Published: 06:00, 20 July 2021
| Updated: 14:12, 20 July 2021
Controversial plans for a huge housing development – the likes of which were first discussed 17 years ago – have now been submitted to Swale council.
Developer Quinn Estates has lodged its proposal for Highsted Park, which could see 9,250 homes built on farmland near Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne.
The development also proposes a new junction onto the M2, a new southern relief road and the completion of the northern relief road, four new primary schools, a secondary school, 520 acres of parks and outdoor space, a state-of-the-art sports hub for Sittingbourne FC and new health facilities.
Ben Geering, development director at Quinn Estates, said: “We are pleased to have submitted our planning applications for Highsted Park. The final proposal has been shaped by significant consultation, which included the delivery of two virtual engagements during the extended UK pandemic restrictions.
“This is the only scheme coming forward in the borough that provides significant air quality benefits, addresses strategic infrastructure needs and delivers positive housing and economic growth potential to the wider Swale area and to Sittingbourne in particular.
“A fundamental part of the scheme is the delivery of a new, privately funded, junction 5a on the M2; more than 100,000 people utilise the existing junction so what’s needed is an approach that provides for a new link road capacity, and for this significant infrastructure to be delivered at the outset. As a principal town, Sittingbourne has just one connection to the strategic road network.
“This will also underpin the key to future growth at Kent Science Park, which serves more than 90 companies and thousands of people, by creating better access from the motorway and connectivity to Sittingbourne rail station."
Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of Swale council, said: “As this will come to Committee, I cannot try to pre-empt the decision by making public remarks that might be interpreted as trying to influence members who must decide on the evidence put before them.
“The applicants in their press statement have naturally put the best gloss on it that they can, but that will not influence members.
“It is well-known that large sections of the community have concerns about this application, and I would anticipate public views being a large part of the representations coming to the council.”
The Five Parishes Opposition Group has been campaigning against extra housing around Kent Science Park since plans were first revealed in 2004.
Swale council said the application would be available to view, and comment on, via its public planning portal once it had been validated.