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Plans revealed by TBH Sheerness Ltd for 147-home development on former HBC Engineering factory site in Power Station Road in Halfway

By Emma Grove

TBH Sheerness Ltd bought the former HBC Engineering site in Power Station Road, Halfway, earlier this year.

Work started straight away to demolish the buildings and the company revealed its plans to redevelop the site at the end of April.

Further details have been revealed about plans to build 147 homes on the former HBC Engineering factory site in Halfway.

Developer TBH Sheerness Ltd held a public exhibition on its proposals last week.

A public exhibition took place at Sheerness Golf Club on Thursday for people to find out about the proposals, which the firm hopes to submit to Swale council within the month.

Paul Graham, of TBH Sheerness Ltd, with the plans for the proposed housing development in Power Station Road, Halfway

It will consist of 147 homes, made up of a mix of apartments and houses, a children’s play area, parking and green spaces.

Director Paul Graham says they hope to have come up with a scheme which has a sense of neighbourhood and community.

He stressed it’s early days in the planning process and there are still consultations to take place and adjustments which can be made if necessary.

Many residents have raised serious concerns about access, which will be off Power Station Road, past Chainstore Massacre, as they say the roundabout at the junction of Halfway Road is already too busy and dangerous.

Mr Graham says he has listened and will be in discussions with Kent Highways, which will advise them if they need to contribute towards any road improvements if they feel the development will have an impact.

“If Kent Highways deem a deficiency, then we will have to put it right,” he said.

He said the feedback they received from the exhibition was a mixed bag.

Some people said they expected to see twice the number of dwellings so they are pleased it’s not more, it’s in keeping with the area, there’s a lot of green space and it looks better now the factory has gone.

Others said they wanted the site to stay as it was and a few had wanted Sainsbury’s.

Concerns raised included drainage (a balancing pond for excess surface water is included in the proposal) and worries about there being enough lighting.

Artist impression of how the proposed new housing development for Power Station Road, Halfway, could look

People also asked about infrastructure and Mr Graham said Swale council will ask the company to contribute to the community if there are impacts from the development.

Mr Graham said he knows they are never going to please everybody but they want to take the time to listen.

The amount of affordable housing on site has yet to be determined and TBH will negotiate it with Swale council.

The maximum it could be is 30%, which would be 44 houses.

As for the money, which will be put into the investment, Mr Graham said that is also yet to be determined and there are viability studies going on at the moment.

They hope to know a cost in the coming months.

At the exhibition, a number of people said they don’t really want a convenience store in the development, and he said they would be open to looking at other options for the building.

Suggestions included a medical centre and a pharmacy.

“This is outline and is subject to change, but we have got to start somewhere and we feel this is a very good start,” Mr Graham said.

“We have tried to come up with a scheme that has got a sense of neighbourhood and community and is somewhere people are going to want to live.

“We have tried to make sure everybody has a view over some sort of green space – if it’s not attractive for people to buy, they won’t sell.

“We are not trying to over intensify – we are trying to provide something that actually will work and fits with the community that exists.”

Susan Moore, who lives on the corner of Power Station Road, is concerned about the impact the development would have.

The 62-year-old, who was strongly opposed when Sainsbury’s was going to come to the site, says she often gets flooded with sewage and is worried an increase in houses will make the drainage system worse.

Artist impression of how the convenience store could look if it goes ahead in Power Station Road, Halfway

She also has issues with the busy road and says sometimes it can be so bad her house shakes.

“The roundabout is so dangerous – people just cut across it,” she said. “I have trouble getting out of my drive.

“This area doesn’t need any more housing – I think it’s unnecessary to overdevelop this area, especially as they don’t supply the services we require such as roads.”

John Davis, of Buddle Drive, said his main concern is about the drainage because of the flooding the area suffers and the roundabout, which he said should be made into traffic lights.

“If they go ahead with the building, [the traffic] will all come out just past the bottom of Power Station Road,” the 63-year-old said. “It’s a nightmare there.”

His neighbour John Daniels, 82, is in support of the plan.

He said: “I think it’s a good idea.

Residents Raymond and Georgina Reveley and Paul Hayes of the Halfway Houses Residents' Association examine the plans for the new housing development

“Housing is a necessity and I know it’s the usual routine of not in my back yard.”

He said he would prefer to see something like a community hall built instead of a convenience store as he doesn’t think a shop would work on the site.

Mr Daniels also agreed the road needs some sort of upgrading if this proposal is to go ahead.

The facts and history

  • The development site is 9.7 acres.
  • It is proposed the 147 dwellings will be made up of 32 two-bedroom apartments, 34 two-bedroom houses, 66 three-bedroom houses and 15 four-bedroom houses.
  • There will be 225 parking spaces for the properties, including garages and driveways.
  • Five retail parking spaces are also planned.
  • There will be a children’s play area in the centre of the development.
  • Mr Graham said it’s difficult to give a timescale for the scheme as it all depends on the planning process and any conditions imposed, but he said digging could possibly start next year.
  • After that, the build is likely to depend on the rate of sale, so if there is high demand for the properties it could be done and dusted within a couple of years, but if there is less demand it well take more time. It will likely be a phased build.
How the site looked before the HBC Engineering factory was demolished
  • TBH says the plan would regenerate a brown field site, the range of dwellings would be in keeping with the area and would remove the large number of HGVs which could access the site if it returned to commercial use.
  • The site was founded in 1959 as Klippons Electricals.
  • HBC Engineering Solutions was formed in 2003 after a management buy-out from former German owner, Weidmuller.
  • It closed in December 2009 and the land went into the hands of administrators Grant Thornton.
  • Developer Citygrove Securities purchased the site and had an application to build a Sainsbury’s approved in January 2012.
  • Communities Secretary Eric Pickles intervened to prevent full permission. Sainsbury’s then pulled out.
  • Citygrove resubmitted an application for a food store a year ago but it was turned down by Swale council’s planning committee due to its potential impact on Sheerness town centre.
  • Ownership reverted back to Grant Thornton and property investment company TBH Sheerness Ltd bought the site early this year.
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