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Deadline looms for comments to Maidstone Borough Council on Waterside Park near Junction 8 of the M20, Hollingbourne

By Ed McConnell

A controversial new development has come in for yet more criticism as people wishing to register their views on plans struggled to get to grips with the online comments system.

The deadline to register comments on the revised plans for Waterside Park in Hollingbourne is 5pm this evening but some people hoping to do so have reported issues with Maidstone Borough Council’s planning portal.

Earlier this month Gallaghers and Marden-based firms Scarab Sweepers and Automotive Distribution Limited submitted new plans which they say address concerns about the impact the development will have on the countryside.

Junction 8 of the M20
Junction 8 of the M20

People wanting to comment on the plans have complained that by the time their details have been verified their log in session has expired and others have reported an error message explaining that no more comments can be posted.

It was reported in July that Faversham residents had been experiencing problems viewing proposals for their area after the planning departments for Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Swale merged and relocated to a new website.

It is not known if these problems are linked to the merger.

A spokesman for the Bearsted and Thurnham Society said: “We have had numerous reports of people having difficulty posting their views on the plans. It is concerning that so close to deadline people may miss out on the opportunity to do so.”

The proposed site for Waterside Park near Junction 8 of the M20
The proposed site for Waterside Park near Junction 8 of the M20

The initial plans for Waterside Park near junction 8 of the M20 were rejected in February after MBC councillors said the overall scale, mass and design of the development would be detrimental to the countryside.

The renewed proposal, which is 20% smaller and involves extracting 30% less soil, has been criticised for not varying enough from the initial plans.

An MBC spokesman said: "The website has been tested and comments are being successfully submitted. If anyone has trouble with the website, we also accept comments on planning applications by email or letter."

"Any comments received after the deadline but before the decision is taken will be taken into account."

Comments can be registered at http://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications.

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