July 2012 Newsletter

August is the holiday season and as usual there will be no meeting. Let’s hope that the weather improves enough for all to enjoy the holiday

September meetings
Saturday 8th September – A visit to the “Great Ramsgate Wall”. Meet at 5.00pm at the Clock Tower Museum, at Ramsgate Harbour (where there are car parks) Car sharing can be arranged if required. This visit is to be hosted by the Ramsgate Society who will be our guides. The Great Wall of Ramsgate, is the largest open-air art gallery in the country consisting of more than 100 paintings, which have been produced by local artists, professional and amateur to celebrate Ramsgate, past, present and future. The viewing will be followed by Fish & Chips at the award winning Peters Fish Factory in Harbour Parade.
Booking is essential as we need numbers for the Fish and Chip Supper. Please phone Roger Pethers on 01227 770814

Wednesday 19th September – 7.15pm at Whitstable Castle -A talk from the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group

Saturday 29th September – Whitstable Map Meeting 7-00pm downstairs at the Umbrella Centre
The Whitstable Society together with the Whitstable Improvement Trust is planning to produce up-to-date and comprehensive maps of Whitstable. The maps will be available both on the Internet and as hard copies. The map system will consist of a base map and then different layers, each representing a specific feature of Whitstable: eg. street names, history/archaeology, churches, public services, restaurants, accommodation etc. which can be combined as required when looking on the Internet or making a printed map. The purpose of the evening is to ask attendees to comment on / suggest the different layers of the map, how many and what subjects, and then to suggest as many places / things etc. that should be marked in each layer. The Whitstable History Society will be joining us.

Previous Meeting – Wednesday 20th June
Roger Seijo, chairman of the Whitstable Improvement Trust spoke to us about the aims, objectives and the past achievements of the Trust. Roger explained that he is a landscape architect and senior lecturer at Greenwich School of Architecture, with an interest in sustainable building technology and eco living. He has been a member of the WIT for 18 months and Chairman for one year.

Historically the WIT and the Whitstable Society were one until 1989 when The Trust was established as an independent Charitable Company’ with objectives to promote Whitstable and its regeneration through:

  1. seeking to retain and care for the unique nature of the locality and its buildings
  2. encouraging new developments to be in harmony with local character
  3. creating an awareness of the town’s historical past and the personalities who have
    contributed to it.

In 1989 Whitstable was a town in need of regeneration and the WIT initiated projects that would add to, and improve, Whitstable. Initial funding came from KCC and CCC. The WIT did an enormous amount of work which is now familiar to people in the town and now nearly 100 projects have been implemented by the Trust, including the WIT shop in Harbour Street, seating at starvation point near the Harbour, work on signage for alleyways, Heritage Boards, Whitstable in Bloom, tree planting, initiating the Tower Hill Tea Garden and publishing books about Whitstable.

The WIT is now the major outlet for visitor information in the town, since the council closed the official tourist information office? We provide this service FREE (no council money) and staff the shop with volunteers.

In approximately 1993 funding stopped and, nowadays, funding for each project has to be bid for and we are competing with big companies like Serco. The latest project was “The Deck” at Deadman’s Corner in the Harbour which was funded 25% by the Harbour Project, 25% WIT reserves and 50% lottery fund. There is a need to find other ways to source funds for projects and also to attract new volunteers especially younger people. Ideas are to work together with educational establishments, photographic competitions and to work together with colleges and universities.

The WIT has recently appointed a new part-time manager who will have, amongst other things, responsibility for researching projects and fundraising.
Current and future projects are:

  • Co-ordinating projects for Tankerton Slopes which have recently been granted QE11 status. This means that they are now protected as a public amenity. Grants are available for improvements. Some possible suggestions are for a bandstand, improved access to the beach for the disabled and barbecue areas on the beach, but there also a need to retain the integrity of the slopes.
  • Working together with the Whitstable Society to produce a new town map (see details above)
  • Working together with Transition Town who are setting up a tree bank at Stream Walk.

