Newsflash: Secretary of State calls in Appeal for Arlington Margate

We have just received the unprecedented news fron the Planning Inspectorate that the Secretary of State considers that he should determine the Appeal by Metropolitan Property Realizations Limited himself.

The Secretary of State will now determine the appeal not the Inspector. The Inspector will write a report and recommendation which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State.

The reason for this direction is that:

“the appeal involves proposals which involve any main town centre use or uses where that use or uses comprise(s) over 9,000m2 gross floorspace (either as a single proposal or as part of or in combination with other current proposals and which are proposed or as part of or in combination with other current proposals) and which are proposed on a site in an edge-of-centre or out-of-centre location that is not in accordance with an up-to-date development plan document.”

We will be back with more news later. But for now, we feel vindicated that we participated within this process. This is a large and far ranging development proposal.

Letter from Planning Inspectorate to Thanet District Council 12-11-2012

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=”” 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=”” 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.

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.

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

The Council Chamber, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1XZ,
On 6th November 2012 at 10:00 
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