PLANNING ISSUES: LANGUAGE AND LOCATIONS
A SIMPLE TRUTH: Councillors & Officials have argued that they will deliver 'housing without harmful pollution'. They are only looking at NOx from vehicle fuel. This strategy allows them to duck the question of "cumulative impact" on AQMAs. As a result SBC simply rolls over to Developers who always say that pollution (NOx) impacts from each additional development are "insignificant." This is not true.
Why the Shape of Greenstreet Matters
- The A2 here cannot be bypassed - that is what the M2 was for.
- Greenstreet changes the look and feel of the A2 because it becomes complex to negotiate.
(a) Traffic slows as drivers join and leave the A2; passengers are dropped off and picked up, parked cars and delivery vehicles narrow the A2 so vehicles cannot pass eachother. The historic pattern of development (Victorian terraces and older buildings) leads to lack of safe and convenient off-road parking spaces.
(b) Pedestrians cross for shopping, school, pubs, dentists, GPs, vets, the library, etc; a few cyclists;
(c) Motobility scooters (sometimes forced off pavements by parked cars on pavements);
... and so on. Ospringe and Newington have some of the same issues - the mix of complex issues is different.
We hear that SBC fear having local planning decisions taken from them by faceless bureaucrats in Westminster - instead, they are prepared to hand over all decisions and rational thought to the equally blunt instrument of mega-developments ("garden communities"). Given that SBC has favoured the threat of the Science Park development that takes in Bapchild, my question is, could Central Government really make a worse decision? [Added 3rd May 2019]
Central Government's guiding principles on the links between planning and pollution
- Most relevant to AQMA5 is: "Guidance: Air quality". This document provides guiding principles on how planning can take account of the impact of new development on air quality.
A Planning Approach that ducks key policies and principles
- "Mitigation" Illusion - a 'tick-list' approach to planning. SBC and Developers point to (for example) planting trees and making limited green areas - but these are always set back from the places where we can touch the polluting vehicles!
- Abuse of the term "garden communities" - Sittingbourne/Quinn proposal south and east of Sittingbourne is an "Urban Solution" and a failure in coherent planning pollicies. Yet again SBC shows its colours as favouring towns. The rest can go hang. The original Government idea can be found with this link.
- "Cumulative Impacts" - SBC shows no evidence of taking a balanced view across the whole of the Borough as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (2018). Specifically, each new planning proposal is considered by SBC in isolation from their policy responsibilities towards AQMAs. SBC are all too ready to fall in with Developer-statements that 'impacts will be insignificant'. It is SBC's responsibility to defend us from developments along the A2 that cost us our health in AQMAs.
- "More GP Surgeries" - but Swale is at the bottom of national provision of community healthcare (BBC). GPs are simply not attracted to Swale as we know with the loss of one of the two GP Surgeries in Teynham.
- Plans and Proposals - many developments are already building up pollution - approved under the published Borough Plan.
The commitment of ex-SBC Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Bowles, to support a massive "one hit wonder" removes democractic engagement and removes SBC control and accountability for several years. This link helps you keep track of the list of planning proposals and approvals adding to traffic along the A2.
- Failure of Traffic Lights to reduce Congestion - Report from Highways England. Included here as they have been speculated by SBC and Parish Councils. BBC summary with links to the Report.
We often hear soothing but ultimately meaningless claims by planners and developers that "mitigation" will balance out 'the bad' with 'the good'. A grain of truth disguises the harmful experience at the kerbside and further back from the road.
"Mitigation" in local planning is a word that developers and officials look for in development proposals so that they can 'tick' a box marked 'pollution considered'. The word promises a lot but delivers very little.
Greenstreet cannot be bypassed in any meaningful way. 20mph zones don't reduce friction particulates. Planting, wilding, protecting hedgerows and bogs, contribute to the national picture but not local places where vehicles and people can touch each other.
What about Traffic Lights to reduce Congestion? A very recent Report from Highways England explains why this makes matters worse! It has been considered as an option by SBC and Parish Councils at Station Road and Lynsted Lane. BBC summary with links to the Report.
"Greening Greenstreet". Of course, planting of all kinds is important for regional, national and global pollution and warming - but the devil is in the detail ... an AQMA designates a "hotspot" where very local pollution exists.
