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Decision day for plans for 675 homes in Borden, near Sittingbourne

Councillors are due to vote on one of the most controversial housing proposals ever considered for their district.

Plans for up to 675 homes, shops and a new primary school at Wises Lane, Borden, go before Swale council's planning committee tonight.

There has been widespread opposition, led by Borden Residents Against Development, with hundreds of villagers writing to oppose the application, backed by parish councils and environmentalists.

But developer Quinn Estates has won favour with the town’s rugby club by promising it a new clubhouse and pitches as part of what’s proposed.

The council’s planners have recommended that permission be granted, subject to a huge list of conditions.

Opponents say the application should be binned over pollution fears.

Campaigners are fighting plans for homes off Cryalls Lane and Wises Lane in Borden
Campaigners are fighting plans for homes off Cryalls Lane and Wises Lane in Borden

Borden Parish Council has “grave concerns” over air quality in the area of the proposed Wises Lane development.

It commissioned the University of Kent to respond to air quality conclusions in the authority’s planning officer’s final report on Quinn Estates’ proposals for up to 675 houses.

The university’s experts say the levels of pollution are double the national limit.

Borden residents and councillors protest against the development. Picture: John Westhrop
Borden residents and councillors protest against the development. Picture: John Westhrop

Clive Sims, Borden Parish Council’s vice-chairman, said: “I have grave concerns over the high pollution levels in the area of the proposed Wises Lane development and this revelation of poor air quality places even more credence on the initial air quality assessment produced by the University of Kent.”

He added: “It begs the question, if this high pollution level – which is more than double the national limit – is evident, why has it not been mentioned in any of the documentation produced on the lead to the Wises Lane development and, more importantly, why were these facts not provided to the planning committee for the Manor Farm development decision?”

The university’s report demonstrated that there was evidence to show current monitoring, by both Swale council and the applicant’s air quality consultant, Entran, underestimated the levels of air pollution in the area and, therefore, should this application go ahead, that levels of air pollutants would be worsened still.

Borden Parish Council vice chairman Clive Sims
Borden Parish Council vice chairman Clive Sims

The report showed the air quality levels in the vicinity of the proposed development was double the national limit.

It said: “It seems likely that this is an overestimate, but it also seems probable that the annual average for this location will exceed the national limit.”

It also said that because of the “discrepancy” between Entran’s predicted and measured values, they should be re-evaluated.

However, in a report to councillors, head of planning James Freeman, said the report was “fundamentally flawed” for two reasons.

These, he said, were that the measuring periods were far too short and the equipment used was not suitable for this type of monitoring.

The meeting will be held at Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne, tonight at 7pm.

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