Borsetshire Issues and Options

Cliftonville DPD - Preferred Options Report

Issue 5 - Design, Open Space and New Development

In the mid 1970's the council adopted planning policy defining Cliftonville as a holiday area, and allowed development that may not have been permitted elsewhere, for example, major extensions to hotels and the development of chalets in rear gardens.  The nature and character of the area has changed since then and it is no longer predominantly tourism based, thus making an exceptional need for such developments redundant.  This past development and new development that reflects those past decisions is now perceived as contributing to the over-development of the area. Concern has been expressed by the local community regarding problems resulting from too many people in the area including parking, noise and disturbance and impact of development on outlook and amenity. Extensions and the development of tourist accommodation at the rear of properties have also often led to a reduction, or loss, of garden space.  Public consultation identified a lack of public and private amenity space within the area.  People are concerned that there are few public places for children to play, and since many properties do not have gardens families are not encouraged to live in the area. There may be a need to remove such extensions in order to provide sufficient amenity space.

It is accepted that there are properties within the area that are not suitable for single-family occupation or which are unlikely to be developed for that purpose. It may therefore be appropriate that these should continue to be given permission to be converted to flats and apartments.  However there is clear public concern that there is an over population/ over crowding in this area which has led to its decline, manifested in the problems that have already been identified.  It is therefore essential that any new development either free standing or as extensions to existing properties does not make this problem worse. 

New development should not only be expected to respect the physical characteristics of the area but must also have regard to the need to address the current social and economic imbalance.  Therefore, given the exceptional social conditions in this area the Council considers that new development at densities lower than ordinarily might be expected in this otherwise sustainable urban location may be appropriate. The adopted Local Plan implies a density of not less than 50 units per hectare, however a lower figure may be more appropriate considering the special circumstances of Cliftonville West. Getting agreement to such a policy will need careful management

Policy D1 of the adopted Local Plan (2006) sets out fundamental design principles required in any new development.  The principles of this policy are of particular importance in the Cliftonville West Renewal Area. There is also a great deal of appropriate and sensible advice within the Kent Design Guide which has been adopted by the Council as a Supplementary Planning Document.

Concerns regarding safety and security were raised during consultations, and are important considerations with design and spatial implications, and should be taken into account in the design process.  The Council has a duty under Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act to exercise its functions with regard to the likely effect of crime and disorder in the area.  Such functions include planning decisions.  Crime can be reduced through careful design; for example, footpaths can be improved through good lines of visibility or good lighting.  The careful combination of security fences and appropriate landscaping does not only enhance security but can do so in ways that are not visually damaging.  The fear of crime is a major issue for residents within the Cliftonville area.  Consideration was given to including a policy providing for a security ‘check-list', supported by a certificate issued by the Council in any new development.

Options - Design, Open Space and New Development

Option 5.1
Develop a policy to the effect that extensions to existing buildings to provide additional residential accommodation will only be permitted providing there is no material loss of existing garden or open space from the existing property, and that a suitable level of accessible amenity space can be provided for the units.

Option 5.2
Develop a policy stating an indicative maximum density of new dwellings for the Cliftonville West area. This may be 50 units per hectare, or a lower figure (to be determined).

Option 5.3
Develop a policy and 'Security Checklist' to be complied with if planning permission is to be granted.

Option 5.4
To do none or only some of the above policies.

Preferred Options and Reasoned Justification
Options 5.1 and 5.2 are considered appropriate for the reasons stated above, as measures to help protect/create open spaces and garden areas, and reduce increases in the population density in the Cliftonville West Renewal area.

The Council already has a crime and disorder strategy ‘From Audit to Action' which sets out various actions that can be implemented by a variety of council departments (including planning) to help reduce crime.  The Kent Police Architectural Liaison service is also willing to meet with residents associations to discuss safety issues.  The Thanet Local Plan (adopted 2006) includes a clause in policy D1 which states that new development will ‘incorporate measures to prevent crime and disorder, promote public safety and security and the perception of public safety and security'.

It is therefore considered that an additional ‘checklist' for the purposes of this DPD would duplicate other crime reduction initiatives already in place, and become onerous and unhelpful to potential developers. This could result in more empty buildings.  Option 5.3 is not therefore accepted. Option 5.4 is not recommended as some positive action is appropriate.

Issues relating to energy efficiency have been highlighted during public consultations.  However this issue is applicable to the whole of the Thanet District, and will be addressed in the district-wide Core Strategy.

Actions

Accept option 5.1 - Develop a policy limiting residential extensions.

Accept option 5.2 - Establish a maximum density based on suggestions arising from the public consultation

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