Published: 06:00, 03 September 2019
Building a fence to soften noise from a Herne Bay caravan park would be an "intrusion" on a beautiful setting, it has been claimed.
The owners of Hampton Bay Park want to expand the site - which has 25 pitches - to allow for an extra 20 camper vans or "glamping" vehicles on adjoining land.
But following objections from neighbours who fear noise levels will increase further, environmental health officers suggested the proposal should only be approved if an acoustic fence is erected around the park.
The condition, which would see the fencing essentially act as a sound barrier, sparked concern when the application came before the city council's planning committee.
An emotive ward councillor, Peter Vickery-Jones (Con), described it as "unnecessary" and "over the top" as he expressed grave concerns over the idea.
He urged colleagues to remove the condition on the grounds the fencing would be ineffective, ugly, damaging and an intrusion on a "beautiful and relaxing environment".
The West Bay councillor, who said he otherwise supported the application, told the committee: “Any benefits that the acoustic fencing will bring will be outweighed by the ghastly stark urban appearance.
“I have grave concerns that such fencing will turn this existing hedgerow into a sterile, dead area with no use for wildlife, man or beast.
"It will be excessive vandalism on a beautiful country setting.”
Fellow committee member Cllr David Thomas (Con) proposed to instead use hedgerows to create a natural boundary and habitat for birds and insects.
Cllr Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem) concurred, saying the acoustic fencing would come at a "considerable cost" to the local planning authority, and hedgerow plants would help offset the financial burden.
Blean Forest councillor Dan Smith (Lib Dem), also agreeing with his counterparts, suggesting a fence is more likely to be vandalised, saying: “It’s very hard to graffiti a hedge.”
The committee voted to delay a decision on the application until its next meeting in September, where members will receive an updated report.