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Affordable housing proposals threaten protected Gravesham greenbeltYET more plans to build on protected greenbelt land in north Kent have been blasted by homeowners.

Despite Gravesham Council leader Councillor John Burden promising in January there will be no development on the borough’s greenbelt sites, he says there is “no automatic assumption” applications will be rejected.

Cllr Burden says if a developer is able to justify a need for housing in the greenbelt, the application will be considered by the council.

Two developers have put forward proposals to build affordable housing on Gravesham’s greenbelt including Moat Housing Association, which wants to build 14 units in Evenden Road, Meopham.

Another, drawn up by developer Curtin and Co, wants to build 150 homes in nearby Istead Rise.

Gravesham UKIP member Geoffrey Clark, 66, of Ediva Road, Meopham said: “Moat should be utterly ashamed of itself for wishing to build on the green belt in Meopham.

“Almost all of us are in favour of affordable housing for local residents, but never, never, never on green belt land.

“If we let them win this one, we’ll be expected to rollover in front of every ensuing project of this nature - residents in Meopham will fight this project tooth and nail until it is killed off.”
Cllr Burden said he could not categorically rule out future greenbelt development, saying: “To build affordable housing on a greenbelt site, a developer has got to demonstrate there is a need in the rural area.

“The number of proposed units would need to reflect the degree of need but there is no automatic assumption that it would be refused.”

In January, Gravesham Council performed a spectacular u-turn, scrapping plans to build 4,500 homes on green belt land, following more than 5,000 replies to a consultation.

Plans to build on last west of Wrotham Road and north of the Drove Way, in Istead Rise, were among those scrapped while plans to build on Ebbsfleet Valley’s brownfield site and Northfleet Embankment were given the go ahead.

Proof the issue is still sensitive came when 200 homeowners packed into the Gravesham Rural Neighbourhood Forum meeting, where a lively debate about affordable housing ensued.

James Ferrin, campaigner for Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The plans have re-ignited a lot of concern for residents.”

Cllr Snelling opened the rural forum - which was held at Meopham’s Church of St John on July 18 -saying: “A lot of people thought at the time [January] the battle was won, but the jury is still out.”
A Moat Housing Association spokeswomen said: “We understand the concerns that have been raised and will consider all of them before reviewing and reassessing our proposal.

“Together with Gravesham Council we will only move forward with this development if it is right for the borough.”
Affordable Rural Housing

Rural affordable housing provides the opportunity for people on lower incomes to live in an area where they have strong connections.

Common examples include youngsters wishing to live where they grew up, or pensioners wishing to downsize their property in a town or village they have lived in for a number of years.