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Controversial plan for green belt land development in Meopham deferred

PUBLISHED: 13:49 13 October 2010

Alex Hills at the the Green belt land which has now become overgrown with shrubbery and trees

Alex Hills at the the Green belt land which has now become overgrown with shrubbery and trees

Archant

Residents and councillors are to visit the site of a controversial development plan on green belt land.

Proposals for land near Longfield Road and Evenden Road, Meopham, cover a complex of 53 sheltered, extra care housing units with linked facilities.

Members of the Gravesham branch of Protect Kent, the county’s offshoot of the national organisation the Campaign to Protect Rural England, are against the scheme.

Campaigner and spokesperson Alex Hills said: “This application is a big test of if the council is serious or not about protecting the Green Belt.

“It is hoped a site visit that is to be arranged will allow residents and councillors a chance to see exactly how the plan will impact on land that should be protected.

“I would encourage people to show an interest and see for themselves what this development means, we should protect out Green Belt.”

On Wednesday Gravesham council’s regulatory board decided to hold a site meeting before taking the issue any further, and invited residents to attend.

Plans have been put forward by SJP Group, which runs the St James Oaks retirement home complex in Trafalgar Road, Gravesend.

If they get the go-ahead building could be completed in phases over three or four years. At least 50 units were needed to make it commercially viable.

A spokesman said there was a “desperate need” for affordable, owner-occupied retirement housing in local rural areas and there was nothing to cater for the big demand in this area.

He added: “It is also long-awaited. We have been trying to get this off the ground for some 18 years.”

Planner Clive Gilbert told the meeting that the council had in the past allowed affordable housing on Green Belt land and it was difficult to find so-called brownfield sites, which had already been used. He also said there were badgers and reptiles on the site which need considering,

Meopham parish councillor Cynthia Barnes told the meeting that, although the council recognised there was a need for this type of development, it was against development on Green Belt.

A number of board members said they were concerned about the adverse impact on what is already a bad traffic problem in the village and they were also concerned about speeding along the A227.

Details of the site visit are yet to be finalised.

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