Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Traffic Dilemma

I see that concerns are now being expressed over last week's Westwood Cross planning decision. According to Kent Online

"Labour group leader Cllr Richard Nicholson said the project could become a nightmare.

He said: "Traffic cannot get through Westwood Cross now. More than a thousand extra houses must generate around a thousand or more cars using the area. And if the school that is relocated to the site is Bromstone from Broadstairs as suggested, then parents will drive their children across that busy interchange at peak times - and that will cause even greater traffic chaos."

I had a good long look at the area from above on Sunday night and have to conclude that it won't look pretty when its finished, in terms of the urban sprawl across a landscape under constant pressure from the developers. However, I really don't see what the alternatives would be, given that local government can't easily refuse such projects without very expensive consequences for the local taxpayer.

Just by way of observation, I fractured a tooth the other day on an object in a Tesco "premium" meat pie. Tesco told me that I had to take the remains of the meal back to Westwood Cross and complete a form if I wanted compensation. My answer was "you must be kidding, you obviously don't know what the traffic is like here."


Mr Friday said...

To be fair to Cllr Nicholson I was at the planning committee last week and he expressed the same concerns then.

So did Cllr Wells who, although I don't always agree with his perspective on things, genuinely spoke on behalf of his constituents in Viking Ward and put over an eloquent and informative point of view raising many concerns about the scheme.

As for alternatives ? Well how about all the spare land by Manston business park near the airport ? How about the airport itself (sorry Dr M !!) as it does not appear to be financially sustainable in the long term with two failed ventures in recent years.

DrMoores said...

Ironically, I'm not "attached" to the airport because I don't operate from there. Being realistic though, it's not going to go away as it represent one of the only large-scale economic opportunities in the area, in potential at least. Once it's gone it's gone forever and with a rising demand for air transport, that's not a risk any local governmnent might easily take with an asset of that size, unless of course it wished to build a new town on the spot.

To be honest, the airport may, in some ways restrict development because of the rules governing the OIS "Obstacle Identification Surface" around an CTR of this size. I do however think that Westwood Cross still represents the worst possible spot to drop that many homes but that's simply a personal opinion, based on a privileged view from above!

Mr Friday said...

I think we could learn a lot from how other Councils have approached these problems.

I lived in Ashford for a while and the level of development there is way beyond what we face in Thanet but they always ensured the infrastructure was there first. Housing developments were out of the main town and on roads where there were hardly any existing pressures such as the Pearce signs roundabout.

As a result, thousands of houses were constructed and, apart from the main ring road which is currently being changed, you can get from "A" to "B" quite easily !

I take Dr M's point about the airport but wonder how many more commercial ventures will be abolished there before people start looking at its real estate value and consider it can never make it as a profit-making airport. Certainly KCC & TDC will be wary about part-financing any new schemes there after EU Jet and the Virginia failures. The position is ideal in that it is at the end of a dual carraigeway and near to the new access road to Sandwich (where it can be assumed many of the new residents will work)

I think I am right in saying that the old airport at Sheffield is going to be converted to other uses too due to the fact the airport could not make a profit there.

DrMoores said...

Yes I heard about Sheffield but I also heard that it was doing reasonably well and it came as a shock.

See how well Sheffield is doing in this report!!

Mr Friday said...

I was referring to the old Sheffield City airport near Catcliffe (just off the M1) rather than the Sheffield/Doncaster one (which is doing very well as you rightly say).

From what I am told, the City one was set up to accommodate business travellers and short-haul flights but now caters for pleasure flights and the like due to other airports being more competitive to use.

Michael Child said...

The fundamental problem that will always be faced by both the airport and Port Ramsgate is that both are at a disadvantage to almost all of their competition, because of Thanet’s location. With a catchment area that is local and only from the west every venture is likely to fail.

Yesterday when we went to Manston to look at the old planes and military history, on display, the Westwood Cross traffic jam extended out of site from Manston Road, the building of shopping centres, schools and leisure facilities out of town, meaning people have to drive to them is really an environmental issue, contributing to global warming. As the town centre shops change to bars and living accommodation the value of the shop and buildings no longer relate to the profit a shop can make in them it becomes increasingly difficult for shops to survive in the towns. The way we are going it seems probable that soon we shall have no town centres at all. The real issue is one of planning and scale so as to arrive with towns in which people are happy to do the majority of their shopping and leisure facilities on foot.

Anonymous said...

Westwood is an ongoing infra-structure nause, but I am surprised that there has been no comment about the Eastbound section of the Thanet Way closed now for its second week and this is just prep for re-surfacing.
One small patch was being worked on this morning which in no way necessitated full road closure. This road is the main road into Birchington, Westgate, Westbrook and Margate and the alternative route takes traffic around the Isle. How many other towns in Kent would accept KCC closing its main road in for weeks on end. This is an absolute disgrace and needs sorting! KCC and TDC Councillors are very silent?

