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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Councillors try again to kill off zombie bus lane in Sutton Road

22 January 2014
by Alan Smith

Langley Park off Sutton Road - one of the proposed development sites

Langley Park off Sutton Road - one of the proposed development sites

Maidstone council’s housing plans have received a major setback after back-bench councillors refused to approve three separate applications that would have provided 880 new homes off the Sutton Road.

Council officers said the allocations were needed to help the council meet its requirement to provide a five-year land supply for new housing, but upset members by insisting the development be linked to the provision of a new bus lane in Sutton Road, with each developer required to pay £3,000 per house towards the cost.

Cllr Clive English Alternative reality

Cllr Clive English: Alternative reality?

The bus lane proposal had already been comprehensively rejected by the Maidstone Joint Transport Board, but officers are now calling it “an additional lane for vehicular traffic that would also have bus prioritisation measures.”

The Mayor, Cllr Clive English (Lib Dem), said: “Are we living in some bizarre alternative reality? We drive a stake through the heart of this proposal and like some strange undead creature it rises again and staggers onward.

“The public and county and borough councillors have said time and again, we don’t want this bus lane.”

Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) said widening the Sutton Road would “sever the community” and cut children off from their schools.

Planning officer Chris Hawkins said that without the bus lane, Sutton Road would be stretched beyond its capacity and the whole feasibility of the developments would have to be revisited.

But Cllr Harwood said it should be simple to “de-couple” the developers 106 payments from the bus lane proposal. He said: “All that’s needed is a change in the wording so that the money can be used towards other forms of traffic mitigation which can then be investigated.”

Councillors were also angry that officers were prepared to accept that the developers only provide 30% affordable housing, when council policy is for 40%.

The bus lane was compared to one of the undead

The bus lane was compared to one of the undead

Cllr Harwood said: “Just down the road at Sutton Woods we insisted on 40% at the height of the depression. Why suddenly should developers be saying their schemes are only viable with 30% affordable housing when house prices are actually rising?”

Councillors voted to defer all three applications for investigation of alternative traffic mitigation measures and a re-examination of the affordable housing provision.

The three applications were for 180 units from Bellway Homes on land north of Sutton Road, 600 units from Taylor Wimpey at Langley Park, and 100 units from Redrow Homes on land west of Bicknor Farm.


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