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Bad News on Sandgate Woods and Martello Towers

September 5, 2018 12:24 PM
By Sandgate Parish Council

Martello Tower 6 [Sandgate Escarpment] (Copyright Steve Popple and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.)Sandgate Parish Council was advised yesterday (4th September) that the vendor of this site had sold the property to another buyer at a significantly higher price and was therefore withdrawing from the sale to the Parish Council. This is despite written commitments to cease marketing the site after the sale to the Parish Council had been confirmed.

The vendor (Mr John Forge of Westenhanger Castle) advised that the new owner intended to implement the planning permission in full, starting with the renovation of the Martello Towers (Martello Tower 6 to become a holiday home and Martello Tower 7 to become a permanent residence). The new owner will also build the five new houses on the site adjacent to Military Road.

This is very disappointing news to the Parish Council as extensive consultation was undertaken, including a referendum on 9 May 2018 where residents voted by 6:1 to support the purchase. The Council had been committed to preserving the woodlands and making minor and gradual improvements to the Martello towers so as to prevent further deterioration. Mr Forge had been kept fully apprised of all developments throughout the process and at no time indicated that there was other interest.

The Parish Council will be seeking reasonable compensation from the vendor for the costs incurred as these costs have been as a direct result of his approach to the Parish Council.

The Parish Council will endeavour to ensure that the new owner meets their obligations in respect of public access to the woods and improvement and maintenance of paths.

Councillor Robert Bliss, Chairman of the Parish Council, said:

"The whole Parish Council is very disappointed in this decision by the vendor to withdraw at this late stage. The project would have saved the woods and Martello towers for the residents of Sandgate and beyond in perpetuity. The Parish Council has, on behalf of residents, opposed the planning application to develop the woods in this way and this position still stands."