Published: 15:31, 30 March 2021
| Updated: 16:35, 30 March 2021
Plans for a business park at the former Sygenta site in Yalding have been given an initial nod-through, despite concern over flooding and HGV movements.
An outline application for a business park of up to 46,447 sqm, at the Hampstead Lane site, which has been abandoned since 2003, was approved by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) planning committee.
A group comprising of local councillors, parish councils and the applicant has now been set up to discuss the details of the scheme, such as the building designs and the layout of the internal roads, which need to be approved by the committee later.
The site, used by Sygenta for making and packing agrochemicals was closed in 2003 after further expansion was denied by the council. Cllr Dee Ann Stead of Yalding Parish Council described the area now as a "vast area of wasteland."
Paul Medhurst, applicant and owner of the site, wants to use the area for storage and distribution, as well as 'light industry' and 'general industry', to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The business park would provide up to 700 news jobs.
Several councillors, as well as a representative of Hampstead Lane residents were concerned about using the lane to access the site.
In parts it is too narrow for two HGVs to go down at once, they said.
Visiting member and Yalding councillor, Cllr David Burton said Hampstead Lane was a "nasty s bend," adding: "I have sat and watched the lorries, they can't negotiate that s bend on their side of the road, they are obliged to come across to the other side."
A representative of Hampstead Lane residents said the lane has been closed for 31 days in the last 14 months and "much of this was due to flooding."
She added: "Not just on Hampstead Lane but the whole of Yalding being cut off and no viable alternative solution has been offered during road closures... the development will not protect Yalding from additional flooding."
Cllr Lottie Parfitt-Reid, said the problems with Hampstead Lane were "insurmountable".
Kent County Council (KCC) Highways raised no objection to the site, but did accept that an increase in larger vehicle movements in Hampstead Lane could lead to a potential increase in "hazardous conflicts".
However, Hampstead Lane has a "good personal injury record" and the ongoing "remediation" work at the site brings in larger vehicles anyway, a KCC officer said in the meeting.
Mr Medhurst said the the site has been twenty years in the making and is "now ready to deliver an exciting business park rather than a perpetual eye-sore."
He said he had worked hard to "deliver a viable flood resilient employment site".
Cllr Tony Harwood said knew there were issues with the site but there are no policy grounds to refuse the plan, and suggested forming a group to explore the details yet to come.