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Residents object to plan for houses at Broomhill Park in Strood

A usually quiet spot at the top of a scenic park was packed with residents, councillors, and even Mark Reckless MP on Saturday to discuss controversial plans to build houses there.

The near-panoramic tip of Broomhill Park in Strood, thought to be one of the highest points in Medway, was crowded with residents taking it in turns to speak through a megaphone voicing their opinions on a developer’s plan to build a four and three-bedroom house within the buried reservoirs on Gorse Road.

Andrew Millsom, a chartered surveyor, outlines his detailed objections to the application
Andrew Millsom, a chartered surveyor, outlines his detailed objections to the application

The site visit was organised by councillors in order to help them consider whether to approve or reject the planning application. The majority of those attending the meeting appeared to be against the plans, with any opposing views receiving heavy applause.

Chris Webb, 65, of Chequers Court in Strood, said: “I hope that it is indicative to the planning committee that the number of people that have come here to oppose this plan shows that it cannot be allowed to happen.

“If this were to be granted, it would be extremely difficult to see in my view as a layman what benefit it would bring to the community.”

Joanna Stark, a teacher from Strood, said: “How can it be that the houses will not impact on the view when the very reason for building the houses is because of this view? There will be some visual impact on the park.

People gather at the site of the planned houses
People gather at the site of the planned houses

“This area is much loved and residents have worked hard to make this place look absolutely outstanding. We can not let this development ruin that.”

John Hill, a resident from Cuxton Road, said: “Strood is lacking in open space. And it is precisely for this reason why this land should be kept as open space. The views that we have from the hill are entirely unparalleled. We must protect that.”

However, one resident was brave enough to express his approval of the plans to the group despite multiple jeers from crowd members mocking his opinion. The man, named Dan, who rushed off visibly frustrated at the end of his speech, said: “We have had a lot of problems with drug dealing and anti-social behaviour at the spot, and I think building houses here would put a stop to that.”

Mark Reckless, UKIP MP for Rochester and Strood, also paid a visit to the site to have his say. He said: “It is clear that this land is cherished by the community here, and I can only echo what the previous speakers have so eloquently put that this would spoil things for people.

Roger Thomas speaks at the site meeting
Roger Thomas speaks at the site meeting

“I would also say as other people have that this outstanding view is one of the highest points and to have something so completely out of character would be wrong. This is an open space and I do not think that council policy should be changed to change this.”

Also attending was the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Naushabah Khan. She said: “I have visited this park and looked around and seen just how many people, not just from Strood, but across the county come here to use it.

“It is naïve to think that this would have no impact on the park at all. It would clearly upset the view. Our concern is that if you start building here then what’s stopping other areas being built on?

“We all understand that there is a housing problem, but we have got to be sure that we take the needs of the community into consideration.”
The application is due before the next planning committee.

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