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Lib Dem's Russ Timpson among those criticising the Discovery Park's approval for 500 homes

The decision to allow 500 homes at the Discovery Park has come under fire.

Opponents say it will not offer affordable housing, risks flooding and will increase traffic problems.

Planners approved the master plan last month which will see the science and business park, in Ramsgate Road, knock down existing buildings to make room for 500 homes, a hotel, a Sainsbury’s supermarket and petrol station.

Russ Timpson has Discovery Park will not offer affordable housing
Russ Timpson has Discovery Park will not offer affordable housing

Russ Timpson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Thanet South, said: “Sandwich has an acknowledged traffic problem and its GP surgeries are already overburdened – 500 extra families doing the school run over the Toll Bridge will be a disaster.

“It seems extraordinary that the council officers recommended acceptance and even more extraordinary that the councillors accepted it.”

Mr Timpson said the plan had no provision for affordable housing, going against the district council’s planning policy.

He also said Cllr Bernard Butcher had expressed “well-founded reservations” at the meeting and was concerned that people from Sandwich did not attend. Mr Timpson added: “Perhaps it is no wonder there was not more representation from the people of Sandwich. They have learned that the DDC planners are a law unto themselves and that attending these meetings to protest is a waste of time.”

Cllr Butcher added: “I was disgusted there was not one person from Sandwich there sitting in the public gallery. People can’t see the problem with having retail outlets that far from the town and I haven’t even heard anybody complain from the Chamber of Commerce.

“They won’t need to come into the town, it’s going to do for Sandwich what Westwood Cross did for Ramsgate.”

At the meeting, Cllr Butcher also explained that the housing would be prone to flooding and no provisions have been made for this.

He added: “I’m not against progress at all but I want to be firm in my mind that we have all the information and all the assurances in place.”

Discovery Park, Sandwich
Discovery Park, Sandwich

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Kent has also criticised the plan for a lack of affordable housing and says it does not meet needs for a primary school and better health provision.

CPRE claims approval was given even though developers claimed there was insufficient funds for the £421,200 contribution requested by the NHS and the primary school requested on the site by Kent County Council.

Officers recommended that the benefits of the scheme were so great as to not require this contribution.

CPRE Kent senior planner Brian Lloyd said: “Again they are not following their own policies and former decisions. To allow this development, without any affordable housing and with no primary school and other essential services, is wrong and unfair. This will only mean that the sites it has identified for development in the local plan will have to shoulder a larger financial burden to meet the needs of a growing population. This makes a mockery of their planning strategy.”

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