Published: 06:00, 21 February 2020
A group of sailors are due to move out of their riverside home as part of plans for a new development.
The Royal Naval Sailing Association has been operating and maintaining a slipway in the Historic Dockyard Chatham for 11 years, giving a number of clubs including the Sea Cadets Medway Towns and the Sea Scouts access to the River Medway.
But this could all come to an end as developers plough on with plans to develop the land.
The groups will begin to move out over the weekend.
The association has used the slipway since 2009 but was handed a letter asking them to leave by April.
Members have been told the plan is for them to return, but they don’t know when, or what space they will be allocated. Some fear they will never return at all.
The plans were first signposted by Medway Council in 2017 to develop what is known as the Riverside site – where there is a slipway giving access to the river – and the Brunel site which lays between the car park for the Dockyard and Dock Road.
Landowners Homes England wrote to the association – which leases the land from the Historic Dockyard but maintains the slipway – in October. The letter gave them until April to clear all of the clubs’ equipment and boats.
Association members fear the decision will leave them and the other groups with nowhere to go and have been in talks with Homes England to remain on the site.
Committee member Brian Foreman said: “During the summer it’s almost every day that something is going on.
“In terms of looking at the future in Medway, it is another opportunity that kids won’t have.
"If we are not careful, Homes England will take this site on and that will be the end of it."
Branch captain Sally Mace added: “We were looking to include wider aspects of the community with developing the area.”
Under the plans, which include residential, leisure and education use, the slipway would be maintained and incorporated into the development.
But association members are worried about using the site in the interim and what access they will have to it.
Brain, who is from Cranbrook, said: “It’s difficult to move that amount of equipment and people.
"We think it's totally out of proportion in terms of the effect it will have on the local community."
We featured the story in the Medway Messenger at the start of this month when Homes England spokesman Rosemary Davenport said: “We are pleased to be making progress to develop this important historic site which will not only provide much-needed new homes for the local community, but will enhance access to the slipway for public use.
"In order to progress plans as part of our projects, sites must be vacant and – as such – we are frequently required to serve notice on resident parties.”
Commanding Officer of Medway Town Sea Cadets Buck Buckingham said the move was still on: "We have been based at the site now for two to three years.
"All of a sudden we have to leave and no one seems to want to help us.
"We live near a river and we can't provide boating even though we have got boats. How does that work?"