Another box ticker from FHDC.

The 26th March 2021 was webinar day; the day when the public had the opportunity to pose questions to a group of FHDC’s experts about the proposed housing estate known as Otterpool Park. Treading carefully not to upset the apple cart, FHDC’s host Phil Laycock presented us with the positive effect that Otterpool would have on our lives and invited written comments to be put to the panel of experts, including Andy Jarrett from FHDC. Not all the questions or statements made were delivered due to the time factor. At some point Mr. Laycock assures us that we will all be able to view all the questions/statements made on his website. Where that is, we don’t know. Perhaps will get to hear about it soon, who knows?

We still have the opportunity to contact Mr. Laycock and make our views known by emailing:

phil.laycock@built-environment-networking.com

Why not copy us in with your comment. We’d be happy to hear from you.

Anyhow, we are publishing some of the comments on our website just in case they are mislaid or end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Here they be:

Heritage

Great that they are celebrating the heritage, such as the castle and… that’s about all they’re saying.  The barn has a hammerbeam roof – one of a handful (six?) in the country.  They forgot to mention that.  It isn’t suitable for a museum unless you’re putting doors on it and lighting and… ugh.  And the Roman villa – nothing said about that this time.
I asked at the last ‘consultation’ where the museum was going.  I got a sheepish look and admission there wasn’t one.  I asked about the Roman villa and suggested a Roman Painted House style museum over the top.  They said it’s likely going to be covered over (and built upon?).  So I’m glad to hear they’re ‘considering’ an alternative.  There’s more to be discovered there – discover it, assess what you truly have and perhaps get the likes of English Heritage or the National Trust involved.


Cars

Well, that’s all a shambles, isn’t it?  It’s a real shame that KCC are intent on reducing parking spaces per the Kent Design Guide, and FHDC absorbed it verbatim into the PPLP (see Transport section including Policy T2 and tables 13.1 and 13.2).  It’s a shame they adopted it a couple of weeks after the Use Classes changed, as that leaves its effectiveness up in the air for commercial parking standards.
Where’s the encouragement of greener fuel sources?  Why discourage cars altogether?  That is impractical – firstly for the elderly and disabled, but also for anyone who needs to go out in the rain shopping, or bring a lot of shopping home.  I don’t know about you, but I find the whole process of online grocery shopping poor, especially not being able to choose your own cut of meat, vegetables etc.  And getting skimmed milk when you asked for whole, or some bizarre replacement!
Public transport is poor.  Bus travel times have greatly increased – the bus from Folkestone to Ashford takes over 90 minutes now (it was around an hour a few years back) AND that’s because it goes around the houses in Lympne!!  To Maidstone, it’s 3 hours!  The alternative is a very expensive train (I think it’s about £20 to Maidstone)… or drive.  Likewise, if you’re a Mum in Cheriton or Hythe, it’s cheaper to drive to Ashford and park (let alone Folkestone) than get two kids on the bus to go shopping for a couple of hours in Folkestone on the bus.  And the retail offering is better in Ashford (or was).  MAYBE the silver lining could be their focus on essential shopping only, which could see people come to Folkestone if the Place Plan gets its act together.  I think that’s a weird focus for… isn’t it 10,000 homes in the end – so about 25,000 people?  
Buses need a local loop and interconnecting out-of-town buses that don’t fart about around the houses.  They DO know that there’s only one bus to Folkestone from Westenhanger per hour, and it takes exactly an hour, right?  Ashford is about 15 minutes more!  And those are direct buses without changing!
The speed limits sound pretty restrictive – 30 mph on the A20?!  That’s going to cause chaos.  And I wasn’t impressed with that shared space layout – it just looked confusing.  You just have to look at Ashford to see that it is a stupid idea that doesn’t work.  But don’t worry, “Operation Stack is not a regular event” – Andy Jarrett.


Affordability

It’s a joke that the Council set a 30% affordable housing target, yet they come up with 22% for the largest scheme in the district.  What message does that give other developers?  It’s OK to submit a shonky viability assessment to excuse the need to provide more?  Or will they put extra pressure on other developers to make up their huge (what, 800?) shortfall by reducing it to 22%?  And, of course, they won’t be truly affordable. 


