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We have helped to prevent a damaging development, at Capstone Road, Chatham in Medway, from going ahead. The application was for the excavation of land for the creation of a riding ménage and construction of a stable block next to Drowlhill Woods.
Our Medway local correspondent, the indefatigable 94-year-old Pat Wilson, opposed the plan when it went to the council’s planning committee and then on appeal. The appeal was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate last month.
The society opposed the application because the area already suffers from excessive horsey-culture. Pat Wilson remembers it a decade ago as unspoiled but now there are stable blocks, haystores, tack rooms, horse jumps and extensive fencing of all kinds, which the council referred to in its objection as ‘paraphernalia’.
Says Pat: ‘We are delighted that the appeal has been rejected. The Medway Local Plan designates the area as the Capstone Area of Local Landscape Importance, in which development should only be permitted if the benefits outweigh the local priority to conserve the area’s landscape.
‘This is a vital green wedge, extending from the North Downs into the heart of urban Medway and prevents the coalescence of Lordswood/Princes Park and Hempstead. We felt that the horse development would have blighted this green area.
‘We have nothing against horses and riding, but there is no need to have unsightly development to support it. There is already ample provision for riders in this area.
‘We also support the Medway plan’s policy on equestrian development which recommends that such development should only be permitted when “it maintains and wherever possible enhances the character of the locality, and that any buildings blend with their surroundings”. We considered that the appeal should be refused on both counts.
‘So we are glad the council and the Planning Inspector agreed with us, and that the area has been saved,’ Pat concludes.