That is not to deny that planting greenery does have real local benefits - it 'softens' the street scene; it cools buildings and passers-by; it can add welcome colour and interest; it can help reduce noise levels; it can help birds, insects, and mammals. Personally, I would love to see the "Greening Greenstreet" Proposal revived to help make this a more attractive and a kinder place to live. It is a real pity that this joint project died with its greatest champion, John Disney - a great loss to our community on the A2.
Local Authority Responsibilities.
The Government - April 2019 - has set out its ambitions at a national and local level - making Local Authorities a delivery partner through its planning decisions to reduce the overall burden of pollution and improve the well-being of local communities.
The link between planning and pollution is clearly stated in the National Planning Policy Framework (2018). The updated NPPF was notified to Chief Planning Officers in March 2019 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
Only a fool believes that when you add new homes along the A2 you will not add new traffic into the mix. That pollution becomes more concentrated when it is trapped between buildings that sit close to the road, where vehicles brake, accelerate, move and stand in queues/jams. This is the so-called "canyon effect" that traps pollution between buildings under certain conditions - particularly when wind direction blows accross the line of the road to blow over the top of buildings creating a 'lid' under which pollution keeps churning and concentrating.
A SIMPLE TRUTH: SBC are ignoring Government policies that link increases in housing with increases in harmful pollution - especially in AQMAs. The National Planning Policy Framework (2018) tells Local Authorities that they must take into account the "cumulative impact" of all housing approvals where traffic will increase in existing AQMAs. SBC's behaviour undermines Government policies on reducing pollution in pollution 'hotspots'. Read more ...
To quote the NPPF(2018): para 181: "Planning policies and decisions should sustain and contribute towards compliance with relevant limit values or national objectives for pollutants, taking into account the presence of Air Quality Management Areas and Clean Air Zones, and the cumulative impacts from individual sites in local areas."
Air quality management areas (AQMAs) are areas designated by local authorities because they are not likely to achieve national air quality objectives by the relevant deadlines.
If you want to refer to the NPPF(2018) visit our Official Documents Page.
Borough Plan Approved Additions to A2 Traffic and Pollution - 2,243
- TEYNHAM 300+: 16/507689/OUT - Frognal Lane. This development will have priority at the roundabout on the A2 over all traffic on the A2 travelling west. So we will have an entirely NEW source of congestion flowing back into AQMA5!
- TEYNHAM 130: 18/503697/FULL - Station Road
- BAPCHILD 600: 14/501588/OUT - Stones Farm, Bapchild
- SITTINGBOURNE 540: 15/510254/OUT - Swanstree Avenue - see additional proposal outside the Borough Plan process for "Garden Community" creating urban sprawl rather than a new 'green' community.
- OSPRINGE 250 + 50: 14/502729/OUT - Brickworks & 17/505079/OUT - Western Link/A2
- FAVERSHAM 310 + 63: 15/504264/OUT - Perry Court & SW/13/1567 - Opp. Greenways
- BRICKEARTH from BARROW GREEN FARM - 760,000 tonnes extraction 30,000 tons per annum for 25 years.
Developer Pressure Outside the Borough Plan - 11,250+ (if Sittingbourne option approved)
Garden Community Proposals
- SBC Call for Proposals. April 2018.
- KENT SCIENCE PARK. SITTINGBOURNE 11,250: South & East of Sittingbourne: 17/506492/ENVSCR - Possible "Garden Community" favoured by the current SBC Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Bowles. This also includes 120,000 square metres of Commercial Use Development. The Quinn Estates Proposal.
- Proposals to engulf Bobbing and stretch it to Newington.
- Duchy of Cornwall's proposal for the area south of Faversham up to M2.
- A stand alone village south of the M2.
Additional proposals (dead and alive)
- CONYER QUAY 24: 18/506460/FULL - Erection of 24 dwellings on former Conyer Brickworks Conyer Quay (Application received December 2018)
- "BORDEN 675" - added here as a sobering reminder of how the community of Borden faces "urban sprawl" from Sittingbourne (A2 close to the A249) - this decision was imposed by officials and councillors with very little accountability.
- LYNSTED 120: 16/506237/OUT - withdrawn under the weight of evidence. (Application dated August 2016)
KCC Highways and Transportation Response (dated 20th March 2018; Posted 24th May 2018).
- NORTON ASH 67: 14/505933/FULL - old Garden Centre Site. (Applied 2014 - refused)