A technical error meant residents weren’t aware a planning application had been submitted and approved months previously.
Four four-bedroom houses were given the nod in an area of land behind Napier Road, Gillingham - but neighbours say they only found by accident.
Mike Kellar, who lives in a bungalow on the road that gives access to the site, only became aware due to a conversation with a builder working on another house by the same developer.
He said: “We didn’t know anything about it at all, it was only that we got talking and he said ‘I see he’s got approval for them ones,’ and we said ‘What ones?’ We didn’t know anything about it.”
The application was submitted in January and validated in February, meaning the council had decided it contained enough information about the planned development to be considered.
At this point, the plans should have gone out for consultation, meaning they are available to the public to examine.
Nearby residents who might be affected by the building should have been contacted to be made aware of it.
However, locals say they didn’t receive any notice, something the council acknowledged in the case officer report published the same day as the decision notice which approved the plans.
The planning department has a statutory obligation to make residents aware of developments of this kind either by a notice posted in the area or letters sent directly.
They said an error had been made and these letters were not sent, but a notice was posted in the area, therefore the application was sufficiently available for the public to consider and voice concerns.
When Mr Kellar contacted the planning department about residents not being informed, they said this was due to a “technical error”, apologised for the mistake, but said the approval could not be reversed.
He added: “There have been lots of applications over the years, there’s been meetings held, you can do this, you can’t do that, and plans got scaled back. There should’ve been meetings because people are concerned.
“These houses will literally tower over us. The ground level is a metre and a half above our bungalow already, and then they’re three-storey houses.
“We’ll have no sunlight in the house, in the back garden, it’s awful.
“I’m convinced it wouldn’t have gone ahead had we found out about it and had our say on it. I know other residents feel the same.”
The site, in between Napier Road and Nelson Road, is accessible by a small side road and, when completed, will be a cul-de-sac of houses that have been applied for over several years.
An application was made in 2013 for the demolition of a warehouse and two houses which would’ve been replaced by 20 new homes, but it was withdrawn and the number of houses was reduced to nine and approved a year later.
Mike says he’s filed a complaint with the council and has looked into ways of taking it further, but isn’t optimistic about his chances of getting the decision reversed.
“I’m now escalating it to what they call a ‘stage two complaint’, but from what I’ve read online there’s no way the planning can be looked at again.”
He also says in his conversations with the council he’s brought up problems with previous builds on the site which pose a risk to safety.
“I asked if they’d been round and seen the previous works, because they put in a new roadway to the property; it’s collapsing and falling apart. I said it’s a health and safety hazard, someone is going to fall over and hurt themselves.
“They said that’s nothing to do with us, that’s health and safety, but surely, if someone’s doing a poor job, you can’t just keep granting permission to keep doing stuff knowing that it’s of inferior quality and affecting people.”
“We bought this property because it’s secluded, no other houses look onto us, and our garden is a real sun trap. Now that’s all going to go.
“This house was perfect for raising our kids, we’ve loved living here, now we’re thinking of moving but all this will make selling difficult.”