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Public inquiry into Bellway's plan for homes next to nunnery in West Malling starts today

The mother superior of a nunnery will make her case against building new homes in front of a public inquiry which starts today.

Bellway is facing growing opposition to its plans to build dozens of homes next to St Mary's Abbey in West Malling.

Mother Mary David will be joined in protest by others including West Malling Parish Council, which has been vehemently opposed to the decision, even asking locals to help fund its legal fight against development.

West Malling residents are up in arms of Bellway's plan to build next to St Mary's Abbey. Picture: Phil Lee (7226799)
West Malling residents are up in arms of Bellway's plan to build next to St Mary's Abbey. Picture: Phil Lee (7226799)

Parish councillor David Thompson said: "Bellway wants to build next to a 900-year-old abbey. If they can build here then they can build anywhere.

"This is a really key corner of green space right at the entrance of West Malling, it's vital we protect it."

Since launching a fundraising page last month the parish council has raised more than £14,000, topping its £10,000 target.

Nuns at St Mary's Abbey in West Malling (7267938)
Nuns at St Mary's Abbey in West Malling (7267938)

The council has dipped into its own reserve and looked to its parish neighbours for support as it prepares to mount a £60,000 legal challenge.

Cllr Thompson said: "A massive thank you to all who have donated, the response has been overwhelming. But as everyone knows, every little extra helps, the more we can raise the better."

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

KMTV reported on the battle last month

"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."

Bellway Homes had originally put in an application to build 85 homes off Lavenders Road.

The estate's entrance would come off Swan Street.

Mother Mary David at St Mary's Abbey in West Malling
Mother Mary David at St Mary's Abbey in West Malling

The developer reduced its proposed number of homes to 65, but then appealed to the government after plans looked set to be rejected by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.

If plans were approved, 40% would be listed as affordable.

A six-day inquiry led by the Planning Inspectorate kicks off this morning.

A Bellway spokesman 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."

Read more: All the latest news from Malling.


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