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Developer gets go-ahead to build scrapyard homes

By Alan Smith

Wealden Homes will now begin construction of the houses and 87 parking spaces at Bentletts Scrap Yard at the junction of Claygate Road and Jarmons Lane, between Laddingford and Collier Street.

The 2.5-hectare site has been home to a huge lorry breakers yard, which now deals with large American-style haulage vehicles, for more than 50 years – leaving it saturated with engine oil.

Barbara Grandi, parish council chairman

Barbara Grandi, parish council chairman

But the developer thinks it can turn trash into treasure and will spend more than £1 million decontaminating the land.

While the scheme is described by Barbara Grandi, chairman of Collier Street Parish Council, as infinitely better than what currently occupies the plot, there are concerns about the development.

Neighbours wrote to Maidstone Borough Council voicing concerns that the flood-prone site would be more at risk as a result of the project, while the increase in traffic was also flagged up.

Mrs Grandi said Wealden had initially wanted to build up to 31 homes and refurbish the nearby listed former pesthouse, a revised scheme that came to light at a meeting between the parish, MBC and the developer last year was much more appropriate.

In addition to fewer houses, the amended plans include more open space for residents and assurances that the flood risk will be managed both during construction and in the future.

Currently, Bentletts is capable of holding 1,000 vehicles, is noisy throughout the day, and leads to congestion on the surrounding narrow lanes.

Mrs Grandi said the scrapyard operation had outgrown the site.

She added: “The majority of the people are in favour. I think they know it is the best they could have wished for.

“I’m pleased the section 106 money will be going to the Marden and Yalding surgeries, and £60,000 is set to go to St Margaret’s Collier Street Primary School. It’s frustrating the majority of the money will go to Maidstone for affordable homes, as we do not have much here.”

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