MP brands regeneration plan ‘ugly’ and ‘overly dense’
PUBLISHED: 16:41 25 August 2010
Conservative MP Adam Holloway has ended his silence on the controversial Heritage Quarter development by openly criticising the £120 million regeneration project.
Writing in a letter to a constituent, exclusively leaked to the Reporter, the MP acknowledges his involvement in planning issues is “against convention” and “inappropriate,” yet finishes by attacking the proposal put forward by Edinburgh House.
The news comes less than a month before the plan goes before the Conservative-led Gravesham Borough Council, whose leader Michael Snelling publicly supports it.
Mr Holloway writes: “Members of parliament are not supposed to get involved in planning issues as you elect borough councillors precisely for this purpose – furthermore it is a long standing convention that it is inappropriate for MPs to weigh in on these issues.”
Despite this he concludes the letter: “It is no secret that I have my own views that the existing designs are ugly and overly dense with little sensitivity to what already exists in this town.
“This should be an opportunity to take Gravesend forward but I fear the current proposals will repeat some of the worst things done in the past.”
Mr Snelling refused to be comment on Mr Holloway’s bold announcement but said: “I was and still am an advocate of the £120 million investment in the town centre.”
The council’s regulatory board will discuss the plan, first rejected at a public meeting in April, at a specially arranged meeting in Woodville Halls on September 20.
Since the original plan was dismissed Edinburgh House has revised its plans, including replacing studio apartments with three bedroom flats, lowering the height of the 51-room hotel and promising to restrict the height of flats in West Street to ensure views of St George’s Church are unaffected.
Despite this campaign group Urban Gravesham remain determined to fight the application and vice chairman Martin McKay, was delighted to see Mr Holloway offer his support.
He said: “Hundreds of constituents have written to him about this and I think he has realised he needs to show where his loyalties lie. We are not against regeneration our main point is we have had regeneration before, in the ‘60s and now need it again. If it isn’t done right all we will need is more work in 30 years time.”
Roger House, The regional manager of the Federation of Small Businesses believes unless the plan is resolved businesses in the area will suffer.
If no decision is reached at the meeting it is likely the project could be called in for consideration by Eric Pickles, the communities and local government secretary, delaying the scheme further. Residents are invited to the Woodville Halls public meeting on September 20 at 7pm. Those wishing to speak should contact the council by calling 01474 564 422.
Adam Holloway was not available to comment on the proposal.