Fury grows on planning 421 houses in Otham - plea for Government call-in
Sunday 24th May 2020
VIDEO: CAARA 3min Presentation to Planning - CLICK HERE
The Government is being asked to call in urgently the Bellway planning application for an estate of 421 dwellings in Otham countryside next to the ancient village church – so that a planning decision cannot be issued until he has considered it.
Neighbouring Chapman Avenue Area Residents Association has asked the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to act. Its case is based on Maidstone Council ignoring objections of Kent County Council as the highways authority that there would be a wide area of impact (including major road arteries) and that Maidstone Council does not have the de facto powers of a highways authority.
In addition it wants the Minister to act on the council discounting the objections of Historic England due to the severe impact on Grade 1 Listed Otham Church which raises ‘serious questions nationally for the protection listed buildings.’ The church pre-dates the Domesday Book.
Maidstone Coúncil is being asked to postpone consideration of the application on Thursday.
Due to coronavirus it will be a virtual meeting conducted mostly over the telephone and passionate opponents say they will have little and poor opportunity to present their case and convince enough councillors to vote against the application.
They cannot attend and their objections of up to three minutes will be read to the meeting. They want the meeting held once the lockdown is over and they can pack the Town Hall so that objectors properly present their cases and impact on the chemistry of the meeting. “What difference will a month or two make when democracy is at stake?” they ask.
In addition to KCC Highways and Historic England objectors include three parish councils (Otham, Downswood, Bearsted), the Church Council and thousands of local residents, whose formal petition now has about 1,300 signatures.
David Hatcher, chairman of the association, says: “MBC planning officers are attempting to drive rough shod over more experienced and expertly-qualified opinion of officers of KCC Highways in pursuit of gaining council members’ approval for the flawed scheme.”
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