The RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust welcome the withdrawal today of the planning application to build 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill, Medway (Kent).
Lodge Hill is nationally protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the rare and declining nightingale, holding up to 85 singing males. The site is also important for a wide range of other declining wildlife and habitats, including bats, rare grassland flowers and ancient woodland.
The development would have destroyed most of the nightingales’ habitat, and would have set a terrible precedent for protected sites everywhere.
Over 12,000 people objected to the planning application when it was approved by Medway Council in 2014, promoting the government to ‘call in’ the decision; it was due to have gone to Public Inquiry in March 2018
However, the site remains earmarked for development by Medway Council in their draft Local Plan, released earlier this year. Over 12,000 people also responded to that proposal, pointing out how this was at total odds with national planning guidance, and asking the Council to remove Lodge Hill from their final plan due in 2018.
Nic Scothern, the Regional Director for RSPB South East, said “The withdrawal of the planning application is great news, and an important step towards securing a brighter future for Lodge Hill. Our thanks to the government’s agencies who made this decision.
“However, we cannot assume that Lodge Hill is now secure, so we call on those involved to now be creative and find solutions for the site that bring real benefit to the local community while protecting its very special wildlife.”
John Bennett, Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust, said “After a huge amount of work over many years to protect Lodge Hill, alongside RSPB and other conservation partners, we welcome the common sense shown by the withdrawal of this damaging development application. We look forward, optimistically, to a positive future for the area and its wildlife, which is important for Kent and the country as a whole.”