Reprieve for Lodge Hill Nightingales ?

Planning Resource intelligence magazine reports that ‘Developer Land Securities has pulled out of a scheme to build 5,000 new homes on a Ministry of Defence-owned site in Kent that was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)’.

Lodge Hill has the largest surviving population of Nightingales in Britain.  Let’s hope this leads to conservation of the site rather than a new development proposal.  The stay of execution is the result of a long running local and national campaign.

Jim Dutton at Planning Resource writes that:

‘Medway Council last year granted planning permission to the scheme for Lodge Hill, near Chattenden on the Hoo Peninsula, despite the SSSI designation made by government environment adviser Natural England in 2013.

That designation prompted Medway’s core strategy to be declared unsound because of its reliance on the site for new homes provision.

In February this year, planning minister Brandon Lewis called in the decision for determination because of “a significant number of requests” from residents, local MPs and ornithologists. A date for the public inquiry that would inform the ministerial decision has yet to be fixed.

Earlier this year Land Securities said that uncertainty over the site had cost it £11.3 million. Now it has announced that it is “no longer progressing the masterplan for a development at Lodge Hill”.

A spokeswoman for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the Ministry of Defence’s property arm, said its contract with Land Securities had expired in June, but that it would continue to “work closely” with Medway Council to progress plans for the site.

She said: “Depending on the outcome of the public inquiry, DIO will consider the best way to dispose of the site and may appoint another development partner at that time if necessary.”

A Medway spokeswoman said the authority still supported the development of Lodge Hill and was  preparing for the public inquiry.’

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