Medway Greens saddened by Gibraltar Farm decision

An adapted version of this was published in the Medway Messenger last week.

**Steve Dyke: “We already have excessive demand for housing in Medway and the goalposts keep shifting”.  

**Sonia Hyner: “Capstone Valley is the only green area now in this part of Medway. The rest of it has been built on”.

**Steve Dyke: “There are better alternatives to building on Greenfield, such as higher density development on Brownfield sites in urban locations and close to travel hubs (to cut down on car use)”. 

Like many in Medway, the Green Party was saddened by the Government Planning Inspector’s decision which gave the go ahead for development at Gibraltar Farm.  The plan to build 450 homes on the site had been rejected by Medway Council but they were overruled by the Inspector.

Sonia Hyner, a Medway Green Party Officer who lives in Lordswood comments:

“I was truly horrified to hear about the proposal for 450 new houses to be built at Gibraltar Farm and hope that it can be further challenged. I have known this area for the past 50 years and, in this time, it has shifted from a patchwork of farms to being largely built up. Most of the building has been in relation to new housing and there have been some benefits such as new linking roads and new shopping areas. However, Capstone Valley is the only green area now in this part of Medway. The rest of it has been built on”.

Medway Council stipulates a low standard of green space provision compared to adjacent local authorities of 3.25ha per 1000 population. This compares to standards of 6.14ha per 1,000 people in Tonbridge and Malling, 10.1ha in Gravesham and 7.39ha in Swale. [1] Medway also has a higher population compared to adjacent areas [2].  However, in Medway Council’s Local Plan consultation, much of the land proposed for potential development is Greenfield.  Additionally the Medway Towns are under additional pressure because of migration from London boroughs, due to the high property prices there, which in 2014 totalled 33% of all migration into our area. [3] According to local Estate Agents this trend has continued. [4]

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator comments:

“We already have excessive demand for housing in Medway and the goalposts keep shifting.  There is a risk that landowners will be tempted by the high premiums offered by developers. This is not helped by the decision regarding Gibraltar Farm which could open the floodgates for similar planning applications. The only real way to protect Medway’s green spaces is to draw a hard line around them and not allow development in them under any circumstances.

“There are better alternatives to building on Greenfield, such as higher density development on Brownfield sites in urban locations and close to travel hubs (to cut down on car use).  This is suggested by the Council within one of the four options they have proposed in the Local Plan consultation.  This may end up as the preferred option of Medway Green Party which is currently drafting its full response to the consultation.  This is not least because all the other options on offer explicitly mention development at Lodge Hill, an SSSI and of national importance to wildlife.”

Medway Green Party is encouraging those with concerns over developments such as Gibraltar Farm to visit the Local Plan consultation on the Council website and share their views.

The deadline for responses is 18th April.

*************************************************************************************
ENDS

NOTES:

[1] Issues and Options consultation (p65) http://www.medway.gov.uk/PDF/Final%20Issues%20and%20Options%20Public%20Consultation%20Copy.pdf [p66]

[2] Strategic Market Housing Assessment – “Based on the 2011 population level, Medway makes up the largest proportion of the population in the wider HMA, at 34%” – Housing Market Area (HMA) has been identified as consisting of Medway, Gravesham, Swale, Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling)  http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p42)

[4] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p38)

[5] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p53)

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