A project that will see 400 homes built on agricultural land has been giving planning approval, despite the developers being described as “abhorrent”.
The site at Coldharbour Road in Gravesend, will see mostly two-storey homes built with 120 designated as affordable housing.
The 453-acre development will be undertaken by Bovis Homes, Persimmon Homes and the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust.
It was given the go-ahead at Gravesham council’s regulatory board meeting despite members of the public and councillors raising concerns.
An aspect of the application regarding Ellenor’s hospice also in Coldharbour Road, infuriated Cllr Lauren Sullivan (Lab) who represents Northfleet North ward.
The palliative care charity want to use a small part of the land, in case its building has to be extended to deal with an increased population and also to protect the integrity of its garden for patients.
The developer said this was possible but could mean cash put aside for affordable housing cut down as a result.
A clearly irritated Ms Sullivan said to a packed chamber: “I find it abhorrent that they are bargaining beds for dying people with affordable homes. There will be help to support families, but at the cost of affordable housing.”
An issue that was discussed in great depth at the meeting was the potentially adverse effect the development could have on traffic on the surrounding roads.
Near the development is a roundabout at the junction of Wrotham Road – which is heavily used by people coming on and off the A2.
Adrian Pigott, from Kent County Council’s (KCC) highways department, said at any time during morning rush hour the difference would be a matter of seconds.
He said: “If you’re moving north to south in the morning it will take only an extra 19 seconds to get on to the A2 with an extra 400 homes in the area.
“When dealing with a road like this, it often results in dualling [adding an extra lane to the road].
“We have to be careful what we wish for because there are a lot of examples where flowing roads have been made worse by bad planning decisions.”
That area of Gravesham is set to experience quite a lot of change in the years to come with a garage, McDonald’s and hotel (also off Coldhardbour Road) all in the pipeline.
Cllr Lee Croxton (Lab), who represents Riverside ward, warned KCC not to overlook such issues.
He said: “We’re not just talking about the [housing] development, we’re already talking about a hotel that will be close to this site and a garage off the roundabout and a McDonald’s which will lure people on to the trunk road. I’m surprised that you’re not assessing these very significant issues.
“I can see an awful lot of congestion around there already and goodness knows what it will be like in the future.”
The developers will now be able to go ahead with their plans but will have to subject to conditions put in place by a section 106 agreement made by the council.
This is when a set of conditions are attached to a planning application that regard infrastructure, open green space, type of housing on site, schools and other aspects.