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Save Our Heath Lands campaigners protest outside Maidstone Town Hall over plans for Lenham Heath

A group of campaigners came together to fight controversial plans to build a garden community near Maidstone.

The Save Our Heath Lands group marched on the town hall tonight as the council met to discuss plans to build 5,000 homes on land near Lenham Heath.

Watch as protestors chant outside Maidstone Town Hall

More than a dozen protesters, armed with custom made signs and wearing matching t-shirts, stood outside the building calling for the scheme to be scrapped, as councillors gathered for the meeting

Two members of the group will be asking questions to council members specifically aimed at the lack of transparency surrounding the areas earmarked for development.

One of those people Steven Heeley, who said:"We are out here today because the council has put forward to build 5,000 new homes in Lenham Heath. The group think it is completely unreasonable to put that many homes in a village that only has 1,500 homes at the minute.

"We of course want to support house building in Maidstone but not to that level, we don't want to be turned into a dormitory town."

The 32-year old added: "At the moment the council are proposing loads of new infrastructure but we have already found out from previous house building in the borough that the infrastructure never materialises. So they are saying there is going to be a new motorway junction, they are saying there is going to be a new high speed station but we know they have not even spoken to Network Rail about getting a new station.

Protestors were outside Maidstone Town Hall (24618304)
Protestors were outside Maidstone Town Hall (24618304)

"The chances of that happening are remote and also there is a big thing about making sure infrastructure comes before housing and at the moment the proposal is suggesting 3,000 homes will be arriving before the new motorway junction comes in 2035 and the high speed station comes in after that.

"Basically we just think the plans are nonsensical and that's why we are here to fight.

The Transport for London planner explained his frustration with 'secret plan making' within the council.
He said: "My question is to ask the council to be a bit more transparent, they won't share with us the report that decided on Lenham Heath as a possible location for the garden community. They reviewed a number of different areas across the borough and that is the report we want to see.

"We believe residents have the right to see that report and have a transparent decision making process rather than the secret plan making."

Protestors were outside Maidstone Town Hall (24618312)
Protestors were outside Maidstone Town Hall (24618312)

The Save Our Heath Lands group has been set up to fight the plans for up to 5,000 homes near Lenham, which have been the subject of a number of behind-closed-doors meetings at the town hall.

The council is acting as the master-developer for the project, which means it takes a controlling interest in the land, leads the design process, enables the required infrastructure, identifies suitable development partners and oversees the stewardship of the new community.

The scheme was discussed by the policy and resources committee earlier this year.

Read more: all the latest news from Maidstone

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