Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lodge Hill in long grass until after General Election

The battle to build 5,000 new homes at Lodge Hill in Medway has pitched two government departments head-to-head, with the MoD and its development partner Land Securities, taking on Natural England and its ally RSPB.

The team behind Lodge Hill thought it might have won the war after the Conservative-led Medway Council granted planning permission, subject to its referral to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, on the former barracks site at Chattenden. 

Not surprisingly, given the contentiousness of the issue on the doorstep, the Government chose to call in the application. Even less surprisingly, there’s now no chance it will be determined before the General Election.

The proposals include up to 5,000 homes and around 50,000m2 of business and retail floor space, a secondary school, three primary schools and other community facilities at Lodge Hill.

The Conservatives are getting ready to once again throw the kitchen sink at the constituency to try and retake the seat from former Tory-turned-UKIP MP Mark Reckless, who also appears to have changed his views on the proposed development. Some Conservatives will be looking to keep Lodge Hill in the public eye to highlight his apparent U-turn, but ministers have now kicked the decision into the long grass.

And while some of the politicians will try and take the politics out of the proposal, the waiting list for affordable homes and the demand for new homes in Medway gets longer and stronger.

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