HOMEOWNERS on a new 68-house estate are facing a complete ban on keeping cats in order to protect nearby birds.
The RSPB and Natural England wrote to Medway Council to object to plans for the homes near Rochester due to how close it will be to an important Nightingale habitat.
The site neighbors the Chatenden Woods and Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is an important habitat for the protected species.
Nightingales nest close to ground level, making them vulnerable to predators such as cats.
Despite the objection, Esquire Developments were narrowly granted permission for the development which is found off Cliffe Woods.
The 68 homes will each boast one to five bedrooms and 17 of them will be affordable, reports Kent Online.
Discussions were held between Medway Council and Natural England on how to lessen the impact the development would have on the SSSI.
These reasons were explained to councilors during a planning committee meeting yesterday.
One possibility put forward was making sure that residents on the new development were banned from keeping cats as pets.
However, some councilors are understandably concerned about how this rule would be policed.
The RSPB were also concerned about the impact the homes could have on the birds stemming from noise and artificial lighting.
The plans had been designed to include a 30 meter “buffer” between the homes and the SSSI.
In addition, cat-proof fencing to prevent pets movements into the ancient woodland site was also suggested.
Committee vice-chairman Cllr Chris Buckwell pointed out residents living in roads surrounding the development were not subject to any such rules on cat ownership.
And Head of planning Dave Harris said the site neighbors another application site where plans have been put forward for 50 retirement homes.
In this case, a planning inspector who allowed the plans at appeal said a no cats policy would be an acceptable mitigation.
Mr Harris said the rule could also be put in place at the Esquire site, and the council and the development’s management company could work together to ensure the rules are followed.
However, he added there could be complications with identifying which cat belonged to which house.
The application was approved with a majority of one vote.