Anonymous said...

anon again!
TDC should insist that for the new homes, when they are being built, have WATER SUPPLY, OFF STREET PARKING for up to 4 cars, and be 4 'en suite' BEDROOM family sized houses with South Facing rear gardens and Balconies, marble flooring throughout. These 'building regulations' might attract a better sort of newcomer to Thanet.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Nicolson is playing a thoroughly dishonest and disreputable game with this issue. At full council last week he backed and spoke in favour of a labour amendment to limit the size of this development to 1000 homes - the figure always used in his administrations last local plan. That backing of the development is missing from all his current comments.

He also uses the worst possible scenario figure for the current development of 1130, which he knows will only happen in at least 10 years time, and if the school is not wanted in the area. The likely figure is 1020 or 1060 homes.

His playing up of the traffic issues does not explain how and why the addition of 20 or 60 homes on his approved plan figure will make all that difference. It wont, of course. He is merely attempting to exploit the politics of this issue and pose as the champion of those opposed to the development at all. His lack of honesty does nobody any credit.

He also quoted from a Dept Communities and Local Government press release concerning the easing of pressure on expected population growth last week. What he did not say was that this was about growth post 2026 long after this development will be finished and occupied.

These sins of omission bordering on outright lie would appear to be the polics of desperation. Facing a serious drubbing from national political disenchantment with the Blair administration; serious challenge in his own backyard from Ramsgate First, and with little or no new talent to offer the electorate, one can almost feel sorry for him.

I take no vote for granted on May 3rd, and nobody should, but Cllr Nicolsons dishonest tactics on this issue, echoed as they are by Cllrs Fenner, Poole, Green, and Hart in recent weeks on other issues, suggest that what the labour party are hearing on the doorstep makes them very uncomfortable and truly desperate.

Keep going Richard. There is no better noose than one you tailor to fit your own neck.

Posted by chris wells | 8:16 AM

Anonymous said...

All the roads round Thanet need upgrading and dual carriageway put in from the A253 onto the A256, 254 and out onto the A28.

Cllr David Green said...

For an intellegent and experienced Councillor, sometimes Chris Wells is incredibly foolish.
He should know that faced with a proposal like Westwood Homes that has some good in it, (The possibility of 330 social or affordable housing) but lots of problems, the first thing we try to do is ammend the proposal. This I tried to do with my 1000 homes, not one more ammendment, and my ammendment that each of the 5 phases of the development should be brought back to committee. Others, notable County Councillors Liz Green and Clive Hart attempted to suggest that the road network was inadequate. The Tories (Chris included) firstly excluded Liz and Clive from voting, then voted down our ammendments. That left me with no choice but to vote against the proposal.

James Maskell said...

And Councillor Green should know beter than to give false and misleading comments like the ones he has made in his most recent comment. As he full well knows, he proposed one amendment at that meeting, which was to limit the development to 1000 houses AND to have each of the 5 phases come before Planning as they came up. It was one joint amendment not tweo separate ones. It was voted down because of the first part about limiting the development to 1000 houses. The second part of the amendment was actually accepted as it was a sensible idea.

As for Councillors being unable to vote, a number of Councillors, both Conservative and Labour had to withdraw from the meeting due to conflicts of interest. Could he please explain further how the Tories tried to block Cllrs Elizabeth Green and Clive Hart from voting? Maybe I blanked out because of the childish behaviour of some Labour Councillors when this supposed blocking took place...please, enlighten me.

One thing Labour were trying to hit at at the Full Council meeting was about elderly people and suitable accomodation. At the time I thought I'd heard it before from one of the reports and indeed it was there in the Planning Committee report. Given that Councillor Richard Nicholson was at the Planning Committee as a voting member, its worrying that he didnt notice that it says in the report that 15% of the homes will be of that type. He was the one who demanded to know how many of these homes would be available!

Perhaps before Labour comes out criticising the Conservatives and giving misleading comments about what the plans will entail, they should read the reports which they have access to...

Nick Evans said...

Further development of the Westwood Cross area is surely bad news for Thanet - esecially if there is no proper infrastructure in the first place.

However, how many people realise that only a couple of miles or so away off Shottendane Road/Minster Road, Westgate, that there is apparently outline planning permission to build 400 houses on farmland?

Wheteher on not this scheme is ever granted full permssion remains to be seen, but I'm told outline was granted a year or three back . If that happens then another green part of Thanet will be lost forever.

Michael Child said...

Nick I found this one for 120 bed hotel GARDEN COTTAGE, MINSTER ROAD, MONKTON, KENT OL/TH/01/1094 but can’t find the one you mention on the gov planning site, do you or does anyone have the application number. The trouble is that plans to put up a greenhouse show up just as much as plans to build a thousand houses.

chris wells said...

How interesting. Cllr Green wants westwood if it gives 330 social homes. His amendment would have given 300 (30% of 1000). When he could not get that he voted against, thus being willing to abandon 250 social homes. The logic is tortured and dishonest - no surprise there then!

He also avoids the issue of the press release. Could this be because I caught him out using exactly the same trick during the scrutiny of Pleasurama? Tut Tut, David, for an experienced and intelligent councillor you are incredibly niaive, and forget how good a memory us foolish councillors have.