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Local Plan: Herne Bay’s ‘Usual Suspects’ call for Plan B

There may not be any violence, drugs or crime, but Herne Bay’s Usual
Suspects are still hoping for an explosive impact.

The group of campaigners have stepped forward to produce their own
proposals for the future of the town, claiming the council’s draft Local Plan
would prove as disastrous as the failed heist in the Oscar-winning film.

They came up with the name after councillors complained they always
heard from the “usual suspects” and instead wanted to encourage as
many people as possible to have their say on the council’s vision for
development over the next 20 years.

The original six – Dylan Hampshire, Jason Hollingsworth, Andy Lawrence,
Phil Rose, Graham Cooper and Ros McIntyre – have already been joined by others
who fear the council’s draft Local Plan would mean Herne Bay residents would
depend on the city for jobs and shops.

It includes proposals for five new housing estates, with thousands of
new homes. Phil Rose, who is also involved with the Friends of the Downs and
runs website Herne Bay Matters, said:

“The plan’s mad. It’s just houses, houses, houses with no thought
for where all these people will work, shop, educate their kids, or spend their
leisure time.  Worse, Herne Bay is being
used as a cash cow to pay for improvements elsewhere.

We can’t let this
happen.  We think that a Local Plan
should be by and for local people – the Local Plan needs to listen to local
voices.”

He said it was vital more residents had their say and got involved, and
hopes the Usual Suspects theme will encourage them. Mr Rose added:

“We thought we would have some fun with the idea in the hope of
encouraging others who care about the town to stand up for its future now.  The vast majority of residents have no idea
what Canterbury City Council is planning for us.”

The group is also concerned that the schemes put forward by the council
would force people to Canterbury because of the lack of vision for Herne Bay’s
town centre. Mattress-maker Dylan Hampshire, of Cockett’s Mattresses, said:

“This Local Plan will stop Herne Bay from having new major food
retail outlets outside that area. We won’t get Sainsbury’s or Tesco if this
plan goes through.  So where are we
supposed to shop? Canterbury! Part of the money earned from houses built in
Herne Bay will be spent on a new crossing in Sturry.  Canterbury will get new shops too. The idea
is clearly that we’re supposed to drive to shop in Canterbury, leaving our town
without retail income.”

The group say job creation should be included, as well as a new
secondary school for the town, and say the two doctors’ surgeries planned will
not be enough to cope with the thousands of extra residents. Ros McIntyre
added:

“We urged Canterbury not to build on greenfield sites, but all the
major housing developments are on greenfield sites – five in Herne Bay
alone.  The implications are huge. These
five estates will have 2,990 new houses. If Herne Bay gets its share of the
usual smaller developments on top of this, we’ll end up with more than 4,600
new homes. There’ll be more than 15,000 more people living here – that’s a 40
per cent increase on our population of 38,000.”

Council spokesman Rob Davies said the draft Local Plan was out for
public consultation until August 30. He added:

“We look forward to hearing the alternative proposals for Herne
Bay from this group in due course.”

For more information on the alternative plan, e-mail
LocalPlanLocalVoice@gmail.com or visit the Speciality Food Shop in Mortimer
Street.

HB Times 4th Jul 2013

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