Public protest against the potential loss of community facilities when The Gateway closes in August
A public protest has been held over the potential loss of facilities when a major development gets under way.
Users of the The Gateway in Rushenden Road need to find somewhere else to go before the building is demolished in August 2014 to make way for up to 250 homes.
Although the trustees of the community centre had always known it would close, they believe the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), is not keeping to the original masterplan for the project it inherited from the now defunct South East England Development Agency.
They are calling for the development to include a community hall, GP surgery and to prepare a plot for a school.
They also want to see shops, offices and starter units built and for a marina, including a hotel, pub and luxury flats, to become a place of employment.
Around 25 people, including leaders of Sheppey churches, gathered outside the Gateway on Saturday to pray and sign a petition, which is available inside the building, calling for a return to the original plan.
Vicar of the benefice of West Sheppey and trustee, The Rev Tim Hall, said: “We do not believe that economics should drive the plans for a community.
“Anyone interested should go to the Gateway and see the model constructed from the original plans – with all the community facilities.”
Neil Miller, senior development manager at HCA, said: “The master plan 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.
“Any proposed amendments to the masterplan would require both public consultation and agreement from Swale Borough Council.”
The HCA says it is planning to build new community facilities that are more centrally located.
It is working with Kent County Council to decide when a new school will be needed but says a requirement for education facilities may not be triggered until the development gets underway.
It says it is also in discussions with NHS Kent and Medway Property Services on a new medical centre, which could include a GP surgery as well as potentially other health services, such as a dentist.