Thanet Local Plan

Thanet Green Party’s Response to TDC Local Plan Consultation 

·        Planning a different way
·         Thanet now
·         Economy
·         Housing
·         Transport
·         Environment
·         Communities and Health
·         Sustainable Design
·         Our Vision

Planning – a different way
Although there are many welcome features in the draft plan, the Green Party rejects what is essentially a top-down approach to the future economic, environmental and social development of the district. The published plan, developed after public consultation in 2013, is 263 pages long, has a 99-page questionnaire, and deals with many complex issues including housing, transport and climate change. Despite this, the public were given only eight weeks to respond. Even for organisations with time and resources to spend on examining the document, this time period was wholly inadequate bearing in mind that responses often have to be drafted, discussed and approved by groups and members. Commenting on the report, the Plain English Campaign said: “No one is going to, or should be expected to, read 263 badly written pages, or have two screens open in order to answer a questionnaire.”
There is also a question of informing the wider public about proposed policies which will affect their future for the next 16 years. Only a very small proportion of the population read a local newspaper and fewer are likely to examine the council's websites. Most information about the plan is probably spread only by local community groups and political parties. This means that a substantial section of the local population will be unaware that the plan exists, let alone have the opportunity to make their feelings known.
The Green Party believes that planning of this type should be a continuing process between planners and communities rather than one-off short-term exercises which give the impression that ruling political groups want to rush through unpopular decisions.
Communities must constantly be at the heart of planning and be in support of its objectives.

 Thanet Green Party says:

·         Social and economic development planning should be an on-going process throughout the year not one-off time-limited consultations.

·         All community organisations should be regularly consulted throughout the year .

·         Local neighbourhood groups should be established and given practical and financial support so they can positively contribute to the area's planning and development.

·         All means possible should be used to inform residents about developments affecting their area.

Thanet now
Thanet is a deprived area in need of regeneration. The area has what the report says is a “weak economic and employment base”, Kent's highest proportion of households in poverty, and only slowly-developing Business Parks..
It has the highest proportion of over 65s and the lowest proportion of people under that age in the county. Many retired people who have moved to seaside towns like Broadstairs have reasonable incomes. In contrast, many younger people have uncertain job prospects.
While attempts are being made to attract more tourists, the High Streets in Ramsgate and Margate continued to suffer, with vacancy rates significantly above the national average. Successful projects like the Turner Contemporary gallery and the planned re-opening of Dreamland in Margate have given the town a breath of hope. But Ramsgate has been hit by the closure of Trans Europa ferries while the planned Pleasurama seafront development of shops and flats and the recent O'Regan group proposal to site a concrete block and waste wood processing plant in the marina have brought the council and the community into conflict. Live animal exports from the port result in regular protests and opposition by the Green Party and others. Broadstairs continues to be a popular venue for summer visitors including foreign students, but parking and increasing traffic on narrow roads near the seafront cause problems to drivers and pose risks to pedestrians.
Housing is continuing problem with thousands of people seeking better accommodation and homelessness on the rise. Cliftonville, in particular, has an area with a predominance of cheap and poor quality rented accommodation which, the council says, attracts “vulnerable and transient people”. In order to create “an area where people aspire to live”, the council will purchase properties in order to turn them into “quality family homes”.
Thanet has become the site for what is claimed to be the world's largest operational offshore windfarm and has seen the above average development of solar farms, anaerobic digesters and other renewable sources of energy, particularly around the former Richborough Power Station. The draft plan envisages further development of this industry.
Plans by the National Grid to build a new line of pylons stretching across East Kent have caused protests. The line stretching from Canterbury to Richborough will include both Standard lattice steel pylons 50 metres high with “low height” ones of 35 metres.
The future of Manston Airport following its closure last year is uncertain and, in the absence of an viable bidder for the business, seems unlikely to re-open despite the local campaign to keep the airport open.
Pollution of Thanet's beaches continues to be of concern particularly as EU regulations coming into force in 2015 will demand much higher standards of bathing water quality. Southern Water has not announced plans for the major investment needed to prevent further discharges of sewage into the sea following heavy rainfalls. This despite suffering major financial penalities imposed by the Environment Agency. The new regulations will require local authorities to put up a sign advising against swimming at beaches that do not pass the new standard.

Thanet Green Party says:

·         The owners of Manston Airport have not yet announced their detailed plans for the site although 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.

·         We fully support plans for the regeneration of Dreamland and wish the Turner Gallery continuing success.

·         Plans for developing Ramsgate Marina should be prepared and an investigation carried out into the factors which have led to the growth of successful marinas.

