The news that 'Chatham Waterside' got planning permission last night is a welcome step in the right direction, and perhaps, just perhaps, represents the first step towards pushing for regeneration for our area.
The man in charge of regeneration Cllr Rodney Chambers was apparently close by when permission was given; sensing that his legacy as a leader hangs with this project?
Interesting that there was observation on the panel about the total lack of regeneration in the area since Rodney Chambers took the brief; with Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) stating that it was "the sort of thing Medway has needed for a long time"
Could not put it better Adrian; not since Labour were in the Council and gave permission for the Chatham Dockside regeneration have we seen a large project come to completion.
Rochester Riverside is currently weeds and Strood Riverside has been ongoing and on the drawing board since the early-1990s!
Perhaps Cllr Rodney Chambers has been listening to much to his wife, planning committee chairwoman Cllr Diane Chambers (Con) who said it was a "leap of faith" she was not prepared to take.
That is half the problem; Tories not willing to make a leap of faith when it comes to external investment. One only looks at why we never applied for the Portas Pilot and we can see this type of attitude pervade amongst some in the ruling administration; if there is private investment for jobs and houses on brown-field sites surely this is a no-brainer.
There are of course nuances and clauses of review but the principle and message we should be sending is that we want business and jobs and that we are willing to make a 'leap of faith'.
On the Scally issue; I am not a football fan [of any team] but this is an important club for our towns and so his input must be listened to and taken seriously; and I have read his detailed correspondence despite not being on the Planning Committee. The argument however that this is the only possible site may be a present fact, but I believe there is plenty of space and scope for a stadium elsewhere in Medway; when Sunderland moved its ground it positioned itself on a former industrial estate; many new stadiums have also been built in locations just out of the urban core (e.g. Brighton & Albion) because it is more cost effective and allows for greater space. Medway has a number of potential sites both in brownfield and greenfield locations which remain under developed, and if there was some innovative thinking things could be explored; I could name a few but wont at this point. Scally is right to position himself in opposition to the site but there was no meat to the bone...
The simple fact is Peel have a reasoned and costed proposal and it is a sensible one in my mind. It will bring 3,500 jobs and much needed investment.
Regeneration in Medway is woeful at present; someone needs to kick a few of the Cabinet into touch and work as hard as possible to get developments built especially on brown-field urban sites.