Peninsula planning wars reach High Halstow
Plus the worst drivers in Medway, and there's an election next week, apparently.
A slightly shorter Local Authority this week, and everyone keeps their heads down ahead of the election, and we prepare for a big coming week. Don’t forget that we’re currently crowdfunding to improve local journalism in Medway, and if you are able and willing to contribute, we have some amazing rewards on offer…
The peninsula planning wars reach High Halstow
It’s no secret that there is, to put it mildly, some discontent on the Hoo peninsula about the level of development that the area is facing as Medway attempts to resolve its housing crisis.
Under government regulations, Medway Council is expected to build 28,500 new homes by 2040, and the geography of our towns means that a significant amount of them will inevitably be on the Hoo peninsula because that’s where the space is.
Understandably, residents of the peninsula don’t quite view this as being fair, feeling that all of Medway’s developments are being dumped on them, ruining the rural feel of their communities.
Up until now, Hoo has seen the brunt of this development, with a series of piecemeal housing projects expanding the village into a small town, while delivering little additional infrastructure to support this.
Now though, it is the turn of High Halstow is face the planners, as Redrow Homes have submitted a planning application to build 760 homes to the east of their village. This would be one of the largest planned developments in Medway, and would effectively double the size of the existing village.
The application is a hybrid application for the entire site, meaning details for much of it will follow later, but the broad scope of the proposals is clear.
Alongside the 760 homes, the plan also includes a new primary school, open spaces, green lung pathways throughout, and a small retail provision. As applications for this sort of peninsula development goes, it is more coherent than most as a result of its scale. But that likely won’t be enough to save it from an extensive planning battle in the coming months.
Objections are already being lodged against the application, with the arguments largely focusing on the lack of health facilities and congested roads in the area.
These seem like valid enough complaints, and with GP provision in Medway buckling under pressure, more needs to be done to improve access to health facilities in the area. While work should be advancing soon on a new access road to the peninsula, the recent abandonment of a rail connection to the area likely means transport will continue to be an issue.
I’ve written repeatedly in the past about how so many of Medway’s planning issues stem from a lack of a Local Plan, which has now been missing in action for years. A Local Plan allows a local council to set out which areas are acceptable for development. As Medway Council doesn’t have one, developers can essentially apply for any piece of land they could potentially build on, and even if planners reject the proposals, developers tend to win on appeal as Medway has been failing to meet its housing target year after year.
As the ruling Conservative group withdrew their proposed Local Plan in 2021 for no particular reason, there is no chance of Medway having one in place for at least two more years.
Whoever wins next week's local elections in Medway, the peninsula planning wars are set to continue for a good while yet.
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There’s an election next week, apparently
Look, I’m very aware that Local Authority has become very politics-heavy in the run-up to the local elections. Much as I try and keep this thing as a more general Medway newsletter, it’s inevitable this time of year, and I appreciate you sticking with this thing if politics isn’t really your bag.
Medway’s local election will take place this coming Thursday (4 May). Many of you may have already voted by post, in which case good for you. For those voting the old-school way, polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm, which gives you a superb 15-hour voting window to cast your vote.
You should have received a polling letter by now setting out all of the details of voting, including what stupid photo ID you need to bring along with you. If you need any further information, Medway Council have a pretty good website full of information about voting, including candidate lists and where your polling station is.
Be sure to check how many votes you are entitled to on your ballot paper. Most wards in Medway are electing multiple local councillors, and you can vote for between one and three depending on where you live.
As for us, we’re pretty much done with our pre-election coverage now. We’ll be at the count for Medway Council on Thursday night, spending the wee hours tracking and reporting on the results. The best place to get the results from us in real-time will be over on our Twitter account, but all being well we’ll have an early edition of Local Authority out on Friday morning setting out exactly what our new council looks like.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat after us: It’s almost over. It’s almost over. It’s almost over…
Covid in numbers
Hospitalisations: There are currently 23 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with none of them on a ventilator. This is up 15% from last week.
Deaths: 1 new death was recorded this week, taking Medway to 1,029 covid deaths in total.
Chatham has the worst drivers in Medway
Of course, that’s a slightly reductive headline, but it’s hard to draw a different conclusion from data released this week from insurance brokers Collingwood, who have crunched the numbers on the worst and best drivers in the UK.
They calculated the figures by looking at penalty points applied to driving licences, which maybe isn’t the best way to judge the worst drivers. Maybe just the worst drivers who manage to get caught. Either way, the data shows us that over 8% of drivers in Chatham have points on their licence, compared to Rainham, where a shade over 5% does.
This is all rather silly and doesn’t really mean anything, but the full rundown of Medway postcodes is below:
ME4 (Chatham) - 8.3%
ME1 (Rochester) - 7.8%
ME2 (Strood) - 7.4%
ME5 (Lordswood/Walderslade) - 7.1%
ME7 (Gillingham) - 6.8%
ME3 (Peninsula) - 6.4%
ME8 (Rainham) - 5.4%
🏆 Medway Help for Ukrainians were the big winners at this year’s Pride in Medway awards. The group won the top award on offer following their work supporting displaced Ukrainian people.
🍺 The Rising Sun pub in Rochester has reopened following an extensive renovation. The new-look pub is trying to appeal to former patrons of the nearby Good Intent pub, which closed down a few years ago.
☕ Plans for a drive-thru Costa in Medway City Estate are back on the cards. A planning application was rejected last year, but a new version has been submitted to Medway Council.
🌮 Tex-Mex chain restaurant Chiquito is set to close its Strood branch at the end of the month. It’s currently the only restaurant the company operates in Kent.
🛵 11 delivery riders have been arrested for immigration offences in Kent. The Home Office carried out an operation in Medway, Maidstone, and Bluewater because they want your takeaway to take longer and are ghoulish human beings.
Paid supporters of Local Authority receive three editions of the newsletter every week. This week, as well as our regular Friday edition, we had a local election bonanza. On Monday, we released the full audio of our election debate held last week at MidKent College, and on Thursday, we put the questions from that debate to some of the smaller parties contesting next week’s election.
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If you hear about any Medway news that might be of interest, let me know! Hit reply to message me directly, DM me on Twitter, or leave a comment below.
Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: Antisocialites by Alvvays and Push Barman To Open Old Wounds by Belle and Sebastian.