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Maidstone council ready to "cave in" over Waterside Park

By Alan Smith

A recommendation by Maidstone planning officers to approve plans for a business and industrial estate at Waterside Park, near Junction 8 of the M20, has “astounded” countryside campaigners.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said the recommendation which is being given to councillors at this Thursday’s planning committee, was “a complete U-turn.”

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

CPRE said the planned development of warehouses, industrial premises and offices would be detrimental to the countryside setting of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the important heritage setting of Leeds Castle, a fact recognised when the council refused similar plans in February.

But CPRE said the planners had now “caved in” after the developers had made only minor adjustments.

The proposal covers 39 acres of prime agricultural land. The land is not identified for development in either the existing or the new Local Plan as currently proposed.

However, planning officers have scheduled meetings of the planning and development scrutiny committee and the economic and commercial development scrutiny committee for next Tuesday, in which they advocate having the site included in an adjusted Local Plan.

Brian Lloyd of CPRE Kent said: “We are amazed at this about-turn.

“This is greenfield land in the open countryside where development should not be allowed under both local and national planning policies.”

Two Marden-based firms, Scarab and ADL, are among the companies wanting to move to the new site. Both have threatened to move out of the area completely if the application is not allowed, putting at risk 450 local jobs.

The planning application will be determined in the Town Hall on Thursday at 6pm.

The meeting is open to the public.

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