Site meeting re proposed McDonalds restaurant: issues arising

Further to this afternoon’s site meeting with John Asiamah (Case Officer) and Jim Wilson (Major Projects Officer) and a number of residents, here’s a brief outline of some of the issues raised:

  • The site is in a rural area, dedicated to fruit-growing and farming, in between westerly farmland (towards Waterham, Monkshill, and the Hernill-Boughton Fruit Belt, and the easterly, more industrialisation areas towards Whitstable and Herne Bay.
  • The application is still under consideration; no decision has yet been made by Swale Borough Council Planning Department
  • The proposed site is a large area on the north side of the A299, opposite the BP garage to the left of the junction leading off the dual carriage.
  • There is concern that efforts by Hernhill Parish Council to build its local development plan off the back off the Swale Borough Council Development Plan are difficult, when the approval of this project (were it to be given) would seem to fly in the face of SBC’s own key points for sustainable development
  • There is the health issue of obesity in children and adults – a national issue – and in Kent in particular; there is evidence of increased marketing pushing consumption of hi-carb fast food and unhealthy eating is a major contributor to obesity in our communities. Health is one of Swale’s Local Development Plan six key impact assessments
  • Concerns were raised that no evidence has been seen to demonstrate a clear need for another restaurant; there is already a McDonald’s restaurant only 3.9 miles away at Chestfield
  • Concerns that the project would lead to increased traffic queuing through village, with drivers unfamiliar with local roads coming through at dangerous speeds; several examples of incidents like this were raised
  • The roads through the village (designated Rural Lanes) are frequently used by horses, cyclists, walkers, local rural farming traffic; there are no pavements or streetlights (the issue has apparently already been raised with KCC)
  • Evidence suggests there is four times the likelihood of littering in a rural area, with McDonald’s responsible for 52% of this rubbish; the increase in traffic would lead to fifteen times the level of air pollution
  • The junction leading off at the site is not suitable for traffic coming off dual carriageway (at high speed) onto a slip road; the Cleanaway Rubbish Dump application was fought by all locally and in 1998 was finally refused. One of the major objections was that the junction was not capable of handling the excess traffic. This junction has not changed but our day-to-day traffic has already increased greatly in this area.
  • As part of considering the application, SBC will consider the accident record in the area
  • There are already six fast food outlets in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site; with a similar restaurant already only 3.9 miles away and a variety of outlets in nearby towns of Faversham and Whitstable, is there a need for another
  • The poor nature of bus services around the area means that all those accessing the proposed site (customers, staff, retail support services) would need to use vehicles;
  • The addition of a new restaurant would draw people away from towns, instead of encouraging them to eat locally and support the local restaurants and hospitality economy, leading to unnecessary car journeys
  • The objection to the restaurant is not simply because it is a McDonald’s restaurant; objections are that there is no clear, demonstrable need for a restaurant by the local community, and the objection would be the same no matter what the restaurant is

There is a strong desire for the Hernhill community not to become the forgotten community on the outskirts of Swale, caught between developing plans for towns either side.

There is still time for objections / concerns to be submitted.


Additional points

Every development considered for planning under the Swale Borough Council Local Development plan, Bearing Fruits 2031, is subject to six impact assessments as below. 

Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating a Strategic Environmental Assessment): This assesses the environmental, social and economic performance of the plan against a set of sustainability objectives. Appraisals were undertaken at all stages of the Local Plan preparation, and their recommendations have been considered and, where appropriate, acted upon. The Sustainability Appraisal Statement sets out in full all the stages of the Sustainability Appraisal.

Habitats Regulations Assessment process: Ensures that biodiversity sites that are important in a European context are protected. A Habitats Regulations Assessment accompanied the publication, submission and modification versions of the Local Plan.

Health Impact Assessment: Ensures that the potential impact of decisions on health and health inequalities are considered. The NHS undertook a Rapid Health Impact Assessment on the Pick Your Own Issues and Strategic Spatial Options.

Community Impact Assessment (CIA): Ensures that any policies and proposals ensure that the diversity of the community is respected and the positive and negative impacts highlighted. Community Impact Assessments were prepared and published alongside the August 2013 and December 2014 Local Plans.

