According to the Thanet Gazette East Kent Opportunities (EKO), a 50-50 land development partnership between Kent County Council and Thanet District Council, has decided to appeal against Thanet Council's Planning Committee decision to reject EKOs application to develop 550 houses on agricultural land adjacent to the New Haine Road.
This is a bizarre decision which means that Thanet Council is appealing against its own planning decision. Planning appeals can be very expensive, especially if lawyers become involved. But does that really matter to the Council, because at the end of the day council taxpayers will have to foot the bill for Thanet Council fighting itself!
Interestingly Councillor Clive Hart, the Leader of Thanet Council, is the Council's nominee to the Board of EKO (and I understand one of its 2 Directors). This is same the Clive Hart who constantly reminds us, despite the evidence of the TranEuropa £3.4million debt scandal, just how well his administration has managed the Council's finances.
It's reasonable to assume that as an EKO Board member/ director, Councillor Hart must have been directly involved in approving the decision to appeal against Thanet Council's Planning Committee. If this true then Councillor Clive Hart, despite his efforts to portray himself and his administration as prudential financial mangers, is actually taking a decision which is likely to cost the Council he leads tens of thousands of pounds. Surely this must be a conflict of interest which I hope he has declared.
I was however heartened read that Councillor David Greene has expressed his concern about the ridiculous spectacle of Thanet Council fighting Thanet Council at the public expense. Does this mean that at long last some members of Hart's Cabinet have developed backbone enough to challenge the incompetence, secrecy and bullying which have become a hallmark of Thanet Council in recent years?
But although this is an extremely important issue there is another story at work here too and that's the growing trend to develop prime green-field land in Thanet such as the Manston Village site, the totally unnecessary Manston Parkway station and EKOs proposal. Thanet has the largest number of empty residential housing units in all of Kent and a lot of potential brownfield development sites. We should not be sacrificing greenfield sites when there are alternative options in abundance.
Here is a song about opportunities which might well apply to EKO