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Swale council accused of not delivering crucial letters to Halfway homeowners

Halfway residents have accused Swale council of failing to deliver crucial planning application letters to hundreds of households.

People living in the area have said local authority officials have only given out a handful of notices containing important information about a proposal to build 142 homes on the former HBC Engineering site.

Outline planning permission for the dwellings, including spaces for 225 cars, was granted to Persimmon Homes at a committee meeting in December last year, despite a swell of opposition from those living nearby.

The demolished former HBC Engineering factory where the homes will go
The demolished former HBC Engineering factory where the homes will go

Members of the group Sheppey No More Houses! have campaigned against the development since it was first mooted, arguing the sewer system in the area is completely inadequate to cope with the proposed number of homes.

People in the area have been hit by flooding a number of times in recent years, most notably those living in Power Station Road experiencing raw sewage floods up to 8in deep in their back gardens. There are also concerns about ongoing traffic problems, with gridlock regularly seen around the Halfway traffic lights and Barton Hill Drive.

A fortnight ago, a number of people received letters from Swale council alerting them to the time they have to make objections to details of the development, including size, style and impact on traffic and flooding.

Campaigner John Walsh, of Power Station Road, said: “I spoke at the council meetings and I didn’t receive a letter, which I would expect seeing as I was speaking on behalf of thousands of people. The council knows if they only circulate it around a few people, they will only get a few bits of feedback, even though 1,200 people signed a petition against the homes.

John Walsh, who is part of the group, Sheppey No More Houses!
John Walsh, who is part of the group, Sheppey No More Houses!

“The fewer letters they put out, the fewer they get back, and then at the meeting they can say they only received a few complaints.”

Swale council has defended itself, saying it sent letters to 186 homes, including those on Power Station Road, Buddle Drive, Scotchmen Close, William Rigby Drive, St Katherine Road, Halfway Road and Filer Road. Cllr Gerry Lewin, cabinet member for planning, said: “The current planning application seeks approval for the details of that development, including the layout of the site, the scale and design of the buildings, and the on-site landscaping and planting.

“Legislation states the council only need consult immediate neighbours who directly adjoin the site, but we have gone much further than required with this consultation.

“A site notice was also posted as part of the consultation process, which closes on November 26.”

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