Published: Tuesday, 13th December 2022

Plans for the proposed Hoo Wetlands Reserve, an open space to better connect wildlife habitats on the peninsula and improve links between public footpaths and the community, are available to view.

The planning application for the 40-acre site follows consultation with the local community as part of the Future Hoo’s programme for Community Parklands. Hoo Wetlands is one of four new natural green spaces offering public access that is being created over the next few years.

The proposed Hoo Wetlands Reserve is part of the ongoing progress of our Future Hoo programme to invest in significant infrastructure and environmental improvements on the peninsula thanks to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The Hoo Wetlands site stretches from the Medway Estuary and West Hoo Creek to Abbots Court Road to the south of Hoo, and contains part of the Saxon Shore Way, the 163-mile coastal footpath that connects Gravesend and Hastings.

If the application is approved, the site will include wetlands, grasslands and woodland with scrub, wet meadows and ponds. It would provide habitats to help support rare and common wildlife found in and around the area, including cuckoos and skylarks, teal, shelduck, visiting winter birds, and water voles, along with bats and reptiles. It will complement the area’s existing ecosystem within the Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar site, as well as mitigating against future flood events in Hoo St Werburgh.

The wetlands project will also take the opportunity to interpret the peninsula’s heritage, taking into account the nearby Hoo Stop Line and associated listed pill boxes and their setting in the landscape.

The 2021 Environment Act will require that every planning application in England will have a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) of 10 per cent (this is expected to be from November 2023). BNG is an approach which aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than beforehand.

We are delighted to confirm that our Hoo Wetland Reserve planning application achieved a huge BNG score of 44 per cent. This means the project will significantly benefit the habitat and local environment around the Hoo Wetlands site, providing new wetlands and connecting important habitats for existing species to allow them to thrive.

Increasing biodiversity and delivering the wishes of our residents

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “These important proposals are sensitive to the historic landscape of the peninsula and its environment. By creating a network of new wetland habitats through conversion of low-grade arable farmland, studies show it will increase biodiversity of the area by an estimated 44 per cent, significantly higher than the minimum 10 per cent required by the government.

“During our recent consultation with the public earlier this summer, nearly 70 per cent said they were likely to visit Hoo Wetlands Reserve once work is complete. Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (87 per cent) believed the conservation, protection and enhancement of natural habitats on Hoo Peninsula was important, and this application will play an important role in delivering the wishes of our residents.”

Consistent with more than half of residents (54 per cent) who called for more walking routes for exercise and pleasure on the Hoo Peninsula, the plans include adapting existing and creating new public routes to promote walking and running, with cycling and horse riding encouraged along existing suitable routes.

Members of the public will also be able to find out more about the area’s history, including military structures, such as Grade-II listed World War Two defences and features, such as the nearby Hoo Stop Line, and the site’s Saxon heritage.

A decision on the plans for Hoo Wetlands Reserve is expected to be made in early 2023.  

Find out more about the Hoo Wetlands programme 

Find out more about Future Hoo

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