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Gillingham residents fear their homes in Ingram Court could be demolished

Residents who live in a block of flats at the centre of a planning dispute say they have been left in the dark over whether it will be altered or knocked down.

The developer who owns the housing in Ingram Road, Gillingham, has been issued with an enforcement notice from Medway Council after building more apartments than was permitted.

Block B at Ingram Court in Ingram Road, Gillingham
Block B at Ingram Court in Ingram Road, Gillingham

Windmill Construction Ltd had been given permission for five flats in Block B, however it was later discovered nine had been built.

As a result, it was served with an enforcement notice by the council to make changes to reduce the number of flats or demolish them altogether.

The developer lost an appeal against the decision last week.

KentOnline spoke to residents who live in Block B, with some saying they hadn't been notified properly about the situation.

One resident said they had heard rumours the top floor of the block would be removed and one other room would be changed into a washroom – getting rid of four apartments in the process.

He added: “We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next.

Block A (seen above) has 17 flats and Block B currently has nine
Block A (seen above) has 17 flats and Block B currently has nine

"I moved in September, so I found out about the drama after I arrived. I’m surrounded by a collection of understandably annoyed neighbours.”

Emily Fretton and her partner Leon Mitchell moved into their two-bedroom flat in August 2021.

“In the first month we got a letter from the council explaining something along the lines of the developer not having permission, that it would be demolished and we needed to get out," she explained.

“After toing and froing with the estate agents, they made it clear to us that this actually isn’t an issue and not to worry.

“Since then, I’ve not heard a single thing from the landlord, estate agents or the council.”

The 21-year-old has been planning on vacating the flat to buy her first property.

She said: “If we weren’t thinking about leaving in the first place, it would be extremely worrying.

“Moving in with either of our parents isn’t an option, and we would be left to find somewhere else.

“My family lives in Surrey and my partner’s lives in Kent – we want to find somewhere in the middle.

“We also want to save for a house and it’s just not possible when you are paying this much rent, let alone any other bills and the cost of living crisis.

“It’s still a bit frustrating, as it has only been told to us now, but it would be even worse if we were planning to stay here for another year or two."

Another resident, a 25-year-old who did not want to be named, said: “I’m definitely uncertain. Here you have a development project that hasn’t gone according to plan.

“If I’m left in the lurch, then so be it, I’ve just got to move on with my life.

“With some clarity – positive or negative – would be a bit more relieving to know where we stand.”

Windmill Construction Ltd's development in Ingram Road, Gillingham. Picture: Google
Windmill Construction Ltd's development in Ingram Road, Gillingham. Picture: Google

Company director Paul Giles previously said he was trying to maximise the potential of the site.

The second building on the land, Block A, is council-owned and currently has 17 flats so Mr Giles argued why the authority had not issued the notice to itself as well.

After he appealed the original enforcement notice planning inspector Paul Hocking conducted an inquiry in February at Medway Council's headquarters and also carried out a site visit.

Last week, the inspector dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the development would "harmfully increase" the pressure on on-street parking.

Medway Council has served an enforcement notice
Medway Council has served an enforcement notice

Windmill Construction Ltd has been told to either demolish the block or make amendments so it complies with the original planning permission.

Mr Giles has been given 12 months to make the changes but said he would be seeking further clarification on the outcome of the appeal hearing.

When KentOnline approached Windmill Construction Ltd after speaking to residents, it declined to comment.

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