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New homes anger neighbours as they're '1.8m higher than planned'

Residents claim Moat Homes built houses in Sittingbourne, Kent, in different positions and at different heights to the original plans.

Jo Webb, of Adelaide Drive, and Lydbrook Close residents Ann Smith, Thomas and Janice Cherrett standing in front of the new Moat Homes estate in Sittingbourne. Release date – January 23 2024. See SWNS story SWLShomes. New homes built in the middle of a housing estate have angered residents who claim developers have built them in the wrong place and 1.8m higher than planned. Work on 49 homes on an old chalk quarry in Sittingbourne in Kent began in 2019 with plans to complete them within 18 months. Five years on and with the houses nearly finished locals haven't got what they had expected. Ann Smith and Alan Belsom both own properties along Lydbrook Close near the development.
Local residents, from left to right, Jo Webb, Ann Smith and Thomas and Janice Cherrett say houses in a new development are higher than originally planned. (SWNS)

A group of residents have accused developers of building new homes in their housing estate 1.8m higher than originally planned.

Work on 49 homes in an old chalk quarry in Sittingbourne, Kent, began in 2019 and was expected to be completed within 18 months.

The development, carried out by Moat Homes, is finally close to completion five years later, but those living next to it say it has been built in a different position and at a different height than planned.

Ann Smith, who has lived at nearby Lydbrook Close since 1978, said she initially welcomed the plans for the new development when they were first proposed.

The new Moat Homes properties behind Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne. Release date – January 23 2024. See SWNS story SWLShomes. New homes built in the middle of a housing estate have angered residents who claim developers have built them in the wrong place and 1.8m higher than planned. Work on 49 homes on an old chalk quarry in Sittingbourne in Kent began in 2019 with plans to complete them within 18 months. Five years on and with the houses nearly finished locals haven't got what they had expected. Ann Smith and Alan Belsom both own properties along Lydbrook Close near the development.
The new properties looking over Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne, Kent. (SWNS)
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More South and South East stories - click above

“We were quite happy that it was going to be affordable housing to bring in people that we needed in Swale such as doctors, nurses and teachers," she said.

However, she now says three of the homes have been built in a different position to the approved plan and that she now has three sets of upstairs windows looking directly into her property.

“The houses that have been built out the back of us, plots three to five, they're in the wrong position," she said.

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“Moat Homes doesn't resolve anything. They couldn't care less. It's a case of the big boys against the little people, I'm afraid.

“Things have gone on over the years and despite us raising complaints and questions – nothing's been done."

Alan Belsom, 68, who has owned his property along Lydbrook Close for 10 years, claimed some of the other new properties have been built 1.8m higher than planned.

“The site is unbelievably claustrophobic," he said. “All the new houses are just crammed in and I can’t see an answer to it.

“When are the council going to be held accountable for their mistakes?

Ann Smith in her back garden in Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne, pointing at the wrongly positioned Moat Homes new builds. Release date – January 23 2024. See SWNS story SWLShomes. New homes built in the middle of a housing estate have angered residents who claim developers have built them in the wrong place and 1.8m higher than planned. Work on 49 homes on an old chalk quarry in Sittingbourne in Kent began in 2019 with plans to complete them within 18 months. Five years on and with the houses nearly finished locals haven't got what they had expected. Ann Smith and Alan Belsom both own properties along Lydbrook Close near the development.
Ann Smith in her back garden in Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne, Kent, pointing at the new home she claims was built in a different position than planned. (SWNS)

“The building work began before lockdown and it is all finished now apart from the landscaping.”

Moat Homes said the houses have been built taller than planned to accommodate drainage issues, while Swale Borough Council said it is investigating the claim that the development differs to the original plans.

The same council ordered Moat Homes to demolish 35 properties it had built on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, which were almost 1.5m higher than allowed, but an independent planning inspector gave the development the go-ahead in 2016 following an appeal.

A spokesman for Swale Borough Council said it is investigating the claim the houses in Sittingbourne are different to the plans.

The new Moat Homes properties behind Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne. Release date – January 23 2024. See SWNS story SWLShomes. New homes built in the middle of a housing estate have angered residents who claim developers have built them in the wrong place and 1.8m higher than planned. Work on 49 homes on an old chalk quarry in Sittingbourne in Kent began in 2019 with plans to complete them within 18 months. Five years on and with the houses nearly finished locals haven't got what they had expected. Ann Smith and Alan Belsom both own properties along Lydbrook Close near the development.
The new Moat Homes properties behind Lydbrook Close, Sittingbourne, Kent. (SWNS)

Regarding the change in height, he said a report was presented to the planning committee in December and is now available to the public.

“The assessment on changes to land levels is contained within that report," he said.

“It is the land levels that have been raised, not the actual height of the buildings. The application was deferred by the planning committee and remains under consideration.

“Moat Homes has not been given permission to do this. The land levels were changed without permission from the council and are now subject to the current planning application, which remains under consideration.”

Sarah Butler, director of development and sales at Moat Homes, said: "We’ve carefully considered the impact that this new housing will have on neighbouring properties.

“All houses have been built in the locations set out in the approved planning application.

“The height of some of the blocks was changed to accommodate vital drainage solutions; the revised levels were reviewed by the Swale planning officer who found that they would not cause any unacceptable impact on living conditions for neighbouring residents."

How do you view and object to a planning application?

People can view planning applications for housing developments on their local council website.

They can usually comment on an application either online or in writing.

Residents may write to support an application or object to it, or simply make a general comment about the application.

When objecting to an application, councils will only take valid reasons into account - these are known as "material planning considerations".

Before making an objection, people should check that the reason is valid - this includes loss of light; highway safety; traffic generation; noise and disturbance; loss of trees and road access.

Councils will ask that commenters provide a name and full postal address as they do not accept anonymous objections or letters of support.