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Landowner reveals 1,000 homes plans as council 'call for sites' deadline passes

Friday 24th May 2019

A businessman has revealed plans for almost 1,000 homes on three separate sites in a rural corner of south- east Maidstone. 
Landowner Rob Schroeder has submitted proposals to Maidstone Borough Council in its “call for sites” ahead of the review of the Local Plan. 
The submissions relate to sites at Kingswood, Langley Heath and Chartway Street.
The deadline for the call for sites passed today at 5pm.
The officers at Maidstone Borough Council had already earmarked a number of potential targets ahead of the deadline.
One is for a massive "garden village" development on or near Lenham Heath. This would comprise 2,500 to 5,000 houses.
Local independent councillor Tom Sams was moved to tears as he spoke about the possibility at a closed session meeting this week at the town hall.
An online report detailing the Lenham proposal was published yesterday by Daily Downs Mail.
Today, a representative of MBC requested the piece be removed for reasons of "commercial sensitivity". Daily Downs Mail declined on public interest grounds.
We understand that another plan for 1,100 homes in the St Peter's St and riverside area of Maidstone is also a strong contender.
A 2,000 home scheme in Marden is "not finding the same amount of favour", according to one source.
MBC is already committed to 17,600 houses in the Local Plan and another 8,000 in the review. 
Concerns are mounting that insufficient planning has been undertaken to cater for the massive increase in cars as well as pressure on school spaces and GP surgeries. 
Liberal Democrat-controlled MBC has based its traffic mitigation on changes to existing roads and the concept of “modal shift” which the council hopes will persuade people to walk, ride bikes or take buses rather than use their cars. 

A draft MBC statement prepared on May 24, but not signed off by the political group leaders, is in circulation.

It does not mention Lenham by name but confirms the council intends to propose it.

The draft says: "The ‘Call for Sites’ exercise is part of the review of the Maidstone Borough Local Plan and is a statutory requirement for the Council.

“At this stage, the Council has been requesting information about land that may have development potential.

”This ‘Call for Sites’ exercise includes a prospectus for ‘garden communities’.

“We can confirm that Maidstone Borough Council itself intends to put forward a proposal.

“The Council is taking a proactive approach as it aspires to have a leading role in bringing about a new garden community of the highest quality, with a particular emphasis upon securing and enabling the required infrastructure to go alongside it.

”The submissions from all developers, landowners and agents, together with those made by the Council itself, will be analysed and evaluated over the coming months, pending a public consultation that will form a later stage of the Local Plan Review process, so everyone will have an opportunity to comment.”