Published: 06:00, 28 March 2021
A bid to replace a nursing home with flats has been given the go-ahead – prompting accusations the council has “capitulated” to a developer’s demands.
Twenty-five-bed St Benedict’s in Herne Bay has fallen into disrepair since it was vacated seven years ago, becoming a seaside eyesore and crime magnet.
Developer Perry Kang had plans to convert the St George’s Terrace property into 10 flats approved in 2017. But he later complained that the project was unviable and launched a 12-home scheme last year.
And, despite six objections from residents desperate to preserve the property, Canterbury City Council has green-lit the proposals.
Neighbour Hubert Whyte, 69, told KentOnline: “The council has capitulated – they should have stayed with the 10 flats.
“It will create parking issues, make the road unsafe and all those issues will come to bite us. It’s disappointing.
“I’d imagine all the residents won’t be happy.”
Furious Frank Gormley, who says he is “the neighbour most affected” by the plans, also believes “Herne Bay does not need luxury flats by the sea”.
He added: “The infrastructure, particularly car parking, is at breaking point.”
The city council’s heritage team also raised concerns regarding the demolition of the prominent building, arguing it “has a positive contribution to the conservation area”.
But the Planning Inspector, during an appeal four years ago, “considered the loss of the building to be acceptable” after a neighbouring application was given the go-ahead.
Because of this, authority officers stated in their decision notice that they did not have grounds to refuse the project on this basis.
They added: “The building would be appropriately designed and scaled to fit with the prevailing character of St George’s Terrace. The application proposes ten parking spaces which would be in accordance with the parking standards for this location, which are a maximum.
“The site is close to the town centre with public transport links nearby and therefore the parking provision is considered to be acceptable.”
Council papers show the developer has not proposed any affordable housing, after an appraisal showed it would make the scheme unviable.