Published: 00:01, 12 January 2018
The man behind plans for one of the biggest housing developments Sittingbourne has ever seen says it will "supercharge" high-value jobs, create "game-changing educational facilities" and make people’s everyday lives "more tolerable".
Developer Quinn Estates has drawn up proposals for 11,250 homes, a new junction 5a on the M2, and a Southern Relief Road (SRR) between the M2 and A2.
It would also pave the way for completing the Northern Relief Road, linking the A249 with the A2 at Bapchild.
The firm’s driving force, Mark Quinn, says the project, known as Highsted Park, would deliver £500 million worth of infrastructure and would “turbo charge” the success of Kent Science Park.
“What we are offering to do is build a massive piece of infrastructure which would solve the majority of Sittingbourne’s air quality, congestion and productivity issues.
“Yes, it’s going to be paid for by housing, but we need housing. We need the housing next to the infrastructure to avoid congestion.
“We will finance it privately and pay it back over a period of time.”
Mr Quinn urged people to consider what was being offered rather than focus on what would be lost, with many opponents of the scheme concerned about losing thousands of acres of farmland to homes.
All the necessary landowners had agreed a joint venture agreement, he said.
The idea of a southern relief road was nothing new, added Mr Quinn, although it was dropped from Swale council’s Local Plan which sets out what can be built in the borough and where up to 2031.
However, there are question marks over the plan’s ability to cope with traffic.
As a result, a review of the Local Plan must be completed by 2022 and Mr Quinn fully expects it to support his company’s proposals.
“Our scheme is the only scheme that can create a solution to these problems,” he stressed.
“Lorries from the Eurolink, instead of taking 30 minutes-plus to get to the M2, will get on the motorway in eight minutes.
“That line [for an SRR] has been on the map for years – I’m just going to make it happen.”
He said a planning application would be submitted this year, although the scale of the project means it would take many years to deliver.
Other facilities included in Highsted Park would be schools, a Further Education college – something Sittingbourne has been lacking for years – and a gym, with David Lloyd expressing an interest in opening a branch.
A series of events inviting people to have their say are likely to be held later this year.