Almost two years ago, when we were looking for a place to move to, my partner and I had in mind areas that were quiet and small with an old-school village vibe: a small community in a semi-rural area (ideally with a nice view). We found it in Upnor, but with news of the Esquire Developments in Upper Upnor we decided to take a look into the matter to see what would change about the village we love.
With Upnor Road already busy and rather narrow (not to mention prone to flooding), it seems to us like there may not be adequate infrastructure to build, but plans are going ahead. Medway Council asked for objections to the site and received over 200 complaints from residents with (mostly) valid criticisms, which we’ve tallied up and detailed below.
To further understand the concerns we took to Facebook where there are numerous groups either dedicated to ‘Keeping Upnor Green’ or where the development is being discussed, and we scoured the Council’s complaints submissions to detail the most common (legitimate) negative feedback here:
- Unsustainable infrastructure: the roads are in poor condition as it is, and traffic around the roundabouts near Medway City Estate and Medway tunnel is often crippling (this is one we can agree with and attest to, the traffic here anywhere near rush hour or when there are car boot fairs is beyond horrific).
- The destruction of green field sites: while the land is not protected, resident’s feel part of Upnor’s charm is having the tiny village insulated from Medway City Estate and the busy A-roads by the small amounts of fields and meadows present.
- Negative impact on village life: Upnor’s ‘beach’ does get a fair number of tourists every weekend, there are boot fairs throughout the year that clog the roads, and huge littering issues already in Lower Upnor. What was originally a small sailing village is slowly becoming a destination for a day out and with it all of the negative aspects you’d expect: noise, littering, anti-social behaviour — all exceptionally egregious because there is no infrastructure to support it and very little help from the council with such matters. We do feel for those longer term Upnor residents who are seeing this change play out over years, and who may not have decided to move to the village if they knew about the growth of these issues.
- Change is bad: while we admit not all change is bad, a lot of the complaints we saw were from those who felt like they secured a special plot of land in an area that was very unlikely to change. Having it almost double the number of residents of Upper Upnor would no doubt change living in Upnor in several ways. We’re sure these complains were just worded poorly, or didn’t define the situation better, but we do acknowledge this is a popular opinion.
- A Medway Councillor that approved the development has a financial position in the company Esquire Developments: this does seem unusual, but we couldn’t find more information on what the financial interest was. Does his council pension fund have stock in Esquire or a local real estate index for example, or does he personally own shares? We’ve seen this repeated a lot but not much to substantiate it (if you do have more we’d love to update this, please use the contact form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org ).
With that said other residents are welcoming the development which especially thanks to the current health crisis has seen local businesses decimated. Even before the outbreak, local restaurant Powder and Magazine closed down from lack of trade due to the village being far enough out of the way and somewhat expensive for residents of Upnor. As part of the build, the Upper Upnor Esquire Development will increase the number of footpaths and public transport options will increase, and likely so too will the house prices in the area.
The whole area behind Castle street is currently fields, and while there are many more green and wooded areas surrounding and insulating Upnor, a number of more luxury-focused housing will certainly bring more attention and visitors to the small village. Upnor High St, for example, is a quaint historic road and hotspot for photographers and Instagrammers, and along with the castle and pubs, brings enough visitors to fit the car parks in the village every day.
We’re still collecting more information and will keep this post updated as we learn more. If you wanted to sign up to stay on top of the latest Upnor news including the Upnor Esquire Development do sign up to our mailing list — we email no more than once a month!