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planning working group

MINUTES of the Meeting held in Hernhill on Monday 7th July 2008 from 9:34 am to 10:35 am.


sw/08/0402 (2.7) - land north west of thanet way (a299) and south of high street road, hernhill

PRESENT: Councillor Barnicott (Chairman), Councillors Bobbin, Adrian Crowther, Mike Henderson, Elvina Lowe, Pat Sandle and Ben Stokes.

OFFICERS PRESENT: Philippa Davies and Graham Thomas.

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Mrs Hirst (Agent), Mr Davies-Baker (Applicant), Miss Edmonds (Applicant), Mrs Chapman (Hernhill Parish Council), Mr Elliott (Hernhill Parish Council), Mrs Figgis (Chairman, Hernhill Parish Council), Mr and Mrs Birtles, Mr Birtles, Miss Birtles, Mrs Buchanan, Mrs Challinor, Miss Dunlop, Mr and Mrs Frost, Mr McGuigan, Mr and Mrs New, Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Smith, (Local Residents).

APOLOGIES: Councillors Mark Ellen, David Garside, Sue Gent, Prescott, Ken Pugh and Roger Truelove.


declarations of interest

No interests were declared.


part b minutes for information


sw/08/0402 (2.7) - land north west of thanet way (a299) and south of high street road, hernhill

The Area Planning Officer explained that the application was for the construction of poly tunnels for horticulture production on agricultural land. He advised that a revised plan had recently been received. The application site covered 60 acres and the poly tunnels would be 8.5 metres long and 5.25 metres high. They would be covered for eight months per year. The application included a proposal for the construction of a reservoir and pumping station on the lower part of the land. He explained that crop intensity would not increase but the poly tunnels would enable the growing season to be longer. He considered that the land was low lying and the tunnels would not rise above adjacent buildings.

The Area Planning Officer outlined objections that Hernhill Parish Council had raised to the proposals which included: threat to the water table, unsightly pipe-work when the covers were not in use and an unaesthetic view. The Environment Agency had originally raised objection as a Flood Risk Assessment had not been carried out. This had now been done and had been forwarded to the Environment Agency for their comments. Kent Highway Services (KHS) and Natural England had raised no objection to the proposal.

The Area Planning Officer reported that 22 letters of objection had been received. The comments had been summarised in the report. He explained that the area was not within a designated landscape area and that it was policy to encourage farmers to be more diversified.

The Agent advised that the poly tunnels would be uncovered for three months of the year and advised that the application was for horticultural products as a whole, not just strawberries.

The Applicant explained that the natural basin shape of the land should encourage water away from High Street Road and that the Flood Risk Assessment had supported the view that there would be no increased flooding as a result of the proposal. He explained that further screening would be added to the site and considered that the visual impact would be localised. The Applicant explained that the proposal would employ 300 people and that the vacancies would be advertised locally.

A representative from Hernhill Parish Council raised objections, especially with regard to the threat of flooding and access problems for local residents. They considered the proposal was detrimental to the local area and questioned whether the reservoir included in the application was an adequate size for the proposed use.

Local residents raised the following concerns: condition of local roads; increase in lorry movements; traffic directed to this route via Sat-Nav; local roads becoming a bottle neck; lack of lighting on the roads; the poly tunnels are too high; flooding risk; insufficient reservoir; visual impact; water table is high; security problems; anti-social behaviour; as the produce is grown on table tops, there is a waste of potential soil underneath; loss of wildlife; damage to trees from lorries; lack of travel plan to Faversham for workers currently at the site; concerns of increased residential accommodation on the site and increased number of workers on the site.

In response to questions, the Area Planning Officer explained how high the proposed poly tunnels would be, relative to the building where the site visit was held. He explained that the Flood Risk Assessment had been carried out by an independent company and the document was open for both the public and Members to view.

In response to the request that the number of workers on the site be clarified, the Agent and Applicant explained that there was a move to employ local people. At the moment 400 people were employed at the site and this would over time be reduced to 300, ideally local people; there would be no additional people employed at the site.

A Member questioned whether KHS were aware of the plan to employ 300 local people on the site and whether their journey to the site had been taken into consideration; the current workers lived on the site. The Area Planning Officer advised that he would request a response to this from KHS in time for the Planning Committee on 17th July 2008. He further advised that an additional condition could be added to the application requesting screening to soften the impact of the proposed poly tunnels.

In response to a question, the Applicant advised that there would be gutters in between each poly tunnel for drainage.

Members then toured the site and asked the Area Planning Officer questions which he answered.

All Minutes are draft until agreed at the next meeting of the Committee/Panel

View the Agenda for this meeting

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