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Lenham action group to be set up over plans for 5,000-home garden village

A rallying cry has been issued for residents to set up a protest group against a proposal to build thousands of homes.

At the monthly Lenham Parish Council meeting last night, around 25 residents from came to express their concerns and seek more details about how the development will affect them.

Am graphic showing how the new homes could be arranged near Lenham
Am graphic showing how the new homes could be arranged near Lenham

The large garden village scheme, proposed by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), would see more than 5,000 houses built to the east of Lenham.

Documents from planning consultants, Barton Willmore, seen by the KM, suggested the houses would be built in Lenham Heath and Lenham Forstal and the proposals also showed a new railway station and motorway junction.

The location was kept confidential by MBC prior to the council's policy and resources committee meeting on Wednesday, September 18.

It is believed land will be compulsorily purchased from owners if they don't agree to sell with the council, which will act as the master-developer for the project.

In response to this suggestion, a spokeswoman at borough council said: "Whilst this proposal is at a formative stage, Maidstone Borough Council is in preliminary commercial negotiations with the principal landowners.

The documents show plans for thousands of homes, a new railway station and motorway exit
The documents show plans for thousands of homes, a new railway station and motorway exit

"The intention would be to agree terms on a negotiated basis. Regardless, no firm decisions in respect of the overall proposal have been made."

The local authority will lead the design process, enable the required infrastructure, identify suitable development partners, and oversee the stewardship of the new community.

The name and details of the group are not yet known.

Phillip Pomeroy, 64, of Lenham Heath Road, was present at the meeting and said: "We are forming a group. We live in the countryside. My neighbours are sheep and they get to within 10 feet of my back door.

"The boundary where they live will now form part of that development. We didn't move to the countryside to be surrounded by houses."

Cllr Martin Cox
Cllr Martin Cox

Speaking about the plans, Cllr Greenwood said: "I think it needs a lot more investigation and I am quite concerned that a village of 5,000 houses will be right up against our boundary. A lot more information needs to be given by MBC."

He stated the parish council would help them wherever possible.

The chairman also stated his frustration with the council leader, Cllr Martin Cox, for suggesting the borough had been in talks with parish councillors.

The chairman of the parish council, Cllr Richard Greenwood, advised residents to create an action group to campaign against the suggested development.

He said: "There is no point in just saying we don't want these houses, they have got to be digging a bit deeper."

He said: "Cllr Cox said he had been in touch with us but that isn't true. We have had nothing in writing."

The first time the parish council received official confirmation about the development was during a meeting with William Cornall, MBC's director of regeneration and place, last Thursday.

Cllr Greenwood and Cllr Alistair Walmsley, chairman of Lenham's planning committee, attended the meeting and requested more information from Mr Cornall.

MBC confirmed a meeting took place on Thursday, September 26 with the chair and vice chair of Lenham Parish Council and councillors Tom and Janetta Sams to discuss matters relating to their parish.

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