Published: 10:18, 22 November 2019
| Updated: 18:05, 22 November 2019
A campaign has been launched to stop an "utterly devastating" plan to allow development on a car park in a popular tourist spot.
Cottage car park in Margate - better known as Market Street car park - is a stone's throw from the Old Town, beach and Turner Contemporary and provides 66 much-needed spaces in the busy town.
The site in New Street has been included in Thanet District Council's emerging Local Plan, with an allocation for 32 homes, although no planning application has been submitted.
The plan sets out the blueprint for future housing, listing possible sites for development.
Julian Newick, who runs The Lifeboat in Market Street, says traders are up in arms, warning it will have a detrimental impact on business if the car park is built on.
"It would be utterly devastating for Margate Old Town and Market Street," he said.
"There is already inadequate parking and if this car park is no longer available it will make it very difficult for local businesses who do rely on people coming into Margate in their cars.
'It's an inappropriate location and I will do all I can to try to get it removed' - Cllr Rob Yates
"Not everybody lives within walking distance and not everybody has a bicycle. Even if they did, there is no bike park."
Mr Newick argues that the allocation of the land in the Land Plan was also not made clear because of the council's use of the lesser-known name of Cottage car park, which is mainly used by born and bred locals.
"A lot of business owners are not from here and so only know it by Market Street," he said.
"So when they saw Cottage car park on the Local Plan it wasn't picked up. This didn't give people an opportunity to object."
Cllr Rob Yates, who represents the ward on Thanet council, says he hasn't spoken to one resident who supports the allocation.
"It's an inappropriate location and I will do all I can to try to get it removed at the next review of the Local Plan," he said.
"I took over from Iris Johnson who was the councillor here for 24 years and she told me it was a complete shock to her that it was included.
"I've mentioned it to the senior council officer responsible for estates that I think this location is a poor one.
"The problem is that developers could just submit an application and then it's how we deal with that through the planning system if we can't review the Local Plan for a year."
He says the use of the name Cottage car park instead of the better known Market Street car park may also have led people to not realise it had even been included.
A spokesman for Thanet council says there is no planning application for the site, but that it has been identified as an opportunity site for potential development within the draft Local Plan.
"It has been identified in the draft plan for the past four years and is shown on the Local Plan map," she added.
"Any development proposed for this site would either have to provide replacement car parking or there would need to be evidence showing that the current car park was under used."
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More by this authorMarijke Hall