Canterbury City Council rejects plans for Highland Court Farm Development
Canterbury City Council’s planning committee has rejected plans to build a £125 million sports and leisure complex – featuring 175 Cotswold-style holiday homes – on an area of outstanding natural beauty at Highland Court Farm, just outside Canterbury.
The local developer Quinn Estates was also hoping to build a new stadium for Canterbury City FC along with six new pitches for the city’s rugby club on the protected countryside.
Here, Mark Quinn, Chairman of Quinn Estates, shares his statement in response to the City Council’s decision:
“Canterbury City Council’s Local Plan was clear in its vision – a dynamic and strong economy, support for local enterprise, developing the district’s tourism offer and enhancing the quality of life for residents. Our plans for Highland Court would have delivered on all these fronts.
“Over the last two years, we engaged extensively with local residents, stakeholders and businesses, resulting in a smaller, more compact scheme but no less exceptional and exciting in what it offers – and one which promised to be Canterbury’s exemplar and flagship.
“This development could only ever take place in this location. It is because of its idyllic setting in the AONB, because of its under-utilised junction, because of its nationally significant cycle and walking routes that this scheme could only ever succeed here.
“These holiday homes, which cannot go next to an urban area would have paid for these sporting facilities, providing the overnight stays that the local economy needs. Our business park plan would have doubled the number of jobs, from 1,500 to 3,000, a significant boost in these uncertain times.
“Over time, the list of people supporting our plans has grown with Visit Kent, Locate in Kent, the city’s education sector and the two biggest sports clubs in the city all seeing our proposals as crucial for the future of Canterbury and a fantastic legacy for future generations.
“It is the combination of uses, the business park, the holiday homes, sporting and education facilities that we believed made our scheme a compelling one, but the planning committee have not been able to see the bigger picture on this occasion.”
“The decision by the City Council’s planning committee last night sadly strikes a blow for sustainable, community driven development.
“Our vision for Highland Court Farm was not borne out of any zeal to destroy what is a beautiful part of East Kent, but to create something special that would have delivered real benefits for the people of Canterbury.
“That would have included a new stadium for Canterbury FC, giving them a permanent home for the first time. Last night the pleas of the club and supporters were ignored, despite being warned their survival depends on it.
“Regardless of the council’s decision, I hope that this isn’t the end for the club. If there’s one good thing to come out of this decision is the attention our proposals have brought to their cause.
“I hope that the council and others will sit up and listen to the club’s many supporters who voiced their backing for our plans from the start and now put some real effort into finding a permanent solution. For us, it’s back to the drawing board. We’ll now review what has been said and decide our next steps in due course.”