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Local Plan: letters

MIsleading Maps

The local plan is about to go
out to consultation and the council has tried to put their spin on it in their
official mouthpiece District Life.

They have printed maps of
some of the sites but just manipulated the scale to completely falsify the
situation. The 4,000 homes proposed at South Canterbury appear to take up about
the same amount of land as the 400 at Herne Bay Golf Club!

They don’t, of course. The
map has just been adjusted to half the scale!

I thought that when a council
consulted people it was supposed to present the facts in a clear and balanced

When we pointed out this
deliberate attempt to mislead at the local plan steering group we were promised
it would be rectified. Far from it. Now this cynical attempt to mislead has
gone out to every house. Throw your District Life into the recycling (don’t
forget which bin). Look at the sites with a decent map and then tell the
council what you think.

How shameful that the council
destroyed any credibility in its own magazine in trying to peddle its latest

Cllr Nick Eden-Green, Lib Dem
– Wincheap ward, Dane John, Canterbury

Use empty houses, not farmland

In respect of the draft Local
Plan, which the city council proposes as a blueprint for the future of
Canterbury, I would like to make the following observations. Canterbury
district has about 4,000 empty dwellings. This 
equates to a similar number proposed 
for the sites in South Canterbury.

Why doesn’t the council focus
its  efforts on bringing these houses
and  flats back into the housing stock?
Yes this is difficult but a truly visionary council would look to make this
effort rather than concrete over very fertile farmland. By 2050 the world
population is set to increase by 30% to nine billion people. All these people
need to be fed, including residents of the UK.

If we do not ensure that we
are self- sufficient in food the true cost will be prohibitive for many of our
children and grandchildren.

This is happening now if you
take into account the rise in the number of food banks. I have raised this issue
at a number of public forums and met with the glazed look of councillors who
obviously do not consider it a real possibility. It is not properly addressed
in the draft Local Plan and I question the very notion that such a plan can be
“sustainable” when it proposes to remove such high grade land from
the food supply.

Jon Linnane, Old Dover Road,

Student housing

I fear local planning
authorities are being asked to cure the symptoms of a problem and not its

We have just received our
copy of District Life, which shows the now familiar Key Local Plan proposed
sites. On Monday evening I heard Cllr Peter Lee telling the people of South
Canterbury, that, effectively, it was time for the city itself to take its
share of development. Or, as Cllr Gilbey was quoted, possibly out of context,
in an earlier issue of the Kentish Gazette, they “should put up or shut

This must not be a matter for
dividing communities in our district, and I am happy to be labelled a Nimby;
however, if people like me do not speak up for our neighbourhood it seems no
one else will. Perhaps more will be sympathetic if some other facts are

The proposed development for
South Canterbury is, by the scale of the city, massive. It may not look so at
first glance of District Life, but the South Canterbury plan is at a scale of
1225000, the Sturry/Broad Oak plan at 1:20000, Hersden at 1217250, and Herne
Bay Golf Course at 1215000. The Canterbury proposal is equivalent in size to
the whole of Hales Place, St Stephens, Whitstable Road area and London Road
Estate combined.

Cllr Gilbey, at last Monday’s
meeting, twice mentioned Brighton as a city having to plan to build on land
hitherto regarded as sacrosanct. This was an attempt to explain that Canterbury
is not alone in having to take tough decisions, but he chose an apt comparison.
Brighton has two universities. For many years its Victorian and local authority
suburbs have filled with students. It cannot extend south!

Many other
university towns and cities have growing ghettos of students and it is becoming
a national problem. Successive governments have allowed the expansion of the
higher education sector without providing for student accommodation. The local
plan gives the issue two paragraphs, concluding that it is not a problem, that
consultation proved thus and that student HMOs could be controlled from now on.

This horse has of course well
and truly bolted – ask students if they mind more students in the district and
the answer is no! But where have the residents gone? Very many have moved to
the estates which have already been built in Herne Bay and to a lesser extent
Whitstable. They do not just disappear! Many old Whitstable residents have sold
up their terraced houses to weekenders and they have also moved to the edge of
town estates.

Here is my alternative; plan
for high-density student apartments between Tyler Hill and Blean to serve UKC,
with a direct bus/cycle link, and on the barracks to serve CCUC. No more
expansion of university places until the accommodation for existing student
numbers is provided. CCUC and local developers such as Pavilion have shown what
can be done. Clever planning and design, different funding streams, including
batch sales to existing landlords, backed by assured student rents will enable
development to occur on a fraction of the land of the present plan.

Existing housing stock will
return to the market either to rent or buy, and will yield council tax. This
would, I assume, not yield the building bonus per new house from government,
but if local authorities in similar difficulties and local campaigners against
large developments unite nationally, central government might be inclined to
help middle England out of a hole. Could our MP help too?

The city council might not
get its second link to the A2, yet. Mr Gilbey might, but with careful planning
would not, lose his seat in Blean, and if he took the lead on a bold
alternative plan he might get the thanks of the people of South Canterbury,
Sturry, Herne and beyond.

Clive Flisher, Old Dover Road,

HB Gazette 6th Jun 2013

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