November 2009 Newsletter
Clare Road Embankment
Planning permission has finally been granted for the dual use path along the embankment, subject to conditions. It has taken two years since our planning application was submitted to arrive at this stage. The Trust would like to record our thanks to our partners SUSTRANS and Kent Highways who have worked extremely hard to overcome numerous objections to the scheme. SUSTRANS are currently ironing out the problems in order that the conditions of the planning approval can be formally agreed. The Trust hopes that the conditions will be approved at the December planning committee meeting.
The planning approval for the bridges project lapsed earlier this year. SUSTRANS are working with Kent Highways to prepare a new planning application for a revised bridges scheme. The new plans will be for simpler bridges that will be cheaper to build and to maintain. We anticipate that a planning application will be submitted to Canterbury City Council early in the new year. Your support for this application will be appreciated in due course. Once this has been approved the whole project can move forward.
Southern Tunnel Portal
Heritage Open Days allowed the opportunity for a few of our members to view the newly renovated southern portal. No entry into the tunnel itself was allowed as the bats are now in residence. However the finished product is impressive and it most likely looks the same as it did when the tunnel was first opened in 1830. We hope to be able to welcome you to the site on one of the Heritage Open Days in September 2010, subject to the approval of the new owner to whom we extend our thanks for allowing this year’s visit.
Our new leaflet is now available from committee members or from dispensers at Whitstable or Canterbury West Stations. New dispensers have been provided at both locations to accommodate the new format leaflet.
The Crab & Winkle Way
In August a lady cyclist was involved in a crash with a car at the junction with the Tyler Hall Road. Members are reminded that cars have priority at this crossing. May we also remind members that this is a dual use pathway and consideration must be given to walkers. Speeding is not condoned.
The Trust is represented on this committee comprising on the interested parties in the Crab & Winkle Way extension, Viking Trail, and Oyster Trail extension. The bridge proposed on the Viking Trail over the main Herne Bay to Margate railway has been dropped. A new route to Reculver is being looked at to complete the around Thanet circular trail.
Crab and Winkle plan can go ahead, councillors decide
(extract from the Whitstable Times online)
A CONTROVERSIAL cycle path has finally been approved – two years after it was first proposed. Councillors voted through plans to extend the Crab and Winkle path from All Saints Close to Northwood Road at a meeting last night (Tuesday) after a mammoth two-hour debate. More than 30 supporters and objectors filled the public gallery of the Guildhall in Canterbury to hear and applaud the eight speakers who made impassioned pleas both for and against the plan. Opponent Mark Dickerson said: “Lets not forget this is a conservation area with a blanket tree preservation order. Since when did conservation mean ripping out the environment we are trying to preserve? Whitstable is shouting loud and clear. We don’t want this path to follow this destructive route. Let’s have a plan that truly celebrates and commemorates the railway heritage instead of building all over it.”
The Rev Paul Wilson slammed the plans as misguided and mishandled and said the application was not valid because the correct forms had not been completed when it was lodged. And amateur historian Bob Winter said more surveys and work were needed and a new application should be submitted. He added: “Let’s open the door marked peace and not the one marked strife.”
Tony Ledger, spokesman for the Whitstable Green Lung Association, said the area needed to be protected because of its importance to wildlife. He criticised the council’s report as “biased” and demanded an independent review of the case. But Ruth Goudie, from Kent Highway Services, said the route had already been included in the local plan and a raft of council policies. And it was backed by county council officials because it would link the Canterbury to Whitstable route and a proposed coastal path. She said: “We have given a lot of support financially to the applicant in the process of this application. “It has the potential to be nationally recognised.” And the Rev Canon Chris Byers, a board member of the Whitstable Society and Whitstable Improvement Trust, said a lot of people in the town were excited by the scheme. “The vast majority of people in Whitstable long for this route to be there,” he said. “I bear the wounds of the person who chaired the public meeting when the Green Lung first appeared with its cry that we were going to tarmac over the green lung of Whitstable. “It seemed nonsense and yet it was apparent the plans being brought forward then were awful and didn’t meet the needs of residents. Since then people have listened to one another and the business of building up trust has improved.
