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.

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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?

 

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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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Is demolition taking place at Arlington?

In today’s Thanet Gazette, Thanet Council state there’s no demolition underway at Arlington. The landlords, Freshwater state demolition is taking place. This is confusing!  We need answers!

Thanet Council:

“The authority this week said it was aware of the “soft-strip asbestos removal” at the former shopping arcade, but no permissions were needed for it to be carried out.”

Margate Central Ward Councillor, Iris Johnston said:

“A resident from Arlington House contacted me regarding demolition works on Saturday so I immediately contacted officers and planning at Thanet council. I was informed that asbestos was being removed and there are no more plans for further works at the present moment.”

Freshwater, the Landlords said:

“The land owner is seeking occupiers to enable a viable regeneration of the site but is not yet in a position to promote new plans for redevelopment.

“In the meantime, some small scale demolition of a number of the shop units away from the sea front is taking place which will help to bring forward future regeneration.”

We presume Freshwater’s spokesperson intended to say they as landlords were seeking occupiers, not the land owner. The land is owned by Thanet District Council, that’s the public.

We reiterate, that Arlington shops should be opened and made available to rent and the 500 public coach and car park open to the public as per the terms of Freshwater’s lease with Thanet District Council.  [This is a separate deck than the Arlington House residents parking deck].

We’re urgently seeking urgent clarification from Thanet District Council: If demolition takes place, as described by Freshwater in this article, is this deemed a commencement of works on the approved planning application for the 82,000 sq ft Tesco superstore and outline planning for a hotel?

Why does this matter?

Examples of where a commencement of works has gone ahead in Thanet and then stalled through a lack of developer are Pleasurama on Ramsgate’s seafront and Hoser’s Corner in Cliftonville.

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Pleasurama image: Thanet Gazette

 

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Hoser’s Corner, Cliftonville: Google Images

Both blighting communities for years. Arlington can be opened and regenerated and playing a positive role for Margate seafront.

Please continue to write to Councillor Chris Wells, Leader of Thanet Council.
And your ward Councillors

 

Demolition crew move on to Arlington site

 

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Demolition workers from Morden based company Sloan Demolition have moved onto Arlington and have started work on stripping out shops in preparation for demolition.

Leaseholder, Freshwater’s 2010 planning permission for an 82,000 sq ft Tesco superstore and outline planning for a hotel facing the main sands expires on June 6th. If works are deemed to have been started (and that’s a formal process) then the permission stands in perpetuity. I.e. works could be started, such as demolition, and then stop unfinished for years. Tesco pulled out of the deal in October 2014. Since then, no known supermarket or hotel partner has emerged as interested in building the approved superstore or hotel.

Freshwater lease Arlington (the residential tower with over 100 apartments, the 500 space car park and the commercial areas on a full repairing lease agreement from Thanet Council at the cost of just £7,500 per year (seven thousand five hundred pounds).

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Demolition requires approval from freeholders Thanet District Council. To date, there are no published permissions from Thanet Council allowing demolition work to commence. The timing of these works appear to be a ploy to constitute a start on site under The Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

Before demolition may commence, leaseholders, Freshwater are required to obtain two further permissions from freeholders Thanet District Council:

  1. Method Statement approval
    This is required by Conditions 20 and 26 of the Planning Approval relating to demolition. Basically, they should set out how the demolition process will be carried out. E.g. how they will remove waste.
  2. Landlord’s Consent
    The Leaseholder is not permitted to commence demolition without first  acquiring Landlord’s (Thanet District Council) Consent to structural alterations to buildings in accordance with clause 3.(xii) of the Head Lease.

What can you do?

Write to Thanet Council (customer.services@thanet.gov.uk)  and, if you’re a resident of Thanet, your Ward Councillors  to demand they do not grant Freshwater these permissions; because there is no evidence of a supermarket or hotel partner to implement the approved scheme. Instead demand the shops and car park be open to the public, maintained and lit as per the terms of the lease.

Freshwater are an immensely rich company with directors now officially billionaires.

Thanet Council, as the freeholder should be enforcing the Arlington lease on behalf of the people of Thanet, thus ensuring the best value and the best outcome for this prime seafront location on Margate sands. It can once again contain small businesses and provide valuable and badly needed parking.

Since the planning consent was applied for in 2010, Margate has moved on. Turner Contemporary is open. Dreamland is now open and needs car parking. The Arlington car park can take 500 vehicles and is built to take coaches. There are many people who would rent a shop at Arlington if the shops were reopened.

Margate seafront now has footfall – The council must not give permission for demolition.

Demolition would result in a boarded-up  wasteland at the entrance to Margate with no plan.

The car park is a condition of the lease and essential to the traffic strategy. Parking at the entrance to the town avoids the need for visitors to Turner, the beach, Dreamland and the Old Town driving along Marine terrace, preventing the aspirations for a pedestrian friendly seafront.

Write to:
Councillor Chris Wells, The Leader of Thanet Council
Thanet Residents: Find and write to your ward councillor

 

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:

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 Developers, Freshwater, paid for Thanet District Council’s ‘Independent’ Heritage Report

Thanet District Council confirmed today that Freshwater the leaseholders of the Arlington site funded the independent expert report looking at the upgraded listing of the Scenic Railway.

As we reported earlier this week,  the report was written by the firm Montagu Evans, who list Tesco Stores amongst their main clients. The independence of this report and the author is now questionable.

Is it a credible document to be presented to Planning Committee on October 19th?

I’m sure we will receive clarification on the independence of the report from the freeholder – Thanet District Council, the leaseholder Freshwater and the prospective corporate tenant – Tesco Stores. And further that Dr Chris Miele has a duty of care to Thanet District Council who commissioned the report and not Montagu Evans’ other clients, Tesco Stores.

30 September 2011 10:34
Arlington Statement
Thanet District Council commissioned the report, so that the professional duty of care was owed to the council for the advice received. The council paid for the report and were reimbursed by the developers. The report will be assessed independently by English Heritage and the council’s planning and conservation teams and this will be reported to the Planning Committee.