Published: 10:58, 14 October 2021
| Updated: 14:22, 14 October 2021
Villagers are breathing a huge sigh of relief after plans to build 115 homes on prime agricultural land outside Canterbury were resoundingly rejected.
The bid for a new estate off the A257 in Littlebourne sparked outcry, with more than 200 letters of objection submitted.
But despite their victory, residents are “waiting with baited breath” in case the battle is not yet won.
Gladman, the national firm behind the plans, has a history of appealing decisions which do not go its way.
So campaigners fear the city council’s ruling could yet be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
Developers would, however, have to make a compelling case against the local authority’s reasons for rejecting the scheme, which include concerns over traffic, flooding and urbanisation.
The loss of grade one farmland, and the fact the 14-acre plot is not allocated for housing in the Local Plan, were also major determining factors behind the rejection.
The council’s decision notice reads: “The significant development of this unallocated site would result in the unjustified loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land.”
During the planning process, concerned residents claimed the large development would “kill” village life, but their mood is a little more buoyant following its rejection.
Parish councillor Cate Reid said: “People in the village are all rather pleased. We had great people who had certain expertise in helping sort our objection against it.
“We got our anti-development banners up quickly and also paid for some advice and it paid off. It was great how we all came together. With the 87 homes already being built other the other side of the road, nine by the doctors surgery and others around the village, you’ve got somewhere close to 120 being built.
“And with a village of about 640 houses, I think we’ve definitely had enough.
“It is good quality land which is being used for food produce.
“Since Brexit, it is becoming evident there needs to be a bigger focus on growing our own stuff - not building on farmland.”
Parish council vice-chairman Mick Giles added: “We are relieved but we wait with baited breath in case they come back with different plans or an appeal.
“There were so many objections against it and so many reasons from the council as to why they rejected it. I don’t think I’ve seen that sheer amount before.”
'We are relieved but we wait with baited breath...'
It is not known whether Gladman will appeal the decision. The firm was approached for comment.