Kath thanked Roger for his very interesting and informative talk and said that the way forward for the future of Whitstable was for all amenity groups to work together and that the Whitstable Society was looking forward to an increase in future co-operation as we are already doing with the Mapping Project.
Tankerton Promenade Cycle Path.
The decision to not to use the Cycle Tracks Acts to enforce the 24 hours cycling path along the promenade, means that our complaint to the Ombudsman, after rewording, can be resubmitted. An event of significance occurred however at the General Purpose Committee in June. Set to ram through a revised bylaw with not a single reference to safety, the Committee was joined at the last minute by Ashley Clark. He took the meeting by the scruff of the neck and pushed through an amendment adding a phase from the Road Traffic Act to the by-law, that it is an offence to ”ride a cycle or skateboard without due care and consideration of other users of the promenade”. This should allow any member of the public to video bad behaviour and expect the Council to take action (if the person or persons can be recognised): much as happened with the motor cyclists who went along West Beach. Any complaint from the WS to the Ombudsman about the process can be weakened now that Ashley has achieved this amendment. The GPC Minutes incidentally include an absurd statement; ‘(ix) The promenade was not a highway and therefore was not covered by other laws.’ Most of the promenade is highway and we have asked for an amendment to the Minutes.

In order to complete the town section of The Oyster Bay Cycle Trail, there is now an order to convert to a Cycle Track, Footpath CWX24 which runs alongside Gorrell Tank car park from Tower Parade to Westgate Terrace, and CWX19 part (Cuckoo Down Lane) from Reservoir Road to Cromwell Road. A copy of the orders may be seen at Whitstable Library, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Any objections or support should be made in writing by 6th August.


The Local Plan
Canterbury City Council held a consultation meeting. Two representatives from Whitstable were permitted (one each from the WS and the WIT). They invited eight representatives from Canterbury Residents Associations but did not bother to invite the Thanet Way Residents Association!
It was made clear, for the first time, that we must have our neighbourhood plan in place quickly, otherwise developers will have a free for all, building anywhere they wish to. There were good presentations from various leaders, including welcome words on the necessity of infrastructure being in place for new developments, e.g. (a rail station for Hersden) and details of the consultant’s research carried out for the plan. Very unfortunately, all the work was on the District as a whole and none on the difference /constraints and opportunities inside the district which are key to deciding where to locate new residential and job sites.

In break out groups we were then asked to do just that and several tables refused point blank to engage in such an exercise without even the most basic information necessary. This spoiled the effectiveness of an otherwise well organised meeting and suggests that the council will not be properly briefed when choosing which developer’s plans to accept. We understand that the sustainability and transport parts of the plan, that should inform site decisions, are not finished. The councillors’ will hold a secret meeting in July where they will agree, or not, each site for re-zoning. So although there is public consultation later this year, in practice, based on the evidence for previous plan cycles, there will be no change however much people protest and all the more so because the council will be scared of developers taking them through an expensive enquiry using the new NPPF. So this pre-July consultation meeting was partly wasted. We were asked to set down principles to be followed and our table of residents groups representatives did a great job with suggestions such as building houses where the jobs are rather than automatically in dormitory locations like Whitstable and Hersden, which creates even more commuting into Canterbury and along the Thanet Way to other districts.

Other planning matters

There have not been any new noteworthy issues, or cases, in terms of development. A shift in government thinking re airport locations, takes the pressure off our area as expansion at London Airports is back on the table. But that may only be for the short term as an idea of a new airport on an island NE of Whitstable is apparently being considered by government. Thanet Council has voted against night flights at Manston but, since the airport’s recent sale, it is still legally possible to have night flights much to the disquiet of Herne Bay and nearby areas. Further efforts to move the western approach may be necessary. The Kent Federation for Amenity Societies will be holding a conference on airports, in Kent, in the autumn. A government consultation paper is expected in mid to late July.

At a KFAS meeting recently, members shared experiences like the sale of Tankerton car park. This phenomenon is confirmed as becoming more common with preparatory steps to sell off public space, conducted in secret.
Final steps are being taken on new beach huts. We have insisted on new sites that are genuine infill on Tankerton slopes and we are actively working with CCC to have the new huts available on short-term rental at modest rents, so all local people can afford to take advantage of this facility located on protected open space. Planning applications for the new huts have been posted.

Public Rights of Way
CW57 Seasalter – Sadly this path behind the Sportsman which crosses land behind the chalets and the sea wall is now extinguished. Anne Wilks originally claimed this path but, due to a mapping error, the path on the ground was incorrect. KCC initially refused to make the order but after an appeal by the chalet owners were ordered to do so. Unfortunately, the Inspector decided for the extinguishment.

Whitstable Society Walks
As it is the holiday season there is no walk in August.
Sunday 2nd Sept (1st SUNDAY IN THE MONTH)
10.00am Meet at Four Horseshoes Public House Graveney. ME13 9DE. Grayham and Joan will be starting the 2nd half of our year for us. Enquiries: Ann 277671