The battle to protect Gravesend from mass development carries on-
UG campaigns endorsed by membership at AGM (posted 8th March)
Many UG members turned up at the Three Daws on the 7th of March to hear the latest updates on UG's campaigns and to vote in a new committee. The membership endorsed the campaigns against the Heritage and Transport Quarters and vowed to keep up the good work.
Many thanks to guest speaker Kasan Goh from the Clay Architecture Partnership who gave a fascinating talk on a heritage project to document, archive and create an exhibition on the 100 year history of his practice's involvement in Gravesend.
Download the UG Review of the year as presented at the meeting
Download minutes of AGM
Lets be proud of our town!
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Gravesend Transport Quarter- will KCC Councillors vote to close the Station Car Park and allow heavy traffic through the Community Square? (posted 30/01/14)
Following a visit to Gravesend on 19th January, Councillors at Kent County Council will make a planning decision on the ill-fated Gravesend Transport Quarter Scheme in March.
The huge multi-storey car park proposal has been dropped, along with plans for a bus 'interchange'. All that remains is the proposal to spend a staggering £8 million on diverting traffic flows from the north of the Railway Station to the south.
The 242 space commuter car park would be permanently closed to make way for the new southern road, as would disabled spaces at the car park and at Railway Place. Even more bizarre is the proposal to divert service traffic (Including large lorries) from Tesco, the Thamesgate Centre and town centre shops through the very narrow Railway Place, and along the east side of the Community Square! A historic building at the Rathmore Road/ Darnley Road juction would be demolished to provide a widened junction at this point.
The scheme is in Kent County Council's programme of works and is to be funded by the Government's Homes and Community Agency. However, the last say lies with Kent County Council's Planning Committee.
Urban Gravesham thinks that the whole scheme is a crazy waste of money that will be highly inconvenient for commuters who use the Rathmore Road car park, and that it will only serve to ensure that Railway Place and the newly traffic calmed Community Square are ridden with traffic, noise and fumes.
There is still time to persuade KCC Councillors to throw out the scheme. IF YOU OBJECT TO THE PROPOSALS email email email@example.com quoting Gravesend Transport Quarter and planning ref KCC/GR/0148/2012. Include your name and address. Demand that KCC throws out this application for the good of the town. Your e-mail does not have to be complicated- simply state what you think about the proposed permanent closure of the Rathmore Road car park, the loss of commuter and disabled parking, and rerouting of heavy service traffic through Railway Place and the Community Square etc.
HURRY- write that email as soon as possible- KCC are due to make a decision soon!
Download UG leaflet on the scheme (handed to KCC Councillors on 19/02/13)
Click here to read Urban Gravesham's letter to KCC Councillors
Learn more about the Transport Quarter
Its official! Buried bear pit is of national importance (posted 12/01/14)
Back in 2012, and along with a range of other campaigners, Urban Gravesham became involved with the disused factory site that was once the location of the famous Rosherville Gardens- dating from the 1830's and at its height in the 1870's visited by 1 million visitors per year- many of whom travelled by paddle steamer from London. Frequent visitors included Dickens, Lillie Langtry, and Gaiety Girls.
An archaeological investigation on the old AEI factory site came across the well preserved remains of a bear pit- the one time home of 'Rosie the Bear' - who along with other exotic creatures entertained the crowds. Parts of the old Italian Gardens on the site were also rediscovered
We tried to persuade the Government's Homes and Communities Agency, who own the land, along with Gravesham Borough Council in its capacity as planning authority, to drop plans to deposit 1000's of tons of landfill from the London Crossrail project over the remains of the gardens. However, they refused to listen and the historic features are now reburied under tons of earth.
However, we have just learnt that English Heritage have 'listed' the bear pit. This means that it is a historic feature of national importance.
Whist we recognise that not all the old Rosherville Gardens can be restored, we think that the land owner should restore the bear pit and features of the Italian Gardens as a small local park as the centrepiece of high quality development. We hope that this time the Homes and Communities Agency and Gravesham Council (which calls itself the listening Council') should actually listen...We will be writing again to both organisations. Watch this space.
