Concerns re Thanet District Council’s publicity for the Arlington Public Inquiry

There were concerns raised before and during the Public Inquiry that there was insufficient promotion of the Inquiry. We know the Council may come back and say that they fulfilled their legal obligation of a notice in a local newspaper and the posting of a notice at the Council offices the day before. However, we believe this equates to the bare minimum. Which for a gateway site to Margate seafront, is in stark contrast to the resources allocated to the Dreamland CPO Inquiry in the summer.

A week before the Inquiry an ad was placed in a paper, but not the more widely read and available Thanet Gazette. Instead the free paper the Thanet Extra, which is distributed to just under 33,000 homes. Personally, we’ve never received one at our address. The Thanet Gazette  published on Friday November 2nd, the final edition before the Inquiry, didn’t include a mention of the Inquiry.

We contacted Councillor Clive Hart, Leader of Thanet District Council on Sunday November 4th with a plea asking why there were no details of the Inquiry on the TDC website.
We didn’t receive a reply.

On Monday morning on November 5th, we contacted the Planning Department with urgency. It was confirmed to us the Inquiry wasn’t on the Council website and it was sufficient it had been placed in the paper.

The Inquiry started on Tuesday November 6th and 10am. At 9.23am a tweet from the Council’s Twitter feed was published announcing that the Inquiry would start on November 6th.
The tweet linked to a page on the Council website which stated a publication date of Friday November 2nd. However, some close inspection of the source code from the Council website reveals the content was created on November 2nd 2012 and published on November 6th 2012.:

<meta name=”DC.Date.Issued” content=”2012-11-06″ scheme=”W3CDTF” />

<meta name=”DC.Date.Created” content=”2012-11-02″ scheme=”W3CDTF” />

<meta name=”DC.Contributor” content=”Paul Lawes” />

<meta name=”DC.Coverage.Temporal” content=”2012-11-02″ scheme=”W3CDTF” /><meta name=”DC.Identifier” content=”http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/arlington_inquiry.aspx” scheme=”URI” />

<meta name=”DC.title” content=”Arlington Inquiry” /><meta name=”DC.creator” content=”Thanet District Council” />

<meta name=”DC.publisher” content=”Thanet District Council” />

<meta name=”DC.date” content=”2012-11-06″ scheme=”W3CDTF” />

<meta name=”DC.language” content=”eng” scheme=”ISO 639-2/T” />

<meta name=”DC.format” content=”text/html” />

<meta name=”eGMS.Status” content=”Version 4 For Publication” />

Creating a press release for the Inquiry due to start on Tuesday November 6th on Friday November 2nd is bad enough. The Thanet Gazette deadline for news is on Wednesdays for the next Friday. But not publishing it or issuing it until 37 minutes before the start of the Inquiry is shameful. And further, not explaining fully how the public could participate in the Inquiry. None of us knew that those who registered to speak on the morning of the 6th were then given the right to ask questions of the witnesses.

Why does this matter?

Well, clearly it did. Because throughout the Inquiry proceedings many residents spoke up and complained they did not know the Inquiry was being held or have sufficient details.

Contrary to the Dreamland CPO there was also no daily reporting from the TDC communications department and the one page, one paragraph statement is all there is to date.

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Closing Submissions on behalf of Thanet District Council

We are working on a full response, but following the great level of public interest in how participants at the Public Inquiry were treated by Thanet District Council, we are posting the closing submission on behalf of Thanet District Council. It is written by Thanet District Council’s appointed barrister, Mr Martin Edwards.

It is worth mentioning that we, the public participants, did not bring apply to bring this appeal. The appellant, Freshwater, did. We applied to participate as interested parties to comment. We felt it necessary to bring to the attention of the Planning Inspector a number of key issues vital to Margate. Most of our concerns regarding process, lack of detail and inaccuracies of the proposed scheme at the time it went to Planning Committee for approval and since have been proved correct.

https://arlingtonhousemargate.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/tdc-closing-statement.pdf

We will be publishing content from the Inquiry in the coming days. Please bear with us, it has been an enormous task for us to take part in this process alongside our own work and jobs. We thank everyone who has offered support in whatever way they can. We are very grateful.

Any mention of Freshwater, who was the appellant?
Any mention of the Council’s responsibility for ensuring everything is in order?
How about they didn’t tweet re the Inquiry until 9.23 on the morning of the Inquiry and didn’t put it on their website until Weds 8th when the opportunity to register to address the inquiry had passed. How about no notice on the door of TDC offices until Monday 5th? And no advertisement in the Thanet Gazette?
How about no reporting from the TDC press team from the inquiry, unlike the Dreamland CPO?

