Published: 17:00, 25 April 2019
| Updated: 17:23, 25 April 2019
A multi-million pound regeneration of the seafront in Herne Bay is set to be given the green light after council officers recommended the scheme be approved.
The local authority submitted its plans to convert the former Tivoli arcade in Central Parade into a retail unit, studios and 33 homes – of which 10 will be social housing – in February.
It bought the eyesore last year for £1.1m with a view to developing it and the car parks to the rear in Beach Street. However, objections have been raised concerning the loss of the parking spaces.
In a letter sent to the council, resident Peter Wevill branded the decision “insane”, stating that it could deter people from visiting the town.
“Herne Bay needs more parking, not less,” he added.
“I really do not believe this development is in the best interests of the town.”
In addition, developers have had a bid accepted to convert the site of the former pub Scruffy Ducks, which sits in the Market Street car park, into 20 flats and four shops.
Town centre councillor Andrew Cook says Canterbury council will look to create more spaces after the election.
“The ones in Beach Street are not the most used,” he said.
“But we do believe it will become an issue. The town is becoming busier and busier, so we’re expecting to have to find more spaces and, if needs be, more car parks.
“We could find an area for a park and ride, or an area for a car park closer to the town or find on-street spaces.”
The town centre has a total of 524 parking spaces, which the local authority says are underused most of the year.
It did, however, note that “during peak summer weeks the car parks may be occupied to capacity”.
But planning officers believe the loss of the 67 spaces in Beach Street “is outweighed by wider sustainability benefits arising from the proposal”.
Labour leader Alan Baldock has also raised concerns about the site’s social housing.
The council has noted that, because the properties will be situated above the studios, they would not be suitable for families with young children, and would instead meet the needs of older residents.
Officers say this “could present an opportunity to free up some larger homes”.
But Cllr Baldock said: “The deficit in social housing in the district is in family homes, and this development doesn’t seem to be solving this problem.
“Families can wait two or three years before they even get the chance to move into something big enough to house them properly.
“Yet there are tiny bedsits that are designed for older people that are sitting empty.”
It is also proposed that the local authority will contribute more than £160,000 towards libraries and primary and secondary education in the area.
Councillors will consider the application on Tuesday (April 30). The outcome will be decided by a vote.