Wednesday, 8 July 2009

WHEN DID PRIME AGRICULTURAL LAND IN THANET BECOME VACANT LAND?

With interest on Strife being focused on China Gateway this time last year, I had no time to draw readers' attention to a little application by a Mr R Vanderweele to expand Bradgate Caravan Park at Lydden by using another 1.78 hectares of prime agricultural land in order to add 51 more 'mobile homes' to the 181 already on the site. (See UK Planning and F/TH/08/0892).
.
This application was about to be approved by Planning Officers but was 'called in' to be looked at by Councillors of The Planning Committtee. It was refused. The main points of refusal were that:
1. It ran contrary to TDC policy of developing on prime agricultural land.
2. There were concerns on vehicle movements on narrow roads.
3. Southern Water had concerns that its supply and sewerage at Lydden could not cope.
.
Well it should be no surprise to readers that Mr R Vanderweele is back with another application within 12 months (no extra fee needed!) that is effectively identical! (see F/TH/09/0515).
.
It would now seem that by making a £10,000 s.106 payment of £10,000 to Kent Highways to help put in a 3m? wide cycle way and footpath along Manston Court Road from Lydden up to Haine Road and with Southern Water now saying its sewerage system will be able to cope after all, two of the objections to the original application have been got round!
.
However, as the picture above (courtesy of Bing) shows quite clearly (the land in question is within red boundary), this is yet another slice of prime agricultural land about to be built on. What might surprise readers is that Mr R Vanderweele, in his present application now describes prime agricultural land as 'vacant' land! Is this a cynical redesignation to fool our Councillors? Surely, whether you till prime agricultural land or not, it still remains prime agricultural land? Here is the rejection case for last year's application in regard to agricultural land:
.
'The proposed development would result in a loss of best and most versatile agricultural land and represent unacceptable development within the countryside that would result in an erosion of the openess of the countryside which would be harmful to the character and appearance of the landscape and the applicant has failed to demonstrate an overriding need for the development that would outweigh the requirement to protect the countryside. the proposal is therefore contrary to policies SS8, EN1, EP9 and EP10 of the Kent and Medway Structure Plan and Policies CC1, CC2, CC9 and T3 of the Thanet Local Plan."
.
Signed: B. White, Head of Development Services
.
In light of the above from Mr White, it will be interesting to see what a Planning Officer at TDC advises on the present application to Councillors, as presumably the application will be called in again to be decided by The Planning Committtee members? Is not the land the same land?
.
Another thought about a number of our 'caravan' sites around Thanet comes to mind. It is interesting that Bradgate is already larger than the village of Lydden in terms of occupants. The same goes for Quex Park caravan Site and Two Chimneys, which between them take up more space and have more 'residents' than Acol.
.
What I am also worried about is that it is quite clear that a number of 'residents' at some caravan sites are effectively full time residents with no other permanent residence even if they have to leave their mobile home for a few weeks between Jan and Mar each year. Has TDC effectively been checking that 'residents' do have a permanent residence elsewhere or has this little Planning requirement been over-looked and not enforced? It makes a farce of the 'tourism' claims for employment and income if it should transpire that many mobile homes are actually main residences, doesn't it?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another interesting one down for approval next week is the expansion of Nethercourt Touring Park (in a public park) to become a 12 months caravan park. How long before it becomes a 12 months' residents' site rather than a site for holiday makers.No facilities, though.

I know someone who lives just outside Thanet in an 11- months of the year site but there is nothing to prevent residents being in their mobile homes during the day then leaving to sleep elsewhere.In fact, you could sleep there daytime if you happened to be a night-worker and not have to leave.

Being allegedly only on holiday not permanent residents, these people don't show up on electoral roles so, in effect, for anyone checking credit worthiness, they don't exist.

Strange state to be in.

Peter Checksfield said...

Whilst I agree with your main point, I'm not totally against holiday homes & caravan sites. Whether they use them 2 weeks or 52 weeks per year, I believe the vast majority of people who stay in them do use our shops, pubs, restaurants & beaches, therefore helping the local economy.

One thing that concerns me in these supposedly more environmentally-friendly times is that planning regulations don't seem to take into consideration the lack of shops within reasonable walking distance. Pegwell, Manston & Acol only have pubs, & Lydden doesn't even have that. Westwood Cross isn't far to walk to from Lydden, but with the complete lack of a footpath or pavement it is very dangerous indeed walking along that rat-run.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear the person that runs this blog has just broken the data protection act!

Bertie Biggles said...

09:45, really? Thank you for your concern. Please elaborate so I can rectify the matter.

If you are referring to Bing (Virtual Earth) you will find they have a post to your blog option. If you are referring to quotes from TDC planning documents you will find these in the public domain. So what on earth are you talking about?

Peter, there is an economic benefit which is blown out of proportion by the applicant to show 25 extra jobs, and £10,000 per annum spent by owners of each of the new mobile homes (if approved)! 1000 families on the Westwood Cross estate off Nash Rd will also contribute to the local economy when that estate is built. The logical extrapolation of this argument is to cover all our remaining versatile farmland in housing and caravan sites and Thanet will boom?

Anonymous said...

It would appear that TDC and KCC can decide on a whim whatis, and what is not agricultural land!

In the good old days, they would have employed a biologist. Now they employ a Planner!

How do we decide what is best for the environment? lets ask a planner who is on the council, and on the planning committee!

Fraud squad? If only this was a real police area! With real policemen! And real police actions!

Say what you like about the Met. They are at least above the petty local politics. And will come down on those that need to be sorted out!

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to be bothered about this land? It should not, nor ever be built on. The council once again are taking everyone for idiots. I say stand up & shout NO! Any comments?

Anonymous said...

To use this land requires a change of use from agricultural. The development is outside of development boundaries too.

Anonymous said...

Bertie, the name sounds Dutch and do not Thanet Earth have lots of Dutch workers?

Bertie Biggles said...

22:29, there was speculation last year about the convenience of having extra mobile home accommodation in Thanet for Thanet Earth that at the time had not started growing crops but was about to do so.

With further expansion of Thanet Earth (only 3 out of 7 projected glasshouses built at the moment), one can only idly speculate!