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Residents in Maidstone have until Monday for one last comment on the Local Plan Review

People have one last chance to make a comment on a document that will shape growth and development in a town for the next 15 years.

A public consultation on the “Main Modifications” to Maidstone council’s Local Plan Review closes at 5pm on Monday, November 13.

One of the earlier Local Plan hearings in the Town Hall at Maidstone
One of the earlier Local Plan hearings in the Town Hall at Maidstone

It is not an opportunity to repeat comments already made about the Heathlands or Lidsing Garden Village proposals, or any other of the housing allocations that go to make up the total of 19,669 new homes the council is expected to find during the plan period.

Rather it is a chance to comment specifically on changes to the previously published draft Local Plan Review that the planning inspector, David Spencer, has made, following a string of public hearings at the Town Hall earlier in the year.

You can see them on the council website here. You need to click down to the third item and open Main Modifications Consultation, then open ED121 Maidstone Local Plan Review Schedule of Main Modifications.

You will be confronted with a 179-page document but it is possible to skim through to just read about those site allocations that concern you.

Do we need more traffic on the Sutton Road?
Do we need more traffic on the Sutton Road?

The inspector’s changes include adding 100 homes to the original allocation of 196 homes on land behind the Kent Police HQ in Pested Bars Road – with all the traffic from the extra homes destined to add to the Sutton Road congestion.

It is possible to make responses to the consultation online, but many people have found it very difficult to log in to register – which Maidstone council has now acknowledged, saying that if people are having trouble they should respond in a different way.

The easiest way to comment is to send an email to ldf@maidstone.gov.uk. However, you must state in the email your name and full address, or else your comment will be ignored.

It is also necessary to give the reference number of the Main Modification you are commenting on – this is a number that begins with MM.

If you disagree with one of the inspector’s changes, you need to say that you don’t consider it “sound” and then give one of four reasons: It is not positively prepared; it is not justified; it is not effective; or it is not consistent with national policy.

If people don’t comment now, they can hardly complain later

You can then expand on your views.

It is also possible to write in to approve the changes made by the inspector, in which case you would say they were “sound”.

Sean Carter is the chairman of the North Loose Residents Association. He said: “We feel people should take an interest. The plan is going to affect their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

“A lot of the changes made by the inspector are quite controversial and are not necessarily what the people of Maidstone would want, with sometimes serious implications for traffic congestion and quality of life.

“If the public respond, we will see whether our voices are heard.

Sean Carter: These changes could affect all our lives
Sean Carter: These changes could affect all our lives

“But if people don’t make a comment now, they can hardly complain later when things happen that they don’t like.”

Once the inspector has considered the representations made to the Main Modifications Consultation, he will present the council with the final report, setting out the changes required in order for him to declare the Local Plan Review sound.

That will then go to full council with a view to its adoption early in 2024.

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