Saturday, October 22, 2016

Big Energy Saving Week

Our friend Stephanie Karpetas, a social entrepreneur who works on community energy programmes throughout Kent, will be running a free energy bill checking service at

Tenterden Gateway 

November 2nd

9 - Noon

 Bring your bills and take some action during #Bigenergysavingweek. She'll be there for following three Wednesdays, too. Let's see how much money she can keep in your pocket!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Disgusted of Tenterden

From today's Kentish Express (Tenterden Edition).  Click on the pics to view full size.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Post-Clean Up Day

We had a pretty good turnout and some decent weather for Clean Up Tenterden Day yesterday. About 30 people in total came out and volunteered their time for a good cause - namely, to rid Tenterden and St. Michaels of a bunch of its litter. They did that very well indeed - there was a total of 26 bags of rubbish at the end of it all. The event was a collaboration between T3 and Tenterden Town Council, and the Council was represented by Cllrs. Ken Mulholland (who was also representing the St. Michaels Village Committee), Sue Ferguson, Justin Nelson and Nic Gooch. We also had a contingent from the Rotary Club and a team from NatWest Bank. Well done to all who participated!

As usual during sorting we happened upon some unusual items of litter. Here are some of them.

A broken gooseneck lamp and an input/output box from a VCR, as well as some random car bits.

See? Even Mercedes owners chuck stuff in the verges. Nobody is exempt.

An odd one, this - a can of Castlemaine XXXX lager, which hasn't been available in the UK since 2009 when AB Inbev's licensing agreement ended. So that can has been sitting in a ditch or hedgerow somewhere for over 7 years.

The sorting station.

The collection in St.Michaels.
We'll see you all next time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Update on Tilden Gill Development

Here's an update from my friend S J Beecham about the public inquiry taking place in Ashford right now. All I can say is, if you CAN make it there, even for an hour, please do try. The planning Inspectors will note that.

The public inquiry started today and will run until Thursday, possibly Friday. The inspector has made one visit to the site and may make another.

I was disappointed in the turn-out - I know a lot of people are against this, and I know it's a workday, it's in Ashford etc. etc. but a public presence does matter, and the inspector will note it. You don't have to be there at 9:30, or stay for the whole day, but it would be helpful to put in an appearance.

The Inspector, Paul Clark, wants information on five main issues:
- Can acceptable access be provided
- Character and appearance of site
- Significance of heritage
- Housing supply
- Affect on local social infrastructure

The appellant has requested that access be a "reserved matter" (i.e. no decision made until outline planning stage) but the inspector has pointed out that he will read all documentation and take everything into account - he will decide whether it will be reserved or not later.

The inspector also said that, when it comes to housing supply, he does not want arguments based on exact numbers (as these can and do change, often frequently) but is more interested in understanding the robustness of the housing supply situation in the borough.

The appellant's case so far seems to be:
- Insufficient 5-year housing supply in Ashford borough;
- TENT1 was allocated and the proposed site is similar land, so that should pass too;
- Other access can be provided (no details given so far);
- Council's refusal was "confused and incoherent";
- Wants to rely on other cases on other sites as the core documents provided in this case are "untested";
- No borough local plan;
- Ashford not delivering social housing;
- NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) doesn't put a cap on maximum housing - so even if Ashford does have enough housing, and is delivering it, it doesn't mean developers can't build more;
- Enough mitigation can be made such that the development won't harm the surrounding area, including the AONB
- Proposed site currently so degraded that it's of no value for agriculture, amenity, or as a setting for Belgar farmstead.

Council's rebuttal so far:
- Lack of access renders whole project undeliverable;
- 5-year plan more than sufficient - appellant is basing argument on old figures;
- Proposed development is contrary to planning policies already in place, and is unsustainable;
- Proposed level of growth for Ashford is significantly different from the rural areas of the borough (hence cannot be used to support that level of growth in Tenterden);
- Council on TENT1 allocation warned that it should not be used to justify further piecemeal development;
- Site is neither urban, nor urban fringe, so development would adversely affect listed buildings and AONB;
- Re: "incoherency", lack of clarity had not been raised before today (and subsequent evidence suggested there was no misunderstanding)

So far, landscape architect Helen Neve and environmental/conservation architect Allan Cox (representing the Council) have been called to give evidence. Ms Neve was also subject to a cross-examination of well over 2 hours. I'm not going to to precis that, but feel free to message me if you want more details. The gist is the appellant sees the land as having no value other than to build on - some of the claims they've made so far have been beyond ridiculous all the way into outrageous. We've only heard some of those in passing, more info will be supplied tomorrow. "Clutching at straws" springs to mind, but that's perhaps not surprising as there's apparently more than I realised riding on this. This is apparently being viewed by developers in the region as a test case. If they can get this passed - on good farmland, with no access, with listed buildings on site, adjacent to an AONB and ancient woodland, and nobody but the landowner wants it - they can get anything passed, and it opens the door for unrestricted building in sensitive rural areas.

It's a 9:30am start tomorrow at the Civic Centre in Ashford, and is expected to run late. Anyone can attend. Parking is in the Stour Centre carpark (£10 for the day) or in Ashford Station B across the road (which I think is £6.90). A lawyer will speak tomorrow for the residents' association. Once all evidence is given and cross-examinations done, you may be able to speak if you want to so long as you ok this with the inspector beforehand (it looks like time will run very tight).

Friday, February 19, 2016

Clean Up Day 2016 is Coming!

This is the post that would have gotten posted yesterday had it not been for the over-zealous phishing software at Google that caused my T3 blog to be locked, pending deletion yesterday. Google did apologise for their transgression, which is nice. So, anyway...

We at T£ would like to invite you all to come on down to our semi-annual Clean Up Tenterden litter pick, on April 3rd at Highbury Hall. As usual we'll be gathering at 11am and sending you all off to different areas of the town (you can choose where you want to go) so you can pick up rubbish, bring it back so we can sort it, and then it'll be collected for disposal/recycling the following day. 

We had a good turnout last time, but let's see if we can make it even bigger and better this time! The trash has been piling up all winter and there's not too much foliage to hide it yet, so we should get a good pile.

Oh, and tell your friends, get them to come along - it's much more fun in a group!

Highlights from previous cleanups:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

They're At It Again

So this plopped onto the doormat the other day...

Looks like Mr. Day is trying to get that land sold and developed again.

Last time, there was such an outcry by the general public against it that both Tenterden Town Council and Ashford Borough Council denied the application. It went to appeal, and subsequently to the Planning Inspectorate, and they will be hosting the public inquiry next week in Ashford (see letter).

Last time, the access point suggested was next to the Priory Way garages which were in disrepair. This time, that access point cannot be used since the ABC approved the construction of flats on the site. So the access point this time (get this, right) is apparently going to be two of the houses in Tilden Gill that are owned by a housing association.

Evidently the developer, Gatefield Estates, has a ton of money with which to force the housing association to sell the houses to them, which they will then demolish in order to create an access road.
Feeling pissed off yet? I know I am.

The public inquiry will be held at the Civic Centre in Tannery Lane, Ashford, on Feb 23, 24 & 25 next week. I encourage everyone who can attend to go and lodge your objections (again)!

Monday, January 25, 2016

10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.  (reference)

Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer's market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.

Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  'Nuff said.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.  Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be "rugged" or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic.  In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. (reference)

Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.

Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.  Whether it's the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.
Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism. Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination. (reference)

Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling "Name brand" fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Pink Lady Apples, Maris Piper Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out different varieties.

Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.  When you buy local, you give those with local open space - farms and pastures - an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.