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Maidstone objects to Bradbourne community village at Ditton and East Malling because of congestion on Hermitage Lane

Traffic problems, full schools and lack of GP services are all reasons a council is against plans for 1,300 homes.

Members of Maidstone Borough Council’s planning committee met on Thursday to consider a planning application submitted to neighbouring Tonbridge and Malling.

The Bradbourne site is largely greenfield
The Bradbourne site is largely greenfield

And they were clear, they didn’t want it.

The application from the East Malling Trust was for a new “neighbourhood community” of 1,300 homes across almost 80 hectares of agricultural land at Ditton.

The outline application is for land between Kiln Barn Road and Hermitage Lane in Ditton and East Malling.

The proposal talks of a new village centre to be known as Bradbourne, complete with a primary school; commercial, community and employment plots; and 29 hectares of public open space, to include a 2.5 hectare community park.

But what concerned Maidstone most was the new access points, two of which would be onto Hermitage Lane, close to Barming Station.

Cllr Stan Forecast
Cllr Stan Forecast

Hermitage Lane, a key link between the two boroughs, is already heavily congested at peak times.

Cllr Stan Forecast (Con) urged his colleagues to object “in the strongest possible terms.”

He said Maidstone needed “to send a clear message to both Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and to the developer”.

Acknowledging that there was a need for housing, he said that, nevertheless, “the Hermitage Lane area has unequivocally had more than its fair share. “

He pointed out that there was already another concurrent application for 42 houses on Hermitage Lane, on land south of Chapelfield Way, plus another 106 houses already approved just off Beaver Road, and the possibility for 400 plus houses on Bunyards Farm if a local initiative to have the land declared a Village Green failed.

Looking east across the Bradbourne development site
Looking east across the Bradbourne development site

He said of the potentially 1,800 new homes, all but one house would be in Tonbridge and Malling, which would benefit from the Section 106 monies and the council tax generated by the new homes, but the pressure on infrastructure would fall on Maidstone.

He said: “For our residents, being constantly stuck in traffic, unable to see a doctor, your child travelling miles because nearby schools are full - it’s all very seriously damaging to their quality of life.”

Council leader Stuart Jeffery (Green) proposed Maidstone reject the application, and his motion was unanimously agreed.

Maidstone’s grounds for objection were the likely severe cumulative impact on traffic congestion at the A26/Fountain Lane junction, plus the application’s failure to offer mitigation measures at Junction 6 of the M20.

The council said the applicants had failed to assess the traffic impact at junctions within Maidstone Borough along the A20 and A26 and failed to adequately assess the effect on air quality.

Maidstone planning committee
Maidstone planning committee

It also felt the application was not doing enough to encourage cycling or bus provision and was not showing enough biodiversity net gain.

Details of the Brabourne scheme can be found on the Tonbridge and Malling website under reference number 24/501383.

There have already been strong protests against the scheme from residents within Tonbridge and Malling.

Although Maidstone has said no, the application could still be approved by Tonbridge and Malling council, which, as it is currently without an up-to-date Local Plan, is hampered in its ability to resist planning applications.

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