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New flats in Medway could increase social isolation

Building more single occupancy homes could exacerbate social isolation, according to a number of councillors.

While discussing the issue at Medway Council's overview and scrutiny committee, members said the problem affected more groups in society than just the elderly.

And with an increasing number of small homes designed for one person being built in Medway, there are fears an increased proportion of the population will experience frequent loneliness.

New flats could lead to further social isolation
New flats could lead to further social isolation

Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab) said: “Take the example of the blocks going up in Corporation Street, Rochester.

“The big publicity is they are going to be car-free, they’re going to be near the town centre, and there’s a particular type of person that’s going to live there.

“But they completely lack amenity space – there’s no communal gardens, there’s virtually no front entry that people would be likely to see each other.

“I think we’re running up against a situation around some of the urban development where we’re setting people up for social isolation.”

The report estimates 16,657 adults in Medway are “always or often lonely”, and it is hoped those already offering services can work closer together to encourage people away from social isolation.

Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab), Medway Council (6011252)
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab), Medway Council (6011252)

Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab) claimed the council’s planning department previously ensured community centres and “adult playgrounds”, such as those with large chess sets, were near to new developments.

Director of public health James Williams acknowledged the concerns raised by councillors, adding such conversations were already happening between officers.

He added: “The council has just appointed a new assistant director, Dawn Hudd, who has picked up on that particular portfolio.

“I will be working with Dawn and her team in relation to any of the future planning and development needs, so those points you raise have been discussed in terms of developing the local plan.”

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