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Benedictine nuns at St Mary's Abbey object to Bellway plans for 80 homes off Lavender Road and Swan Street, West Malling

A group of nuns' peace and tranquillity could be brought to an abrupt halt by plans to build 80 homes.

Dozens have objected to proposals to build flats and houses on land east of Lavender Road, West Malling, in the shadow of St Mary's Abbey.

Mother Mary David is one of a group of Anglican Benedictine nuns who have lived in the abbey since 1916.

Alan Gibbins (left) and just some of the residents who object to the scheme. Picture: Phil Lee (7226794)
Alan Gibbins (left) and just some of the residents who object to the scheme. Picture: Phil Lee (7226794)

She said: "We need to be able to work or sit in our gardens, refectory and graveyard with silence and privacy, free from being overlooked and bothered by noise, especially traffic in Lavenders Road and Water Lane. 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 round about as well as to us and our guests."

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

Concerns have also been raised over the impact development would have on views of The Cascade, a landmark JMW Turner painted alongside the Abbey in 1791.

Alan Gibbins is part of the Protect West Malling group.

The Swan Street resident said: "We hope Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council will throw the application out.

The development's access road will be off Swan Street. Picture: Phil Lee
The development's access road will be off Swan Street. Picture: Phil Lee

"During the day Swan Street is quiet, but if you go when when people are commuting, or when pupils at More Park Primary Schoolare leaving, the traffic issues become much clearer.

"All of this development's traffic will be funnelled in along with existing traffic."

The NHS has said any development would need to be mitigated with a £67,392 payment to accommodate the potential 187 patients that could join West Malling Group Practice as a result.

Nuns and guests in St Mary's Abbey in West Malling (7267936)
Nuns and guests in St Mary's Abbey in West Malling (7267936)

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

"The site’s development would provide a positive contribution towards housing supply by including a range of housing types with 40 per cent of all homes being affordable. Bellway has considered all the comments made in respect of the application and our view is that there is no reason why planning permission should not be granted."

View the planning application on Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's website under planning reference 18/02093/OA.

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