Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Can You Hear me Doctor?

I was a substitute councillor earlier this evening at Thanet District Council's Planning Committee. There was an item on part of the old Ellington School site in Grange Road, Ramsgate. With the new Ellington School having been built as part of the brilliant government programme of building new schools the old site is being sold off.

The old playing area is proposed for another excellent development - a new health centre. The current Dashwood House surgery in Southeastern Road is on a cramped an difficult site and would benefit as so many surgeries have in Thanet from moving to new premises like the pictured Moses Montefiore Medical Centre. The problem is that the new proposed site is cramped and difficult for access and parking. The committee agreed to a site visit on the morning of 8th January to examine the area.
The thing that caught my eye was this paragraph tucked away at the end of the report which is available here:
"Kent International Airport has requested a condition requiring noise attenuation scheme be submitted. However, a Health centre is not considered to be noise sensitive use, and therefore it is not considered necessary to condition such a requirement."
What this means is that everytime anybody applies for planning to do some building in Ramsgate under the flightpath to Manston Airport; Kent International Airport asks the Council to tell the people building that the should have double or triple glazing so that they will not hear the noise of the planes so much. So if you're thinking of going into business in Ramsgate double glazing looks like a good business opportunity to consider. Kent International Airport wrote on this planning application:
"no objection, subject to suitable noise prevention scheme being put in place and maintained."
However, because the proposed new health centre is not a residential use the guidance is that extra glazing is not necessary. This leaves the bizarre situation that Kent International Airport is objecting to, and therefore opposing a desperately needed new health centre because it will not be putting in extra glazing!
My view which I expressed at the meeting is that there should be extra glazing as many people using health centres will have hearing problems and the noise of planes could delay and interrupt consultations. It could even lead to mistakes in communication, something to be avoided when diagnosing medical conditions.
I also think double or triple glazing should be mandatory when any planning permission is granted to help with heating costs, and reduce the use of energy to help the environment with the current Copenhagen talks on global warming. Other Councils take a more proactive view on this than Thanet.
Heathrow Airport helps local councils with the costs of extra glazing for schools. It would be good if Kent International Airport as well as requesting people install double glazing could make a financial contribution to help with the glazing needs of schools under the flightpath. I think they should also review why they are opposing a new health centre for the community, because it does not have sufficient glazing.


  1. Astonishing. The irony is, of course, the health centre can expect to be busier as a direct result of the noise of the planes affecting the residents' health. That, and the fact that the airport doesn't have planning consent itself.

    The logical course of action is to prevent the airport from making such a noise in the first place.

  2. And what about the thousands of us who live in the conservation areas? We're stuck with Victorian sash windows. What are we supposed to do about the ****ing noise?

    Not that I would want plastic windows in my Victorian house, I hasten to add, The only solution is for the airport to **** off, or pay for us all to have very expensive, replica, double glazed sash windows!

  3. I wish the airport would close down and leave us all in peace and quiet.

  4. I noted, having been at the Planning Committee to support someone opposing another application, that for this one Highways was going to insist that more parking places were allocated to patients rather than staff. How on earth can that be enforced? With reference to the St. Peter's Surgery also on the planning agenda, someone said that staff were encouraged to use public transport. Now that's interesting as the only 'public transport' anywhere near the St. Peter's Surgery is the once an hour 56 bus, only of any use if you live on that route.

    Why do staff in these venues feel they are entitled to a parking space? Is it considered a 'human right'?

    I've never worked anywhere where parking was given to staff even in large cities. Why should these workers be treated differently? As most doctors no longer do house calls, I hardly think even a GP should be guaranteed a parking space.