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Thursday, 17 July 2014

WESTWOOD CROSS DEVELOPMENT - Link with Bradgate Caravan Park and the Young Farmers Association (not quite so young now!) + The Lost Farewell?



Just up the road from the Bradgate Caravan Park is a another new housing development on farmland next to the new Westwood Cross Shopping Centre.

It could be that the car parking spaces allocated to the homes nearby have yet to be completed - hence the parking on public footpaths?  But as a lot of households have two or three cars per family these days, not to mention the need for visitor parking, we foresee trouble ahead.

Below I highlight the recently vacated Bradgate owners cottage. It is only a guess, but we think a lot of the strategic development decisions taken before, during and after Westwood Cross, up to recent proposals for houses all around Manston, could have been conceived or worked on at Bradgate Caravan Park?


Certainly it seems it was expedient or necessary for someone to have Manston Parish Council meet at the Park in recent years.

Bradgate Caravan Park arose out of the Thanet farming community in the 1960's (started by two brothers I believe?), and the links forged between the Young Farmers Association back then and the various farming families persist to this day. Taking positions on various Parish Councils goes with the territory of seeking to either protect or expand holdings. From time to time they will even fall out with each other over border and access disputes.You will find dotted about the Thanet Countryside quite palatial "Dallas" type residences behind densely planted out perimeters.

My contact (now deceased), was at the heart of all this as a young farmer himself in those days and is one of the founders of our gay friendly charity. He was supportive of my mothers' long and continuing battle to hang onto her home and knew all about the dirty tricks the farmers sometimes play. Indeed, such was the rhetoric, both verbal and written, about the position of her mobile home (that it causes harm to the countryside), that he was convinced it was plonked down in the middle of a field somewhere. Instead he was surprised to discover it is tucked away on former garden land that she owns.  He was also pleased to find her growing her own vegetables and looking after the wildlife in much the same way as he began his life as a Market Gardener. He was always against farms getting too big and foresaw the damage inflicted on the local small business economy. He was very sad about it all when he died 3 years ago.


The Lost Farewell - The Sale of Bradgate Caravan Park + Councillor Poole's objection to their Development Approval
I gather from last week's Friday 11th July 2014 Isle of Thanet Gazette, that congratulations are in order for the former owners of Bradgate Caravan Park for achieving asking price of around five and a half million pounds for the park. This must be in no small measure to the sterling efforts in 2009 of Councillors Mick and Shirley Tomlinson, whose intervention in the planning system secured a valuable extension to the Park . Shirley kindly spoke on behalf of the owner and agent who were absent at the development application, and then proposed the motion to allow permission (just as a favour mind, since she was not on the planning committee at this time). This was then seconded by husband Mick (who was on the  planning committee) and everyone voted in favour (not many there apparently, being the height of summer!)

This decision actually went against TDC policy, but that was not going to stop our daring duo. Cllr Alan Poole's concerns were reported by Your Thanet at the time, here is an excerpt:-

"Cllr Poole also said that the usual procedure of the committee vice chairman putting the officers' case for refusal to Councillors was ignored.  Instead, Cllr Tomlinson was allowed to speak first and she proposed the application be granted.  A further point of interest, says Cllr Poole, is the announcement by committee chairman Cllr Ken Gregory that the status of the Bradgate application had been changed from "major" to "minor". If a major application is approved that departs from the local plan, it must go to the full council. Downgrading it to minor removes that obligation."

In the Your Thanet article Cllr Ken Gregory was quoted as saying that those staying there would be "rolling up in Bentleys and Rolls Royces to stay in their holiday homes".  What are you like Ken! The only Rolls Royce and Bentley I've ever seen were those parked directly outside the owners accommodation (shown opposite) which is now to let.

N.B. Residency status on those caravans were granted 3 or 4 years later, so in reality a loss to Thanet Tourism?  And what happened to the follow-up Cllr Poole?

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