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Residents groups from across Kent plan joint day of action to protest against housebuilding

Angry residents across Kent will be combining in a Day of Action to protest against the relentless house-building in the South East.

The idea is the initiative of the Save Capel group, which is battling against plans by Tunbridge Wells council to impose a garden village of 2,600 homes on the parish.

Expect plenty of protests like this on from Save Capel
Expect plenty of protests like this on from Save Capel

They have combined with a core of other residents' groups, including Save Our Heathlands, who are campaigning against Maidstone council's plans for a 5,000-home garden village at Lenham Heath.

They will join the Westgate and Garlinge Action Group from Thanet, the Rural Protection Group from Sittingbourne, the Hartley Save Our Fields group from Cranbrook, Farms Fields and Fresh Air Faversham and the Friends of East End of Benenden, who all have battles of their own.

The Westgate and Garlinge Action Group is concerned over two big applications, one from Millwood Homes on agricultural land south of Westgate for 2,000 homes and another on agricultural land at nearby Birchington for 1,650 units.

The Hartley Save Our Fields is group is protesting against the provision for up to 900 new homes on sites local to them laid out in the draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan.

The Friends of East End of Benenden are concerned about the provision for 92 homes in the Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan, and fear even more are in the pipeline for parts of the Benenden Hospital site.

Farms, Fields and Fresh Air, Faversham is a newly formed group set up to oppose the building of 2,500 homes on 320 acres of prime agricultural land to the south east of Faversham that is currently owned by the Duchy of Cornwell, as well green field allocations more generally in the Swale Local Plan that amount to an extra 3,500 homes for Faversham.

Save Kent's Green Spaces - the campaign logo
Save Kent's Green Spaces - the campaign logo

The Rural Protection Group has the biggest fight on its hands. It is opposing two planning applications for Highstead Park near Sittingbourne that total 9,250 homes. Group spokesman Garth Emrich said: "My estimate is that's adding half the size of Sittingbourne again."

The seven core groups will be also be appealing to other organisations across Kent to combine in a show of unity to demonstrate "enough is enough."

Organiser David Lovell said: "Each group will do its own thing in its own area. And all the protests will be polite and respectful of the law."

"The idea was born out of a number of campaign groups who were in communication, sharing ideas and experience.

"We came to realise that the scale of what was being proposed across the county’s green spaces, productive agricultural land and wildlife habitat was truly shocking."

Dave Lovell: Let's come together
Dave Lovell: Let's come together

He said: "It was agreed that the wider public, beyond those concerned about what was happening in their own areas, needed to be made aware of the very damaging proposals being pursued throughout Kent.

"And that the Prime Minister’s words about development 'not on green fields, not just jammed in the south east' needed to become policy rather than rhetoric if the immense scale of the destruction was to be stopped."

The day of action will be on Sunday, November 28, under the banner Save Kent's Green Spaces.

Mr Lovell said:"It's time to show how big the problem in Kent is and how strong the opposition is."

"We are asking each campaign, its supporters, and other affected residents to visit or meet in their area, in or by a place they love that is under threat."

Campaigners from the Westgate and Garlinge Action Group
Campaigners from the Westgate and Garlinge Action Group

He said: "There could be a picnic, or other entertainment, or just a walk. But it is vital people turn up – rain or shine!

"We need to show that we are all deeply concerned, not just for our own areas, but the whole of our county."

Kate Hammond, leader of Save Our Heathands, said: "We formed to oppose a proposed site dubbed ‘Heathlands’ which is 821 acres in size and mostly includes high-quality arable farmland at the foot of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"The development lies at the centre point of the county of Kent, the garden of England. This is devastating and against the local council's own climate change policies.

"We are proud to be joining forces with other campaign groups in Kent as a strong united voice in the hope the government will stop playing lipservice and finally implements a policy change that prevents the destruction of our green spaces."

Kate Hammond of Save Our Heathlands
Kate Hammond of Save Our Heathlands

A Facebook page has been set up, and a Twitter account: @KentsGreenSpace

Anyone wishing to co-ordinate their own activities with Save Capel's should email savekentsgreenspaces@gmail.com

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