Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When the Whistle Blows

I see that Margate Football Club is ‘Twittering’ its petition to: “Demand that Thanet District Council honour the commitments made to Margate FC over the past few years through the granting of planning permission and the required leases for a new stadium.”

It’s only fair that I include the link but the strong use of ‘Demand’ does strike me as a little unusual in the circumstances. You may recall from my earlier entries and official comments in the paper and on local radio, that I've said, that while the Football Club had prior planning approval for an integrated hotel and stand development, the latest set of plans, presented on their website and which now includes a separate Travel Lodge proposal are considered materially different from the previously granted planning consent for a hotel, attached to the football stand, featuring guest rooms with a view of the football pitch. As such, the council regards this change as a different application, in much the same way, I understand, as if any developer had plans approved for one project but then swapped these for another with a different size and elevation, with associated landscape impact and views.

I’m told, that as the council is the owner of the land at Hartsdown park, it will not be granting any new leases or indeed, any variations to existing leases without extensive public consultation and without further legal research. Simply stated, this means that Hartsdown park is protected from any changes.

The uncomplicated answer as once again, I understand it, is that the football club is quite entitled to build inside its present footprint, what it gained planning consent to build several years ago but it also requires a long lease to match and under new rules, this is subject to a process of public consultation. However the club can’t suddenly start building something that is materially different, without following the same planning and consultation process that any other house owner or developer would have to in similar circumstances.

The Football club is calling a public meeting of its supporters at 8pm Wednesday 23rd February, Westgate Pavilion and Mr Piper's BBC Radio interview on the subject can be found here. time  is minute 27 of the programme.


Andrew said...

No Simon, that should be clear enough for everyone. They can do what they were given permission to do but haven't yet got round to, but if they want to do something different they'll have to ask again. But you'll still get the Doubting Thomas comments!

Readit said...

Quite right, if the design is a material change from that approved then a completly new application would be necessary.

However, if the new design is on the original site footprint and constitutes an improved design, the council would have difficulty defending a REFUSAL at appeal.

DrM. said...

All I can advise if for interested parties to look at the plans and draw their own conclusions as planning officers and councillors have

Anonymous said...

The whole thing seems bizarre to me. As I understand it, from my mole at MFC, the hotel (originally 80 rooms) is 69 rooms under the new plan. MFC say the height and footprint of the hotel has been reduced under the new plan, as was requested by TDC.

MFC called a meeting to explain the proposals to residents in the autumn. Local homes were leafleted, but only two people turned up.

In any case, a public meeting on the issue has been arranged for Feb 23 at 8pm at the Westgate Pavilion. No doubt that will attract a healthier gathering.

DrM. said...

If planning consent is granted for the great pyramid and this becomes a smaller cube then it may be different enough to warrant a new application, is the argument as I understand it

Michael Child said...

Simon correct me if I’m wrong but I thought it was the artificial pitch on the park that the Margate residents didn’t like, mainly because of the way it fragments the park and would remove a free pitch with full free public access.

With material change, I think this is one of those things that the council uses when it suits them, Pleasurama started with a tin gull winged roof, this became a flat grass roof, then a ribbed rubber roof. This is about an acre of roof at about the same height and next to a public footpath but the council say this isn’t material change. The bit the chopped off was bigger than a house and certainly bigger than 11 hotel rooms.

1 o'clock Rob said...

I'm in agreement with the dear Dr on this one. Looking at the original agreed proposal and the new one does, at least to me, indicate significant change and a new application should be made. To be totally honest I'm reeling from shock, I thought TDC would have just caved on this issue, I never expected them to say No!

DrM. said...

There are two different but connected issues here and the one impacts on the other; the artificial pitch is part of this bigger picture.

In regards to Pleasurama, your propensity for hyperbole never ceases to impress!

DrM. said...

I mentioned in another post that we have a new cabinet and I for one always strive to act absolutely properly and without ambiguity as the cabinet member for planning

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to me. Change the plan, change the application. Bit like me asking for a patio extension for my bungalow and then sticking another floor on top of it! You bet the council would be down on my quick if I did so why should the football club be any different?

