Published: 06:00, 10 September 2019
A GP shortfall has prompted health chiefs to request funding for additional services from the developer behind a 750-home plan.
A letter has been attached to the Conningbrook Park proposal - also known as Large Burton - by the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), requesting £655,400 in funding from Quinn Estates.
The money would go towards extending the Sydenham House Surgery, where most of the estimated 2,100 new residents will be registered.
The CCG notes “there is currently limited capacity within existing general practice premises to accommodate growth in this area” and that Sydenham House will need to be expanded by 291 sq m or more to accommodate the intake.
This extension would see additional consulting rooms and waiting space brought into the Mill Court facility.
However, the health authority states that the funding could “be used towards new general practice premises in the area serving this population and not just limited to the practice detailed above.”
The money is being requested at the “commencement or at an early stage of development” on the Large Burton site.
“There is currently limited capacity within existing general practice premises to accommodate growth in this area”
The letter concludes by saying: “The CCG is of the view that the above complies with the planning regulations and is necessary in order to mitigate the impacts of the proposal on the provision of general practice services.”
The development is seeking to bring in a primary school, a bowls centre, a gym and retail space alongside the 750 dwellings.
Having been submitted in January, a decision regarding approval was scheduled to be made on April 29. Despite this, it has still not been debated by the council’s Planning Committee.
The Large Burton scheme has been massively revised, following council discussions and queries posed by consultants.
A host of revisions and detailed plans were added to the application on August 16, caused by a damning letter by Ashford Borough Council highlighting its issues with the plan.
Originally earmarked for 750 homes, council officers noted that the Local Plan sets an indicative capacity of 700 dwellings on the site.
In response, the initial number has been reduced by 25 - setting a current outline of 725.
Concerns were aired by the local authority regarding the lack of open space, suggesting that certain areas were included in Quinn Estates’ modelling which could not be classed as usable open space.
The developer has rebutted, arguing that the scheme’s offering almost double the amount required by ABC.
The revised covering letter states: “The Council’s leisure team is of the view that certain areas of the site cannot be included in calculations of open space, for example areas that are within Flood Zone 2.
“We remain of the view that this area would provide usable open space, outside of a 1:100 to 1:1000 flood event and therefore there is no sound reason why these should be excluded from the overall open space calculation.”
Defending the allocated land, Quinn Estates point out that the Local Plan says of the site: “In the event that this area cannot be used for residential development, it should be utilised for publically accessible open space.”
The homebuilders said: “As it is explicitly stated in the Local Plan that the part of the site located in Flood Zone 2 can be utilised for publicly accessible open space, we see no clear reason as to why this should not be counted towards open space provision.”
One of nearby residents’ main fears is parking provision, which a council report noted as below the required amount per bedroom.
In this latest letter, Quinn Estates argued that some rooms identified as bedrooms are actually small studies not big enough to be formally called bedrooms.
The developer writes: “Therefore, the parking provision for these dwellings has been determined based upon the number of rooms that meet the space standards required to provide one bedspace, using the standards set out in Policy TRA3a (Parking Standards for Residential Development) of the Local Plan.
“The provision of study space within these dwellings is considered a benefit as this will encourage home working, reducing the number of trips to and from the site.”
A re-consultation period following the large-scale amendments is expected to begin soon.