A major jobs boost is being promised by developers launching a bid to build 70 homes, a trade park and a restaurant on wasteland on the outskirts of Herne Bay.
Kitewood Estates has lodged early proposals with Canterbury City Council to turn the dilapidated remains of Blacksole Farm, off Margate Road, into a housing estate.
As part of the same project, the firm wants to massively extend Altira Business Park nearby, by adding more than 15,000 sq m of retail, food and beverage facilities and industrial units.
Bosses from McDonald’s are among those eyeing up the site – a move that would create as many as 80 jobs alone.
Papers submitted on Kitewood’s behalf state: “This is a sustainable location for a new development. It will not cause harm to residential properties within the vicinity.
“The overriding positive impact resulting from the proposed development will be the delivery of employment opportunities, creating a significant number of new jobs.”
Core Commercial has been marketing 11 yet-to-be-built commercial units on the scrubland surrounding Altira’s Sainsbury’s megastore for several months.
And just after the new year, officials from McDonald’s told KentOnline they were interested in the Broomfield site and were “looking at opportunities to bring a new branch to the area”.
They stressed the proposed restaurant – which would be the global chain’s first in the town – would create “60 to 80 jobs”.
When asked this week about the fast-food giant’s plans for Altira, a spokesman insisted “we don’t have any update at the moment beyond what we said in January”.
“There remains about 4.2 acres of land available for development as part of Altira,” the planning papers add.
“The employment-generating floorspace will be delivered to the east of the site, while the housing will be to the west of the site.
“Vehicular access to the site will be via an existing signal junction which will be improved to accommodate development-related trips.
“The car parking provision within the site will be sufficient to serve the development.”
The documents state the scheme, which stretches across the long-derelict farm and Altira, will be constructed in three phases.
The trade park is expected to be built first, before the housing and “retail and food and beverage facilities, self-storage unit and builders’ merchants”.
Further commercial space will be erected last.
Advertising material produced by Core Commercial notes Herne Bay, which is earmarked for more than 3,000 new homes, “will be the prime focus for growth and investment along the district’s coastal corridor”.
Both Altira and Blacksole Farm have been put forward for inclusion in the city council’s revised Local Plan, which will map out construction in the district until 2040.
The former has already attracted major firms Sainsbury’s, Snap Fitness and Screwfix to the town.
When asked two years ago about the expansion, David Marriott, of Core Commercial, said: “There’s still more land to go down there, which we have potential interest for.
“We’re looking at high-quality business units.”
Concerns ‘village will grind to a halt’ due to increased traffic
News of Kitewood’s plans has sparked fears a village will “grind to a halt” with more land hidden “under a mass of tarmac”.
The 70 homes planned for Blacksole Farm would be in addition to the 1,430 already proposed for arable land to the east at Hillborough.
Conservative councillor Ian Stockley worries that the neighbouring village of Beltinge will struggle to cope with the influx of vehicles the schemes will bring.
“We are short of jobs in Herne Bay – especially well-paid ones – so from that perspective the Altira extension is a positive,” he explained.
“There will, though, be a huge number of cars.
“I don’t think it will snarl up the whole of Herne Bay, but it will certainly grind this end of town to a halt.
“Tacking on large villages like these onto the side of other villages, without putting the infrastructure in to support them, is folly.
“We’re in danger of losing green space under a mass of tarmac. With all these huge developments going in, there’s very little opportunity for anyone else to build anything. We’ve run out of room in Herne Bay.”
The homes at Hillborough are being delivered by three separate developers.
Taylor Wimpey was given the green light by Housing Secretary Michael Gove in November to erect its 900 properties, along with an 80-bed care home, shops and community centre.
The Tory minister said the drawings – which show land will also be made available for a primary school – demonstrated the 135-acre site “would be an attractive place to live and work”.
Kitewood was last year given the go-ahead by the local authority to build 180 homes on its own portion of the Hillborough land.
Meanwhile, AE Estates is waiting for the city council to come to a decision on its proposals to erect 350 on the western chunk.
Documents for the Blacksole Farm and Altira scheme say: “A new road connecting into the Taylor Wimpey site adjacent is proposed as part of this application.
"This offers the chance to create a mixed-used development that will become the gateway to the development at Hillborough and regenerate Blacksole Farm.”
Land for vital overpass granted
Politicians claim Kitewood has agreed to hand over a sliver of land to Kent County Council (KCC) for it to install a pedestrian crossing in Margate Road, linking the pavement to Blacksole Bridge.
Families walking to and from the nearby Talmead Estate currently have to cross the route at a blind bend to get to the overpass, which leads them into town.
Residents have inundated councillors with complaints about it over the years, with one saying “you take your life in your hands when you step into the road, hoping no car emerges round the corner”.
County councillor Dan Watkins (Con) said: “It’s one of the most unsafe spots in Herne Bay to cross the road. We’re fortunate not to have had accidents there.
“It’s deterring many people from the estate from walking. The crossing will give people visibility in both directions.
“Kitewood has given the land to KCC for free – it wasn’t a strip of land they could have done much with.”
Cllr Watkins says KCC will “definitely” be able to create the crossing, which he expects to cost about £10,000 to install.
He anticipates work to start on it later this year.