Published: 11:47, 15 October 2020
| Updated: 09:29, 16 October 2020
Campaigners battling against plans for 4,000 homes being built in their area, are horrified that even more could be on the way, as Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) makes headway with whittling down sites for its latest development blueprint.
Not only is Lenham, a village near Maidstone, facing the prospect of a 'garden village', being built on countryside to the east, but thousands more could be on the cards, in the form of separate smaller developments.
Cllr John Britt, chairman of Lenham Parish Council, said: “It’s a planning nightmare and MBC simply isn’t listening to our cries.
"We have previously highlighted that our local roads and other infrastructure cannot cope with this vastly increased level of new housing."
The proposed garden village, known as Heathlands Garden Community, is part of the council's Local Plan Review (LPR), yet to be adopted, and could see 4,000 homes built at Lenham Heath over 20 years or more, prompting objections and the formation of an action group Save Our Heath Lands.
Under current government requirements, the review is working towards 1,214 homes being built per year, to come into effect in 2022.
The council has been narrowing down the 334 land options offered up by landowners for development as part of the LPR process.
It revealed last month that 119 sites are potentially deliverable and have been approved for further consideration.Within those sites, there is the potential modelled capacity for 1,263 units in the parish of Lenham.
However, this does not mean those sites will be allocated in the local plan, but they will be examined further.
Separate to this, Lenham Parish Council has also put forward a neighbourhood plan, which accommodates for 1,000 news homes over ten years in the village and prioritises sustainability, according to Cllr John Britt.
The plan has to face a public referendum before its adoption.
On top of this, Cllr Britt said permission has been granted in the form of separate application, for 400 homes in the village.
Cllr Britt added: “Despite reassurance by the planning authority, we just know that when this planning bomb goes off, the existing community must deal with the fallout: more traffic and pollution, bottlenecks, gridlock, overloaded services such as medical centres and not enough jobs without lots more car use."
The Local Plan Review will go to public consultation in December.
Phil Coyne, interim director of the Local Plan Review at MBC, said: “It is no secret that Maidstone in common with many other authorities in the south east has very challenging housing growth targets imposed by government and these will potentially increase significantly under the new approach to calculating housing growth currently being consulted on by the government.
“A council led garden community to the east of Lenham is just one of more than 330 sites that were submitted into the council’s ‘call for sites’ exercise in May 2019, as part of the initial stage of the Local Plan Review.
“Work is ongoing in relation into which of these sites will contribute to the preferred spatial strategy as part of Maidstone’s current Local Pan Review.
“Whilst this strategy will be subject to public consultation in December no final decisions have yet been taken and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”
Meanwhile, MBC is in a race against the clock , to prevent higher Government targets being imposed.
Under plans proposed by Whitehall to change the method used to calculate housing need, the number of homes required to be built in the borough per year could rise from 1,214 to to 1,569, resulting in an extra 5,325 units built between 2022 and 2037.