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MP Kelly Tolhurst requests call in for planning application for 250 homes in Cliffe

An MP has asked the government to look into plans for hundreds of new homes in a village, while protesters have threatened legal action if they are approved.

Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst has backed residents who are opposed to plans for 250 homes on both sides of Church Street in Cliffe, near Rochester.

Kelly Tolhurst represents Rochester and Strood
Kelly Tolhurst represents Rochester and Strood

The Trenport Investments Ltd plans - which include building on the APCM recreation ground and creating a new sports field - were due to be considered by a planning committee at the end of August but were deferred.

This started another consultation period lasting 21 days, but Cliffe & Cliffe Woods Residents Development Group (CCWRDG) - which has been campaigning against the application - says it has issues with the events before and after the planning committee meeting.

Ms Tolhurst has written to Simon Clarke, the Secretary of State for levelling up, housing, and communities asking him for a call-in and for his advice about how the group can proceed with their concerns.

The letter reads: "The group are of the opinion that the application is incomplete and incorrect, therefore they find it baffling that it's being put forward for review and that comments are closed.

"Additionally, they are concerned that the application has been recommended for approval by Medway Council's planning department, meaning Medway planning has drawn conclusions without having all the relevant documentation to complete a full review."

An illustration of what the Trenport development off Church Street could look like. Picture: Corstorphine and Wright Architects
An illustration of what the Trenport development off Church Street could look like. Picture: Corstorphine and Wright Architects

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Ms Tolhurst said: "All of us who live in Rochester and Strood recognise some of the scale of the development that has been proposed and happening will have a major disruptive factor to our Towns.

"I think everybody recognises that we need to have development, but I think what upsets and unnerves everyone, including myself, is when you see applications where there seems to be processes not maybe being followed as we would have thought.

"If we are not 100% sure about how the actual impact is going to affect our area, quite rightly as residents we will be sceptical about what's coming forward and what that will mean for us in the long-term."

CCWRDG sent a letter to Medway's planning department requesting, among other things, postponement of the planning committee's decision and an investigation of how the application was handled by the council.

Their concerns include the absence of any signs in Cliffe notifying residents of the refreshed consultation period, what consideration had been given to a number of transport documents, and missing consultation documents including from Sport England about the impact of the relocation of the APCM.

Their letter concludes: "Should the planning committee hearing go ahead as planned and the application be approved, we will consider taking legal action against Medway council."

The application site is equivalent to 43 football fields, although the amount which could be developed into housing is roughly the size of 12 pitches.

Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Residents' Development Group are fighting the plans
Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Residents' Development Group are fighting the plans

Officers have recommended approval subject to the developer allowing a quarter of the 250 homes to be affordable and paying contributions towards local services topping £2.5 million.

The council says it has received 123 letters of objection.

Residents have raised concerns about the impact the development would have on the B2000, the loss of the sports field and views across open fields, as well as the increased demand on services.

A Medway Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by the residents’ group and all of the feedback which was formally submitted, as part of the planning application process and consultation period, will be taken into consideration when the matter goes to planning committee on Wednesday, October 19.

“All planning applications are carefully considered and take into account advice offered by professional officers, along with national and local planning policies and guidance for local authorities, which helps us shape development in Medway.

“It is now a matter for the planning committee to consider all information gathered as part of the planning process, including public comments, to determine this application.”

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