put a very eloquent case.

To clarify what has happened, it wasnt a simple approval. It was a defer and delegate for approval, meaning it's approval subject to sorting out some issues. One of the key reasons why the yes vote was given was that caravans are an alternative to hotels and with the Two Chimneys being successful and helping to provide tourism opportunities, should be allowed to expand. I believe the figure of 12,000 people going to the caravan park in a year was given. Personally, I dont think the Two Chimneys should have been given all that space. One interesting comment was that there should be a limit set to how far the park should be allowed to expand in future, which is worth a look.

The part about the barn doors was a separate application but was rather important as an application was for listed status on the said building. It needed discussion to work out how to move forward with it.

As for the Pearce Signs application (splitting one of the smaller units into two parts), it was approved, though it must be noted that there was an element of blackmail by the applicant in the application. That measn there will now be 5 units on the Pearce Signs development.

Sorry to hear you didnt enjoy your time at the meeting, regular reader. It was unusually empty in the public gallery. Considering what was on the agenda I would have expected more people.

Westgate dogwalker said...

I was at the meeting tonight and yes, it was depressing. There was much more interest and chatting about an unapproved barn door in Northdown. There was even more time spent discussing a very modest extension of about 1 acre to a caravan site in Minster for 15 caravans which was perfectly screened from view. THIS application, I think, has now to go to a Full council meeting for approval! A new village at 2Cs gets nodded through.
Cllr Hibberd (he is Villages member and Two Cs is on his patch) upset members by suggesting that a
big expansion for POOR holiday-makers was out of step with TDCs more up-market aspirations for arty-farty visitors. Our Councillors obviously haven't seen the price these mobile homes cost to buy(£40,000 to £90,000) and what the ground rent for them is. Poor to have a mobile home at Two Cs; you must be joking!
Cllr Gregory couldn't have been more supportive of Mr Godden's application and there was only Cllr Chater to say what a visual eyesore it was. That was it; quick vote; passed! No votes in the empty fields you see and no voices to speak up for preserving our open spaces.

Oh, by the way, Thanetlife was referred to by Mr Godden in passing but not by name; didn't like reading comments posted on this site by the sound of it.

tony robinson said...

I may be wrong, but I think I can just about distinguish the outline of an Iron Age fort in the brown field at the bottom of the picture. Would you like me to put in a couple of trenches? That should stop them in their tracks!

James Maskell said...

Indeed that was an interesting comment about ThanetLife. It was obvious what he meant when he said "comments on the internet".

Anonymous said...

Obviously I am terribly out of touch with local matters.
Am I correct in understanding from these recent posts that Jimmy Godden, the one who owns the Dreamland site and has unfortunate accidental fires is the owner of the 2 Chimneys mobile home site?
Is this the mobile home site which was described in the local press a year or two ago to be popular with South London car dealers and other legitimate businessmen?
And the one where there was a murder not long ago? Or maybe that was another one, I really wasn't very interested at the time.
Anyone know the answers? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Anonymous said...

It is not the same Mr Godden as the unfortunate fire afflicted Mr J Godden and it is not the caravan site you are thinking of; I think you could be thinking of Foxhunter in Monkton or Minster.

It does look as if this area will become the biggest and most densely inhabited mobile home conurbation on Thanet and despite the Planning Officer stating at the meeting that it is not in a designated landscape area, according to TDC local plan it is; the case report to members clearly stated that Policy BC11"supports the the development and extension of cravan sites subject to landscaping, siting, design and access considerations EXCEPT at or near the coast or in INDENTIFIED LANDSCAPE AREAS". The officers advice to members also stated that screening by bunds "would not create a skyline intrusion".
I am told that an objector provided the same picture you see above and those you can see on "Farming Fears" posted below on Saturday and other long views, to members of the committee in advance to support his oral 3 min objection and drew their attention to them. You can make your own conclusions from them.

