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Yalding will get extra 65 homes despite protests

Yalding residents packed the public gallery at Maidstone Town Hall last night to show their opposition to a controversial housing proposal for the historic village, but to no avail.

Members voted to approve the scheme for 65 homes on land to the south of Vicarage Road, saying their hands were tied because the site had been allocated for development in the Local Plan.

The council received 251 letters of objection to the scheme, mainly on highways grounds, the effect on the historic landscape, and flooding fears.

Villagers picket the Town Hall ahead of the meeting
Villagers picket the Town Hall ahead of the meeting

But a KCC highways spokesman insisted the extra homes would add only 35 vehicle movements through the village during the peak hour. There would likely be only an extra 22 movements over the historic bridge.

His evidence drew gasps of disbelief from the audience which were quickly stamped on by the committee chairman Cllr Clive English (Lib Dem).

Richard Bolsin, for the residents, said the land was an historic site within 350 metres of 54 listed buildings in the village. The new housing would be seen from the church and from views across the river and would become a “blot” on the historic landscape.

Yalding Parish Council chairman Cllr Geraldine Brown pointed out that the Local Plan allocated Yalding to take 65 homes, but in the meantime another development of 30 homes in Blunden Lane, not in the Local Plan, had been approved on appeal. Therefore, she said, the site should be developed for 35 homes at most.

Cllr Gary Thomas, chairman of Hunton Parish Council, said his village would suffer too from the extra traffic, and criticised KCC for taking no notice of the pinch-points which were the real cause of congestion.

Cllr Steve McLoughlin (Con) said KCC had taken no note that the Vicarage Road was frequently reduced by parked cars to one lane, and said the application should be deferred for more creditable traffic modelling.

But Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) said: “We can only make decisions according to the Local Plan and we ignore advice from statutory consultees such as KCC Highways at our peril.”

He said: “There are no grounds to object.”

Cllr Martin Cox (Lib Dem) questioned advice from Southern Water that the sewerage system would be inadequate to service the new homes until at least 2021, but planning officers persuaded him that the need for an adequate sewerage connection could be included as a condition to the planning permission.

The plan was approved by nine votes to two, with one abstention.

Mr Bolsin said afterwards: “Naturally the whole village is disappointed. It’s very frustrating that democracy doesn’t seem to work for us.”

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