Wednesday, 23 December 2015

TDC garden grabbing

Many people are familiar with this: repeated garden grabbing attempts rejected. Then strangely rushed through by TDC earlier this year then silence over public complaints.

Copy of the minutes below from a meeting I had with Abigail Raymond and Lin Fairbrass and Emma Fibbens following a site view by Simon Thomas and apparently a site visit by Steve Albon- none of the points denied mere silence.

The strange thing is not just 11 flats specified in TDC's own Local Plan(!) but 13 being built if not more. But that RTC approved only 11 flats and didn't know of 13 and now seemingly unwilling to raise it with TDC which rather makes a mockery of the RTC approval process.

While TDC as you can see below attempted to rely on a Planning Inspectorate letter for withdrawn plans - and had expired(!).

Clearly we have a situation where TDC is randomly breaching its own rules. The latest email was form a formal complaint raised to Tim Howes the legal bod who said he's considered the points "and had nothing to add" which is the vaguest of enquiries if not a waste of e-paper. Although I think it's legalese for "you've got us bang to rights".

TDC aside I'm astonished at Miles and Barr and Daniel Gent Construction getting involved in breaching the Local Plan and this as one of the worst examples of gardengrabbing and overbuild - I expected better.

Lin and the TDC councilors now seem struck dumb at best or being lead by the nose by the civil servants at worse.

Frankly I would have expected a few P45's issued for this mess and resulting BS and whitewash - otherwise how will TDC improve?

A Stop Notice and demolition/reinstatement order is also required - otherwise why bother with a Local Plan?

Time for Change

Thursday 12th November 2015
Cllr Lin Fairbrass
TDC Cabinet/Planning
TDC council
Minutes: 100SE Rd meeting

Dear Lin

As promised I wanted to write to minute the key points from our meeting at TDC with Abigail Raymond and Emma Fibbens on Thursday 5th November last week regarding the 100 South Eastern Rd gardengrabbing issue.

A. Latest site info: 2015

1. Attached are the two colour photos we initially discussed from the August site exterior visit with Simon Thomas 27th August 2015.
2. From the photos you can see:
• The frontage of the site is c.100% larger than the original building
• The frontage is assymetrical despite points to the contrary by TDC ie imbalanced new small windows and gable front and a new roof addition
• This new frontage extends to the full depth of the building plus wraps around in an L-shape to cover c.90% of the rear – the new build has doubled the original building filling almost all the plot except for a much smaller garden to be tarmacked
• Not shown on the photo but discussed was what seems to be a subsequent ground/first storey addition to the left front of the site
• As well the right front includes the purchase of the next door garage to enable a narrow driveway for carparking by tarmacking the whole of the rear garden
• Separately I’ll forward a photo of the latest rearward extension: clearly this can be seen to be at least x2 if not x3 the depth of other property extensions and extending even higher than the original building – despite Emma’s claims to the contrary

B. Background: 2008-2015

1. We noted that the original application in 2008 was specifically rejected by TDC with amongst several issues of overbuild, to protect the gardens/shrubs.
2. From 2008 to the new application in 2015 there have been c.6 attempts to develop the site by different builders – all of which were rejected/withdrawn.
At every instance and including the 2015 application, the public have protested the damage and overbuild and gardengrabbing.
3. The property is a c.5 bed suburban family house in a suburban side street with a large front garden and a c. 2 football pitches in length rear garden that would be lost.
We agreed that the building was not Listed. It is however merely 5 minutes walk from the main Ramsgate Conservation Area. Subsequent to the meeting the site is now being renamed as Pugin House because of its Pugin features and proximity to Pugin’s house – this would at least make it eligible for the Local List if not a full listing.
4. One application included the typical demolition of the house and replacing it with a mini-tower block. And another application included even more flats than the 13 now in the 2015 application.
From memory, no prior application included the purchase of the next door garage and tarmacking of the whole driveway.
5. Emma made the point that the new design fits in with the existing streetscape ie terraced houses. Although it was pointed out that South Eastern Rd has a range of styles dating from c.1870 to mainly pre-WW1 eg semidetached houses next door, a large similar property opposite, terraced houses and a detached bungalow. Of course as a c.1870 property the street would have been designed/completed around it.
6. We discussed the fact that c.13 flats would result in problems of car parking even with the rear carpark – and especially problems with the sewers given the various problems anyway with Southern Water.

C. Planning Inspectorate letter of 2012

1. Some discussion was had around the Planning inspectorate site visit letter dated 12/2/12 which upheld the original 2008 and/or 2011 appeal albeit some 3 years later.

This letter seems to be a sticking point for TDC although we discussed that the 2008 appeal was rejected/withdrawn so the 12/2/12 Planning Inspectorate letter was irrelevant.
2. Indeed if the public had believed this letter would be cited for any subsequent application then its points would have been formally rebutted in 2008/2012.
Please accept this note as a formal repudiation of the points made.
3. As well it’s unusual for TDC to now rely on this as the Planning Inspectorate letter points out on point 1 of the Annex that any construction would need to begin within 3 years from the decision date of 24/2/12. Simon’s planning consent is dated 13/3/15 - so even on its own merits the PI letter fails.
4. Similarly the other c.12 requirements of the Planning Inspectorate letter: materials samples, bats survey etc etc presumably not completed again rendering the letter – and 2015 application – completely invalid.

D. 2015 ongoing concerns

1. Emma raised the possibility of a Retrospective Planning Application – presumably to retrofit any issues of paperwork - and Tim pointed out that would invariably result in a class action by the residents. TDC’s concerns over legal costs would undoubtedly be higher with public compensation etc than any such action by the builder.
2. Tim pointed out that be public had behaved perfectly correctly for 7 years and repeated applications on this site upto and including the 2015 site.
3. Tim pointed out since the issue was raised in c.March there had been a strange limbo of the residents’ remit in the planning process being ignored. Indeed the issue had to be raised again with Greg Clark MP the Communities Minister who had been involved in the original 2008 issue. As well since the August site visit with Simon requests for clarity on his explanation of the planning permissions etc had simply been ignored: a further 2 months of delay.

E. National and Local government policy against gardengrabbing

Both National and TDC’s Local Plan 2011-31 dated January 2015 confirms the need to prevent gardengrabbing: overbuild etc etc.
(Subsequent to the meeting Tim confirmed SP29 as the relevant TDC policy along with sections 3, 4 and 13 on protecting green spaces and quality developments etc – as well the 100 Se Rd site is listed in the Plan on P.222 as site SR11 – but for only 11 flats not 13.)

Emma raised the point of public protests and Tim highlighted that he was aware of at least 5 complaints to TDC and these would not be included in the file. (Subsequent to this meeting Tim had details from a resident who previously met Ramsgate mayor/TDC/RTC councillor Trevor Shonk at the site with Emma to complain about the overbuild, design eg Juliet balconies etc).

Except for other minor planning matters the meeting concluded and Tim confirmed to Abigail’s point in managing expectations by raising a possible 21 day turnaround that prompt action was now required for the agreed interior site inspection/enforcement of the blueprints.

Tim said that both a Stop Notice and subsequent Demolition/Reinstatement Notice similar to the Fidler haystacks-castle case would be relevant and as valid as a Retrospective Planning Application to adjust the paperwork.
Thank you again for the meeting and this note with my email of Friday 6th November 2015 should help consolidate the issue. Please advise if there are any significant disagreements with the minuted points as detailed above within 7 days.

Please advise immediately on the immediate issue of Site visit/requested blueprints and Stop Notice.
Kindest regards
Yours sincerely

Tim Garbutt

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