Monday 9th January 2023
St George’s Court
Clarion has applied to the Lands Tribunal to remove the Over 55 Use Covenant that applies to St George’s Court only. They have not applied to remove the covenant in other areas.
Wrotham Parish Council (WPC) is against the removal of the Over 55 Covenant and wrote to the Lands Tribunal accordingly. Read our letter below.
WPC last had a meeting with Clarion about 8 years ago which Harry, Pete and Lesley attended. We tried to broker a compromise that would have kept elderly facilities in St George’s Court, but Clarion refused to cooperate. Since then, Clarion has refused to talk to WPC and that continues to this day.
WPC successfully opposed a planning application on the site for a 3-storey development of flats and we also won at appeal where the plans were dismissed. This was funded separately and entirely by Wrotham Parish Council.
WPC represented members of the public at the Lands Tribunal and were successful in maintaining the covenant. When Clarion’s planning application was dismissed at appeal, Clarion asked for consideration of the covenant to be adjourned. The Judge refused and Clarion conceded; hence the covenant remained in place.
WPC spent over £70,000 of public (donated) money in achieving the rejection, the money was largely but not entirely donated by Keep Boroughs Green.
Clarion subsequently applied for a considerably smaller planning application for a 38-unit, two storey development of houses and flats that did not impact the trees on site. T&MBC granted the application in June 2021, but Clarion has not started the development.
The current situation is that the covenant is in place and Clarion has an existing consent to demolish the existing buildings and build the 38-unit development.
After the planning consent was granted, WPC took barristers advice as to whether Clarion could successfully apply to the Lands Tribunal again to have the covenant removed. The advice was that they could apply again and were, in her opinion, likely to be successful. The main reason they previously failed was because their first planning application was refused. The barrister argued that as Clarion did not have a consented development then there was no alternative use, so the Court should not remove the covenant. The barrister concluded that Clarion now has a consented development which is likely to be accepted by the Court to be a reason for removing the covenant, given that the previous residents were rehoused.
It is also the case that those involved in setting up the covenant have subsequently died and only limited numbers of residents who live in a defined area, are eligible to object at the Lands Tribunal.
Given the Barrister’s advice and the amount of money spent previously, Keep Boroughs Green has indicated that they do not have sufficient funds to oppose the current application to remove the covenant on 1-57 St George’s Court TN15 7DN
The empty properties are attracting high levels of vandalism and anti-social behaviour and WPC is extremely concerned that we have such a situation in the village centre. The current state of the vandalised buildings is unknown as is the cost or viability of refurbishment.
WPC and Cllr Harry Rayner have been active in pressurising T&MBC to motivate Clarion to make use of the site rather than leaving it empty and festering. T&MBC has allowed Clarion to leave the site empty for far too long.
It is WPC’s understanding that there is currently nothing to stop Clarion from legally demolishing the site as part of their current planning consent but this does not affect the covenant, which remains in place until the Lands Tribunal rules otherwise.
Cllr Pete GillinObjectors Supporting Letter