“We are in with a real chance of giving this lovely old line, which was crucial to Whitstable in the 19th century, the chance to play a part in a greener future.” David Young, Sustrans co-ordinator for the south east, said the scheme was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He admitted there were issues of overlooking to address but said a new application for the bridges providing the final link to the path would be prepared. Lawyer Janet Taylor dismissed claims the plans were not valid and councillors debated issues including the potential for increased crime and fears over cyclists and pedestrians sharing the path. Whitstable councillors argued the bridges – already granted planning permission that has now expired – should be in place before any work on the path extension started and suggested deferring the scheme to consider the bridges at the same time. But Cllr Nick Eden Green said: “There has been a huge amount of debate over this. If it was for 200 houses I could understand the heat generated. “It concerns me that people have got so worked up. Deferring would merely prolong what is an even longer agony. “Let’s keep in mind this has been a long-held ambition of KCC and CCC and is part of our cycling and health strategies.”
The plan was agreed by nine votes to three.
Why the planning application is good for the Green Lung
The landscape report and tree surveys (which form part of the planning application) highlight how the extension is GOOD for the Green Lung. Such positives include:
- 13% of the present trees, shrubs and scrub are considered moderate quality only; the remaining 87% low quality or worse. 25% is dead or dying.
- The area is unmanaged and becoming overrun by scrub and brambles; trees are being swamped by ivy and bindweed. If left, the natural decline in the trees plus man made damage will lead to the deterioration of the site and potentially its loss.
- The proposed path will be managed by our Local Authorities with the vegetation maintained to promote healthy growth.
- All vegetation lost to the path construction will be replaced and there will be in-filled planting to reduce overlooking. The proposal is to plant 257 heavy trees (maple, ash and oak), 487 light trees (birch, ash, holly, cherry, etc) plus 2,812 shrubs and bushes (dogwood, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, etc).
- There is no evidence of roosting bats – but the line is important for bat foraging and commuting. The new path should not be detrimental to such activity. In fact, it may contribute to the diversity of habitat and increase flying insects and food for bats.
- The reptile survey makes interesting, if specialist, reading. The proposed hibernaculum seems very reptile and insect friendly.
- The path will not be floodlit. The plans propose low density lights, designed to minimise spill, with columns every 40 metres or so.
Further details can be found in the summary report by clicking here.
URGENT PLANNING APPLICATION
LAST DAY 5th JUNE
Dear friend of the Crab and Winkle Line,
Your urgent action is needed to extend the line in Whitstable
18 months ago, we submitted a planning application to the council to extend the route of the Crab and Winkle Line over the railway line and Teynham and Old Bridge Roads in Whitstable, down behind Clare and Station Roads, through to Harbour Street and the sea. Some local residents were concerned that the environment would be damaged, and the council asked us to survey the trees and plants, and the lizards, bats and other animals in the disused and overgrown land behind Clare Road.
We’ve now completed all these surveys, showing that:
• there’ll be no damage to existing wildlife;
• there’s no need to cut down any trees with preservation orders;
• there’ll be sympathetic, improved planting to screen houses and gardens.
Over 500 local people have signed our petition in support of the extended line. It will provide traffic-free, step-free access from one side of the railway line to another, helping children get to the Community College, and families walk their children to the primary schools on the sea-side of the railway. It will help all those with mobility problems get around town without a car, provide a community resource for everyone in the town to enjoy this green lung, and it will be the perfect way for visitors to enter the town.
The council is now consulting on the application, which you can see in council offices in Harbour Street, Whitstable during office hours. Last time there were a few dozen letters of opposition. It is ESSENTIAL that the council also hears from people who support the proposal too. PLEASE WRITE. Letters can be sent to Nicola Hughes, Planning Officer, Canterbury City Council, Military Road, Canterbury, Kent CT1 1YW. Please quote reference CA/07/01442/WHI. Please say how you think the line would benefit the community, whether you’d use it, who else would, and that you support the proposal. The council must receive your letter by 5th June.
Without your help – by writing a letter to the council in support – officers and councillors may only hear from those opposed to the plan. An extension of a popular and well-used footpath and cycle path through to the sea would be a massive asset to the town, and something that will last for and be enjoyed by many generations. We could all be proud of having helped make it happen. Without your help, it won’t.
Trustees would be happy to talk to you about what else you can do to support the Crab and Winkle Line Trust. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
Marcial Boo, Chairman, and Trustees
The Crab and Winkle Line Trust