Villagers have lashed out at “mad” plans for 70 new homes – amid fears Kent is becoming “the car park of England.”
Developer Dandara recently unveiled plans to build a sprawling new estate on land the size of five football pitches on farmland in Wingham, near Canterbury.
But more than 40 objection letters have been submitted to Dover District Council claiming the area is overdeveloped, with construction trucks destroying old homes on narrow roads.
Patricia Fletcher writes: “The influx of huge lorries and extra traffic from building in Aylesham already brings traffic in Wingham to a standstill at busy parts of the day.
“With further house building, this is likely to become unmanageable and the high street, which is already severely congested will become gridlocked for increasing periods of time.
“This is another move towards the garden of England becoming the car park of England and the green spaces of Kent being lost forever.”
The developer says its project, dubbed Footpath Field, will supply much-needed homes, two play areas, a pond, green space and community orchards.
If plans are approved, 71 homes will be built on farmland north of Staple Road, near the junction with Goodnestone Road, and include the required infrastructure, according to Kent-based Dandara.
But some living in the village believe the estate will drive down housing prices and place strain on roads, the environment and public services.
Rosemary Bunn writes: “The traffic situation is already dire and stationary at peak times – an extra 70-plus dwellings will make the roads impossible through the village.
“Not to mention the damage done to some lovely old houses and damage on tight corners when trying to travel to Sandwich and Canterbury, the nearest towns for shopping and employment.”
Chantal McNeil adds: “[There is] far too much traffic as it is and [is] spoiling countryside. Nearby doctors surgeries and schools are already full – this will not help.
“We need fields for crops to grow or how else are we meant to eat?”
Others complain about their homes shaking from the vibrations of construction trucks.
Rosemary Stevens, whose house backs onto Staple Road, a well-used thoroughfare, calls the traffic “horrendous”.
“Huge lorries plus other traffic 24 hours a day – my house vibrates,” she writes.
“I can't sit in my garden, [it is] so noisy. The road surface is terrible. I have already written to the council with no answers.
“To build more houses is madness. Wingham is already a bottleneck, especially in Staple Road and surrounding areas.”
Wingham parish council initially opposed the scheme over concerns the number of houses would create problems with sustainability and character in in the area.
But on balance, the authority said it would throw its support behind the bid, provided 30% of the homes are affordable and reserved primarily for local people.
The 71 homes included in Footpath Field would range from one- to five-bedroom properties with 12 houses earmarked as affordable, six designated as first homes and four for shared ownership.
Chief among some current homeowners’ concerns is the the impact that new houses in the area could have on the price of their properties.
Voicing this grievance in comments on the DDC website, Daryl Wilson writes: “The development may negatively impact housing prices in the area, affecting the financial well-being of existing homeowners.”
And adding to the litany of complaints, Roderick Hunter suggests the project could intensify odours emitting from a nearby sewage plant.
“The amount of polluted water run-off from this estate will further pollute the near by river,” he writes.
“The local sewage plant can just about keep up with current demand – we have a problem now with the stench from time to time.”
An odour assessment report detailing the methodical “sniff test” was carried out at locations between the nearby wastewater treatment works and the Staple Road site.
“During the site visit, no odour was detectable [...], although it should be noted that the wind direction was not towards the development site,” investigators wrote.
The evaluation concluded it could only provide a “snapshot in time” view that the potential smell from the facility should not cause issues for would-be residents.
Dandara says it aims to grow the village “in a sensitive way, whilst ensuring that the development is structured by the Public Right of Way that bisects the site, providing good pedestrian connections into adjacent neighbourhoods and the village centre”.
“Access is proposed off Miller Close, with Staple Road remaining predominately rural in character, with hedgerows retained and dwellings set back from the road,” planning documents add.
“A network of green spaces will be created around the edges and the centre of the site linked to the retained right of way.
“These spaces will be semi-natural in character featuring retained, enhanced and new areas of tree planting, scrub and wildflower meadows.