Planning conditions for demolition at Arlington yet to be approved

Planning Condition documents submitted by Arlington leaseholders, Freshwater to Thanet Council planners in late March detail the area, method and timescale of demolition works taking place in Arlington Arcade. This is the removal of shops 4-12 and the canopy to Marine Terrace.

Condition 45 Method statement – March 21st 2016
Construction Management Plan – March 22nd 2016
Works area and listed plan – March 2016

Ironically, the plan has Arlington House, with 140 flats, in the wrong location next to Dreamland.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 18.35.13
The demolition works are yet to be approved by Thanet Council’s Planning Department. A Council spokesperson indicated May 12th as a potential deadline for the decision date.

The question remains, will the demolition works as outlined in these documents give a green light for the planning permission granted on June 13th 2013 (F/TH/10/1061) making it extant  and paving the way for the further demolition of the shops, resident and public car parks at Arlington?

We believe the Arlington shops and car parks shouldn’t  be demolished and instead should be made available to rent and use as per the terms of the commercial lease. Why not look at a future re-use of the Arlington site as it was originally designed for?

 

arlington1960s1

Russell Diplock’s 1960’s vision for Arlington Square

 

If you would like to see the shops at Arlington and the car parks reopened, please contact the Leader of Thanet Council, Councillor Chris Wells. If a resident of Thanet, please contact your ward councillor.


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Brief update on Planning Committee of December 14th 2011

The Committee voted to approve both of the Agenda items on the table. First that they wouldn’t have made a different decision than their decision in June. This included those who voted ‘No’ in June stating they would approve the motion because they would still have voted ‘No’. But of a weird one for the no voters.

They also approved to allow the works to the store to be commenced alongside the works to Arlington House and for the store to only be restricted to trade rather than what was previously on the table of only being able to start building works after works to AH are complete. This is a very dangerous game as ability to trade my not be unreasonably withheld. We’ll cover this later in later posts.

But it is our opinion that Members should have refused to take a vote on the report that was in front of them because the inaccuracies of the information presented by Council Officers. If the Council are found to have made a decision based on inaccurate or misleading information it will be unlawful. I’m sure they thought of this when they disregarded the information that validated consultation drawings have been revealed to be inaccurate by 4 metres in ground levels between the two sites of Arlington and Dreamland. TDC officers failed to rectify this after notification. We know they realise this is challengeable at a Judicial Review.

The decision now rests for the moment with the Planning Inspector. But no one asked or what would happen if Freshwater withdraw the appeal. Then, this decision of TDC would stand. It is very likely Freshwater will now withdraw. Now they have what they want.

There is no interest in developing the hotel site

Using the scale drawings from the Freshwater/Tesco planning application for work to the Arlington site in Margate, members of the local Conservation Area Advisory Group, Liam Nabb and architect Sam Causer have created a more detailed elevation of the drawing proposal seen from the beach. We can see how it will appear if the superstore portion of the development were completed without the seafront hotel and shops (these are outline planning only).

This is the most likely scenario, as the seafront part of the development has so far only been submitted for Outline Planning Permission, and is not tied in to development of the rest of the site. There are no contracts or developers in place for a hotel, shops or any of the other seafront buildings, so if a developer were to come forward they would have to apply for a new planning permission meaning the site could remain empty for years to come. The developer is asking for permission to demolish the seafront side of Arlington without having a contract in place for what will replace it. Our concern is that without the seafront buildings the most dominant building on Margate’s seafront will be the five-storey face of a flat-roofed superstore shed, FIVE TIMES the size of Turner Contemporary, rising up out of a private superstore car park.

This is in breach of Thanet Council’s own Arlington Planning brief which was adoped at Full Council in 2008:

“It will […] be a requirement that comprehensive proposals are permitted for all of […] the site and a contract in place for comprehensive redevelopment of the total site.”

This means that planning permission for a superstore should only be granted when all contracts are in place and full plans for the whole site are proposed.  We do not want to see a massive five storey shed and private car park right next to the beach, with queues of traffic blocking the seafront.

This proposal goes against so many of the council’s other aims, including:

1) “[…] to provide a positive landmark development including a mix of uses that will complement adjacent sites and help regenerate Margate seafront and town centre.”

2) “A development that provides stronger pedestrian and cycle links and seeks to improve public transport links between Margate Station and Margate High Street, in order to improve permeability within central Margate.”

3) “The introduction of active frontages to the Marine Terrace and All Saints Avenue frontages to create interest, encourage pedestrian movement and make a place where people feel safe and secure.”

4) “[…] a high quality townscape relationship between the Arlington site and Dreamland and improving the relationship of the development to Marine Terrace, to improve its visual impact, accessibility and legibility in a manner that embraces the principles of Kent Design.”

