Published: 06:00, 28 May 2020
| Updated: 17:00, 28 May 2020
A controversial and "unwanted" planning application to build 20 homes right on the beach has been rejected.
The hybrid scheme was planned for the land currently used as a car park off Coast Drive in Greatstone, on Romney Marsh, and close to Varne Boat Club.
As well as the 20 new houses - which would face the beach and sit close to the shingle - the proposal would have seen the number of available car parking spaces reduced to 49.
The scheme was discussed by members of Folkestone and Hythe District Council's planning committee on Tuesday night - a meeting which was held virtually and streamed online.
Three members of the public spoke at the meeting, all in opposition of the scheme.
A resident who spoke said he was "astonished" the development had been recommended for approval by planning officers and said 150 neighbours had written to the council to object to the plans.
The resident added that homes would have an "adverse impact" on the people living nearby, including loss of daylight and increased noise and pollution.
He also said that the car park is currently used for "essential tourism" and loss of spaces would affect this.
Cllr Patricia Rolfe (Con), ward member for New Romney, also spoke and said the scheme was "not wanted", adding that there was an argument for more car parking spaces, not less.
She also raised the impact the project would have on the environment.
Cllr Paul Thomas, chair of New Romney Town Council, said there was an "overwhelming" amount of opposition to the application.
Committee members agreed with the speakers, with Cllr David Wimble (Ind) making an impassioned speech listing all the issues with the development.
This included, among others, density of the homes, loss of car parking spaces, damage to the environment, breaches of policies, issues with coastal erosion and the lack of sea defences in the area.
Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) concurred, adding: "Building on the seafront like this seems mad to me."
Cllr Treloar also raised the issue of the rising sea level and feared the homes would be snapped up by people from outside the area.
Cllr Jim Martin also objected to the fact there had been no sequential test and no detailed drawings of the homes, but instead just a direction showing where they would go, adding: "I would hate to explain to a constituent why I've given permission to a grey block."
'This is a victory for common sense...'
The debate on the application lasted over an hour, with the resulting vote seeing the application rejected.
Following the application’s refusal, Cllr Thomas said: "This is a victory for common sense.
"There has been an unprecedented level of response against this application; an overwhelming NO from the residents.
"We now have to prepare for the next stage of this process, which is likely to be an appeal."
Two other planning applications - one for the installation of new beach huts in Folkestone and one for a new community hall in New Romney - were approved at the same meeting.