Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Parish Council
Lodge Hill/Chattenden Latest
12/2/15 - The government have decided to call in the planning application - this means that a public inquiry will be held into the application
This will take time - it is likely that the public inquiry will take until the end of 2015 to be arranged. The inquiry is likely to take a few months and then the planning inspector will take months to assess the evidence before making a recommendation which will have to be considered by the minister.
The recommendation may be refusal or approval with amendments or outright approval.
After a public inquiry there is no further appeal unless a flaw in the process can be identified and a case for judicial review by the courts is carried out.
Approval of the Outline Application was granted by Medway Council at a Special Planning Meeting on Thursday 4th September, despite major concerns from residents, parish council, statutory bodies and others This however is only Outline and there are still some major issues to resolve before development can take place - including Nightingale Compensation Land.
The full report is published here and the recommendation that was discussed and approved with minor amendments.
A development of up to 5,000 houses and 5,000 jobs has been proposed for Chattenden for many years, however progress has been slow. The site is a key part of Medway Council’s Local Development Framework (local planning policy). There has been a lot of public consultation over many years to try and establish the design and layout of the site and the community facilities to be provided. I parallel with consideration on the LDF an outline planning application has now been submitted. Lodge Hill is less than a mile from the top of Cliffe Woods (on the other side of the Chattenden Woods).
However there are still concerns about the highways impact of this development on the A228 (Four Elms Hill and Roundabout), the Wainscott By-pass and local roads. There has also been concerns about the natural environment and one of the UK’s largest collection of nightingales has been found in the site - this has led to Natural History extending the current Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). This will put some significant hurdles in the way of developing the site and there is some concern that developers will turn to other sites now that national planning laws have been relaxed.
For more information from the site developers click on www.lodgehill.info
For a copy of the new extended SSSI (extended towards Cliffe Woods and across the Lodge Hill site) Click Here
Outline Planning Application MC/11/2516 had stalled because of the SSSI implications but was revived in February 2014 with a fresh (Refresh) set of documents. Consultation on these plans finished of 14th April 2014. Members of the Parish Council attended both the Special Rural Liaison Committee (Medway Council) and the exhibitions at Lodge Hill. Concerns had not been addressed and the Parish Council objected.
Our response was :-
Outline planning application with some matters reserved (layout, scale, appearance and landscaping) for the demolition of existing buildings and development of a mixed use settlement comprising up to 5000 residential units, up to 36,750 sqm GEA of B1 business floorspace, up to 7,350 sqm GEA B2 business floorspace, up to 3251 sqm GEA convenience retail floorspace A1, up to 2070 sqm GEA comparison retail floorspace A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, secondary school, 3 primary schools, community facility, healthcare facility, assisted living facility, nursing home, garden centre, two hotels, water bodies and associated infrastructure works including access, roads, informal and formal open space, pedestrian, cyclist and public transport infrastructure, utilities, car and cycle parking
The Parish Council raised a number of concerns with the original outline planning application, but these comments are based on the extensive list of refresh documents submitted recently. However the initial reaction is that little has changed, and further concerns have been identified. The summary is that the council wish to object to the application in its current form. Areas of concern are :-
Cliffe and Cliffe Woods are a key part of the Hoo Peninsula, although the area is primarily linked via the B2000 (as is Cooling) and not via the A228 as other villages. The Design and Access Statement and other documents describe a Hoo Peninsula & Community Vision and the development of local and central hub facilities, although these will not be accessible to our villages (public transport or road access) without travelling into Wainscott, Hollywood Lane and the Four Elms Hill roundabout on the Wainscott bypass. We are concerned that by centralising many community services on this location that it may reduce our local community services and force residents to use these new facilities with downgraded access to Lodge Hill and/or Strood/Rochester. Access to the Lodge Hill area will add to congestion on Hollywood Lane/Hoo Road and the key pinch point of the Four Elms Hill Roundabout.
The development will put pressure on the SSSI (Ratly Hills Wood) between the new development and Cliffe Woods – footpaths are in generally poor condition and not suitable for pedestrian and cycle access – in all conditions, but especially when wet.
A major concern is the clear indication in the submitted plans that these are only indicative and that the positive elements of the development for the rest of the Hoo Peninsula and the Medway Towns would be subject to the prevailing economic situation and the search for profit from the various developers and the MoD as land owners. Many key, indicative, proposals may be difficult to find development partners for (business, knowledge centres, hotels and other community facilities) and sacrificed to more housing which is easier to develop.
We do not see any clear indication of how the general borough wide pressure on community services will be accommodated (Local Authority, Social Services, Highway Maintenance, Health (including Hospital), Policing, Refuse/Recycling, and water/sewage).
The environment within and around our parish is nationally and internationally recognised (RAMSAR, SPA, SSSI) and has been recognised in local plans through Special Landscape areas. The recent extension of the SSSI in Ratly Hill Wood (within the parish), Great Chattenden Wood and in the centre of the proposed Lodge Hill development has stressed the importance of these areas to flora and fauna on a national scale.
The proposals to develop on the new central Lodge Hill SSSI appears to be flawed. The suggestion that replacement habitat could be created in Foulness/Showburyness is only indicative and is not a commitment at this stage. Our perception of this proposal is that it will significantly decrease the nightingale population at Lodge Hill and the woods and surrounding areas (Upnor and Cliffe Woods) but compensate by expanding a small population of nightingales at the new location – reducing the population in the Medway Towns for something the other side of the Thames Estuary can hardly be a benefit. The suggested mitigation land proposals (Environmental Statement appendix 5U, 5V, 5W, 5X) indicate a low risks for the following areas:-
Risk 3 Habitat quality risk – habitat suitable for breeding nightingale cannot be created
Risk 4 Time lag risk – the created nightingale habitat will not be functional in the timescale required.
Risk 5 Colonisation risk – nightingales do not find the nightingale compensation land and breed there
Risk 7 Condition risk – the nightingale compensation land cannot be maintained in favourable condition to support breeding nightingale in the future.
We do not accept that these are Low Risk items. We are not aware of any suitable examples of an environment being created and successful on this scale anywhere else. The risk therefore is medium to high and unproven.
We raised concerns previously about the main and local road network’s capability to support a development of this scale (inward business, outgoing residents). We do not believe that significant proposals are in place at the Four Elms Hill roundabout and the Sans Pareil Roundabout on the Wainscott Bypass. This will encourage the use of local roads for rat running, such as Upnor/Upchat road (to Medway Tunnel/Medway City Estate) and roads to the west of the Wainscott bypass. The developer indicates that their proposals meet the demand generated by their proposal (although we do not feel that is the case), but it does not meet the further demands of developments at Kingsnorth/Grain and other parts of the peninsula.
Implications of not developing Lodge Hill
We are aware of alternative proposals that also include development within our parish.
We accept that the Lodge Hill proposal does present an economy of scale for the provision of community facilities and ‘potential’ employment that other small scale developments could not. However this does not change our view that the Lodge Hill proposal is flawed and does actually strengthen our view that alternatives in our parish are even more unsuitable – lack of local facilities could not be overcome (as highlighted in the outline planning submission).
In summary we see very little benefit to our villages with this development and only a worse environment with congestion on routes to the A228 (Hoo, High Halstow, Allhallows, Kingsnorth, Stoke and Grain) and well as the Medway Tunnel and Medway City Estate (and to a lesser extent the Wainscott Bypass/A2/M2 and Cooling Road Strood/Rochester). The Parish Council therefore object to the plans in their current form.
More Information will be posted here as the development proceeds (or not!)