Published: 10:18, 29 December 2014
| Updated: 10:37, 29 December 2014
The Campaign to Protect Rural England intends to play a major part in the fight to prevent a business and industrial park being built at Waterside Park off Junction 8 of the M20.
CPRE Kent has successfully applied to be granted “rule 6 status” at the forthcoming public inquiry following an appeal to the planning inspectorate by the joint applicants: Gallagher Properties, ADL and Scarab Sweepers.
It means the environmental group will be given equal status with the developers and the borough council and will be able to engage a barrister to cross-examine all the witnesses.
CPRE Kent believes 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 (AONB) and the important heritage setting of Leeds Castle.
It has already submitted its “statement of case” to the planning inspector, citing issues including traffic, noise, light and air pollution and the detrimental effect on the enjoyment of the countryside.
The conservationists also highlight the risk of contamination to the River Len, which runs alongside the southern side of the site.
Brian Lloyd, CPRE’s senior planner, said: “We hope that the planning inspector holding the inquiry will reject this proposal because of the damage it will cause to this attractive area of countryside.
“If this is allowed, it could also set a precedent for further development stretching alongside the A20 and M20 right back to Maidstone.
“It is completely the wrong place for development.”
CPRE will be acting jointly with the 16 parish councils of the Joint Parishes Group, who are also objecting.
The proposal would be set across 39 acres of prime agricultural land, which has not identified for development in either Maidstone Borough Council’s existing or proposed new Local Plan.
ADL and Scarab Sweepers both intend to move their business from existing sites in Marden to the new development and say that if the application is not allowed, 450 jobs would be at risk.
Nick Yandle, chief executive of Gallagher Properties, insisted the site was the right one.
He said: “You have to look at the need for this application; you have to look at the alternative sites, and you have to look at connectivity to the motorway network. If you consider all these three, you come up with Waterside Park.”
The Waterside Park scheme is additionally being opposed by KCC,
The public inquiry is scheduled to start on May 6 and last eight days.
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