Published: 10:00, 14 May 2014
Plans for a new supermarket in Hawkinge were thrown out by Shepway District Council's planning committee last night.
The packed public gallery cheered as committee members all raised their hands to unanimously reject the proposal despite officers recommending it should be approved.
Councillors discussed an application for a 610 sq m store with 82 car parking spaces behind Hawkinge Community Centre in Heron Forstal Avenue.
The application included sharing the car park with the community centre.
But the battle may not be over as the applicant - property developers Edinburgh Land Estates - can still appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to reconsider.
Concerns were raised over the provision of parking including the number of spaces not being enough for the events held at the community centre and poor access for delivery vehicles and the weight of traffic along the residential Heron Forstal Avenue.
Councillors also questioned the whether the site was right for a supermarket saying the area should remain for community use and a residential area.
Guidelines state that the maximum number of parking spaces allowed on the site would be 100. But councillors felt there were other traffic concerns that had failed to be pointed out in surveys carried out by Kent Highways.
Cllr John Heasman, representing Hawkinge Town Council which opposed the application, said: "The town centre has considered this in detail. The community centre is the largest in Hawkinge.
"It has become the main centre. The car park obstructs the clear access to the loading bay [of the centre]. The survey carried out by Kent County Council is inadequate.
"The town council considers this should be located on another site off Spitfire Way where it's a larger site with better access."
"Impact on access to the site should also be considered further. Currently the route is single file, traffic calmed residential and not suitable for high frequency and high density traffic..." - Cllr Stuart Peall
District council ward member, Cllr Stuart Peall, spoke against the application.
He said: "This case has a long history stemming form the initial vision of the Parish Council in 2000 to build a state of the art facility when Hawkinge was beginning to grow.
"Even then potential parking problems were flagged and it was envisaged that the existing village hall [on land next to the community centre] would be removed and the land released for parking.
"The resurgent village hall, recently refurbished and reopened by the district's MP [Damian Collins], remains with its own parking requirements.
"We consider the Highways position to be flawed and shows a considerable lack of knowledge relying on statistics and two selective surveys rather than local knowledge.
"These were carried out without prior notice to the centre who could easily have shown a programme of ongoing events evidencing greater parking requirements.
"Impact on access to the site should also be considered further. Currently the route is single file, traffic calmed residential and not suitable for high frequency and high density traffic."
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