It does make one despair about the planning process we have in Thanet but the democratically elected members have made their decision and we will all have to live with it for years to come.

James Maskell said...

Anon 6:32am. Im afraid the Planning Officer was probably right to support the application in that case. It depends very much on what the coast means. I suspect the Two Chimneys doesnt come out on the coast and as you said yourself, the Officer said it wasnt an identified landscape area.

Anonymous said...

Young Maskell do you support all things TORY only. This site is fast turning into the ugliest thing in Thanet.

James Maskell said...

In terms of Thanet, I do agree with the Conservative positions. I do however have concerns relating to development and transport as regular readers of this site will know.

Planning applications in the main are treated with non-political gloves, though of course with things like Westwood Cross and Dreamland, politics inevitably comes into it. The Two Chimneys application strictly speaking was acceptable. Refusing it would have meant an appeal which the Council would probably have lost IMO.

Why is ThanetLife turning into the ugliest thing in Thanet? I think this site is a very useful tool in communication between Thanet residents and decision makers, which can only be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

James it is of course up to you what you do for work but you seem like a pleasant intelligent literate sort of guy even though you might be young and still a bit naiive - and I don't always agree with your views - why are working in that deadend job?
Is there really no career you want to pursue available to you in Thanet? Or training for it?
I just hate to see you wasting your talent, but if you are happy in your job then that's the main thing.

Anonymous said...

So its another Mr Godden who owns this caravan site, not Jimmy Godden? Its an unusual surname, maybe they are related?
Perhaps they are a long standing family of legitimate Thanet businessmen?

Shottendane Road User said...

James, you have not understood the landscape area issue. There are landscape areas such as the upland chalk plateau that 2Cs is on and there are coastal landscape areas. Go and look at the plan and you will see it clearly shown.
God help us all if planning matters in TDC are influenced by political affiliation; its either sensible or not. 2Cs is the only unscreened and high visibilty site in Thanet from major roads and this is extraordinary, is it not?

B of Birchington said...

I think that whatever political party was in force this planning would have been approved anyway. Government either local or otherwise has no time for the countryside. However it will be our children who will pay the price for this unfortunately.
In some ways I am glad I am getting older and more infirm and have to stay at home. I don't have to witness the destruction of this beautiful island.

Anonymous said...

Young James I obviously did not make self clear. Thanetlife is not the ugliest thing in Thanet but it is 2C's it is like a carbuncile on the landscape as you turn into Shottendene from Minster Road. All those beautiful fields and then those so called caravans.

Peter said...

On one hand, people are moaning that Thanet is becoming desolate and isolated from the real world. There is no entertainment, the beaches are underused and old businesses are moving away from the area. But then a place which is working, does support tourism and doesn't neccesitate half of the world negotiating its way through Westwood Cross gets a pounding.

Sometimes I wonder about people. Is what you really mean...We want good stuff in the area, and it to prosper, but we don't want anyone to actually come here and enjoy it.

I'll tell you what, shall we just flood the Wantsum again and declare our independence.

Planning Officers don't's not in their interest (or job spec), and at the end iof the day the cllrs can overrule the officers report. So I find it hard to beilieve that the officer has misled the cllrs.

There are two options, and only one answer...
do you want Thanet to grow and re-establish itself, or not.
If you do, expansion is the only option...and if not at 2c's WHERE!


Peter said...

Also...while I'm in a grumbling mood...
Intensive farming is hardly productive to the countryside, so people, please don;t think handing land to a farmer is going to save the world!
And haveing a static caravan site is a lot more reversible than having 150 homes built on it!


James Maskell said...

Sorry for the mix up, my mistake, I thought you meant the ThanetLife site, not the Caravan park site...

Im quite happy where I work. I get to speak to local residents about concerns they may have and it also pays the bills! I certainly wouldnt call it deadend. I do know what you mean as you arent the first to make that point and I understand, but I am quite happy there.

