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Herne Bay bus depot set for ambitious redevelopment in Herne Bay high street

By Jack Dyson

Images of an eye-catching development which will change the face of Herne Bay's high street have been revealed for the first time.

Plans are in to build 50 homes and as many as nine shops on the site of the former bus station - with M&S among those to be approached about moving in.

But the developer is still awaiting the end of a “frustrating” eight-month bid for planning permission.

Artist's impression of the proposed development

Herne-based company Coastal Developments submitted its application in September 2017.

Its proposals were originally for 60 homes – featuring 10 three-bedroom cottages and 50 flats.

Coastal Developments director Anthony Leggatt had hoped for a quick decision on the application, but, eight months later he still does not know if he will be granted permission.

“We were told in December that the council was happy with everything and that it could be approved with delegated powers,” he said.

“But we were then given a new planning officer in January and we’re still buggering around.

“To me the site is one of the most important sites in the town and when I purchased the property in December 2016 I was advised that I would get nothing but the utmost help with developing the site.”

Simon Thomas, the council's head of planning, has said the delays were largely as a result of disagreements over its proposed design.

"We are now satisfied that it is of sufficiently high quality and would have a positive impact on this important site within Herne Bay as part of​ ​our ongoing ​aim of securing the town's regeneration," he added.

Herne Bay Bus Depot

"However,​ some of our other key objective​s ​are​ to provide affordable housing to meet the needs of local people, along with education​, community facilities and open space that would be required for future residents of the scheme. Our planning policy is clear that planning permission will only be granted where appropriate provision is mad​e.

"In this case, the applicant has said that he does not intend to provide any affordable housing within the development nor to make any financial contributions towards education​, community facilities and open space​. He says to do so would make the development unviable."

Mr Thomas also said Mr Leggatt has therefore asked the planning officers to consider the development's viability and "whether this, together with its benefits, would justify him not providing the necessary affordable housing and financial contributions".

In 2010, the council listed the station as one of three key sites for regeneration in Herne Bay.

The latest plans comprise 21 three-bedroom cottages, two one-bed flats and 27 two-bed flats.

There will be 63 parking spaces and access routes off Richmond Street and Hanover Street.“It’s a difficult site,” Mr Leggatt continued. “There’s remediation to do there, it’s very expensive and by reducing it to 50 homes it’s just about viable.

“It’s a flood risk area and, as a result, none of the ground floor is habitable and there will only be garages there. This means it has little value and adds to the expense.”

Previously, food giant Sainsbury’s had looked to build a store on the site but it withdrew its plans in March 2009 due to the high flood risks.

Developer Anthony Leggatt

The 900 sq m of retail space in the High Street will host up to nine shops.

If planning permission is granted, Mr Leggatt will begin searching for interested parties.

“I want to go to the major chains, like M&S, and smaller independents,” he said.

“I don’t think a food store will move in, though, because we’ve got enough of them already, with Aldi and Morrison’s around the corner and a Co-op in the High Street.”

Buses ran from the station for 100 years before Stagecoach moved to a new base in Eddington Lane in the first half of 2017.

Mr Thomas believes the council will be "in a position to decide the application" within the next four weeks.

Mr Leggatt said: "I’m expecting an approval – we think we’ve addressed all of the problems brought up.

"We’ve been on standby to start work since December, so we’re ready to go."

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