Same old, same old. That was the story as angry residents streamed out of the Otterpool (Offshore) Park exhibition hosted by ‘out of town’ folk hired by FHDC.
Residents told us of ‘experts’ describing Stone Street as Stone Road with other ‘experts’ pleading with angry residents to stop the barrage of questioning, simply because they didn’t have the answers. All in all, it wasn’t a lot different from the two previous public, tick-a-box consultations.
We said on our previous, Watch this space, post, that questions would be answered from a leaflet handed to residents as they entered the consultation. Here they be:
Why build a New Town when all of our housing needs have been met for the next 20 years? Why indeed. This proposed development was the brain child of Leader David Monk and his close associates within FHDC. It has nothing to do with Planning and is totally cash driven to bolster Council income.
What public consultation was there before FHDC (SDC) decided to build an new town amidst our villages? None.
How many houses will there be in the new town, 12,000, 10,000, 8.500, 5,500? Many figures have been banded about in an attempt to confuse us all. Obfuscation is just one of the feeble weapons in the FHDC armoury that we have grown accustomed to.
How can water supply for the district be guaranteed when Affinity Water say they can only supply enough for 1000 new houses at Otterpool Park? This is a subject that has to be investigated in detail. We will dedicate one of our forthcoming posts purely on Water Resources within the Dour (F & H) region. It is true that Affinity Water can only supply 1000 houses (we have the evidence) via the existing, limited infrastructure, given that water is available.
How many houses at Otterpool Park will be ‘affordable’? Put simply, will an average Shepway salary be enough to secure a home for a local resident? – NO. With the average income of around £23,000 pa, there would be no way that a local person would be able to secure a home on Otterpool Park. Even with a combined salary of £46,000, purchasing a new property would be out of the question. Moreover, the saving for a deposit of typically £12,000 would be near impossible if an individual or a couple are already renting at exorbitant rates.
What changes will FHDC make to plans for Otterpool Park now that the anticipated £281,000,000 Government Housing Infrastructure Fund has been refused. Fewer community facilities?, Lower quality landscaping?, Less Green space?, Fewer and less affordable houses?, Scrap the high speed station at Westenhanger? It stands to reason that the less money available for non profitable features of a development, the more likely it is that they will be pulled. We see it on a regular basis where developers promise 30% ‘affordable’ homes on a section 106 agreement but halfway through a development, 30% becomes 10% because the developer says there isn’t enough money left in the pot. Moreover, Council Leader Monk and his team have already stated that services in the district would be cut if Government financial support wasn’t forthcoming (see KM, F&H Express 26th July 2017 – More Government cash needed or key services will take the hit) to build Otterpool Park.
Is it now time to cancel the Otterpool Park Park project? Even though FHDC have already wasted thousands of pounds of our Council Tax money on consultants of many shades overseeing the promotion of what would be a dystopian nightmare for us all, we are sure that you would all agree that cancelling the Otterpool Park project is the only option. Looking to the future, with land in Council ownership (which in effect is our land), a coming together of all local residents to agree and decide on the future for our communities, our children and grandchildren is the way forward. The only way, of course to do this, is to rid the Council offices of the incumbents that hold power. May 2019 is the date to set in your diaries. Only we can do it, but it is up to each and everyone of us to spread the word. More on this soon.
A better than expected turnout was a surprise to us all thanks to our own teams, alongside local press. Recording residents comments is always helpful in assessing the level of support for Otterpool Park which we have done on the previous two occasions. Many of the comments are not printable but lets just say that the one word expletive that repeatedly filled the air was the term used for fairly warm waste from a cattle herd, useful in agriculture after composting.
Out of 146 residents interviewed, 130 were opposed to Otterpool Park, 10 supported it and 4 were undecided. No doubt FHDC will put their own spin on the consultation, but the facts can not be denied. This is supposed to be, as set down by Government, community led. It really is nothing of the kind.
A final word to all those residents who have signed up to our website – a big thank you. It is only through information sharing that change will happen. We have already heard about two families that have recently moved into the area not knowing anything about a new town on the cards, even though a thorough search was carried out by their solicitors? Why didn’t FHDC disclose such information?
Please keep your emails coming in to us, we’d love to hear from you.