PA/2024/0320 – Demolition of Glebe Hall, Glebe Hall shed and Vicarage garage. Erection of a shed/cycle store. Erection of three two-storey detached dwellings with vehicular access from Church Road, associated parking, landscaping, boundary treatments and construction of a twenty-bay Church car park

PA/2024/0320 – Demolition of Glebe Hall, Glebe Hall shed and Vicarage garage. Erection of a shed/cycle store. Erection of three two-storey detached dwellings with vehicular access from Church Road, associated parking, landscaping, boundary treatments and construction of a twenty-bay Church car park

I am writing to strongly object to this application on behalf of the Tenterden & District Residents’ Association (TDRA).

This application has been re-submitted with some relatively minor alterations only weeks after the previous application was decisively dismissed. It appears the Diocese has adopted what can be described as aggressive tactics to try and push this proposal through. The responses to legitimate concerns raised by the planning officer about the previous application appear to be overly dismissive. The new proposal has not addressed any of the concerns we raised on the previous application, and indeed the supplementary ecological reports raise further concerns. So, we repeat our list of concerns below and have added our responses to the unsatisfactory ecological reports below.

  1. This site is not a recognised development site in the Ashford Local Plan 2030;
  2. The proposal will result in loss of amenities such as valuable green space (Glebe Field/Vicarage Curtilage) and a much-used community building (Glebe Hall);
  3. The proposal would be contrary to planning policy as it lies within a Grade I listed curtilage of St Mildreds Church a historically important site for the Town, adversely impacting a listed building that has cultural and architectural value to the community.
  4. The proposal would not be in keeping with the context or scale of the area, as it borders the AONB adjacent to much used and valued landscape.
  5. It would have a negative impact on a conservation area;
  6. It would have a layout and density that is inappropriate for this site, particularly the size of the houses and the scale of the proposed parking facility;
  7. It would create a precedent making it difficult to object to similar proposals;
  8. It would impact environmental health, a conservation area and the AONB with a loss of habitat and green space.
  9. Disappointingly, there is no offer of any mitigation to the loss of green space and community amenity, e.g. Biodiversity Net Gain, the Glebe field which is currently owned by the applicant could be offered as a community wildlife habitat/ park to benefit the Town.
  10. It would contravene the following policies in the Reg 16 Draft Tenterden Neighbourhood Plan:
    • TEN NP3 a, d, e, g
    • TEN NP4 c, d
  11. It would have a negative impact on Church Road with increased traffic congestion from the large car park and additional houses. The road is already very narrow and congested and the Hub requires access for minibuses and disabled passengers throughout the weekdays.

Concerns about the Tree Reports and the Ecological Impact Assessment:

  1. The decision to dedicate the proceeds of the proposed development to the St Mildreds expansion plan, cannot be seen as in any way as relevant to its potential ecological impact.
  2. The removal of (according to the Tree Removal Plan, no less than 24) trees to accommodate the development, with further damage to the root protection areas of others, is entirely unacceptable within a conservation area.
  3. In the Supplement to the original Aboricultural Impact Assessment, Treeventures Limited accept that as a landscape feature at the periphery of settlement, the trees bordering the vicarage site may be categorised as a ‘Category B Group Feature’, which elevates their significance to important to retain.
  4. There is no justification for removing 2 trees already classified as Category B (mature ash T60 and cherry T68). A nearby and mature ash tree (T66) should also have been categorised as B – with both trees assuming much more significance for avoiding or surviving ash-dieback.
  5. Considering the row of 7 similar lime trees which flank the entrance to the vicarage driveway – it is hard to perceive an arboricultural, as opposed to constructional, reason for retaining the first 4 but marking the remaining 3 for removal, as Category C trees ‘of low quality and value’.
  6. There is no justification for invading the root protection area of the notable yew tree to the north of the site (T1).
  7. The frankly superficial Ecological Impact Assessment (which failed to record a single bat in an area where they are frequently observed, and records semi-improved grassland to be concreted over as ‘unsuitable habitat to support reptiles’), has absurdly characterised the line of trees to be decimated by the development as ‘unsuitable for nesting birds or roosting bats’.
  8. In the light of the above, a further plan to remove two mature, if not ancient yew trees in the churchyard to accommodate an expansion of St Mildreds Church, is bound to be unpopular, to say the least, with the local community who have rejected this ecologically insensitive development plan.
  9. The application is silent on matters of drainage. Significantly there is no mention (apart from a notional reference to a water butt) to how surface water will be captured and returned to ground after suitable pollution control and attenuation against storm events. The surface water should not end up in the foul water systems.
  10. There is a lack of substantive evidence on accessibility for firefighting, deliveries and refuse collection.

We note that these applications have been submitted just before the requirement for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legal requirements come in to force, thus avoiding the need to offset the harmful environmental impact of the development by enhancing biodiversity by at least 10%.

We also feel that the inclusion of the statement that the profits from the sale of this precious green space will go towards the renovation of St Mildreds, is a rather cynical way of trying to push this unsustainable way of raising funding. There are many other more sustainable ways of raising funding, rather than destroying the last remaining central green spaces in the Town. Once this is gone it will never come back, and it is further erosion of the Town’s ‘Green Lungs’ so important for wildlife and human wellbeing.

We understand that much of the required funding for internal renovations to the main church building has already been raised by private donation.

We are disappointed that the Church/Diocese has decided not to listen to the concerns raised by the local community and feel that their approach is more geared to short term commercial profiteering than long term strategy for the wellbeing of future generations and the current underdog – nature/wildlife.

Siggi Nepp
Planning Secretary

Posted by Siggi Nepp
Monday 11th March 2024

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