“It’s a ‘war zone’ after more than a decade of decay and neglect.’ said Cllr Robert Hubble on behalf of Elmstead & Stelling Minning Parish Council. Having survived the aerial bombings, the snipers, the street to street fighting and securing a UN agreed safe passage Cllr Hubble managed to escape the ‘war zone’ and get to the Civic Centre Planning & Licensing Committee last night (Tuesday 27th Sept 2016).
Cllr Hubble was describing the 3.32 hectare site which was once Stonegate Farm a former egg packing facility on the B2068 and which stands in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The planning application summary of Y15/1292/SH is the Demolition of buildings and structures, remediation of land and the erection of 30 houses and two B1 office units of 465m2 floor area, plus the closure of existing access to Stone Street and creation of new access to Thorn Lane.
The Developers are QUINN PATEL & HAYES DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED which is recently formed company (3/06/15) and has no accounts registered at Companies House. Now something interesting about this company is that the largest shareholder (50%) is a Mr Mark William Quinn, who also owns 50% of Quinn Wilson Estates Limited who donated £9000 cash to the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association on the 20/05/2015. So was this development at Stonegate Farm going to get through?
Quinn Estates consulted heavily with the local residents who identified 3 key issues that were affecting them.
A solution to the flooding issues on Thorn Lane that make this road impassable in Winter
A solution to the safety concerns at the Stone Street/Curtis Lane/Thorn Lane junction
The provision of 9 starter homes for local people to be included.
Quinn Estates state that it will bring in:
Annual business rates of circa £22,700 per annum to Shepway District Council
Annual council tax of circa £56,000 per annum
Up to £260,000 in New Homes Bonus over a 6 year period
NEW JOBS CREATED DURING CONSTRUCTION phase = 60 Direct construction jobs Plus 40 indirect jobs and according to GVA create an Economic output (GVA) per annum over the construction phase = £6.9m
The Quinn Wilson development brochure can been seen here
The anticipated costs of the starter homes according to Mr Quinn will be; Starter Homes between – £150,000 – £200,000. Other homes – £250,000 – £700,000.
The Financial Viability Assessment was carried out by Strutt & Parker
Now While Cllrs were deliberating the proposed development the Opposition (UKIP) lead by Cllr Lenny Laws were not aware of the £9K contribution. But they did raise the point regarding the s106 payments and this will come back before the Planning & Licensing Committee to ensure the developer sticks to what was agreed.
The Planning officer Ms Wendy Simpson, has said that this development is “Not in the Public Interest” and SDC have classified it as as unsuitable land to develop previously. Ben Geering, SDC Head of Planning (left) stated there was “Potential for appeal” and that there was a “strong case for winning at appeal for the council”. Yet Councillors approved the site, yes with caveats, but it still gained approval.
After the meeting Mr Geering was asked if the £9K donation by Quinn Wilson Estates Ltd played any part in the decision. His response was ‘you know I can’t comment on that’.
Last night, the Planning & Licensing Committee came as close to a Love Fest as you could get, the Opposition (UKIP) working hand in hand with the Conservatives, while both Mr Hubble and Mr Quinn sat watching with large smiles on their faces during the proceedings.
We are not saying the development should not go ahead, it is sympathetic to the area. However, that said, our concerns are that if £9K donation to the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association can get you the nod for a planning application how many other developers might fancy their chances.
Would a £9000 pound donation influence you? We’ll leave you to contemplate that.