Does anyone have the report of the application at hand? What did it say in reference to the chalk plateau? I left my copy in the Chamber and cant remember what it said about it. The report would explain the reasons for the conclusion given by the Officer.

One comment that needs making about the decision making is the performance in relation to Appeals. I think it was something like 80% of appeals were in favour of the Council, showing that the Council is making the right decision in over 80% of cases.

Anonymous said...

In answer to James, Policy CC2 identifies the site as laying within an area of landscape character, being located on the central chalk plateau. New development in the area is required to avoid skyline intrusion and also the interruption of long views to the coast and sea.

Comment in report. 'The site lies within a landscaped character area. However, the proposed development would be very well screened on the south side by the existing Caravan Park, and on the west and north sides by extensive tree coverage. Views would only be readily available into the site from the east; however, the applicant has confirmed that he would be willing to plant a native hedge along this boundary'.

What remains to be seen is if the Council follow up the planting scheme with enforcement if necessary.

Shottendane Road User said...

Anon of 6.55pm is spot on. So when a planning Officer told the Planning Committee it was NOT then the Committee WAS misinformed. Where the officers stated in their report concerning the caravans not being visible "Further more views of them are not available from this site" this is clearly not the case if you step away from the bunds as the pictures on this site show and was commented on by Mrs Chater.
Also in the Planning Officers report to members was this piece of convoluted thinking that says we have a policy(T5)to allow caravan sites to expand for tourism purposes "EXCEPT at or near the coast or in identified landscape areas" then a Planning Officer is able to state later on "I am of the opinion that the extension of the caravan park is permitted by (that) policy T5".
I may have missed something here but EXCEPT in a identified landscape areas is quite clear English and means what it says i.e. caravan parks are not permitted by policy to expand for tourism reasons in a landscape area.
As the planning application was approved without any meaningful discussion and with all inconsistencies and evidence regarding policies being ignored or interpreted in a most novel way; Two Chimneys will expand because our democratically elected members have deemed it so. You may consider that we may not be being served well by our elected members or by our Planning Department; the answer is democratically boot them out at the earliest opportunity.

In the meantime I'm off to look for my sun glassess because as I travelled towards Acol this evening along the Shottendane Road, I was dazzled by the sun's reflection off roofs of mobile homes and a toilet and shower block that TDC says I cannot see.

Anonymous said...

I live less than a mile away and barely know this site is there other than when I pass the entrance. I wouldn't like to think the site has uncontrolled rights to expand but it's bringing people into the area. They won't be able to spend money in Margate though as I believe Margate is closed for the forseeable future. It's bad when the £ shop shuts! Why though are there shops not doing too bad in Westgate, Birchington, Broadstairs, Ramsgate? Okay, Ramsgate could go either way at the moment but there's some small interesting shops there and my brother is hoping to open a 2nd shop in Broadstairs too!

Specsavers Opthalmist said...

11.38pm, no one is objecting to bringing people into the area and no one objected about Two Chimneys in 2001 when it increased its size from 10 acres to 30 acres on agricultural land in alandscape area. Its coming back to get a further 10 acres when you have not utilised what land you have and have failed to plant a bund to screen the site. If you cannot see Two Chimneys mobile homes and toilet block as you drive on Minster Road, Shottendane Road, Woodchurch Road and Park Road please go to Specsavers urgently and for safety's sake stop driving until you do.!
The whole point about Two Chimneys is that of all the caravan sites in Thanet, it is the only one that CAN be seen because it hasn't been screened with an effective planting scheme.
Its bund was created in summer of 2002 and their own submission of a planting plan to TDC as planning requirement said the bund should settle for 1 year and then be planted. The cost estimate to plant top and both sides was given in 2001 as £14,900 odd. It should have been planted in 2003/4 or in 2004/5 or even 2005/6 between Nov and Mar.
You might well ask why this has not happened and why it was not enforced by TDC planning Dept and how further expansion could be allowed until it had been done. At today's prices the planting would cost nearer £35,000.