Initial Provisions

Someone mentioned a GP surgery.  Interesting, but isn’t there a shortage of Doctors?  I wonder if the CCG will test their ludicrous idea for a ‘super surgery’ for Folkestone at Otterpool?  Hopefully they do and realise it doesn’t work.  Someone mentioned frequent traffic jams on the A20 (that’ll be worse at 30 mph) and how they affect the ability to get to William Harvey hospital.  Does that mean Mark Quinn isn’t building his super hospital in Canterbury, or that Ashford will remain open now, anyway?  Because WHH is 14 minutes from Westenhanger by car and KCH is 24 minutes.  That 10 minutes could be life or death.  Well, you’d have to get an ambulance, of course – it’ll be a longer difference on your bike!!
So the housing provision is going to be for the key workers in the area.  They’re all welcome, so long as they’re fit to walk / cycle and don’t have kids older than 10.  Well, they could go to Brockhill, but how many more can they take?  Oh, and they probably shouldn’t be religious, unless they don’t mind cycling to Stanford.  Except that’s C of E.  There’s a Methodist church in Sellindge, a Baptist church in Brabourne and err… is the nearest Catholic church in Hythe?!  Does this mean the Otterpool team are antisemitic?!?

It’s a joke that the Council set a 30% affordable housing target, yet they come up with 22% for the largest scheme in the district.  What message does that give other developers?  It’s OK to submit a shonky viability assessment to excuse the need to provide more?  Or will they put extra pressure on other developers to make up their huge (what, 800?) shortfall by reducing it to 22%?  And, of course, they won’t be truly affordable.  

—————————————————————————————————————————

Q: This area has the designation of having WATER SCARCITY STATUS. The population of the Dour region, as set out by Affinity Water is 160,000 or thereabouts. The proposed increase in the population will have a detrimental effect on Groundwater resource, which can not be denied. If the population increase is allowed to go ahead, this decade will see the onset of a desalination plant somewhere along our coastline. This has been documented in Hansard (July 2006). How can this be squared against the current governments policy of all development to have an environmental gain?

Q: we often hear about stakeholders having an input into the consultation process of building a new town. The only ones that we seem to hear about are the ones that plan to make a profit out of it. The most important stakeholder of them all is the local resident. Where are those voices? In a number of polls, support for a new town was less than 3% across the area. Where is there mention of all the demonstrations that have taken place showing residents opprobrium against an unwanted town within a rural setting.

Q: DCLG Criteria for a new town was to have local support – there is none, abeit 3% as stated. It also states that new towns should not be dormitory towns. It would appear that that is not the case, emphasising main transport links to London.There should also be a local housing need. The town is over and above the local plan. Will there be migration into the area, possibly from London or overseas?

Q: Isn’t this soi-disant consultation a case of the cart before the horse. We still have to hear back from the Inspector on adopting the Local Plan and also the Planning Application for Otterpool. I would suggest that this is just another box ticking exercise by FHDC to help the application along the way.

Q: Paddleswoth (which is the proposed reservoir for Otterpool) is only 13 megalitres, and is literally a transfer pool, from groundwater sources. The pipeline of 11Km has not been accounted for in the £30m Utilities budget. At what point does this Otterpool scheme become unviable, given that the £30 million budget will be far in excess of that cost. Will it be the Affinity Water customer paying for Otterpool Town via their water bills.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Dear Mr Laycock,
Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the webinar. The presentations were clear and it was useful to learn more about the plans for Otterpool Park. I was rather disappointed in the Q & A part of the session. It would have been interesting to hear more questions from local people and to give them a chance to comment on the answers given by ‘the Team’, as in “Question Time”. 
I have some questions that I would appreciate having answers to, please:

