Published: 12:00, 18 December 2015
Councillors rejected controversial plans to build 450 homes in the picturesque Capstone Valley when it came before the planning committee again earlier this week.
The Attwood family has attempted to develop the area, described as Medway’s green lung, on several occasions, despite a continuing barrage of objection.
Each time the proposals have been met with protest from conservation groups, residents’ associations and parish councils and been rejected by planners at Medway Council.
As they were at the planning meeting held on Wednesday, December 16, when the family lodged an application for outline permission for access roads to the area around Gibraltar Farm in Ham Lane, Hempstead.
It did not deal with details of appearance, landscape and scale, but it prompted anger with 295 letters of objection and a 2,730 signature petition, calling for it to be rejected.
One of the main concerns was that if it was approved it might open the floodgates to develop parcels of open land across Medway.
Chatham MP Tracey Crouch has reiterated her determination to thwart any development.
She said: “Permitting development at Gibraltar Farm would create a precedent for other development to be permitted in Capstone Valley.
“Capstone Valley serves as an important green lung between Chatham, Gillingham and Maidstone and the area should be retained.”
She echoed the feeling of others who felt it would overburden schools, doctors surgeries and the existing road network.
The initial application proposed three access points, including one passing through Hall Wood which is council-owned.
An application was made to the government after the council refused permission to use the land, who found in its favour.
The fresh application proposed sole access from a spur road off North Dane Way, but was rejected by Cllrs on the recommendations of officers.
Officers had recommended refusal for the outline application to build 450 homes with access and estate road and a community park, because of its adverse environment impact on the area, including the loss of the ancient woodland there.
The report said: “While this development would make a contribution towards meeting housing needs in Medway and generate some economic benefits, it is considered that the benefits would be outweighed by significant and demonstrable adverse environmental impact.”