Published: 21:00, 05 January 2016
Developers have sensationally won planning permission for Canterbury’s largest housing scheme in decades.
Pentland Homes will build up to 750 homes on land near Thanington and is pledging to put up a new primary school and hospice too.
Also thrown into the bargain is full funding towards a slip-road to ease notoriously congested parts of the city centre.
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Planning approval granted tonight heralds the onset of applications for more than 17,000 new homes earmarked in the local authority's development masterplan for Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay.
The scheme, which has sparked a wave of local opposition, was voted through by eight to four.
Artists’ impressions show hundreds of family homes on tree-lined streets around large, open, green spaces.
Aerial plans of the site at the back of the existing Thanington estate also reveal the full scale of Pentland’s ambitious proposal.
The proposed development, known as Thanington Park, includes a business park, community centre, allotments and sports pitches, as well as a wildlife corridor linking to the adjacent Larkey Valley Wood nature reserve.
It would also include a new slip-road linking the A2 and Wincheap as well as a park and ride service to whisk residents to and from the city centre.
The slip will allow drivers to skirt around the city’s edge and avoid daily jams on the routinely clogged inner roads to the north.
Pentland Homes has teamed up with local developer Mark Quinn to deliver the scheme.
Martin Hart, a spokesman for the consortium, has previously said: “This is an exciting opportunity to address Canterbury’s need for family homes and provide the transport and social infrastructure needed for the future.”
But permission is controversial, with many having voiced their opposition to the plans.
Clive Church, chairman of the Hilltop, Iffin, Merton and New House Lanes Action Group, had accused Pentland of offering a “morally offensive sweetner” by proposing a new hospice.
He had said: “It’s an insult to our intelligence to assume we’re going to fall to our knees and kiss the ground in praise of a fallible proposition because there will be a hospice involved.”
Paula Spencer, manager at Thanington Neighbourhood Resource Centre, had also criticised the scheme.
She has said: “The main issue would have to be the A28 and the limited access to the new development.
“The road is already grid-locked at most times of the day so a new major development would cause further traffic chaos throughout Canterbury.
“We also feel there is no need for another community centre in the area as it is already well resourced.”
Others remained sceptical about the developer’s offer to mitigate traffic with a new A2 slip-road.
They suggested the measure will do nothing to alleviate the routine congestion at the city centre end of Wincheap.
Without a contraflow running through the parallel industrial estate and a new exit point at the ring-road, extra traffic will be forced onto the pinch-point at the Wincheap roundabout, they said.
Graham Page, chairman of the Thanington Without parish council, asked last week’s full council: “How are you going to deal with traffic along the A28 at Wincheap when it’s already at a standstill?
“Are you going to finance work at the city centre end of Wincheap? The developer will only part-finance. Will the council pay the rest?
“In my view the idea is deeply flawed and should be booted into outer space where it belongs.”
Pentland spokesman David Shetcliffe had been confident in the proposals.
“We believe the proposal is an attractive and sustainable option for the city that will stimulate growth.
“There is also a very attractive package of community benefits that will be unlocked by this proposed development,” he said.