Published: 09:11, 05 September 2014
Plans for a controversial housing development on the former Army camp at Chattenden were unanimously approved by Medway Council at a special planning meeting last night.
The “stand-alone, sustainable” development at Lodge Hill will include 5,000 homes, new schools, healthcare facilities, leisure facilities and employment and business space.
The plans will now be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Natural England.
Robin Cooper, director of regeneration, said: "I am pleased the development at Lodge Hill is being reconsidered with fresh material from Land Securities.
"A new sustainable community in this location will play a substantial role in providing Medway with the new homes and facilities it needs to cater for the growing population.
"This is one of the key regeneration projects in Medway that will shape the future of the area and provide much needed jobs for our young local people."
Lodge Hill was declared at Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) last year, which meant developers Land Securities had to reassess the environmental impact upon the site.
This included finding new homes for the 84 nightingales and other wildlife that inhabit the site - compensation land has been proposed at Shoeburyness, Essex, for the song birds.
The site will also include 65 hectares of open space for parks and wildlife as well as three walking loops.
Tom Venner, Development Director for Land Securities, said: “We are delighted that Medway Council has approved our Outline Planning Application for Lodge Hill, which will allow for a truly sustainable development to be delivered.
"We have worked hard over several years to create a masterplan which addresses all potential impacts associated with the regeneration plans and we are grateful for the constructive involvement of Council officers, local residents and other important stakeholder groups.
“Lodge Hill will benefit life and business in Medway by bringing much-needed homes and road improvements and will create approximately 5,000 jobs to secure the Peninsula’s status as a significant economic destination in the region.”
At the special planning meeting, six ward councillors from the peninsula were granted permission to speak about the plans.
Cllr Tom Mason said: "The SSSI site is so important and if this was to be agreed it would set a precedent, I believe, that SSSI sites would mean nothing."
Cllr Chris Irvine said: "If this application is approved this evening it would be a death sentence for our environment, our villages and our communities in rural Medway."
Cllr Phil Filmer and Cllr Peter Hicks expressed concerns about access to and from the site. The plans include new sliproads from the A289 to the site, avoiding Four Elms Roundabout.
As part of the deal, the landowner must enter into a Section 106 agreement – promising to deliver a number of additional projects in Medway to cope with additional demand as a result of the development.
There are 25 conditions, which include:
If given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State, work on the site will take place over a 15 to 20-year period, with a target of laying the first brick by early 2016.
Stories you might have missed