Hoo stop line recognised

Share this with friends

John F. Kennedy once said “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” That certainly applies to Hoo resident Ted Smith.

Ted, an active member of the Hoo Neighbourhood Plan team and a founder member of Hoo Stop Line Heritage Trail group has worked tirelessly to save four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock, all part of the Hoo stop Line.  This culminated in an application to add this defensive structures to the list of buildings of Special Architectural Interest.

Ted said, ” One small victory in our fight to preserve Hoo Peninsula.  After fifteen months I have managed to secure Grade 2 listing for a group of WW2 pillboxes and road barrier plinths. With the continuing development spreading along Stoke Road, Hoo, I felt it was important to protect these first. I hope there are others who feel like taking up the cudgel to protect a lot more of the peninsula assets. This is part of the message I have received from Historic England:-

Dear Ted, Thank you for your response. Your proposal for the re-excavation of the anti-tank ditch as a SuDS measure is very interesting and would certainly add to the physical context of the pillboxes if adopted.
I will let you know the DCMS’s decision regarding the listing case in due course.”……..
………”Group of four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock (section of the Hoo Stop Line), Hoo St Werburgh – grant Listed Building Status.
Following your application to add the above World War II defensive structures to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we have now considered all the representations made and completed our assessment of the building. I am pleased to inform you that having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add the group of four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock (section of the Hoo Stop Line), Hoo St Werburgh to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The structures are now listed at Grade II.”

Peninsula Access – Lack of Action

Share this with friends
  • Further investigations after the tragic fatal accident that cost Mr Brian Durden his life on Monday 26th October at Four Elms Hill highlights  the procrastination and complete lack of  action by Medway Council over the problem of our only and unsustainable route on and off of the Peninsula.

    At a Medway Rural Liaison Committee in December 2015 requested by High Halstow Parish Council regarding the installation of speed cameras and a contingency plan for traffic when accidents or blockages occur on the Peninsula section of A228, Medway’s principal engineer confirmed he would be submitting an initial plan to the relevant portfolio holder on the 4th December 2015. He also confirmed he would clarify figures relating to fatalities on this section of the road.

    Fast forward to March 2017, again in response to a request from High Halstow Parish Council, a report setting out the current status of the A228 Hoo Peninsula Route Diversion Strategy was received. It was explained that the A228 was the primary route to the Hoo Peninsula and that beyond Stoke it was the only route to the Isle of Grain. Historically, there had been numerous occasions when the A228 had been closed to deal with incidents/accidents  where it was necessary to create a diversion around the incident despite a very limited number of alternative routes . Whilst it was recognised that the availability of suitable diversion routes on the Peninsula was limited, a Diversion Route Strategy had been drawn up providing positive signage to try to manage traffic flows. This had been as a result of the original consultation with Ward and Parish Council Members in 2015.

    Cost estimates had been obtained for the production and erection of new signage, but the roll out of strategy had not progressed beyond the 2015/16 financial year due to funding availability. Given the length of time that had now passed, it was considered that the strategy and associated signage recommendations required updating. In addition, the suitability of the old carriageway.

    Fast forwarding again to March 2019…
    A228 DIVERSION ROUTES Discussion:
    The Committee received a detailed report setting out proposals for implementing traffic diversion routes in the event of accidents or incidents on the A228 between Four Elms Hill Roundabout and Grain. It was noted that the A228 was the only ‘A’ road linking the centre of Medway to its northern areas including Hoo, the Isle of Grain, Upper and Lower Stoke and Allhallows and that the only nominated diversion route currently in place used the Ratcliffe Highway, which ran parallel with the A228 between the junctions of Main Road Hoo and Bells Lane. The diversion came into effect when the parallel section of the A228 was closed. There were currently no other formal diversion routes in place along this section of the A228 which meant that when an accident or incident occurred, traffic either diverted onto unsuitable roads or waited for the carriageway to re-open causing congestion and delays.

    The Head of Integrated Transport informed the Committee that officers had divided the A228 into sections and identified a number of diversion routes that could be implemented when incidents occurred on the A228, details of which were set out in the report and highlighted on maps attached to the report as appendices. The proposed diversion routes had been prepared over a number of years and had previously been the subject of consultation with Parish Councils in 2016 and 2017.

    Whilst the provision of diversion routes was not a legal requirement, the implementation of the diversion routes along with appropriate signing would cost in the region of £20,000 and the outcomes of the scheme would align with the Council’s Local Transport Plan priorities and could therefore be funded by monies received from Central Government. Subject to the comments of the Committee, officers proposed to place the scheme before the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services for approval.

    The Committee discussed the report, and the Parish Council representatives made the following observations:

  • A number of the routes selected are not suitable for HGV’s.
  • Reliance on satellite navigation and how this could be prevented when a diversion is in place.
  • Whether a holding area for HGV lorries was still in place on the Peninsula.
  • There was a need to communicate to the local farmer and publican in Cooling when a diversion was in place or there were emergency closures as both businesses attract the majority of traffic going through the village. Action could then be taken to notify the drivers of large vehicles that would be visiting their premises.


In response to concerns regarding use of the diversion routes by HGV’s, the Head of Integrated Transport advised that in recognition of this issue, sections of the diversion routes would be made one way only. In addition, he confirmed that on some roads weight restrictions were in place. He confirmed that Operation Overflow was still in place if this was needed and he agreed to discuss with staff within his team the need for improved communication with businesses in Cooling when there were to be diversions or road closures. The Head of Integrated Transport confirmed that the proposed diversion signage would be permanently in place but would clearly indicate that it was only relevant when a road closure was in place.

These comments are from official Council minutes of Rural Liaison Committee:
So, we have to ask WHY are residents still losing their lives? WHY are our ‘B’ roads gridlocked? WHY do Kent Police stand by and watch HGVs use a totally unsuitable country lane causing gridlock? Could it be that Medway Council have put a price on the lives of Peninsula residents? Do they consider speed cameras, which costs on average £100k a mile for average speed cameras, so a cost of £400k from Four Elms roundabout to High Halstow completed linked system? £400k after the millions and millions they are making from developments on the peninsula. £400k is that too much to prevent yet another family feeling the crushing pain of losing a loved one?

 Medway tunnel has speed cameras, Frindsbury Hill has speed cameras, but there are no speed reduction cameras on Peninsula Way. It seems that they really do treat us as second-class citizens on the Peninsula, and so in memory of Brian Durden and all of the others maimed or killed on the altar of ‘cost saving’ on our one and only road on and off the Peninsula, we must come together and demand safer roads and better protection for both pedestrians and vehicles. The A228 Peninsula way is unsustainable now and certainly cannot sustain 12000 new homes for the future Make your voice heard here by commenting.

Sadly another Fatality on Peninsula Way.

Share this with friends

I write to offer prayers and sympathy after the tragic death of a Chattenden man at Four Elms Hill, another death on a road that Medway Council readily admit is at its capacity.

It is important to remember that we the residents of the Hoo Peninsula have constantly echoed our feelings that the A228 is simply not designed to accommodate the amount of traffic now using it and simply how dangerous the road is becoming each day. With further commercial expansion at Kingsnorth and Grain, and with Medway Council’s plan to ‘unlock the potential of the peninsula’ by building another possible 12,000 houses and with very little positive information on infrastructure to accommodate such plans.

