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World Heritage Site bid set to advance

by Jim Dunton Tue 25 June 2013, 12:28 pm

A drive to gain new global recognition for the historical importance of Chatham Dockyard and its defences is set to take a step forward later this summer.

Medway Council’s cabinet is expected to agree a consultation on draft planning policy designed to better protect the site, as part of a bid for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

A report discussed this week by Medway’s planning committee said the policy, which the council’s design and conservation team has been working on since the beginning of the year, would demonstrate the authority’s commitment to protecting the site’s “outstanding universal value”.

Countries can nominate one candidate for World Heritage Site status every year, and the historic dockyard and its defences have been on the government’s shortlist of potential nominees since 1999.

A request last year for the dockyard to be allotted the next available nomination prompted feedback calling for stronger local measures to protect the site, which the new policy is designed to meet.

Planning committee members also agreed to write to the Chatham World Heritage Steering Group supporting its work and welcoming the draft planning policy.

Committee chair councillor Diane Chambers said the evolving planning policy document would provide “supportive, accessible advice” for potential developers, planning officers, and her own committee.

The panel later rejected a reserved matters application for the first phase of Peel Land and Property’s Chatham Waters development, earmarked for a 26-acre site off nearby Pier Road.

A council spokesman said that while members were “very supportive in principle” of the development - which has outline permission for 950 homes, a conference centre and education facilities, hotels and shops - they were concerned about Peel’s plans for the first phase, which centred on a supermarket, petrol station, pub and restaurant.

Committee members feared the height and siting of the non-retail buildings would not complement the scale of buildings on Dock Road.

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