Agenda item

Planning application - MC/22/0254 Land to the East and West of Church Street, Cliffe, Rochester

Strood Rural Ward

Outline application with all matters reserved except for (access) for a residential development of up to 250 dwellings and a mixed-use community hub together with associated infrastructure including public open space and community facilities comprising a replacement sports ground and pavilion, with accesses from Church Street, Cooling Road and Buttway Lane.




The Head of Planning showed the Committee an overview on Google Maps of the site to show its location in relation with Wainscott Bypass and the B2000 which went through Cliffe and Cliffe Woods.


The Senior Planner explained this was an outline application for 250 dwellings, a mixed-use community hub, the relocation of the sports ground with accesses from Church Street, Cooling Road and Buttway Lane.


The Senior Planner explained that additional representations had been received and were included in the Supplementary Agenda Advice Sheet.


The Senior Planner outlined the application in detail and explained that additional land which was owned by the applicant did not form part of the application.  The illustrative plans shown represented what could be achieved on the sites with the repositioned sports pitches and new pavilion on the northern site, dedicated open space on the western side and residential development on the two sites either side of B2000.  The bowls club would remain.


The Senior Planner explained that, in principle, this was a carefully balanced application outside the rural boundaries of Cliffe.  Members were made aware of the 5-year housing land supply which had to be taken account of.  The development would link the two sections of Cliffe.  The impact on the Highway Network was acknowledged however deemed not severe.  The Senior Planner referred to the creation of jobs, diversification of the labour market, the economic support in the existing village and the increase in local spending, 25% of the proposed residential to be affordable housing with a mix of housing and tenures, the relocated sports provisions, the creation of a new community hub, access to green spaces and an additional 20% of biodiversity in the area. It was considered that the benefits of the development outweighed the harm and the application was recommended for approval subject to S106 agreement and conditions.


The Senior Planner advised that there was an amendment in Condition 39, at the end of the first paragraph and the reference to Sports England should be removed.


With the agreement of the Committee, Councillor Williams addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor and raised the following concerns:


·     This was a rural location and the development would cause more congestion, more noise and the highways around the area would not be able to cope with even more vehicles.

·     In the Medway Strategic Land Availability Assessment, it was stated the land to the east and west of Church Street was unsuitable to develop due to the impact on agricultural land and landscape, and he questioned why this site had come forward?  If the development went ahead there would be a loss of agriculture and a negative impact on the floral and fauna of the area. There was a need to protect the rural landscape and biodiversity in the area and once built on it would be gone forever.

·     The proposed sports ground was out of the way, the local school oversubscribed and the doctors’ surgery was struggling to cope with the current number of residents in the area.


With the agreement of the Committee, Councillor Mrs E Turpin addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor and raised the following concerns:


·     This was not a sustainable development.  This was a rural village and the roads were already unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians due to the width of the roads.  Public transport was not reliable and buses stopped running in the early evening.  This development had a negative impact on the agricultural land and there was no mention about the increased levels of flooding.

·     There was no secondary school within 3 miles of the development.

·     Residents of Cliffe were passionate about protecting the rural area and did not agree to this overdevelopment. 


With the agreement of the Committee, Councillor Etheridge addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor and raised the following concerns:


·     Increased vehicles including lorries into the rural village of Cliffe Woods, the detrimental effect of construction to residents, existing wildlife and the local area. With limited facilities in terms of public transport, local shopping, schools and health provision, a private car would be the only form of transport, which would be totally unsustainable. No consideration had been given to the effect and health of the local community. 

·     The new playing fields were sited along a single road with no street lighting or footpaths which was extremely dangerous for residents and would also be hazardous for any visitors transporting team members for fixtures. 


The Committee discussed the planning application outlined by the Senior Planner and noted the points raised by the Ward Councillors. 


Members took into account and were concerned with the increased volume of vehicles currently on these roads and surrounding areas as the roads were very narrow with chicanes and would not be able to cope with any further additional traffic. The Highways Officer confirmed in the report that there would be capacity for these additional vehicles.  There would also be no other practical routes for cyclists.  


Members stated Cliffe was a lovely, unique village with very old properties and an increase in size of 25% would irreparably destroy the local area, would change the character and impact the whole community. Members stated this was a gross overdevelopment, was not sustainable and would disturb the rural area and clashed with what the local residents wanted. 


Members acknowledged that the current sports ground was an asset, well used, overlooked and safe and requested the relocation of the sports ground be re-considered due to the site not being overlooked and therefore not as safe and Buttway Lane being narrow with high volumes of traffic accessing that area.


Members acknowledged that with the absence of a current Local Plan, Medway was now under pressure to deliver housing and the Council did not have a 5-year housing land supply. However, Members did not consider that in this location that the benefits of delivering housing outweighed the harm.  Members noted that in the Medway Strategic Land Availability Assessment this area was never designated for housing.


Members requested further information regarding the highways works stated in Condition 12 and 13 of the report for B2000 and Off Slip A289/B2000.




Refused on the grounds that the proposed development had a severe adverse harm to the character of Cliffe, that the development was not sustainable and the additional traffic on the B2000 would unacceptably impact on residential amenity for those residents fronting on to the road; and the relocation of the sports fields would not provide for a comparable quality of sports provision for the village. The Head of Planning was granted delegated powers to approve the final wording of the refusal ground in consultation with the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Opposition Spokesperson.

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