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March warning over plans for 500 more homes off Barton Hill Drive, Minster

27 September 2013
by Andy Gray
The borough will face more house building as the council aims to meet government targets

House buyers are rushing to complete on new homes

Campaigners could take their protest to the streets over plans for 500 more homes on Sheppey.

A march along the Lower Road has been mooted if proposals for a housing development off Barton Hill Drive in Minster are not thrown out.

The dramatic action was suggested by Parsonage Chase resident, Alan Bengall who spoke out about Swale council’s decision to earmark the green field site for a makeover in its Bearing Fruits draft Local Plan.

During a packed Minster Parish Council meeting on Thursday night, Mr Bengall said Sheppey was in danger of becoming a “dumping ground for cheap housing”.

He said: “What would it take to make planners to be made aware of just how much residents of Sheppey do not want Bearing Fruits to come to fruition?

Campaigner Alan Bengall, who has proposed a march against new homes on the Island's greenfield sites

Campaigner Alan Bengall, who has proposed a march against new homes on the Island's greenfield sites

“Maybe a march organised at rush hour along the Lower Road to indicate how it would be with the developments they want to smother the Island with?”
Speaking after the meeting, which was attended by about 40 residents at Friendship House in Love Lane, Mr Bengall, 67, said the idea for a march was “tongue-in-cheek” at first.

“But it got a serious reaction and people were a lot more positive to the thought than I expected,” he said.

He said the wheels for a protest from Thistle Hill to Cowstead Corner would be set in motion if planners took the controversial scheme to a second stage.

A petition drawn-up by Mr Bengall in opposition to the document is due to be presented to Swale council on Monday.

A minimum of 500 homes, including five pitches for gypsies and travellers, are proposed for a 61-acre site to the west of Barton Hill Drive.

As reported in last week’s STG, two members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England opposed to the plan surveyed existing housing sites on Sheppey.

Civil engineer David Orpin and journalist David Jones said their findings demonstrated there is already room for another 840 homes on the Island, making the Minster development surplus to requirements.

Cllr Ken Pugh

Cllr Ken Pugh

Minster Parish Council has responded to the draft Local Plan, calling it “fundamentally flawed”.

A lack of a “jobs first” approach to homes in Swale was among its objections outlined in a report by its working group.

“In addition, the job target is considered too low and does not meet the housing target,” the report said.

“This will create future social and economic problems.”

An official letter opposing the proposal is in the process of being drawn-up by council members.

Speaking out against the plan at Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Ken Pugh, said: “I will be the first to march down the Lower Road.”



The public has until 5pm on Monday to register their views.

The outcome of the consultation is expected to be announced to council members in December.

A number of new smaller sites at the edge of existing settlements have been put forward for extended residential development.

They are in Belgrave Road, Halfway, (140 dwellings), Scocles Court, Scocles Road (14), Minster, Alsager Avenue, Rushenden (22) and two separate sites in Power Station Road, Halfway (totalling 133).

New proposals for residential developments on already developed areas are on the Isle of Sheppey Academy, Minster Road (20), Preston Skreens, Minster Road (24), and the former bus depot at Shellness Road, Leysdown (six).

  • To see the local plan or make comments, visit
  • Email: or write to: Spatial Planning Manager, Swale Borough Council, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 3HT.

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