Published: 06:00, 14 May 2020
| Updated: 09:39, 14 May 2020
Plans to turn the former Betteshanger Colliery into 210 new homes, offices and a shop have been blasted as “crazy” and a “travesty”.
The land, either side of new road Colliers Way in the village near Deal has been earmarked by Quinn Estates for a mix of new and self build homes, office and retail space.
The property development firm purchased the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks (business park) land along with Betteshanger Country Park at the end of 2019 from former owner Hadlow College which was being probed for financial irregularities relating to its educational operations.
The plans were submitted to Dover district planners last month and residents have now come forward citing a raft of reasons for the scheme to be stopped.
These include over subscription for amenities like doctors’ surgeries and schools.
The majority of objectors lament disruption to wildlife claiming buzzards, owls, doves, nightingales, badgers and butterflies have bred in the natural haven in the 30 years since the pit closed in 1989.
Elizabeth Turner said: “As DDC has declared a climate emergency, I’m hoping that they will look beyond the snappy title of Betteshanger Sustainable Parks and notice that the development plans fall far below anything truly sustainable.
“It is also a matter of concern that the council have decided that an Environmental Screening Opinion was not required when there is plenty of evidence that the new development would be very damaging environmentally. Until these issues are addressed rather than evaded I have strong objections.”
Development on contaminated land has sparked the accusation of “craziness” from ex-colliery worker Stan Smart who said: “I worked there and saw what used to get hidden underneath. Also as it will be land locked. All the traffic will have to head back to the A258 then either head into Deal or toward Sandwich causing more chaos for these already very busy roads.”
He predicted country lanes will become rat runs leading to plans for a link road being built from the southern or Northbourne end of the development to join up with the Eastry bypass.
But Quinn Estates, which transformed the former contaminated Hammil Brickworks in Woodnesborough to create Hammil Park,say the plans for a link road have been dropped.
If approved the scheme will include up to 2,500 sqm of office space and up to 150 sqm of retail space.
Quinn Estates development director Ben Geering said: "We submitted the planning application for Betteshanger Grove to Dover District Council last month. If approved, the project will deliver up to 210 homes including self-build plots, together with up to 2,500 sqm of office (B1) floorspace and up to 150 sqm of retail (A1) floorspace.
"Throughout the planning process, we have carefully considered the environmental factors surrounding the site.
"It is our intention to minimise the impact on biodiversity by planning development on predominantly bare ground and preserving existing areas of ecology value, for example the woodland, ponds and wetland. We have also outlined how we plan to enhance biodiversity including through the planting of native trees and improvements to habitats for a range of species.
“This area that comes under the scope of our proposals has been allocated for development since 2002. Significant decontamination and clean up works of the former colliery and infrastructure investment was carried out by the South East EnglandDevelopment Agency (SEEDA) to provide for an alternative use of the site.”
"In order to minimise disruption to local residents, we intend to make best use of significant existing infrastructure investment on the former Betteshanger Colliery site. To achieve this, we proposed to use the existing roads on the site, which were built to serve and have capacity for extensive commercial uses, which have failed to come forward over the last two decades.
"We have conducted a transport assessment into the impact on junction capacity in the surrounding area, which indicates that the existing road network is suitable for a mixed-use development of this size and scale.We have also listened to local residents and even come forward with an application which is circa 20% under the capacity suggested for the site by Dover District Council in its recent Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA).”
“We have carried out extensive consultation as part of this application and have responded, including proposals to fund historic drainage issues that have affected existing homes in the area.
"We are aware of these issues not just from feedback but also following our stepping in at the end of last year to resolve the drainage issues which the local residents were experiencing at the time, even though it was outside of our site and responsibility.As part of our planning application we have committed to the provision of circa £5,000 per house for the residents of Circular Drive to assist with both this and also offer them the opportunity for local residents to upgrade their existing houses to make them more sustainable.”
“The scheme will also provide much needed jobs and work in the local Deal area at a time when we believe it will be sorely needed.
“The impact on school and local health services to support local capacity has been taken into account. The local Clinical Commissioning Group has identified the contribution the development can make to mitigate any impact on GP services.
“There will be ongoing discussions with Kent County Council, as part of the statutory consultation, on the contribution the proposal can make towards new schools provision in the area.
“We dropped our plans for a link to the Eastry bypass some time ago in response to feedback from the public and we have no intention of bringing forward any future proposals.”
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More by this authorBeth Robson