Nightingale habitat protection fears see Medway councillors reject self-build house plans in Chattenden
Plans for self-built houses near important bird habitat have been rejected.
Esquire Developments has requested permission to allow the construction of up to 21 lots in two locations along Lodge Hill Lane, Chattenden, near Rochester.
The sites — one of which houses old farm buildings — border Chattenden Woods and the Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is a habitat for nightingales, a protected species.
The proposed land is in the vicinity of the former Department of Defense Army camp and the closed Deangate Ridge golf course, both of which are covered by the SSSI.
A recommendation to dismiss the plans was backed by Medway council members when they met Wednesday.
A statement from community representative, Cllr John Williams (Con), read aloud by planning manager Dave Harris, said: “Approving this development — not just within 400 meters of the SSSI, but adjacent to its boundary — would set a dangerous precedent for the development being advanced for the Hoo Peninsula.
“I believe this development would be detrimental to the area, deprive existing residents of amenities, pose a threat to wildlife in the local SSSI and is totally unsustainable.”
Objections to the plans have also been raised by the RSPB, Natural England and Kent Wildlife Trust.
Had the plans been successful, both developments would have been accessible via Lodge Hill Lane.
Hoo St Werburgh Parish Council were concerned that residents of the houses would likely rely on cars, increasing traffic on the single lane road.
One of the sites was intended for nine apartments, while the other could have between eight and twelve apartments.
It was suggested that the sites would have a policy whereby residents could not own cats and the site would be secured with cat-proof fences to reduce the risk of harming nightingales.
Mr Harris said he was not comfortable with the idea of a no-cat policy because it would be difficult to enforce.
Cllr Martin Potter (Con) pointed out how ironically there is a cattery at Lodge Hill Lane and said if the decision to reject the plans were to be appealed the applicant’s lawyers could point that out.