HOUSING: Keep our villages special, pleads activist Simon Webb
Friday 25th October 2019
ONE of the areas with a large density of proposed housing is East Farleigh, according to documents seen by Daily Downs Mail.
Up to 20 sites have been exposed to potential housing with a total of around 1,000 units submitted for consideration.
Not all the sites would get approval but maps show East Farleigh effectively engulfed by houses stretching as far as Tovil.
But Liberal Democrat-run Maidstone Borough Council’s attempts to prevent disclosure of the true scale of the 334 submissions in the “call for sites” process has come in for fierce criticism.
Conservative candidate for Coxheath and Hunton at next May’s borough council election, Simon Webb said he was “shocked” that Maidstone Borough Council decided to keep a lid on the full list of sites since May this year.
He said: “Given the level of potential development, we can see why. I am deeply shocked that the Lib Dems secretly withheld the information from residents for so long.
“This is so troubling. We need to keep our villages special. We need openness and honesty from this administration and we’re not getting it.”
Among the sites put forward for development are:
SITE 220 – BYDEWS FARM, 500 UNITS
SITE 311 – COURT LODGE FARM, 226-274 UNITS
SITE 265 – ABBEY FARM, TOVIL, 400-500 UNITS
SITE 105 – JUNCT LOWER RD/VICARAGE LANE, EAST FARLEIGH, 60 UNITS
Other villages such as Sutton Valence, Leeds, Kingswood, Langley and Harrietsham have been marked out for some enormous schemes in the call for sites list.
The council has already agreed to 17,600 homes in the Local Plan, with only about 6,500 actually delivered so far. The call for sites was to find potential plots for 10,500 more when the Local Plan is reviewed.
Local people have been voicing concern for years that the roads and local services simply cannot cope with the MBC's rate of change.
Despite cross-party calls for a moratorium on housing until the roads catch up, the Lib Dem leadership seems ready to plough ahead with the review.
Last year, Daily Downs Mail disclosed the council’s intention to move into property development to maximise its revenue streams from existing assets.
Daily Downs Mail was first to reveal MBC’s intention to be the developer behind a 5,000 home scheme at Lenham Heath, which has since encountered huge opposition locally.
Last year, we exposed MBC’s intention to examine which of its public parks and open spaces it could build on.
This newspaper also revealed last year that MBC was secretly fighting a high court battle with Kent County Council with tax-payers’ money over the disbursement of section 106 developer contributions.
Borough councillor Emily Fermor acknowledged there have been problems between the two authorities.
Cllr Fermor added: “The difficulty is that you have got infrastructure in the remit of KCC and planning with the borough council and the two are just not working together. But why should that matter to the residents who it’s being dealt with?”
She said the area around East Farleigh, where she grew up, has a “unique charm and a rural tradition” and accepted infrastructure has not kept up with house-building.
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