5) “A development that embraces the principals of sustainability.”

We applaud the council for establishing these objectives back in 2008, but condemn them for failing to honour them now.

Furthermore, documents have recently come to light that where the developer Freshwater communicated to Thanet District Council on May 28th, just before the application went before Planning Committee in June, that there is currently no interest in the site from hotel operators, that they have a low perception of the area and that they, Freshwater, would have preferred a 5 year time period to get a hotel contractor in place. That’s 5 years with no completed seafront hotel in place and a gaping hole with views to the back of a supermarket from Margate’s Main Sands. Remember that when you next see a press article with a photo of a ‘revamped’ seafront with a hotel on it:

Philip Robin from King Sturge wrote to TDC Planning Officers, Cherry Aplin and Simon Thomas stating:

“3. We share your desire to see that the site planning permission is fully implemented at the earliest opportunity. There is no interest in the phase 2 development at present and we do not anticipate the situation will change until the supermarket is trading and the refurbishment of Arlington House has occurred, which will hopefully change potential hotel operator’s perception of the area. ..”

Download the email 23/05/11 19:21

Newly released documents reveal TDC and Freshwater threat to Arlington House evict residents

Page 1 of Draft S106 May 6th 2011
Page 2 of Draft S106 May 6th 2011

Over at Margate’s library, aka The Gateway, there is a big blue lever arch file. You can read it if you ask to see the  planning appeal files for Arlington. In this big blue file there are 200 or so pages of emails. The emails are correspondence between the agent for the developer, Liz Humphries, and Thanet District Council planning officers. Basically, this file is Liz Humphries’ correspondence file for the Arlington Freshwater planning application. And given it is in chronological order, it makes for very interesting reading. It tells the story of how Thanet District Council did or didn’t negotiate with Freshwater the proposal to construct the UK’s largest seafront megastore.

As an appeal document, this file is now in the public domain. It still feels strange reading it, because so much of the chatty language between Freshwater and TDC and information held within it were clearly not intended to be made public. Although, public servants should always be aware that they are public servants and subject to Freedom of Information requests.

Over the coming days we’ll be discussing the issues that this file raises. One thing that we came away feeling was that TDC is helpful and enabling, if you happen to be a large corporate developer.

Today’s Gazette has published an article about a draft Section 106 agreement that is contained in the file. But unfortunately, the Gazette didn’t get it quite right. We’ve been asking Thanet District Council for sight of a Section 106 agreement from the beginning of this planning application. Afterall, with a development of this size, one would imagine there would be a substantial planning gain for Margate. And further, that details would be discussed before permission was granted to the developer. None was ever forthcoming. But the blue file delivers. On May 6th 2011, therefore just before the application went to Planning Committee on June 15th, the agents for the developers sent over to Thanet District Council a draft S106.

Item 3. of the Section106 Heads of Terms states:

“If one or more resident whose lease gives them control of their windows do not agree to their replacement by the developer, the local planning authority will use CPO powers [or any other power as freeholder of the site?] to enable the Arlington House improvement works to be completed. In this event, the developer will pay for the local planning authority’s reasonable costs in relation to the CPO and any compensation and will undertake the remaining works within six months of the acquisition of the last property [the intention would be to undertake replacement of all the outstanding windows at the same time].

Today’s Gazette article states:

“The draft suggestions were thrown out by Thanet Council planners as unworkable…”

We don’t know where the evidence is that TDC threw this suggestion out. We’ve been through the file from cover to cover and despite it containing communication between the developer and TDC right up until November 2011, there is no documentary evidence of TDC negotiating or refusing Freshwater’s suggestion to CPO the  flats of Arlington House residents. The proposal also was not an early day discussion. It appeared on May 6th just before the application went to committee in June. If there is evidence it was thrown out, or even discussed we’d like to see it.

Is this the reason why TDC refused to reveal any details about the content of the Section 106 agreement to date?

We’d also like to know why TDC planners were forwarding the private emails from residents directly to the developers. There are numerous incidents of this in the file and surely raises serious concerns regarding a breach of the Data Protection Act. Made all the more serious that many of the residents concerned are tenants of the developers.

The Arlington Tesco planning appeal is confirmed as registered by the Planning Inspectorate

The Planning Inspectorate have confirmed that an appeal for non-determination of the Freshwater planning application TH/10/1061 has been lodged on the 26th of October 2011. To view go to: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/appeals/online/search
Enter the case ref: 2163595

Hopefully, this link will also work:
http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2163595&coid=257

What happens now?
The Local Planning Authority, Thanet District Council will announce the start date of the appeal and there will then be a strict 6 week period for everyone, including the public, to submit written evidence. This can also be new information pertinent to the application. A Public Inquiry will then take 10-20 weeks from the initial start date.

