Published: 00:01, 07 March 2019
| Updated: 07:17, 07 March 2019
Roads could become gridlocked if ambitious proposals for a “garden community” come to fruition, villagers warn.
Developers are looking to build up to 2,000 homes in Marden which has raised fears for the road network in Maidstone and the Weald.
Two new schools and health facilities are also part of the major project on farmland to the north of the village.
The vision has been revealed after Maidstone Borough Council launched a Call for Sites, in which it asked for ideas of land which could be developed.
The council said it would welcome proposals for garden communities, which it said can be “new, freestanding settlements or a new neighbourhood created through a major extension to an existing urban area”.
Developer Countryside Properties said its submission, as well as providing a range of new housing, would see the village benefit from a range of new infrastructure.
As well as additional parking at the railway station, it says the Marden proposal was a chance to improve junctions on key roads between the village and Maidstone and could see improved bus services and a public transport interchange.
"There’s only a slight highways improvement in the proposals, yet we’re talking about up to 10,000 more car journeys a day" Claudine Russell
While any development would include green open spaces, project chiefs say the site sits outside any Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and other protected areas, and so is suitable for development.
Many disagree, however, and Marden Planning Opposition Group is campaigning to stop the scheme. It has already won the support of more than 600 people.
Claudine and Tristan Russell, both 40, have ancestors who have owned land in the village for more than 150 years, and are leading the fight against the proposals.
Mrs Russell, opposition group chairman, said: “There’s only a slight highways improvement in the proposals, yet we’re talking about up to 10,000 more car journeys a day. It will totally crush the village.”
Andrew Taylor, Countryside’s head of planning, said: “Whilst matters are at a very early stage and the majority of submissions to the Call for Sites process will not be publicly available for some time, Countryside has decided to share its intentions with stakeholders and residents, highlighting the opportunity this Garden Community could present.
“Countryside has taken the initial steps on this long-term vision.
“Exploratory meetings have taken place with the council to present the opportunities that this site presents.
“We will also be seeking to meet and speak with those living and working in Marden as we move forward through the Local Plan Review process.”