Press Release: Time is running out to reject Lodge Hill development say Medway Greens

Medway Green Party calls for rejection of new plans for development at Lodge Hill.

Medway residents have been given until 15th April 2014 to send responses to a public consultation on a resubmitted planning application to build 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party, says:

“This proposed development is bad for wildlife and bad for local people. Medway Council have argued that local democracy has been overridden by the SSSI ruling, but the fact is that there is already huge objection to these plans from neighbouring residents. Residents, who have replied so far to the consultation, are against it at a ratio of nearly 300 to 5.  Thus if Medway Council allowed this development to go ahead,  not only would it be turning a blind eye to the threat to other species (with 60% of UK wildlife species in decline – largely due to building on wildlife habitats) but they would be laughing in the face of local democracy.”

The SSSI designation recognises Lodge Hill as an important site as it supports the UK’s largest nightingale population which could be destroyed if the development happens. Though alternative sites have been identified by Medway Council, the developers are arguing that no alternative site can provide the ‘unique benefits’ of Lodge Hill and the loss of the nightingales’ home can be compensated elsewhere.  One suggested site for relocation of the nightingales is Shoeburyness in Essex.

Trish comments:

“The developers (and Medway Council who are in favour of this development) do not appear to have considered the practical difficulties of relocating the birds. The RSPB have stated that existing bird populations do not move on to other areas, but return to their existing habitats which would be blighted by this development. If this planning permission goes through it could set a damaging precedent for all other SSSIs in the country”.

Along with the nightingales, Kent Wildlife Trust has highlighted that the area homes a number of badger sets, six species of bats, lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads and rare insects, including the shrill carder bumblebee. It also contains ancient semi‐natural woodland, which cannot be replaced, and unimproved neutral grassland which is the single most threatened type of grassland in the UK.

Trish adds:

“Even if we didn’t care about the devastation to local wildlife, and extinction of other species, it is unlikely that this development would address local housing needs. Instead it is more likely to provide expensive and inaccessible out of town housing that is out of reach for the majority of people who already live in Medway. This would be particularly unhelpful to young people in the area struggling to find an affordable home”.

“Rather than building new towns for people outside Medway, in locations that destroy local natural habitats and their dependent wildlife, affordable housing should be built in areas that would give local people greater access to green spaces.”

Responses to the public consultation can be sent to the Planning Officer by letter or email quoting Application Number MC/11/2516. The address to write to is: Carly Stoddart, Development Control, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TR or email: planning.representations@medway.gov.uk.

***************************************************************************

ENDS

Notes for editor:

Information gathered from:

Natural England: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/lodge-hill-meeting-paper-11march2012_tcm6-35509.pdf

Kent Wildlife Trust: http://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/

RSPB: http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/casework/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-317476

State of Nature report: http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf

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