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Fight Lost on Romney Avenue Development

September 23, 2020 3:48 PM
Standing water on development site

Standing water on Romney Avenue site in July

A proposal to build 8 houses on a plot of land on Romney Avenue in Sandgate was given planning permission last night at Folkestone and Hythe's Development Control Committee.

The proposal was opposed by ward Councillor Tim Prater after discussions with a number of local residents, who said that while he accepted it was better than a previously rejected application for the site, there were still too many questions that remained unanswered.

A neighbour from nearby Turner Court Bev Zalcock made a video presentation to the committee opposing the development.

Although Tim does not sit on the Development Control Committtee, he made a presentation direct to the online meeting. Fellow ward Councillor Gary Fuller does sit on Development Control Committee, and proposed the plan was rejected, but was outvoted by the majority of committee members.

In his presentation, Tim said:

"Many thanks for your time. I'm speaking against this application.

"There was a previous application on this site in January 2019.

"Some of the seven reasons of refusal then were:

  • Detrimental impact by virtue of height, bulk, layout, design and overall appearance.
  • Insufficient information on surface drainage.
  • Proposed garden spaces significantly below the standards in the Places and Policies Local Plan Draft.
  • Insufficient information to demonstrate the site is not subject to contamination.

"Looking at those:

"The height, bulk, layout and design HAVE improved, but that does not in itself fulfil the test. It doesn't have to be more in keeping than the rejected proposal. It needs to be in keeping with what is there now.

"On the "Proposed Romney Avenue elevation" you can see the height of units 1 & 3 are much higher than that of Turner Court. The floor level of Unit 1 next to Turner Court is just 5m below Turner Court's ridge line. This is not a gentle terracing effect you see elsewhere in the road: its a leap up.

"The layout of the site, especially the second "set back" pair of houses in the site, are over-development. They resemble a "back garden" development, and are out of keeping with the rest of the estate that are almost all characterised by "street fronted" properties.

"The stability report is welcomed. Residents are pleased that it is now proposed that all trees and growth on the steepest parts of the bank are to be retained. To do otherwise would massively destabilise the slope, jeopardise the properties above and destroy valuable habitats.

"However the bank as it runs into Romney Avenue above the junction with Fremantle Road IS still a steep bank. It is also the location of units 7 & 8 in this proposal. The stability report is not being upheld for plots 7 & 8 where it will be required to remove trees and excavate a significant section of the bank.

"On garden sizes, Planning Officer Lisette Patching emailed the agent on 22 July (its in the files on the Planning portal website) and said "some of the garden sizes are still inadequate in terms of HB3." Although she goes on to say she is not planning on pursuing that, it is absolutely reasonable for Councillors to do so. There is a way of dealing with that - build less properties, with non sub-standard gardens, on the site.

"The drainage assessment mainly discusses ground water rather than the lying and often running surface water you can see across the site even on the driest days. There is a consistent run of water across that site into the neighbouring Turner Court even now. There is no detailed assessment of how that should be handled other than "it will be managed by the Contractor using simple and well understood dewatering techniques.". That is insufficient detail for a known issue.

"Finally on site contamination, an urban site like this has been accessed and potentially dumped on over years. The developers provide a "desktop survey" - the surveyor has not even walked the site. They don't discuss what may have been dumped or even buried there, its implications and safe removal.

"Thank you for your time."