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Developer Redrow wins permission for 320 homes on Faversham farmland

Countryside campaigners say they are dismayed that plans for 320 homes on farmland in Faversham have been approved by Swale Borough Council.

It follows the granting of outline permission to developer Redrow for two schemes on Preston Fields off Salters Lane on the edge of the town - one for 250 homes and the other for 70 homes, which have been combined into one 'masterplan'.

The land where 70 homes will be built in Preston Fields, Faversham
The land where 70 homes will be built in Preston Fields, Faversham

Planning officers advised members of the planning committee that the 10-acre 250-home site would provide "much needed houses on an allocated housing site" and the development was in accordance with the Local Plan.

Campaigners had hoped the smaller site would be protected and remain open space as it was not designated.

But the developer claimed the 70 homes would only result in a "modest loss of open space" amounting to five acres.

They add: "The proposed link road between Ashford Road and Salters Lane which would cross the north of the site is a key benefit and the main driver behind this application which will have considerable long term benefits for the future development on land which is being promoted for large scale development adjacent to the site."

Faversham homes 2 (56743466)
Faversham homes 2 (56743466)

That proposed development is the huge 2,500 home Duchy of Cornwall proposal which is causing widespread concern.

Swale council planners were persuaded to approve the smaller 70 home site after planning officers advised that although the land is not specifically identified for housing development, it would be located just to the south of land that is.

They added: "It would also adjoin the built-up area boundary of Faversham and it is considered that the site is of sufficient size to accommodate the proposed development without unacceptable planning impacts."

But objectors complained about the traffic problems it would generate and the loss of valuable farmland.

Carol Smith, of the Farms Fields and Fresh Air Facebook group says it is another example of much-needed prime farmland being gobbled up by developers.

"House building is simply relentless because of government targets...."

"Unfortunately, all the government talk about protecting green fields and even Michael Gove's latest pronouncement about not now having a 300,000 new homes a year target is just that - words, " she said. "It means absolutely nothing.

"Of course we are dismayed to see so much of our farmland, which is becoming even more vital to provide our food, being built on indiscriminately."

And writing on the group's page, Tim Ingram said he had hoped Swale Borough Council would reject the application for 70 homes - or at least defer it, "if they had felt that a rural connection - and ecology and biodiversity - does have value for the town and its population."

He later added: "House building is simply relentless because of government targets. Realistically I don't think any comments local people make have any real bearing on local democracy because you have to make a case that has enough legal strength to challenge what is almost always a fait accompli.

"So 370 new houses, 1,000 new residents and 500 more cars - another 'Perry Court' sitting on the A2 and A251, and advance guard for the Duchy of Cornwall to come."

The schemes are subject to a detailed 106 planning agreement and numerous conditions.

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