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Boxley to get 89 homes at Gleaming Wood Drive

By Alan Smith

Maidstone council has agreed the details of a housing application for 89 homes in Boxley Parish.

The housing will be built by McCulloch Homes and Palm Developments Ltd on land east of Gleaming Wood Drive, in Lordswood.

The applicants had already gained outline approval for the scheme from a Government planning inspector at appeal in 2015 - though if the application were considered again today it is not at all certain approval would be granted.

Cllr Anne Brindle
Cllr Anne Brindle

The plans involve creating an access road through ancient woodland.

The appeal permission was granted when Maidstone had a shortfall of housing allocations - it has since allocated sufficient sites to meet demand.

In addition, the Government has recently increased protection for ancient woodland, which should now only be disturbed in "exceptional" circumstances.

However, planning officer Austin Mackie told the committee that since they were looking only at "reserved matters" the issue of the access through the ancient woodland could not be revisited.

Newly elected for Boxley Ward, Cllr Anne Brindle is not a member of the planning committee, but she spoke as a visiting member on behalf of Boxley Parish Council.

She raised three specific issues: Southern Water had said it needed a distance of 15m between its pumping station and the first home, but the plan showed only 12m.

The site's proposed open space was on a bend, opposite approaches to a biomass centre and the water pumping station, giving "grave concerns for the safety of children playing there."

Thirdly, a proposed emergency access was shown as having its use restricted only by bollards which would still allow movement in and out by pedestrians, cyclists or motor-cyclists onto Westfield Sole Road.

She said: "This is a very busy, but very narrow road with no pavements or street-lights."

The committee ignored her first two points, but did agree that the bollards on the emergency access should be replaced with a gate.

Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) said: "Our room for manoeuvre is limited."

He moved approval of the application which was passed with 11 in favour, one against and one abstention.

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