Published: 17:33, 01 June 2021
| Updated: 19:25, 01 June 2021
Opponents of plans for 210 homes at a former colliery site have lost their battle.
Dover District Council granted permission to Quinn Estates to build the homes as part of a mixed use development at the former Betteshanger Colliery near Deal.
This is despite concerns from some opponents about the damage construction could do to wildlife at the brownfield site which has been re-wilded in the decades since the pitt closed in 1989.
The news has been met with disappointment by members of environmental pressure group Friends of Betteshanger.
Member Pamela Cutler said the decision suggests the council has been making "empty" claims that it defends biodiversity and supports the aims of the Climate Emergency.
She added: "Why else would it disregard well over 200 objections to the scheme in favour of the mere 22 submissions it received in support of this unnecessary and unwanted development?"
The planning committee report, published before the meeting, said there had been "extensive negotiations with the applicant to seek to resolve the extensive ecology and biodiversity issues" and that there were still differing opinions between the experts on the best approach to the protection and long-term management of the important species and habitats.
Discussions included the impact on the site and the mitigation and compensation Quinn Estates plan to provide off site at Betteshanger Country Park, which it also owns.
CPRE Kent urged the committee to defer a decision or reject the plans.
The report said how the countryside charity remains concerned that the high environmental value of Betteshanger is not being addressed adequately and it claims the mitigation on offer is "clearly not adequate."
The scheme is for 210 homes to be built close to the former Pitt head including up to 12 self-build plots, together with up to 2,500 sqm of office floorspace and up to 150 sqm of retail floorspace. This is opposite Betteshanger Park, the former Fowlmead Country Park which was built on the pitt's spoil tip.
The plans were passed at the planning committee meeting last Thursday.
A district council spokesman said: "The planning committee took all relevant factors fully into consideration before making this decision, including a thorough consideration of environmental and ecological matters.
"A number of detailed and specific planning requirements were imposed to protect the environment and ecology of the site, including a requirement for a Section 106 agreement to govern mitigation and compensation for ecological matters, which follows best practice in such cases."
Quinn Estates managing director Huw Evans said: "We welcome the decision of Docer District Council’s planning committee to secure much-needed housing and complimentary commercial uses at Betteshanger Park.
"This decision is the result of a well-considered planning process that has taken place over a significant period of time.
"The site in combination with the country park offers an opportunity to enhance biodiversity, protect habitats as well as provide enormous community benefits."