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Homes plan unlikely on illegal rubbish site at Larkey Wood Farm in Chartham

Ambitious proposals to build 10 luxury homes on a hazardous waste dump are unlikely to see the light of day, because it’s in the countryside.

Aerial images released to KentOnline show enough contaminated debris on a plot of land at Larkey Wood Farm to fill five Olympic swimming pools.

However, council planners have told the developer they are unlikely to back the scheme because the plot is “outside the confines” of nearby Chartham village.

Rubbish at Larkey Wood farm
Rubbish at Larkey Wood farm

For more than two decades the eyesore site has been used unlawfully to dump industrial waste materials including deadly asbestos.

The new owner of the site is promising a million-pound clean-up operation to clear the way for an exclusive housing development on the land.

But the council’s likely refusal to support the plans could scupper any hope of them being approved.

Chris Parsons, the company secretary of owner Petham-based HF Developments, said: “If we don’t do the clear-up the public will pick up the £1 million tab. That’s really our frustration.

An aerial view of the illegal rubbish dump at Larkey Wood Farm
An aerial view of the illegal rubbish dump at Larkey Wood Farm

“We sent drones up to show the true scale of what has happened here and it is horrendous.

“As part of the studies, we employed an environmental company which dug more than 40 test pits at the site.

"We sent drones up to show the true scale of what has happened here and it is horrendous..." - Chris Parsons

“There were tonnes of tyres there, rail pylons, caravans that had been demolished, as well as paints and chemicals and tonnes of other rubbish.

“It seems that legislation is actually undermining what everyone would like to see happen with this site. We believe that we have come up with plans that are considerate for the area.”

HF bought the land last August for a cut-price £20,000, but has been lumbered with the seven-figure clean-up costs.

The company wants to build 10 detached homes on the land, ranging in asking price from £500,000 to £1,000,000 each.

Aerial drone images commissioned by HF and passed on to KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Gazette reveal the full scale of dumping activity that has occurred.

Surveyors estimate the site holds 12,841 cubic metres of contaminated spoil and HF places projected costs of £1 million to clear the site.

Enforcement agent Ben Coventry at the site
Enforcement agent Ben Coventry at the site

Yet Canterbury City Council has advised HF that planning permission for the developer’s proposal will likely be refused because of its location.

It is likely the scheme will eventually end up being considered by the council’s planning committee, which will hear details of the Cockering Road site’s chequered history.

HF bought the land after it had formerly been occupied by James Mete, who was convicted of possessing firearms in 2014.

Mete had attempted to evade court proceedings after pretending to be dead, but was subsequently arrested in Wales and jailed for a year.

Larkey Wood development plans
Larkey Wood development plans

According to HF Developments, Mete’s mortgage company then repossessed the farm after he fell into arrears.

Attempts were made to auction the land last year for a guide price of £130,000. However, there was a legal disclaimer that anyone bidding for the land would do so at their own risk.

Clive Emson auctioneers were unable to give tours of the site due to “an encampment believed to be occupied by the defaulting borrower in the adjacent field”.

The farm was withdrawn from the auction after it emerged the terms of a Kent County Council enforcement order from 1999 stipulated a complete environmental clean-up of the site.

The proposed development site is piled high with waste
The proposed development site is piled high with waste

HF snapped up the site at a much-reduced rate, given the future costs of clearing the waste.

Mr Parsons says HF is spending £5,000 a week just to secure the site.

He added that the company had worked closely with the Environment Agency, Kent County Council and Chartham Parish Council in progressing its plans.

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