Saturday, January 05, 2008

Help Save Pegwell from Over-Development

26 houses proposed to replace 6 homes!

Laura Sandys writes:

"I have been at three meetings in Pegwell held and organised by the local residents in order to object to a development of 26 houses in an area that currently has six homes. The residents of Pegwell are adamant that they will fight to retain the character and quality of the environment in Pegwell and are mounting a highly professional campaign.

However the proposed development in Pegwell impacts us all wherever we live in Thanet. The development is proposing to go beyond the local plan and build on land not designated for development. A very important precedent could be set for all parts of Thanet if this development is allowed to go ahead.

I am calling on everyone in Thanet who cares about our environment to write to the council to object to this planning application. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Thanet, your voice can be heard. Your voice needs to be heard.

Write to the Planning Department at Thanet District Council Offices, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1XZ, quoting planning number F/TH/07/1734. The letters of objection must be in by 21st January 2008.

For further information and to sign the online petition please do visit my website

or ring Marion on 07798677140 or Lesley on 07816611218 to find out how you can help their campaign."

22 comments:

Mr Friday said...

Just a shame that Laura and her like couldn't raise this level of interest and opposition when TDC were giving the go ahead to build 1000 new homes at Westwood which, let's face it, has a little more impact on our lives than a small development in Pegwell.

DrMoores said...

You really need to go back over the stories to understand the very real differences; literally chalk and cheese. TDC didn't suddenly ask for 1000homes this all comes from central government targets which local councils have little option but to obey!

Anonymous said...

I have just been sniffing around this little whizzo scheme on TDC's planning portal. This began as an application in September 2007 for 40 UNITS (see F/TH?07/1284)which was then withdrawn! The application came back in December and objections must be with TDC (from locals written to on 17 DEC) by Mon 7 Jan2008(hardly any-time considering a major two week nationwide stand-down to celebrate Christmas and New Year!

This is a classic 'grab gardens' development that will affect all the neighbours and the nature of this part of Pegwell considerably. It crams as many possible new dwellings into a back gardens area that is classifield as 'brown field site' and alters the nature of thsi community irrevocably and permanently for the worse.
1. Why is it being proposed at this time of year? ( Whilst we are enjoying Christmas and new Year the clock is ticking?)
2. Who intends to benefit from this? ( Mr David Pownceby, representing Lillybrook Developments Ltd the PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER) and Ms Smith (no forename given!!!!) who is apparently the OWNER who lives at 2 Downs Road and whose 'owner signatory is signed by MR Geoff Smith)

So deliver your objections to TDC on Monday (too late for Post Office Mail) by hand.
Whilst on the subject of 'timing', could Cllrs involved request that an extension of time for objections be allowed given that the limited time given for written objections just happens to fall over the Christmas and New Year holiday perid. Could I suggest an extension of 2 weeks to Mon 21 jan to allow for proper objections to be made as there does seem to have been no allowance made for the is important holiday and stand-down period.

Spare a thought for the following neighbours whose lives could be blighted by this over crowded and despicable piece of 'garden-grabbing': Mr &Mrs Arnold and Mr & Mrs Kirkaldie in Pegwell Road; Mr & Mrs Jones, Mr & Mrs Love and Mrs Pacham of Downs Road. These are real people who never in their wildest dreams thought that Ms(no forename)Smith of 2, Downs Road ( if she actually exists) would contemplate selling out to developers Lillybrook and ruining their quiet enjoyment of life in Pegwell.

by the way , such is the planning process that she was also sent a letter to register an objection! Can you believe that this sort of thing goes on? YES IT DOES! ( Before the Ed reaches for 'delete', all of this info is avail on F/TH/07/1734)

Anonymous said...

