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Planning Application 23/504264  - Sandbanks Road and Seasalter Road, Graveney

Outline application for a community extension comprising residential development, public open space, and associated infrastructure, with all matters reserved, except access.

We write to submit our full representation to this scheme which objects to the proposal. We consider that this should be refused on the following grounds:-

1          The site was not put forward in the call for sites for the emerging development plan and is not allocated in the Local Plan.

2          The proposed development cannot be deemed to be situated in a sustainable location.

a)    Access to the site is car dependant.

b)    Public transport services are limited and   fragile

It is noted that the last bus from the Faversham station departs at 17:26hrs, before the end of the working day.  There  is no public transport provision for local workers or commuters returning to the station at the end of the working day.  Furthermore, the viability of the service is reliant on subsidy by KCC.  KCC axed their bus service subsidy to private operators for 38 routes a year ago.  They are currently faced with the challenge of a £37m budget deficit for the financial year 2023/24 and are consulting on further cuts to services.  In the light of this we question whether the subsidy to underwrite this service will endure.

c)     There is no village shop and the  nearest supermarket is three miles away.                                                                        

d)    The only commercial community asset is the village pub, an untied free house without brewery support .

This closed for  a year in 2009 and has had several licensees since then.  In 2015  the pub was renamed as Wheelwrights and rebranded as a specialist pub for cyclists.  This closed and the pub offering is now a Sunday carvery with entertainment including tribute acts, karaoke and Lady’s  Nights.

The number of pubs in England and Wales that shut their doors for good rose sharply in the first half of 2023, prompting warnings to the government that planned rises in business rates could force further closures in the beleaguered sector.  Figures show that 383 pubs, or more than two a day, “vanished” in the first six months of this year, almost matching the total for the whole of 2022, when 386 were lost.  The  industry  has warned the chancellor that more closures will follow if he goes ahead with plans to scrap the prevailing 75% discount on business rates introduced during covid.  This,  combined with the 6% rates increase due in April and beer prices rising 12.5% in the last year will increase costs dramatically by many thousands of pounds, fuelling inflation and forcing closure for many independents and particularly those in rural area. In the light of this analysis, it is difficult to envisage this village pub as an enduring sustainable community asset.

3          The proposed development is plotted on protected Grade 1 Agricultural land.

4          A major potential hazard  (Cleeve Hill Power Station BESS) is located less than a mile from the site.

The fire risks and associated toxic discharges  present a potential hazard to public health. These risks are clearly detailed by experts in the Society’s recent planning representation responding  to the promoters  submission of details to discharge condition 3  of the planning consent relating to battery safety.

Para 45 of the NPPF states that  Local planning authorities should consult the appropriate bodies when considering applications for the siting of, or changes to, major hazard sites, installations, or pipelines, or for development around them.  There is no response on this issue from the Fire safety authority or Health & Safety executive posted on the portal. It would be remiss to determine this application before their input is considered.

5          The proposed development is excessive and disproportionally extends the land area captured within the settlement boundary by 67%.  If approved the development would increase housing numbers in the village by 55%.

Conclusion

The applicant’s proposals offer no tangible benefits to enhance the poor sustainability rating of the location or the settlement.  For this reason, and the four others detailed above,  the application should be refused.

November 11, 2023

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