Minister requests further detail on 5,000-home Medway application

The planning minister has said that the government requires more information before a decision can be made on whether or not to call in a controversial application for 5,000 homes at a site in Kent identified as an important habitat for nightingales.

Nightingale: mixed-use Lodge Hill development comprises plans for 5,000 homes (picture by Sergey Yeliseev)
Nightingale: mixed-use Lodge Hill development comprises plans for 5,000 homes (picture by Sergey Yeliseev)

In a letter to the leader of Medway Council, Brandon Lewis said that the government is giving "careful consideration" as to whether or not the Defence Infrastructure Organisation's application for the development on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) on the Hoo Peninsula should be called in.

Since Medway Council approved the Lodge Hill application in September, campaign groups, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), have campaigned for the public to lobby the secretary of state to call in the application.

But Pickles will not decide on whether to call in the application himself as he is a member of the RSPB.

Lewis' letter, published this week on the Department for Communities and Local Government's website, said: "We are of the view that we need further information before making a decision on whether or not to call in this application."

The letter added: "A number of representations in relation to this application have been made to us, including from Natural England and the RSPB. We wish to be informed of the local planning authority’s views on a number of those representations, copies of which are attached to this letter.

"In particular, we wish to be informed of the views of the council’s planning committee that considered this application on 4 September 2014."

The letter requests the information by 12 January 2015.

In October, former planning minister Nick Boles accused UKIP defector Mark Reckless of "breathtaking hypocrisy" over his opposition to the plans, which he had supported when he was formerly a Conservative MP.

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