Published: 05:00, 30 November 2021
| Updated: 15:22, 30 November 2021
Residents battling plans for 450 homes are preparing for the fight of their lives, with the start of a government inquiry in the New Year.
The four-day hearing by the Planning Inspectorate is being held in response to an appeal lodged by developer Gladman, which wants to build the properties on farmland off Shottendane Road near Margate.
Despite the plan being turned down three times in the past year by Thanet District Council over the “insulting” number of affordable homes, Gladman is pushing for the decision to be overturned.
The developer claims having any more than 15% affordable homes would make the scheme financially unviable. Thanet council has a policy that this figure should be 30% .
In July – after two previous meetings in which the scheme was turned down – a motion to refuse the plan on the grounds of the insufficient number went in front of the planning committee and was passed.
Members argued the affordable homes figure was too low in addition to other concerns relating to the development, including an increase in traffic and pollution, loss of farmland and the impact on wildlife.
But now, after Gladman lodged the appeal and with the subsequent inquiry nearing, residents are gearing up to see off the plans altogether by enlisting the support of experts, including a planning consultant.
“These fields are hugely important for wildlife, including skylarks that breed there every year..."
Salmestone Ward Residents Association has launched a fundraiser to help pay for this, with almost £2,580 reached of the £3,000 goal.
John Finnegan, treasurer of the group, said: “The land in question consists of two fields that have been farmed for literally thousands of years.
“Thanet has a long and proud farming history and archaeological remains on the site date back to Roman times.
“These fields are hugely important for wildlife, including skylarks that breed there every year.
“Several species of bat hunt along the margins, birds of prey soar over the fields, and hares can be spotted amongst the crops.”
He said residents have raised many concerns including increased risk of flooding, loss of biodiversity and productive farmland, as well as loss of character and open space.
They are also worried about increased traffic, lack of infrastructure and affordable housing, and have concerns over the ongoing management of water and sewage for an increasing local population.
“Thus far volunteers have given their time freely to fight this campaign,” he said.
“So that we can continue to fight and take part in the appeal we now need to employ the services of experts, the first of which will be a planning consultant.
“We are raising funds to pay these experts and estimate that an initial £3,000 will be needed.”
A petition has also been started by the Westgate & Garlinge Action Group against Houses on Farmland, which has received more than 5,200 signatures.
Gladman argues that the new homes would accommodate 1,080 people and, if approved, would lead to millions being invested towards community infrastructure.
Around £388,000 would also be invested into creating extra patient capacity at Margate’s Limes Medical Practice.