Published: 21:37, 01 September 2020
A controversial bid to build 900 homes which attracted opposition from hundreds of residents has been snubbed.
However, members of the authority’s planning committee this evening voted to refuse the scheme for the 135-acre site off Sweechbridge Road, amid fears it would create a "concrete slum" on the outskirts of the town.
Tankerton councillor Neil Baker said: "This is clearly a location where you need to ensure there is proper usable public open space as part of the development, otherwise we’ll get a concrete ghetto.
"A lot of the open space included in this is in the form of surface water attenuation tanks. There’s no way that anyone can consider them as open space for the amenity of residents.
“I am not convinced for one moment that the density of housing is acceptable also.
"Those two things will severely damage the quality of life of residents going forward. This will become a concrete slum very quickly.”
During the meeting, members were warned that refusing the proposals for the Hillborough plot could result in Taylor Wimpey appealing the decision to the Planning Inspectorate.
Wincheap councillor Nick Eden-Green stated that there were no valid grounds on which to refuse the project, despite admitting "I would love to reject this application".
"We have to grant this or the council has to be open to a six-figure sum in terms of a planning appeal," he added.
"I'm not prepared to put the council in the way of having to meet that sort of a cost."
However, seven councillors voted to reject the scheme, while four supported the proposals and one abstained.
This comes after they deferred the Taylor Wimpey plan last month to build the homes south of Beltinge, as they wanted to undertake a site visit before reaching their verdict.
The company pledged to ensure that 22% of the homes would be classed as affordable - falling below the local authority's usual 30% requirement.
Council planners hoped to secure greater proportions of cheaper housing from the other two firms wanting to build on the plot - Kitewood and AE Estate Developers.
However, a number of councillors voiced their concerns about the strategy as Kitewood has already stated that it is not willing to stretch beyond the 30% mark.
Reculver representative Rachel Carnac argued: "We should be looking at 30% affordable housing across the whole site, and at the moment we're looking at really failing on that.
"If we come away with a much lower amount than this, we are really letting down this district and the people of Herne Bay."
Nearly 300 letters of objection were sent to the city council by Beltinge residents, with many of them expressing fears it would create gridlock in the centre of the village.
Despite this, Kent County Council’s highways team raised no objections to the application.
The multi-million-pound project also includes plans to designate land for a new primary school and to build an 80-bed care home, community centre and shops.