Published: 06:00, 21 July 2021
D-Day has arrived for ambitious plans to revamp a disused riverside site with 1,500 homes, shops, restaurants and bars.
The proposed Albion Waterside development next to the Gravesend canal basin is due to be decided on by councillors tonight.
Gravesham council’s planning committee is making the decision on the application by Joseph Homes and its subsidiary JH Milton Ltd.
The application was initially meant to be discussed by the committee on July 7 but was pulled at the eleventh hour at the request of the applicants to respond to concerns raised during the consultation phase.
A hybrid planning application consisting of two parts is being considered by councillors setting out plans for six blocks up to 23-storeys tall after plans were revealed last year.
The first consists of a request for full planning permission to demolish existing buildings and structures to be replaced by a mixed use development on 1.7 hectares of the overall site.
This would also include commercial spaces as well as work to build a new river wall, swing bridge repairs, highways improvements to Milton Road and Ordnance Road and public open spaces including the Thames and Medway Canal.
Developers have also proposed to create a new riverside walk as well as a public plaza around the canal basin.
The second part of the development will request outline approval to demolish buildings for a second phase of the site for a mixed use development and to reserve specific matters on the remaining 3.7 hectares.
Joseph Homes said it is expecting to see lower profit returns due to the extensive infrastructure costs to redevelop the site.
It is proposing to spend £16m on flood defences (£3.25m), contaminated land remediation (£5.85m) and transferring electricty from Ebbsfleet (£6.85m).
As a result it wants to provide just 11% of the total homes to be made available through “affordable” schemes such as shared ownership or social rents.
The site has been subject to two major redevelopment proposals in the past in 2003 and 2014.
One approved in 2003 saw only part of the scheme brought forward and did not include the site now being proposed by Joseph Homes.
Outline permission was also granted in 2014 but the project never materialised and planning permission expired in 2016.
The latest proposals include 4,500 sq m of commercial space, 750 car parking spaces, electric vehicle charging points, and a shuttle bus service to the town centre.
Unresolved objections received from the Environment Agency and Highways England which delayed the decision earlier this month have now been withdrawn, a council report said.
Councillors have been recommended to grant permission and delegate authority to officers to approve planning conditions.
The council must also refer the plans, if approved, to the Secretary of State due to more than double the housing allocation being proposed than covered under the council’s Local Plan.
A council report said: "In conclusion, it is considered that the current proposal is acceptable in principle following a consideration of potential significant impacts, its alignment with adopted Local Plan policy, and the need to optimise the use of previously developed land within the urban area in accordance with national policy.
"The development as proposed will also bring forward significant economic benefits, high-quality public realm and recreation spaces for residents, employees and the wider community including the safeguarding of the line of the former Thames and Medway Canal within the site and improved connectivity with a Riverside Walkway.
"There are still ongoing discussions between the applicants and the Gravesend Sailing Club supported by the Royal Yachting Association in terms of appropriate levels of mitigation to offset the impacts of the development from wind effects on recreational activity within the River Thames."
The report added this could be addressed through a planning condition if the application is granted.