Friday, 15 April 2011

The Big Issue? - 7500 Homes

This is a rather interesting and emotive subject. The figure of 7500 is copied directly into the TDC “Shaping our Future” document from the South-East strategic plans as the allocation for the Thanet area, however this must be reduced by the number of current residential planning approvals not yet constructed, which I understand is a considerable proportion.

Also approximately 1600 units are planned for Greenfield sites in and around Westwood Cross to complete the overall town planning concept.  To add to the complication, approval in December 2010 of planning policies DM1 and DM2 could substantially alter the mix and availability of properties in Thanet.

DM1 states that unless there are justifiable reasons, houses should be built in Thanet rather than flats. DM2 encourages reversion or conversion of existing flats into family houses. Now that is all quite commendable to redress the balance of family homes versus one bedroom, minimal standard flats and it is essential if “yuppies on HS1” are to be attracted to live in Thanet.

It is ironic however, and an illustration of the difficulties for planning legislation that a recent application, only months after the introduction of DM1 and DM2, is for 7 luxury seafront apartments of generous proportions at Ramsgate. The building housing the flats, overlooking the sea, is interesting modern architecture and far more appropriate to the area than 7 town houses would be, it is also unlikely to attract DSS tenants. The progress of this application should be an interesting one.

On top of all this, we have a need for social housing in the villages so young local residents are not forced to move away but not a general expansion of residential development in the green spaces of Thanet. One little considered offshoot from HS1 could be an influx of new commuters, taking advantage of the improved journey times to London. If Parkway station is allowed, pressure will mount for new housing developments surrounding the new station.

“Shaping our Future” was first drafted as a consultation document only a year or so ago, but since that time  the shape of the future has changed somewhat and a radical rethink on housing will be necessary.

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