On Thursday September 14th 2017 at 9.30am, 17 people gathered at 2 Marsham St London, the home of the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The 17 present were there as members of the Programmes & Projects Committee of the Homes and Communities Agency – (Homes England since Jan 2018). On the Agenda at Item 3 was the Land at Shepway, Kent – see below.
The land Homes England have purchased – 60 hectares (148 acres) within the Otterpool Park boundary – is land between between Lympne and the Lympne Industrial Estate according to Shepway District Council’s press release, on the 16th March 2018. It has taken six months to purchase the said land. See map below.
Paul Kitson (pictured), General Manager for the South East for Homes England, in a press release said:
“Buying this land shows how Homes England is determined to use our finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners“
“We have been very impressed by the ambition shown by the Council and landowners to deliver Otterpool Park – a garden town for the 21st century. Owning this land will give us a voice in delivering a community that will meet the local need for homes in a place that is truly environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”
© T Harbottle via D Gilbert (with Permission) (County Members Pub in background)
Now the irony to all this is that David Plumstead, (pictured) along with the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Govt and SDC went to the High Court on the 17th Feb 2015 to prevent the former owners Phides Estates (Overseas) Limited (registered in Jersey an offshore tax haven) to prevent the building of up tohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjJLDjjYXMM 400 homes on the former airfield which Homes England have now purchased. Mr Plumstead and the Secretary of State were successful in their application to prevent the homes from being built. So will the 60 hectares be built on or will it become a green buffer zone? We are sure the people of Lympne might have something to say about it.
© Tony Moor – with kind permission
In 2013 Michael J Hetherington BSc (Hons) MA MRTPI MCIEEM, a Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State fohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjJLDjjYXMMr Communities and Local Government looked at SDC’s Core Strategy in a public inquiry held between 2 and 10 May 2012 and on 5 March 2013. Folkestone racecourse made up part of this public inquiry – where SDC had allocated 820 homes to be built and the Inspector’s Report concluded, “that the Core Strategy’s proposals “for Folkestone Racecourse are not adequately justified.” (pages 19 – 22) and so quashed SDC’s desire to build homes there.
So what has changed? SDC in their Draft Policies Places Local Plan; (still open for comments) states we need a maximum of 9,985 (page 34) homes across the district. So why the necessity now for approximately 10,000 new homes at Otterpool Park?
Our friends at slurry.org.uk have said in a recent post in response to our post about water that
“In a ‘Strategic Planning – Duty to co-operate’ meeting on the 30th September 2016, Affinity Water (AW) made it abundantly clear that
“There is neither the water resource, or the main transfer capacity, to serve 12,000 new homes and therefore an alternative solution will need to be sought”.
In another meeting, The ‘Affinity Water Liaison Meeting’ held, at County Hall on the 11th August, 2017 where AW’s Production and Network Manager stated:
“The Affinity WRZ 7 had the largest gap between forecast demand and planned supply”. (WRZ 7 – Shepway)
In an Environment Agency document -albeit it dated 2004 – it states at page 46 – Folkestone and Dover Water plan a small desalination plant at Hythe in 2019 and Southern Water propose the development of a desalination plant in the 2020s. It too was brought up in Parliament on the 13th July 2006 according to Hansard.
There is no doubt in our minds that SDC were aware of Homes England’s intentions on Thursday 14th Sept 2017 to purchase the land between Lympne and Lympne Industrial Estate.
Finally, lets not forget it is the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government who will award monies from the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Funding. So now that Homes England – an executive non-departmental publicly owned body linked to the DHCLG – is onboard the Otterpool Park development, what are the odds that £281 million bid being awarded? A certainty, for all parties involved in the development of Otterpool Park? We’ll leave you to decide that.
The Shepwayvox Team