Published: 00:00, 01 August 2015
Councillors were branded “toothless tigers” who are “lying down in front of a steamroller” before they reconsidered their controversial decision to support the Perry Court Farm development.
A crowded public gallery brought Faversham Town Council to its knees on Monday evening as they pleaded with members to “fight for us” and revoke their recommendation to give a green light to 310 homes, 100-bed hotel and care home on the greenfield spot.
The council bowed to public pressure, unanimously backtracking and objecting to the application, after a barrage of fury from residents – more than 300 have written letters of opposing the development.
Martin Wood, of The Mall, said: “I would like to ask whether the council are going to do their duty that they were elected to do and fight for us?
“If it does go to appeal and if it does go through, at least you fought for us and you did your best. You can’t run away from your responsibility.”
Gillian Rowlands, of Westgate Road said: “We look up to councillors who we have voted in. It is shameless that you are toothless tigers. We are just disappointed.”
Ian Hardy, of Ashford Road, said: “If you lie down in front of a steamroller, nobody is going to support you and it seems at the last meeting, that is exactly what you did.”
At last month’s meeting six councillors had voted not to object to the plan, with five voting to refuse it.
They had said their “hands were tied” after a planning inspector approved an appeal for 63 houses in Brogdale Road earlier this year – endorsing development south of the A2 which has always been a taboo.
Councillors feared it had set a precedent for future proposals this side of town, including Perry Court Farm.
This week, farmer and former mayor Cllr David Simmons (Con) appealed to members to support his motion to rescind their decision from last month. He said: “I don’t think that it is a foregone conclusion that this application will be approved.
“I am lucky enough to still live in the same house where I was born. I have seen that land being used every day as agricultural land, and the loss of it would be significant.
“The development would have tremendous effect on traffic in Brogdale Road and the country lanes. Ashford Lane is a nightmare, Brogdale Road is a nightmare."
“The development would have tremendous effect on traffic in Brogdale Road and the country lanes. Ashford Lane is a nightmare, Brogdale Road is a nightmare. We have seen what happens to the A251 when Operation Stack is implemented or there is an accident on the M2.” Cllr Simmons said that “a lot has happened” since the decision for Brogdale Road including the borough’s Local Plan being presented to the inspector.
He also said that there were big differences between Brogdale Road and Perry Court Farm, including the size and prominence of the site and the value of the agricultural land.
A new document has been published which outlines Faversham’s heritage interests and agricultural value and which will be used as evidence for every large application proposed for the town.
The plans will go before Swale Borough Council later this year. To view them and leave your comments visit pa.midkent.gov.uk and search for reference 15/504264/OUT.
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