Published: 12:54, 14 July 2021
| Updated: 12:57, 14 July 2021
Councillors have rebuffed a new bid to sell a strip of land which is key to the development of hundreds of homes.
Original proposals to build 450 properties at Gibraltar Farm in Capstone Valley, which were granted permission on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, relied on cars being able to access the site via land off North Dane Way which is owned by the local authority.
Cabinet members decided not to sell the land to the applicant in 2018, meaning although permission had been granted via the appeals process, the applicant – the Attwood farming family – had to re-draw their plans.
In January, planning committee members were asked to consider ways in which vehicles would move in and around the site through a series of access points off Ham Lane and Lidsing Road.
These proposals were turned down and were referred to the Planning Inspectorate once again – meaning it will be the subject of a public inquiry in due course.
Meanwhile, the council was offered another "multi-million" pound deal to sell the land, which cabinet members were asked to consider during their meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
The land was described as a "ransom strip" and a heated debate surrounding the opposition to the plans and the quality of the offer – which was not made public – took place.
The council's deputy leader Cllr Howard Doe (Con) described the land as a "turn key" to the site, saying: "I think the developer's got to learn Medway Council is not to be brought and sold for a start.
"It isn't just a question of come up with another million and we'll do a deal with you.
"I think what we have to do is use all our endeavours to limit these developments on the edge (of the Towns).
"I think we have to stand up to this and we have to do what the people out there want us to do which is to oppose this development by any means possible."
Cllr David Brake (Con) said: "I think for us to consider selling that parcel of land just so that somebody else can make a handsome profit, that's not what was agreed in the past, that's not what our residents are after."
"I think we have to stand up to this and we have to do what the people out there want us to do." – Cllr Howard Doe
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett spoke about the emerging draft Local Plan in relation to bids to build in Capstone Valley which includes another application made by the Attwoods for 650 homes off land at East Hill.
He said the document – which is expected to be published in September and will set out development in the Towns up to 2037 – will demonstrate how these development are "not needed" in order to meet the council's housing targets.