|Lisa Wickins and her dog Paxton|
I hadn't expected so many people to arrive and to receive a new petition and letters to deliver to Thanet Council, representing the views of 1,900 residents, who are strongly opposed to the application.
The fact that even the elderly and the infirm was prepared to support the protest, expresses the degree of sentiment, felt by many people in Westgate, that allowing the building of a new store of this size, would set an unacceptable precedent for a town and a community which values its unique Victorian character and history.
|The Weather isn't Stopping Me!|
While the Kent Highways officer still maintains that the both Station Road and the plans for the building are quite acceptable in his view, we were all treated to a rather different street scene, as a bus and a TDC refuse collection lorry, struggled to negotiate the busy road with its 'ample provision' for parking.
The members of the Planning Committee, heard several speeches from the public and I added a few words of my own (see video). I did sense some degree of sympathy towards the Westgate residents but to reject the application, they need to identify a solid reason to refuse Tesco, within the planning legislation and our local plan. So it's now very much a matter of 'wait and see' what they come-up with on Wednesday 17th April, when a decision will be made.
|Ample Parking Provided!|
I was very pleased to see the planning committee take its time to explore the site and hear a briefing from the council's planning officer, Luke Blaskett, on what the final building might look like.
Local trader, Reg Bell, pointed-out that if the plans were accurate, then a lorry parked hard-up against the Tesco loading bay, would knock-off the canopy in the plans. It was then revealed that Tesco's sympathetic reflection of the town's Victorian canopies, was actually a tiny facsimile of about a metre wide and not quite the grand vision of a conservation-friendly building they had been selling the public.
|We have a Plan|
Beyond looking for any and every reason to object, which hasn't yet been explored, the final decision on whether we will welcome a Tesco Express to Westgate-on-Sea, rests in the hands of the planning committee.
I believe, as do many others, that we have a strong case for refusal built on real concerns surrounding heritage and conservation issues.
When I addressed the members of the planning committee this morning, I remarked once again that Westgate enjoys a unique heritage and history, which should not be trampled upon for the purposes of development when I believe need for such cultural vandalism cannot be shown to exist.
|Cllr Jack Cohen - Chair of the Planning Committee|
Without a doubt, Westgate needs a thriving local economy and new businesses but that should not come at the expense of its unique heritage and against the polarised views of a local community, who this morning, were prepared to brave the wind and the cold to make their opposition unequivocally clear.
|The Planning Committee Meets|