·         We support plans to improve housing in Cliftonville but reject the idea of favouring one type of family unit over another. All rented accommodation, including multi-occupied rented houses, need to be improved.

·         Consideration should be given to pedestrianisation in areas of Broadstairs.

·         The Draft Plan fails to explain what steps will be taken to ensure that Southern Water has made adequate plans to deal with present and future pollution. Further discharges could seriously damage the tourist industry in Thanet.

·         We will oppose the building of new Pylons across Thanet and support the campaign to bury the electricity power cables underground.

The draft plan has a target of creating 5000 jobs in the next 16

years, reducing unemployment to 3 per cent. It adds that the local authority will “support the diversification and expansion of existing businesses in Thanet, particularly in the tourism and green sectors, and provide the right environment to attract inward investment, low carbon goods and services and renewable energy and their spin off manufacturing and service businesses that are likely to deliver job growth over the plan period
Thanet has already seen above average development of wind farms, solar farms, anaerobic digesters and other renewable sources of energy production particularly located around the former Richborough Power Station. The forecasted growth sees the green sector accounting for 12 per cent of the Thanet’s economy by the end of the plan period. But Business Parks have been slow to develop.

Thanet Green Party says:

·         We welcome the aims to reduce unemployment and support for local businesses.

·         We call for a review of Thanet Council's role in local, county and regional economic development organisations including Invest Thanet; East Kent Opportunities; East Kent Spatial Development; The Kent and Medway Economic Partnership; the South East England Local Economic Partnership. The review should consider the development of more accountable and transparent organisations made up of representative local businesses.
·         Thanet Green Party is concerned about the local, county and regional economic development organisations, which operate in a secretive and unaccountable manner which appears to favour developers at the expenses of residents and the environment.
·         We welcome the commitment to the green sector.

·         Our seaside towns need more imaginative planning to attract visitors throughout the year. Indoor pools and other leisure facilities are necessary as havens against bad weather.

·         Ramsgate Marina should be developed and promoted.

·         Thanet's proximity to London and high-speed trains open up new opportunities to attract visitors, such as package deals including travel and accommodation.

·         Local power generation should be a priority.

·         Insulating homes and eco-building should be supported to give local builders and suppliers more work and occupiers lower fuel bills.

·         Pedestrian access to shops in different areas of Westwood Cross needs to be improved to avoid car use.

The plan proposes that an additional 12,000 homes will be needed between 2011-2031. About 3000 are being built or have planning permission while the rest will mainly be on greenfield sites at Westwood (1450), Birchington ( 1100), Westgate-on-Sea( 1200) and Ramsgate(1800)(rounded figures). The report includes a stated aim of minimum 30 per cent affordable homes within these targets.
With a largely open and flat landscape, Thanet's countryside is vulnerable to applications for development. This has been exacerbated by the council's past failure to prepare a Local Plan in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework(NPPF) launched in 2012. Without a plan showing areas for development, councils have no grounds for refusing applications for large-scale housing developments.
The draft plan acknowledges that “developments should contribute to and enhance the natural environment” bringing “economic benefits by making the area a place where people want to live”. People’s health and well-being are improved by keeping them in touch with their natural environment, it adds.
Thanet Green Party says:

·         With economic growth uncertain, future housing needs are difficult to forecast. But we believe that it is premature to plan spaces for 12,000 new homes.

·         Brownfield sites should be identified and prioritised for building.

·         Building on brownfield sites in towns and villages helps to sustain local shops and public transport.

·         Designating large greenfield sites for development is an open invitation to developers to add to urban sprawl. We therefore oppose the planned developments at Birchington, Westgate, Ramsgate and Manston Green.

·         We note that 340 new homes are planned for Minster, Cliffsend, St Nicholas,
·         Monkton, Manston, Acol and Sarre and that the Council considers that it is essential that they retain their separate physical and community identity. To ensure this happens, large and medium size developments in these rural settlements should only take place after close consultation and agreement with the communities affected.

·         Provision of housing should be flexible and organic, responding to need according to current trends.

·         What provisions are being made for providing health, transport and other services if there is a large increase in populations in new areas?

·         Identifying empty homes and bringing them back into use should be a priority.

·         Communal living – many older people living in homes too big for their needs could be persuaded to move to developments where they would have their own living space but have the opportunity to meet others in communal areas. This could alleviate the problems of loneliness while freeing up larger homes for others. Bearing in mind that increasing numbers of people of all ages are living alone, communal homes could be provided for older and younger people.

·         More should be done to encourage and enable home owners to downsize when possible.

·         Self-build and co-operative building on brownfield sites should be encouraged to enable young people the opportunity of owning their own homes.

