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.
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.
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