From Kent Online
A deputy council leader has resigned from his position in protest against his leader’s building policies.
Cllr Leslie Hills has stepped down from his role on Gravesham council’s cabinet over the prospect of building on green belt land east of Chalk, after admitting he could no longer support Cllr David Turner.
The councillor, who was appointed deputy leader in April, claimed Cllr Turner thought it was a good idea to build houses up to the Lower Thames Crossing approach road, which will be located between Castle Lane and Chalk church.
Cllr Leslie Hills has resigned from his position as deputy council leader in protest against his leader’s building policies.
Cllr Turner responded to Cllr Hills’ accusation, stating he believes it would not be acceptable to include the land under question for development, but is waiting to hear what the public has to say.
Cllr Hills said: “I have enjoyed my work as a councillor. I have enjoyed representing to the best of my ability the people of Chalk.
“It is my intention to remain a councillor and give my best for the people of Chalk but I no longer support the leader regarding his stance on the Lower Thames Crossing and the site allocations.
“When I asked for a special meeting with the council leader he said there’s nothing to be discussed. There’s a lot to go out to consultation.
“It was the intention to release the land from the green belt in the urban area to the Lower Thames Crossing approach road.
“I didn’t campaign for 11 years to protect the area and the Lower Thames Crossing for the council to highlight the area for development.”
Cllr David Turner responded to Cllr Hills’ accusation stating he believes it would not be acceptable to include the land under question for development.
Cllr Turner said: “Councillor Hills has, inadvertently I hope, misunderstood the situation we find ourselves in.
“The council is required to carry out a review of the green belt by noting land developers and landowners would like to build on and seek the views of the public on these.
“The Lower Thames Crossing will, unfortunately, change the landscape around Chalk and the council’s officers consider that the option of releasing land up to the approach road should be considered. It is then for the public to comment on the option.
“As far as my position stands, I want to hear what the public has to say but it is my personal view that it would not be acceptable to include this land.”
Cllr Leslie Hills’ resignation comes after the council announced a consultation will be held in January on the development of the green belt in Meopham, Sole Street, Higham and at sites south of Riverview Park and east of Thong Lane.
It estimates 7,905 homes should be built between 2011 and 2028 in the borough to meet housing need, rather than the 6,170 stated in the Local Plan.
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