At the beginning of the Inquiry the following information was provided:

Friends of Arlington Margate(FOAM)
FOAM is a formally Constituted community group recognised by Kent County Council.

The Aims of FOAM are outlined in the constitution as:-

• To safeguard the entire Arlington Margate site and gain recognition for the heritage site as one of national and local interest and importance
• To re-open the entire Arlington Margate site as a prominent, popular, public amenity for the benefit of all who visit or reside in Margate/Cliftonville/Thane

The Committee of FOAM run day to day matters as per the constitution.

FOAM has the following ONLINE public membership – (as of Nov 6th 2012)
– 582 subscribers to our mailing list.
– 440 followers on Twitter
– 276 likes on Facebook
– We recently held an auction with 21 lots donated by 21 local  businesses which raised over £1,700 in a week towards legal expenses.
– We have received £1,000 in funding from Kent County Council member grants for “empowering local residents.”

Therefore, one has to ask, on what basis Mr Edwards has made his assertions to the Inspector regarding our standing and that of our witnesses. We were awarded Rule 6 status by the Secretary of State. Here is the official Rule 6 Parties Guide. The following is relevant to our experience:

12.6 The Inspector will usually ask if you are willing to answer questions about your evidence. You do not have to do this, though it is often helpful to do so and it may add weight to your evidence. Do not feel intimidated. The Inspector will not let anyone ask you hostile or unfair questions. 

The Public Inquiry for Arlington Margate starts tomorrow, November 6th

The Public Inquiry for Arlington Margate starts tomorrow, Tuesday November 6th at 10am. The public may register to speak by attending on Tuesday first thing and making a request. The Inspector may, at his discretion, grant permission to speak, which would be allocated for the Wednesday November 7th. The Inquiry will run from Tuesday to Friday November 9th. The first day starts at 10am and the following days earlier at 9am. Each day will go on until 5pm with a break for lunch.

There is no notice or mention of the date and time Public Inquiry on the Thanet District Council website. They have not issued a press release. This is a very different approach than we saw with the Dreamland Inquiry for the Compulsory Purchase Order in the summer. There was no mention of the time or date Inquiry in the last edition of the Thanet Gazette on Friday.

We spoke with Thanet District Council’s Planning Department this morning to ask where the notice of the Inquiry was published. They confirmed it was not on their website, but it was in the free paper The Thanet Extra. The Thanet Extra has a circulation of 32,943 and is distributed to certain households in Thanet and at some supermarkets.
Official site notice PDF

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990
PUBLIC INQUIRY
At
The Council Chamber, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1XZ,
On 6th November 2012 at 10:00 
REASON FOR INQUIRY
Appeal by Metropolitan Property Realizations Limited Relating to the application to Thanet District Council for 1.Full planning permission for a superstore with associated parking and services, including access road adjacent to railway. Refurbishment of Arlington House, including repair and staining of concrete cladding, provision of new windows, new entrance, construction of unit(s) for D1/A1-A5 uses on All Saints Avenue, roof canopy including screening of aerials and installation of cleaning cradle, external lighting, hard and soft landscaping, and associated parking and services. 2. Outline planning permission on
Marine Terrace for development of A1-A5 units at ground floor, with approximately
60-bed hotel above, with associated parking (21 spaces) and servicing. (Appearance,
layout and scale reserved, access and landscaping detailed.)

At Arlington House, 1-51 Arlington Square, All Saints Avenue, Margate , CT9 1XS

An Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State under paragraph 1(1) of schedule 6
to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 will attend at the place, date and time shown above to decide the appeal.

Members of the public may attend the inquiry and, at the Inspector’s
discretion, express their views. If you, or anyone you know has a disability
and is concerned about facilities at the inquiry venue, you should contact the
council to confirm that suitable provisions are in place. Documents relating
to the appeal can be viewed at the Council’s offices by prior arrangement.
Planning Inspectorate Reference: APP/Z2260/A/11/2163595

Contact point at the Planning Inspectorate: John Pingstone, 3/10A, Temple
Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN Tel: 01173728428

 

Join in the Arlington Margate Events

Since our last news update, we’re pleased to report that we’ve managed to raise almost £3000 from our target of £5000 to cover our legal fees for the upcoming Public Inquiry!
The Inquiry starts November 6th. We need to ensure that evidence supporting a sustainable Margate seafront is put before the Planning Inspector. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated. No matter how small, every single donation has really helped.