A New Year hang-over! Its suddenly dawned on me that all those 'nice'poor neighbours in the strand above are the very people involved in this garden grab! They are the residents whose houses get knocked down and their gardens built on! Have they already sold their properties pending success of this application'to Lillybrook Developments? If Ms Smith owns No 2 Downs road, does she already own the rest? have they all been taken in by 'offers they can't refuse' by Lillybrooks. The biggest existing plot is 169 Pegwell Road and Mr & Mrs Kirkaldie hold the key land to this whole proposed development. Mr & Mrs Jones at No.16 Downs Road would like to have most of their garden but are happy for half of it to have two houses on it, even if those houses would be over-looking the gardens of 173 and 177 Pegwell Road. Ms Smith( No 2 Downs Road)and Mr & Mrs Kirkaldie(169 Pegwell Road) are about to spoil the rear areas of the poor inhabitants of 27, 29,31,33,35, 37 and 39 Mark Avenue who will now have 9 houses overlooking their modest sized back-gardens.

This sort of 'garden infilling' is an absolute disgrace. Greed on the developers part and individual house-owners who also see the £ signs in their eyes should not be allowed to change the very nature of an area that many others who have settled and live there,originally moved there for.

I just hope that this apalling situation can be avoided. The real key to stopping this so-called 'brown site' development is a rigorous local democracy with Cllrs having the 'balls' to reject it at a FULL COUNCIL PLANNING MEETING (no nodding through by Planning Dept Officers or by the Planning Committee) and I hope this application has already been 'called in' and that Cllrs realise that they can throw it out and be damned at the cost to the rest of us TDC Council Tax Payers. In the present economic environment, delay and costly appeals by Lillybrooks will make them seriously think if this whole project is not financially viable. TDC Cllrs must draw the line in the sand some-where and this seems as good a place as anywhere to do it.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see a superb aerial view of where this obscenity of a 'garden-grab' is about to happen take a look using an aerial view with 'Virtual Earth'. The site in question is based around Victorian properties with mature gardens and trees and is probably a part of our townscape and natural 'heritage' that could be lost for ever. It jumps out of the aerial view as a unique area within the built up environment and Virtual Earth was probably viewed by those avaricious people at Lilybrook Developments Ltd to spot it in the first place! Take a look and see for yourself what could be lost!

Bloke on the Street said...

10:57 speaks of greed of the developers and property owners concerned. Please let us know whether you would take say £100,000+ more over the value of your own property as it currently stands or not? A friend of mine is selling his 1930s semi in West Sussex for around £450,000, its worth about £325,000 as it stands.
Secondly. The Directors of a business are bound by a duty to work in the best interests of a company to which they are directors and that usually involves making money and a profit. Its a grown up world and if you want change you need to campaign to the policy makers and law makers in central government usually over a long period of time.

Anonymous said...

No, I wouldn't 'bloke on the street' if it meant crapping all over my neighbours as this scheme clearly will do. I have no objection to making money, creating employment and capitalism in general, where it benefits all concerned i.e shareholders,directors and workers. This particular 'loophole' in the planning system(describing back-gardens as 'brownfield sites') needs to be closed. We have a democracy at local level that should be able to prevent the attitude you seem to advocate of 'the devil take the hindmost' as is clearly demonstrated in those who intend to benefit from such a development as this i.e. a few house-owners and Lillybrook Development Ltd. We need to ask ourselves is the personal gain through exploitation of an asset likely to impinge adversely on others and if so is it justified? In this case, there is a clear example of personal greed and avarice impinging not only on the environment we all have, but directly de-values the quality of life of many neighbours affected.

I find it utterly amazing that a Labour Government is happy to preside over such a distorted planning environment whilst the Local Tory prospective candidate is oppsosed to such rampant greed by a naked capitalist venture. If we follow your argument to its logical conclusion we will be back in the world where it is acceptable to push young boys up chimneys to sweep them; heaven help you if you are unable to see the lack of morality involved in this pernicious planning application.

Anonymous said...

THIS is just a propagenda story for the Conservatives. This Tory-led council knows how overdevelop very well


Tina

Newington

anon again! said...

anon again!
12:29 Tina.

Have you only just noticed?

Anonymous said...

