Published: 11:10, 16 May 2022
| Updated: 06:50, 17 May 2022
Islanders have reacted with fury after learning of plans to build another 650 homes on Sheppey.
The surprise scheme to turn fields off Scocles Road and the Lower Road at Minster into a housing estate was lodged with Swale council last Friday. (may 6)
It dwarfs existing plans for the narrow country lane, which have already created uproar with villagers, and is on a par with the huge estate planned by SW Attwood and Partners for the nearby Lower Road near Barton's Hill Drive.
The news will come as a blow to the council's administration led by Cllr Mike Baldock, many of whom stood on a 'no more homes' ticket at the last elections.
Darren Laws of Buckthorne Road, Minster, branded the scheme as "absolute madness". He said roads were already insufficient for existing traffic and easily gridlocked the Island if there was a crash or roadworks, especially for repairing the "decrepitude" of the water mains.
In a letter to the council he warns: "Six hundred new houses will lead to over 1,000 more cars on the roads, most heading off the Island as there is little employment with decent wages here. This will negate any improvements at Stockbury."
He added: "Education facilities, already poor at the Oasis Academy, will worsen with added stress and areas such as the Co-op will become hot beds of youth boredom. Already this is fast becoming a 'no go zone' with feral children running riot because they know they can do as they wish with impunity. Adding further children to the mix is a recipe for disaster."
He predicted: "There will be even greater strain on health facilities. Another 650 new homes will bring more crime with little to no policing on the Island. It is absolute madness."
Dawn Thurman-Newell of Drake Avenue said: "As a neighbour with proposed housing now being planned for both ends of Scocles Road, with a smaller development in between, anyone can see that this is too much for the area. A proposal of an extra 650 houses knowing full well that there is a shortage of doctors spaces, schools and public transport is madness."
She added: "There is no public footpath running from the Lower Road to Minster village. To walk along this road now you take your life into your hands. More housing would put an extreme amount of pressure on this once quiet country road. It was never designed to cope with all the extra traffic new houses create. This will be an accident waiting to happen."
She also argued this was not the time to convert crops to houses because of a global shortage of grain.
She was backed by Alison Mannering of Queen Anne Close who added: "The wider infrastructure is not viable for the sheer number of houses being built in the area with thousands due to be built around separate sites in Elm Lane, Nelson Avenue and Barton's Hill Road. Trying to commute on and off the Island at peak times is already congested. The addition of thousands more cars will exacerbate this. I really hope this planning application gets turned down."
Michael Church of Nelson Avenue said: "We are drowning in houses. There is no more room on the Island for any more people or vehicles for the facilities we have. Scocles Road is already being used as a waiting area for trucks to get on the sites that are being built now."
He added: "We brought our house 21 years ago to retire in. Now we are thinking about moving away from the Island because of all the planned housing estates."
The plan for the 31 hectares of agricultural land was lodged by MLN Land and Properties and includes access roundabouts off Scocles Road and the Lower Road.
It is seeking outline permission for up to 650 homes, 10% of which will be "affordable". A new metal entrance gate and wooden fencing has been erected opposite the 18th century Grade II-listed Scocles Court.
The application says the development is an "opportunity to create a high quality residential development within an already established residential area that is close to various employment opportunities and road infrastructure making it an appropriate location for the proposed development."
It will feature a community hub, parks, playing fields, high quality public open space and a "wide range of housing". The application adds: "The new neighbourhood will offer the opportunity to provide a sustainable eastern extension to Minster to contribute to housing needs."
In a bid to relieve traffic chaos, notes in the application suggest traffic lights could be installed at Cowstead Corner roundabout.
The plan will be discussed at Minster Parish Council's planning and transportation committee this Thursday (May 19) at the council offices in Love Lane, Minster, from 7pm.