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Online petition launched against Lidsing Garden Village

'Let Maidstone Borough Council know that they cannot ignore local people' – that is the plea from the Against Lidsing Garden Development campaigners.

The group is opposed to a proposal in the borough's Local Plan Review to build more than 2,000 houses on farmland at Lidsing, a hamlet of 13 houses between Hempstead, Lordswood and Bredhurst.

Protestors opposed to the scheme
Protestors opposed to the scheme

The development is expected to have significant knock-on effects for the surrounding area, and has also been opposed by Medway Council which fears that it - rather than Maidstone - will end up having to deal with the majority of the extra traffic generated and pressure on local services.

Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), leader of Medway Council, has called the Maidstone proposal "reprehensible".

Maidstone on the other hand points out that the scheme would provide the area with a new primary school and a new link road to the M2.

Although right on the border with Medway, the development site falls mostly within the parish of Boxley and partly within Bredhurst, both in Maidstone.

When the council first consulted on the Local Plan Review in December 2020, it received 1,700 objections against the Lidsing proposal. The results from a second public consultation in December 2021 have yet to be released, but there were a total of 2,250 responses.

Alan Jarrett, leader of Medway Council
Alan Jarrett, leader of Medway Council

Against Lidsing Garden Development said: "If this development goes ahead on a greenfield site with the spur road in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and next to Bredhurst Woods with SNCI status, it will adversely affect many people’s lives and set a dangerous precedent for other large developments in areas which should remain protected."

But Maidstone Borough Council said: "The UK needs more homes, and the Government has set out its strategy for how local authorities should achieve this.

"Maidstone is working to deliver the government’s strategy both in terms of the number of new homes required, along with the wide range of jobs, health, education, other facilities and infrastructure needed to support our existing and future communities.

"This is a challenging task – and we very much appreciate that there are a wide variety of views about how this should be achieved. However, it is important to recognise that there is not an option for doing nothing.

"Delaying the identification of a suitable and deliverable spatial strategy, and thus the Local Plan Review timescales, also brings with it risks and adverse consequences for our communities."

The extent of the Lidsing Garden Village
The extent of the Lidsing Garden Village

The spokesman continued: "Failing to get a local plan in place would mean that we effectively lose almost all local control over where development goes in our borough and risk a scenario whereby the first sites that the development industry brings forward are the least suitable and which provide the least scope for us to achieve wider community benefit or to mitigate effectively the adverse impacts of development.

"It is also important to point out that the preferred spatial strategy and its component parts are subject to a series of assessments and tests which form the evidence base for the plan, a key element of which is an independently prepared sustainability appraisal.

"In the above context, Maidstone is currently working with promoters for two Garden Community-scale developments, both of which have the scope to deliver well-designed new communities, with infrastructure and community facilities which will benefit the specific developments, as well as the remainder of the borough and beyond; planned for and funded from the outset.

"Ultimately, the decision as to whether the proposed spatial strategy will be carried forward will rest with a Government-appointed inspector and the Local Planning Authority is working to a timeline which will see the Draft Local Plan Review submitted to the Government at the end of March this year."

Meanwhile, Against Lidsing Garden Development has started an online petition calling on the borough council to change its mind.

Part of the proposed Lidsing Garden Village site: the view from Chapel Lane looking towards Hempstead
Part of the proposed Lidsing Garden Village site: the view from Chapel Lane looking towards Hempstead

It received 1,000 signatures in the first 48 hours.

To visit the petition, click here.

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