More than 200 people turned up at a public meeting called to oppose a housing scheme on the playing fields of New Line Learning Academy.
Although Wards is the developer behind the proposals, the planning application for 220 homes has been submitted jointly by the Future Schools Trust, which runs the academy, by KCC and by BDW Trading.
The meeting organised by the North Loose Residents Association was held in the Vine Church, Boughton Lane, only a few hundred yards from the proposed development site.
The audience heard that NLRA had sought meetings with Wards to seek mitigation measures, but that “Wards have proved to be very difficult people to work with.”
The association’s planning committee chairman, Sean Carter, said: “This is a very poor development, crammed at 40 properties to the hectare, totally out of character with the area, with apartments and houses three-storeys high, and not in keeping with the guidelines contained in the Loose Road Area Character Assessment.
“We do not have any infrastructure to support this development - we all know the roads cannot cope and Southern Water is struggling to provide services.”
The NLRA has submitted its own alternative option to the development, which would involve leaving the playing fields alone and using the existing field in Wards ownership, with an exit going along Lansdowne Avenue towards the Sutton Road.
Mr Carter said: “From our own traffic survey, we know that 22% of traffic going from the traffic lights to the Wheatsheaf turns right up the Sutton Road, and the Sutton Road currently has 9% less traffic on it than the Loose Road. This option has been put in front of Maidstone Council and Wards.”
The audience at the NLRA meeting
The current Wards plan shows two entrances to the new development, both from Boughton Lane, with one ploughing through an area of ancient woodland.
The County Councillor for the area, Brian Clark (Lib Dem), was present, as well as several borough councillors, including Cllr Derek Mortimer (Lib Dem), who has started a petition against the scheme.
He said: “We’ve been out on the doorsteps and in just a few days have gained more than 800 signatures against the scheme.”
NLRA secretary Jacquie Day said: ”The man concerns raised by residents at the meeting were traffic congestion on the already grid-locked Loose Road and the impact on narrow rural roads such as Boughton Lane. Further concerns included the design and the cramped layout of the development as well as the huge impact this would place on the local community facilities such as doctors’ surgeries.”
The NLRA is urging residents to write to Maidstone council objecting to the plans and has posted a guide to some of the points they may want considered on the NLRA website.
*Maidstone council planning application number 13/2197 refers.