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councilInitial plans for 139 homes scheduled as part of Gillingham’s massive Southern Expansion development have been described as ‘disappointing’ and ‘cramped’ by the town’s planning committee.

Committee member and Gillingham town mayor Councillor Sharon Cullingford said the layout proposed by house builders Redrow for the new development was lacking in greenery and space.

‘There’s a lot of concrete all bundled together… I don’t think the layout is very attractive,’ she told fellow councillors at last Monday’s meeting.

‘I’m sorry to say that because Redrow build brilliant houses. It’s very disappointing to see this kind of plan.’

Councillor Donna Toye said: ‘It does look a little bit cramped, everybody’s very much on top of each other.’

Councillors raised concerns, too, over the number of parking spaces that would be allocated and whether this would lead to too much on-street parking and access problems for emergency vehicles.

Deputy mayor Councillor Barry Von Clemens also expressed misgivings over the developers’ decision to build the playground facilities from wood. ‘In Gillingham we tend to avoid using wood equipment simply because of the wetness of many of our sites, which does affect their lifespan,’ he said.

Councillor Von Clemens also suggested that the proposed playhouse in one play area could attract antisocial behaviour.

However, he was happy at news that across the entire development of the Southern Expansion it has been agreed that 25 percent of the new dwellings will be affordable homes. ‘That’s fabulous news,’ said Councillor Von Clemens.

A majority of councillors voted to recommend refusal of the application, which concerns layout and appearance.

Meanwhile Tilly Wishaw, senior planning manager at Redrow Homes, told the same meeting that the county’s highways department had already raised the issue of the size of the streets and that these concerns had been taken on board.

‘Before this application progresses the streets are going to be widened. There will be an amended layout which should respond to your concerns,’ she told councillors.

The Southern Expansion site will ultimately contain up to 1,800 new homes.

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