Biggins Wood receives £1.15 Grant funding but questions remain

Dr Susan Priest said the land at Biggins Wood – Cheriton was “contaminated“. Andy Jarrett said the land at Biggins Wood – Cheriton was “contaminated“.  Justice Claire Taylor said: “The land is contaminated” at Biggins Wood – Cheriton, yet Cllr Clive Goddard in a response to Cllr Mary Lawes on the 14 June 2017, said the land at Biggins Wood was NOT “contaminated“.

Biggins Wood is a 10.75 acres site (where the Council wish to build 77 homes – 23 affordable rents & 5,600 sq meters of light industrial commercial space) which is contaminated, as the land was formerly used as a brick works and a refuse dump.

Biggins Wood Land – Google My Maps

10.7.5 Acres or 4.35 Hectares where F&HDC wish to build 77 homes – 23 affordable and 54 light industrial units

So if the land is NOT “contaminated, why will Folkestone & Hythe District Council have to dispose of the contaminated/hazardous land marked red, to a deep burial site, like the one near Thurrock at an approximate cost of £1,500 per lorry load?

If the site were not contaminated why then did Andy Jarrett instruct Idom Merebrooks to provide a ‘Summary of Contamination’ on the 27 March 2015., which dealt with  the costs of remediation and enabling works to make good the ground conditions?

Idom Merebrook’s letter dated 27 March 2015, informed, Council Officer Andy Jarrett, then Head of Strategic Development Sites at Shepway District Council (now FHDC)

Contamination of soils by metals and poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) was identified in both shallow and deeper made ground. The levels of contamination identified would require remediation both in the context of a residential and commercial development.

Waste classification of the soils indicates that soils from the central and southern portion of the site would be classed as a hazardous waste. In addition, the high levels of sulphate and leachable metals mean that much of the made ground would not satisfy the requirements of an inert landfill.

Now this is not the only odd thing about the Biggins Wood Site in Cheriton, as the land was valued at £1.2 million, yet bought by Dr Susan Priest, using urgency powers, from Biggins Wood Homes Limited (renamed Ravensbourne Retail Ltd), for £1.5 million

As an aside, the sole shareholder of Biggins Wood Homes Ltd was ravensbourne-holding-s-a-r-l (Luxembourg) and the only name attached to any documents we have seen is a one Mr Adrian Kirby domiciled in Switzerland. The address (not the company)  where Ravensbourne is registered in Luxembourg, is in the Panama Papers. The address for the another company mentioned in the documents below, Atlantic Investments Limited, shares the same address as HSBC on the Cook Islands; which everyone now calls the CROOK ISLANDSMr Kirby also appears in the Swiss Leaks (Feb 2015).

Back on track, Andy Jarrett explained to a First Tier Information Tribunal (FTT) why the Council paid £300,000 over the odds for the land.

The FTT ruling handed down by Justice Claire Taylor on the 31st Oct 2018 states:

Mr Jarrett had thought the purchase price was the lowest price achievable. He states that the difference between the BNP valuation of £1.2m and the £1.5m purchase price “could probably” be met through savings through the remediation process. The Commissioner submits that we need to take a critical approach to the evidence. BNP’s valuation was based on older figures from Idom Merebrook Ltd. Idom Merebrook had in turn relied on earlier reports. The Council indicated a more recent report, but we have not been provided with any analysis or breakdown of how the savings would be made. Therefore, notwithstanding Mr Jarrett’s experience of conservative estimates, we are not persuaded by the strength of his evidence on this point, which Mr Jarrett himself seems to admit is “probable” rather than certain. In the absence of more, we find there to be a strong possibility that it will not be possible to make such a saving. In any event, even in the future if it did transpire that the Council managed to reduce the costs, at the point of purchase, the Council paid more than the value estimated by the experts it instructed, and were apparently unable to provide any worked up figures to explain how it would make up the difference.

Moving on, as the 2010 Geotechnical Report & Contamination (Phase I & II) Assessment Report, undertaken by Ashdown Investigation Ltd, the report states at page 44 of 54:

the maximum level of carbon dioxide recorded is seventeen times the typical maximum value… and the maximum level of methane is fifteen times the typical maximum value.

Once the council (as land owner) and any joint developer digs out the land marked in red above, this will release and accelerate both the Carbon dioxide (Co2) and the Methane into the atmosphere. Both gases contribute to global warming. Given the Council have committed to reducing their carbon foot print, how does the release of these gases square with their Carbon Action Plan? Well of course it doesn’t, nor does work at Princes Parade, Otterpool or Highview, all of which will pump emissions into our local atmosphere. Also, lets not forget COP26 will take place between 31 Oct –12 Nov 2021and one of its aims is to reduce emissions globally.

Accelerating these gas emissions and others into the local atmosphere is both short term (build phase) and long term (from buildings). The Council need to come clean and allow  positive public participation in environmental decision-making, by informing us all how much Co2 and Methane will be released from the development of the Biggins Wood site.  We doubt this will happen, as it would make a mockery of the Climate & Ecological Climate Change motion passed by full council on the 24th July 2019, which stated at point 3

Ensure that all strategic decisions, policy, budgets, investments, contracts, approaches to planning decisions and the council’s own developments are in line with a shift to zero
carbon by 2030.

Releasing these gases into the atmosphere will not be in line with the council’s “shift to zero carbon by 2030“.

There are many other issues which abound regarding Biggins Wood development, for which our Council recently received £1.15 million to develop the site for 77 homes (23 affordable rent) and 5,600 square metres of commercial space; which we understand will be developed by TG Designer Homes Ltd, owned by Teresa & Anthony Ralph (pictured).

The release of these gases, will make a mockery of what the Greens, Labour, the Independents and Tories on our Council all voted for in the Climate & Ecological Emergency Motion. Is it any wonder we believe they talk a lot of hot air, when it comes to the local environment. We’ll leave you to ponder that.

The Shepway Vox Team

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About shepwayvox (1413 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

1 Comment on Biggins Wood receives £1.15 Grant funding but questions remain

  1. Sometimes I think you are mocking the afflicted. I don’t think the council actually understands climate change, or indeed, their own policies.

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