Published: 16:36, 30 November 2021
| Updated: 16:36, 30 November 2021
Plans for a controversial 'flyover' have been ditched.
Medway Council has decided to drop the proposals for an overbridge which would have made a new access point onto the Hoo Peninsula as part of a multi-million pound infrastructure improvement programme.
The plans were included in the authority's initial vision for how they might spend £170 million from the government's Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).
The proposals centre around building a new railway station, and making Hoo St Werburgh a rural town, with a raft of road and environmental changes to support the delivery of 12,000 homes over the coming decades.
The second round of consultation into the proposals began on Monday and will be running for six weeks.
A new consultation document has been published which sets out how the plans have evolved.
The flyover – at Higham Road which would have connected Islingham Farm Road to the A289 Hasted Way – has been replaced by plans for a signal-controlled junction on the A289 connecting it to Woodfield Way in Cliffe Woods, with speed limits introduced approaching the new junction.
Another controversial element to the initial survey, which ran earlier this year, was the inclusion of a relief road which would cut through the former Deangate Ridge Sports Complex.
The road would connect Upchat roundabout to the A228 Main Road, Hoo, roundabout; this route is still being considered alongside a second, new route which would not dissect Deangate but would require a new roundabout being constructed because of change in direction of the road alignment which would result.
The initial plans for a relief road going through the southern part of Deangate and the flyover proposal was the subject of a petition signed by more than 4,000 people which was presented in Parliament by MP Kelly Tolhurst.
A programme of five road improvement phases – which will total £86 million – include making highways changes to Wulfere Way and Sans Pareil roundabouts.
The team working on the project has also included proposals to open a dedicated country park in part of Deangate; 35 hectares of the site would become a community parkland under the plans and woodland planting would link it to the Lodge Hill SSSI.
The former golf club, which closed in 2018, had been earmarked for 650 homes in the first draft of the Medway Local Plan published last month, although the plan could be revised when it comes back to council next year.
Two further community parks could emerge with an area of 60 hectares each both at the wetlands of Hoo Flats and parts of the ex-Ministry of Defence land at Lodge Hill, with the latter being enhanced to support local habitats including nightingales and bats.
Earlier this year, the council granted permission to itself for a new park between Chattenden and Vicarage Lane in Hoo, which will be called Cockham Community Parkland.
Another feature of the environmental plans is the possibility of a 'green bridge' over the A228 dual carriageway which will connect walkers, cyclists and horse riders moving between Hoo and Chattenden.
In terms of rail improvements, the team has opted for a 'barn-style' design for a new station at Sharnal Street.
The council had been criticised after it emerged there would be no rail link between the Peninsula and the Towns because stakeholders including Southeastern concluded there was not enough demand for this service.
The authority also said it was unable to afford electrification of the railway lines which provide services to the capital and the Towns.
The revised plans for the service from Sharnal Street show four service options are currently being considered which could take passengers to either Gravesend and then either Northfleet or Ebbsfleet.
The only option which could provide a link to London – which had been featured as a key element of the first consultation – may involve trains from the capital which are bound for either Dartford or Gravesend being extended to Sharnal Street.
The document says: "Extending the Dartford service provides a direct link to London as well as interchange stations and requires no construction.
"However, it is reliant on the ability to convert the existing trains on the network to battery operation."
Some of the proposals may have to include making changes to Gravesend station or to Northfleet station depending on where the train eventually ends up terminating.
The consultation will run for six weeks until Monday, January 10.
The council hopes to have all of their proposals implemented for environment, rail, and road changes by March 2025.
Council leader Alan Jarrett (Con) said: “The Future Hoo proposals have evolved.
"This consultation shows how we have listened and we want again to seek the views of residents.
“We are often urged to do everything we can to protect the environment and ensure the all-important infrastructure is in place ahead of any new housing – the government’s £170m investment allows us to achieve this.
"In addition, securing financial contributions from future housebuilders means the delivery of new community, medical and educational facilities will keep pace with the delivery of any new homes.”
Consultation documents can now be viewed online www.medway.gov.uk/futurehoo and residents will be sent leaflets to their homes.
They are also being encouraged to share their views via an online questionnaire; the council has also set up a programme of in-person events where, subject to Covid restrictions, they will be able to view the latest proposals, meet the project team, and give their feedback.
"This consultation shows how we have listened and we want again to seek the views of residents."
The events schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, December 15 between 2pm and 8pm at Chattenden Community Centre
Thursday, December 16 between 1pm and 7pm at High Halstow Hall
Wednesday, January 5 between 5.30pm and 9pm at Hundred of Hoo School Hall, Hoo St Werburgh
Friday, January 7 between 2pm and 8pm at Frindsbury Extra Memorial Hall