To see an very interesting ITV television report click the link below.
Urban Gravesham Autumn 2013 Newsletter (posted 20/11/13)
Download Urban Gravesham's latest newsletter. The newsletter includes the latest position on the Heritage Quarter planning stalemate, the financial position of the developers Edinburgh House, and what the Council must do to expedite itself from the Heritage Quarter debacle.
And in the Blue corner (posted 17/07/13)
Since the Gravesham Regulatory Board resolution to grant planning permission for the Gravesend Heritage Quarter scheme, planning permission has been granted by Dartford Council to expand Bluewater by 20%. Both Gravesham Borough Council and Heritage Quarter developers, Edinburgh House, had objected to the Bluewater scheme on the grounds that the retail viability of the Gravesend Heritage Quarter scheme would be affected.
UG agrees. It is now very questionable whether the retail part of the HQ scheme will be built at all. UG thinks that Gravesham Regulatory Board Councillors should look at the whole matter of the Heritage Quarter scheme again.
To read Edinburgh House's letter of objection click here
Read Gravesham Council's letter of objection and report
But was Council's Heritage Quarter Regulatory Board Decision legal, decent, and truthful? (posted 12/06/13- updated 17/07/13)
Not entirely. Urban Gravesham commissioned leading planning barrister, James Findlay QC, to conduct an independent review of the Regulatory Board meeting that resolved to grant permission to the hated Heritage Quarter scheme. His advice was very clear:
' The members of the Board were misled (by the Council's legal officer) as to the availability of possible reasonable grounds upon which to refuse permission...unless the Board reconsiders the matter ... it is reasonably arguable that its decision is unlawful.'
The advice means that if the decision is not reconsidered by the Council's Board, it will then be open to legal challenge in the High Court.
Solicitors acting for Urban Gravesham wrote to the Council at the end of May to seek confirmation that the meeting would be held again. Urban Gravesham have yet to receive a sensible answer (17/07/13).
To read the QC's advice, click here
To read the letter sent from Urban Gravesham's solicitors to Gravesham Council, click here
Gravesham Borough Council Regulatory Board resolves to give Heritage Quarter Scheme planning permission (posted 01/05/13)
At a meeting last night (30/04/13) GBC's Regulatory Board resolved to grant planning permission to the Edinburgh House Heritage Quarter proposals. It was, however, a controversial decision- three Councillors voted for it, three against, and three abstained, thus leaving the casting vote to the Chair, Councillor Jane Cribbon- hardly a ringing endorsement.
This permission is subject to to agreeing financial contributions for health, highways and other matters. These have not been agreed and until they are, the scheme does not officially have planning permission
The meeting was a farce- hundreds of people, the vast majority against the scheme, turned up to observe (as is their right) democracy in action. They were denied access to the Council Chamber where the meeting was taking place, and were instead decanted to the Woodville Halls to watch the meeting via a televised link . The meeting was delayed when the link went down and eventually ended at 10:45pm- by which time many concerned citizens, who stand to have their flats thrown into darkness by the scheme, had had enough of this particular brand of local democracy, and had gone home.
Watch this space- Urban Gravesham will continue its fight on behalf of the riverside residents whose lives will be blighted by the scheme and on behalf of 1000's of Gravesham residents. There were many aspects of the meeting which were odd and unsatisfactory which we will investigate fully and there are various ways in which our fight against this development can be continued.
Please support us by joining us or by making a financial contribution to our funds- only together can we defeat this scheme.
To read more
Urban Gravesham - the Civic Society for Gravesend and Northfleet
We are an ordinary group of citizens who care about the character and environment of the urban areas of Gravesham.
We aim to support positive changes to the town centre but we will, where necessary, campaign against changes that we think would damage the character of area.
We have been involved in major campaigns to save the Heritage Quarter (round St Georges Church and the Market Square) and the Transport Quarter (round the Railway Station) from mass development.
or phone 01474 359223
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Download January 2013 Heritage Quarter Bulletin
Download January 2013 Newsletter
Download Autumn 2013 Newsletter
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