Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Public Meeting

At last night's packed Westgate & Westbrook Residents' Association (WWRA) meeting, it was agreed to call a public meeting to fully explore the Sainsbury's planning application for Hundreds Farm on the Canterbury Road and to give all the involved and interested parties and parishes involved an opportunity to present their views.

Councillors Tom King and I discussed this earlier today and I will also be catching-up with a convalescing Cllr Brian Goodwin as well as Birchington Councillors. I have sent a note to Mrs Utton, the Head-teacher of the Ursuline, asking if we may take up their offer of suitably large public meeting space and I will be making contact with Sainsbury's as well.

We need to give the supermarket an opportunity to present a formal application first and so I anticipate that the meeting will be several weeks away in March but I will keep everyone informed of any date, here and through the WWRA as well as council colleagues in Birchington.

For broader interest, Mr Patel, who manages the Londis store in Lymington Road, gave me a copy of the Will of the late Ivor Read, which specifically refers to 'The Hundreds Farm Estate' by covenant and 'To keep, so far as is practical, the existing buildings thereon and not erect more than two houses for residential use with direct access to Linksfield Road only"

Covenants are notoriously difficult to enforce in the face of a determined developer but I will be passing the document to council officers for an opinion. I can confirm however that Sainsbury's have sought and received pre-application planning advice from Thanet District Council, which is quite normal in such circumstances and given the size of the proposed development. To recap briefly, Sainsbury's are keen to involve themselves in the debate and tell me that their formal application will not likely appear until late March and I have told them that there is no good reason to call a large public meeting, involving two towns, until their 'proposed' development turns into a formal planning application.

Finally, while a great many people and local traders in particular, appear opposed to the idea, others and particularly those people living in the surrounding housing areas may be supportive and we need to give everyone the opportunity to present their opinions in a fair and democratic manner, which engages both the Westgate and Birchington communities in debate.


Michael Child said...

Simon I am a bit mystified here as to if and how the new localism bill works with regard to planning applications, I had thought that it would mean that once a council had turned something down that would be it.

However it seems that once developers have had something turned down they are still taking it to the planning inspectorate for appeal and the council’s decisions are being quashed.

If you know yourself any chance you could explain what if any difference the localism bill has made to the local planning decision making process?

DrM. said...

It's a good question Michael and as I understand it, the new community involvement initiative both defines and broadens the level of consultation that the council must undertake with larger development projects. Basically it's a commitment to consult and listen but the ultimate decision-making process remains largely unchanged.

Michael Child said...

Thanks Simon, well at least it’s apolitical as the legislation was put together under national Labour, Conservatives and Liberals, so I guess much more bureaucracy for the same result is what one would expect with all three parties involved.

I guess if I was a local authority leader I would tell the government, that as my planning authority had no power because all of the decisions ultimately rested with the planning inspectorate, I would close the whole department and send all the planning applications directly to them.

itmike said...

The lastest information from Sainsburys is now on www.westgateandwestbrook.co.uk