How many times will residents be cut off using the main road to the peninsula in times of an emergency?

Too often will the police stand by and let HGVs attempt a small B-road through Cooling and High Halstow, blocking it at a time thousands of people are attempting to get home, resulting in people spending hours in their cars, some with your babies and children, some being senior citizens, some even being forced to walk home or sleep in their cars.

How are emergency vehicles meant to cope with this gridlock? Babies won’t wait for a traffic free night to be born. Heart attacks and other serious illnesses can happen at any time. Experience has shown many times that the Peninsula becomes parallelised when incidents happen on our one and only road. Why after years of promises  is there no protocol to inform large distribution companies on the peninsula to delay HGVs leaving depot? Why no signage warning HGVs no access to the Peninsula before they try to come on through unaccommodating roads? Do we need more or better enforcement of the speed limit on Peninsula way?

I have asked for a meeting with Kent Police to make sure they understand how isolated residents feel when our main road is blocked, and when lorries gridlock the only other option, the B-road at Cooling. Is it time for width and weight restrictions on that B-road? What if any protocol is in place for emergency services to access and leave the Peninsula when the main roads are blocked due to an emergency? I will spend today and the next couple of days trying to get answers to these questions. Not least why Medway will not divulge plans for improvements.

 

Hoo Peninsula AONB

Share this with friends

So, the first shots in the battle to have our Hoo Peninsula recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by way of my motion to Medway Council was defeated despite fabulous support from Medway Labour Group with wonderful statements from Cllr Vince Maple (Labour leader) and Cllr. Simon Curry, and support from Cllr Mick Pendergast our other Peninsula independent Cllr. The  conservative group voted against the motion, but as I said, just the first shots in our battle.

I have also been working hard on a ‘Peninsula Planning Forum‘ to bring a combined discussion to planning and associated matters that affect us all on the Hoo Peninsula Bringing together Parish Councils and Peninsula stake holder groups to respond to Planning applications in a professional way will mean a collective united voice and begin to give rural residents a real voice. In this time of the seeming overwhelming changes to our villages, I believe we would be stronger and more confident with one voice.

The primary aims of the Peninsula Planning Forum are to provide:

A united response to planning applications that affect the Hoo Peninsula.

A vision for the principles of land use on the Hoo Peninsula 

Analysis of proposed Medway Council Planning Policy for these areas.

Recommendations for sustainable growth  informed by environmental, social and economic drivers.


I have written to Stake holders and  Parish councillors to ask for their views and support.  It is even more important during this Covid emergency and with the restrictions it brings, that a connection and on-going interaction and debate is continued, albeit virtually.

With the approaching Remembrance Sunday when we fall silent in tribute to the fallen of the two world wars and other conflicts, can I gently and respectfully remind all to wear a poppy with pride and give what you can to the British Legion Appeal in memory of those who gave all.

Whilst we remember the fallen, just take a minute or two to also think about those wounded in the service of our country, be it physically or mentally, and for the sacrifices they made that allow us the freedom that we all enjoy.

Ron Sands

Parishes take on Medway

Share this with friends

HOO PENINSULA PARISHES TAKE ON MEDWAY COUNCIL OVER INFRASTRUCTURE BID.

Two Hoo Peninsula Parish Councils have engaged top lawyers Leigh Day to issue a warning to Medway Council over their multi million road building “HIF” programme. The £170 million “Housing Infrastructure Fund” grant from the Government is intended to provide the extra road and rail capacity to allow the building of 12,500 houses mainly within two parishes on the Peninsula  – High Halstow and Hoo St Werburgh. The largest sum £86 million is for new roads, bringing at least a doubling of road traffic onto the Peninsula with its internationally recognised ecology and habitats.

Parish Councillors decided to use the top legal team of solicitors and barristers which successfully stopped the Heathrow expansion in its tracks earlier this year. Leigh Day have written to Medway Council, criticising their refusal to provide any information about the environmental impact of the massive road building proposals or to even tell local community any of the detail of their proposals. 

Medway Council seem to believe that they are entitled to plan our future in secret by agreeing to concrete over large parts of the Peninsula without telling us how it will affect our communities, our ecology and our living conditions.” says High Halstow Parish Council Chairman, George Crozer 

Both parish councils are concerned that Medway Council will enter into binding agreements with government housing agency Homes England to deliver specific infrastructure projects that will foreclose public debate about less harmful alternatives. This would be unlawful, says the letter, because of Medway’s failure to consult the Hoo Peninsula community,  or to assess the environmental impact before entering into the agreement. As a result both Parish Councils are unable to progress their neighbourhood plans while they are being being kept in the dark about Medway’s proposals.  

The entire reasoning behind the HIF programme is to expand the highway capacity to allow even more vehicle traffic onto local roads, to serve a massive house building programme on poorly located sites in the rural area. 

This cannot be the way forward,” says Cllr Crozer, “Medway are refusing to give the Parish Councils  the information they need to understand how they will be affected, in terms of traffic, air quality and the effects of building thousands of new family homes on our treasured greenfield landscapes, with nothing in the HIF programme for  providing the local health, education, retail and other services that we need, forcing new residents to use their cars for all their daily needs. Anyone would be suspicious of Medway’s motives when they are so desperate that they won’t tell us what they are doing, leaving us with no alternative but to resort to the courts!”

See Solicitors letter below.Letter, LD to Medway Council (16-07-2020) (as sent)

Hoo’s jewel in the crown?

Share this with friends

The Jewel in the ecological crown of Hoo St Werburgh is the magnificent Medway Estuary and Marshes.  Seen from the foreshore the estuary forms a single tidal system with the Swale and joins the southern part of the Thames Estuary between the Isle of Grain and Sheerness forming the Northern section of the renowned North Kent Marshes.

 

The site has a unique complex arrangement of tidal channels, which drain around large islands of salt marsh and peninsulas of grazing marsh. There are large areas of mudflat, which have high densities of invertebrates providing a good food source for wading birds. Grazing marsh can also be found landward of some sea walls in the area. Small shell beaches occur too, particularly in the outer parts of the estuary. The area is very flat and low lying, with large expanses of uninterrupted views.

The complex and diverse mixes of coastal habitats support important numbers of waterbirds throughout the year. In summer, the estuary supports breeding waders and terns, whilst in winter it holds important numbers of geese, ducks, grebes and waders. The middle and outer parts of the estuary represent the most important areas for the birds. Important areas for birds include the Saltings and Hoo flats on the north side and the stretch from Copperhouse marshes eastwards towards Chetney marshes on the south side. The islands within the Medway also provide good habitat for protected birds, in particular some of the breeding species. The two main protection designations are the Medway Estuary and Marshes Ramsar site and Medway Estuary Marine Conservation Zone. These the whole foreshore and intertidal habitats from Upnor to Grain (and beyond) and across the medway to Gillingham and Rainhan and on to the Swale.

