Published: 00:01, 26 February 2012
Chatham Docks is the potential site for a major redevelopment, including homes and a superstore
by Jenni Horn
Gillingham Football Club has opposed a £650 million project to transform Chatham Docks, fearing it could put an end to its dream to relocate to a new ground.
A decision on ambitious plans that would create a hub of homes, shops and businesses, as well as 3,000 new jobs, is expected to be made next month.
The site for the proposed scheme had previously been earmarked as a potential spot for the Gills’ relocation.
A representative for the club has written to Medway Council to formally oppose the application, on the grounds that it would “sterilise” any opportunities for the club to relocate within Medway.
The proposed scheme - dubbed Chatham Waters - includes a hotel with 200 bedrooms, 475 student apartments and up to 950 flats and houses, as well as an Asda superstore offices, other shops and a conference centre.
Gillingham FC needs to create similar facilities to finance a new stadium that would not burden it with debt.
The club’s letter to Medway Council said: “We are mindful that our representations could be considered to be a reaction to the fact that Gillingham Football Club has been excluded from the Chatham Docks proposals, but that is simply not the case.
“It is not that Gillingham Football Club have been excluded, it is that their own future aspirations have been potentially rendered undeliverable by virtue of the fact that this particular scheme appears to involve all the potential enabling development that the football club had presented as necessary and appropriate for its own relocation.”
Plans for Gillingham FC to move from its current home in Redfern Avenue have been in the pipeline for many years. Chatham Docks is thought to be among a number of locations considered by the club, as well as Cuxton and Gravesham.
Priestfield Stadium is in Redfern Avenue, Gillingham
The letter to Medway Council representing the club has been written by John Collins, a director of DHA Planning. The Maidstone-based firm is involved in numerous projects in Medway including the redevelopment of the former Rochester police station and building work at Brompton Academy and the Bishop of Rochester Academy.
A number of other organisations have also opposed the Chatham Waters development, including Chatham Maritime Trust, Kent Wildfowling and Conservation Association and South East Marine Association.
Kent Fire and Rescue and The Highways Agency have also raised questions about the plans and dozens of locals residents have objected.
A decision on the application has been delayed until March after Medway Council asked for more information.
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