Dartford plan clash triggers public inquiry

A public inquiry into controversial proposals to regenerate Dartford town centre began last week.

The inquiry centres on plans by St James's Investments to build 500 homes and a large Tesco store at Lowfield Street. The development project was called in by the ODPM in June (Planning, 10 June, p5).

The £94 million scheme has attracted fierce opposition from residents as well as local MP Howard Stoate because it would also see a road built through Central Park, the town's main green space.

But Dartford Borough Council maintains that the plans are a prime example of the government's regeneration agenda for the Thames Gateway. It pointed out that it is doubling the size of Central Park with an extra 10ha of adjacent land bought from GlaxoSmithKline (Planning, 15 April, p5). The inquiry is expected to last six weeks.

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