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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Queenborough and Rushenden residents' fears over changes to £400m regeneration project, as the Homes and Communities Agency remains tight-lipped

28 February 2014
by Lewis Dyson

More than 10 years have passed since the Queenborough and Rushenden Regeneration was first discussed.

The project has already seen progress with the Neats Court retail development and the Rushenden Relief Road.

The waterlogged marshes near the Neats Court site next to Morrison's, Queenborough

The waterlogged marshes near the Neats Court site next to Morrison's, Queenborough

However, there are fears that some of the elements that were promised as part of the original masterplan will not be delivered.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) replaced the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) as the driving force behind the project when it closed in March 2012.

When the plan was originally mooted it was billed as a £400m revamp scheme, which included 2,000 new homes – this figure has now been reduced to 1,180.

Jim Christmas, a volunteer at the Gateway in Rushenden Road, said: “Queenborough and Rushenden are back where they have always been.

“They have always been promised all sorts of things over the years and every time they have been let down.

“We all agreed it would be a wonderful thing. Now they are trying to blame the economic climate.”

He said a major concern was two marinas and improvements to the waterside areas, which were part of the original plan, will not go ahead.

Carol Stewart, town councillor, is worried plans for community facilities to replace the Gateway, which she manages, have been downgraded.

She said: “The whole idea was to bring the area up but at the moment I’m worried they are just going to build housing and nothing else and the area will become a sink estate. I’m hoping I’m wrong.”

Cllr Stewart said a school and medical facility were also needed in the area.

Neil Miller, senior development manager at HCA, said: “The masterplan for Queenborough and Rushenden was created in a very different economic climate and what we will have to do is work with the developer to bring forward as much of it as we can.”

He said the HCA is committed to delivering the “primary objectives” of the original proposal, including the school and medical facilities.

He added: “Any proposed amendments to the masterplan would require both public consultation and agreement from the council.”

Work has already begun on making land in Rushenden Road ready for housing, although a developer to build them is yet to come on board.

A spokesman for the HCA said it is looking to start the tender process for the first phase of around 250 homes within the next two weeks.

It aims to select a partner by the end of June, submit a planning application by the end of the year and start building in early 2015.

A planning application for site preparation works on the Klondyke Industrial Estate and Twyfords site was drawn up in December.

This will go to before Swale council’s planning committee next month.

The spokesman gave assurances the works will stop along the boundary of a conservation area and would leave the creek, marshland and saltings – coastal land that is regularly covered by the tide – untouched.

He said: “While the boundary covered by the application extends over some of these areas, this was to cover a potential study of the creek rather than any physical works.”

The second phase of Neats Court is now under way and should be completed in autumn, potentially creating another 250 jobs.

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