Ian S. said...

Is it not (allegedly) all started by people who have scaremongered over the building of a pitch on the site of old sports facilities. ie Hockey and cricket pitches.

Michael Child said...

Sorry Simon you have to appreciate that here in Ramsgate it is a very dominant feature and in trying to find out about just what is going on there I discovered phrases like “material change” for the first time.

Tried them on the council to no avail, but nothing makes any difference to it, although nothing has been built on the site since the plans were passed, unlike the football club ones, I have been told the Pleasurama ones will never expire. It passed the five year mark ages ago.

When the council make some point like material change or planning expiry dates, Pleasurama is there to remind me that these things are used by them when it suits them and ignored when it doesn’t.

I think if you ever want people to believe that a change is happening in the way the council is run, then some of the large issues from the past that haven’t gone entirely to plan, like the major council owned assets be it Pleasurama or the M and S building in Margate need reviewing and explaining.

I don’t think anyone expect the council to be perfect or to have a perfect past, but we do expect them to have some sort of plan, some way of us knowing what’s going on, rather like the progress of the Turner Contemporary has been available for us to view.

You may think its good you may think its bad but at least there is an obvious plan that you can follow, the football club application and the whole problem with Hartsdown Park, the lost covenants and so on looks like another of these large no plan public asset, sort of drifting slightly out of control.

Readit said...

Perhaps we could "kill two birds with one stone" by putting Margate FC's artifical pitch on Royal Sands roof. Nice grass roof and pedestrians can watch a game of football from the clifftop

Anonymous said...

Well having voted for you at the last election you have lost my (and my households) vote at the next election over you attitude to local sports clubs.

DrM. said...

I'm not permitted the luxury of an 'attitude' I'm sorry to say, neither do I have any say in the planning process, which is determined by a cross party committee. My role is simply a supervisory one in ensuring that process is correctly followed from the smallest application to the largest and that the council is accountable for its decisions within my portfolios.

Voting for me or not has no impact on my support for sports but I would hope that you might respect my transparency and frankness to a level previously unheard of in local politics

Anonymous said...

Interesting to find that out of 15 posts on this subject, only 1 appears to be in support of the development.
Thanet as a district, has the smallest amount of open green space available to it in the country, yet we are expected to roll over and accept one mans greed in taking away every piece of what we actually have.

It matters not if your a football fan or not, what is being proposed at Hartsdown is fundamentally wrong and the local residents are evidently going to vigourously defend this parkland from being destroyed.
Legally this is an absolute nightmare for the council, the land IS protected under numerous legal restrictions and covenants set down by the previous owners. Should any development go ahead regardless of these being respected, there is a very good chance that the whole thing could be court ordered to be torn down/removed in accordance with the law.
The council could well find themselves having to foot a large part of that bill, there is no way the football club would cough up, they would run for the hills.

Any development that takes place within the entire boundary of Hartsdown Park and Tivoli Park will be subject to the legal restrictions placed back in the early 1920's. So unless MFC are planning on driving sheep over the land I suggest they stop spending money on such a futile and seemingly lost cause.

Jeremy Jacobs said...


This was posted earlier on the Margate FC unofficial forum by a well known contributor. Seems to fly in the face of what you wrote earlier -

"One thing I do want to make clear here is that the club is NOT seeking additional land to that already approved. It has never been on the club or developer's agenda to seek additional land. The hotel has always been and remains inside the footprint of the original stadium. Of course, the 3G pitch - next to the 5's - has been fully approved by the council so there are a mixture of things going on here and I suspect that's what many people don't fully understand".

DrM. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with what Michael Child is driving at. What has happened here is that the residents are up in arms over the all-weather pitch planned for the old pitch 'n' putt course (an area of open space that is used by virtually no one). Permission for this has been granted.

The club have decided they want a smaller hotel. The council have seen this as a good opportunity to appease the folk upset about the all-weather pitch and cited 'material change'. No one is protesting against the hotel.

DrM. said...

