This outline planning application epitomises the very worst of our current approach to development. We have an opportunistic applicant, represented by an amoral company that specialises in overcoming planning constraints on green field sites, making a speculative application on land they do not appear to even own.
Attwood Associates and their subsidiary company New Homes and Land Ltd are well known for their many planning applications for housing on previously green field land throughout Kent.
Here the application is for an initial 180 houses on a 32-acre field adjoining Abbeyfields with access only possible along this private street which has a dangerous junction with the Whitstable Road. The road is already in a very poor condition and heavily used by sewage lorries which discharge at the treatment works next to where the houses would be built
There are many solid reasons for refusal, including those put forward by The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Faversham Town Council and the Faversham Society.
The application site forms part of a larger planning application made around the mid-1990s for a scheme named Abbey Park by a now bankrupt developer called Cormorant. This was opposed by an overwhelming majority of Faversham in a Town Poll. Ironically, one of the objectors to the scheme was a company called the Attwood Trust.
Here is a by no means comprehensive list of reasons for Swale to refuse permission to the developers:
The site is grade two or three agricultural land which the Local Plan says should not be built on until all other options have been excluded.
Site is rich in wildlife.
The site is in close proximity to RAMSAR and SSSI sites, providing a vital buffer zone.
The site is not included in the Local Plan
Faversham is already over-developed with over 1,000 new houses being built, severely straining infrastructure and services.
The site is prone to flooding. The relevant planning guidance says “avoid inappropriate development in area at risk of flooding and where development would increase flood risk elsewhere”.
Planning authorities are obliged to “prefer land of lesser environmental value” for development and recognise “the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside”. The introduction of an estate of 180 (or quite possibly more) dwellings clearly does not enhance the intrinsic tranquility and beauty of the countryside around Faversham.
Development of this site will severely damage some of the remaining views of Faversham in its rural setting. The views across Abbey Fields to St Mary’s of Charity are important to Faversham’s sense of place.
The private street called Abbeyfields is in bad condition and suffers from the 80 plus sewage lorries using it all day. The highways authorities calculate that this development would generate another 1000 car movements a day, making life for the existing households even more intolerable.
Is it really sensible to put houses alongside a place where tankers discharge raw sewage daily, with frequent periods of unpleasant smells emanating from the sewage works?
To view the application and also see objections from nearly 100 residents – as well as the reservations from consultative bodies such as Natural England, Highways England and Environmental Health – go to the Swale Council website and chose the planning option, click on the Comment or object to a planning application and enter Abbeyfields.
To lodge your own objection, select Comments and then make a comment.
Above: Outlined in red is the proposed Abbeyfields development site showing its position relative to Faversham's conservation area shown in blue, and to other buildings.