Last night at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, our public face sat alone in the public gallery, while Cllrs received a briefing about Otterpool Park. They were given the opportunity to scrutinise the plans and ideas which Arcadis, Shepway District Council Officers and others have drawn up, so far. This is so that their thoughts can be put forward for inclusion in the document which will come before the Special Cabinet meeting on the 18th Oct 2017 – (Agenda Item 6).
Last night Chris Lewis (pictured) a Planning Advisor at SDC and Julia Wallace (pictured) Master-planning, Urban Design and Viability Manager, both gave a presentation to the Committee.
In the presentation it was made clear that Shepway District Council now have sufficient funds to take Otterpool Park to the Outline Planning stage. They have set aside approximately £2.5 to enable this. The question we’d like to know, is – Have the Reuben Brothers contributed further monies to the pot to get Otterpool to the Outline Planning Stage? As they potentially are a beneficiary in the development of Otterpool, we believe they should be paying their fair share and not placing the burden on taxpayers money getting the job done.
The current thinking expressed by Ms Wallace & Mr Lewis was that the phase one roll out of Otterpool – if it gets the go ahead – should be the area close to Westenhanger Station and an area on SDC’s land, close to the top end of Barrow Hill, Sellindge.
SDC have hired Lichfields who have been given the brief of what type of businesses Shepway DC & The Reuben Brothers wish to attract to Otterpool, in the event it gets the go ahead.
It is the aspiration of SDC and the Reuben Brothers to create one job for every household on the site. Furthermore, it was outlined by Chris Lewis that areas around Otterpool Manor and Westenhanger Castle be surrounded by open green spaces to promote the concept of “heritage” across the site. Again we stress this is the current thinking and things could of course change.
Ms Wallace spoke about the “Long Term Stewardship” – by this she means the Management & Maintenance of the assets across the 700ha site. Also she made it clear that it was wise to factor in as many costs as early as possible as a retrofit would not be all that easy. All in the all the presentation given by Mr Lewis & Ms Wallace was balanced and well presented.
Cllrs (all pictured below) of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee then gave their thoughts which will be put forward to the Special Cabinet Meeting on 18th Oct 2017. Some of their recommendations were very sensible indeed. Cllr Ian Meyers asked that the ultrafast fibre go into the house, rather than stop on the street and then be connected by copper cable, thus slowing down connection speeds. Cllr Suan Carey raised the issue of bridleways and office space as Kent as a whole has lost a lot of office space due to conversion into dwellings. Cllr Gane (Chair of Overview & Scrutiny) raised issue surrounding Schools and Cllr Michael Lyons raised the issue of who should be involved in the stewardship and suggested too many cooks may spoil the broth; and potentially slow the process down.
Finally and most importantly there is currently a consultation underway, where you the public can offer up your suggestions on how Otterpool ought to be developed. The consultation ends on the 17th Oct 2017 and all comments should be sent to:
There is no guarantee Otterpool will go ahead. However, in the event that it does, we believe your voices in shaping the community which may be built there, will help shape the community for generations to come. Therefore we urge you to read the Charter Consultation and email Shepway DC with your thoughts.
The Shepwayvox Team