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Protesters plan Town Hall picket to oppose Lidsing Garden Village


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Protesters opposed to Maidstone council's plan for a garden village at Lidsing say they will picket the Town Hall ahead of a meeting of councillors to discuss the issue.

The borough's strategic planning and infrastructure committee is due to discuss progress of the council's Local Plan Review, that will set out housing targets and development sites for the next 15 years.

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

Officers are asking councillors to approve a refined version of the review for a final bout of public consultation prior to submission to the Planning Inspectorate, but the proposed plan still contains several controversial sites.

Among them is one for the Lidsing Garden Settlement of 2,000 homes and another for a Heathlands garden settlement of 5,000 homes at Lenham Heath

The council's report says: "Lidsing is a significant site in largely unified ownership to the south of the Medway urban area.

"It has strategic access to the M2 via Junction 4 and presents as an excellent opportunity to create new employment uses harnessing this accessibility.

"The delivery of approximately 2,000 new homes both within and beyond the plan period will enable the delivery of improved infrastructure that will benefit surrounding areas, including enhanced bus routes linking Lordswood and Hempstead, as well as improved general access to the M2, and enhancements to the infrastructure within the Capstone Valley."

How the garden village site looks now: the view from Chapel Lane looking towards Hempstead
How the garden village site looks now: the view from Chapel Lane looking towards Hempstead

But Boxley Parish Council, whose area takes in the proposed development, is opposed to the plan, not least because it could open the door to other potential development sites nearby, falling with Medway Council's area.

The clerk said: "My council fears Lidsing would open the way for more development at Gibraltar Farm earmarked for 450 homes, and at East Hill of 650 homes. With the garden village, that's a total of 3,100 houses that would wipe out most of Capstone Valley."

Helen Whatley, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, is among those opposed to the plans.

Boxley and Bredhurst Parish Council, which will also be affected by the proposal are encouraging residents to attend the picket.

Bredhurst is particularly worried about an element of the scheme that includes forging a link road to the M2 through protected countryside.

Protesters are gathering at 5pm ahead of the start of the council meeting at 5.30pm.

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