Arches Chatham Neighbourhood Plan - Regulation 16
This Neighbourhood Plan has been developed by the Arches 'Chatham' Neighbourhood Forum (ACNF) and supported by Arches Local. Arches Local is a community-led organisation that is part of the Big Local initiative administered by Local Trust.
The ACNF formally became a designated Neighbourhood Area (see Map 1) and Neighbourhood Forum on 6 August 2019 at Medway Council's Cabinet meeting (decision no. 90/2019). The forum encompasses local residents, business owners, community organisations and elected members.
The forum is named after the three railway under bridges, collectively known as Luton Arches, located 900 metres from Chatham's town centre acting as the 'gateway' to and from Luton. The neighbourhood is made up of over 8,000 people enriched in a diversity of cultural and generational backgrounds.
Chatham is one of five towns that make up the Medway conurbation, within the county of Kent. It is situated at the point where the North Downs meets the River Medway. Much of the surrounding area is scenic, with an undulating topography that allows for wide views across Medway. Chatham's built environment largely comprises of Victorian terraces.
Chatham was historically a naval town whose economy largely depended on the Royal Naval Dockyard. The closure of the dockyard in 1984 significantly impacted employment levels and the town's prosperity. This in turn affected the condition of the built environment as homes and streets fell into disrepair.
While the Neighbourhood Area has been redeveloped in parts, it continues to suffer under high levels of deprivation exceeding Medway and south eastern averages. For example, the Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) of Medway 015E within our Neighbourhood Area is ranked 144th most deprived out of 32,844 LSOAs - making it amongst the bottom 0.4%. As documented by the ACNF Area Study and Map, deprivation is further exacerbated by high rates of fly-tipping, poorly managed housing, sub-standard infill developments and hostile street environments towards active travel. In an attempt to solve some of these challenges, the community felt it was prudent to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.
As documented by the Consultation Statement, the key issues and concerns expressed by local stakeholders formed the starting block for the Plan's vision and objectives as initially established in February 2020.