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Millwood's plans for Cripple Street field given cold reception from locals in Maidstone

By Alan Smith

Scores of people attended an exhibition of plans to build on a green field adjacent to the Loose Valley Conservation Area, but few were impressed.

Millwood Designer Homes hoped a display of its proposals at the Vine Church in Boughton Lane would persuade local residents to climb on board its scheme to create 45 homes on agricultural land off Cripple Street, but the company met a barrage of criticism.

The developer promised a re-alignment of Cripple Street in front of the five-acre site so as to create “a soft edge” between the urban area and the more open countryside of the Loose Valley, but residents said there was a fundamental problem with traffic in the area and the local road network couldn’t take any more cars.

Residents visit the display at the Vine Church
Residents visit the display at the Vine Church

The company acknowledged that the Cripple Street/Loose Road traffic lights were “at 100% capacity”, but suggested Section 106 payments from the development would help Kent County Council to find a solution.

The plans showed the entrance to the new estate joining Cripple Street at a narrow section, scarcely wide enough for two cars.

But Peter Bland, the firm’s assistant director of design and planning, admitted it had not investigated the alternative possibility of driving an access through to Richmond Way and also had not held any discussions with a rival developer, Chailey Homes, which is planning to build on a neighbouring field, to see if a shared access from Postley Road was possible.

Millwood’s scheme was representational only - with the company emphasising its proposals could change to adapt to residents’ concerns, but the firm came under fire for displaying images of properties it had built elsewhere, which it admitted were not being proposed for the Cripple Street site.

Chris Harbord: Unhappy
Chris Harbord: Unhappy

Broadoak resident Chris Harbord said: “They are misrepresenting their proposals by using the wrong pictures.

“Talk of mitigation measures to ease the traffic congestion is nonsense. Residents know that the measures proposed such as bus lane in Loose Road are only going to make things worse.”

Mr Harbord who had to cross the Loose Road traffic lights to reach the exhibition at the Vine Church, said: “I had to wait for three changes of light tonight before I could get across - and it’s half term with no school traffic.”

Myra Lightfoot of Cripple Street said: “Residents have always been told this field is part of the greenbelt and it has been protected for years.

“It doesn’t matter how delightful their designs are, this is the wrong place

“There will be a proportion of traffic exiting from the new homes that will turn right and go down towards Tovil, causing environmental damage to the Loose Valley.”

The company said it was planning for 14 affordable homes, and the rest to be a mixture of sizes up to five bedrooms, including six chalet bungalows.

The company acknowledged there would be an impact on the grade II listed Bockingford Farmhouse and said it would offset that by placing a green open area in front of the property. However, the company seemed unaware that two other neighbouring properties were also listed.

The plot, known as Dimmock’s Field, was initially putt forward by planning officers for consideration in the draft Local plan, but it was rejected by councillors.

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