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Hadlow College support for Quinn Estates homes plan near Northbourne in doubt

Hadlow College has not said whether it will retract its support for a new 3,750 housing scheme following the suspension of its principal.

The college claims it is reviewing its partnerships and structures in response to the change.

Finglesham resident Richard Bourne OBE has called for the college to back away from the scheme, proposed by Quinn Estates, after principal Mark Lumsden-Taylor, who pledged Hadlow's commitment, was removed from the post amid a probe about the college's finances.

The size of the proposed development near Northbourne
The size of the proposed development near Northbourne

In a letter to interim principal Graham Morley, he highlighted the development would be built on greenfield land between Eastry, Northbourne, Finglesham, which is against the environmental purposes of the college.

Mr Bourne also warned the reputation of individual colleges is easily damaged and slow to repair.

He wrote: “I realise you will have much on your plate but I wish to warn you that the college runs the risk of severe reputational damage from the action of your suspended predecessor, Mark Lumsden-Taylor, in supporting a scheme for a 3,750 unit new town on a greenfield site not far from the College’s Betteshanger campus.”

Mr Lumsden-Taylor’s backing of Howbridge Park is quoted in a brochure prepared by Quinn Estates.

He says: “We share the belief that a strategic relief road and new settlements will bring a prosperous future for Deal.”

The fields that will become Howbridge Park if the plans are approved
The fields that will become Howbridge Park if the plans are approved

Plans are yet to be submitted but the vision is for it to include a primary school, secondary school, doctors’ surgery, restaurants and shops.

Mr Bourne continues: “It would be prudent for you, as part of the audit of Mr Lumsden-Taylor’s errors, to publicly dissociate the college from this controversial scheme as soon as possible.

“The proposed new town, being planned by a developer rather than Dover District Council, the local authority, would create a complex possibly bigger than the historic town of Sandwich nearby.

“Buildings, traffic, and destruction of green fields near a Site of Special Scientific Interest, are quite contrary to the environmental purposes of the college and damaging to its status as educational investor in the brownfield Betteshanger colliery site.”

The Finglesham resident, who was a former acting chair of governors at the former Greenwich Community College, writes that he has "great affection for the further education sector" which he acknowledges is "financially straitened".

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor

He adds: “The reputation of individual colleges is easily damaged and slow to repair.”

A Hadlow College spokesman said: "As one would expect, following a change of leadership, we are evaluating our role in a number of partnerships.

"This is part of an overarching review into the structure and strategic direction of the Hadlow Group."

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