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Plans revealed for 300 homes on farmland next to Howletts animal park at The Hill, Littlebourne

Proposals to build a 300-home estate on farmland next to a wild animal park have been revealed - just two years after a smaller scheme was rejected.

Gladman Developments has unveiled plans for the near-£37m housing development on agricultural land at The Hill, Littlebourne, near Canterbury, claiming the project will provide “significant community benefits”.

An example of one of the blocks at the estate. Picture: Gladman Developments
An example of one of the blocks at the estate. Picture: Gladman Developments

The site neighbours the popular Howletts animal park, the entrance of which fronts Bekesbourne Lane.

In papers submitted to Canterbury City Council as part of an outline application, Gladman also commits to building a community hub and accommodation for elderly people.

“To support a healthy economy, we need to tackle the shortage of beautiful, high-quality homes and places where people want to live and work,” said the firm.

“To tackle important issues such as climate change, biodiversity and supporting sustainable growth, we need to improve the construction and ownership of more housing to enable more people to own assets and strengthen their stake in our society.

“The development will create up to 300 dwellings and associated public open space, which provides a choice of housing to meet the needs of the area, whilst respecting and enhancing the site’s environmental assets.

The site of the proposed homes, a stone's throw from Howletts
The site of the proposed homes, a stone's throw from Howletts

“A number of older persons’ accommodation units will be provided within the site, alongside a new community hub.

“The £36.7m construction spend for this site would contribute significantly to the local and regional economy.”

Gladman estimates the housing estate could take six years to build.

And the 39-acre site looks set to be modelled on a ‘Garden City’ while also supporting a mini wastewater treatment works.

Littlebourne’s population, which was 1,529 in 2011, could increase by almost 50% - with the developers believing as many as 708 new residents could move into the village.

Previous plans put forward by Gladman to build 115 homes on a smaller patch of land off the A257 were branded “pure madness” by residents in 2021.

Howletts Wild Animal Park in Bekesbourne
Howletts Wild Animal Park in Bekesbourne

Dozens of objectors hit out at the project, with many citing traffic, sewage, power and pollution fears.

Parish councillor Ken Shaw said at the time: “This application is a step too far. Littlebourne doesn’t have the infrastructure to support all of the new houses being proposed.

“We live under the constant fear of flooding during heavy rainfall. The sewage system is regularly overwhelmed and tankers are sent in so that we can flush the toilets.

Those plans were shunned by the authorities as it would have meant the "unjustified loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land".

The village has already seen the approval of the controversial 87-home estate called The Laurels in 2019.

The new development site was put forward for consideration in the draft local plan - the council's blueprint for future housebuilding in the district.

In total, the council is proposing to build 13,000 extra homes by 2045 - a figure which is on top of the 16,000 already earmarked for construction by 2031.

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