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Call for "substantial reduction" in house-building numbers

By Alan Smith

Parish councils have united in their condemnation of Maidstone council’s draft Local Plan.

The 41 associations said proposals put forward by the Conservative administration “lacked vision” and raised “substantial concerns”.

The Maidstone area committee of the Kent Association of Local Councils (KALC) went as far as to call for the council to totally rethink the plan which is supposed to guide development for the next 17 years.

Geraldine Brown, chairman of the Maidstone branch of KALC

In particular the representatives wanted “a very substantial reduction” in proposed housing numbers – from the plan’s 19,600 homes to somewhere closer to 14,500.

A policy to restrict the spread of the urban area was also on the wishlist, with fears raised that some proposed developments were too far removed from the town centre to make use of its facilities.

“Natural growth” in the non-urban areas, as laid out in the villages’ own emerging Neighbourhood Plans, was suggested instead.

Maidstone’s KALC demanded that all proposed development be subject to sustainability tests, and that building should not go ahead if there was not a supporting infrastructure network.

Chairman Geraldine Brown said: “Maidstone Borough Council must listen to those who are closest to the local people.

“The current draft plan must be dramatically revised – and this time with active involvement of those who represent their local communities and who wish to see our borough develop along sustainable lines for the benefit of current residents.”

Brian Clifford of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society

The Bearsted and Thurnham Society found some good points in the plan. The amenity group welcomed the fact that Junction 8 and Woodcut Farm had not be designated for development.

It was also pleased that the land between Cross Keys and Sutton Street was not designated for housing development.

However, the society also took issue with the proposed housing numbers.

Society secretary Mary Richards said: “We find it difficult to understand why Maidstone council is not seeking a more limited growth that would place less pressure on the town’s over-stretched infrastructure.”

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