Re: Secretary of State decision in respect of planning application for Tesco superstore at Arlington Site, All Saints Avenue,Margate
John Moss, Vice Chairman of the Residents’ Association says, “I am appalled that the Secretary of State has merely ‘rubber stamped’ Thanet Councils decision to approve the application and sent it back for Council officers to implement. I do not believe that the matter has been anywhere near Eric Pickle’s desk, as it has been dealt with by a civil servant working for the National Planning Casework Unit in Birmingham.”
Margate’s Mayor, Iris Johnston, joined many residents who wrote to the Secretary of State requesting that he ‘call in’ this application for review and even her pleas have been ignored. The whole process is a complete sham, ignores due process and flies in the face of public opinion.
Even the Council is unsure that it really wants the proposed development in its current form. At its planning meeting last month, there were far more councillors who spoke against the application than spoke in favour. When it came to the vote, it was only approved by the casting vote of the Independent chairman, Jack Cohen, as the committee members were split 7-7 with the Conservative members who spoke against it, toeing the party line and voting in favour.
During the planning meeting, Councillor Alan Poole had proposed an amendment to the application that would have restricted the hours during which deliveries to the store could take place. He was told by the officers that the amendment could not be allowed. Therefore, no vote was allowed to take place on that amendment and this must call into question the legality of the procedure. Clearly, democracy and public opinion had been stamped upon with a very heavy foot.
We do not believe that the councillors who voted in favour of this application even realised that by so doing, they were in fact denying themselves the opportunity of any further input. The full application, for a 60-bed hotel, to be built in a prime location on Margateseafront, will not now come back to the Planning Committee as it will be dealt with by the officers. It is our view that a number of the Planning Committee members have acted like puppets, and had their strings well and truly pulled.
There are currently over 70 residents and leaseholders at Arlington House who have signed a pledge to refuse to vacate the existing residents’ car park. This will effectively prevent the development going ahead in its current form. Hopefully this may encourage the council and the developers to realise that the ‘steamroller’ approach to this application is not going to work”.