Published: 12:00, 07 October 2020
| Updated: 12:55, 07 October 2020
Plans to build up to 10,000 homes at a ‘garden village’ near Sittingbourne will see the town flourish, a developer has said.
It comes following a virtual public consultation last week for the proposals for a Highsted Park garden village south of the town, from Canterbury-based Quinn Estates.
Project leader Ben Geering said current council plans could lead to an inequality between Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sheppey, and claims adding a junction on the M2 and new relief roads would help Sittingbourne grow “as the new centre of Swale”.
He said: “We know Sittingbourne is the principal town for Swale, with the largest population, a high number of jobs and the most services.
“It is located in the most strategic location on the A2, M2 and A249, which creates both opportunities and constraints.
“It forms part of the Thames gateway region, yet suffers from significant deprivation, lower levels of pay and health, as well as lower levels of skills than elsewhere in the borough.
“If the council pursues its current approach to growth, with adhoc housing focused around Faversham, the outcome will be increased congestion and worse air quality, leading to an inequality between Faversham, Sittingbourne and Sheppey.”
The Highsted Park development also proposes four new primary schools, a secondary school, 520 acres of parks and outdoor space and a new state-of-the-art sports hub for Sittingbourne FC.
Mr Geering said: “Focusing new growth around Sittingbourne, as we’re proposing, will allow the town to grow as the main centre for Swale, removing lorries and congestion from the town centre, new jobs and investment, unlocking the potential of the town and significantly improved transport links for Sheppey as well as reducing congestion and air quality harm along the A2.”
Following the online consultation, which took place last Tuesday, Swale council leader Roger Truelove (Lab) admitted the council was wary of the development but could not comment.
He said: “It is well known our coalition cabinet is wary of massive developments in our rural areas but it would not be appropriate for us to pre-empt consideration of any particular planning application before it is submitted to the council.”
The virtual event was described as a “step in a positive direction” by developer Quinn Estates and is available for people to watch online here.
Mr Geering added: “We had 94 people attend across two sessions and we can also see that our consultation video has been viewed more than 500 times so far.
“We are pleased at the take-up of this form of consultation.”