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Turtle doves and rare plants lead to hold up in decision on 210 homes in Betteshanger, near Deal

Concern about rare birds and plants has stalled a decision on plans for 210 new homes.

The plight of turtle doves was among the reasons Dover District Council could not make a decisive ruling on the scheme, proposed by Quinn Estates, for a plot opposite Betteshanger Park, near Deal.

An artist's impression of the proposed scheme at Sholden. Picture: Quinn Estates
An artist's impression of the proposed scheme at Sholden. Picture: Quinn Estates

Councillors could only narrowly vote that they were "minded" to approve in principle if ecology issues were resolved and a further report came back to them.

That went through by the casting vote of planning committee chairman James Back after the other councillors were split 5-5.

The committee discussed the application for more than two hours last night (Thursday), finishing only at 10.55pm.

The meeting, with other applications discussed, had begun at 5.30pm.

This form of vote was to help the applicants know where they stood so far.

Image of the planned Betteshanger Grove. Picture: Quinn Estates
Image of the planned Betteshanger Grove. Picture: Quinn Estates

The council's ecology department said that wildlife had reclaimed the area since Betteshanger Colliery closed in 1989 and had worries about the effects of this scheme on birds and rare plants.

One such plant is lythrum hyssopifolia, which is only found in seven areas in this country and for the last time in Kent in 1968, in the Bettshanger area.

There are also at least three pairs of turtle doves and the ecology officers said in a report: "The development will not only destroy most of the feeding grounds, it will also result in a substantial increase in disturbance and predation (preying) by domestic pets."

Quinn Estates wants to create the homes, plus office and shop space, in Sandwich Road, Sholden.

But there is a petition with 3,000 names against it. Among the long list of objections are that it would be too big and out of keeping with the area.

Betteshanger Country Park..Picture: Paul Amos
Betteshanger Country Park..Picture: Paul Amos

Objectors say there would be a huge increase in noise and light pollution, there is little public transport for the new homes' occupants and Sholden is being expected to take too much development.

The development would be opposite the main county park - known as Betteshanger Sustainable Parks.

It would to be called Betteshanger Grove and feature a mix of flats, two, three and four-bedroomed houses and 12 plots for self-builders. A total of 30%, amounting to 63 homes, would be affordable housing.

The proposal also includes plans for a 2,500sqm office and a centre with 150sqm of retail floorspace.

A total of 13 representations were made to the council supporting the scheme saying the district needs more housing and this would create an estimated 200 jobs.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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