It’s over! The fight to retain Marden Cricket and Hockey Club as a green lung in the centre of the village was lost when Maidstone councillors voted to accept a planning application from Countryside Properties to convert the pitches into a 124-home housing estate.
Conservative, Lib Dem and Independent councillors voted together to accept planning officers’ recommendations to approve, despite the 42-hectare site south of Stanley Road being outside the village’s limit to built development, and therefore officially in the countryside.
Planning officer Richard Timms described the site as “a logical extension to the village.”
Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) said: “The borough of Maidstone is becoming overcrowded and unpleasant, but there is nothing we can do in policy terms to oppose this application.”
Cllr Clive English (Lib Dem) criticised the developers‘ failure to negotiate with either the parish council or ward borough councillors ahead of their application, but nevertheless proposed acceptance of the plan.
Cllr Daniel Moriarty (Ind) said: “I support the application. The best decisions are not always popular decisions.”
He was referring to the 100 letters of objection the council had received from Marden residents as well as objections from Marden Parish Council, the Marden History Group and the Marden Society.
KCC also objected on the grounds that the site provided insufficient parking.
Of the village’s three borough councillors, neither Cllr Steve McLoughlin (Con) nor Cllr David Burton (Con) spoke at all. Cllr Annabelle Blackmore (Con) regretted that the application had come up for determination before KCC had modelled the traffic effects on the local road infrastructure and before there had been any local consultation. She said: “It is premature at best.”
Southern Water confirmed that the local sewerage system would not be able to cope with the new homes.
Councillors imposed a condition requiring the developer to improve the foul drainage infrastructure before - in Cllr Harwood’s words - “people begin flushing the toilets.”
The Cricket and Hockey Club will move to new premises to the north of the village off Maidstone Road. The move, and an updating of the club’s facilities, will be financed by the sale of the existing land.