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Sholden development - councillors defer decision

Houses protest

by Graham Tutthill

gtutthill@thekmgroup.co.uk

District councillors have called for more information on the controversial plans for 230 homes at Sholden.

Members of the planning committee this evening deferred a decision despite being told by planning officer Tim Flisher that all the core issues and other issues had been effectively addressed.

Mr Flisher warned the committee that they needed to be comfortable that their reasons for deferral were truly based on the inadequacies of the submisions and reports before them, rather than unsubstantiated hearsay.

He said that any delay could result in the applicants submitting an appeal against non-determination "which has various implications".

The plan - which includes access from Hancocks Field, Hunters Walk and Hyton Drive - also involves a public open space, cycle paths, footpaths and a pond.

The move for deferment was successfully led by Cllr Bill Gardner who said the planning committee had been kept in the dark over certain issues, including the effect coal mining could have on the land.

Councillors were told that the application did not have to be referred to National Planning Casework Unit, formerly the Government Office of the South East.

Councillors say they want up-to-date traffic surveys to be carried out, further reports on possible flooding, what affect mining operations under the land might have had, how the scheme fits in with other strategic plans which are being drawn up and for a community-led study on possible community facilities.

Cllr Pam Hawkins told the committee she thought there would still be flooding on the site and the only way to get about would be by boat.

She said the roads leading to the site would not be able to cope with the increased traffic. "The roads will become a rat-run, an accident waiting to happen," she said.

Cllr Jim Cronk said flooding was one of his concerns, as well as transport, the loss of the agricultural land, and the impact of the Deal study.

"I don’t think this application is good enough for us to approve," he said.

Cllr Sue Chandler said there were many aspects that had not yet been dealt with sufficiently for them to make "a sound decision".

"We have heard all that has been said, but there is still sufficient discrepancy," she said. "We don’t feel absolutely everything has been taken into account."

Alister Hume, of Hillreed Homes, said he felt they had gone beyond the principle of whether the land should be used for development.

"We are not in the business of speculating," he said. "We get permissions and build on sites."

Full story in next week's East Kent Mercury. 

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