Wednesday 21 August 2013

A very bad planning decision gone wrong: Portacabins on St George's Lawn, Cliftonville

Image taken August 2nd 2009
 At tonight's planning committee from 7pm at the Council Offices is an application (TH/13/0398) to amend the dimensions of porta-cabins that have been erected on St George's Bowling Green in Cliftonville. This is a prime example of how harmful bad planning decisions are and also why Cliftonville badly needs Conservation Areas. 

The Committee Document pack PDF is here. The Planning Officers are recommending approval.

Image taken August 15th 2013

Does anyone seriously think this is an acceptable structure on one of Cliftonville's finest historic leisure facilities, surrounded by fine residential buildings, and in the near vicinity of the clifftop promenade and near hotels?

The Friends of St George's Lawn have written a fine report, objecting to this application. Download the PDF here.

But this application is only to amend the dimensions of an application (TH/12/0664) that has already been approved in October 2012 under delegated powers (that's a Planning Officer's desk decision).

From what I've seen this week on Facebook and Twitter, this decision went unnoticed by many in the community and there is genuine shock and dismay at the awful impact of this crude structure plonked onto the bowling green.

Drawing from planning application TH/13/0398

The poor quality of the application drawings and information speak for themselves that it should not have been validated and have arrived at this stage.

So, what can be done?

Well, perhaps the best avenue would be to pursue Thanet District Council through to the Local Government Ombudsman for its handling of the applications.

Write to Simon Thomas head of Planning Services to tell him your opinion.

Sign Laura Sandys MP's petition for Conservation Areas for Cliftonville West

Get in touch and join the newly formed Margate Neighbourhood Forum that is working on the implementation of a Neighbourhood Plan for Margate.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Margate's first vintage weekend - What a Vintage Carry on Margate

Today saw the first of a two day event celebrating everything vintage. What a Vintage Carry On Margate has brought together stalls, shops, food, cars, dance, music and more. And there will be more tomorrow on Sunday the 18th.

Margate was included in a Guardian Travel feature today with top tips from Victoria Pomery OBE, Director of Turner Contemporary, too.

So, if you love vintage, fancy a day at the seaside...then tomorrow would be an excellent day to come on over!

PDF of the events
Add pictures to the flickr group
Facebook Page
Twitter @vintagecarryon hashtag #vintagemargate

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Urgent: Save Thanet Press from demolition for flats in Margate!

Please object this morning to the proposal to demolish the historic Thanet Press site in Union Crescent Margate. It's proposed to be replaced with a mock victorian, mock Georgian mockery of 70 flats with bin storage in a tiny single room up to 4 storeys away from a flat! That's 70 flats. Right there opposite the Post Office (recently sold off by the Council).

Proposed Flats

Proposed Flats

Thanet Press is a historic print press site in the centre of Margate. Perfect for regeneration. It can create jobs, footfall to the centre of town. It's one of the oldest print sites in the country. 
This is what the Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group said to the last proposal in 2012.

Since then, how much work have the authorities put into marketing this ideally placed commercial site?

Aren't we told that Margate lacks studio space? Aren't we eligible for 0% loans from Kent County Council's £35m Regional Growth Fund scheme?

Comment today:
Application Nos: F/TH/13/0538 and C/TH/13/0539



Comment via UK Planning:
Search for both 
F/TH/13/0538 and C/TH/13/0539
Please share and spread the word. And if you have an idea for a business, studio or something for the site, you might be eligible for a 0% loan from Kent County Council's £35m Regional Growth Fund.

Here's what I said:

Thanet Press is in a Conservation Area and is surrounded by Listed buildings.

Thanet Press is a rare example of industrial heritage in Margate.
Although the complex is not of sufficient architectural and historic interest at a national level to merit national Listing, the Thanet Press site is a valuable non-designated historic asset, unique in the Conservation Area. 

To demolish the buildings, as proposed. would be to eradicate a whole chapter of Margate's history and an important aspect of the Conservation Area would be lost.

The industrial buildings are of different periods, materials and design. This offers a varied streetscape of interest. The proposal is a poor pastiche that offers nothing of interest.

The proposal neither preserves or enhances the appearance of the Conservation Area and is therefore contrary to national and local policy and should be refused.

Thanet Press is one of Margate's biggest regeneration opportunities, to demolish it and turn the site into housing would not only miss the opportunity, but aggravate the town's employment problems. The Council's statistics show 870 empty dwellings in Margate central and Cliftonville East and an unemployment level way above the national average.

The buildings, and the open spaces in between, would make ideal creative quarter that could provide much needed employment. The large open-plan workshops, full of natural light are desirable for the creative industries that Margate wants to attract. Thanet Press could offer large desirable, studio space and could attract creative industries to Margate. The property has not been available on the market. There are a number of regeneration schemes (for example "Grow for IT" - the 35 million pounds of Regional Growth Fund or the Heritage Lottery Fund which has made Thanet a priority area) that could encourage independent businesses to re-locate, and develop knowledge economy and creative industries.

This is contrary to Local planning policy and should be refused.
The play area will be in the shade most of the day, the courtyard area will be even darker and colder. This is poor design.
Space for rubbish and recycling is located in a single room at at one end of the site! Are all 70 dwellings are served by this one room? All 205 residents put their rubbish in that one room? Some people will have to go down 4 floors to the ground and then walk 60 meters to place their their refuse, divided into mixed recycling, paper and card, food waste and non-recyclable into that single room?

This is poor design that will result in problems of fly-tipping that are a daily feature of the area. Residents with poor refuse storage tend to dump rubbish in public wast bins (resulting in overflowing and litter on the streets and dumping rubbish in alleyways and on pavements at night. 

Characterless design of no merit looks like it has been copied and pasted. A generic mock-victorian/mock Georgian design gone wrong.
The proposal has no relation to the site and surroundings
Poorly detailed pastiche unacceptable in a Conservation Area

The proposed buildings bear no relation to the listed buildings that surround it or the historic buildings of the Conservation Area. 

The feeble attempt to create generic Victorian/Georgian fenestration, doors and railings fails miserably, resulting in a pastiche that has no place in a conservation area. The attempt to replicate historic architecture fails in every aspect, from matching floor levels and window datums to opening forms and proportion and materials. 

Railings are mentioned many times, yet there is no detail to show if these are a contemporary design, heritage/conservation grade or pastiche.

The aluminium sash windows are inappropriate. The design is weird. It looks like a victorian style withe a hint of georgian multi-pane. The 1st floor is even stranger than the others.
The brick tops of the the window openings are completely flat making the openings look impossible and wrong, adding to the pastiche effect.
This issue of privacy was solved in the design of the historic houses that surround the development buy putting the living rooms and bedrooms on a raised ground level. Contemporary architects solve this problem with many imaginative solutions. Here the problem is not resolved.
Ground floor windows will allow pedestrians to look directly into the flats obliging residents to have curtains closed all day. 

Overall, this proposal neither preserves nor enhances the conservation area. The demolition of historic buildings of distinctive character will cause considerable harm to the Conservation Area. 
The loss of heritage assets and employment opportunities will be detrimental to the regeneration of Margate.

Pastiche housing is inappropriate in a Conservation Area, and on this scale, totally unacceptable.

Recommendation: OBJECT