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West Malling Parish Council starts fundraiser for legal fight against 65 homes next to Malling Abbey

A parish council is asking locals to pay towards its fight against housing plans.

Bellway has plans to build dozens of homes in Lavender Road, West Malling, next to an abbey which is home to dozens of nuns.

Facing refusal from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, the developer opted to appeal its application and a public inquiry will take place next month.

There is strong local opposition to a proposed development of houses in West Malling. The development will cause traffic problems in Swan Street and destroy the area by the Abbey and The Cascades. Picture: Phil Lee (14006711)
There is strong local opposition to a proposed development of houses in West Malling. The development will cause traffic problems in Swan Street and destroy the area by the Abbey and The Cascades. Picture: Phil Lee (14006711)

West Malling Parish Council is now looking to raise £10,000 in donations to fund its fight against the development.

Independent parish councillor David Thompson said: "I work in the capital. I commute every day and get off at West Malling, I see the great big field with the church in the distance.

"At the end of the day when everyone sees it there's almost a collective sigh of relief."

Cllr Thompson says West Malling Parish Council needs to raise around £60,000 for its legal challenge at August's public inquiry.

Around £50,000 is thought to have been covered in the cost, but it needs a little more help to get over the line.

Bellway's original plans for Lavender Road involved building 85 homes on the field next to Malling Abbey.

It has since reduced that figure to 65 - 40% of which would be affordable.

A Bellway spokeswoman said: "The proposed development is in an appropriate, accessible and sustainable location within easy walking distance of both West Malling station and the town centre."

Nuns at Malling Abbey, officially known as St Mary's Abbey for Anglican Benedictine Nuns, have also raised concerns.

Mother Mary David said: "Silence and stillness are precious and healing in our world.

"It is wonderful and needful to be praying the morning prayers in our church and to see the sunrise, not see yet another housing estate. It is awesome to see the night sky without light pollution on our east side.

"All these things matter to the residents around as well as to us and our guests."

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