Download a PDF guide to Public Inquiries 

The guide includes this information:

“The LPA will send us copies of any letters of support or objection they received about the planning application while considering it. These will be fully considered by the Inspector who decides the appeal. If you did not write at application stage, or you did write and now have something new to say, you can send us your comments. You can submit your comments on line through the Planning Portal using the Planning Casework Service, www.planningportal.gov.uk/pcs or you can write or email to us. The LPA should have told you our Case Officer’s contact details.

If you sent us your comments in a letter, if possible, please send us three copies of it. Please note that we do not acknowledge receipt. If you want to make written comments, you must make sure that we receive your comments within six weeks of the starting date for the appeal. The LPA should have told you the deadline. We will send copies of your comments to the appellant, the LPA and the Inspector .

The time limit for sending comments to us is important, and everyone taking part in an appeal must follow it. If you send us comments after the end of the time limit, we will not normally accept them. Instead we will return them to you. This means that the Inspector will not take them into account. However you may attend and ask to speak at the inquiry- see the paragraph below called “What happens at the inquiry?”.

The Planning Casework Officer’s details for the Arlington Margate Case ref: 2163595
Hannah Dickson
Telephone 0117 372 6372
Case Officer email teamp13@pins.gsi.gov.uk

English Heritage announce they assessing Arlington House and Site for Listing

News came through today that English Heritage are offically assessing the whole of the Arlington House site for listing. This includes the shops and carpark. We haven’t yet had full confirmation from Thanet District Council but they have managed to say that they received a letter from English Heritage. But we have spoken directly to English Heritage who confirmed the news. Hopefully, this information will be made available to the Planning Committee before this evening, who one would imagine now, shouldn’t be making any rash decisions that will have to be reconsulted. That would be highly unorthodox, given the circumstances.

Half truths as always

TDC’s Public Document Pack for tomorrow’s Planning Committee meeting  (Weds 19th of October, at 7pm) contains the independent report commissioned from Dr Chris Miele of Montagu Evans.

However, the Council is presenting to Committee Members with a summary of the report (Agenda Item 5)  which only outlines two out of the four reasons why English Heritage upgraded the Scenic Railway in June from Grade II to Grade II*. And unsurprisingly, the two reasons outlined: ‘rarity’ and ‘design’, are the two probably not affected by the proposed development. The two reasons that would be effected by the development: ‘historic interest’ and ‘group value’ are left out of the summary. The selective exclusion of these two reasons from the report to Members is misleading.

English Heritage Reasons for the Upgrade of the Scenic Railway in full:

1. Rarity: It is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in Britain and is of international significance as the second oldest in Europe and amongst the five oldest in the world of this prominent C20 entertainment structure.
2. Design: Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of rollercoaster design and it is an internationally important surviving example of this first generation of moving amusement technology.
3. Historic Interest: As an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts and Dreamland, its principal amusement park.
4. Group value: It groups with Dreamlands other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.

Read the full English Heritage Upgrade Report for the Scenic Railway 29th June 2011.

TDC’s public document pack for Planning Committee on Wednesday 19th October:
http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/mgChooseDocPack.aspx?ID=2305

Sadly and disappointingly, Thanet District Council’s Conservation Department response to the Miele report also only covers these same two reasons for the upgrade.

If you probe further into the reasons for upgrading, it becomes clear that the proposals would harm them:

“Historic Interest: as an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts, and Dreamland, its principal amusement park”

Will riding the Scenic still be “evocative” with a blank shed wall towering?

“Group value: it groups with Dreamland’s other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.”
The Discussion part of the document says that it “groups strongly”. By definition, group value is about relationships, and the relationship between the structures is definitely impacted upon by the proposals.

We believe that Planning Committee Members are being mislead by the content of Agenda Item 5 and they should reject it outright.

It is also worth noting that English Heritage are quoted in the Council Agenda item as confirming: “that the upgrading of the Scenic Railway from Grade II to Grade II* will have no significant effect on the process [our emphasis] of assessment of the impact of the development on the setting of the heritage asset.” English Heritage refer to ‘process’, yet the Council translate this to having no effect on the outcome. Process is not the same as outcome. We are awaiting confirmation from English Heritage on whether they were aware that section drawings submitted for consultation between the Arlington site and Dreamland have a 4m error.
Dreamland Trust’s response to the Miele report

We will be gathering on the steps of the Council Offices tomorrow from 6pm -7pm as a silent protest.