Published: 06:00, 26 May 2020
A plan for 100 homes has been given the green light in principle despite serious misgivings over traffic.
The development, destined for land adjacent to Brockmans Lane just outside Kingsnorth, was discussed at an Ashford Borough Council (ABC) planning meeting earlier this month.
Featuring 30% affordable housing, the 17-acre site next to the A2070 will only be accessible from Brockmans Lane.
This proved a sticking point due to the development of another field neighbouring the same road, which is seeing 353 homes built at the so-called Park Farm South East scheme.
The Church Commission, which is behind the Brockmans Lane scheme, noted: “The proposals include a nice vehicular and pedestrian access to be provided from Brockman’s Lane and development won’t start until the spine road and footway that links Park Farm South East and Park Farm East is in place to provide a safe pedestrian and cycle connection within the site to Kingsnorth.
“The transport assessment [for the application] concludes there’ll be no highway capacity problems on the local network and Kent County Council supports this.”
Furthermore, the Commission sought to alleviate flooding concerns by highlighting that building will only take place on land in Flood Zone 1 - the least at risk grading.
However the ward representative Cllr Tina Heyes (Ashford Independent) - who is not on the planning committee - gave a damning speech in opposition to the development, which is featured in the council’s Local Plan.
She said: “There are many concerns from Kingsnorth and Bridgefield residents, who have allocated sites on all sides of them.
“Until now the lane has been a rural road.
“Brockmans Lane is a rural road that will soon have 300 houses on one side and 100 houses on the other."
“We shouldn’t be adding development to rural roads and expecting them to cope.”
Another issue raised was healthcare, and the lack of nearby provision.
To allay these concerns, £153,537 is being requested in developer’s contributions to improve the nearby Malcolm Sergeant roundabout and increase its capacity.
Cllr Liz Wright (Green) highlighted the current coronavirus pandemic, citing an increased need for food, a possible long-term change in public transport use and the “healthcare crisis”.
She also worried the homes would reduce the ability to meet the carbon neutral aim of ABC by 2030, suggesting builders in need of employment could be used better to retrofit existing buildings to promote sustainability.
Cllr Wright concluded: “I’m honestly astonished that at this particular time, such a proposal can be brought forward - we’re entering uncharted waters and we don’t know what the situation will be when we come out of the crisis."
"Until now the lane has been a rural road"
“I would suggest that I personally oppose this development.”
Ashford Independent Cllr Linda Harman, who represents the neighbouring ward of Saxon Shore, suggested the contributions towards the roundabout and amendments to the road are outweighed by the detrimental impact the roads would have.
She also echoed the fears of encroachment, and voiced annoyance at the lack of community spaces nearby.
Cllr Neil Shorter (Con) - portfolio holder for planning - recognised there were issues in terms of management and a potential lack of community spaces, and highlighted that these matters “should be considered when the detailed discussions take place before the detail application comes before us”.
He clarified the debate was purely about the road access included in the outline proposal, and moved to approve.
This was immediately seconded by Cllr Paul Clokie (Con), who stated up-to-date houses will be needed after the pandemic especially if less people work in offices in the future.
The outline application was approved almost unanimously, with only one committee member - Cllr Wright - voting against the scheme.
More by this authorCharlie Harman