Friday, 6 August 2010




TDC's Conservative Cabinet have gifted the green space at Dalby Square to developers against the wishes of residents and ward councillors.

On Thursday evening Conservative cabinet members were read a long list of issues by ward councillors regarding the green space in Dalby Square that were completely omitted from the report being discussed.


*The current use of the land - it has been used as a community green space since TDC laid it to lawn in 1995.

*Minutes of a previous TDC working party meeting where TDC members had recommended returning the area to green space.

*Minutes of a previous TDC cabinet meeting where TDC members agreed to return the area to green space.

*TDC's KEY COMMITMENT to improving quality use of open spaces, confirmed 3 weeks ago at full council.

*TDC's KEY PROJECT to develop a targeted programme for improving play facilities, confirmed 3 weeks ago at full council.

*Previous agreements with the Dalby Square Project Group who have raised nearly £400,000 to improve the square.

*A decade of negotiations with the Dalby Square Project Group where they had stressed consistently that the green space should be retained.

*Seven years of negotiations with ward councillors where they had stressed consistently that the green space should be retained.

*Details of a recent consultation evening where residents and ward councillors had objected to building on the green space.

Cllr Clive Hart said "What happened at Thursday evenings Conservative Cabinet meeting was simply appalling. We ward councillors produced TDC plans from 2008 that were specifically used by the authority to get the site through the asset disposal process. The plans included a 700 square meter green space, but now the Conservative Cabinet has backtracked and are backing the developer to build on every single blade of grass.

Residents and ward councillors views or concerns were simply whitewashed from the whole process. It's as though none of the excellent work done by the Dalby Square Project Group had ever happened. It was fine for the council leader to show the work done by residents to a government minister recently as an example of TDC partnership working, but when the residents want to protect all their own hard work and the large green space it's another matter. They have been totally ignored. To use the groups own words they feel 'sad and betrayed' by what happened at TDC on Thursday evening.

Residents are asking why the developers drop-in consultation took place on one evening and the following evening TDC declared the square a Conservation Area? And how can the land be 'gifted' to a developer by cabinet AFTER a planning application has been received but before a decision has been made and therefore during the application process? It all sounds very shifty to residents and I have to say I can understand why.

For me though, the final blow came when the Chief Executive explained in great detail how the authority had bent over backwards to accommodate the developer in every possible way. No mention whatsoever of the residents group. Indeed their views and concerns along with ours as ward councillors were totally ignored. This is a clear case of backing buildings over green space and backroom deals over meaningful consultation".

The planning application to build on the green space will be decided at the September Planning Committee.


Contributions from ward councillors to Thursday evenings Cabinet Meeting:

Cllr Linda Aldred - Speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).
As ward councillors our issue is not about the development itself - which in priciple we agree is a good one. And I have no personal issue per se about gifting of land to Town and Country Housing.
What concerns us at this stage is that residents wishes have not been considered at all whilst working on and moving forward with this plan. As it says in your community involvement statement "It is important that the community is involved from the early stages".
We have supported the Dalby Square project for seven years in their request to retain the top area of green space for community use so the issue has been aired in various forums and we felt that our negotiations on behalf of the residents were leading to a compromise.
We fully realise the importance of developing the square but we think the Council needs to acknowledge that preserving areas of green space and promoting community cohesion is just as important as bricks and mortar when it comes to regeneration and therefore equal consideration should be given to both.

Cllr. Linda Aldred - Phone: 01843 602490

Cllr Doug Clark - Also speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).

The recomendation is that Town and Country Housing be invited to submit a full planning application for development of the Warren Court Hotel but that has already happened and consultation does not end untill 27th August - is that not putting the cart before the horse?
The second part of this recomendation is that the land (the green at the south end) is gifted to Town and Country. Dose that mean that a very valuable asset id being given away and do we not realise one penny for the land?
5.6 CONSULTATION - The drop in consultation at St Paul's Community Centre on the 14th July - there is no mention in this report of the matters raised by the three elected members of Cliftonville West who were all present.
I spoke to the architect and asked him if he had been friefed by planning of the concerns of the residents about saving the green area at the south end of Dalby Square - his answer was that he had not - why?
The most important person that should have been consulted is the chair of the Dalby Square Project Group - Jenny Cranstone. I'm sure that you are all aware of her work in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for the garden in Dalby Square - and what a truly wonderful job she and her committee have achieved.
The young people that play on the green are a mix of many different nationalities which is very good for intigration and anti-social behaviour is very rare.
Please do not take away the green from young people and the residents.
The council says it prides itself on its consultations with residents - so please listen to our residents before it is too late.

Cllr. Doug Clark - Phone: 01843 220174

Cllr Clive Hart - Also speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).
At 1.2 in the report it says the council allocated the adjacent ‘council owned’ land for housing purposes.


'Members were informed that the Development Control Manager had raised concerns regarding the use of the Dalby Square site for public open space as it had been previously allocated for housing provision.
Both the Development Control Manager and the Principal Local Plan Officer had discussed the matter and had agreed there was flexibility within the Local Plan for Members to allocate the land for public open space.

