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Land Securities' outline plans for 5,000 homes at Lodge Hill in Chattenden approved by Medway Council

By Clare Freeman

Plans for a controversial housing development on the former Army camp at Chattenden were unanimously approved by Medway Council at a special planning meeting last night.

The “stand-alone, sustainable” development at Lodge Hill will include 5,000 homes, new schools, healthcare facilities, leisure facilities and employment and business space.

The plans will now be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Natural England.

Artist's impression of the new town at Lodge Hill

Robin Cooper, director of regeneration, said: "I am pleased the development at Lodge Hill is being reconsidered with fresh material from Land Securities.

"A new sustainable community in this location will play a substantial role in providing Medway with the new homes and facilities it needs to cater for the growing population.

"This is one of the key regeneration projects in Medway that will shape the future of the area and provide much needed jobs for our young local people."

The former Lodge Hill army camp, Lodge Hill Lane, Chattenden

Lodge Hill was declared at Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) last year, which meant developers Land Securities had to reassess the environmental impact upon the site.

This included finding new homes for the 84 nightingales and other wildlife that inhabit the site - compensation land has been proposed at Shoeburyness, Essex, for the song birds.

The site will also include 65 hectares of open space for parks and wildlife as well as three walking loops.

The proposed site for the Lodge Hill development

Tom Venner, Development Director for Land Securities, said: “We are delighted that Medway Council has approved our Outline Planning Application for Lodge Hill, which will allow for a truly sustainable development to be delivered.

"We have worked hard over several years to create a masterplan which addresses all potential impacts associated with the regeneration plans and we are grateful for the constructive involvement of Council officers, local residents and other important stakeholder groups.

“Lodge Hill will benefit life and business in Medway by bringing much-needed homes and road improvements and will create approximately 5,000 jobs to secure the Peninsula’s status as a significant economic destination in the region.”

Cllr Chris Irvine (far right) and members of the Rochester and Strood Conservatives protested before the planning meeting last night.

At the special planning meeting, six ward councillors from the peninsula were granted permission to speak about the plans.

Cllr Tom Mason said: "The SSSI site is so important and if this was to be agreed it would set a precedent, I believe, that SSSI sites would mean nothing."

Cllr Chris Irvine said: "If this application is approved this evening it would be a death sentence for our environment, our villages and our communities in rural Medway."

View of the area that would be developed

Cllr Phil Filmer and Cllr Peter Hicks expressed concerns about access to and from the site. The plans include new sliproads from the A289 to the site, avoiding Four Elms Roundabout.

As part of the deal, the landowner must enter into a Section 106 agreement – promising to deliver a number of additional projects in Medway to cope with additional demand as a result of the development.

There are 25 conditions, which include:

  • A contribution of £7.5million towards highway and public transport improvements on the A228 and A289 including Sans Pareil Roundabout, Anthonys Way Roundabout, Wulfere Way, Berwick Way and Vanguard Way
  • Provision of three primary schools with a total of eight classes per year group, one school with expertise in special educational needs.
  • A secondary school with a sixth form and sports facilities
  • Contribution of £90,000 towards improvements to the cycle links between the site and Medway City Estate
  • Contribution of £1,040,750 towards off site formal sport at Deangate Ridge

If given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State, work on the site will take place over a 15 to 20-year period, with a target of laying the first brick by early 2016.

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