Tina and 6.42, you miss the point about the problem here. If back-gardens are classed as 'brown-field' sites by sloppy legislation from Central Govt (Labour) then Councils have to follow the 'rules' and treat the application as if it were for 26 houses on a dilipidated warehouse site! I would like to see TDC throw this out and be 'damned about the consequences' even if it costs us as Council Tax payers some money in legal fees. This particular garden grab exercise is a classic case of the type that is causing councils up and down the land nightmares! This is not a propaganda story but people just trying to represent the interests of local people affected.

DrMoores said...

9:36 hits the nail on the head. Councillors work very hard to protect the interests of the people they represent but the rules of "the game" make it an uphill struggle at times!

anon again! said...

anon again!

I always believed that 'if a direct neighbour did not wish to agree to planning permission's, then these could not be granted by ANY Council, whether Local or County'. The owners could appeal, but this would also be 'over-ruled'.

Mr Friday said...

I'm confused.

So do developments like this contribute to TDC's house-building targets set by Central Government or not ?

What were TDC's orginal house-building targets ? Have they been met or are TDC still working towards them ?

Cllr David Green said...

Planning law in this country has always started from the principle that any land owner can do what they like with their own property unless there is good reason for this not to be allowed. This does not seem a bad principle to me.
Good reasons for refusing include impact on surrounding properties, variance with local, County or regional plans, or in some cases National Govenerment guidance.
Government Guidance is just that, guidance to be taken into account by local planning authorities who are the decision making bodies, subject to the possibility of appeal.
Developments like this would contribute to the Council's house building targets, but
Housing Completions in Thanet for the last 5 years are rising from 367 per year in 01/02 to 651 in 06/07.
Completions for the last ten years:-

95/96 234
96/97 244
97/98 366
98/99 268
99/00 286
00/01 297
01/02 367
02/03 334
03/04 416
04/05 441
05/06 494
06/07 651

The South East Plan proposed 28,900 new homes per annum across the South east to 2026. Thanet’s share was to be 325 per year for 20 years or 6500 (So our current build rate is well above that proposed by SEEDA, and has been for some time).
The Examination in Public has just ended. The inspectors reported recommendation of 32,000 between 2006 and 2026 means 7500 for Thanet averaging 375 per year.

Over the ten year period 2001- 2011 the Thanet Local Plan makes provision for 4,200 new homes; that is 420 per year.

This figure is higher than SE Plan requirements (either original, or the inspector’s revised recommendations), so for Thanet at least, it is not Government Policy that is driving house building numbers. It reflects much more over optimistic local assumptions about anticipated economic growth through the airport and business parks. Here in Thanet we should also never lose sight of the now 4500 family units on our housing waiting lists and the stress and strain that this causes, particularly on children. It is questionable though whether the right type of property is being built to meet these needs, or whether TDC is allowing developer’s profits to be over dominant.

The last three years figures for housing completions indicate that completions are running well beyond even local plan assumptions and are increasing. This is without any impact yet from major developments at Westwood, Sea Bathing, The Lido, Pleasurama or Thanet College, which together will provide around 2000 units alone. Added to those already built (2783), this already exceeds the Local Plan (2001-2011) target.

Anonymous said...

A clear, balanced and very informative item, Cllr Green. Thanks.
I know you are unable to comment on this particular application but I hope that you and other Cllrs will have the opportunity to send this disgraceful application on its way to the bin.

Michael Child said...

What people seem to be saying here is it’s the other lots fault, David seems to be implying that once the housing target for Thanet has been reached it is easier for the planning department to refuse unwelcome developments. While Simon is saying that regardless of how many houses are built it stays just as difficult for the council to refuse more development regardless of local peoples wishes.

We have a serious problem over housing developments and as more and more people need somewhere to live we really need some better solutions. At the moment our gardens shops and leisure facilities seem to be just fair game for the developer, while a boring flat field of cabbages isn’t.

Now all of the buildings in Thanet are built on what was once green field sites, don’t mistake me here much of our countryside is very attractive but so is much of our towns and villages.

