Published: 00:02, 06 April 2018
| Updated: 18:54, 06 April 2018
Medway Council has been accused of ignoring 12,000 people after including Lodge Hill in its draft local plan.
Ownership of the land was passed to Homes England who is now preparing a proposal to build on 47.8 hectares of the 365 hectares of land owned by the government, as stated in the local plan draft.
Outline plans suggest 2,000 homes and a primary school could be built as well as a local centre for businesses and retail.
The land was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 2013 based on its nightingale population.
So when plans to build 5,000 homes - which has now been reduced to 2,000 – were put on the table there was outcry from local residents.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has now encouraged people to share their views again and stop the council from destroying one of the last remaining homes of the nightingale.
Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s England director, said: “Every year the tiny nightingale flies thousands of miles from Africa to spend the summer at Lodge Hill, bringing its delightful song to the Kent countryside and raising its young.
“With one of the few places where nightingales are thriving under threat, thousands of people have used their voice at every stage to oppose plans to build at Lodge Hill.
“We need the local council to recognise that there is a nationally significant site on their doorstep that must be protected and celebrated. So we are asking people to once again make their voices heard so that local decision-makers can see the strength of feeling for our nightingales and special places.”
Greg Hitchcock, Kent Wildlife Trust, said: "Medway Council received the message loud and clear that there is a huge amount of opposition to destroying this nationally important area, both from within Medway and around the country, but their new local plan still included plans to build on the site.
“We need to shout louder to protect this vulnerable site and others like it."
In response to the concerns raised by both bodies, a spokesman for Homes England said: “We remain committed to bringing forward new homes at Lodge Hill in line with government policy to use surplus public land to bring forward the delivery of new homes, but in a manner that is sensitive to important environmental considerations.
“We recognise the importance of ensuring development at Lodge Hill is sensitive to its environmental constraints. We are currently developing our options for the site and will publish proposals later this year.
“We will proactively communicate with the local community at this time.
Dave Harris, Head of Planning at Medway Council, said: “Local authorities are required by the Government to set a Local Plan to identify how an area could evolve and provide enough homes, jobs and infrastructure for a growing population.
"The Local Plan is not just about providing new housing - it also considers ensuring sustainable growth, maintaining parks and historic sites, and providing new areas of green spaces for people to enjoy. We are consulting on four scenarios as part of Medway’s emerging Local Plan and Lodge Hill is included in one of them.
"We are encouraging people to have their say on the four scenarios and we welcome feedback - we will be carefully considering all comments received as part of this consultation.”