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Maidstone council officers recommend Yalding homes plan with two days of public consultation still to run

By Alan Smith

Maidstone Borough Council’s planning department has been criticised for recommending a controversial scheme for a housing development in Yalding should go ahead, before the expiry date for the public to submit their views.

Official yellow notices posted around the village gave residents until November 3 to respond to an application to build 65 homes on the glebe field off Vicarage Lane.

Yet the agenda published yesterday for next Thursday’s planning committee meeting already contains the planning officer’s recommendation to councillors that they should grant planning permission, subject to a number of conditions.

The public notice clearly gives tomorrow as the deadline for public responses

Dr Robin Schuldenfrei, of the Yalding Residents For Sensible Development, which is opposed to the application, said: “How can the officer have properly considered residents’ views when the public consultation still had two days to run?"

The application from Countryside Properties is for 65 homes ranging from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses on land owned by the church diocese adjacent to a conservation area, and close to listed buildings.

English Heritage has been consulted on the plan, but they too have not yet had time to respond.

Cllr Steve McLoughlin, who represents the Marden and Yalding Ward, said: "This is appalling. It's outrageous.

Members of The Yalding Residents for Sensible Development Group examine the planning application with Helen Grant MP. From left, Lisa Brooks, Jenny Scott, Helen Grant, John Ackerman, Bethan Godden, Meg West, Susie Welland and Stephen Day

"I have no idea why the planners are trying to push this through so quickly, but I shall be asking for it to be pulled from the agenda until the officers have had a chance to hear all the public's views and those of the consultees."

Cllr McLoughlin said that if councillors ever declared a view on a planning application before they had heard all the opinions they would be deemed to have "pre-determined" the issue and be required not to take part.

He said: "There is a lot of strong feeling in the village over this issue, and I will be speaking for the village when the application comes to the committee."

There have already been a total of 210 letters of objection to the scheme, as well as objections from Yalding Parish Council, but the planning officer said the proposal accorded with the newly adopted Local Plan.

A council spokesman said: "Any new information that comes in would be fully considered and added to the report as an urgent update. This would include information received right up to the day of the committee."

Application number 16/508660 refers.

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