Tenterden Town Council’s planning committee last night (Monday, 4 February) unanimously rejected the revised planning application for a 56-bed care home and 23 units for assisted living at Westwell Court, and pressed for the restoration of ‘redacted’ comments against the development on the Ashford Borough Council website.
Four residents living in the Westwell spoke at the meeting.
- Mr David Holmes said that if the development went ahead, Westwell Court would be “engulfed in traffic” with a hostile environment for pedestrians.
- Mr Chris Goodall focused on the distances that frail and elderly residents would have to walk to local facilities such as the surgery.
- Mr Bob Haslam said that the three story care home would “tower over Rogersmead”, and
- Mr Richard Masefield, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan campaign group, detailed the potential damage to wildlife – he said their survey showed that 42 bird species – including six in the highest ‘red list’ category – would be displaced along with bats, reptiles and polecats. “We must make a stand”, he said.
Also speaking from the floor was Cllr Alan Sugden, who said the development was far too large for the site, overlooked neighbouring properties with a loss of privacy, and would have obtrusive lighting.
Planning committee vice-chair Cllr Kate Walder said the impact on neighbours would be “enormous, and they would lose the most beautiful land which had been open to the public for the past 30 years”.
She also expressed concern that documents opposing the development had been “redacted” from the Ashford Borough Council website, including a 3,000-signature petition. She said this set “a really dangerous” precedent, and could give a distorted view to ABC’s planners.
Other councillors who spoke included Cllr Russel Parkin, who asked: “What is the need”, and Cllr Ken Mulholland, who added: “Who does this benefit? We have more than our fair share of care homes”.
Committee chairman Cllr John Crawford wrapped up the debate, stating that the development was in the wrong place, not in the Local Plan, is a threat to biodiversity, and fails to fit in with the character of the town.
- Discussing the application to build 250 homes on Limes Land, the planning committee voted to seek advice from Queen’s Counsel on the exact definition of “windfall” – the application has been submitted as a “windfall” development – and whether to press ahead with an Environmental Impact Assessment.