Published: 14:56, 04 January 2021
| Updated: 09:07, 05 January 2021
There is mounting opposition to plans to build another 330 homes on land off Hermitage Lane.
Both developments are being undertaken by Croudace Homes. The company refers to the new site as "land to the east of Hermitage Lane, but objectors have labelled it the Hermitage Park Expansion.
A new protest group called No To Hermitage Park Expansion has been formed and a Facebook page created.
Since Croudace submitted its outline application on December 2, the borough council has received 135 letters of objection and one it classed as "neutral." There have so far been no letters of support.
The vast majority of objectors are concerned with the effect of adding yet more traffic to Hermitage Lane, which is already a notorious bottleneck at peak-periods.
Typical comments were "Hermitage Lane is already stretched to the point of not coping with the volume of traffic," and "There are already massive delays along Hermitage Lane which are now stretching into Allington."
Another objector said: "Hermitage Lane is already hugely congested and as it is the only way to Maidstone Hospital, adding more traffic is dangerous."
However, some of those opposed also mentioned the sink-holes that have appeared near new housing developments at the Maidstone end of the road, and questioned whether it was wise to carry on building.
Josh Clark, one of the founders of No To Hermitage Park Expansion, said: "This site is about the only bit of open green space left, There are footpaths running across it and it's an important area for people in Hermitage Lane and Allington."
Mr Clark, 28, an engineer, lives in one of the properties on Hermitage Park, which is about halfway completed. He said: "When people bought their properties here, they were not told about any plans to develop on the fields next door."
The site covers 14 hectares and borders the rail-line in the north.
It would share with Hermitage Park the new access off Hermitage Lane, to be known as Chapelfield Way, but a secondary access would also be created to the north.
Croudace said the development would "provide much needed family homes in a highly sustainable location, accompanied by quality landscaping and open space."
The company pointed out that although the site was currently agricultural open fields, it was not in the Green Belt nor in An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Tonbridge and Malling council cannot currently demonstrate that it has a five-year land supply of housing (a Government requirement) and furthermore, its plans to rectify that by bringing in a new Local Plan have just received a setback with Government inspectors telling the council that their draft Local Plan had not met all the legal requirements.
Croudace said the site, less than 200m from Barming Station, was highly sustainable, pointing out that children in the new homes would have easy access to the new primary school due to be built at Hermitage Park.
Some 40% of the new homes would be affordable housing.
The company said it would contribute cash to fund new junctions on Hermitage Lane as part of Kent County Council’s strategic junction improvement scheme.
The company said: "Our proposals would therefore support wider efforts to improve the local transport network, benefitting both existing and future users.
"These junction improvements will result in an overall improvement to local traffic levels."
The outline application is only the latest in a number of recent or pending housing developments nearby.
They include Hermitage Park, 500 homes, approved on appeal.
Whitepost Field, Gladman Homes, 840 homes, approved
Land south west of London Road, Clarendon Homes, 106 homes, application pending
Oakapple Lane, Taylor Wimpey, 118 homes, application pending.
Also in Oakapple Lane, The Peafield, Taylor Wimpey, 187 homes, pending.
You can view the latest Croudace application and make a comment to the council here.
Croudace is also operating its own consultation, and details can be seen and comments left here.
Planning application number 20/02749 refers.