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Council starts work on new Local Plan

by Jim Dunton Thu 5 December 2013, 5:30 pm

Medway Council has announced that it is starting work on a new Local Plan after a site in Lodge Hill earmarked for a 5,000-home development was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The authority revealed it had withdrawn its Core Strategy development blueprint from an examination by the Planning Inspectorate in the wake of Natural England’s designation, which reflected the former Ministry of Defence site’s “nightingale population, special grassland and woodland”.

A statement from the council said: “The Core Strategy set out a development strategy for Medway up to the year 2028 and work will now commence on a new plan.”

Back in March, Medway1 Magazine reported that a preliminary decision by Natural England had thrown proposals for Lodge Hill into jeopardy.

At the time, council leader Rodney Chambers vowed to fight the designation and called on ministers for support.

However, last month Natural England confirmed the designation, which covers 351ha on the Hoo Peninsula, which it said was “one of the most important strongholds for nightingales in the country”.

It said the status did not determine whether development could go ahead in the area, but that it did represent an additional planning consideration.

Natural England said it would continue to engage with Medway Council, landowner the Ministry of Defence, and commercial partner Land Securities “to contribute, as appropriate, to the planning process”.

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