Thursday, 27 August 2015

Housing building plans hit a brick wall

At a time when we need to build more new homes, there’s a certain irony that plans to develop 300 houses on land close to the site of a former brickmaking quarry and factory have been rejected by Medway councillors. 

National housebuilder Persimmon had submitted an outline plan to build two, three and four bedroom homes – a quarter of which would be much-needed affordable housing – off Otterham Quay Lane in Rainham. 

The subject of local opposition, the plans were rejected on the advice of the council’s planning officers, who argued it was a 26-acre plot of productive farmland and there were concerns the scheme would mar the landscape. 

The proposed development lies within 50 metres of a former landfill site and is not allocated within Medway’s local plan, which was adopted in 2003 and is widely recognised not to be compliant with the NPPF.

Medway Council argued the proposals were contrary to the objectives of the NPPF, in particular where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.

The planners’ concerns were in contrast to those of Natural England, Highways England, and English Heritage, who did not raise any objections.

The planning report’s conclusion was that: “In the light of the significant and demonstrable economic and environmental harm that would arise from this proposal it is considered that this development would be unsustainable and that the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply.”

With Medway Council probably unable to demonstrate it has a five year housing land supply, due to the continued delays to Lodge Hill, it’s highly likely Otterham Quay will be the subject of an appeal and planning inquiry – taking the decision out of the council’s hands.

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