 

Newt counting delay

Share this with friends

“Newt counting delays” in our planning system are a massive drag on productivity and prosperity of our country  says our Prime Minister Boris Johnson

It seems that having a go at the ecological protection our planning laws provide is the new blood sports of our prime minister. Challenging the value of ecological protection is nothing new.  In November 2011, George Osbourne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer,  launched a similar attack.  In its White Paper of 7 June 2011 entitled ‘The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature’ the Government stated its ambition:
“We want to improve the quality of our natural environment across England, moving to a net gain in the value of nature. We aim to arrest the decline in habitats and species and the degradation of landscapes. We will protect priority habitats and safeguard vulnerable no-renewable resources for futures generations. We will support natural systems to function more efficiently in town, in the country and at sea. We will achieve this through joined-up action at local and national levels to create an ecological network which is resilient to changing pressures.”
Less than six months later, Osbourne announced that he wanted to make sure that so called “gold plating”  rulesprotecting things like habitats was not putting “ridiculous costs on firms by burdening them with endless social and environmental goals”. DEFRA reviewed the impact of  the Habitats and Wild  Birds Directives and found that Natural England had actually objected to only 0.5 % of the 26,500 consultations on development it received each year.
If developers and Councils follow the rules, development is entirely possible whilst at the same time looking after our wildlife and most precious environment. The means of protection is already in place to protect our ecology for future generations to enjoy and is for the benefit of all. It just requires those charged with its protection to have the will to enforce it.
Both the PM and  Medway Council would seemingly disregard the crucial role that nature, wildlife and our environment has to play in keeping us both physically and mentally sound as we work and play. It is evident to the people of the Peninsula the importance our natural surroundings  – especially during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Nature has provided people with much solace during this coronavirus crisis and we know that we need nature not just for health and wellbeing but also because restored natural habitats can capture carbon.  The government plans Investing in roads will put more cars on the road. And investing in  unsustainable developments and undermining vital environmental protections, will mean nature continues to lose out and will leave us open to the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The facts are that healthy ecosystems on the land and better understanding of the role nature based solutions can play to absorb more carbon will help us deal with climate change something Medway Council declared in the Climate change emergency in 2019.”making Medway a place to be proud of the key outcome of becoming a “clean and green environment “

And now especially as the slow recovery from lockdown begins we are in place a quite unique place to start to deliver a green recovery to bring back lost habitats,protect our beautiful places and to ask planners and developers to design places where people and nature thrive together,preserving,protecting and promoting our natural green spaces.

 We do not believe Medway Council knows what the effect will be on our ecology of building 12,500 homes on the Hoo Peninsula. We do not believe they have done the simplest of ecological assessments or paid any attention to the Paris Accord on Climate Change in their submissions to the HiF bid. They are leading us blindly into an unsustainable future.
We must  DEMAND  Medway confirm that the HIF bid conform to the Paris accord on Climate Control and that a thorough Ecological assessment has been undertaken with positive results.  Or  pull out of the HiF agreement and rethink development on the Hoo Peninsula.

Letter to Kelly Tolhurst

Share this with friends

20 June 2020

Dear Kelly Tolhurst  

Encouraged by your recent letter in response to our colleague Councillor Linda Atkinson, I have been asked to write to you on behalf of the High Halstow Parish Council and its Neighbourhood Forum, to seek your assistance in relation to Medway Council’s approach to development on the Hoo Peninsula and, in particular, their refusal to disclose to us or to discuss with us the details of the proposals for transport infrastructure on the Peninsula.  We write to you as our local MP, but with the  pride of knowing that you are also Minister for Transport in the Government.  

The High Halstow Neighbourhood Forum is currently preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish of High Halstow under the provisions of the Localism Act 2011.  This is likely to include identifying substantial areas of land for new housing.  As you may be aware, the most recent draft of the emerging  Medway Local Plan seeks to allocate land for about 12,000 new homes on greenfield land on the Hoo Peninsula, with about 800 new homes proposed for High Halstow, more than doubling the population within the plan period and in addition to substantial development already permitted. 

The Peninsula has only one serious road access; the A228 Peninsula Way.  Serious congestion occurs, particularly at Four Elms junction and roundabout in both the morning and evening peak hours and the Four Elms area suffers from serious air quality problems as a result.  When the A228 is closed, as happens regularly, by a serious accident or other obstruction, the Peninsula is effectively blocked off from the outside world. High Halstow itself is served by narrow rural roads with passing places and no facilities for pedestrians or cyclists.  High Halstow is poorly served by public transport. Development in the villages of High Halstow and Hoo in recent years has been opportunist, taking the form of individual applications with no overall masterplan or framework for development.  The result is piecemeal planning with poor quality development.  In a recent answer, planning and regeneration officers were unable to identify a single example of good design on the Peninsula, despite the rash of permissions in recent years.  A large part of the problem is the absence of an up to date Local Plan, and no masterplan or design guide.  The Regulation 19 draft Local Plan is continuously delayed and is entirely contingent on a Housing Infrastructure Fund grant of £170 million principally to provide new or improved roads and other transport links including a rail link to Gravesend and the Medway towns with onward connections to London.  However, the prediction is that the new rail link will provide a modal shift from use of the car to rail of only 8%.  The Parish Council are well aware of the need for new housing in Medway and for improvement to transport infrastructure. We are also aware that this must be balanced with need to protect and enhance the exceptional biodiversity, heritage  and landscape resources that the Peninsula contains. 

We recognise that it is a central plank of Government Policy to include people and communities in decisions about their future, rather than to exclude them as the planning process has tended to do in the past.  The Localism Act was passed by Parliament with that express objective in mind and it is reflected in the National Planning Policy Framework. 

With this background in mind, the Parish Council and Neighbourhood Forum had hoped to be able to participate fully in the preparation and planning of proposals for development and transport infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsula, together with and alongside  its neighbouring Parish of Hoo St Werburgh, which bears to brunt of the Medway housing proposals in a proposed new “Rural Town”. 

To inform our participation in the process, we both had sought information from Medway Council, and, to  a lesser extent, Homes England, about the specific proposals and the environmental impacts of those proposals in the HIF bid that would most affect our communities. 

Instead of providing information to assist our involvement, we have been dismayed to be met with a wall of what we can only describe as direct obstruction and hostility from Medway Council, together with the publication of a document called “Planning for Growth on the Hoo Peninsula” which is most remarkable for its failure to provide any information of substance about what the Council is proposing. 

In particular Medway Council have directly refused to answer our questions about the details of the HIF funded infrastructure and their environmental impacts, claiming, as an exemption, that to do so would affect their ability to make decisions.  It is their clear and stated intention to ensure that the details of the transport infrastructure proposals and their environmental effects are not disclosed to us until after the HIF agreement with Homes England is signed, presumably to ensure that we are not put in a position to be able to question any of the proposals subsequently.  Not only is such behaviour  contrary to the objectives behind Localism and the legislation that Parliament and the Government has put in place to secure local community involvement in the planning process, but it is also directly frustrating the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Forum in preparing our Neighbourhood Plan. We have been astonished to find the leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, describing the very limited responses we have had from the Council as “clear and continued engagement with the local community”.  He has had no engagement with the Parish Council and the officers’ engagement has been limited, slow and largely unhelpful, being mainly directed to ensuring that we are not informed about details of the HIF proposals and their impacts.  

