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Marden Planning Opposition Group taking petition against 2,000 homes plan to Downing Street

Campaigners opposed to a project to double the number of homes in a village are taking a petition against the scheme to Downing Street.

Developers announced plans to create a "garden community" in Marden earlier this year, which would include up to 2,000 homes as well as two new schools, health facilities and office space.

It came after Maidstone Borough Council launched a Call for Sites, in which it asked for ideas of land which could be developed, ahead of a review of its Local Plan in 2022.

However, the scheme has been met with anger by hundreds of locals, who fear such large-scale development would "crush" them.

Hundreds of yellow t-shirts, stickers, banners and bags have since been made up and almost 2,000 people took to the streets in the village in May as part of a protest.

Developer Countryside Properties, which argues the project would see Marden benefit from new facilities and better links to Maidstone town centre, says it is also meeting and speaking with those living and working in the village.

Project chiefs add that while the scheme would include green open spaces, the site sits outside any Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and other protected areas, and so is suitable for development.

Anti-housing signs are plastered on buildings and posts everywhere in Marden. Picture: John Westhrop. (10629151)
Anti-housing signs are plastered on buildings and posts everywhere in Marden. Picture: John Westhrop. (10629151)

The Marden Planning Opposition Group (MPOG) also created a mock-up image outlining what they believe the potential consequences of the project could mean for land in the village, though developers distanced themselves from this projection.

Now a swarm of campaigners, again dressed in yellow, are to descend on Westminster on Friday to formally hand over their petition, and will make their case at a number of different landmarks around the capital.

Claudine Russell, chair of MPOG, said: “The scale of opposition is unprecedented.

"These proposals are presented as a ‘Garden Community’ by the developer. Yet Government guidelines state ‘that local communities...must have a meaningful say in developing the proposal from design to delivery’.

"The village does not want this development and has not been involved in its creation or planning: the petition demonstrates this.

"We are making sure all levels of government are aware of villagers’ views.”

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