Council to consult on changes to HIF project

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Medway Council has started the next phase of public consultation into how best to spend £170m to protect the environment and deliver much-needed new road and rail infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsula.

The consultation programme on Future Hoo and the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) investment went live yesterday (29 November 2021) and will finish on 10 January 2022.

The council has leafletted more than 24,000 homes to inform residents about a website – www.medway.gov.uk/futurehoo – plus the time and place of a series of public events that outline how the HIF project has progressed since the first phase of consultation.

Since the first consultation closed, planning permission has been granted to create Cockham Community Parkland, a new community park covering 127.75 acres (51.7ha) of land to the south of Hoo St Werburgh and the east of Chattenden. Currently private land, Cockham Community Parkland will provide a large open space for the public and connect Main Road in Chattenden to Vicarage Lane in Hoo, providing safe and attractive routes for dog walkers, walkers and cyclists to enjoy.

As a result of the public feedback there have been a number of changes to the HIF project, some large, many others small, but all designed to provide an integrated programme of infrastructure investment.

The design of the proposed new railway station has been based upon ‘barn style’ local heritage, and a series of railway crossings will be retained and upgraded with new safety features for drivers and pedestrians. The DC electrification required for a 12-car rail service has been discounted and a new option is being explored.

Phase 1 of a new relief road would now not include a proposed flyover. However, it would deliver improvements to existing highways including providing new slip roads to Higham Road junction, improvements to Islingham Farm Road and Woodfield Way. This work would be followed by five further phases culminating in improvements to the Wulfere Way and Sans Pareil roundabouts.

Council Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “The Future Hoo proposals have evolved. This consultation shows how we have listened and we want again to seek the views of local residents.

“We are often urged by residents to do everything we can to protect the environment and ensure that the all-important infrastructure is in place ahead of any new housing – the Government’s £170m investment allows us to achieve this. In addition, securing financial contributions from future house builders means the delivery of new community, medical and educational facilities will keep pace with the delivery of any new homes.”

In addition to the project’s website, the HIF team is organising four events where local residents can see the latest proposals, meet the project team, and give feedback, subject to any Covid restrictions. The events are being held on:

• Wednesday, 15 December 2021, 2pm-8pm: Chattenden Community Centre
• Thursday, 16 December 2021, 1pm-7pm: High Halstow Hall
• Wednesday, 5 January 2022, 5.30pm-9pm: Hundred of Hoo School Hall, Hoo St Werburgh
• Friday, 7 January 2022, 2pm-8pm: Frindsbury Extra Memorial Hall

The public will also be able to review the latest proposals online at www.medway.gov.uk/futurehoo where they can leave their views by completing an online questionnaire.