Of course, the statutory procedures that will accompany the Local Plan will allow for the statutory public consultation and participation in that exercise, in due course, but all the indications are that Medway Council does not intend to open up the content of the HIF programme to public discussion at any point prior to its final agreement with Homes England.  The content of the HIF programme will therefore dictate and severely limit the options available at the Regulation 19 stage of the Local Plan. The HIF programme for Hoo has been drawn up to provide the transport infrastructure that would support a Regulation 19 plan which has yet to be published and whose environmental impacts have not yet been assessed.  Yet it will inevitably pre-determine and severely limit the scope of any modifications that the Inspector will be able to make in order to ensure the Plan is “sound”.  The proposals for the Peninsula are to be largely fixed by the HIF agreement and we, and the Inspector, will be faced with a stark choice between going along with the HIF proposals (whatever they turn out to be) or having no Local Plan at all.  The results of years of failure to deliver a Local Plan have already disfigured the Hoo Peninsula with inappropriate and poor quality development unsupported by essential adequate infrastructure in terms of education, medical facilities and the availability of local and accessible jobs, services and facilities. 

We have suggested that this would best be achieved by the provision of a detailed masterplan incorporated into the statutory process as an Area Action Plan for the Hoo Peninsula, so that we can see exactly what is proposed and how it will affect our local communities.  That suggestion has been met only with silence from Medway Council.  

As things stand, the behaviour of Medway Council, who continue to treat the inhabitants of the Peninsula as some kind of backward indigenous colony incapable of participating seriously in the planning of our own future, and the Peninsula as a derelict wasteland, crying out for new development,  is raising fear and disillusionment in the democratic process. 

We therefore respectfully request that you intervene to assist us by ensuring that the HIF agreement between Medway Council and Homes England is not signed until the Parish Council and the local communities most affected by the proposals are consulted fully on the details of the HIF Infrastructure programme and its environmental effects have been assessed and published. 

Yours sincerely

George Crozer
High Halstow Parish Council

PS. The Neighbourhood Forums hold regular combined virtual meetings. I have been asked to invite you to join us, even if only for a few minutes, to discuss these issues. 

Development at High Halstow

Share this with friends
Bessies Lane High Halstow
Bessie’s Lane

Development of High Halstow

Coming Forward.

Developers are stepping up efforts to bring forward development in High Halstow ahead of the Local plan and our Neighbourhood plan.

Esquire Estates has now presented proposals to The Neighbourhood Plan Committee for 30 new homes at Sharnal Street. Although we like the design we have serious concerns about sustainability and reliance on the emerging Local Plan and HIF.

Redrow is beginning to engage with Medway Council ahead of an application for around 760 homes on the land East of the village between Christmas Lane and Britannia Road.

Medway Council have been given a target from Government to build 38,000 new homes by 2039.  Medway Council are planning to build around 12,500 of these new homes on the Hoo Peninsula in Hoo and High Halstow. 

However, It is not a done deal!

The new homes cannot be built unless they are sustainable, and that means: Sustainable road access, sustainable public transport and sustainable ecology.  Medway Council plan to do this with the help of the Housing Infrastructure Fund HIF. The fund (£170M) will have to bring forward that sustainability by 2024 before new home can be built. 

We do not believe the proposals are sustainable.

  • We do not believe they have done it correctly!
  • We do not believe that any assessment has been carried out to assess the effect of 12,500 homes on our Peninsula’s internationally protected ecology.
  • We do not believe the proposals take an account of the Paris Accord on Climate Change.
  • We do believe that Medway Plans for the Hoo Peninsula are ignoring The National Planning Policy Framework.

How has Development benefited the Peninsula.

In the meantime, because Medway have failed to produce a Local Plan there is no longer any specified allocation of building land. This leaves us vulnerable to developers.

During the past two decades we are at a loss to name any net gain in amenity or sustainability that new development has provided. In fact, all we have gained is the loss of our much loved and used Deangate Ridge golf course.

Commitment.

The Parish Councils of High Halstow and Hoo are united in their attempt to curtail the development of the Hoo Peninsula and ensure that whatever development is brought forward is the very best it can be and provides real sustainability.

We have been delighted with the response you have already made to our call to action and are encouraged by the response to that call from our MP Kelly Tolhurst.

Keeping up the pressure.

We must keep up the pressure though and ask you to write again to Kelly Tolhurst, to Medway Council and/or to our Ward Councillors. For more information and ideas for your letters please see other pages for our letter of objection to the Sharnal Street proposals and letter to our MP Kelly Tolhurst.  Further material and question are in the article in last month’s High Halstow Times.

Please comment to proposed developments by:

  • Writing to Dave Harris, Head of Planning at Medway Council or email Dave.Harris@Medway.gov.uk  
  • Writing to Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Medway or email Kelly.Tolhurst.mp@parliament.uk; and/or 
  • To make comments or objections on planning application go to www.HighHalstow-pc.gov.uk click on the Planning Tracker tab

New Provider at St Werburgh Medical Practice

Share this with friends

        

A new temporary provider has been put in place at St Werburgh Medical Practice in Hoo, following the CQC’s recent urgent enforcement action meaning the registered provider cannot currently see patients.

Medway Practices Alliance (MPA), the GP federation that brings together practices and GPs from across Medway to develop quality healthcare, now has staff based at St Werburgh Medical Practice, Bells Lane, running the surgery.

MPA is also working with neighbouring practices The Elms Medical Centre, Tilley Close, and Highparks Medical Practice, Park Side, Cliffe Woods, both of which will be supporting MPA with providing patient care if the need arises.

Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and buys health services, said: “The most important thing to note is that patients do not need to take any action. We are very grateful to MPA, The Elms Medical Centre and Highparks Medical Practice for stepping in at short notice to ensure services are maintained and any disruption to patient care is kept to a minimum. We had to put a temporary solution in place for a couple of days following the CQC action but in under three working days, we have a new provider ready to see patients.”

CQC inspectors visited St Werburgh Medical Practice on Friday 19 June 2020. As a result of this inspection, the CQC took urgent enforcement action at 5pm on Wednesday 24 June to protect patients using services there, and also in their branch surgeries of Stoke Village Hall and the Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre.

The registered provider has been in place at St Werburgh Medical Practice and its branch surgeries since 1 September 2018, providing care for some 11,000 patients. The other practices at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre are unaffected by the CQC’s decision and operating as usual, including Green Suite.

Wilf Williams said: “Now that MPA is based at St Werburgh, patients will be able to book appointments and get their prescriptions as usual, including those who use apps such as Patient Access. Due to Covid-19, many appointments are currently being conducted virtually but if patients need to see a healthcare professional, that can be arranged by calling the main surgery. As the situation develops we may need to call on other nearby surgeries for support but patients will be seen at their own surgery wherever possible.”

Clinics at the branch surgeries will also be available soon but in the meantime, patients can call St Werburgh Medical Practice to arrange an appointment.

Wilf Williams continued: “We are trying to keep patients up-to-date with what has been a fast-changing situation so I would advise those registered at St Werburgh to keep an eye on the CCG’s website and social media channels. As the CQC took urgent action over concerns about the safe delivery of services, unfortunately it was impossible to inform patients prior to their decision.”

