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Eric Pickles turns down request for public inquiry into controversial Dover development

PUBLISHED: 16:40 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:40 12 July 2013

Drop Redoubt on the Western Heights in Dover 

copyright Paul Wells and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

Drop Redoubt on the Western Heights in Dover copyright Paul Wells and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

Paul Wells and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence http://bit.ly/2oQJN

Planning application includes hundreds of homes, a retirement village and facilities, located in an area of outstanding natural beauty

A public inquiry will not be held into controversial plans for development in the Kent Downs area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) in Dover, it has been announced.

Last month Dover District Council’s planning committee approved a joint application by China Gateway International (CGI) for a scheme at Dover’s Western heights and Farthingloe Valley.

The application included 521 residential properties, a 90-apartment retirement village and a health centre at the 155-hectare Great Farthingloe Farm site and a 130-bed hotel and conference centre at Western Heights on the edge of Dover, where the Drop Redoubt fort would be converted to a museum and visitor centre.

Great Farthingloe Farm lies within the Kent Downs AONB and the local authority’s decision to approve such a large development is thought to be without precedent.

Protect Kent, the county branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which opposes the plan, has asked that the application be called in by the Government.

But leader of Dover District Council, Paul Watkins, today announced the decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, not to hold a public inquiry into the development.

Cllr Watkins said: “I am pleased the Secretary of State has agreed that our decision to approve planning permission was the right course of action.

“He obviously recognised that the huge economic benefits to Dover outweighed what would be very minimal environmental instruction.

“This is about building for the future; unlocking the economic potential of our heritage assets whilst at the same time developing a range, scale and quality of housing to meet the needs of existing and new residents.”

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