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Technicality sees application to build on Lilk Meadow in Bearsted deferred

A controversial application to build on a wetland meadow has been deferred by Maidstone council because of a technicality.

A public consultation was still running when the council’s planning committee met in Maidstone Town Hall on Thursday to discuss building 50 homes at Roundwell Park, in Bearsted.

With the consultation still running planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval.

Protesters gathered outside the Town Hall when initial plans were approved in April.
Protesters gathered outside the Town Hall when initial plans were approved in April.

This meant that any concerns raised by the public after that meeting would have been ignored.

Cllr Val Springett, a Conservative representative for Bearsted, asked for the application to be removed from the meeting’s agenda, which saw a large group of residents attend in protest.

Speaking after the decision she said: “It looks like they don’t care what the public says. You can’t do that, it’s not the right way to go about things.

“Even though the deferral is not liable to change the officer’s view it’s a point of principle.”

The Lilk Meadow under flood
The Lilk Meadow under flood

The land in question is known locally as Lilk Meadow and close to 700 people have signed an online petition against the development.

The council has also received 124 letters of objection.

The issue has arisen because developer Country House Developments submitted some amended plans on Monday, March 2.

Residents were told they would have until Tuesday, March 17 to comment on these but the wrong consultation date was put online.

Maidstone council’s planning website said the public have until Tuesday, March 24 to make their views known, five days after the planning commitee’s meeting.

The Lilk Meadow - or "The Bogs" - in flood
The Lilk Meadow - or "The Bogs" - in flood

Another reason for its withdrawal from the agenda was an ongoing legal matter involving Kent County Council and its response to the scheme.

The issue was not discussed further at the meeting but expert external legal advice on the problem has not yet been received.

If the application does go ahead it will see 30 open market homes and a further 20 affordable homes constructed.

A 24 bay garage court will be demolished and turned into a 16 bay garage court with a storeroom.

A new date for the application to go before the planning committee has not been made public but the earliest possible one will be Thursday, April 16 at 6pm in the Town Hall.

To view the application in full visit: www.maidstone.gov.uk and search application number 14/504795

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