Friday, April 29, 2011

More Margate Football

I'm pleased to see that in the twilight days between now and next week's local elections and in the interests of greater transparency, Margate Football Club have published some of the correspondence between the council and their solicitors in regard to their revised application to build a smaller Travelodge hotel on the site rather than the larger hotel and and related complex they were given planning permission to build in 2006.

I'm sure that everyone will welcome the outcome of any debate between experts on both sides of the argument on what is permissible under planning legislation and what is not. The developer's solicitors will make their argument and the council will respond on behalf of the public it represents. However, the football club has omitted to mention the matter of leases, which readers may remember from other discussions, are an important part of the overall picture involving the future of Hartsdown Park. Given the concerns of different groups and not simply those of the football club, Thanet District Council has made a commitment to full public consultation before any new leases can be granted on the park

In regard to the Travelodge plans, the developer is seeking from the council, a 125 year lease on the footprint in order to secure the building of the hotel. This is not a minor detail but clearly one that in conjunction with the published correspondence, the public should be properly made aware of in the context of the wider debate involving Hartsdown Park.

I have every confidence, that the administration that assumes control of the council next week, regardless of political flavour, will continue to examine and debate all these details, plans, applications and objections with the seriousness that the matter deserves; recognising the important role of the football club in the town's history and the equally strong feelings that surround the park.


DonW said...


I'm maybe being naive here but your comment about the leases on the land doesn't really seem relevant at this point in time.

Surely until we get to a point where there is an agreement on anything being built there is little point in discussing the terms of the lease?

If that is the case then any suggestion that the duration of the lease in an obstacle is obfuscation! But as I say I may be missing some point here so please correct me if so.

DrM. said...

Thanks for askng Don but its a vital point. The football club's lease is now up for renewal but in order to achieve the development it is seeking it requires a very long lease indeed.

A long lease can't be considered without a supporting planning application as this would be part of the council's asset disposal process.

In a nutshell this whole matter is rather more complex than the fans forum paints it but the important first step still surrounds the question of material variation of the 2006 development which once agan is not as simple as changing the size of the hotel

Anonymous said...

So when you go into negotiations you go in asking the sky and compromise along the way. Correct or incorrect?

Or do you go in asking for the minimun?

DrM. said...

Not for me to comment on what the developers are seeking beyond what they have requested as a requirement from Travelodge.

However, the 'chicken and the egg' analogy remains. Firstly, if the developer/football club is seeking to challenge the council's decision on the variation, we will have to wait on further process before any final conclusion on its merits.

Secondly, it is only if such an 'appeal' is upheld - I use the term loosely - would we then be into the matter of the lease(s) and in particular one of unusual length. This would then bring the whole question of consultation and in my opinion brings the future of the park into play and becomes an asset management rather than a planning issue.

DonW said...

"requested as a requirement"

Is that an oxymoron or just politician speak?

DrM. said...

Sounds that way but I have to be careful what I write because from experience it will be misrepresented elsewhere!

Requested by Party A as a requirement or condition of Party B

Anonymous said...

the fans want a new stadium and if that means building a hotel to get it then they don't give a toss about your consultation or your lease

Anonymous said...

So if the fans wanted to build an slaughter house next to your residence that would be ok then would it? 1205?

Anonymous said...

So if the fans wanted to build an slaughter house next to your residence that would be ok then would it? 1205?

DrM. said...

Try as one might and leaving aside the personal abuse which doesn't do loyal Margate FC fans any justice, it seems quite impossible to get the facts across to a minority in a form which will allow them to explore the complete argument.

Lord knows I've tried and some appear no nearer to understanding what my role is in all this.

Ironically, I'm actually here to help rather than hinder any application through sitting between the two sides as an intermediary.

I don't advise the planning committee but simply ensure that the proper process is followed according to the law.

After next week's elections, people and responsibilities may change in council but process and planning law will remain the same, with or without me and regardless of the political group in control.

What disappoints me, is that the fans who are most vocal are only seeing or being shown part of a much broader picture which can only be judged on the facts and not personal opinion or hearsay.

Anonymous said...

