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West Peacemarsh housing development
Part of the site where up to 800 homes could be built west of Peacemarsh in Gillingham; in the distance is Wavering Road West.

Developers have drawn up plans for up to 800 houses at a site west of Peacemarsh in Gillingham on which they say construction of the first homes could start by 2027 or 2028.

The Vistry Group – who include brands such as Bovis Homes and Linden Homes – and Hallam Land Management recently met staff and councillors at Gillingham Town Council to present the plans, even though no planning application for the scheme is imminent.

The developers’ representatives showed the council a ‘vision’ for the site, which is bordered on two sides by Wavering Lane West and the River Stour, and on a third by the road that connects Milton-on-Stour to Wavering Lane West.

The proposed development would include not just 800 homes but a new primary school and ‘extensive public open space, including allotments and play areas’.

The developers’ vision statement continues: ‘Improved access to formal areas of open space for current and future residents, enhanced by new pedestrian and cycling routes, would encourage healthy lifestyles. Proposed open space, green infrastructure proposals and ecological enhancements would aim to provide a net gain in biodiversity on the site.’

Vistry and Hallam Land Management are also keen to stress that the area running immediately along the River Stour would be preserved as a natural area. ‘The Stour Valley Way would be protected and enhanced as part of the integrated green infrastructure,’ the statement says.

It also states: ‘The vision for land west of Peacemarsh/Wavering Lane is to deliver a sustainable new neighbourhood that builds on the existing character of Gillingham and supports [Dorset] Council’s strategic objective to strengthen the role of Gillingham as the [area’s]’s main service and employment centre.’

In the consultation document for Dorset’s Local Plan it is still unclear whether this site will be included as potential building land. That plan will run until from 2023 to around 2038.

And Gillingham Town Council has made it clear that it does not want to see that land included in any development plans during that period, especially given that not a single home on the planned 1,800-house Southern Extension in the town has yet been built.

However, the Vistry Group and Hallam Land Management say in their response to the Local Plan consultation that it is likely that the Peacemarsh site would not begin delivering houses until 2027/28, and would not reach ‘full delivery capacity’ until 2028/29.

‘By this time delivery of the Southern Extension would be firmly underway and the additional delivery would come at a useful time to maintain the pace of delivery and plug any gaps that might arise from slower delivery in the Station Road regeneration area,’ the developers state.

‘…[W]e do not consider that the allocation of Land west of Peacemarsh would inhibit the delivery of the Southern Extension.’

The developers’ presentation was made to councillors and staff on Gillingham Town Council’s Developer Engagement Advisory Panel. Such meetings are encouraged under national planning guidelines in order for local councils to be able to make clear what local priorities and needs are, and for developers to be able to outline their plans at an early enough stage to be able to amend them in line with local needs.

During the hour-long meeting, held on 8 April, the council’s panel raised a number of issues, including over access to the site, the town’s educational needs and the impact of the proposed development on the environment.

A spokesperson for Vistry Group told Gillingham News: ‘We would like to clarify that we have no plans to submit a planning application at this stage. We are promoting the location, with Hallam Land Management, for development through the Dorset Local Plan and the designs are at a very early stage.

‘As part of promoting the site through the Local Plan process we will be undertaking community and stakeholder consultation at the appropriate time. We want to work with the local community to understand what the needs of Gillingham are. We are initially aware that green open space provision, pedestrian and cycle routes and secondary education capacity are key facilities that Gillingham is in need of, which we are fully exploring as part of the design process.’

West Peacemarsh housing development
Part of the possible housing development site viewed from a footbridge over the River Stour in Peacemarsh.
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  1. Nick Berrett
    17 April 2021 at 7:35 am — Reply

    If this was a democratic country where people’s choice counts, we should vote on this. But obviously money talks, our quiet life will be taken away, while our property values will diminish.

  2. Chris Brickell
    18 April 2021 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    I’m not certain of the total numbers but I have an inkling that Gillingham will have around 3000 more houses over the next 7 or 8 years with little indication of any serious infrastructure thinking to go with them. Developers pop in a token primary school and walk away with a huge profit. The community is left with poor employment opportunities, inadequate roads, down at heel high street, no entertainment venues, sports clubs struggling to fund the growth required. I have little confidence that the decision makers in the south of the county have our community’s best interests at heart. Certainly the aggressively patronising way we were treated at the recent zoom “consultation” did little to inspire me with any confidence.

    • Phil Wilson
      19 April 2021 at 12:29 pm — Reply

      Chris has got this absolutely right – we are in real danger of Gillingham becoming nothing more than an overgrown housing estate with nothing in place to build the community infrastructure that should be grown alongside the massive housing development. I also share concerns about Dorset Council’s commitment to the needs of Gillingham residents. I wish we had a Council that would stand up to the Westminster Government and insist that new housing development must always be supported by realistic infrastructure.

  3. Bernard M
    23 April 2021 at 7:04 pm — Reply

    There is absolutely no need for this prosed massive housing estate. Gillingham is already set to receive a massive increase in housing with the southern extension. This part of North Dorset has little in the way of important facilities being at least an hour away from a major hospital by private transport and many hours by public transport. The secondary school is already oversubscribed and the main road through the town becomes gridlocked whenever there isa problem on the A303. The increase in traffic from this proposal and the southern extension will result in major traffic flow problems and heavy pollution. Before any more building is allowed there needs to be major investment in infrastructure including an entertainment centre like the Exchange at Sturminter Newton, a new hospital to serve this area of North Dorset and a proper bypass. The expensive changes to Le Neuberg road and pavements in the town centre are simply window dressing. Where will all the new home owners work, go to school, visit drs and dentists, etc.We have just about the the highest council tax in the country and get very little in return for it. Since becoming a combined authority residents are being penalised by the high tax with nothing to show for it.

  4. Rosemary Bradbury
    9 May 2021 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    May I ask how the residents of all this new housing will access medical care? There is not good enough GP service to cover the existing population of Gillingham let alone any extra.
    The Barn Surgery has been closed for months with little hope of being open again in the near future, and in the meantime, when ill, those of us who are able have to apply by computer in hopes of getting a phone call if we are lucky. Quite frankly my dog has a much better service from the veterinary surgery.
    It’s pure madness to stretch this not-fit-for-purpose service any further.

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