In response to your further questions I am able to comment as follows:
The report which went to the Executive on 11 December 2014 related to the financial and business affairs of the council and other persons which is exempt information under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
I therefore cannot set out for you the detailed calculations and considerations that went in to alternative options, although you will have noted from the minute that the following was considered:
“(1) Do nothing – the council will continue to hold a currently unproductive area of land which will incur maintenance costs, attract anti-social behaviour, and will leave a difficult site to improve in the future in the event the tile warehouse is developed without incorporating the subject site.
(2) Agree a sale for the amount recommended in the report, which will contribute to a better overall development in Town Planning terms.
(3) Sell the freehold on the open market. The Local Planning Authority is likely to prefer to see the site developed comprehensively rather than in a piecemeal fashion”
The interface between the development on the Oval Chalet and the adjoining beach is acknowledged to be an important area. Through the planning process the developer will, in the fullness of time, be expected to come forward with detailed proposals for the implementation of wider public realm works to improve the highway environs between the scheme and the beach, subject to discussions with KCC Highways, and this will form part of the planning application.
Whilst I can understand why you might be thinking that the sale was only completed to secure a land receipt or in your terms “profit”, I must point out that the council has now considered this matter at committee stage on numerous occasions and the arguments have therefore been fully aired by all parties. If it helps, the rationale for the decision taken by the Executive on 11 December 2014 was as follows:
“The chance to do something really exciting for this part of Whitstable, and any development is likely to be more attractive and cohesive as a joint project incorporating the Oval Chalet land with the tile warehouse footprint than as a standalone site. Additionally, should the Oval Chalet have been left untouched and the adjacent site redeveloped in isolation, the ground level differences between Harbour Street and Sea Street would result in the council’s retained land becoming an eyesore offering no amenity to the community at Whitstable. Any subsequent development would be severely constrained by the built form that occurs at the adjoining site, along with Rights to Light issues and would close down any opportunity to deck the land to raise a viewing platform to the public to enjoy sea views. This will provide the best chance for a more comprehensive and cohesive townscape in terms of the development format with public space provision across the two combined sites.”
There will be an opportunity to fully consult with the people of the town and the process will be dealt with in two ways:
(a) Informal consultation with the public through open days, display of possible plans, models etc in advance of the formal planning process. This commenced around 3 June 2015 and is ongoing.
The developer will be taking on board public feedback from this process as part of their formal planning application to the council which is expected imminently.
(b) The actual formal planning process itself which has a number of statutory consultees as part of that process.
I trust my response is helpful to you and if you have any further queries, do not hesitate to contact me.
Head of Property
Canterbury City Council