Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Local Plan Consultation 2015 part 1, the easy way?

OK we all know there isn’t really an easy way of filling in government forms, online or off, but in this case the online option really does seem to be the easiest way.

The main advantage to responding  online is that you can go beck and change you responses right up to the 6th March.

To do this you will need to be registered online, so first go to the council’s consultation web page and either register or log in https://consult.thanet.gov.uk/consult.ti  

Then click on the link to the 2015 local plan consultation and follow through the pages of explanations, which you may or may not skim, read or ignore.

Eventually you get to the first question: Do you agree with the level and approach to encouraging economic growth in Thanet?

I think this translates to: Do you agree with the pages of text maps and diagrams you have skimmed through so far? So you then back paddle trying to find the key elements, I think the key map is this one. Unfortunately where it appears in the online consultation it is pretty much illegible.


So click on the picture of it below to make it bigger and after it has got bigger click on it again to make it even bigger.   

Anyway with this first question I have put in a first draft of a response to the first question which I intend to go back and modify, here it is.

“The problem with the approach to encouraging economic growth within the plan is that it is substantially base around a port with ferry services and an airport with freight and passenger services.

As neither exist or seem likely to exist the council’s approach appears to based around alternative but unworkable options for the sites where these once existed.

E.G. “1.14 Ramsgate Port is an infrastructure asset and is important for the green economy sector and as a wharf for the movement of minerals.”

Port Ramsgate is upwind and uptide from Ramsgate Marina, Ramsgate Main Sands, the associated café culture and tourist economy providing much of the town’s employment. So while normal ferry activity (passenger and roll on roll off) at the port would be likely to be of net benefit for the local economy, any lose and therefore dusty industrial cargoes would be likely to cause dust to blow over the main tourist economy, removing far more jobs than it creates. This would also apply to the washing of mineral cargoes at Port Ramsgate which would likely to create bathing water pollution.

Something very similar applies to the council’s recent support for turning Manston Airport in to an airfreight hub. While obviously a regional passenger airport would be likely to enhance the economy and appears to have public support. The council supporting a freight only air hub under the guise of saving the airport is just misleading. It would seem likely that as Margate and Broadstairs are upwind of Manston and an airfreight hub would create large amounts of air pollution with very little benefit to the local economy and be likely to result in considerable job losses in the local tourism industry.

I think it is very important when constructing a local plan for Thanet that it is understood that the tourism industry is a fragile one and activity on the edge of environmental compliance is unlikely help tourism.

The bottom line her however is that unless the local plan allows for a situation where we have no ferry service from the port and no flights from the airport it isn’t really a local plan but more a local pipedream.”

I would say one thing is certain and that is every developer with an eye on Thanet will be responding to the local plan, so it is very important that local residents respond too.  

5 comments:

  1. I suppose the problem with the local plan, it was started in about 2008, and the original draft was based on the "vision", the port and the airport going down the pan was not part of the vision. With so many shared services and most of the planners with detailed knowledge of the area in other pastures, it was going to be very difficult to come up with a coherent plan.

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  2. I guess anon 11.36 that the issue at the moment is the consultation and getting people to contribute to it. This is made very difficult because the draft consultation doesn’t relate much to a real and existing Thanet but something that planners hoped would happen and didn’t. Here in my bit of Ramsgate it is as though the authors have never actually visited the place, they have lined up areas of the town centre which they see as failing retail and so have modified the planning constraints so they can change them to residential areas, this includes Iceland and Morrisons supermarkets.

    But yes without some sort of plan B in which has a Thanet with no viable port and airport, it is difficult to see the local plan as having any real point apart from providing a series of loopholes for the avaricious.

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  3. 11:36 again: It is a shame that TDC don't think to consider the local population before they come up with the first draft. Most people who were involved in the drafting did not come from Thanet,do not live in Thanet, but were paid by Thanet taxpayers. They also had outside influences like EKO etc. which all came to bear on the content of the plan.

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  4. The problem with the local plan is that you are producing a plan which you cannot deliver. In other words, it isn't really a plan; more of an aspiration, or dream. A council has planning powers, so in theory it should be able to control where housing is built and where new industrial units are located, but that's about it. A council has no knowledge or psychic power that would allow it to determine which types of business are likely to be successful and which types of business should be given support. In other words, the local plan should be scaled right back to a brief planning document outlining how the area has been zoned to accommodate future demand for housing, retail, offices and industrial units. It is arrogant and foolish to try to dictate that a given site can only be used for a set type of business.

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  5. 11.36 I don’t really see how they could have gone to public consultation without a draft plan, my guess is that the real problem is getting enough local people to respond to it, particularly with the airport closure making the draft look so daft.

    I guess the other massive issue is the amount of space central government has said must be allocated for building residential accommodation.

    8.25 I think once again we come back to national government insisting that a local plan must be produced and produced within a set of parameters already determined by national government.

    Having read the hundreds of pages of the thing I am very much in agreement that something much simpler would be easier for me to respond to. However we are where we are and my main worry is that local people will look at the thing and be put of by the task of trying to grapple with understanding it and responding to it.

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