Now the real brown field sites in Thanet have pretty much either been exhausted or they require expensive decontamination, by these I mean bombsites old factory sites and worn out unattractive housing. In Ramsgate most of the development seems to be going on, on sites that were recently small businesses or peoples gardens, we seem to be heading for an intensity of housing unrelieved by anything else that is likely to lead to considerable problems in the future.

We are also in a position that because housing is in short supply house prices have risen to the point where so much of our earned wealth is directed into buying somewhere to live. Ultimately this means that a great proportion of our wealth is directed towards borrowing money from one another to buy buildings that have already been paid for by previous generations.

There are only two solutions that I can think of one is to build enough housing on the least attractive sites brown or green, so that property prices relate to a reasonable proportion of peoples incomes or for government to intervene in some way or perhaps a mixture of the two.

Anonymous said...

There are two sites that could be looked at that are 'brown-field' in the true sense. 1. The old gas-works in Margate (an eyesore and contaminated but we do have the technology?) 2. Derelict land south of the railway with access from Northdown Road, St. Peters.
I believe these are the sort of sites that TDC should be making plans for and then approving these plans and encouraging social housing to be built to ease the waiting list problem. If we leave it to developers, they want sites that will command premium prices for what they can squeeze in to peoples back gardens. What ever we do, we must ensure we preserve as much agricultural land on Thanet as we can, as the problems of global warming might require every acre under cultivation that is possible. How are we to feed the projected UK population in 2050 if major crop failures occur in S E Asia, USA, Canada or USSR?

Mr Friday said...

Many thanks for the detailed reply Cllr Green.

So, if i have understood the issue correctly, TDC set their own house-building targets above what the Government told them they had to build and have actually exceeded these targets too.

So, the argument of "It's all Central Government's fault" only stretches so far doesn't it - ie up until TDC match any central targets set. Any large developments approved after that time is actually down to TDC.

I am also assuming that, based on the figures Cllr Green has provided, that taking into account the new developments planned (ie college site etc) then there was no actual demands (implied or actual) made on TDC to approve the 1000 homes at Westwood as it would have comfortably been within targets set.

Is this right ? If so, then TDC only has itself to blame for the only "policy" which it ever seems to deliver on which is to bring the area of Westwood to a complete and utter grinding halt.

Ewen Cameron said...

Goodness, where to start?

Cllr Green would do well to avoid Labour’s incessant habit of implying what doesn’t exist. And re-connect with some facts.

The following may help;

1: The Council doesn’t have “house building targets”. It doesn’t build houses. End of story.

2: The Council is required, by Labour central government, to plan (in a broad sense) for a particular number of homes. In Thanet’s case, the first phase of this was 5,400 homes. The number has since climbed. This is an exercise largely about designating land or areas. It has limited bearing on who will apply for what and where. The current system is that I could apply for consent to develop in your garden, and you could do the same for my garden. Mad.

3: The rate of housing completions is largely irrelevant to planning considerations on any individual application. It would be a surprise if, after ten years of a property boom of epic proportions, the rate of completions were not high. Cllr. Green conveniently omits the data for 1990-1994 (when the property market last went into a slump). By the end of 1994, you could scarcely give property away, and very, very few people were willing to venture capital into new builds.

4: The majority of the completions in Cllr Green’s tractor factory statistics are flats. Flats represent about one third of all the properties currently listed for sale in Thanet. As of last week, these amounted to 811 (on Rightmove). The figure for May last year was 540. “Investment opportunities” include a number of complete, new and unsold flat developments and some where work hasn’t even started yet. A glut? – You decide. This is not about making tractors or cheap shoes – we need a balance. I am currently fighting two major demolish(a house)-and-build applications in Broadstairs for blocks of flats.

5: The current planning system requires the Council to find a good basis in planning law to refuse any application. If the law is, in some instances, mad, then you are forced to wave through applications that you may deeply oppose. Far from trying to concrete Thanet over, the Conservative group is opposed to the idea of excessive development. The record shows that we have, in fact, suffered financial penalties for refusing too many applications. I’m happy to assure everyone that trying to roll back unsuitable applications in inappropriate areas is an exercise similar to that undertaken by salmon heading for the spawning ground.