For the latest information on St Werburgh Medical Practice, please visit www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk.

Why the Hoo Peninsula?

Share this with friends

Why  is the Hoo Peninsula not  treated as an equal part of Medway?  Do you get the feeling we are being treated unfairly by our Local authority? Do Medway Councillors look across the water at the  Hoo Peninsula and  see it at as an industrial waste land ripe for development.?

Medway Council have just refused outline planning on the AC Goathams, Pump Lane development in Rainham after 1000s of objections to build 1250 houses.

Medway’s Labour Party said… “A very sensible decision, we need housing in Medway but it’s got to be the right housing in the right place and this proposal was not that” ….. We hope we can rely on the Labour Party for support when  applications come forward for 12,000 houses on the wholly inappropriate Hoo Peninsula Medway’s most internationally protected asset.

MP Kelly Tolhurst said in response to a recent letter from a resident… “I have also been following the Council’s progress with their Local Plan closely, and have been disappointed that they have kept pushing the date when they will release the draft plan as this is integral to shaping our future in Medway. I know that the threat of development hangs over the Peninsula and at a time when we are without a Local Plan, it is important that we continue to come together as a community to fight proposals that will only damage the fabric and environment of our area and strain our local infrastructure and services. I fully agree with your concerns about the existing traffic congestion on the Peninsula and the difficulties this already causes to residents across the area, even without the addition of more homes.”

Medway Cabinet

In the meantime  Medway Council’s Cabinet is keeping the people of the Hoo Peninsula totally  in the dark about its HIF Bid. It is completely unacceptable that Medway Cabinet are pressing ahead with proposals for major transport infrastructure to serve 12,000 new homes on greenfield sites on the Hoo Peninsula without being willing to tell us :-

The environmental impact

The effect of traffic emissions, even though the Four Elms area is an air quality action area.
The location and alignment of the new roads and roundabouts.
Whether they considered the need for new development and infrastructure to be zero carbon by 2050.

Refusal to answer questions


They have refused to answer questions about what they are doing and say they will not tell us until after the deal with Homes England is signed and sealed.
This is entirely contrary to the principles of democratic decision making. The Council’s plans, being cooked up without consultation, behind closed doors, in the town hall will cause immense damge to the rural character of the Hoo Peninsula.  The Cabinet is keeping it secret from those most likely to be most affected by this massive and damaging project. We demand to see a masterplan for the project and it should be shown to the people of Hoo before the Council commits itself to this project.


Four  specific questions for Medway Council


Why has the Council refused to answer the questions asked by HHPC about the  Environmental Impact Assessment?


Why will you not answer questions of the HHPC about  the location and alignment of the proposed new roads and roundabouts?


Why will you not answer questions of HHPC about emissions from the extra  traffic to be generated by the massive new development?


Why has the Council refused to say  whether they took account of the Paris Accord on reaching zero carbon by 2015 in making the  HIF bid ?


Re-Opening of High Street Safety

Hoo safety
Share this with friends

Re-opening our High Streets Safely



As you will be aware as from Monday 15 June 2020 non-essential shops will be able to reopen. In order to prepare for this my Town Centres team have been working extremely hard on a plan to ensure that our high streets are ready.

To date we have undertaken business and consumers surveys, liaised with Kent Police and are working closely with colleagues across the Council to implement the following;

Communications Plan – Press release and social media
Guidance Pack for Businesses – with links to a Toolkit
Social distancing signage
Social distancing stewards (for the first two weeks, then the need will be re-assessed)


Traffic, road and pedestrian high street management measures
Cleansing programme

We are keen to engage local Ward Members in this work to ensure that the high streets open safely and would welcome your support in sharing this message with your local communities.

Dawn Hudd 

Medway Council

Medway Council refusal to engage over HiF bid

Share this with friends

Medway Council the HIF Bid and Growth for Hoo and a refusal to engage
Sounds like a soap opera episode doesn’t it? But this drama is been played out right now and right here on The Hoo Peninsula.


The HIF £170 million grant potentially  makes Medway the biggest regeneration zone within the Thames Gateway. 
Once the deal is signed it will unlock a programme to build 10600 houses on the Hoo Peninsula. Not in the towns but here on our doorstep.  

We have the right to know how it will affect us 

 Peninsula Ward Councillors, Parish Councillors and members of the public have been asking Medway Council a series of basic questions about the plans that will affect our health and way of life over the next 30 years. The response we have had so far has been completely inadequate, to be frank Medway is conducting an exercise of evasion and point blank refusal. 

Instead Medway published a glossy brochure “Planning for Growth on the Hoo Peninsula”.  A developers sales brochure using stock photos of developments around the UK. Very few real images of the Peninsula and certainly :–

  • No pictures of dozens of parked HGV’s and the human waste that seem to accompany them. 
  • No pictures of the destruction of the  golf course.
  • No mention of overrun hard working GP services.
  • No mention of  our council run children’s services in special measures.
  • No details of the growing air pollution problems at Four Elms Hill.
  • No real information about housing numbers in the the areas .
  • No details of what real infrastructure will be provided at each stage.

My response to Medway Council

 The Planning for Growth on the Hoo Peninsula Consultation 2020 – Medway Council Local Plan
I most strongly object to the emerging Medway Council Local Plan and Medway Council’s current Development Strategy with regards to the development of a “Small Rural Town” around Hoo and Chattenden.

 I note that Hoo Parish Council will be making a full response and representation to Medway Council when they publish their draft Neighbourhood Plan and will also be presenting a comprehensive report, including evidence and statistics to the Independent Examiner and the Secretary of State. 

A very shiny and factually incorrect document has been produced. It’s a developers  sales pitch and bears no resemblance to Hoo and the way developments have destroyed the area.

Most of the  photographs are not of Hoo but rather they depict the “fairytale Medway” is trying to sell to the people of Hoo. This document lacks facts in every chapter and has no details of how many houses and where they will .

Residents have expressed time and time again that they have no wish for this level of development without a full assessment of the impact and a proper ‘Area Action Plan’ is produced to which they can have a real and meaningful input. Only  by a full consultation with the people of the Hoo Peninsula and listening and acting upon that consultation will residents become partners in a scheme of this magnitude. We cannot achieve the vision set out in this fantasy consultative document.

It is obvious from recent developments that Medway Councils local plan is in fact a developers led plan and that commercial priorities will influence and control the large number of developments.


Protection of the Ecology that surrounds and encompasses the whole of our Peninsula is crucial to the health and well-being of the whole of the Medway,  Kent and beyond. “Planning for growth on the Hoo Peninsula“ and the Local Plan does nothing to protect our ecology and makes no mention of the fundamental need to asses the impact of such a large number of homes..

The Local Plan must avoid harming the natural environment and protect the best of our heritage. The inclusion of the Hoo Peninsula into the Kent Downs AONB is a way forward of protecting and developing our natural and historical area with its  ancient woodlands,  grasslands intertidal habitats and marshes, all of which are of national and international importance. The Peninsula was not included in the Kent Downs ANOB in the late 1990’s although it is an obvious inclusion especially being a natural escarpment of the North Kent Downs.