Viability Assessment: The sites and scale of development in the Plan should not be subject to a scale of obligations and policy burdens which renders them non-viable to develop and therefore undeliverable. Assessments were undertaken and a number of changes made to the policies of the Local Plan as a result.

Infrastructure assessments: Infrastructure providers, including transport authorities, have assessed the growth proposals of the Local Plan that have informed 8.1 and the preparation of its infrastructure delivery schedule.

In addition the core planning principles of the Local Development Plan it also states under 4.1.5 the below

4.1.5 Delivering the sustainable development agenda is based on the core planning principles within the NPPF. These are reflected across 12 themes, summarised as:

  1. building a strong, competitive economy;
  2. ensuring the vitality of town centres;
  3. supporting a prosperous rural economy;
  4. promoting sustainable transport;
  5. supporting high quality communications infrastructure; 
  6. delivering a wide choice of high quality homes; 
  7. requiring good design;  
  8. promoting healthy communities;
  9. meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change;
  10. conserving and enhancing the natural environment;
  11. conserving and enhancing the historic environment; and
  12. facilitating the sustainable use of minerals and waste (primarily addressed by the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan)

Key points of the above

Towns: Ensuring the vitality of town centres – our understanding is that town centres, that have been decimated by the pandemic, outlet and online shopping, should be where the trade for the communities is placed. Not a rural site that people have to drive miles to. Rural: Prosperous rural economy planning – we presume this means farming, farm shops, tourism by way of holiday lets and recreation areas for horses, cycling + walking etc. Not industrialising every part of our green spaces.  

Dargate Community Fibre: Voucher Validation update

A quick update on the Dargate fibre application: as you saw yesterday we are making brilliant progress to our target of £101,500 to secure this project, reaching £76,500 by close of play on Monday 4th April. A big thanks to everyone who has helped us get this far!

The other good news is that OpenReach confirmed to me earlier that we have an extension beyond the previously communicated deadline of 6th April to get the remainder of our vouchers validated. The 28 day timeframe stated in the DCMS email we all received now applies, so that means a deadline of 27th April to do this by and hit our financial target, which will then be paid to OpenReach to do the build.

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

A reminder to those who have not validated their vouchers yet that this project will not go ahead unless we can hit the £101,500 target in value of validated vouchers. So if anyone is holding back thinking the project will go ahead anyway and you can jump on and order UltraFast broadband once it’s done, well – if we don’t get the remaining £25,000 in vouchers committed then it won’t happen. That’s 12 more residential vouchers still to go and at least 2 business/sole trader vouchers to get us over the line.

We’ll get another progress report from OpenReach on Friday, but in the meantime if anyone has validated their vouchers since Monday then do email Paul Marsh (click here to send email).

Once again, if anyone is unsure or questioning why they should validate their voucher, or hadn’t previously pledged but now want to support this important community initiative, do contact Paul who will answer any questions.

Dargate Community Fibre – urgent attention required

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Thanks to the amazing efforts of Michelle Harris and the support of the community to pledge the government Gigabit Vouchers, we are now progressing to the next stage of our application for installation of fibre to properties between Hernhill School and into Dargate

The next stage is for us to validate the vouchers that we have recently pledged.

What does this mean? Quite simply, if you pledged a voucher as a business or residential property, you’ll receive an email from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) asking you to confirm the value of your voucher can be used by OpenReach, and you agree to sign up to an ultra-fast fibre broadband service once the fibre is available. This email will go to the email address you provided when pledging the vouchers.

We are being assured by OpenReach that the emails from DCMS will be sent sometime in the week commencing 28th March. There is also a looming deadline of 6th April that the voucher validation has to be completed by, otherwise we run the risk of the project not happening.  Clearly we don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to bring Fibre broadband to Dargate, so can we please ask you to regularly keep an eye on your Inboxes, including your Junk/Spam folders, and action the request as quickly as possible (before 6th April!).

We are nearly there, we just need this one last effort  from everyone to get past this crucial milestone.

We will drop more information through the doors, and on the Hernhill Forum Facebook group. If anyone has any questions then contact Paul Marsh (click here to email).

Thanks for your support!