NOTES OF MEETING ON 28th FEBRUARY 2023

Firstly, a big thank you to all that came along for this session. It was intended as an opportunity to establish local feeling about planning issues, and commitment to responding to them more effectively; and the very positive reactions and contributions during the evening were reassuring to hear. 

No formal notes were taken of the meeting. It was intended to be informal so as to allow people to say whatever they wanted to say, and just to note anything of importance. So, what follows is a mixture of those important points and issues, and the feedback that people provided on the feedback forms we provided at the end of the meeting. I hope we have captured everything.

Turnout

I’d estimated 40 people might turn up but I was told I’d be lucky to get 20! To my great delight we had around 60 people on the night, and I know there are many others who want to be involved but couldn’t be there on 28th.  20 attendees so far have indicated that they would be glad to be involved in whatever processes and networks now evolve.

My expectation is that once we show evidence of moving this agenda forward, and getting organised, many others will join the network and take up roles too. 

Expertise Revealed

The 20 attendees that have indicated their willingness to help the developing network bring with them the following range of skills and experience:

  • Retired Architect
  • Retired Solicitor
  • 2 x Involved in Planning (Bedford & Somerset)
  • Journalist
  • Retired Customs & Excise Enforcer
  • 2 x Local Deal Planning experts (Robin & Sue …… and presumably direct links with others)
  • 2 x Involved in Local Planning Networks
  • 1 x Development of District/Boroughwide Planning Networks (& linking with Regional Networks)

That’s a great mix of skills to be starting off with and everyone needs a Customs & Excise Enforcer on their network, believe me!! 

Deal Society Role moving forward.

The feedback confirmed that the Deal Society had a mandate from local people and groups to lead on, and develop, better ways to involve and engage:

  • People want Deal Society to act as an umbrella group for other groups/networks on Planning.
  • Society to be a driving force to galvanise the action of others.

Issues referred to by attendees

  • CPRE responded to consultation on DDC Plan, also on changes to National Planning Policy Framework
  • Also edited the Green Party submission on the DDC Local Plan
  • There is a sense of injustice on planning across Kent, especially around housing bought for AirBnB.
  • Buildings shouldn’t be used as financial investments when basic need for housing exists
  • Need more affordable homes, more social housing, proper infrastructure consideration (split developers on single large site).
  • Affordable within towns/villages not isolated developments.
  • Losing huge amount of green field sites; how much green space being used v brownfield space.
  • Effects on villages….. inappropriate volume of developments.
  • DDC unduly lobbied by private developers, do only minimum necessary to consult communities.
  • Where is the balance? General feeling that DDC just ignores communities’ consultation responses (apparently only four out of 150). 
  • Feeling that the community is empowered and prospectively has the expertise but is disorganised.

Organisations represented by attendees – Potential collaborative organisations

  • Deal Society and Deal Town Council
  • Campaign for Protection of Rural England (CPRE)
  • Community Planning Alliance (have lots of good guidance, expertise, and ideas).
  • Deal Museum
  • Timeball Tower
  • Friends of Betteshanger
  • Deal Castle (through volunteers)
  • St Albans Development
  • Walmer Scouts

Attendees’ suggestions on prospective ways forward

  • Must look to bring together Planning Issues across DDC to maximise impact.
  • Network with all DDC towns/parishes, and maybe beyond
  • Ensure all parts of DDC covered (some concerned Walmer, Ringwould, Mongeham, Sholden, will be paired off so not looked at in overview)
  • Ensure easier access to Planning Information/Applications (online? Library? Etc)
  • Specialist local forums (such as with CPRE on more rural elements)
  • What results of consultation on updated National Planning Policy Framework are  • Tying up working relationships between Deal Society, DTC, and DDC.
  • Ensure role of Town Council reinforced, especially over planning consultations; DTC already holds meetings with residents and consults on relevant decisions (particularly the disposal of public assets).

Next Steps

I have shared the draft of this note with key representatives within The Deal Society and Deal Town Council, and begun discussions on how we might go about developing a structure for the networking needed to enable people to engage effectively on planning issues. 

We are conscious of needing to fully scope all that needs to be covered if local Deal & Walmer people are to be able to contribute to, and influence all the right plans, at all the right times; because only then can we begin to identify what capacity we need/have to be able to develop the network(s) and respond appropriately.

Please bear with us for the moment while we do this, but we hope to be able to suggest a workable outline structure fairly quickly and share that with you. Then it’ll be more a question of how we make that structure work, what kind of information sharing we need, and particularly how we best utilise the Deal Society website to keep people fully informed of what’s going on and the kinds of issues to consider.

We will be in touch again very soon.

Ian Redding 18th March 2023