Published: 06:00, 11 June 2021
By John Nurden and Sean McPolin
Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, who began and ended his nautical career on the Isle of Sheppey after coming a cropper at Trafalgar, was never one to give up on a battle.
So it is no surprise that residents in Nelson Avenue, Minster, have that same fighting spirit.
They are closing ranks to take on developers who want to bulldoze a "perfectly good" bungalow called Pandora in the middle of their street to create an entrance to potentially two new housing estates.
New plans for 73 homes directly next to a site earmarked for 150 more would "overwhelm and ruin" the area, according to many.
Swale council has received an application for three- and four-bedroom homes to be built on land adjoining the road.
The site is next to plans for 150 proposed homes on land which opens onto the narrow Elm Lane.
Both schemes are near a site earmarked for 72 more houses, billed as the Island's first "100% affordable housing estate", in nearby Scocles Road. If all three proposals go ahead the area would see 295 new homes built.
Residents in Nelson Avenue have seen red at the latest plans which they say will ruin stunning views across the fields.
If plans for the development are approved a bungalow in the road will have to be demolished to create an access road for people and cars.
The application on the council's website reveals that none of the properties will be "affordable homes" and 43 of them will be four-bedroom houses. It has drawn more than 30 letters of objection.
Former Royal Navy submariner Stuart Brown, 48, who now works on the tugs at Sheerness and lives next door to the doomed bungalow, is hopping mad at what threatens to destroy his view of lush green fields at the back of his home.
He said: "I'm disgusted. This is a stunning place. It is so quiet. This is why my wife Emma and I moved here a decade ago. It has lovely views of the Abbey on top of the hill. All that will disappear. And we will have people able to look into our back garden."
"We will also have an entrance to an estate right next door to us with noise pollution and this road will become a rat run. It's bad enough with the school run.
He added: "We are also worried about the water when it rains. This road always has trouble with its drains. Imagine what 300 more houses will do?"
He also disputed the results of a traffic survey. "It was taken at the start of the first lockdown when there were no movements at all," he said.
Julie Clarke, 61, has lived opposite the threatened bungalow with her husband Chris for 29 years and fears their home will be lit up by car headlights emerging from the junction every night.
She said: "Imagine what will happen in bad weather when we have snow and ice? Heaven knows what will end up crashing through our hedge and into our front garden."
She added: "I feel sorry for the people in the bungalow. They are renting it and only moved in in November. They didn't even receive a letter from the council. They only heard about the plans after a neighbour told them. It must have come as a terrible shock. It's not as if its dilapidated. It's a perfectly good bungalow."
She asked: "What will happen to the riding school horses kept in the field? Or the sheep which use it for grazing. Where will all the animals go if Minster keeps losing these meadows?"
Her husband Chris, who works at Knauf at Ridham Dock, said: "Those fields are saturated. Even in the summer there are places you can't get a tractor to. I think there must be natural springs there. You can see how the earth has rippled as it has subsided."
Councillors have also waded into the row. Cllr Ken Ingleton (Con, Minster Cliffs), who also chairs Minster parish council, said: "I am totally against releasing any further land in Minster for development of any kind.
"There has been an increase population with new-builds but very little increase in facilities. It has also led to the destruction of historic green spaces."
Cllr Elliot Jayes (Swale Independents Alliance, Sheppey Central) said: "I am disappointed that despite having a planning system that is plan-led we have developers putting in applications everywhere. Minster has taken more than enough housing. I don’t think the Lower Road roundabout can take any more traffic especially with more houses to come at Thistle Hill and Barton Hill Drive.
"The government's housing targets are absurd. This should be about what the people of Sheppey need."
He added: "It is shocking the government knows there are 750,000 empty properties but instead of bringing them back into use, demands new homes."
A wildlife survey undertaken before the plans were submitted said he development would not impact wildlife.
View the plans at tinyurl.com/planningkm using reference 21/502256/OUT.