Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Thanet's Greenfields Despolied by Incompetnce and Broken Promises See Secret Document

Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, has warned that greenfield land in Thanet, including rural open spaces and agricultural  land  has been put at risk of being “despoiled, disfigured and destroyed” because of incompetence and broken promises.

His outspoken attack follows a secret meeting of Thanet Council’s Planning Committee on 18th of June at which it was decided not to contest a planning appeal submitted by East Kent Opportunities (EKO) to build 550 houses on greenfield land at the New Haine Road Ramsgate .( A copy of a secret report presented to the Planning Committee is published below)

EKO’s application was rejected by Thanet’s Planning Committee in November 2013 on the grounds that “the site does not constitute previously developed land and as such the proposed residential development would involve the release of greenfield land, where there is no identified need, contrary to policy H1 of the Thanet Local Plan 2006 (2).”

Legal advice, obtained by TDC in preparation for defending EKOs appeal identified clauses in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework published in March 2012 which require local councils to produce a plan identifying housing need and the supply of available building land in their areas over a five year period (3). This information is then used by planners as a basis for granting or refusing planning permission for house construction.

But, unlike most other council’s in Kent, TDC does not have such a plan. In fact it is unlikely to have a plan in place until 2015 at the earliest. Thanet’s legal adviser warned that without a plan it would be impossible for TDC to demonstrate grounds for refusing permission for EKOs 550 houses on the greenfield site at new Haine Road.

Said Driver,” the need to have an up-to-date housing need analysis and building land register has been a requirement of the planning system for over 2 years. Plenty of advance warning was given by the Government to prepare these documents but senior TDC managers and the ruling Labour Group did not attach a high priority to completing this extremely important task.”

“This serious management failure means that Thanet’s rural open spaces and greenfield land now faces a high risk of being covered in concrete, even though sufficient brownfield land and long term empty residential properties are already available within Thanet’s urban boundaries to meet housing need over the next 5 years”. 

“In the short-term it’s now almost certain that permission will have to be granted for EKO to build 550 houses on agricultural land at the New Haine Road and that plans to build 850 house on 47 hectares of prime agricultural at the bottom of the Manston Airport runway will have to be OK’d (4). it also means that  housing developments on greenfield land within the Manston Airport site, such as the 1,000 houses on the northern grassland  will also have to be agreed.   In the longer-term I suspect planning applications for housing on rural greenfield sites will now begin to flood into the Council as people try to profit from inflated land values until TDC closes this major loophole in its planning policies”.

“I am especially disappointed by the role TDC’s ruling Labour Group in this matter” added Driver. “In their 2011 Council Election Manifesto (5) the Labour Party promised the people of Thanet that they would oppose “encroachment into Thanet’s green spaces and that house building will be focussed on agreed brown field sites and the renovation of existing properties. Building on green field sites will be resisted wherever possible”. By failing, as the Council's ruling political  party, to ensure prompt compliance the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, they have broken their election promises to the public and left our beautiful countryside open to the risk of being despoiled, disfigured and destroyed”.

"My suspicion is that this delay in producing important planning documents is motivated by the fact that the more houses that out built in Thanet the more money the Council receives from the Government's New Bonus Scheme, which generates for TDC the equivalent of double council tax for each new home built for up to six years. In effect Thanet Council has acceptedGovernment  bribes to allow our  greenfield sites and farmland to be used for  house building.
I have published below the secret report which was discussed by at last week's planning committee. I can see no legal or commercial reason why it was kept confidential. Perhaps it was kept secret  to ensure that Thanet residents didn't find out that the incompetence of TDCs Labour Cabinet and senior officers have now  put our green-spaces at risk of being concreted over.  

For more information contact Councillor Ian Driver on 07866588766
1.Confidential report to Thanet Planning Committee 18 June 2014 (see below)
2.See Confidential report to Thanet Planning Committee 18 June 2014
3.See para 47 of National Planning Policy Framework 2012



  1. Now Ian, you should know what the TDC Political priority has been for these past years - to remove my mother and disabled partner from the tiny plot of land they own in Manston. I actually think it is about the track the farmers have to share with them, so they can grab it off them to sell for future development, can't be for anything else surely, or why plough up walkways around there?? The Officer input here has been quite substantial.

  2. Well done Ian and outrageous the civil servants have watermarked your copy of the document - who did that?

    The housing figures are nonsense given the empty properties: simply taking a national estimate and dividing it equally among the counties etc. As ridiculous as Manston's thousands of jobs or Bin Air flying Lydd-Ostend Europe's shortest/most polluting route?

  3. The question now is was it a deliberate action by the then labour leadership not to produce the framework document until after the EKO development was passed or were they just ignorant of the planning law that the coalition had put in place? And did they now what the position was when talking to Manston's current owners?

  4. And does this conveniently make the investigation into the chief executive of the council and her influencing the planning process a white elephant??

    1. Certainly not. Irrespective of changing planning policy the allegations are very serious and an investigation is underway

  5. I am thinking of taking a photograph of the track my mother shares with the farmers for a blog post. It was a swirling dust bowl prior to her putting a fence up separating her part of the land from the track, and planting it out with roses and shrubs. You just don't see these types of walkways in Thanet much now. She also registered her ownership/shared right of way of the track. The farmers hate her for that and must have called in a lot of favours to be able to fire the full armoury of local government at her

  6. Ian,
    As a member of the council, why did you not highlight this oversight before it became a problem that your constituents will end up suffering over?

  7. Has Geoff Wild replied to these points and how does the disciplinary process work?

  8. Who are the 3 nonentities standing for Thanet Tory MP? Why are candidates standing for areas they do not live in? Should the public reject them and insist on local candidates?

  9. Well done yet again Ian for demonstrating how useless Thanet council and its officers are. It does not seem to matter whether they are blue or red, Thanet's poor citizens are always badly served. For the record just 16% of councils have yet to submit local planning statements to government for approval and if Thanet does not submit until 2015 then they will be one of a handful councils that will have not; as most will during the course of this year. Ann Gloag's lawyers would have almost certainly been aware of this when Manston was purchased. I don't blame her at all but the rubbish that claims to " serve" Thanet are completely to blame for yet more ineptitude. Let's just add this to the grass never being cut in public places and the public bins not being cleared before the seagull get at them. We have hardly anything left other than tourism and they seem determined to destroy that as well!