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Tower plan put on hold

PUBLISHED: 15:27 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:10 23 August 2010

THE council leader has announced plans for the controversial tower are to be put on hold to allow further public consultation. Gravesham Borough Council revealed the measure was being taken and the timetable for the planning process will be delayed. Cou

THE council leader has announced plans for the controversial tower are to be put on hold to allow further public consultation.

Gravesham Borough Council revealed the measure was being taken and the timetable for the planning process will be delayed.

Council leader Mike Snelling said: "The council is prepared to listen - we are listening to all sides of the debate but we are concerned that everyone is given the opportunity to hear the real issues and come to an informed decision.

"Although the decision to extend the process is planning-led it is particularly welcome because it gives us the chance to debate the real issues and avoid the situation of the debate becoming polarised on narrow lines."

A development agreement was signed in February 2007 between Edinburgh House and the council, with cross-party support.

Part of those plans specified the provision of 223 dwellings on the land at St Andrews Gardens.

The original plans had shown a 12 to 14-floor tower, covering a much larger space. The tower was then thought to be the best solution.

This week a Labour councillor also apologised to Mr Snelling after wrongly accusing him of sitting on the board of the developers responsible for the development.

Lee Croxton, council member for the Riverside ward made the statement at a heated Gravesham Borough Council debate on October 7.

In a letter penned to Mr Croxton, Mike Snelling said: "In the course of your introduction to one of the Heritage Quarter deputations, you stated that I was a board member of Edinburgh House Estates.

"As you are fully aware, that is a lie, my only connection with the company is when I meet their officers in the course of my representational role as leader of the council."

Mr Croxton said: "If I did say he was on the board of Edinburgh House, I unreservedly apologise for my remarks.

"He clearly isn't on the board of Edinburgh House. What I implied, and what I thought I actually said, was that he was on the board of the Heritage Quarter, along with John Burden, the leader of the Labour group.

"John Burden left the meeting, and what I thought was that Mr Snelling should also do the same."

AN MP has branded a 32-storey tower as a "blot" on proposals to develop the town centre, but has remained neutral on the debate surrounding the overall scheme

The £150 million development of the Gravesend Heritage Quarter includes plans for a residential tower block that would accommodate 230 flats.

Last week we revealed that 74 per cent of residents surveyed by the Reporter were against plans, as groups in favour and against the plan presented their case to Gravesham Borough Council.

Gravesham MP Adam Holloway said he is not in favour of more flats in the town and promised his constituents he would look in to the matter further.

He said: "Ultimately, as an MP, I am not here to decide on planning issues. It is up to the planning committee to decide on whether or not we go ahead with it.

"Personally as a Gravesend resident, I think we have enough flats as it is in Gravesend and I think the tower is a blot on the proposals, but I don't think the issue here is just about the tower.

"Gravesend town centre needs something done to do it, it is in need of regeneration. But the key point here whether we are locked into this scheme or not.

"I will be looking at this issue over the next few weeks to see whether we have to have it or not and I will have a lot more to say on the matter then."

The Conservative MP confirmed he has met with both the opposition group Urban Gravesham and the Yes to Gravesend group, formed by local businessmen in favour of the proposals.

Developers Edinburgh House say the scheme will create 1,000 jobs, a new town square, 120,000 sq ft of retail space and ensure the long-term viability of the town.

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