·         The Draft Plan should include a commitment to more sustainable eco-friendly buildings, including council property.

·         We welcome the draft plan's support for developments that enhance the natural environment.

·         Need for open spaces, trees, woodland, and wild areas -- planners should follow Woodland Trust recommendations on proximity of trees and woods in residential areas.

·         Housing developments should provide natural areas, squares and parks where people can meet and children can play in safety.

·         Housing developments should provide community allotments.

·         Building to higher densities with a variety of flats and housing adds to community cohesion and supports local shops and transport services. Many empty shops should be converted to residential dwellings if they remain unoccupied for a long period.

·         We note the commitment to provide 30 per cent of affordable housing in new developments. We believe that that this commitment should be changed to be 30% social rented housing (council or housing association). Priority for these homes must be given to local people at rents they can afford.

·         Brick paved off-road parking areas and car parks should have soakaways for rainwater .

·         Arlington House in Margate needs renovation following Tesco's decision not to build a store on the site.

Highlighting the fact that Thanet has the lowest level of car ownership in Kent, the Draft Plan stresses the need for public transport in the area. But congestion, noise and pollution is still a problem particularly during summer months when there is a influx of tourists and holidaymakers.
The Plan supports the expansion of walking and cycling routes. The council envisages the establishment of a network of cycle routes under a Thanet Cycling Plan developed in association with local cycling groups.
Coach travel is an important mode of transport for tourism to the area. Coaches also provide a greener alternative to multiple car use and are cheaper than rail travel. The plan stresses the problems of parking areas for coaches in the three towns but can offer few solutions.
Kent County Council, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Thanet District Council have supported the building of a new Parkway railway station to the west of Ramsgate close to Cliffsend village. The station, costing £14 million, is due to open in 2017, and will serve South Thanet and the Discovery Park enterprise zone at Sandwich. Parking for up to 300 cars could be provided at the station which will be on the high-speed route to London.
Thanet Green Party says:

·         We support the plan's stated objectives of minimising the need to travel or to use private cars, but see few proposals for ensuring these aims are achieved. New and imaginative schemes need to be piloted with the aim of minimising traffic and maximising use of public transport.

·         Major park-and-ride scheme on, or near, the main route from London needs to be provided to reduce car travel in the three towns, particularly in summer months. Manston Airport would be an ideal site for a park-and-ride terminus.

·         To reduce traffic in residential areas, medium-size park-and-ride areas for cars should be provided on the edge of towns with bus connections to stations and seafronts. For example, the site of the former swimming pool at Ramsgate.

·         Car parking near the rail stations should be restricted, with resident-only parking permitted on most roads in surrounding areas.

·         Drivers of commercial and trade vehicles should be given special parking permits when delivering goods or working at premises.

·         For holiday visitors needing to park at b&b or other accommodation, special pay-for permits should be issued, unless off-street parking is available.

·         Speed limits of 20mph should be imposed on traffic in residential roads in towns.

·         Provision should be made for coach drop-off points near seafronts for elderly and disabled visitors.

·         Discussions are needed with rail and coach companies over cheaper fares. Special packaged offers including cheaper travel and reduced-price accommodation should be organised.

·         Electric mini buses could be provided to transport passengers from rail stations to seafronts during summer months, particularly at Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

·         We reject the arguments for the new Parkway railway station which will add to journey times to and from London for most travellers, and 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.

·         The £14 million for the new two-platform unmanned Parkway Station would be better spent on improving public transport and park-and-ride schemes.

·         We welcome the commitment to a network of cycling routes, but more should be done to improve existing routes and shared paths with walkers. More dedicated cycling paths are needed in towns. Cycle racks should be provided at stations.

·         More dedicated paths for walking are needed.
The draft plan envisages the creation of “green wedges” free from housing development between Thanet's three coastal towns. It also acknowledges the importance of creating new wildlife and biodiversity habitats, enhancing biodiversity, hedgerows, ponds, green corridors, and tree planting.
Thanet Green Party says:

·         We welcome the creation of green wedges but oppose the proposals to allow development on greenfield sites. More bio-diverse areas, including trees, woodland, and hedges should be encouraged in the green wedges to enhance the visual environment and be conducive to wildlife.

·         Increasing urban pollution should be acknowledged and tackled.

·         Thanet has a shortage of trees. A programme of tree planting should be initiated.

·         Bridleways for horse riders should be preserved and extended when possible.

·         The planned line of pylons from Canterbury to Richborough would be harmful to the environment.

