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Council rejects calls to halt house-building so infrastructure can catch up

Wednesday 18th September 2019

CALLS for a halt to housebuilding in the borough because of increasing pressure on roads and services have been rejected by the local authority. 
Growing disquiet over Liberal Democrat-controlled Maidstone Borough Council’s massive house-building schemes has resulted in cross-party pleas for a “moratorium”, or suspension of development.
Critics want the authority, which is obliged to build more than 25,000 houses, to pause and rethink while roads, GP surgeries and other services have a chance to catch up.
But a statement from MBC stated: “We have no plans for a moratorium on house building. The Maidstone Local Plan was adopted in 2017 and the council is fully committed to delivering it.”
Fears are growing that the borough’s roads are simply not up to the job of carrying all the expected vehicles the new homes will create. 
Only a quarter of the total, about 6,400, have so far been delivered.
Leeds borough councillor Gill Fort said: “The roads are descending into chaos. We need to stop, pause and re-think.” 
Green Party spokesman Stuart Jeffery said: “There is a real case for an urgent review of the principles that are being set now, and if that’s a moratorium, so be it.” 
Independent Maidstone councillor Eddie Powell, pictured, said: “We have taken more houses than anywhere else in Kent and we need to have some give and take from Government. Surely, after all we have done, they could reduce the burden we have accepted.”  
Bearsted parish councillor Denis Spooner said: “Our MPs ... need to go to the Government to make the case for more money for roads to deliver the houses it wants.”
Plans have just been unveiled by MBC for 1,000 new homes in the centre of the county town. 
A separate regeneration scheme at Maidstone East rail station could see a 400 further homes. In a comprehensive 22-page report, the Joint Parishes Group accuses MBC’s development strategy of destroying the social and economic fabric of the area; urban sprawl and the demise of the town centre, along with a failure to accommodate the effect of climate change. 
A joint traffic study by Boxley and Bearsted parish councils calls for a “moratorium on further developments in the area until a comprehensive infrastructure plan is completed and implemented”.  
It also calls for a Leeds-Langley relief road.