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Gladman suggests East Malling for another 150 homes on would-be Greenbelt land

There is a proposal to build another 150 homes in East Malling, a village already reeling from several large developments.

The latest scheme is being advanced by developers Gladman on land that would have been protected as Greenbelt if Tonbridge and Malling council had been successful in passing its draft Local Plan.

The location of the proposed Gladman development
The location of the proposed Gladman development

The borough had wanted to extend the Greenbelt, but was obliged to officially withdraw its plan back in November 2021, after government planning inspectors ruled that the authority had failed to co-ordinate fully with neighbouring councils.

The absence of an adopted plan has left a vacuum for developers to move into.

The Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, who is the Lib Dem councillor for East Malling, Cllr Roger Roud, said: "There's already been proposals to build hundreds of homes on farmland in East Malling.

"Now Gladman wants to build another 150 homes in Clare Lane.

"People feel that East Malling simply does not have the infrastructure to accommodate this, we are an historic community with the oldest property built in the 1400s.

Cllr Roger Roud
Cllr Roger Roud

He said: "Many residents believe that development on this land will lead to major changes in air quality, infrastructure, noise, traffic and road works - we have extremely narrow country lanes that simply couldn't cope."

Cllr Roud said that although the borough had kick-started the process to devise a new Local Plan, it was likely to be a considerable while before it was ready. Meanwhile, he said, "The way is open to everyone."

A recent traffic survey commissioned by the East Malling parish council had indicted that the village's narrow high street was already subjected to a massive amount of traffic, with around 3,900 traffic movements each way each day.

Daniel Markham from Tassell Close, East Malling said of the Gladman proposal: "This is just very, very sad. A lot of people are upset about this.

"It is just closing the gap between East and West Malling".

Daniel Markham: 'So sad'
Daniel Markham: 'So sad'

Mr Markham said: "Without a Local Plan, it's just a free-for-all for developers.

"It really feels that there is nothing the public can do that will prevent this from going ahead."

However, Gladman has a much more positive take on the proposals.

The company said it realised that development placed pressures on local services and promised to mitigate that effect by making appropriate financial compensation.

The site itself would be accessed off Clare Road and would include a community orchard and would be designed to bring a net bio-diversity gain by adding a sustainable drainage pond.

The East Malling Institute Hall. Picture East Malling Institute
The East Malling Institute Hall. Picture East Malling Institute

It promised no increased risk of flooding would be created for the surrounding area, since catchment ponds would be included on the site to collect any run-off.

It said the development would bring a positive advantage to the East Malling economy by adding custom to local shops and businesses.

It invited the the public to see for themselves what the company had in mind at a public exhibition at the East Malling Institute Hall in Mill Street on Tuesday, July 26, between 1pm and 7pm.

Gladman said the exhibition would be an early opportunity for residents to suggest improvements they would like to see before the firm submitted an official planning application to Tonbridge and Malling council.

It said the project would create a 125 full-time jobs during the construction of the homes.

The Forty Acres field is also to be built on
The Forty Acres field is also to be built on

The firm also said the development would be a mix market and include affordable homes, but said the exact proportion would be determined in discussion with the borough council.

There is a consultation website to be viewed here.

Development company Wates is already building 250 homes on 18 hectares of land between London Road and Winterfield on a site known locally as Forty Acres Field, and Berkeley Homes has plans for 900 homes at Broadwater Farm between East Malling and Kings Hill.

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