Clearly, 8:54 also believes in fairies at the bottom of his garden and maybe 'black helicopters' too!!

It doesn't matter a jot whether anybody is 'protesting' about the
new hotel or not.

1) If you or I put in plans for X and change these quite substantially for Y, whether you are Joe Bloggs building a kitchen extension or Spurs building a new stadium, you need planning consent. It's the law of the land.

2) Michael Child believes a great many things many of which I don't share. The all weather pitch involves a public space outside the stadium footprint and will always be subject to proper process and consultation.

Michael Child said...

But Simon you do, do your disagreeing courteously and publish my comments that disagree with your point of view.

I know I plug away at the Pleasurama development, but much of the reason is that it is the local development that I understand the most, in a way the comparisons are as much Ramsgate v Margate. Take the council granting a lease of over 25 years without consultation, no problem granting a 199 year lease for Pleasurama.

What I am getting at is that with the football club what you are doing is playing by the rules and not taking sides this is the proper approach, why anyone would not want to vote for a councillor because they are following the rules correctly is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Good old Jeremy Jacobs, still pushing the snowball up the hill.
I think Simon should be applauded for his stance on this one,as someone new to this matter I have read through the blogs relating to it and found that he is consistent throughout, more than can be said for a lot of other councillors, especially with the local elections on the horizon.

I find it very interesting that there are no other Cllrs getting involved with this matter, conspicuous by their abscence comes to mind, or are they just keeping their heads down hoping that no one will notice.
It's on issues such as this that we want Cllrs especially to stand up and be counted, Simon keep up the good work, your doing a great job.

DrM. said...

Thank you 11:17 but Shirley Tomlinson is the local ward councillor keeping an active eye on this, as she has from the start but unlike me, she doesn't Blog or even 'Twitter'!

Very sensible too!

Anonymous said...

Heh, heh. OK Simon. MFC, the developer Gary Lever and Travelodge were clearly under the impression that there would be no problem with making the hotel smaller. Otherwise their actions of the last few months make no sense.
Now, whatever any of us thinks of the people who run MFC, Lever and Travelodge are both successful with a great deal of experience of the planning process. Are they stupid, or have they been led up the garden path?

DrM. said...

I've been Cabinet Member for Planning for almost a year now and the first discussion I had on this matter withm MUFC on a revised application was a couple of weeks ago when I sat down with the Leader of the council, the Director Planning and the Chief Executive to a presentation on the new plans given by Mr Piper.

Does that help answer your open question 12:15?

Bluenote said...

Having lived in several districts with far less green space than Thanet one has to wonder where some people get their information. Indeed, there seem to be an element locally who use the 'green' case to oppose every proposal.

As Dr, M has pointed out, the matter has to go through planning, there will be public consultation and all views will be considered. Cannot really be fairer than that.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say having read some of your opinions; it appears you are on a personal crusade against Margate FC.
You have failed to mention the positive outcomes of such a development but have stuck with the argument about planning permission. The facts are: the original building planned is only being reduced in size, so why should planning permission have to be applied for again? Of course if the building had been redesigned and was completely different in appearance or larger in size, then there may be a cause for concern!
You stated on your blog about it being ‘materially different’ which is not true; materially the building is the same,
As a parent my children and I use the facilities provided by Margate FC and are looking forward to the new development, which is much needed in bringing the club forward and which also raises the profile of the immediate area.
The reason why Thanet is one of the most deprived areas in England is because of people with attitudes like you who have nothing else better to do than prevent developments which create opportunities’ for young people to develop and enjoy themselves through sport. Well that attitude from people like yourself, has not helped this area in the past and will only hold it back in the future.
As a resident of Margate (and Thanet) I will always support growth and development with regard to leisure and tourism, if it brings about jobs, places of entertainment where families can spend time together and money into the community, it has my vote, it’s a shame it does not have yours!

DrM. said...

Without doubt 8.24 yours wins the prize for the most bizarre and uninformed comment on this thread.

Let me remind you that I do not make or contribute to any opinion or decision in regard to the question of 'material difference' that is a matter for professional planning officers to deliver an opinion on and not politicians.

