Published: 15:20, 27 May 2022
| Updated: 17:36, 27 May 2022
Campaigners keen to save an area of open space for continued public use are waiting with bated breath on the decision – a year after submitting their bid.
MERLin, the campaign group that seeks to protect green spaces and encourage active travel options, has made an application for 15 hectares of land in Aylesford to be registered as a village green.
The site stretches between Beaver Road and the Maidstone East Railway line and is the last area of green space left between Allington and Aylesford but developers hope to build more than 400 homes on the site and the landowners have challenged the village green application.
The land was once part of the curtilage of Bunyards Farm, but has not been actively farmed during the past two decades.
Instead the public have made free use of the largely open grassland to exercise their dogs or simply take a walk.
Chris Passmore, one of the MERLin organisers, said: "The land is owned by the Andrew Cheale Will Trust - the original owner died. It has been largely unused for farming for years, except that they did take a crop of hay in 2008.
"But it has been well used by members of the public. During that time a number of oak trees have seeded and some quite mature bushes have grown and it is now quite a haven for wildlife."
Under village green legislation, applicants need to prove that the public have had unfettered use of the land for at least 20 years.
Mr Passmore said: "We have provided that evidence and we are now waiting on KCC to make the decision."
In total 27 local people have attested to having used the land for more than 20 years and another 63 to having used the land over the past 20 years.
A children's nursery submitted that it takes its young charges on nature walks there.
Just after MERLin submitted its application, house-builder Barrett David Wilson announced its intention to submit a planning application for 435 homes on the site.
MERLin's village green application was submitted in June of last, year, validated by KCC in December, with the landowner making a response to contest the application at the start of this month.
MERLin, which has so far spent around £1,000 on the bid in legal fees and mapping costs, expects a response from KCC in June.