Half truths as always

TDC’s Public Document Pack for tomorrow’s Planning Committee meeting  (Weds 19th of October, at 7pm) contains the independent report commissioned from Dr Chris Miele of Montagu Evans.

However, the Council is presenting to Committee Members with a summary of the report (Agenda Item 5)  which only outlines two out of the four reasons why English Heritage upgraded the Scenic Railway in June from Grade II to Grade II*. And unsurprisingly, the two reasons outlined: ‘rarity’ and ‘design’, are the two probably not affected by the proposed development. The two reasons that would be effected by the development: ‘historic interest’ and ‘group value’ are left out of the summary. The selective exclusion of these two reasons from the report to Members is misleading.

English Heritage Reasons for the Upgrade of the Scenic Railway in full:

1. Rarity: It is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in Britain and is of international significance as the second oldest in Europe and amongst the five oldest in the world of this prominent C20 entertainment structure.
2. Design: Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of rollercoaster design and it is an internationally important surviving example of this first generation of moving amusement technology.
3. Historic Interest: As an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts and Dreamland, its principal amusement park.
4. Group value: It groups with Dreamlands other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.

Read the full English Heritage Upgrade Report for the Scenic Railway 29th June 2011.

TDC’s public document pack for Planning Committee on Wednesday 19th October:

Sadly and disappointingly, Thanet District Council’s Conservation Department response to the Miele report also only covers these same two reasons for the upgrade.

If you probe further into the reasons for upgrading, it becomes clear that the proposals would harm them:

“Historic Interest: as an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts, and Dreamland, its principal amusement park”

Will riding the Scenic still be “evocative” with a blank shed wall towering?

“Group value: it groups with Dreamland’s other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.”
The Discussion part of the document says that it “groups strongly”. By definition, group value is about relationships, and the relationship between the structures is definitely impacted upon by the proposals.

We believe that Planning Committee Members are being mislead by the content of Agenda Item 5 and they should reject it outright.

It is also worth noting that English Heritage are quoted in the Council Agenda item as confirming: “that the upgrading of the Scenic Railway from Grade II to Grade II* will have no significant effect on the process [our emphasis] of assessment of the impact of the development on the setting of the heritage asset.” English Heritage refer to ‘process’, yet the Council translate this to having no effect on the outcome. Process is not the same as outcome. We are awaiting confirmation from English Heritage on whether they were aware that section drawings submitted for consultation between the Arlington site and Dreamland have a 4m error.
Dreamland Trust’s response to the Miele report

We will be gathering on the steps of the Council Offices tomorrow from 6pm -7pm as a silent protest.

Arlington consultation based on misleading drawings

When Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, English Heritage said they had considered carefully the information and the application, were they made aware that the validated drawings showing the relationship between the Arlington site with the proposed superstore structure and the adjacent Dreamland site are not a true representation of the proposal and its context?

Through a series of communications with TDC Planning Officers, it has been established that important drawings published on www.ukplanning.com/thanet ref F/TH/10/1061 do not show the true representation of the difference in ground levels between the Arlington and the adjacent Dreamland site. The reality is that the Arlington site is between 3 and 4 metres higher than the Dreamland site.

The drawings include:
080417-A-P-Si D112
080417-A-P-Si D112A
080417-A-P-Si D124

This substantial difference in ground levels is fundamental to understanding the relationship between the proposed development and its context which includes the Grade II Listed Sangers Menagerie, the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway and the Grade II Listed Dreamland Cinema.

In effect, seen from Dreamland side, the rear of the proposed Tesco Superstore would be up to 4 meters higher than how is represented in the submitted drawings. This seemed to be an issue and so we asked TDC’s Planning department for confirmation.

They explained:
“The Drawings are of the proposed store building, not the ground level outside the application site.”

In other words, one should look only at the outline of the proposed superstore but not at the surrounding context represented in the drawings. So drawings have been validated and sent out for consultation where not all of the information contained in the drawing is to be viewed as an accurate representation of the site?

We thought this sounded odd, so we checked what we would have to include in section drawings if we too were going to submit an application to build a structure next to listed structures. Officers responded stating that showing the adjacent sites in a scaled drawing is mandatory, especially when Listed structures are involved.

Do we have a point that English Heritage and the Secretary of State have not been shown drawings of the site that are accurate when they issued their opinions?

Let’s have a look at our to scale section including the Scenic. Perhaps you might like to ask the National Planning Casework Unit about this: npcu@gowm.gsi.gov.uk Citing ref: F/TH/10/1061
Or ask Thanet’s Planning Department yourself and see what reply you get. We’d be happy to hear an update. planning.services@thanet.gov.uk