Councillor Hayton informed Members that he did have concerns about reallocation of housing land as Thanet could be left with a shortage in future years.

Moved by Councillor Alan Poole and seconded by Councillor Hayton that:

“(A) Cabinet be recommended to reclassify the Dalby Square site from housing land to public open space;

(B) Cabinet be recommended to instruct officers to enter into a formal partnership agrrement with the Dalby Square Project required by funding sources, dependent upon their receiving funding; and

(C) officers be instructed to obtain written confirmation of the flexibility within the Local Plan to allow the change in allocation”.


And also please see the following minute CR/13 from the TDC CABINET of 29th MAY 2003 - PARKS, OPEN SPACES AND PUBLIC CONVENIENCES WORKING PARTY (below - italics)

'Decision made: That,

1) The minutes of the Parks, Open Spaces And Public Conveniences Working Party meetings held on 29th November 2002 and 18th March 2003 be received and noted

2) The recommendations contained within Minute Numbers POS/15, POS/16, POS/21 and POS/22 be approved'.

There was also an Planning Application commenced by the residents F/ TH/ 03/ 1421 that specifically refers to the site including the former buildings at 17 – 23 Dalby Square.

And there is also in existence a partnership agreement dated 13th August 2003 signed by the Dalby Square residents group chairman and TDC that includes the green space to the south of Dalby Square.

Most importantly plans agreed with residents through the asset disposal process in 2008 clearly show a reduced, but still substantial, green space of over 700 sq mtrs (37mx19m).

AT 2.1 in tonights report:

I strongly agree with first bullet point – the existing Warren Court site certainly does need redeveloping.
However, I strongly disagree with second bullet point – the green space does not need to be built on.

5.4.2 states that a private developer would be highly unlikely to undertake a scheme of this magnitude.

Well we don’t need a site of this magnitude – half the development on just the Warren Court site alone would do very nicely. Indeed, several years ago developers proposed just that, but this authority blocked the application, even at appeal.

5.6.1 points to the drop in consultation on 14th July but conveniently ignores the fact that at that consultation all 3 ward councillors and representatives of the residents group who have done so much to improve the square all FIRMLY OBJECTED to building on the green space.

Three weeks ago the council met in this very chamber to confirm the Corporate Refresh programme that under the banner of Beautiful Thanet expressed a KEY COMMITMENT to improving quality use of open spaces. Under the Healthy Communities banner it also said a KEY PROJECT was to develop a targeted programme for improving play facilities. Lastly, under the banner Modern Council it refered to involving residents in accordance with our duty to involve.

The report for this agenda has several serious omissions:

1) Absolutely no mention whatsoever is made in the report regarding the current use of the green space for public recreation that has been the case for the last fifteen years. TDC laid the whole area to lawn in the mid 90's and has maintained it as a green open space for local residents ever since.

2) Absolutely no mention whatsoever is made in the report of the Dalby Square Project Group and their sterling work to regenerate the square that includes the south green that is proposed to be 'gifted' away against their wishes. Over the last decade the group have raised around £400,000 to create beautiful formal gardens for adults and visitors and a playground at the north end for very young children. The group are clear that the south green is part of their project and that it provides a large grassed area where slightly older children can play ball and let off steam whilst being watched by parents from windows in hundreds of flats surrounding the square. The group now feel cheated by TDC with whom they have signed joint agreements and received planning permission to improve the green space.

3) For over seven years, as ward councillors Linda Aldred, Doug Clark and I have met with TDC housing and regeneration officers on numerous occasions (that must average at least 4 times each year). On every such occasion we have made it absolutely clear that the green space at the south end of the square is an important local amenity in a densely populated area where health and wellbeing are nowhere near the levels they should be.

4) At paragraph 5.6.1 in the report it states that a drop-in consultation was held on 14th July attended by local residents and council officers. Firstly, that drop-in consultation was advertised as an application for the Warren Court site and not the south green in Dalby Square. And as I've said, this paragraph in the report completely fails to say that all three ward councillors were present at the drop-in and much more importantly it fails to say that the Dalby Square Project Group and all three ward councillors raised serious objections to the proposed development at that drop-in consultation.

Last Thursday we met with residents and concerns were also raised as to why the developers drop-in consultation took place on one evening and the following evening TDC declared the square a Conservation Area?

Questions were also asked as to how the land can be 'gifted' to a developer by cabinet after a planning application has been received but before a decision has been made and therefore actually during the application process?

Chairman – in a recent press release on the new garden development rules you said “It is a step that will transform our ability to prevent unwanted development and gives us more power to protect our valuable green spaces”.

Well how about protecting this valuable community green space in Dalby Square?
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770



  1. Laura Sandys in ITG bestows the virtues of Thanet being a Green Isle whilst TDC scews up again on another green open space. Thanet will shortly be the Grey Island. Who are the real vandals here.

  2. I would be interested to hear how you got on with this Michael as I went through a similiar thing years ago. Unfortunatly we didn't win our agrument and we lost the space.


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