Inclusion in AONB would not be a deterrent to development.  It demands a better quality of build and the use of materials which are integral to the character of the area and is harmonious within the landscape. However, this of course should not be seen as a reason not to build “affordable housing”.  In fact it could and should lead to a growth in community led rural housing.  Much of this type housing should be  ring fenced for people with a link to the Peninsula or work here. Providing this type of housing would enable young people and families to remain in close to home and this in turn benefits the whole community.

We need to encourage the vast numbers of empty homes in Medway back into the housing market.  Have all of the  many homes, flats and apartments above shops and maybe ex-military homes and government houses  been identified and included into local housing needs?

Whilst Medway planners talk up cycling routes and public transport, we all know that for all new rural developments, the private car is the chosen form of travel being more reliable and for many the only option.  This has a knock on effect for our air quality. Let’s not forget that during the construction of these houses, rail station and roads the concentrations of air pollutants will be exacerbated.  No suggestions to reduce this impact has been made for the movement of construction materials during building and  the thousands of tons of waste removed offsite  by rail, road and water. How does the Local Plan mitigate for the the Carbon targets agreed in the Paris Accord?.

The rural town this plan talks about for Hoo creates many problems, the village has lost its banking facilities and what town can survive without banks. Our stand alone Post Office with sorting office used for the whole Peninsula has gone, along with our Police Station with no local police contact point. What town would you like to live in without a proper police presence. And of course this plan has not included any housing numbers for each of the neighbourhoods mentioned, making it very difficult for people to get a sense of the scale of destruction of our Peninsula.

School and school places must keep up with all these new developments and new communities as soon as they are planned and NOT after. These school places must be ring fenced for local children to prevent excessive travel.

The closure of Deangate Ridge Golf Club, a massive social and sporting area is at odds with improving sports, social facilities and well being. Why was it not recognised that Deangate Ridge should be a centre for sports, and well-being? A Peninsula sports and leisure centre is imperative.  Deangate Ridge  could become a Country Park that includes a  swimming pool, indoor sports and fitness centre. This would go a long way to create health and social well being across the whole Peninsula.

Hoo Peninsula has a rich history of agriculture and fruit farming and these fields and orchards should be protected.  Over the last few years these are falling to development and the Local Plan should protect such areas. The retention of high quality farm land is a priority, once concreted over they are lost forever. Large scale development without  thought of the demand on fresh water supply, which we all know is a finite commodity, will make things  worse. Are there any plans to protect surface and groundwater resources?What plans are there for the treatment of the obvious massive increase in waste water?


Air quality is a major concern. Monitoring of air quality seems very minimal and any increase in vehicle transport particularly HGVs will have exacerbate levels of nitrogen dioxide. What measures are in place to monitor ongoing air quality?
Public transport on the Hoo Peninsula is abysmal and the inclusion of a rail service has been added as an afterthought. There is nothing to suggest a bus terminal at the proposed station therefore encouraging car movements across the Peninsula. This will not help air quality. Why is there no mention of utilising the rail link to take HGV traffic away from Kingsnorth by having goods transported by train? Why is there no thoughts on river usage around Kingsnorth? Would the remote rural areas of the Peninsula be better served by mini buses to and from a bus hub at the new station or Kingsnorth?

Healthcare is one of the major concerns to people of the Peninsula and it is important that provision is made for a healthy living centre or other supplementary healthcare facility. This will take away the constant need for travel to Medway Maritime which is becoming difficult for the elderly and disabled. This would of course take pressure off this very busy hospital. We cannot ignore the fact that the life expectancy for Medway residents is lower than the average for England.

Any encroachment of our villages beyond their present envelopes must be avoided as each and every village of the Peninsula has its own character and the green buffer zones between villages must be preserved and enhanced . It is with this that comes the problem of developers using the cheaper option of contributing to existing open spaces, rather than incorporating new open spaces within developments

Developers should be encouraged to use distinct character of the area and not just squeeze as many dwellings on a site as possible.  People need to be comfortable with their new surroundings. The inclusion of communal space for all residents is essential The Coronavirus virus emergency has shown the need for local and domestically  grown food, which help with supply and mental well-being. More allotments and larger gardens should be supported and advice given to developers to create these. 

Four Elms Hill,  the gateway to the Peninsula has been upgraded in the past but it has never kept place with development. The provision of a relief road, and new and upgraded roads is the latest promise.  I and many residents are believe  that these latest suggestions, which KCC have commented will be inadequate,  will be insufficient for the residential development proposed and woefully inadequate if you add the vast amount of commercial development being undertaken and proposed at Kingsnorth.

Medway Council are vastly under estimating the investment in transport infrastructure required to sustain a development on the Peninsula on this scale.  

Resident will never agree to 12,000 extra houses here and like me are incensed by Medway Council plans to that the to concrete over our unique Peninsula at all costs.

These plans for changing Hoo village into a rural town (whatever a rural town now is) are unsustainable.

Ron Sands
Hoo Peninsula Ward Councillor

Peninsula Post latest

Share this with friends

My original thoughts on this has been widely supported by all Peninsula Parish Councils, Ward councillors Cllr. Filmer, Cllr. Pendergast , Medway Cllr Simon Curry and our MP Kelly Tolhurst (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport).  

RSPB,  Kent Wildlife Trust and officers at Medway Council have also been very helpful and supportive. Of course, progress has taken a bit of backward step because of the Coronavirus emergency.

It has become evident after much discussion that an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] would be a better and more appropriate designation.

So what is the difference between an AONB and a National Park ?
AONBs and National Parks are actually of equal importance for landscape and scenic beauty, the difference is that AONBs exist for the purpose of conserving and enhancing their natural beauty. National Parks, in addition to this, have a second purpose – To promote understanding and enjoyment of the area’s special qualities by the public. Because of this extra (and substantial) layer of responsibility they have their own independent National Park authorities with full planning powers running them.

AONB designation usually covers a wide area and many types and uses of land. Not all parts of an AONB are necessarily open to the public. In fact, most are not, as they are privately owned just like anywhere else. Towns and villages are sometimes included, and often small areas which are not at all beautiful get included too, with a secondary aim of meeting the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside and having regard for the interests of those who live and work there.

We are continuing with the work behind the scenes and hope to bring you news as it develops. In the meantime please indicate your support be completing the survey if you haven’t done so already.

Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live

Peninsula park update

Share this with friends

My original thoughts on this has been widely supported by all Peninsula Parish Councils, Ward councillors Cllr. Filmer, Cllr. Pendergast , Medway Cllr Simon Curry and our MP Kelly Tolhurst (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport).  

RSPB,  Kent Wildlife Trust and officers at Medway Council have also been very helpful and supportive. Of course, progress has taken a bit of backward step because of the Coronavirus emergency.

It has become evident after much discussion that an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] would be a better and more appropriate designation.

So what is the difference between an AONB and a National Park ?
AONBs and National Parks are actually of equal importance for landscape and scenic beauty, the difference is that AONBs exist for the purpose of conserving and enhancing their natural beauty. National Parks, in addition to this, have a second purpose – To promote understanding and enjoyment of the area’s special qualities by the public. Because of this extra (and substantial) layer of responsibility they have their own independent National Park authorities with full planning powers running them.

