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Artist's impression of new £63 million high-speed train station planned for £170 million Hoo peninsula development

An artist's impression shows the new £63m railway station destined for £170m town redevelopment scheme.

Around 12,000 homes are likely to be built in the Hoo peninsula over the next 22 years.

An artist's impression of the new station
An artist's impression of the new station

The major development is likely to take place alongside a new £63m London rail link. Over £100m will be spent on road and environment improvements.

Medway Council's cabinet agreed to enter into a contract with Boris Johnson's government over the capital grant yesterday, but the public will still have a say on the proposals as a consultation is extended until May 11.

Ward councillor Ron Sands (Ind), who continues to campaign against the proposed development, described the scheme as "smoke and mirrors" and claims that the area has become a "developer's dream" over the last decade.

Cllr Sands added: "We do not mind houses, we know there has to be them, but 12,000 is too much. Hoo has become a building site over the last 10 years."

His comments came after Medway Council's cabinet held its first virtual public meeting at Chatham's Gun Wharf yesterday due to the coronavirus crisis.

Cllr Ron Sands
Cllr Ron Sands

The unitary authority first expressed interest in the £170m Housing Infrastructure Fund in September 2017 as council chiefs sought to unlock the peninsula for the development of 12,100 homes by 2043.

The funding was approved in November last year.

Around £63m will likely be invested in a new high-speed service connecting the peninsula to London terminals, potentially London Victoria, and other Medway stations. It would be based at Sharnal Street, just off the A228.

The service is expected to enable passengers to change at Gravesend to join the HS1 to London St Pancras. It is hoped that the station will be operational by 2024, but this could be delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Howard Doe (Con), the cabinet member for housing and deputy leader, said: "We know what it's like to have set government housing targets, but we need the right infrastructure to go with it.

"I hope that the HIF ticks this box."

Councillors have been discussing ways in which government money will be spent on the Hoo Peninsula
Councillors have been discussing ways in which government money will be spent on the Hoo Peninsula

Around £86m of the fund is likely to be used to enhance the road network to support Hoo's planned housing developments.

Planned improvements have been made to the A228 and A289 roundabouts at Four Elms, Bells Lane and Ropers Lane to increase capacity at peak times, reduce local congestion and improve air quality.

Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), opposition leader on Medway Council, who is largely in support of the move, said: "We are in the middle of a housing crisis and it's important to have the right infrastructure in every sense of the word."

If approved, just over £14m will be used to protect wildlife and ecology, including the creation of a new country park. Rangers will also be hired.

Risks associated with the development were disclosed to Medway Council's cabinet as part of a report published by officers last week, including potential overrunning costs and impact of a global recession on the housing market.

Cllr Sands added: "There might well be a national housing shortage, but I would like to see the figures for the number of empty houses in Medway that could be converted, such as Mountbatten House in Chatham."

Concerns also continue to be raised over the impact of Covid-19 as Whitehall leaders say that the full £170m must be spent by March 31, 2024.

A public consultation deadline on the proposed Hoo development has been extended to Monday, May 11. It can be viewed here.

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