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Future plans for Deangate Ridge on Hoo unclear

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Concerned campaigners will have to wait and see what the future has in store for a former recreation site.

Medway Council officers have set out their response to a petition calling on the authority to ditch a proposal to build a relief road through part of the Deangate site in Dux Court Road, Hoo, which includes a former golf club and sports complex.

Deangate Ridge Indoor Bowling Green
Deangate Ridge Indoor Bowling Green

A document consulted on between January and April included a proposal for a road which would pass through a southern section of Deangate, linking Upchat roundabout to the Main Road Hoo roundabout.

The document set out part of the council's initial vision for how it will spend £170 million from the government's Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) which centres around building 12,000 homes on the peninsula with supporting infrastructure.

The petition gained 2,809 signatures and was separate to a paper-based petition by the same group, the Deangate Community Partnership, which was presented in Parliament last month by MP Kelly Tolhurst.

The council's initial response to the petition said the forthcoming draft Local Plan would include another document called the Hoo Development Framework which will include a masterplan for sustainable development on the Peninsula.

A report presented to councillors states how there will be consultations with community stakeholders on the Hoo Development Framework "in the coming weeks".

George Crozer, chairman of Deangate Community Partnership and High Halstow Parish Council and Cllr Ron Sand (Ind)
George Crozer, chairman of Deangate Community Partnership and High Halstow Parish Council and Cllr Ron Sand (Ind)

The petition was presented to the council's regeneration, culture and environment overview and scrutiny committee last Thursday.

Explaining the need for the relief road, the council's deputy chief executive and director of place, Richard Hicks, said: "Its intention is to reduce the traffic on Peninsula Way.

"Our HIF proposals are not about providing access to the Deangate site."

Addressing residents' ongoing concerns the area could be developed for housing, Mr Hicks referred to the draft Local Plan – which set out future planning policies – coming forward this autumn.

He said: "As the Local Plan is being developed, we will be making decisions there and will set out some of those land uses and the longer term future of Deangate."

Kelly Tolhurst MP
Kelly Tolhurst MP

He added while he appreciated people's concerns, the appropriate time to debate the Local Plan would come in due course.

In response, Cllr Simon Curry (Lab) said: "At the end of the day, somewhere within the melee of conversation we're having around this, developers have been talked to there's been meetings had with housing developers already.

"There are probably plans for the site, I suspect, and we're not seeing any of that information in the public domain.

"It would be nice to know whether or not Deangate and the golf course and sports complex are to be developed or not. I mean, it's not a difficult question to answer."

The site's Asset of Community Value (ACV) status runs out in April 2023.

Medway Council's Richard Hicks
Medway Council's Richard Hicks

The council was criticised by lead petitioner and chairman of Deangate Community Partnership George Crozer for not acknowledging the status in its initial response to the petition.

In presenting the petition, Mr Crozer urged the council to ensure there is sufficient protection given to the neighbouring Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is an important habitat for nightingales.

Addressing the weight given to ACVs in the planning process, the council's planning manager, Catherine Smith, explained while the designation is a material consideration when developments are considered, it is not a binding constraint against them.

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