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240 people attend meeting called by Ditton Parish Council to discuss plans for 1,300-home ‘new village’ off Hermitage Lane

Around 240 people attended a public meeting called to oppose proposals for a new 1,300-home village in the countryside.

The East Malling Trust has submitted an outline planning application to Tonbridge and Malling council to cover 80 hectares of agricultural land between Kilnbarn Road and Hermitage Lane in Malling.

The area proposed for development
The area proposed for development

The site falls partly in East Malling, but is mostly in Ditton and the meeting on Monday was called at the Ditton Community Centre by Ditton Parish Council to hear residents’ views before the council submitted its response to the borough.

Parish chairman Nigel Newman first ran through a slide show explaining aspects of the proposal.

A letter from MP Helen Grant (Con) was read out voicing her concerns at the proposed new community, which is to be known as Bradbourne.

The scheme includes plans for a new school and for commercial and retail space and will be accessed via two roads both leading out onto Hermitage Lane.

Cllr Matt Boughton, the leader of Tonbridge and Malling council, was at the meeting and he received some flak from the public over his borough’s failure to produce an up-to-date Local Plan, which, residents said, had encouraged applicants.

Council leader Matt Boughton
Council leader Matt Boughton

Nicola Greenway, clerk to Ditton Parish Council, said afterwards: “We had representatives from East Malling, Aylesford and Teston parish councils present, which shows the widespread concern over this scheme.

“People were mainly worried about the traffic, especially on some of the very narrow local roads, but also about the lack of infrastructure and the loss of green space.

“Subsequently, the council drew up a list of 14 substantive grounds for objection which we will be submitting to the Tonbridge and Malling council.

“The council will also be engaging its own traffic consultant to challenge some of the assertions made by the applicants over traffic flows.”

David Naghi the Liberal Democrat candidate for the new Maidstone-Malling seat, which covers Aylesford, Ditton and East Malling, was at the meeting.

He said afterwards: "It is clear that these proposals for 1,300 more homes are not in the interest of our local community, and they must be rejected.

“These plans will have profound effects on the already struggling infrastructure within the Tonbridge and Malling borough, as well as within the Maidstone area.

Parliamentary candidate Dave Naghi
Parliamentary candidate Dave Naghi

“Hermitage Lane has already seen vast increases in congestion due to developments in the area.

“Surrounding road networks such as in Barming and the A20 have strongly felt the consequences, as well as other surrounding areas.

“Our health services are already operating at maximum capacity, struggling to cater to existing residents. In addition, school places continue to struggle with the increase in developments.

“Like others, I object to the further loss of a rural area of farmland, and the rural footpaths which are often used by local residents.

“There will also be an adverse effect on the ancient woodland. These plans continue a trend within the area of our green and open spaces being diminished. They must be protected.,

“I strongly urge all residents to support the local parish council in objecting to this development.”

After the meeting, Cllr Boughton said: “It’s not a surprise that people are very concerned about an application on this scale.

An aerial view of the "masterplan" for the new Bradbourne community
An aerial view of the "masterplan" for the new Bradbourne community

“There was a good debate around the issues and the parish council encouraged everyone to submit their views to TMBC, which is of course exactly what we would like them to do.

“We didn’t create this plan. It was presented to us out of the blue about a year ago, which frankly was a bit disappointing.

“It is making a mockery of the planning process. The proper thing would have been for the applicants to have submitted it as a possibility to be considered in the Local Plan as it was being developed.

“But it is their right to submit a planning application, and the council will determine it, as is our duty, in due course.”

Find out about planning applications that affect you at the Public Notice Portal.

The scheme has been reduced from an earlier iteration of the plan that proposed 1,600 homes.

Details of the application can be found on the Tonbridge and Malling website, under application number 24/00372.

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