·         Southern Water must explain how it will prevent further discharges on to our beaches

·         We will oppose any fracking activities in or near Thanet. Hydraulic fracturing to extract gas and oil by injecting chemicals and water at high pressure into underground rocks, risks polluting the aquifiers that supply the area. The process brings “industrialisation” into the countryside and the increased use of gas is contrary to the country's stated aims of reducing CO2 emissions.

Communities and Health
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) acknowledges the link between planning and healthy communities and states that the planning system should support strategies to improve health and cultural well being, promote healthy communities and identify policies that will deliver the provision of health facilities. It encourages policies that will facilitate social interaction and healthy inclusive communities.
Thanet Green Party says:

·         The local authority should do more to facilitate the establishment of more neighbourhood community groups by offering grants and professional help.

·         Healthy diets and fitness should be promoted more to reduce ill-health and relieve pressures on local health services.

Sustainable Design
Design of a building or development can increase solar gain and reducing winter heat loss. The Code for Sustainable Homes is the current national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The code aims to reduce carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable. Measures that help reduce energy consumption and provide resilience to increased temperatures include: use of landform, layout, adequate space for recycling and composting, building orientation, tree planting, landscaping
Thanet Green Party says:
Described as the UK's first eco-town, a planned development in NW Bicester, in Oxfordshire, offers a pioneering example of sustainable design. The first Exemplar stage of 393 homes has received BioRegional’s One Planet Living status -- one of only seven developments in the world to achieve this award. Thanet should aspire to similar standards. The developer, A2 Dominion, says the key elements of the design are:

·         It is the only eco development in the UK that continues to adhere to the strict Planning Policy Statements (PPS1) originally set out by the Government for the delivery of eco towns.
·         As well as being true zero carbon, all homes will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 incorporating triple glazing, rainwater harvesting and water recycling. They have been designed to cope with climate change peaks of up to 10 degrees Celsius ensuring they remain warmer in winter but do not overheat during the summer.
·         There will be dramatic reductions in waste, including zero waste to landfill during construction; only the London 2012 Olympics construction has achieved this.
·         The development will retain 40 per cent green space including community allotments to encourage outdoor lifestyles and nurture wildlife and biodiversity. Natural landscaping will be used to create safe play areas.
·         Electricity will be generated from PV solar panels on every home (averaging 34m2 per property), making this the UK’s largest residential solar array capable of generating enough power to supply 550 homes.
·         Heat and hot water will come from a combined heat and power plant (CHP). One of the first elements of the scheme to be completed later this year. Excess electricity generated by the CHP will be exported back to the national grid.
·         With specially designed cycle and pedestrian routes, a bus service within 400m of every home with live timetable updates in each house, charging points for electric vehicles and an electric car club, residents will be encouraged to adopt more sustainable modes of travel.
Thanet should join Birmingham, the first British city to be invited to join the “biophilic network”, in pledging to work with the eight other cities to find out ways of making sure that people are linked to nature and living organisms
The District Council should set an example by ensuring that all council buildings achieve the highest eco-standards.

Our Vision
During the next 20 years Thanet has the opportunity to develop into a green Isle which will be an example of sustainable living and harmonious communities. Safe environments linked to the natural world and convenient public transport services are vital ingredients for a contented society. These ideas are not fanciful notions of idealists. Already, there are cities around the world which are implementing plans that recognise that fundamental change is needed to tackle global warming and make our living environments more people-friendly.
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. We set out some modest proposals towards achieving this end. We believe in localism: local energy generation, local business, local decision-making, local public transport.
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.
Most of all, plans for where and how we live must have the consent of the people. Involving local organisations and communities in decision-making is likely to result in the most effective results.
We also call for more forward thinking on homes building. The zero-carbon zero-energy homes described in the development in NW Bicester provide a benchmark for future developments. Such homes in environmentally-friendly areas are good for the world, good for the country, good for people. Why should'nt we have them?
Thanet's beautiful coastline is the area's biggest asset. More can be done to attract visitors throughout the year. Ramsgate marina has potential for expansion, Margate's Turner Contemporary and a revived Dreamland have brought new hope to the town, while Broadstairs continues to be a popular venue for summer visitors.
There are grounds for optimism – but the future must be greener.
March 2015
Enquiries to: Cllr Ian Driver,
Derek Heptinstall,


  1. When you've imposed your "Mansion Tax" on the country's stock of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian homes, forcing the residents to downsize, who do you think is going to buy these homes? More foreign buyers?

  2. Further to that. Where do you think the massive stock of smaller homes is going to magically appear from to enable people to downsize?
    These will be the very homes that young people should be buying as starter homes!

  3. Thanks for the link! Great article and interesting discovery about transport services.

    warehouse Streamlining & Air freight services