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BREAKING: 421 Otham houses plan refused again

Thursday 25th June 2020

Maidstone’s Council’s Planning Committee tonight once again voted against the plan for 421 houses in the Otham countryside off Church Road next to the ancient Grade One-Listed church – even more heavily than last time.

The vote against the outline planning application was 9-2 with two abstentions and 10-2 against the full application with one abstention.

The key grounds for refusal are now based on highways matters revolving around severe traffic congestion in Willington Street linked with the proposed new traffic lights at the junction with Deringwood Drive and worsening safety in narrow Church Road.

Kent Highways (KCC) gave evidence to the committee and said a traffic report had been submitted by Bellway.  This had been carefully examined and as a result Kent Highways decided on its objections.

Bellway Homes have already lodged an appeal against refusal of the outline application for hearing at a public inquiry and council officers have advised that the council faces potential costs of around £90,000 plus its own expenses.

Officers believe the council will lose at appeal – but this was powerfully rejected by some members of the committee, who believe the council has not met the requirements of the Local Plan inspector in giving his approval three years ago.

The decisions of the committee will now be referred to Maidstone Council’s Policy and Resources Committee for a final decision.

Gary Cooke, Kent county councillor for south east Maidstone, said: “I am delighted at this outcome, delighted all six Conservatives on the committee voted as one against this application and delighted councillors of all parties showed that it is the elected members who make the decisions not the unelected officers.

“There have been few, if any, applications so vehemently opposed since KIG as this one. It is a testament to the incredible hard work done by Kent County Council, residents and parish councillors behind the scenes.”