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Final consultation on Heathlands housing project at Lenham Heath attracts hundreds

Opponents of a plan for thousands of homes say the latest consultation event left "their blood boiling" after a string of questions went unanswered.

The final meeting of a series of events on Maidstone council's proposed Heathlands Garden Village project went ahead yesterday.

Lenham residents outside the Heathlands consultation event
Lenham residents outside the Heathlands consultation event

Held at the Lenham Community Centre, the day attracted around 300 visitors, with the organisers dropping the controversial requirement for the public to book a timed slot in advance.

The exhibition was attended by staff from Maidstone council and from Homes England, who are partners in the project. They attempted to allay residents' fears, with council leader David Burton also attending.

But the exhibition does not appear to have won over those opposed to the scheme to build 5,000 homes at Lenham Heath.

Kate Hammond, chairman of the Save Our Heathlands group, said: "Previously, our last engagement with MBC was back in January 2020. The council could not answer our questions then and two years down the track, it still cannot answer them.

"They are still at the starting gun."

Kate Hammond
Kate Hammond

Miss Hammond added: "Of the 300 people who attended, I didn't hear one who came out and said 'Oh, I've learnt something' or 'Maybe it's not as bad as I feared'."

"Instead they all came out with their blood boiling."

She said among the questions unanswered were what mitigation measures would be put in place to lessen congestion on the A20.

She said: "When there's an accident on the M20 now, the A20 already jams up. Imagine that with the additional 10,000 vehicles from the 5,000 new homes!"

She said the council had failed to convince residents where the supposed 5,000 jobs that they promised the project would create would come from, and had failed to show how waste water from the garden village would be dealt with.

She said: "They admit there will be a need for a primary school on site, but why no secondary school? That is just as essential."

A spokesman for Maidstone council said: "The Heathlands public engagement events held this week were seen as a good opportunity to talk with and listen to local people about the proposed development.

"These were initial engagement events with additional ones planned in May, throughout 2022, and beyond. Both Maidstone Borough Council and Homes England heard from a variety of people who have provided feedback and comments which will help to shape the future of the project."

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