Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Thanet Local Plan Consultation and some thoughts on how to respond to it.

Thanet District Council have opened their online consultation for the new local plan.

What the council has done is come up with a draft plan for Thanet covering the next fifteen years and is asking people to comment on it.

The main snag seems to be the way the closure of Manston airport has impacted on the draft plan inasmuch as a great deal of the plan has been written around the assumption that thanet will have a functioning passenger and freight airport.

I would say we really are back to the problem of no plan B for how Thanet ought to function with a mixed use non aviation development at Manston. As there is the probability that Manston will never be an airport again then it seems pretty obvious that the local plan for Thanet during the next fifteen years should in some way address this eventuality.

A very big issue here is that the Manston site is a brownfield site so it doesn't have the protection from development that farmland has. A secondary issue here is its planning status as it didn’t ever manage to get planning consent as an airport, so some sort of plan B in the local plan would be about the only protection that this large open area could get.

A similar issue with Port Ramsgate, the council don’t seem to accept the fact that it is highly unlikely to get anything other than commercial operations that other places don't want, and that the likelihood of a viable ferry operator at Port Ramsgate is pretty much zero.

The draft local plan seems to open the way for any sort of undesirable industrial activity there, without taking into account how close the port is to residential accommodation or that the prevailing wind direction means that dust and pollution is blown across the marina and the main sands.

There are many examples of the draft local plan looking fairly positive, but actually opening the way for some extremely harmful activity, an example of this is the part about Ramsgate Town Centre, it looks OK if you don’t ever go shopping in Ramsgate. In practice though it ignores the only town centre car park that most shoppers are comfortable with using and marks it as a potential development site. Then you have the business of the parts of the shopping centre they have mapped out for letting go back to residential, they call this secondary frontage and it’s a measure of how out of touch with Ramsgate they are that it includes Iceland and Morrisons supermarkets. This opens the way for turning the shops near the main shopping car park into residential and probably eventually building social housing on the car park.     

I have had a chat with the council about filling in the questionnaire and it seems that the online facility is much more flexible than it looks.

Once you have either logged on or joined up you can change or add to what you have put in the various fields right up to the date the consultation finishes, this is particularly useful with areas like the airport and port where the situation is changing and may be different in six weeks time.

There were two areas where I made recommendations to the council which I will send to them in writing, one is that I thought it could be very helpful if they were to make a video presentation along the lines of what they would say to people at drop in sessions and put it on YouTube so that we could all become familiar with aspects of the local plan when we had time, the other was that responses to the local plan should be weighted towards those submitted by local residents and organisations.

You can download the whole plan as a pdf and the questionnaire as a pdf or Word document, this is a bit clumsy as you have to use both documents at the same time. Alternatively you can use “respond online” facility which is a combination of the two, i.e. the bit you comment about is with the bit where you put the comments. and as you can go back into this and change anything right up to finishing deadline on 6th of March, I think this is the best way to deal with the consultation.                  

Here is the link to the consultation website

n.b. I am going back to posting here.


  1. Nothing new in this Michael in that the Local Plan was signed off c.5 years ago. Remember Sandy's sailor shops for Ramsgate?

    By reopening it (as RTC do every month with the Ramsgate Plan) they're effectively saying they haven't a clue.

    You're wrong that the airport site can't be protected or the Port - that's the very point of the Local plan. While they're hasn't been a ferry operator because TDC haven't got off their backside and found much are we paying the Port staff to sit around?

  2. The Local Plan was never more than Manston freight airport to create thousands of jobs. Reopening Dreamland and the 4th town at WC. Don't mention Pleasurama still derelict or Pfizer and the Port going bust. Precisely nothing achieved - except for some of WC - in over 15 years except tax increases and paying for the councillors and civil servants.

  3. The reality is the councillors are simply incompetent to do anything. Filling in yet more questionnaires is simply delaying the inevitable: a clearout at the election. Why would any of them seek re-election given their track record? Westwood Cross was achieved but it was and is a disaster of sprawl and destroying the town centres. Even establishing Ramsgate Town Council was a public reaction against the councillors failure at TDC.

  4. Does the Local Plan include cleanup of pollution sites like Thor and Manston? if not why not? that's more important than some sailors shops

  5. The reality is that councillors are not qualified to determine what kinds of business are likely to succeed. Nor, for that matter are the officers of the council. The notion that people who have never run so much as a whelk stall could endow themselves with the mission of regeneration is laughable. The local plan should be nothing more than a framework showing where space can be allocated for commerce business and housing. It should be flexible so that new ideas can be pursued. Where established and economically productive businesses exist the plan should make provision to allow them to expand and develop. Under no circumstances should a local plan do anything as silly as dictate that nothing other than an airport will be acceptable. The council needs to work constructively with local businessmen to ensure that they are given the support they need to regenerate the area. Using the local plan to announce to Carner and Musgrave that the council might still attempt to CPO the land at some point in the future is the quickest way to undermine their plans and to ensure that they shut up shop and land-bank it for the next ten years.

  6. Agree with most of what you say 4:07 although you are ignoring the fact that DP2 at Manston is not needed, nor is housing which is essentially their plan.

    And with landbanking a CPO or at least Planning Directives can be issued to prevent that.

    The reality seems to be that the aquifer should take priority. After all who'd be silly enough to pollute their own well?

  7. Having just got around to reading the comments here, rather than just skimming through and trying to moderate the spam and the ones that fell outside the comment guidelines, it seems pretty obvious that there is a bit of misunderstanding about what the local plan is and why people should contribute to the feedback

    Firstly it isn’t the result of what councillors have said or done, but just something that national government makes the council do. The council has to do it and you have to pay for them doing it whether you contribute or not.

    Secondly the council is duty bound to take notice of the feedback and modify the plan accordingly. So if for example the council has earmarked busy parts of the shopping centre in the Thanet town where you go shopping for social housing, you can say you don’t want this to happen and you would rather have shops near the car park.

    Thirdly this is a new local plan and will effect what planning allow to happen where in Thanet for the next 15 years.

    I do wonder if the anon commentators above couldn’t be bothered to read the local plan and to fill out their answers to the questions so thought writing something here would do instead, I don’t think telling the council or the councillors you don’t like them very much is going to help form the future face of Thanet.


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