Published: 13:11, 08 October 2019
| Updated: 13:14, 08 October 2019
More than 100 people have written to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to object to plans for 250 new homes in East Malling.
An outline application has been submitted by Wates Developments seeking permission for 150 market homes and 100 affordable homes spread across 18 hectares of agricultural fields, with London Road to the north and Winterfield Lane to the east.
The developers say that as well as helping to meet the borough's housing shortfall, the scheme would bring many other benefits to the local community. It proposes to build a community hall that would be available for public use. There would be a 30-acre country park, open to all and improvements to the two public footpaths that cross the site.
But objectors raise a number of concerns. As well as the pressure on local infrastructure such as schools and doctors' services and highways, they are worried at the coalescence of Leybourne, East Malling and Kings Hill into one large urban community. As one resident from Pinewood Close said: "This is the last stretch of open land along the A20 London Road."
Leybourne Parish Council also specifically raised concerns about the merger and urbanisation of the area.
It is a point that Tonbridge and Malling itself is seeking to address in its draft Local Plan, where this site is included in an area of open land that the borough wants to re-classify as Green Belt, giving it added protection.
Wates has argued that since the borough's Local Plan has yet to be adopted it can give little weight to that ambition and must determine the application according to existing policies.
Highways England has not yet commented, saying there was insufficient data to assess the impact on the nearby Junction 4 of the M20.
Kent Highways warned that two local junctions, the A20/Lunsford Lane/Winterfield Lane and the A20/Castle Way would reach over-capacity with the traffic from the development, but acknowledged that this could be overcome with mitigation measures.
The KCC public rights of way officer welcomed the proposed improvements to the public footpaths.
Many local residents are concerned that the developer's plan to create a road through the new estate from London Road to Winterfield Lane would create what the East Malling Conservation Group described as a"rat-run" which would add traffic to East Malling as commuters sought to reach West Malling Station.
There was also criticism that the developers had wrongly described the site as being in Leybourne, when it was actually in East Malling.
The planning application is "outline" only, with no detail given as to the location or size of the properties, or whether houses or flats.
Application number 19/01814 refers.