Work is expected to start next year on a caravan park expansion which neighbours claim will turn their seaside village into Sheppey.
The capacity of Alberta Holiday Park at Seasalter, near Whitstable, is set to increase by 91 static caravans, after a planning inspector overturned Canterbury City Council’s (CCC) decision to reject the application.
Members of CCC’s planning committee feared the expansion would be “visually intrusive” and harmful to the landscape. They also had concerns about traffic hazards in Church Lane.
Councillors rejected the plans despite officers’ advising there were insufficient grounds to refuse the application and it should be approved.
The application had sparked 14 objections, including one from the Whitstable Society.
Resident David Stewart suggested the expansion would turn Seasalter into another Sheppey, an area which is known for an abundance of holiday parks.
Helping to persuade CCC’s planning committee to turn down the proposal at the time, he said: “You put 91 caravans on there, and you’re now becoming Sheppey, as far as I’m concerned.
“If you go through Sheppey, there’s not a lot there so I think you’re doing wrong. Once you grant this, you cannot take it back.
“It’s not going to bring any more money into the area. Caravanners do not need to spend money in local amenities as they bring their own stuff from home and don’t go out much.”
Mr Stewart added: “Seasalter is a unique place with a large housing estate and three caravan parks.
“Whatever you put at that site, you’ve got to live with it. At the moment you’ve got horses grazing and it’s lovely. And then you’ve got the council estate the other side, so there is a balance.”
The current caravan park has a licence for up to 400 homes.
The site would be on a nearby field, on the other side of the railway line, off Faversham Road.
After the planning hearing, site ownes Park Holidays UK successfully appealed the decision, and awarded full costs - meaning CCC could be left with a hefty bill.
The authority is currently negotiating with Park Holidays UK on an exact figure.
This week a park spokesman said the company is delighted to be able to proceed with the investment in its “charming coastal retreat that combines the beauty of nature with the vibrant local area”.
“We are currently in the pre-development phase of planning the details of the infrastructure and landscaping, and this will take several months. Once completed, the development work will then be carried out on a phased basis,” he said.
“The end result will be a high quality development which will enhance the appeal of the park and increase the volume of tourism in the area.