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Peters Village is five - work on infrastructure for the all-new community began in 2014

Peters Village is currently celebrating its fifth year since construction work started on the all-new 1,000-home community.

The first housing phase, Bellway’s 152-home Portland Gardens is also nearly complete - a milestone en route to the project’s overall completion in 2024/5.

A point not lost on Chris Hall, Director at Trenport, the overall developer of Peters Village: “With Portland Gardens virtually completed and excellent momentum in construction and sales for the other housebuilders onsite – Orbit, Ashberry, Hyde & Westerhill and Moat – we will have nearly a quarter of the planned properties at Peters Village occupied, contradicting those claiming that the housing market is running out of steam.

“We have also just welcomed Bovis Homes to the project and it will start building a new 119-home phase in the autumn, which includes 24 affordable rented units."

And Mr Hall admitted this was also despite obstacles Trenport knew it would face in developing the brownfield site, a former Victorian quarry and cement works (pictured in its heyday: picture courtesy of Maidstone Museum).

“We have never sought to hide the site’s industrial origins – indeed we celebrate them with the ‘robust’ metal sculpture on the entrance roundabout – but the terrain was a major construction challenge,” he said.

“The works and quarry closed in the 1920s and the site was latterly used for various businesses, until we bought the land and gained re-development permission.

“The quarry contours needed reforming to create the more gradual elevations that give many homes such a good view of the Medway Valley, but we also needed to build new access roads and services and invest heavily in building the river bridge (pictured here under

construction and opened in September 2016) to access the M20, M2 and M25 motorways and rail links, including the HS1 to London.

“The riverside esplanade is a big selling point too: visually attractive, it’s a popular meeting place, and includes a cycle and bridle way that are just part of a sustainable travel plan we instigated for the village.

“But the over-riding appeal is a rural and riverside lifestyle, with the ‘connectivity’ that people seek for best employment, education, shopping and leisure options. A sample survey of the first 100 householders at Peters Village showed all would urge family and friends to move there too.

“And while Peters Village has its industrial past, it also has a natural heritage, both celebrated by the dramatic sculpture on the Peters Village roundabout and by heritage trail boards around the site – created by a descendant of the original cement works’ owners.

“That natural heritage is highlighted by the Peters Pit SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) beside the new village and home to a major UK colony of Great Crested Newts and other rare flora and fauna – management of the SSSI is funded by us in a partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust.”

(pictured: a female Great Crested Newt after laying an egg - the white spot to the right)

Regarding the community facilities at Peters Village, Mr Hall said the primary school was completed in February 2018 and had been a huge success, but the village hall, a big-name supermarket and three smaller shops plus a dental surgery will be started shortly.

The village hall plans were recently enhanced to include a badminton court, nursery school, changing facilities for the newly upgraded playing fields, as well as the meeting and entertainment options now expected of a modern community hall.

But Mr Hall added: “Progress on the proposed Peters Village medical centre remains frustratingly slow. We have negotiated with the NHS for many years, but that body has yet to commit its support.”

Peters Village -a timeline

Summer 2014 – CONSTRUCTION STARTS This follows investigations by archaeological ‘time teams’, invited in by Trenport. These reveal human habitation dating back as far as Neolithic times, around 4,000 years BC, and a major Roman presence after they invaded in 43AD, but no significant findings to affect building the new community.

Sept 2015 – FIRST HOUSEBUILDER STARTS Bellway begins building the first homes.

Sept 2016 – BRIDGE OPENS By cutting a ribbon to open ‘Peters Bridge’ the Lord Lieutenant of Kent (pictured centre, above) also cuts a 25-minute journey from the same point on each bank to less than one. In order to link the crossing into the A228 trunk road on the west bank, a replacement bridge over the west bank rail line was also required and part of the Trenport’s £50m overall investment in the infrastructure for Peters Village.

Sept 2017 THE BRIDGE - ONE YEAR ON Positive interviews show how the bridge had already changed the local community on both banks, dramatically boosting people’s options for jobs, education, recreation, shopping and friendships.

March 2018 NEW PRIMARY SCHOOL OPENS the former Wouldham village school moves to Peters Village but retains its old name: Wouldham All Saints CofE Primary School. The £7.95 million replacement is 0.65 of a mile away from its predecessor.

The new school stands on an all-new road, Worrall Drive within PV and can expand to take 420 pupils and accept up to 48 SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) pupils. The site and £4.3 million of the capital cost were provided by Trenport under the planning agreement for the new community.

March 2018 NATURAL HISTORY LEAFLET Trenport and Kent Wildlife Trust publish this printed and online guide (at www.petersvillage.co.uk) majoring on the Peters Pit SSSI.

April 2018 PETERS VILLAGE EARNS TRUE COMMUNITY STATUS Orbit Homes markets the first portfolio of shared ownership and affordable rent properties.

July 2018 CHILDREN AND ART CELEBRATED Since 2014 there has been an annual school arts competition involving the schools in PV’s neighbouring villages: Burham, Wouldham and Eccles. After his school’s second overall win (2018) in two years, head teacher Jonathan Bassett of St Mark’s Primary, Eccles, said: “This art competition has really made us, and our neighbouring schools, think again about art and lift our ambitions for the children.”

Sept 2018 BUS LINK Peters Village is linked into the existing 155 bus service from the Medway Towns to Maidstone.

Sept 2018 FIRST 100 RESIDENTS’ VERDICT Those living in the first 100 homes deliver a positive view of life in the new community, saying they would not hesitate to urge family and friends to move there too. They liked the expectation of the forthcoming village centre facilities, mix of rural and riverside lifestyle, easy road and rail communications, riverside esplanade, and the association with the SSSI and wealth of flora and fauna.

Oct 2018 COMMUTER COACH LINK TO LONDON Clarkes of London launches service from bus stops at Keepers Cottage Lane and Village Road.

Feb 19 TRAVEL PLAN LAUNCHED Portal is added to www.petersvillage.co.uk and follows up on a leaflet published in November 2018. The plan highlights the community’s comprehensive sustainable transport and communications network to existing and prospective homeowners in Peters Village. The new web presence also means travel developments can be reported immediately.

Feb 19 HERITAGE TRAIL BOARDS Trenport announces installation of six information boards around the village, highlighting links with Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures, the Romans, and historic figures such as Admiral Nelson: two boards are on the Medway riverbank, two in the middle of Peters Village, one to the north east of the site and one far out to the south east to chronicle the history of Old Burham – marked by the historic St Mary’s Church.

There is a further heritage link: the boards and heritage leaflet that partners them have been created by Mark Peters (pictured, with trail board) a descendant of the Peters family who established the former cement works, which in turn gave its name to the modern-day community.

But Mark previously had no idea of this local connection, despite living close by at Otford, while his father, Hugh, had grown up believing his family were Midlands stock, and nothing to do with the dynasty who owned Peters works and the nearby ‘grand house’, Wouldham Hall.

But an ancestral hunt led to a spine-tingling moment worthy of TV’s popular ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ when Hugh Peters and his family traced his great-great grandfather’s grave to Halling Church (see http://bit.ly/2XLvIEd for more).