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Threat to riverside green?

PUBLISHED: 16:30 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 23 August 2010

CONCERNS: Future of St Andrew’s Gardens hangs in the balance.

CONCERNS: Future of St Andrew's Gardens hangs in the balance.

ANGRY residents have blasted developers and the council for lodging objections to an application to designate a riverside garden area as a town green. Campaign group Urban Gravesham submitted an application to Kent County Council to have St Andrew s Gard

ANGRY residents have blasted developers and the council for lodging objections to an application to designate a riverside garden area as a town green.

Campaign group Urban Gravesham submitted an application to Kent County Council to have St Andrew's Gardens in Gravesend's Heritage Quarter named a town green, safeguarding the site and making any future development on it illegal.

Ambitious plans to build a 32-storey tower block on the site were axed in January, but plans for the £150 million regeneration scheme of the area are still going ahead.

The Gravesend Reporter office has received many letters from concerned residents after the council and developer Edinburgh House lodged their appeals against the town green application.

M Whitsitt, of Portland Avenue, Gravesend, said: "The council is now in the position of trying to frustrate the majority of opinion and consign St Andrews Gardens to the developers.

"It is a sad reflection to look back to 1950s when the gardens were laid out and opened to the public, the Gravesend Corporation were optimistic for the future when they decided to transform and preserve the riverside as an open space."

Martin Emerson, of Lynton Road South, Gravesend, writes: "The people of Gravesham can now look forward to large sums of their money being spent by the council on lawyers fees to thwart the wishes of the majority in the town who love these gardens and want to save them."

Ruth Wilson, from Gravesend, added "If Councillor Mike Snelling considers the river to be Gravesham's greatest single asset, why has the application to give the St Andrew's garden area town green status been opposed by the council?"

Council leader Mike Snelling said that Gravesham Borough Council is legally bound by a development agreement singed by the previous Labour administration, to build on the site.

He said: "As a matter of policy the council would oppose any moves which would fetter its discretion as to future use of land in the borough especially since attempts to register "village greens" has now become a nationally recognised device by pressure groups to frustrate development.

"The council is legally bound by a development agreement, signed by a previous administration, for some building on St Andrews Gardens. Because of this we are obliged to keep our options open at this time while we await the developer's new proposals.

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