6: The majority of the Sea Bathing flats are in the 07 stats. As for the rest – does Cllr Green think that the Lido, Westwood, Pleasurama and the (current) Thanet College site will all be complete within the next three years, the period he links them too? Come on - we all deserve better than that.

Cllr Green – two direct and simple questions for you;

Since when was a one bedroom flat, the size of a cupboard, a “family housing unit”?

What evidence do you have for your implication that “TDC is allowing developer’s profits to be over dominant.”? Frankly, I find this suggestion startling, given the efforts on your side of the Chamber as well as ours. Do you know something I don’t?

Cllr Ewen Cameron

Michael Child said...

Ewen David I am very concerned that TDC is starting work on the cliff behind Pleasurama at a cost of £450,000 without either the latest plans submitted in March or the environment agencies report being in the public domain.

My discussions with the various experts and agencies concerned lead me to believe that at the very least emergency escapes will be needed onto the cliff top, or that possibly the building may have to be integrated with the cliff façade to be viable.

It would be a great shame if this money was wasted or partly wasted because aspects of the cliff façade had to be changed to be suitable for the final building design, which even the environment agency say they have not seen.

From my point of view this development, through both your administrations seems to be a case of the developers profits being over dominant, so a straight question that either of you may want to answer.

When will we be able to see the up to date plans for the largest development in Ramsgate ever to be built.

Ewen Cameron said...

Michael, everything about the Pleasurama site that should be in the public domain, is in the public domain, and can be found on UKPlanning.com. I believe there are some revisions to the roof design, but only if they are of significance to the planning consent would they need to be lodged.

I am certainly happy to assure you that (whilst I do not sit on the planning committee), developers profits are of absolutely no significance to our Group. That is not our job, and it’s not what our electors voted us in for.

Regards

Cllr Ewen Cameron

Michael Child said...

The approved plans on the government planning website showed a building that is 1.5 meters taller in the sections than the elevations. The approved sheet revision section AA BB and rear elevations that showed this, (although I do have a copy of it and my correspondence about it with the planning officers involved in which they agree that the building shown would have been bigger on the inside than on the outside) has now been removed from the site so there is now no approved copy of this most important sheet available.



Brian white sent me what he calls the approved set of plans last October and the same set of plans to the environment agency in December, imagine a plan for a cube where all angles are right-angles but all the sides different heights and you will understand their predicament, these are also the plans that show peoples heads and vehicles embedded in the ceilings. They show a building which when viewed from the side is 17.5 high when viewed from the front is 16.25 meters high when viewed from the rear is 16.5 meters high inside at one end it’s 17.5 meters high the other 16.25 meters high.



Based on this information the environment agency are supposed to comment on a building where if a mistake is made 1,500 people will be trapped inside between the cliff and the sea while the wave action causes it to collapse.



They also sent the environment agency one sheet of the latest plans (March 2007) the environment agency officer who is preparing the flood and storm assessment tells me that there is no escape access to the cliff at all, the car park ceiling is too low to admit emergency vehicles in fact the whole fiasco can be likened to the Titanic without lifeboats.





Back in March I spoke to the new architect who had replaced the chap who produced the various sets of plans that had lots of errors in them, he said that he had submitted new plans to TDC that were hopefully without significant error, and that he made major changes to the layout of both the car park and the access corridors and stairs in the building.



So I asked the Brian for a set of these new plans, as it was me not he that had noticed most of the problems with the previous sets it seemed a reasonable thing to do. Many promises but no plans were forthcoming.



So I asked the architect to send me a set, he said that he had been told not to discuss the project with me.



So I wrote to Cllr Wise, yes of course you can have the plans he said about 20 emails and two months later still no plans, eventually he stopped replying to me.



So I wrote to Cllr Latchford, yes of course I will get a set sent to you immediately, the months passed, at one point I was sent a copy of one of the old sets of plans that I had already got, perhaps you guessed, now I get no replies.