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People in Gravesend are petitioning against government plans to concrete over farmland

12 December 2013
by Lizzie Massey

Land to the west of Wrotham Road is earmarked for development and more than 350 residents have signed a petition opposing it.

Father-of-three Joe Balsom, an underwriter at an insurance firm, is leading the campaign. He said: “The development will be just around the corner from where I live and is set to be massive.

Protest group of mums and kids

Protest group of mums and kids

“There’s no indication of what infrastructure will be in place for this, no schools or hospitals. I don’t know how Gravesend can support the development.

“My daughter’s school has already had to expand, there just won’t be room for all the children from these houses.

“We also don’t want our greenery and farmland concreted over.”

Earlier this year housing giant Persimmon and Bovis Homes said they hoped to build 300 homes there, but Gravesham council was against it.

But when the council recently submitted its Local Development Framework to the government for approval, a government inspector demanded changes be made.

The council proposed 4,600 homes be built within the next 18 years but the government ordered the figure be increased to 6,170 – and the land adjacent to Coldharbour Road earmarked for 550 of them.

Council leader John Burden (Lab) said: “I’m disappointed that our previous submission wasn’t accepted.

“It reflected local issues and local choice of housing and numbers.

“But the inspector, who implements government policy, has said we now have to release that section of land, as well as look at other sites in the borough for additional housing.”

Land still must be found for 1,000 of the homes demanded by the government and the council is working with parish councils and communities to find the most appropriate areas.

Cllr Burden said there was nothing the council could do, as the government overrules them, “because they want housing built”.

Mr Balsom, 33, of Chalky Bank, Gravesend, added: “To go about changing this decision is going to be difficult, but we’re prepared to keep going and raise awareness.

“It makes a mockery of our system when the government can override the local authority, on local issues.

“The council should be able to make this decision.”

You can sign the petition HERE.


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