It begins where a lot of planning applications begin, that is with the pre-application advice one can receive from Shepway District Council; The pre-application advice for this particular application – Y16/0623/SH – was first received on the 24/02/2015 according to Shepway District Council’s planning portal. The advice was received from Mr Andy Jarrett (pictured) Head of Strategic Development Projects and two other Shepway District Council planning officers.
The meetings were ongoing through 2015/16 and after 14 months the planning application was lodged with Shepway District Council on the 10th June 2016. As an aside, Mr Jarrett was working for both Shepway District Council and his own company Better Places up until the 30th August 2016, when he applied for the company to be struck from the register voluntarily.
Moving on, Planning Application Y16-0623-SH is for the “siting of 12 holiday lodges, and erection of a reception building and a store building, together with formation of a fishing lake, a car park area, tennis courts, a children’s play area, and a putting green, to create a tourism site. Little Densole Farm Canterbury Road Densole Kent CT18 7BJ.” The site sits in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Now we wrote about this application in March 2017, because what struck as odd then, as it does now, is that Mr & Mrs Monk home – 23 Minter Avenue, Densole – was formerly owned by the applicant, a Mr Westgarth, via his company and he being the sole shareholder.
Now Mrs Monk bought the property according to the Land Registry in 2008; while presumably renting it prior to that. However, Companies House says Mr Westgarth’s company, Milldown Associates Ltd, had an outstanding charge (mortgage) on 23 Minter Avenue until the 13 April 2017. We note the mortgage was satisfied 15 days after we first blogged about this amazing coincidence. Strange!
Now we have spoken to Mortgage Advisors, who have informed us that it would be impossible to have two mortgages on the same house being paid by two separate persons. Which mortgage lender would hold the title deed, Mr & Mrs Monk’s mortgage company, or Mr Westgarth’s mortgage company? It simply couldn’t have been both. So how was this possible when every professional, informed us, such a possibility was impossible?
Moving on swiftly, the Planning application came before the Planning & Licensing Committee on the 28th February 2017.
Now according to our public face’s contemporaneous notes, the only two councillors to make brief comments in favour of the application were Cllrs Dick Pascoe & David Godfrey (both pictured)
Their reasons were very short and very brief indeed. The application was voted through even though SDC’s planning officers 50 page report recommended the application be refused.
In the public gallery was a gentleman who listened to the application and who lives in Densole, as does Mr Westgarth & Mr & Mrs Monk. What he heard, he did not like, so took up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing the application he hopes to overturn it and thereby end it.
We recently spoke to the objector, who has gone on to have a Judicial Review of the decision taken by Shepway District Council granted by Sir Wyn William(pictured) on the 18/09/2017.
In our brief conversation with the applicant who has successfully brought a Judicial Review against Shepway District Council he has stated to us:
“I am seeking to have the planning permission for a holiday village to be developed on ANOB land adjacent to Little Densole farm quashed by Judicial Review. Amongst other things I do not believe that Shepway District Development Control Committee properly considered this application and therefore unlawfully granted permission.” Permission for the Judicial Review as we said, has now been granted.
One has to wonder could there be any connection between this decision and the huge Damian Collins MP signage that was erected on the developers land during this year’s General Election, certainly Cllr David Monk has been seen at the developers property.
The objector to planning application Y16/0623/SH carries onto say to our public face
“We are making a stand not only because we believe this development proposal is inappropriate for this location (AONB) … We must protect designated AONB for future generations. The application was criticised by many neighbours and other interested parties such as Kent Downs AONB Unit, Kent Wildlife and the Campaign for the Protection or Rural England (CPRE). It is shameful that public money is being used to defend such an irrational and inappropriate decision and I would invite Shepway District Council to see sense and submit to a judgement to quash the decision that I believe unlawful“.
No date has yet been set for a hearing of this Judicial Review and we suspect it will possibly be heard sometime in the new year (2018).
Now something which may or may not have a bearing on this case, is the case brought last year by CPRE Kent led by Dr Hilary Newport (pictured) and her excellent team. CPRE Kent have appealed the initial case and it will now go before the Supreme Court (the Highest Court in the UK); who will consider the correct legal standard to be applied in assessing the adequacy of reasons provided by local planning authorities when granting planning permission.
Were Cllrs Godfrey & Pascoe’s reasons “adequate”; and did Shepway District Council consider the correct legal standard to be applied when assessing the adequacy of the very brief reasons given by Cllrs Godfrey & Pascoe for the application at Little Densole Farm? If perchance the reasons of Cllrs Godfrey & Pascoe are found not to be “adequate“, it will not be Cllr Pascoe or Godfrey who will foot the bill, but we the local Shepway taxpayer. How much will be determined by the court when it sits to hear the Judicial Review of planning application Y16/0623/SH.
The Shepwayvox Team