Published: 06:00, 14 September 2021
Plans to turn the former Syngenta agro-chemical site in Yalding into a business park have been approved - for the second time.
Maidstone council's planning committee first gave a thumbs-up to the proposal in March of this year but later discovered it had not carried out a "sequential flood risk assessment" as it should have done.
The site sits on an area off Hampstead Lane that is prone to flooding and before granting permission, the council should have first checked to see that there weren't other available sites that could accommodate the proposals that were preferable in terms of flood risk.
It asked the applicant, Yalding Enterprise Partnership Properties (YEP), to carry out an assessment on its behalf and re-submit the application.
The company, which already owns the Syngenta land, found there were no other suitable sites.
When the application came again before the planning committee a number of objectors to the scheme urged the committee to withdraw their former support based on fears of flooding, pollution into the River Medway and traffic concerns.
The applicants are proposing two entrances off Hamstead Lane, one for cars, one for HGVs. The HGV entrance will be designed to ensure that all lorries arrive and depart via the A228, rather than going through Yalding village.
However, there will be no such restriction on car movements, and the plans allow for 640 on-site car parking places.
It is proposed to build a total of 48 business units in four phases, and to also provide a 13-hectare nature reserve.
The committee heard objections from visiting councillors Claudine Russell and David Burton, who represent the village.
Cllr Russell said: "Let's all be clear, this site poses a risk. It is a tricky development site with frankly dangerous, narrow and awful access along Hampstead Lane.”
But the committee felt it could not fundamentally reconsider the application, since none of points raised by objectors had changed since the first approval.The committee limited itself to adding a number of conditions to try to prevent any possible pollution, and possible light pollution and to ensure the resilience of utilities to the site in the event of flooding.
Cllr John Perry said: "It feels a bit like Ground Hog Day" as councillors voted unanimously to grant approval.
However, since the application was for an outline scheme only, councillors will find themselves looking at the site again for a detailed plan in the near future.
The Syngenta plant ceased operation in 2003, since when the site has been decontaminated but has stood empty.
Planning application number 19/504910 refers.