AONB designation usually covers a wide area and many types and uses of land. Not all parts of an AONB are necessarily open to the public. In fact, most are not, as they are privately owned just like anywhere else. Towns and villages are sometimes included, and often small areas which are not at all beautiful get included too, with a secondary aim of meeting the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside and having regard for the interests of those who live and work there.

We are continuing with the work behind the scenes and hope to bring you news as it develops. In the meantime please indicate your support be completing the survey if you haven’t done so already.

Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live

Norse Planning

Share this with friends

Mr Chairman 

Thank you for the opportunity to address this Planning committee.

Deangate Ridge is a site of the highest sensitivity in the Medway area:

Its is Protected in the Local Plan as an Area of Local Landscape Importance and in an 

area designated as Protected Open Space. 

The site is also adjacent to the Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

It is registered as an Asset of Community Value  which is not mentioned in the report as far as I can see.  It is clearly a “valued landscape” in national policy terms, which should be “protected and enhanced”. I would ask you to refer to  National Planning Policy Frame work  paragraph 170.

The Report does not deny that the development is directly contrary to the development plan and causes harm to amenity but claims that this is outweighed by public benefits of providing what is effectively a depot for Council service vehicles. The report tugs at our heart strings by referring to transport for special needs children an argument used, if I recall when this Council chose to close the site.

In fact the vehicles to be stored there are: 12 small vans, 11 flatbed vans, 12 tippers, 3 tractors, including trailer towing, 38 mini buses  which may increase to 42 and 17 shipping containers, all to be  kept at the site.

There is reference to an alternative sites assessment but no details are provided. The report says all the alternative sites were rejected for various reasons, including excessive costs.

 Can I ask again for a copy of that “alternative sites assessment”?

If this action is just the Council saving money it cannot be a relevant consideration or justification for development that is directly contrary to both national and local policy.

There is also no reference to the shameful precedent that development of this site sets:

Norse – the occupier –  unlawfully moves onto a rural leisure and public open space  site in breach of planning control without planning permission; fells five mature trees and clears open green area; deposits 17  large shipping containers and brings some 76 diesel engine vehicles onto the site. Who gave them permission to do this – the Council?

It then applies for planning permission and offers, in mitigation, to paint the containers green when the weather improves  and replant some trees on the site (not semi mature) .

Government policy is that this kind of behaviour is to be discouraged.

Further, it is conceded by the officers’ report that the development will add to the traffic movements all of which will go through the Four Elms Air Quality Management Area, which already exceeds legal standards.. The vehicles stored on the site are entirely diesel-engine buses vans and lorries and will go  “exclusively” through the Four Elms Air Quality Management Area, mostly in the peak hour – when at its most polluted. 

The Four Elms Air Quality Management Area was declared because it is transport related pollution and exceeded the maximum permissible levels of Nitrogen Dioxide. This development will add to the levels of pollutants already harmful to human health.

 The Council is under a statutory duty to improve air quality in the Four Elms Air Quality Management Area in accordance with its own Air Quality Management Plan;

 Medway now has the second worst air quality in the south east outside London.

 An article in the national press describes official attitudes to this area, the Thames Estuary including the Hoo Peninsula  as if it was some kind of “cultureless wasteland… as if it was a vast brownfield site for which any kind of development can only be counted as an improvement. 

The Report utterly fails to reflect the environmental sensitivity of the site and the mitigation offered is derisory. The development will further degrade the golf club, its landscape  and blight its prospects of being brought back into public use.

Officers are recommending you grant planning permission with no guarantee that the temporary permission (to October 2021) will not be renewed or extended?

I would ask to  refuse the permission or defer the decision pending the occupier providing a full, up to date Alternatives Site Assessment.

Councillor

Ron Sand

Norse planning application at Deangate

Share this with friends
Image by Tony Broad
Image by Tony Broad

In liaison with the Deangate Community Partnership I have submitted further objection to the recent planning application for change of use of part of the Deangate site.

I hope these images and the knowledge that Medway Council ignore the fact  that the entire Deangate site is registered as an Asset of Community Value  inspire you to write and comment to : Planning.representations@medway.gov.uk and say that “Deangate should play a vital role in the Heath and Wellbeing of the residents of Medway and the Hoo Peninsula and not be used for commercial use”.

 

Response from the Deangate Community Partnership on behalf of its members.

Image by Tony Broad
Image by Tony Broad

Proposal: Temporary change of use (until 31 October 2021) of first floor of clubhouse building to office use and temporary use of former golf course car park (until 31 October 2021) for parking of associated office workers cars; minibuses; grounds maintenance equipment / vehicles and storage of 17 Shipping containers.

Location: Deangate Golf Club Dux Court Road, Hoo St Werburgh, Rochester, Medway, ME3 8RZ

Application Type : Full Application.

The Deangate Community Partnership wishes to register its fundamental objection to this development.

It is stated in the Transport Statement that the development  has taken place at the invitation of Medway Council.  This is a retrospective application for development which has already taken place without planning permission and is therefore in breach of planning control and unlawful.

As such, it sets the worst possible precedent and example to other developers and to the community  by carrying out the development first and then seeking retrospective permission once the change of use has taken place.

In a written ministerial statement in December 2015, the then Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, outlined the Government’s concerns about the harm caused by unauthorised development and announced a change to planning policy to make intentional unauthorised development a material consideration that would be weighed in the determination of planning applications (including retrospective applications) and appeals.  The policy was put in place following concern about unauthorised development in the Green Belt, but applies equally to all unauthorised development, including this proposal.

The fact that the development has taken place with the encouragement of the Council which is also the local planning authority is wholly unacceptable action by a responsible public authority, and is directly contrary to the Government’s policy.

The development is not in accordance with relevant saved policies in the  Local Plan or the National Planning  Policy Framework 2019.

The current statutory Local Plan is the 2003 Medway Local Plan. The site is within the countryside, lying well outside the settlement boundaries. It is a site to which relevant saved policies in the Local Plan would apply. Policy BNE 25 Development in the Countryside is one of the saved policies in the Local Plan  and has been extended by direction of the Secretary of State. It accords with the NPPF and should therefore be given full weight.

BNE 25 states:

Development in the countryside will only be permitted if:

(i) it maintains, and wherever possible enhances, the character, amenity and functioning of the countryside, including the river environment of the Medway and Thames, it offers a realistic chance of access by a range of transport modes; and is either;

(ii) on a site allocated for that use; or

(iii) development essentially demanding a countryside location (such as agriculture, forestry, outdoor or informal recreation); or

(iv) a re-use or adaptation of an existing building that is, and would continue to be, in keeping with its surroundings in accordance with Policy BNE27; or

(v) a re-use or redevelopment of the existing built-up area of a redundant institutional complex or other developed land in lawful use; or

(vi) a rebuilding of, or modest extension or annex to, a dwelling; or

(vii) a public or institutional use for which the countryside location is justified and which does not result in volumes of traffic that would damage rural amenity.”

