Here is our customary Festive Greeting visual message!
Then another favourite historical picture from the fields, before some wintry ones from earlier in the decade (its been a while since it snowed here!)
Textually, a quick update only. First, despite having indicated that it would be moving from its”Conceptual Master Plan” consultation to a comparable process in relation to the substantive Master Plan by now, the University authorities have been silent on the matter this month. The reason for the delay has not been made known.
Second, in relation to the proposed “Green Gap” status for the fields proposed in the draft District Plan, the Planning Inspectorate wrote to Canterbury City Council on 15th December to indicate that the policy has “not been justified” (read the letter here) It is important to clarify what this does and does not mean, since a misleading local press report last week carried the headline that the letter indicates the fields “do not merit protected status” (Kent online 16th December).
There are two reasons this is incorrect. First, the letter relates to the legal-procedural appropriateness of the methods used to underpin the claim for “green gap” status – what processes Canterbury City Council has undergone from a technical point of view to “justify” this status. The Inspector is saying that CCC has not followed expected due process in this narrow sense, and is not asserting that the fields do not deserve protection, as the headline, and to an extent the report itself, seem to suggest. Furthermore, and secondly, the letter explicitly acknowledges that there is already, in other legal provisions, protection for this land, as an area of High Landscape Value. (“Given the status of this area as part of an Area of High Landscape Value and the purposes of Green Gap policy, its designation as a Green Gap has not been justified”) and this vital contextual observation is not mentioned at all in the newspaper report.
In toto, it initially seems a little disappointing that the Master Plan process has apparently stalled, and that, at the moment, the Inspectorate’s position – subject to further consultation – is that Green Gap status is not “needed”. But a temporary “pause” by the University authorities is perhaps not such a problem in the grand scheme of things, and could even signify a new found willingness to listen to the University and local communities. While an advantage of the Inspectorate’s letter, if read correctly and fully, is that it highlights the relevance of existing protections for the fields. .