Published: 15:29, 30 September 2021
| Updated: 17:51, 30 September 2021
Thousands of new homes could be built in rural areas and on an existing dock according to a council's draft Local Plan
Medway Council's proposals, which run to more than 300 pages, set out future housing and employment needs in the Towns, as well as measures to protect the environment.
Earlier this week, cabinet members agreed the publication of the draft and if approved by full council next Thursday, a residents' consultation will take place between October 29 and December 24.
The authority will then consider any changes which are needed before sending the document to the Planning Inspectorate in the spring for independent examination.
It is estimated the Local Plan will be adopted in 2023. The document will be used to inform the development of 27,000 new homes across the Towns by 2037.
The majority of development is focussed on the Hoo Peninsula with the council currently determining how it will spend £170 million from the government's Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).
This will see new highways and rail improvements to support the development of thousands of new homes.
A second round of consultation on these plans is set to happen in November.
The document says there is a vision for Hoo St Werburgh to become 'Medway's green town', adding: "Growth will be focused around [there] and development will be required to meet the principles set out in the Hoo Development Framework to secure a high standard of design quality, and sensitivity to important environmental assets and the countryside and coastal setting."
As part of the HIF project, the authority has already granted permission to itself to develop a new park called Cockham Community Parkland. North of this park, neighbouring Broad Street, the Local Plan details a designation for 1,275 homes.
The former Deangate Sports Complex, which has long been the subject of campaigns favouring its retention as a community asset, has been earmarked for 650 homes.
Another area covering Chattenden and north of the A228 could see the development of 1,188 homes and a new school.
A second school could feature on land known as Angel Farm next to Hoo St Werburgh alongside 711 homes; a further 1,030 homes could neighbour this on land currently known as Roper's Farm.
For the Isle and Grain and Kingsnorth, the council has designated new "employment hub" areas for industrial and office uses.
The draft plan says: "Kingsnorth and Grain are to be further supported in their roles as locations for logistics and distribution, specialist industrial uses, and uses relating to energy production."
Campaigners feared Chatham Docks would be included in the draft Local Plan leading to the possible closure and loss of hundreds of jobs.
The document indicates the council's wish for a mixed-use development consisting of 3,625 new homes and employment uses.
The site, which formed part of the former naval dockyard, remains a commercial dock and is currently protected from redevelopment under the existing Medway Local Plan.
The report says: "The redevelopment of the remainder of Chatham Docks would provide an opportunity for a continuous riverside path and facilitate the opening up of the Chatham Waters link.
"The council supports the potential for new services on the river to complement the regeneration and tourist attractions along the waterfront, therefore the retention of and access to wharves and public piers will be promoted, subject to the need to meet the requirements of conserving the important environmental features of the designated river and estuarine habitats."
Landowners Peel L&P has already said it wishes to close down the port when leases for the businesses based there expire in 2025.
A further 700 homes could be developed within Chatham Dockside and the Historic Dockyard.
Clusters of development are also tipped for Strood along the waterfront areas.
The council has called this the Strood Opportunity area and has purported the development of a new central open space and 22,000 square metres of commercial space which they say could mainly consist of offices and an area for light industry.
Councillors previously approved plans for thousands of new homes along the Strood Waterfront, with the council being awarded millions of pounds to ready the site for developments which have yet to materialise.
Another cluster within Chatham town centre could see hundreds of homes and additional retail space.
The draft plan says: "Opportunity sites including the Pentagon, Debenhams and Trafalgar sites provide for redevelopment opportunities and enhancements to add increased value and change to the high street."
There is also a vision for Chatham Intra – the area between Star Hill and Sun Pier with the document reading: "Medway Council will seek to-re-establish Chatham Intra as a social, cultural and retail destination, which will support small to medium sized businesses and social enterprises."