Published: 08:48, 28 November 2021
| Updated: 16:52, 29 November 2021
Angry residents across Kent have come together today to protest against the "relentless" housebuilding in the South East.
Today's 'Day of Action' has been organised by the Save Capel group, which is battling against plans by Tunbridge Wells council to impose a garden village of 2,600 homes on the parish.
Bryn Cornwell, chairman of the Valley Conservation Society in Tovil speaks about the Save Kent's Green Spaces Campaign
Co-ordinator Dave Lovell said this evening: "The day's been stupendous. It's been absolutely fantastic.
"We didn't expect it to be as well supported as it has been. People have turned up from across Kent - from north south east and west - in big numbers.
"You can get thousands of likes on social media. Turning that into boots on the ground in cold weather is a different matter.
"We've done this to highlight the problem, which is the insane acreage of Kent that is being lost to development, and to try and persuade government that they need to do something."
He adds that he hopes today's action will encourage the government to amend national planning policy framework to better protect green spaces in the south east.
Save Capel joined forces today with a core of other residents' groups, including Save Our Heathlands, who are campaigning against Maidstone council's plans for a 5,000-home garden village at Lenham Heath.
They combined the Westgate and Garlinge Action Group from Thanet, the Rural Protection Group from Sittingbourne, the Hartley Save Our Fields group from Cranbrook and the Friends of East End of Benenden, who all have battles of their own.
In Canterbury, the Friends of Dukes & Neal’s Place Meadows also gathered to make their voices heard.
The group is strongly opposed to Canterbury City Council’s double bypass vision, which would see the new roads rip up countryside either side of the city.
A spokesman said: “We oppose the plans presented in the Local Plan preferred option to build a western bypass, an unnecessary, unwanted and environmentally-destructive road through the valley of Neal’s Place Farm.
“We also oppose the plans to build an eastern bypass through Old Park and Chequer’s Wood.”
In a back-and-forth on Facebook with concerned residents, council leader Ben Fitter-Harding said his authority is trying to formulate a bright future for the district.
He said: “All district councillors are concerned about the future and want the absolute best plan, that, yes, provides homes and infrastructure, but also protects open space and seeks to create a more sustainable district for the future.”
In Lidsing, 150 people gathered to walk against plans for 2,000 homes on farmland. MP Rehman Chishti, councillors and members of the Against Lidsing Group were among those in attendance.
Around 100 members of the Valley Conservation Society met at Ivy Mill Lane in Tovil, Maidstone, this morning in support of the Kent-wide Save Our Green Spaces Campaign.
After an address from the Society's chairman Bryn Cornwell the supporters went on a walk to view the site of a housing allocation put forward in Maidstone Borough Council's Local Plan Review for 250 homes on agricultural land at Abbeygate Farm, Tovil.
The proposal would include running a 20m wide road corridor across a cherished public open space - the Walnut Tree Meadows Nature Reserve.
There were also walks on a public footpath off Norwood Lane to Blundells Shaw Wood, Meopham, and a field between Tradescant Drive to Green Lane where residents fear green belt could be built on.
Are you taking part in the protests? Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org