Developers have had a meeting with staff and councillors at Gillingham Town Council to discuss a site behind The Mellowes care home off Common Mead Lane.
The online meeting, on Tuesday 15 September, was described by the council as a ‘fact-finding’ mission in which the developers wanted to find out about the status of the nine-and-a-half acre site.
The developers Fairfax and property consultants PCL Planning from Exeter did not mention any details of any possible development during their meeting with members of Gillingham’s developer engagement advisory panel.
Town clerk Julie Hawkins, who is on the panel, said they informed the developers and consultants that under Gillingham’s Neighbourhood Plan this site was designated as a ‘potential new sports area’ for the town, which currently has a shortage of such land.
They were also told that the Stour Valley Way path runs through the site, and that the land has historical significance.
‘Being located close to Thorngrove the site is also of historic interest as it was from Thorngrove that the medieval manor of Gillingham was administered and I believe that traces of a possible moated site have been discovered in the area,’ said Julie Hawkins.
She added: ‘Whatever happens to the field in the future we need to be aware of the prominent impact it could have on the landscape and we need to ensure that any proposal does not have a negative visual impact on the character and appearance of the area. The site is in an elevated position with views as far as Long Knoll Hill just south of Maiden Bradley.’
Gillingham News has approached PCL Planning twice but they had made no comment by the time this article was published.
Under national planning guidance developers are encouraged to talk to local councils about sites they may be interested in.
However, Gillingham Town Council was worried about the issue of what is called ‘pre-determination’ or pre-judging a planning issue if they met with developers.
So the it set up the developer engagement advisory panel to meet developers and consultants.
It includes council staff and councillors who do not sit on the town’s planning committee. The former chair of the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan group, David Beaton, was also present at the online meeting.