Published: 16:00, 15 October 2015
| Updated: 16:23, 15 October 2015
Opponents of plans to build almost 500 homes on countryside near home are reeling from news the application has gone to the planning inspectorate.
But they remain determined to fight.
Taylor Wimpey’s plan to build 475 homes on greenfield land west of Hoo was emphatically kicked out by Medway Council, but that decision is now at risk of being overturned by the government if the developer gets their way.
Last week former councillor Chris Irvine tweeted a copy of the letter showing the house builder was take the matter above the heads of Medway's planning committee.
Wendy Gillespie, who lives in nearby Vidgeon Avenue, is among those preparing to go into battle with the developers once more.
“It’s a shame,” she said. “I’m quite upset about it. It looks like we’re going to have to start getting together again and fighting, but to be honest they’re bigger than us and they’re not going to walk away from a piece of land.
“From our point of view, it’s our nearest piece of land with a view. My daughter loves to go up there and look at the cows. Her and her friends love playing up there and the freedom of it.
“Once that’s gone it’s gone, and there’s no getting it back.”
More than 1,000 letters of objection were sent into the council earlier this year and even before Medway Council’s planning committee meeting, the odds looked stacked against the scheme.
Planning officers labelling it “unsustainable” and liable to “cause significant harm to the landscape” in a report that advised members to refuse permission.
“If there was a competition for disregard to local communities, this application would win the top prize,” said Peninsula ward councillor Tony Watson during the planning meeting, and added: “The applicant is seeking to destroy a vital rural buffer between Hoo and Chattenden.”
Ron Sands, of the Hands off Hoo campaign group, welcomed the decision but at the time feared the battle was far from over; and his concerns were appropriately placed.
“We always guessed they would do that,” he said this week. “What we’re doing at Hands off Hoo is continuing to write individual letters of objection and talking to as many people as possible. It’s about loss of farmland, loss off community, loss of amenity, the hospital under pressure.”
Although, Medway Council had thrown the plans out, he believed they wouldn’t back campaigners in a planning inquiry.
“We’ve got to keep up the pressure,” he added. “It’s quite apparent Medway Council intend to join the Hoo Peninsula to the rest of the Medway towns. But the peninsula is unique and we have to fight to keep it that way.
“Since Lodge Hill has been halted - temporarily we believe - a lot more of these piecemeal developers will try their luck. That’s what Taylor Wimpey is doing.”