  • Will it be possible to view all of the questions and comments raised in the webinar and subsequently, and by whom, for the sake of transparency? If not, there is a risk that interested parties will we be left with the impression that negative or difficult issues may have been excluded from the public consultation. 
  • It is documented that FHDC failed to receive the £281,000,000 Government grant for the new Garden Town infrastructure. What impact will that failure have on FHDC’s ability to achieve its ambition to create a high quality development with excellent design and construction, wonderful facilities and well maintained public spaces? Cozumel Estates Ltd was to have been the major co-developer of the project. Cozumel has withdrawn from the project, making approximately £20,000,000 profit from the sale of the Racecourse land to the project, even though that land does not currently have planning permission for development. FHDC Councillors have told me that the money needed for infrastructure could always be borrowed. As a local council tax payer I am concerned about how the costs for the project are mounting (£50,000,000+) and the fact that the Otterpool Park project is still under consideration for approval in the local Core Strategy. Will local council tax payers end up having to pay for this project despite it being of little or no benefit to the surrounding communities?
  • Are the statements in the webinar presentation about Otterpool Park being well connected based on the assumption that Westenhanger Railway Station will be a stop on HS1? Why would HS trains stop at Otterpool Park when they stop already at Folkestone and Ashford, and the residents of Otterpool Park are not expected to be commuters to London? Is the reality that Otterpool Park will become a dormitory town?
  • How is it intended to provide 8,500 new homes with a sustainable water supply when Affinity Water has stated that it can provide only potable water to 1,500 of the proposed homes at Otterpool Park? Is Council Leader Mr Monk’s suggestion of a desalination plant at Hythe or Folkestone still on the table? What would happen if the new residents at Otterpool Park exceed the projected unrealistic allowance of 90 litres of water per person per day?
  • What new medical facilities will be available at Otterpool Park to coincide with the first new residents moving in, given that the local hospital and surgeries are at full capacity already?
  • The consultation was for Phase One. This is for 8,500 homes. How many homes are proposed for subsequent phases? The website master plan shows 10,000 homes and the original proposal to Government for Garden Town status was 12,000 homes. 

I look forward to receiving your responses to the above questions.

—————————————————————————————————————————

I wish to object to Otterpool Town Y19/0257/FH for multiple reasons. The proposal of such a large development is not sustainable and will be ecologically detrimental to our locality, adversely affecting wildlife, putting a dangerously high demand on water usage, increasing traffic on the motorway and A20 and putting extra strain on schools, hospitals and surgeries which are already at capacity. 1. The supply of water to the proposed new homes is of huge concern and the suggested water usage figures are far too low to be taken seriously. 2. The massive housing development is not ecologically sensitive and is outdated. Far better to allow local villages to plan for themselves. 3. Following Brexit and Covid-19 we should be ensuring that our farms are protected and that we are able to buy food grown locally as much as possible. 4. This development appears to be designed as a dormitory town because all the indications are that London commuters are the target residents – rail link and house prices, reduced % of affordable housing, little local transport infastructure. Making a high speed stop at Westenhanger will slow down the line for everyone further along! 5. Local hospitals and surgeries are at breaking point. Local schools are full. Planners seem not to be aware of how hard it is to recruit doctors, nurses and teachers let alone the pressure on existing services. 6. Local opinion and concerns have not been taken into account. The council are being disingenuous if they are saying this is a community led project – it is not. They have ignored the very many objections.

—————————————————————————————————————————


Dear Mr.LaycockI
I have responded to the feedback request following the recent attempt to justify Otterpool
and ticked the box asking to receive a reply.Some time has elapsed and nothing has appeared.In the feedback I raised questions as to why Otterpool is being proceeded with in spite of the lack of public support when this was highlighted as a primary requirement.In fact,as you may not know,there were many public gatherings to highlight their opposition to Otterpool.Also the council presentations were largely shown by any public attending to be overwhelming against Otterpool.Why The has this not been taken into account?
There are other reasons why there is no support for this unwanted scheme such as the fact that this area is in a water deficiency zone together with the fact that valuable agricultural land is being sacrificed.The infrastructure will not support the building of such a vast number of houses as evidenced by the build up of traffic on the roads even at today’s level of population.Not to mention the overstretched medical services which is apparent today without the population of 10,000 further houses adding to it.
After all is said and done were Otterpool to go ahead it would lead to a total disaster to our present green and pleasant land.

I await the response the Otterpool justifying website promised but fear it will only further be the whitewash of public concern already exhibited by those seeking to foist this desecratory scheme on those who pay their council taxes with gritted teeth.
Colin Abbott
Lympne

————————————————————————————————————————-

Looking forward to seeing your comments.

S&DRA.


———————————————————————————————————————————–

2 thoughts on “Another box ticker from FHDC.

  1. It is clear to me as a former resident of Sellindge that both central and local government planning policies are now not functioning in the true interest of the local community. The continual spread of large scale built up development on greenfield sites in rural areas will, if not quelled, eventually result in vast conurbations such as those that exist in east and west Sussex between the South Downs and the coastline. I am not sure that the majority of population in this area of Kent are in favour of this concept as evidenced by genuine organised opposition to local proposals in recent years. Many of these proposals and subsequent approvals appear to be driven by the worst elements of capitalism.

    Like

    1. Hello Michael,

      Was this sent to Phil Laycock. If it was, I can edit the ‘Another box ticker’ post to include it as soon as I hear back from you.

      Kind regards,

      Les

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s