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RELIEF ROAD: By-pass plan could go into Local Plan review - planning chief

Thursday 10th October 2019

IF A relief road serving south Maidstone is to become reality, the borough council must include it in its review of the Local Plan, it has been warned.

Kent county councillor Gary Cooke says the authority must seize the opportunity to include a by-pass in the Maidstone Borough Council plan update which is in its early stages presently.

Two years ago, when Cllr Cooke held a large public meeting to demonstrate public support for a relief road linking the A274 and the A20, the MBC Liberal Democrat leadership, Tory KCC leader and the two local Conservative MPs all enthusiastically backed the idea.

Cllr Cooke said a planning consultancy document for the MBC the proposed 5,000 home Lenham Heath project shows a willingness to progress the idea. The borough council intends to be the “master developer” in the project.

A four-page leaflet distributed to landowners by MBC’s planning consultants Barton Willmore says the garden village has “potential” to pay for a new M20 junction, a high-speed rail station and “future wider road improvements to connect the areas to the south of Maidstone”.

Cllr Cooke added: “I believe there is support for a relief road at MBC but we need MBC to grasp the opportunity and support it in the review of the Local Plan. I think they want to and the people do too."

He added it is “almost inevitable” that Leeds village will have to accept houses as a result.

Cllr Cooke said: “It might not be so bad to introduce a younger demographic to the village and try and get a new Leeds village school, for instance.”

The results of KCC preparatory feasibility studies were due to be announced as Downs Mail went to press.

Asked if a relief road could be included in the Local Plan review, chairman of MBC’s planning committee Cllr Clive English said: “It depends if KCC has done its preparatory work. If it has, we can put it in – but that’s the easy part!”

Cllr English, asked if the Lenham Heath housing scheme could pay for a relief road, said: “It could, potentially, yes.”

The council is committed to 17,600 homes in the Local Plan, passed in autumn 2017, and up to 10,500 more in the review, according to the Barton Willmore document.

MBC is heavily promoting the Lenham Heath scheme as well as several others in the town centre for a thousand homes.