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Controversial Grasmere Gardens housing estate plans in Whitstable approved following planning inquiry

A controversial bid to build 300 homes have been approved following a planning inquiry.

The Grasmere Gardens development in Chestfield - proposed by Kitewood Estates - received almost 1,000 objections as residents said "it could put lives at risk".

Controversial plans to build 300 houses have been approved following a public inquiry. Picture: Wilder Associates
Controversial plans to build 300 houses have been approved following a public inquiry. Picture: Wilder Associates

Canterbury City Council snubbed the proposals in March because the developers failed to adequately show how emergency vehicles would access the site.

But planning inspector Richard Schofield has now approved the development. His ruling comes after the council withdrew its opposition at the inquiry last month.

Kitewood brought forward fresh plans to include another entrance to the site for emergency access from Richmond Road via a "triangle" of unregistered land.

The main issue discussed during the inquiry was whether "safe and secure" access to the site could be achieved.

Unrestricted parking in Reeves Way - the main access point - was the primary concern for Mr Schofield during the planning inquiry.

From left to right, residents Dr Robert Jackson, Mark Boardman, Steven Barrow and Gerard Jakamavicius at the planning inquiry
From left to right, residents Dr Robert Jackson, Mark Boardman, Steven Barrow and Gerard Jakamavicius at the planning inquiry

He stated in his report: "The presence of parked vehicles either side of the carriageway at the bottom of Reeves Way serves to reduce considerably the width of the road."

To resolve this issue, he says double yellow lines would need to be introduced and displaced vehicles would have access to an overspill car park of at least 35 spaces.

Residents also fear the emergency access would not be wide enough. But Mr Schofield rebuffed these claims, saying: "Emergency vehicles travel along narrow roads, and through congested areas, every day, with motorists manoeuvring to allow the emergency vehicles through."

Another key concern of residents was the increased possibility of flooding arising from the development.

But there was no objection from the Environment Agency or Kent County Council to the site's location.

Images showing how the Grasmere Gardens development might look. Picture: Wilder Associates (18754774)
Images showing how the Grasmere Gardens development might look. Picture: Wilder Associates (18754774)

Mr Schofield stated: "It may be that there are some shortcomings in the initial flood scheme calculations provided by the developer, but the lack of in principle objection from these two statutory bodies is a factor that carries significant weight.

"There is no substantive evidence before me to suggest that the site is so unusual that a final drainage scheme could not be designed and delivered to their satisfaction, such that the development would not be at significant risk of flooding and would not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere."

The report also addressed the impact on highway safety, privacy of surrounding dwellings, loss of open space and biodiversity.

Grasmere Gardens comprises up to 300 homes on 17 hectares of land south of Ridgeway and the John Wilson Business Park. It will include either 3,500 sq m of standalone employment space or 1,000 sq m of employment space and a new primary school.

It would also feature a car park, pumping station, cycle ways, a community hub, open space - with a children's play area - and a "café / restaurant / bar".

There are currently only detailed proposals for the first 140 dwellings. The site is designated as brownfield land.

The council has received 985 comments opposing the development over a number of consultation periods since the plans were first put forward.

Objections were submitted by local groups including Chestfield Parish Council, Grasmere Village Residents’ Association, Save Our Pastures and Chestfield’s Environment and Richmond Road Residents.

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