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OTHAM LATEST: 'I will fight for access ramp'

Friday 30th July 2021

A DISABLED mum of two is fighting to get a set of stairs turned into a ramp when 421 new homes are built in Otham.

Teresa Elliott (55), of The Beams, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis almost 11 years ago and says gaining easier access to the Church Road area would change her life.

Mrs Elliott claims plans to install a ramp from the corner of her road to the site would mean she could get to the church and local shops by herself instead of being driven on a three-mile round trip.

Mrs Elliott, who worked as a teaching assistant at Holy Family Primary School for 14 years, said: “It is hard enough to be disabled, I have to fight for everything, but I am prepared to fight for this one.”

She says the plans submitted by Bellway Homes are not clear enough and do not specify what kind of ramp will be installed, if any.

Mrs Elliott, who has lived in the village for 30 years, said: “When I have grandchildren, I would love to be able to take them to the playground, but at the moment it is not an option for me.

“When I was well I would always go walking through the fields of Otham down to the White Horse pub. This, for people like me, would make a massive difference to my life and would bring back a lot of my independence.”

Bellway Homes gained permission last year for the new development in one of the most significant and symbolic housing decisions in the borough for many years.

Deputy chairman of Maidstone Cycle Campaign Forum, Duncan Edwards, claims there is a big risk the developer will ignore many important aspects of the conditions set by the appeal and could be nodded through by a Maidstone Borough Council officer.

Mr Edwards said: “Across the community we can see that the development does not make sense, but the planning system has worked against us and given the green light for the development.

“We are now fighting to have those conditions applied properly.”

A Bellway Homes spokesman said: “Bellway is working with the local authority to ensure that we adhere to the conditions of our planning permission for Church Road.

“As part of this we have undertaken a detailed analysis of the requirements for the access to the site and we have provided a solution that we believe will address the concerns of local residents with accessibility needs, whilst working with the constraints of the site.

“This will require approval from the local planning department.”