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Brownie hut site and the land behind Guilford Avenue

An email was sent on behalf of local Residents to DDC Councillors Jim Back and Nigel Collor. Below are the original email and responses I have received:  

Good Morning Jim and Nigel

Various Residents are concerned about what is going on with the plot of land behind Guilford Avenue.

DDC have sporadically contacted the Parish Council about this, but have never actually given any real detail or proposals, a letter was sent round to Residents a few months ago, and work appears to be progressing, but no one knows what is happening, or what the future is for the Brownie Pack and their meeting hut, who would appear to be in danger of being displaced / evicted as some point in the not to distant future.

There are a number of questions that require answering as work seems to be progressing and there has been no formal consultation held and a specific lack of information being made publicly available:

a) Has the land been sold to the care home, and was it put out to general tender for anyone to bid on?

b) Has planning permission (formal or informal) been granted to develop and extend the care home on this site?

c) What is the future of the Brownie Hut? (Remembering that DDC gave assurances when the site was put in the Land Allocations Document in 2006 and during the SPD / Masterplanning process)

d) What provision is being made for parking in the local area, as the cul-de-sac is very restricted for residential parking?

e) Is rear access to the properties going to be guaranteed?

f) Is the Parish Council going to be approached again regarding possible relocation of the Brownie Hut?  (Over the course of the past 5 or so years a couple of informal approaches have been made and on each occasion the Parish Council have always said that we need to have specific proposals before we can consider any options or agree to anything).

I would appreciate it if you could find out what is going on as the current situation and uncertainty is very unsatisfactory.

Thanks

Best Wishes

Jeff


Reply received via Jim Back from:  Peter Wallace <Peter.Wallace@DOVER.GOV.UK>
Dear Cllr Back,

Thank you for your email. I’ve had a look at these questions from a planning perspective. There’s no recent planning history (for applications or pre-application enquiries) being picked up by our system for either the land comprising the Brownie Hut or the care home. Colleagues in planning policy advise me that while the land Brownie Hut site was included in the recent draft local plan (Reg 18 version) as a housing allocation, it’s now proposed to remove this allocation in the next draft version of the plan (Reg19), as it’s understood the site is no longer available for housing.

I believe this site is owned by DDC and in the absence of any further planning matters I’ve asked if Martin (copied in here) could help you with some of the other queries.

Best wishes,

Peter    Peter Wallace – DDC Planning and Development Manager


Reply received direct from: Robert Reid-Easton – DDC Property Services

Dear Mr Goodsell

As Martin is on leave, he has asked me to forward his reply to you:

Good evening Jeff,

Further to Peter Wallace’s reply  I am sending this to add the answers from a Dover District Council property perspective. Let me first give some reassurance and clarity. The land , which Dover District Council owns has been divided in to two plots, one of which is occupied by the Brownies and one which is not. It is only the plot that does not involve the Brownie hut, which has been sold and has now been fenced off. Whilst the owner of the care home is interested in acquiring both plots Councillors made it clear that they would  not consider a sale unless an alternative location for the Brownie hut had been secured.

a) Has the land been sold to the care home, and was it put out to general tender for anyone to bid on?

The land was not put out to tender because DDC were approached by the owner of the adjacent care home, who wished to purchase the land to allow the future expansion of the care home, thus ensuring its long term viability. The Council assured itself that ‘best value’ was achieved when making the decision to sell the plot.

b) Has planning permission (formal or informal) been granted to develop and extend the care home on this site?

See Peter Wallace’s response.

c) What is the future of the Brownie Hut? (Remembering that DDC gave assurances when the site was put in the Land Allocations Document in 2006 and during the SPD / Masterplanning process)

The future of the Brownies is secure because Councillors indicated, when they considered the matter at cabinet, they would not consider selling the land if this were not to be the case. The hut of course is an ageing building and not very environmentally sound, which means that it could need substantial repairs and upgrades in the not too distant future, both of which are the sole responsibility of the Guiding Association.. There may be an opportunity to relocate the Brownies to a new location, using some of the proceeds of the sale to facilitate the relocation.  The advantage to the Guide Association would be a new facility, which would not need  significant maintenance funding in the medium term. The disadvantage for them would be that it is very likely the alternative location will not offer the exclusivity currently enjoyed.

d) What provision is being made for parking in the local area, as the cul-de-sac is very restricted for residential parking?

There are no measures planned to provide additional parking as part of the land  transfer. It is recognised that parking will be more inconvenient for the immediate neighbours but in the wider vicinity there is spare parking capacity.

e) Is rear access to the properties going to be guaranteed?

The land, which has been sold does not form part of any formal rear access to neighbouring properties and hence the question does not arise.

f) Is the Parish Council going to be approached again regarding possible relocation of the Brownie Hut?  (Over the course of the past 5 or so years a couple of informal approaches have been made and on each occasion the Parish Council have always said that we need to have specific proposals before we can consider any options or agree to anything).

Dover District Council would look to approach the Whitfield Parish Council again should the Guide Association indicate a willingness to consider a relocation. The basis of that approach would be in two stages . The first stage would be to explore in principle whether the Whitfield Parish Council would be willing to host the Guides on one of its assets, for instance in an extension to the pavilion on the recreation ground. The second stage would be to consider possible design options. It is costly to develop specific design proposals and neither Dover District Council nor the Guiding Association would be willing to work up specific proposals without a prior indication from Whitfield Parish Council that they supported the idea in principle. Whitfield Parish Council of course would be a key stakeholder should there be a shared willingness to relocate the Brownies. This will not be something that “will be done to the Whitfield Parish Council” but a project in which WPC are a valued partner.  I cannot be certain about timing or indeed whether the proposals will come forward again  because the Guiding Association are not at this point in time expressing an interest to relocate and again they would need a willing stakeholder.