Having listened several times to David Monk’s interview on BBC Radio Kent on Tuesday 24 October we are really concerned that he just doesn’t seem to have read his own council’s planning application.
On the subject of contamination he said that whatever has to be done will be done. He then went on to say that he didn’t know the detail – sometimes it has to be covered and sometimes it has to be dug out.
If he had read the Geo Environment report which is part of the planning application he would know that “a variety of clean cover scenarios have been recommended (including 600mm clean cover in private gardens.” If he hasn’t read that report then how can he be sure that what he is proposing for the site will be safe for existing and new residents? How can he have any idea how much this work will cost and therefore whether the project as a whole is financially viable?
Does he understand that putting this clean cover on the site will mean removing all the vegetation? Does he not
understand the catastrophic impact this will have on the wildlife?
He claims that the site has no historical significance. Does he not know that the Royal Military Canal is a scheduled ancient monument? Has he not read the correspondence from Historic England including their pre application advice which is also included in the planning application documents? Does he not care about the harm that his proposed development will cause to the setting of this wonderful historic asset?
Councillor Monk claims that the project will cover its own costs but does he have any evidence to support that? What proof does he have that adding a fitness centre to the swimming pool will mean that it won’t continue to need a subsidy? The council submitted the planning application before carrying out proper financial viability studies for the proposals and even now it is not clear if that work has been done.
He implied that the decision not to put the leisure centre on Hythe Green was because local people objected but the reality was that this proposal was stopped by the restrictive covenant on the site. Something the council should have been aware of before they even proposed this idea and spent public money drawing up the plans.
Councillor Monk calls us nimbys. But we are not fighting to protect our views nor do we object to all new development – we are just fighting to protect this unique green open space. The council does have a duty to provide housing and leisure facilities for future generations but surely it also has a duty to protect the town’s open space and heritage for future generations too.
Residents deserve an assurance that Shepway council, as local planning authority, will not decide its own planning application before the local plan is decided by a Government Planning Inspector? If it fails to do this we will be left with the impression that the council has cheated the planning system and ridden roughshod over local people’s views.
For the next few weeks you can listen to the programme here: