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Rochester airport £4.4m revamp a step closer despite opposition

Controversial plans to redevelop Rochester Airport at a cost of £4.4 million to the taxpayer have moved a step closer to becoming a reality.

The council’s cabinet agreed yesterday to send the project, which could create up to 1,000 jobs, to a full council meeting in January for approval.

An aerial shot of Rochester Airport
An aerial shot of Rochester Airport

More than 700 residents – nearly 80% of those who responded to the official consultation - have contacted the council to say they are against the idea; citing concerns about noise, safety and the effect on house prices.

The cash would be spent on building a concrete runway and improving facilities, freeing up land to be sold or leased to businesses at the Maidstone Road site in Chatham.

In a report prepared for the meeting, a cap on the number of aircraft movements per year and restrictions on flying at weekends were recommended to address the concerns of residents.

It also cites guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority which says a concrete runway is safer and quieter than a grass one because planes need less runway space to take off and land.

On house prices prices, the council said it has investigated and there is no evidence expanding the airport will affect the value of residents' homes.

At the cabinet meeting, finance chief Cllr Alan Jarrett sounded a disparaging note on the negative responses to the consultation.

He said there was “a great deal of difference between responses to a consultation that come in of their own volition” and those on pre-printed forms - a reference to the campaigning of the Say No to Rochester Airport Masterplan group.

Wilson Avenue resident Bill McLennan, who has led that campaign, was in the public gallery and called Cllr Jarrett an idiot as the discussion was winding up.

If the redevelopment is approved in January a planning application will be lodged and voted on so work can begin.

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