The proposal does not maintain and enhance the character, amenity and functioning of the countryside, Nor does the development fall within any of the categories (ii) to (vii) in BNE25 above and therefore is directly contrary to the principal countryside protection policy in the statutory development plan. There is therefore a statutory presumption in section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 against the development. The NPPF requires the Council, in determining applications to recognise the intrinsic natural beauty of the countryside.

The development is also directly contrary to the NPPF which seeks to protect existing open space, sports and recreational facilities.

The NPPF statesExisting open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless: a) an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or b) the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or c) the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the benefits of which clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use.

Whilst the development does not involve new buildings as such, the 17 storage containers have a particularly unattractive industrial character and adverse visual impact and are damaging to the rural character and amenity of the area. The development leads to the use of the site for storage of heavy equipment which requires goods vehicles to transport it and which are often parked on the site.

Deangate is a vital part of Medway’s network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity is important for the health and well-being of communities. The NPPF requires that applications for development of such sites should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities.

The application fails to support a strong environmental objective by contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Developing Deangate as described in the application fails to make effective use of land by help to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution or move us towards tackling climate change or a low carbon economy, contrary to the NPPF.

The application describes the Golf Course as “redundant”. This prejudges the question as to whether there is a viable future for the golf club. The use has not been abandoned nor could it be unless a permanent material change of use has been granted.

There is no recognition that the site is part of an Asset of Community Value, which is a material consideration as the site has a social objective in supporting the strong, vibrant and healthy communities of Medway and the Hoo peninsula.  It provides an accessible service and open space that reflects  the current and future needs of health, social and cultural well-being of residents.

The Transport Statement submitted with the application is inadequate as it appears to make no assessment of the effect of goods vehicles on the site which has poor access to the primary road network. It amounts to a short and limited traffic count which does not appear to distinguish the heavy vehicles using the site. Dux Court Road has an alignment that is notoriously narrow and twisting. There is a particularly narrow pinch-point between the site entrance and the roundabout onto Peninsula Way.

The Deangate Community Partnership urges the Council to refuse permission and to use its enforcement powers and take all necessary steps to require the use to cease as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

For and on behalf of the Members of 

The Deangate Community Partnership (unincorporated body)

 

The Twenties a Decade of Change

Share this with friends
By Tony Peake
Copyright Tony Peake

The sun has set on 2019 as dawn breaks on a new decade, “The Twenties” a century ago it was dubbed the “Roaring Twenties”, a “Decade of Change”. A 100 years on what are our hopes and aspirations for the future  ??

 A greener, cleaner, brighter and more prosperous future for the Hoo Peninsula within the Greater Thames and Medway Estuaries, undoubtedly an area of outstanding natural raw beauty and deserving of recognition as a National treasure. 

The Twenty Twenties must be a decade of inspiration, of conservation,  and enhancement of this unique Peninsula with its heritage, Special Landscape and  internationally recognised protection.

It must also meet the needs of those who live and work here or visit to explore and enjoy our ancient woodlands starkly beautiful marshland, stunning wildlife and rich estuarine habitat.

we welcome you to be part of this exciting plan, to share your expertise, enthusiasm and love of the countryside Be part of this historical move to safeguard the continued legacy of our unique Peninsula .

Please drop me a note at ron.sands@medway.gov.uk if you would like to help in any way.

Ron Sands

National Character Area

Share this with friends

In 2013 Natural England described the Hoo Peninsula as a National Character Area (NCA) predominantly a remote and tranquil landscape of shallow creeks, drowned estuaries, lowlying islands, mudflats and broad tracts of tidal salt marsh and reclaimed grazing marsh that lies between the North Sea and the rising ground inland. It forms the eastern edge of the London Basin and encompasses the coastlines of South Essex and North Kent, along with a narrow strip of land following the path of the Thames into East London.
Despite its close proximity to London, the NCA contains some of the least settled areas of the English coast, with few major settlements and medieval patterns of small villages and hamlets on higher ground and the marsh edges. This provides a stark contrast to the busy urban and industrial areas towards London where population density is high and development pressures are increasing. Sea defences protect large areas of reclaimed grazing marsh and its associated ancient fleet and ditch systems, and productive arable farmland. Historic military landmarks are characteristic features of the coastal landscape. Further information

Our Peninsula consisting of very productive A1 agricultural farmland renowned for cereal, root vegetables, soft fruit and traditional English orchards helped give rise to Kent’s much loved title “The Garden of England”.  Add this to our extensive areas of ancient woodland,  world renowned and internationally protected intertidal habitats, lowland wet grazing  and a rich historic heritage and you begin to understand  the reason all the Peninsula Parish Councils are calling on Medway Council to listen to the growing concerns for the future of our unique and distinctive area that we all know and love  and to support our bid for National Park status.

We need Medway Council to acknowledge the importance and value of this landscape. To understand that the mosaic of wetland habitats that are the envy of the world can be the centre piece of a new National Park close to the city of London  based here in Medway. A park that will give not only the people of Medway and Kent but the whole country the chance to experience The Hoo Peninsula along with our castles and historical Dockyard with its strong  military heritage.
We need Medway Council to understand and promote this “sense of distinctiveness and uniqueness “ that encompasses the tranquility of the marshes with its nationally and internationally sites, with the agricultural and industrial sites working hand in hand where individual villages intertwine with historic sites. 
This Peninsula, our Peninsula is ready to become a National Park, to secure environment for the future and safeguard our heritage and  prove that our mix of urban and rural landscapes should and must be protected.
Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live

Hoo Stop Line

Share this with friends

 

During the Second World War, the Hoo  Peninsula was one of the most heavily fortified areas anywhere in England.  Defensive ‘Stop Lines including pillboxes, barbed wire and anti-tank ditches cut a swathe across the whole landscape  linking up the villages.
The purpose of these defences was simple, they were part of Britain’s Outer London Defence Ring in response to the threat of German invasion. The  intension was to delay and hold back enemy armoured columns that were expected to drive inland from the nearby invasion beaches and ports.

Today only fragments of this military landscape survive. Enough still remains to gain an impression of what was once was expected to be the front line against invasion.


The Hoo Stop Line; anti-invasion defence line stretched for approximately eight miles between the River Thames near Cliffe and the River Medway to the south-east of Hoo St Werburgh .

The War Office plan for the Stop Line shows a total of sixty infantry and eighteen anti-tank pillboxes. Each individual component would have been encircled in barbed wire for extra protection. There were probably other earthworks such as slit trenches.

The Hoo peninsula was a heavily militarised zone during the Second World War with Hoo itself designated as a defended village in 1941 with its own garrison. A further one hundred troops from the 347th Searchlight Battery, Royal Artillery were located at Kingshill Camp to the west of Bell Lane. High Halstow village to the north and the Royal Navy Ammunition Dump at Lodge Hill were also garrisoned.

The stop line was intended to provide a man-made defence against invasion. 

Development of the Peninsula must be sympathetic to the Hoo Stop Line and its historic structures and continue the excellent work already undertaken at Allhallows on the historic  Slough Fort  

This is another example of how important the cultural heritage of the Peninsula is and   shows why it should celebrated in a National Park.

Please show your support and agree with me by completing this simple survey.

Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live