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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Fant Farm, Cross Keys in Bearsted, Cripple Street in Loose and Ware Street, Thurnham removed from Maidstone Borough Council's local plan

25 February 2014
by Claire McWethy

Councillors have removed several greenfield sites from their plan earmarking future housing sites in Maidstone.

In total allocations for 620 homes were taken out of the draft Local Plan, following a cabinet meeting of borough councillors at the town hall last night.

No longer under threat are Fant Farm, Cross Keys in Bearsted, Cripple Street in Loose and Ware Street, Thurnham.

Green fields in the Kent countryside

Green fields in the Kent countryside

The plan, drawn up by Maidstone council, is intended to guide the borough’s development until 2031.

Part of its target is to build 19,600 homes to accommodate projected population growth, a number deemed “unsustainable” by Kent County Council.

Planning permission has already been granted for 4,100 homes since 2011, and places identified for 3,000 more.

Last night cabinet members were debating changes to the 54 sites identified in the draft Local Plan as being ripe for a potential 9,965 new homes, before they go out to public consultation.

Plans for 350 homes at Fant Farm were removed due to its location on top grade farmland.

Councillor Stephen Paine

Councillor Stephen Paine

Fant Ward representative cllr Stephen Paine said: “Officers have said we must take action to mitigate and make these sites acceptable. But I don’t agree because Grade 1 agricultural land is not something you can mitigate against. You cannot engineer Grade 2 land to Grade 1.”

The risk of flooding was enough for councillors to reject the Cross Keys site in Bearsted, where 50 homes were suggested.

In Cripple Street, cllr Paine argued against 70 homes next to Loose Valley Conservation Area, against the advice of council officers who said the site was so small as to not be a problem.

Cllr Paine replied “If that’s the case it won’t jeopardise the plan too much by taking it out.”

Plans for 145 homes in Ware Street were removed due to its location near an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But after fighting for greenfield sites, councillors voted to leave in the Medway Street car park, against scrutiny committee recommendations.

Chairman Christopher Garland said: “We all argue about saving countryside, now we are arguing to save tarmac.”

Cllr Paine agreed, saying the council’s priority should be to develop brownfield sites.

The draft local plan is due to go out to public consultation from Friday, March 21 to Wednesday, May 7.

For full story see the Kent Messenger on Friday.

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