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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Bearsted residents object to plans to build on flood-plain at Roundwell Park

04 December 2013
by Alan Smith

Members of Protect Bearsted gather prior to the parish council meeting

Members of Protect Bearsted gather prior to the parish council meeting

More than 200 people turned out to protest against plans to build on a wetland meadow in Bearsted.

So many people arrived that Bearsted Parish Council had to hastily reconvene its meeting last Thursday (28) from the committee room to the main hall at Madginford Hall - and even so there was standing room only.

Villagers listened patiently as Guy Osborne, acting as agent for Country House Developments, explained the firm’s bid to build 39 new homes on Roundwell Park, between Crosskeys and Sutton Street in Bearsted.

Mr Osborne said the homes would be a quality development that would help to meet Maidstone’s perceived five-year housing supply shortage.

He was supported by Chris Blundell of housing association Golding Homes, who would be the partner organisation for 10 affordable homes included in the project.

But when the public were given their chance to speak, every voice was opposed to the plans.

The chief concern was that the designated site, which is in a special landscape area, lay largely in the flood plain adjacent to the Lilk Stream. One elderly resident from Cross Keys recalled the time when the farmer had to rescue sheep from the flooded field in a boat.

Others were concerned about the effect of more housing on local services with all the neighbouring schools already at full capacity. One mother said she was having to take her children to school in Bredgar because she couldn’t get in to local schools - a 25-mile round trip.

Some residents have formed themselves into a group called “Protect Bearsted” to oppose the plans.

They pointed out that the 4.7 hectare site had been rejected in Maidstone council’s call for sites, because of the flooding problems.

They referred to a 2010 water cycle study by the Halcrow Group, commissioned by Maidstone council, which found that half the land was a functional floodplain and most of the rest was a Zone 2 floodplain with a medium probability of flooding.

The Environment Agency has placed a holding objection on the plans because the flooding study submitted with the scheme had used an inappropriate methodology.

Parish Cllr Pat Marshall praised the objectors for being better researched than the applicants.

Cty Cllr Jenny Whittle (Con) was at the meeting, wearing a Protect Bearsted T-shirt. She said the county had also objected because of environmental concerns.

The parish council voted unanimously to oppose the scheme.

Planning application 13/1708 refers.


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