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'Heartbreak' as work starts on 400-home Canterbury housing development at Cockering Farm, Thanington

Devastated residents have described the first stages of construction at a 400-home estate as “utterly heartbreaking”.

House-building giant Redrow has brought in diggers and started work on the controversial Cockering Farm development on the edge of Thanington, Canterbury.

The Cockering Farm scheme, as seen from Howfield Lane. Picture: Ros Tapp
The Cockering Farm scheme, as seen from Howfield Lane. Picture: Ros Tapp

The scheme – given the green light by the city council three years ago – will be spread across former farmland between the A28, Milton Manor Road and Cockering Road.

It comes as work continues on the huge 750-home Saxon Fields development to the south side of Thanington.

With both projects now underway, the size and population of the Canterbury suburb is set to more than double.

Existing residents have consigned themselves to further traffic woes along the A28, with predictions of a “total standstill” on the already-congested major route.

A photograph taken this week, from nearby Chartham Hatch, shows how a tranquil countryside scene has been replaced by one of construction as a result of the work at Cockering Farm.

Thanington will double in size as a result of the developments
Thanington will double in size as a result of the developments

In sharing the picture on Facebook, shocked Ros Tapp wrote: “This is utterly heartbreaking. I still can’t quite comprehend this planning decision.”

Meanwhile, Chris Adams said “this literally makes me feel sick” and Caroline Eastwood commented: “This is just awful. Soon there will be no green spaces between Canterbury and surrounding villages.”

Canterbury-based developer Mark Quinn, of Quinn Estates, secured outline planning permission for the scheme in 2018.

The project is now in the hands of Redrow, but while the firm can carry out groundworks, it requires detailed approval before house-building can begin.

An application for the first phase of 60 homes has been submitted to the city council – and if rubber-stamped, building work will then be permitted to start.

How the development is envisaged to look by developers
How the development is envisaged to look by developers

Thanington parish council clerk Roger Cheeseworth, who says the general consensus in the area is one of “frustration” over the huge housing plans, fears congestion will get worse as a result.

“It will just be at a standstill,” he said. “It’d be good if there was a magic wand to wave and find a solution, but there isn’t.

“It’s probably too late for a solution, so the traffic will likely kill Canterbury. There aren’t many green spaces left around here aside from floodplain.

“The council is already more than doubling Thanington’s population with these combined 1,150 homes.

“There should be a link road between the two developments, but that isn’t happening. So all traffic will be going along Cockering Road trying to get to the A28. It’ll be chaos.

Parish council clerk Roger Cheeseworth
Parish council clerk Roger Cheeseworth

“They say there won’t be as much traffic because people will walk. But who is going to walk into Canterbury from there? Basically no one.”

Mr Cheeseworth’s concerns are echoed by city councillor Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem).

The Wincheap representative says it is upsetting to see construction work begin at the 400-home site.

“I am sad to see it happening,” he said.

“And I find it very sad that it’s only now, when it is too late, that people are recognising the impacts this will have,” he said.

Cllr Nick Eden-Green
Cllr Nick Eden-Green

“My concern is that the traffic will have nowhere to go but through wholly residential roads on the Thanington estate, through Strangers Lane and Nicolas Road. They are unsuitable for any volume of traffic like that.

“We have two large developments but there is no masterplan between them. They aren’t working together.”

Redrow says its scheme will “achieve the optimum balance of land-uses for a sustainable new community”.

Documents attached to its bid for the first phase of construction state: “It will create an exciting residential area, in what is already recognised as a desirable place to live. It is supported by the excellent wide-ranging new amenities, green space areas and public footpaths.

“The proposals are entirely suitable for the site in terms of amount of development, scale, layout, appearance and access.”

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