As we reported on October 10th, Canterbury City Council has been forced to withdraw its own planning permission for a £3.6 million expansion of the Wincheap park and ride on to the water meadows opposite Hambrook Marshes.

However, while it is encouraging that the council has been forced, somewhat ignominiously, to withdraw its plans, what we have now is not a victory for common sense and the environment, but merely, at this stage, a further delay in what is now a long-running saga. The council has withdrawn from the battle, but may regroup and fight again another day. What the council’s statement doesn’t mention is that the entire social and economic climate in the country has been upturned by the current pandemic. It now looks as though a large part of the workforce will be operating from home permanently, and our shopping habits have been radically altered, all of which can only reduce demand for extra park and ride facilities.

The most amazing point to emerge from this fiasco is that the council should have awarded itself the planning permission before the new road layout had been approved by Highways England. Highways England’s bald statement was that the slip road plans “were not compliant with national standards and regulations”, presumably referring to the sharp curve, worthy of an Alpine hairpin bend, that would have been needed to link the off-slip to a new roundabout. 

So, two cheers for a reprieve, but don’t relax your vigilance.

Sunday 11th October saw a celebration of the reprieve for the Wincheap Water Meadow. Among those present at short notice were our MP Rosie Duffield, and local councillors Pat Edwards, Michael Dixey and Nick Eden-Green. Ratty, the campaign’s Wind-in-the-Willows mascot, was delighted.