I think that what your doing is correct, but for Margate Fans on there Fans Forum attempting to get the Local Tories out off office is laughable,come on Margate Fans realise we have wasted money on the Turnip centre why do you need a 3/4 thousand stadium for an average of 300 fans every other Saturday between August and May.

Anonymous said...

The abuse off Dr Moores on The Margate FC site is certainly not warranted.

Anonymous said...

Build the stadium and paint it Red and White, that will pi~~ them off even moores.

DrM. said...

Over on the fans forum I see that once again, opinion and speculation is being delivered as fact.

An important part of the argument that the fans are missing is that there is 'NO' amendment clause in the original 2006 planning application. The club asked for one but this was not included in what they were granted permission to build. They were given planning permission to build what was on the plans and nothing else otherwise they could have built a scale model of the Taj Mahal if they wished! I keep being pilloried with this missing amendment clause and once again the fans are being misled!

I'll say again, I have stopped absolutely nothing and have no power to do so either. The amendment is judged by politically independent planning officers under the planning legislation and if the author would like to share the source of his 'assurances' I would be most interested as I am totally unaware of these and indeed much more of what I read there as 'facts'!

These so-called facts haven't even arisen in the formal discussions with the club so please draw your on conclusions as to their accuracy!

He writes:

"I have no opinion of Cllr Moores as a person I don't really know him so can't comment. I do object to his views on the development at Hartsdown Park. Correct he has put proceedure and regulation ( wrongly in my view especially in light of the published letters and guidence ) as his excuse for stopping the plans going to amendment and was it not the council who asked the club to try and reduce the development of the hotel so it would have less impact on the park. Was it the council who left the amendment clause of the original agreement with the club and ask for £100,000 for a full paning application for the lesser development. was it not the council who gave the club assurances that this would be delt with as an amendment. It seems that this council not for the first time has gone back on it word and made many errors one that could cost them or should I say us in court."

DonW said...

The football club reported on the 23rd March that TDC had approved the addition of a clause to allow non material amendment to the plans approved in 2006. The club has always said that this clause was omitted from the original approval although it had been expected to be included. Are you now saying that this is a lie and that TDC did not approve this addition in March?

DrM. said...

What I'm saying Don is that the wording is ambivalent and draws readers to the wrong conclusion. Of course a developer can 'expect' anything it wishes but it's the published approval, granted by the planning committee and with any changes they might wish to make that counts in law. I'm sure any developer is well aware of this.

The statement from the club says says:

"Thanet District Council have today approved under Section 96a the club's application for a non-material amendment to the approved plans which form part of the existing planning permission for Hartsdown Park.

Margate Football Club, will now make an application to Thanet District Council to vary the planning permission, under Section 73 of the Town & Country Planning Act, to vary the plans that relate to the approved Hotel within the development."

This was only the procedural route which enabled Margate FC to make the application and means what it says on the tin....

"Has approved under Section 96a the club's application for a non-material amendment to the approved plans"

i.e. has approved the APPLICATION! for a Non-Material Amendment

Hope that helps!

DonW said...

So, if I interpret that correctly, there is an agreement that amendments can be made to the plans, but the reality is that the Council are going to interpret this so narrowly that there is actually very minimal scope for amendment.

They therefore fail to make allowance for changing economic conditions or to accept that a smaller hotel will bring the benefit of less environmental impact. I'm sure I've said this before but this really does seem to be the nub of the matter and we just keep getting more words to muddy the scene.

The council would therefore prefer the original build plan to go ahead (albeit with the need to agree the terms of the lease). Or am I still confused?

DrM. said...

Still confused Don I'm afraid to say!

There is no agreement, only acceptance of an 'application' to amend the plans

If you wanted to build X, had received planning permission and then decided that in fact you wanted to build Y instead, then you pop along to the council offices, ask for the form and pay a small processing fee.

The council will then review your request under the legislation and determine if the difference between what you have been granted previously and what you now want, is sufficient for a 'variation' or so materially different under the Act as to require a new application.

In this example, the council planning department has determined that the proposed changes are sufficiently different from the original plans as to require a new application but there is nothing to prevent the applicant building what was approved in the first place.

If everyone would take the words 'Football Club' or even 'economic conditions' out of the argument and simply insert development, they would be much happier as the legislation, quite properly, only looks at the material facts of an application in bricks and mortar and not the emotional baggage that surrounds them.

