Council to sell Union Place car park in Chatham after developer blocks access

21 December 2023In Chatham3 Minutes
The blocked entrance to Union Place car park in Chatham

Medway Council has agreed to sell a car park in Chatham for development.

Union Place car park, behind the High Street, closed in January after a developer blocked access to it.

The developer, Donard Living, owns the Buzz Bingo building next to it, which shut in 2020 and has plans for 231 flats.

The disused Union Place car park

Councillors unanimously agreed to sell the car park at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (19 December).

A report presented at the meeting said: “Studies have concluded that establishing an alternative access from the A2 to be prohibitively expensive and will not comply with highway design standards.

“The car park had 49 spaces and did see a reduction in income over recent years, associated with the Covid 19 pandemic.

“It is considered that the demand for this car park can be catered for in other Council car parks.”

A CGI showing the Buzz Bingo proposal from The Brook. Photo: Donard Living

The council earmarked the sale of the car park last October, but it did not reach the council’s Cabinet for a decision.

By January, it was revealed the council made a U-turn and no longer planned to sell it.

Just days following the council’s change of heart, Donard Living put up fencing around Buzz Bingo, blocking the only entrance to the car park.

The developer claimed it erected the fencing as it was “required” by its insurers for “security and health and safety reasons.”

Access to the car park had been granted permissively and since withdrawn, according to the council.

A CGI showing the Buzz Bingo proposal from the A2 New Road. Photo: Donard Living

The Belfast-based developer already planned to buy the car park and therefore included it in its housing plans for Buzz Bingo.

A spokesperson for Donard Living said: “The sale of Union Street car park is a matter for Medway Council.

“We remain committed to developing the former Buzz Bingo site and would seek to acquire the car park if it became available in order to deliver sustainable new homes for Chatham.”

Speaking at the Cabinet meeting, Cllr Naushabah Khan, portfolio holder for housing and property, said: “It’s an unused site that is sat there. That, therefore, opens it up to certain challenges around potential problems with ASB [anti-social behaviour], but it also means it’s sitting there as a surplus.

“There is that huge budgetary pressure we are facing as an authority and that means we’ve got to look at things very, very carefully and we’ve got to look for new opportunities and we’ve got to find a way to make sure that we’re balancing those books for the people of Medway.”

Following the Cabinet’s decision, council officers will now be directed to sell off the car park at a reasonable price for the purpose of development.

A decision on the 231-home Buzz Bingo proposal was expected by 6 April but is overdue.