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WILMINGTON homeowners have accused Dartford Council of lying after being told there were no plans for a plot of land only to find out it has applied to build five houses on it.

In June News Shopper reported the council was carrying out development surveys on empty land which it owns in Birchwood Road, opposite Birchwood Drive.

Residents were concerned about the habitat of rare birds being disturbed but were told there were no plans.

On September 5 they received a letter saying the council had applied to build five detached houses, each with four to five bedrooms and parking spaces.

News Shopper: Homeowners in Birchwood Road, Wilmington

Linda Travella, who has lived in the road for 35 years, said: “The council has told untruths from beginning to end.

“We had a meeting with Wilmington Parish Council in July and we put our case forward and said we wanted to be kept informed.

“Miraculously there are now planning applications put in. The council (Dartford) does what it likes. It’s absolutely ludicrous.”

Mrs Travella’s parents wanted to buy the land in 1986 to keep it as a garden but their offer was rejected.

The mother-of-one said: “It’s a farce. Those people are supposed to be representing us but it seems to me the planning department are a law until themselves.”

John Carter, who has lived in the road for 40 years, branded the council’s planning department “a bunch or liars”.

He said: “I don’t trust them at all. I don’t think the councillors are being kept in the picture.

“Someone in the planning department thinks they can do what they like.”

The 74-year-old added: “Why would you want to clear a piece of nice green woodland full of birds? It’s a haven for wildlife.”

Mr Carter says the area will look like “urban sprawl” if the land is built on.

The retired banker said: “This road is extremely busy and notorious for accidents.

“I want to protect wildlife but even more important is human life.”

People have until Monday (September 26) to write to the council to oppose the planning application (reference 11/01091/OUT).

Dartford Council leader

News Shopper: Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite

What Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite told News Shopper in May.

“We genuinely have no plans for the land at the moment.

“We love the area to bits and we are not going to do anything to spoil it.”

What the leader says now

“I can understand why residents are a bit annoyed.

“I genuinely didn’t know about the plans at the time.

“It’s five houses. It really is in keeping with everything around it.

“We are in a difficult position. If we don’t go through with a housing application it could be sold off and used for something else.

“We are under pressure. We are in difficult times. We can either cut services or manage our land.

“It’s not as if we are trying to build a blot on the landscape. We are trying to do it sensibly.

“I think five houses is a much smaller number than we could have put on the site.”

He added: “We have an obligation to maximise our revenue. The alternative is for us to dispose of the land."