February 2020 planning update

The two principal areas covered were the Buttercup Goat sanctuary in Boughton Monchelsea and the Pilgrim's Retreat Park in Harrietsham.

The Buttercup Goat sanctuary, which had not got Planning permission was duly granted consent. Originally officers had wanted to treat this as a commercial concern, but councillors had persuaded them otherwise and the recommendation was changed in advance of the meeting to one of approval, which was accepted.

In September the Planning Committee refused a planning application for permanent residential consent for nearly 200 units, which are currently holiday homes at the Pilgrim's Retreat Park in Harrietsham. Last night the Planning Committee considered whether to take enforcement action against the breach of planning control.

The Committee considered the breach of planning control to be serious, but acknowledged that many of the residents do not have anywhere else to go and in many cases are elderly and vulnerable. Crucially the Committee felt that it may yet be possible to secure a solution that both mitigates the harm caused by the overdevelopment of the site and minimises the impact on residents. Consequently, the Committee voted to set up a steering group composed of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Planning Committee, the Political Group Spokespersons and the Ward Councillors to seek to negotiate a solution and achieve a new planning application within a 9-month time frame. If this could not be achieved enforcement action would be taken at the end of that period.

Chairman of the Planning Committee Clive English said: "This action is a sincere attempt by the Council to secure an agreed outcome that can reduce the damage to the countryside and avoid causing hardship to the residents of Pilgrims Retreat and bring to an end the uncertainty and insecurity caused by the current lack of a settled planning status for the site."