My own role is a simple one and I'm not even involved in the formal planning process. Instead I'm here to consider the opinions of all parties and ensure that both the democratic and the planning process are followed correctly in what is an increasingly contentious issue.

I have tried to clearly explain the facts surrounding the planning process. While you may not agree with this it doesn't change the facts.

Anonymous said...

You are always right of course Dr M are you not. The fact that you do not understand the planning issues (as stated by yourself) does not help.

Then I remember that it is election year. No how do you get a high profile to help you get re elected?

ascu75 aka Don said...

8:24 Planning permissioon isjust that permmision to build what the plans say in the same place as planning permission was granted. I remember a bungalow build in Whitstable build 1metre away from where it should have been and it had to be demolished and rebuilt. No one on the council are saying the original appication can not go ahead, but if there are changes those changes have to go through the same planning regulations as are used by the rest of the residents.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

'Tis a pity that your forum attracts cowards like Anonymous at 11.17am

Simon, despite our "differences", you are quite right about the current situation. I've signed the petition but recognise that the current situation highlights the incompetence surrounding MFC.

DrM. said...

Jeremy, 'Cowards' is a little stiff, so best avoid exchanges of invective on the subject and keep the language diplomatic.

I note that some individuals present are attempting to back me into a position so they can then point the finger and say "You see" he wrote this or that and is pre-determined.

The straight answer is the same I've used several times already in the thread. There are two groups with strongly polarised interests and objectives. I'm happy to listen carefully to all views and help, where I can explore any proposal that works in the public interest and within the regulatory tools available!

Anonymous said...

I think 8.24 went over the top when talking about "people like you" which probably explains your barbed comment about his post being bizarre and uninformed. His description of the current situation concurs with my understanding and I would like to see the council working with Margate FC to find a solution. That does not seem to currently be the case.

DrM. said...

10:00 appears to be better informed than me, so perhaps he could share why he believes that the council is not working with Margate FC and indeed, what he expects of either me or the council to improve the situation as he understands it.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that I am not better informed than you, I wish I was! As a "lay person" I can only go on what I see and hear in the various media, including this blog. Listening to Keith Piper on a Kent Radio stream yesterday he was stating very clearly that the new plans were merely a reduction in size of the currently approved hotel, something which had been suggested would be met favourably when the council had given the previous approval. I have no way of knowing the veracity of this. If I were to say I would like to see Margate FC working with the council, would that be more acceptable? The answer may lie in semantics.

DrM. said...

I'm sure Mr Piper has opinions of his own to share but what I would say is that I understand that conversations and negotiations of many different kinds involving the football club have been running since 1958. I have to take account of all views, my commitment to proper consultation, any recent changes in regard to the status of public land and of course local planning regulations in 2011.

In that respect I hope that everyone involved is reassured that I am committed to provide whatever support may be possible but that I am governed by the broader public interest and planning regulations and I welcome positive and constructive dialogue from all parties.

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand your dislike of "demand" in MFC petition.

Does not the original petition "demand" that Thanet council also takes action.

Rather biased reporting by you I think.

PS will you be in attendance at the MFC meeting on Wednesday as it is only a 6 minute walk for you?

DrM. said...

In a society where people respect each other, "Ask" or "Request" on a petition is, in my view, preferable to "Demand". Why is it so difficult to be polite?

Good manners cost nothing after all!

And "YES" of course I will be there!

Anonymous said...

MFC will probably get what they want if they can be patient and at least the correct planning procedures would appear to be being applied. Which is more than can be said for the 3G pitch where the procedure was definately flawed with no advertised notice of the proposals and the planning notice on a lamp post outside the club where very few people would read it. Little wonder the only way the park users could be heard was to organise a petition

DrM. said...

Absolutely not! The petition is a 'post facto' detail as the motion regarding the land, lease and consultation was approved by Cabinet months ago!

You may wish to believe that a petition was the cause but a little research will show that I've been reassuring people for months because of those same residents concerns.