DonW said...

And I risk getting more confused as your answer appears to confirm my beliefs!

So, the planning department (I trust that removes the emotional use of Council from the argument), have determined the plans are sufficiently different so as not to within the scope of an amendment. What would really help would be a proper explanation of why they are sufficiently different to merit this conclusion.

We've had allusions to "such as the removal of a sports club" or "there is no longer a children's play area" or "the shape of the roof is different" as factors but no firm statement on the matter. perhaps the football club has been given better guidance and this is simply not in the public domain or maybe the "planning department" don't see the need to justify their decisions.

I suspect you're getting bored with my continued picking at this, but it is something which I and others care deeply about so you're not able to get away from the emotion that some feel. Truth be told we do believe that the "planning department" are being particulalrly obstructive in this case and it isn't simply a case of confirming one's own opinion despite evidence to the contrary, as the evidence is distinctly lacking.

DrM. said...

I think we are almost there Don and the answer has of course gone to the applicant which is connected to the football club. They have been publishing the correspondence and it would not be proper for me to do so.

Should the applicant believe that its guidance is superior to that of the planning officers then there is nothing to stop it pursuing the matter further.

While I hear what you say, I don't quite understand what you expect. The local council is answerable for its decisions and so it does make some effort to ensure that it complies with the letter of the law or any regulations which govern its policies or services.

In this case and as I have written before, given the public interest both for and against the application, the council is having to tread with even more care when dealing with the matter to ensure that it is dealt with transparently and properly. In fact, at no other time in the history of Thanet, I suspect, have people had so much information so freely given on such an issue.

In any event, if the football club believes the decision is wrong then it may wish to explore the matter further and it will be for others to decide on the merits of its objection and any conclusion that may arise from it.

DonW said...

Thanks for the reply.

What do I expect?

Well as your blog provides a means to communicate with a member of Thanet District Council and your role in oversight (or whatever the correct term is) of the planning department, I hope to (1) at least convey the frustration and suspicion that some of us feel. (2) convey to anyone else who may read your blog the concern of a fan of Margate FC.

Will it do me any good?

That's another question entirely!

I'll leave it there for now until I read something else here which provokes an emotional response.

DrM. said...

I'm acutely aware of the strength of feeling Don and only have to sneak a look at the personal abuse on the MUFC forum to see that others share your sense of frustration.

Perhaps you should be asking questions of tbe club in regard to the handling of this matter, the true facts suurounding the application and the management of the expectations of the Margate fans

Anonymous said...

i think it to be true that planning is required first.but i think the tone of moores is not right ,to talk down to people is very wrong but that is him a step above others i think that is what he thinks talking to people in the right manner costs nothing,but perhaps the pole might change that off with his head

DrM. said...

That's interesting! Please define 'Talk Down' and the 'Right Manner'?

Does this mean you don't like my answering questions here as accurately and objectively as possible or just that you don't like my use of the English language in framing the argument and the facts that lie behind it?

Anonymous said...

the club is fighting a losing battle against the council.

so frustrating, the stadium will never be built as there has been more back handers in TDC then boris becker had in his career

i wonder if i offered you £100,000 would you see the club get its stadium?

and im just speaking hypothetically

to be fair i sort of agree that the abuse you get is wrong and we as fans are just looking for someone to blame, but you must see how frustrated us fans are

DrM. said...

Corruption in local government carries considerable jail time and while I constantly hear the allegation nobody ever produces any proof beyond "someone I know says that"

So 'backhanders' for what? It's a planning application and in fact, one that was granted in 2006 for the hotel and amenities applied for.

Planning applications of this kind are approved by a cross-party committee of councillors and so quite how one would influence their decision I don't know.

Reading the fans forum, many seem quite happy to believe what they want to believe rather than exploring the facts which might be rather more helpful in understanding the present situation

Anonymous said...

A point that many people - on both sides of the argument - . The original planning application including a full-sized all weather pitch, a taller, longer hotel, with just leases to negotiate - and the club / developers have always acknowledged the consultative element to that process - is live and becasue part of it - specifically the 5-a-sides - the permission does not run out.