Published: 00:00, 20 January 2017
| Updated: 10:30, 20 January 2017
A housing developer has addressed allegations that letters of support for his scheme in Ash could be disingenuous.
This week, residents have highlighted that about 70 letters in favour were submitted online on the same day and also by residents who don’t live in the village.
It relates to Quinn Estates’ scheme for 104 homes on the north side of Sandwich Road.
Rebecca Smith, of The Street, Ash, said: “Of 120 letters of support, nearly 70 were lodged on one day (July 28, 2016) and consist of little more than a few lines of vague words of support.
“Cross-checking shows the vast majority of those ‘letters of support’ have been submitted from people living outside the village of Ash.”
Resident Pearl Thorne, 64, who has lived in the village for 22 years, says the statements were obtained in a pub using a standard model letter – a claim the developer has refuted.
Mark Quinn, of Quinn Estates, said: “We had a number of people who wanted to write in who would gain work from the development.
“We offered this on our website and the letters that we received were all lodged on the same day.”
Campaigners were also concerned that the developers had met privately with the village Scouts, offering to give them a new home.
Ms Thorne is opposed to the application because it is outside the village. Her other reasons include the historic value of the land, the impact on the setting of a church, lack of sewerage capacity and the effect on wildlife.
She said: “Mr Quinn did not engage with the community about a new home for the Scouts.
“I attended a parish council meeting with an agenda item marked as Quinn/Scouts.
“It transpired a private meeting had taken place, without the knowledge of the parish council or the community, whereby Mr Quinn made his pledges to the Scouts, which has caused great distress and upset in our community.”
She added: “Ash village is not opposed to new housing but it must be discussed with the community, in the right position in keeping with our area plan, and not on prime agricultural land.”
In response, Mr Quinn said: “We were very prepared to talk openly about our offer to the Scouts.
“We requested a meeting with the parish council last year, following our initial presentation, and they refused.
“The Scouts are a very valuable local club to Ash and they feel let down that they could lose their home.
“Our only option was to approach them directly and we were very keen to help.”
Mr Quinn also responded to claims that the affordable housing, at £200,000 per dwelling, would be out of reach of the young people who need them.
He said: “The price has not been set and is beyond our control. We do not define affordable housing. It will be set by a housing association.”
About 400 names have been collected on a petition opposing the development.
To date, 120 letters of support and 113 letters of objection have been listed on DDC’s planning website.
The outline planning application will be discussed by Dover District Council’s planners on Thursday, January 26.