Sunday, 8 March 2015

Greens condemn Local Plan as “invitation to developers”

Thanet Council's Draft Local Plan which designates four large greenfield sites for housing is an open invitation to developers to add to urban sprawl to the detriment of local communities, says Thanet Green Party in their public consultation submission which can be found on Green Councillor Ian Driver’s blogsite at the link below.

In their submission the Greens oppose plans to allow nearly 5000 new homes to be built at Birchington, Westgate, Manston Green and Ramsgate, and  the Party calls for priority to be given to given to building on brownfield sites. “Building on brownfield sites in towns and villages helps to sustain local shops and public transport,” says the Party's official response to council's 16-year plan for Thanet.
It points out that although the owners of Manston Airport have not yet announced their detailed plans for the site, they have indicated that they want housing and commercial development. “The owners' intentions could greatly affect the proposals in the Draft Plan, particularly those for housing, as the Manston site has space for a substantial number of homes on brownfield land.,” says the Party.
The Greens reject the time-limited “top-down” approach to the area's economic and social development and call for continual dialogue between planners and the local community. Plans should be flexible according to how the area develops in the future.
“Planning must be organic, responding to needs as they arise. This does not mean that there should not be objectives -- but there must be flexibility in the path to achieving them. Designating large areas for housing on greenfield sites is not only environmentally unfriendly, it is putting the cart before the horse,” says the Party.
More forward thinking is needed to meet the challenges of global warming through the provision of zero-carbon and zero-energy homes. “Such homes in environmentally-friendly areas are good for the world, good for the country, good for people. Why shouldn’t we have them?” the Party asks.
On the need to reduce traffic in our towns, the Greens propose park-and-ride schemes, better public transport, 20 mph limits on some residential roads, and more dedicated cycle tracks and paths for walking. The Party says: “For too long, motor vehicles have dominated our cities. Our streets need to be reclaimed for the majority of people who do not own cars.”
It rejects the proposal for the new £14 million Parkway Station which, it says, is likely to attract future applications for housing developments in the immediate surrounding greenfield areas. “Car users from Discovery Park and the wider areas of South Thanet should use park-and-ride linked to the better-serviced Ramsgate Station,” says the Party.
To attract more tourists to our seaside towns throughout the year, more imaginative planning is needed , such as indoor pools and other leisure facilities which would be havens against bad weather. The Party also calls for development of a Ramsgate marina to replace the struggling Port, based on studies of successful marinas in other parts of the country.
Commenting on the Plan, Green councillor Ian Driver said: “The Green Party is the only political organisation in Thanet to have a held a public meeting on the Local Plan and to have submitted comments to the public consultations. The other political parties have sat on their backsides and have done nothing!”
The Green Party,  along with thousands of local residents, believes that Labour’s Local Plan will lead to the massive overdevelopment of Thanet. Although we need more housing, we are of the view that 4-6,000 units will suffice and that the proposed 12,000 is way beyond what is really needed. At least 1,500 of these homes should be social rented properties and none should be built of greenfield sites. We also share wide public concern about plans for a Parkway station at Cliffsend. The station is being proposed to
serve the thousands of new, but totally unnecessary, homes which Labour Thanet Council hopes to build on green field sites around the Westwood Cross, Manston Green and Cliffsend. Building Parkway would rapidly lead to Cliffsend being  swallowed up into urbanised extension of Ramsgate”.

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