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Village discusses Maidstone's Call For Sites

Around 200 people attended a public meeting in Staplehurst yesterdayorganised by the parish council.

Among those present were most of the parish council, borough councillor John Perry (Con) and the village's KCC representative Cllr Eric Hotson (Con), along with an aide from the office of Helen Grant MP.

The meeting in Staplehurst Village Centre
The meeting in Staplehurst Village Centre

The meeting was to discuss Maidstone council's Local Plan Review and the village's reaction to it with a presentation made by of Staplehurst Parish Councillor Joan Buller and her husband Malcolm. The presentation included information on all the various local sites put forward in the borough's call for sites exercise.

Paddy Riordan, chairman of the parish council, said: "There is a concern in the village about the extent of development.

"We are already having the disruption from 700 new homes being provided across three sites in the village currently.

"But in the borough's Call For Sites, 32 new sites were submitted, that if all built would generate another 6,000 homes. They are all in conflict with our Neighbourhood Plan.

"Of course they will not all come forward, but many residents are opposed to any further building. They are worried about the lack of infrastructure; the pressure on the road network - our grass verges are already largely destroyed as traffic seeks to rat-run down country lanes and through residential estates to avoid the A229."

Everyone's looking thoughtful at the meeting
Everyone's looking thoughtful at the meeting

He also cited pressure for school places and doctors' appointments and said the drainage system in parts of the village was already not coping.

Villagers were also fearful of more years of upheaval while construction took place.

But Cllr Riordan said the meeting was on the whole a positive one. He said: "People wanted to understand the planning process and many were already very well informed and knew about the pressure being put on the borough by the Government.

He said the parish council would negotiate with the borough to ensure development accorded with the Neighbourhood Plan.

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