Friday, 18 September 2015

Major setback for Lodge Hill

Whoever said development was easy? Certainly it wasn’t us. There can be few in the county’s development community – or public in Medway – who haven’t seen the news Land Securities has walked away from its aspirations to develop Lodge Hill, Chattenden.

What may come as more of a surprise is that the planning debacle cost the company an estimated £11m, an amount that failed to put a single spade in the ground towards delivering even one of the 5,000 new homes.

The news Land Securities has lost patience is proof positive, if ever the industry needed it, that trying to develop houses can be an expensive business and comes with considerable financial risk.

While Land Securities – one of the country’s largest and most respected property companies – may have secured planning permission, the scheme was then called in by DCLG, with a decision kicked into the long grass due to the General Election. 

However, all might not be lost for Medway Council. Kentcentric understands the unitary authority may still secure a victory as a decision from the Secretary of State is pending and it’s the site that’s under scrutiny not the developer. 

The big question is: If Land Securities with all its financial might can’t make it work, who else is going to pick up the development opportunity? Let’s hope, for the sake of both Medway and the local construction industry, that others will take forward the project.

• On a more positive note for Kent, Quinn Estates finally secured permission to develop 572 homes and sports complex at the former Herne Bay Golf Club, after four years of owning the site and one previous rejection. The decision by Canterbury City Council should support its ability to deliver on its housing numbers as part of its Local Plan, currently being examined.

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