Arlington Exhibition

The Arlington Margate exhibition at Streets Ahead Margate community hub space at 60 High Street is open. We’re currently open from 12pm – 3.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. If we can get more volunteers to man the shop we can be open even more. The exhibition features the Village in the Sky by photographer Duncan Smith.
Featured alongside we have the 1960s original East Kent Times 16 page Arlington special feature containing pictures and information celebrating the construction of Margate’s infamous icon. Ever wanted to know how many cups of tea were drunk during Arlington’s construction? We have the answer.

Arlington Margate Film Night


We really love the Hydropathe film club on Mondays at the bijou Tom Thumb Theatre, Cliftonville. So, we’re very proud that on Monday October 22nd there is an Arlington Margate special film night. We can’t tell you what film it will be, but it is an Arlington Margate special. Please come along and show some love for Arlington and Margate or even both! There is a bar, there’s popcorn and the theatre is beautiful.

Doors open at 6.30 for music and drinks, the films start at 7.30pm. £2.50 to join.
2A Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, Margate, CT9 2LB
www.tomthumbtheatre.co.uk

Arlington Auction
Looking for something special for Christmas and to give to a good cause?
What can we say, Margate residents and businesses have generously donated a range of amazing gifts to the Arlington Auction. We’ve raised £676 in bids in the first 48 hours! Thank you everyone! Ranging from limited edition artworks and prints, meals in restaurants, courses of yoga, to an over night stay at a 5 Star B&B, offers of work, courses.  Margate really has a talented bunch of people as well as having supporters from further afield. Bidding runs until Sunday October 28th at 9pm. You’re still in time to donate an item or service to the auction. Just pop us an email to info@arlingtonmargate.com.
All these wonderful lots are listed on our website: www.arlingtonmargate.com/auction/ 

Support Us
Donations are gratefully received, no matter how small and can be given by Paypal, BACs or cheque. www.arlingtonmargate.com/support.

Arlington Clean Up – Who is cleaning up for the benefit of the Planning Inspector?

How convenient. Cleaning crews were out at today at the Arlington Margate site on a Saturday morning cleaning up the weeds and rubbish that has been a shame to our town for over ten years. And to top it off,  a Thanet District Councillor was on site supervising.

We’ve been complaining for years about the dreadful state of Arlington, but is it really appropriate for TDC to be in attendance cleaning up of the locked off areas of the Arlington site, just before the Public Inquiry is due to start and there will be a site visit from the presiding Planning Inspector?

Of course, leaseholders, Freshwater, should have done this clean up years ago. We trust the public purse hasn’t paid for today’s activity.

Here is how the place looked before:

During the clean up:

After the clean up. All spick and span:

Margate’s car parking will only get worse with the Tesco superstore

We all know parking is an issue in Margate. We used to have the Arlington carpark, but no more. Dreamland will also be taken out of the equation once the park in developed and pressure will increase as the park will bring thousands of extra visitors to the town. Freshwater’s plans to develop the Tesco stipulate that their available carparking will be for their customers and they will discourage usage by visitors to the town or the beach.

If and when the Tesco superstore is built plus Dreamland opens in two year’s
time it will make Marine Terrace and All Saints Avenue look like this on a sunny weekend in July and August.

This is a picture of Arlington car parking in 2008.

Below is the Dreamland car park full last Sunday August 19th 2012. This was an ordinary warm Sunday. There were no special events going on in town.  Where will everyone park when Dreamland is open and the Arlington car park is a Tesco Superstore?

Image

The Arlington car park was closed off to Public parking in 2010. This is in contravention of the lease that Metropolitan Realizations has with Thanet District Council.

Below are a series of pictures from July when parking chaos ensued when a large group visited the beach.Image

ImageImage

Public Inquiry for Arlington Margate Tesco Postponed

The Planning Inspectorate have advised us that following consideration of our latest legal letter from Richard Buxton issued 27th February, that the Public Inquiry set to start tomorrow on Tuesday 13th March is being postponed. We had raised serious concerns regarding the legality of the status of the Environmental Impact Analysis statement.

The campaign still continues. We will carry on fighting for a sustainable and positive development at Arlington. One that complements our seaside town heritage and not one that crushes it. It is likely to be at least a month, if not more, before anything happens.

More news to follow. For now take a deep breath, Margate. We just won another round!