The outline application was for 572 homes, a 60-bed care home, doctor’s surgery, shops, takeaways and a pub, offices, a sports centre including football pitches, tennis courts and a tennis pavilion, plus various road improvements
Mr Quinn had predicted the scheme would create some 1,000 jobs in the leisure, sports and sheltered housing businesses, with the knock-on effect bringing an additional £20 million a year into the local economy. He added:
It has had unprecedented support. We want to get this through and start building and delivering this facility. We think it will deliver huge community benefits.
But in a report to councillors, planning officers recommended refusal on the grounds that the economic benefits of the scheme would be outweighed by harm it would cause to the environment. The report also states:
The applicant has failed to enter into a legal agreement to secure the delivery of the necessary planning obligations required in order to mitigate the impacts of the proposed development on the local infrastructure.
The proposal had received 1,200 letters of support and just 15 letters of objection. It was backed by county councillors Brian MacDowall and Nick Bond and MP Roger Gale. Herne and Broomfield Parish Council had raised some concerns including the unsuitability of Bullockstone Road for construction vehicles but did not object to the overall scheme. Mr Quinn said:
We are going to take stock of whether to appeal our original application or to appeal and forward another application in a few months’ time. We are taking advice from our consultants but we do want to work as much as possible with the council.
The project is included in the council’s draft Local Plan, a blueprint for development across the district up to 2031. This outlines proposals for 9,916 new properties, in addition to some 4,500 already in the pipeline or expected to be applied for, being built at a rate of 780 per year, and 96,775 square metres of employment land being created in the next 17 years. But a council spokesman said some work needs to be done to make it “co-ordinated”. He added:
The council accepts the general principle of development on the golf club site because it has been allocated as such in the draft Local Plan. However, it is important that all the Herne Bay development sites in the draft plan are co-ordinated so the road and public transport improvements that will be needed are provided at the right time.
In addition, as the planning committee report made clear, there was also insufficient information provided about the impact on air quality, a failure to comply with our policy on the level of affordable housing and concerns the development would have to be highly urban in order to fit the number of homes on the land identified.
This site will remain in the draft Local Plan and we hope that in the future, proposals will come forward for the land that will address these concerns and are at the right time in terms of a co-ordinated approach to the development of Herne Bay and the wider district.