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1,086 homes in Sturry and Broad Oak, near Canterbury, approved by city councillors

Controversial plans for more than 1,000 homes have been given the green light by councillors in the face of overwhelming opposition from residents and environmental campaigners.

It follows a u-turn by Canterbury City Council's planning committee, which had previously rejected a bid for 650 homes in Sturry - on the outskirts of the city - resulting in the withdrawal of an associated application for 456 homes on a neighbouring site in Broad Oak.

1,086 homes have been approved across Sturry and Broad Oak
1,086 homes have been approved across Sturry and Broad Oak

The two applications - this time with 20 fewer homes in a revised Sturry scheme - were brought before the same committee last night and narrowly approved by seven votes to five.

The proposals include a new primary school, community space and section of a new relief road for Sturry.

Following the initial refusal in November, council leader Ben Fitter-Harding wrote to Conservative members on the planning committee warning them of their legal obligation to deliver the Local Plan, which allocates both sites for housing.

Approval of the schemes, which form one strategic housing site, is also vital to provide funding towards a £29m Sturry Relief Road, members were reminded.

When resubmitted plans returned to the committee for reconsideration last night, planning officers claimed the previous reasons for refusal, including over -density, damage to ancient woodland, drainage and a lack of affordable housing, had been addressed.

Yet the only significant changes were a reduction of 20 homes to 650 for the Sturry site, and the re-siting of the proposed primary school.

The new applications were again widely criticised at the virtual meeting, held via YouTube with numerous objections on environmental grounds, including those from Sturry Parish Council, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Woodland Trust.

An illustrative image of homes earmarked for the developments
An illustrative image of homes earmarked for the developments

Resident Heather Stennett told members the proposed 15-metre buffer protecting the woodland was "woefully inadequate"

And Roshna Amhad said it remained a "sloppy and damaging" plan, the effects of which would last for generations.

Cllr Nick Eden Green said he was in favour of housing developments on the sites but stuck to his previous view that the housing did not meet environmental standards for the future and there was a lack of connectivity between the two developments.

But Cllr Ashley Clark said he had looked more deeply into the legal arguments for refusing the plans and had come to the conclusion they would not stand up at appeal and he would now "reluctantly" vote in favour of the developments.

But nobody was impressed by the three- and four-storey blocks of flats planned as affordable housing in Broad Oak, which many thought would create a "ghetto" effect.

The homes will be built on land at Sturry and Broad Oak
The homes will be built on land at Sturry and Broad Oak

A motion to reject the Sturry element of the scheme was defeated and the plans, which are only for outline permission and will have to come back for detailed approval, were granted.

The full, detailed scheme for Broad Oak's 456 homes and outline planning for more than 800 sq m of commercial space was also granted.

Numerous conditions will be attached to both developments

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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