The Leader of our Council has produced a blueprint for debate. As he says:
As a member of the City Council for 11 years and as Portfolio Holder for Regeneration for 9 years, I have had a unique insight into many issues across the District and the County.
I don’t have all the answers to questions that are asked and would never make such a claim, but I would like to use my years of accumulated knowledge to present my ideas for the future of the Canterbury District.
This is not a plan, or a proposal, these are merely my own personal thoughts, a blueprint to encourage meaningful debate on these issues. This is a document to encourage you to write to me with your views and opinions, to stimulate positive ideas on the ways forward for all of us.
After a little chat about how in love with the Local Plan he is, and how we will all be living in “garden towns”, basking in the glow of “sustainable urban design”, Cllr Gilbey goes on to focus on specific areas.
Here’s what he has to say about Herne Bay [with my comments] – do feel free to add your own comments below.
The council will complete the town centre upgrade [after how many years, while you were portfolio holder for regeneration?] including moving the market and preserving some of the buildings currently in a state of decay [examples?]. There is a need to re-open some disused buildings and homes [examples?], and tax second homes appropriately [why, how, and how much?].
A proposal to open up Beach Street and rejuvenate that environment will also be completed [completed? has planning been approved?] as part of the upgrading of the town and in that context the sea front itself should be the subject of renewal/upgrading with analysis and decisions to be taken in the light of local views and aspirations [NO! it should be DRIVEN by local views and aspirations] on the future purpose of such an attractive location. We should widen the appeal and facilities of Herne Bay even further to encourage both tourism and business to provide local jobs.
We will have a solid foundation for a greater marketable attraction with all these planned developments. I strongly believe we should also support the Pier head activities [I think you mean the Pier stub – your Council has long since admitted it has no intention of rebuilding to the Pier head], satisfactorily resolve the future of the Museum [after YOUR Council cut its opening hours, following YEARS of neglect] and continue protection for the Downs [your Council is the ONLY objector to the village green application – village green status is the greatest possible protection under English law]. King’s Hall needs to be fully supported in its endeavours to become a self supporting venue for events while providing community facilities. The replacement of the Beach Huts at the base of the Downs should also be part of the package [NEVER!].
The Roman fort remains at Reculver need to be enhanced and protected. The general environment of the coast at Reculver needs firm and direct action to provide an environment worthy of the history, nature, culture and attraction of this unique area [yes, it could be a great place for a caravan site…]. Overall Herne Bay should strive to be a modern vibrant town that provides attractions and facilities for residents and tourists, both taking advantage of the seaside location. The Bends should always be protected as a valuable green gap and open space.
This council has, over the last 9 years made huge progress in Herne Bay and this is often forgotten about. We have renovated the clock tower (with the recent announcement there is much more renovation to come) [so how good was your first renovation?] and sea front flood defences [er, no – this was Environment Agency funded], we have enhanced the whole concept and environment of Memorial Park, designated large Queen Elizabeth II Fields which permanently protects green open spaces from development [it affords no such protection – QEII land can be developed on, if a matching area nearby is provided as a replacement – in contrast, a village green can NOT be developed, which is why the Council is objecting], upgraded the Leisure Centre facilities and cleared the pier head [knocked down a building which had become unsafe through Council neglect, and put down a poor tarmac surface]. We have built a sports centre at Herne Bay High School incorporating a roller hockey rink while also encouraging and supporting local involvement throughout. We have prepared an Area Action Plan for the Town Centre and work is now underway. With residents there is much to be done still to preserve and enhance the ambiance and economic well being of the Town but we are well on our way.