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Villagers rally to fight Waterside Park Junction 8 proposals

By Alan Smith

The Bearsted and Thurnham Society has launched a new campaign - Save Our Green Fields.

Posters have been going up all around the villages urging residents to attend the forth-coming public inquiry into the proposed Waterside Park development.

The society is opposed to the scheme submitted by Gallaghers to construct an industrial and warehouse complex off the A20 near J8 of the M20.

Site of proposed Waterside Park off the A20 Ashford Road, Hollingbourne

The society told members: “This, with the another application already submitted by Roxhill Developments for Woodcut Farm, on the other side of the A20 at J8, together pose the biggest threat to this area since the Kent International Gateway!”

Secretary Mary Richards said: “If either or both of these developments are permitted there is nothing to stop development from J8 all the way through the KIG site to Thurnham Lane in Bearsted.”

The inquiry is scheduled to start at 10am on Wednesday, May 6, at Sessions House in County Hall, Maidstone.

There will be a rally by objectors on the steps of County Hall from 9.15am.

An artist's impression of one of the proposed new buildings at Waterside Park

The society wants as many residents as possible to join the rally and also to sit in during the course of the hearing to show the Government planning inspector the strength of opposition to the scheme.

The application has already been rejected by Maidstone council, but Scarab Sweepers and ADL, two Marden-based firms who had been hoping to relocate to the new business park, lodged a joint appeal.

Inside Scarab's existing plant in Marden

The inquiry is expected to last eight days. Maidstone council has engaged barrister Tim Corner QC to defend its position. Mr Corner successfully fought the Kent International Gateway application for the council four years ago.

The appeal is also being opposed by KCC, by the Joint Parishes’ Group representing 14 parishes in the immediate area, and by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

CPRE’s director Hilary Newport said: “We are ready to fight this this. We have already submitted 10 expert witness statements to the inspector.”

*The appeal will run from May 6 to May 8 inclusive; then from Tuesday, May 12 to May 14 inclusive, and finally from Monday, May 18 to May 21, starting at 10am each day.

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