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Ministers urged to act on Lodge Hill

by Jim Dunton Tue 25 June 2013, 9:39 am

Medway Council has called on the government to help it push ahead with plans for a 5,000-home development at Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula.

It has been working towards redeveloping the former Ministry of Defence site for almost two decades, most recently with Land Securities.

But plans for the site, which is a key element of the borough’s housing strategy, were thrown into jeopardy when environmental agency Natural England said earlier this year that it was minded to declare part of the area a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its nightingale population and the presence of a rare form of grass.

Now, planning inspector Laura Graham has told the authority that the Lodge Hill situation renders its core strategy unsound and that it must draw up a new local plan.

Council leader Rodney Chambers said it was “unthinkable“ that the resources put into Lodge Hill could be written off.

He said ministers had identified the site as suitable for development 17 years ago, and that the authority had worked with a range of parties to make sure that its sustainable development would meet the borough’s housing needs in a way that was sensitive to the natural habitat.

“We now call on the government to sort this out – for local people, for the growth of our area and for the economy,” he said.

“It is now for the government to get to grips with its own agencies, who appear to be trying to stop its economic growth and housing agenda – growth that we are led to believe the country desperately needs.”

In a letter to the council, Graham said she was “not convinced there were no reasonable alternatives to the development at Lodge Hill”.

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