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Lodge Hill in Chattenden plans have been withdrawn by Ministry of Defence

By Amy Nickalls

Proposals to build thousands of homes on a former military site are going back to the drawing board after the MoD withdrew a planning application.

The people of Medway have been “let down” by the withdrawal of plans for Lodge Hill, according to the council’s leader.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, a branch of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has withdrawn its application for permission to build 5,000 homes on the site in Chattenden.

Views of the former Lodge Hill army camp in Chattenden
Views of the former Lodge Hill army camp in Chattenden

Plans were given the green light by the council in 2014 but the decision was put to the Secretary for State for Communities and Local Government.

This is the second time plans have been withdrawn after concerns the area was home to rare nightingales prompted developer Land Securities to withdraw proposals in 2015.

Cllr Alan Jarrett has slammed the MoD saying it is afraid of the RSPB.

He told the Messenger: “I’m appalled by it. It’s been dragged on and on for years and it leaves us in limbo in regards to the number of houses in our local plan.

“I feel Medway has been let down by the whole thing and the agencies are running scared of the RSPB.

Medway Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett
Medway Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett

“I know there has to be a balance between the environment and building houses but it’s a pretty shameful state to be in when we are so desperate for new homes.”

The RSPB was delighted with the announcement after campaigning for the protection of the land for several years.

Andre Farrar, who works for the charity, wrote on the RSPB blog: “It is a major milestone in the battle to #SaveLodgeHill, and indeed a moment to cheer.

“If you were one of those 12,000 people who in 2014 asked the government to ‘call in’ the application you can feel very proud.

“So, too, can the 12,000 people who this year called on Medway Council to remove Lodge Hill from its draft Local Plan.

“I’m sure when you take part in a campaign, it can seem like a little voice in the wilderness, but the strength comes when those voices combine.

Our heartfelt thank you.”

The council has to build 30,000 new homes by 2035 to keep up with the growing population.

The MoD has been contacted for comment.

Cllr Naushabah Khan, Medway Labour’s housing spokesman, said: “This is very worrying for housing delivery in Medway, given that we have a housing shortage and a waiting list of 20,000 people.

“It opens us up for piecemeal development across the area and seriously reduces our

ability to get the necessary infrastructure that our area needs.”

“I feel Medway has been let down by the whole thing and the agencies are running scared of the RSPB..." - Cllr Alan Jarrett

Medway Labour Group leader Cllr Vince Maple said: “This whole process has been a disappointing waste of public money.

“We await any new application before coming to a conclusion, but our support for the previous application was based on the infrastructure of health, leisure, education and employment facilities it offered.

“The alternative is the development of multiple small clusters of housing without the

desperately needed infrastructure.”

Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour spokesman for regeneration, added: “If true this decision simply puts more pressure on other greenfield sites across Medway including Hoo, East Rainham and Capstone Valley.“

BLOB What do you think? Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

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