Published: 08:21, 04 November 2020
| Updated: 16:41, 04 November 2020
There have been cheers echoing around Marden this week as residents learnt that they had been spared having a garden village of 2,000 homes plonked on them.
The village was one of four potential garden village sites being considered by Maidstone council as it undertakes a review of its Local Plan.
The prospect had caused consternation in the village, which in May last year saw 2,000 villagers take to the streets in a protest march led by the Marden Planning Opposition Group.
But now the borough has changed its mind.
Claudine Russell, who led the opposition group, and her husband Tristan celebrated by tearing up their campaign leaflets which are now no longer needed.
She said: "This is a huge win for the village. Everyone has heard and everyone is very excited."
Refined Local Plan proposals will go before councillors on Monday, for them to approve for public consultation in December.
Planning officers are now recommending only two of the garden village sites be retained, while two have been dropped - one along the Leeds/Langley corridor and one at Marden.
Leeds/Langley was dropped because there was "not a coherent development scheme."
Marden was thought to be deliverable, but was not the favoured option.
Of course the good news for Marden and Leeds will come as a blow to residents in Lenham Heath and Lidsing, the sites of the two remaining garden village proposals, which now look more likely to go ahead.
Residents in Lenham will be further dismayed to learn that planning officers are once again talking of a garden village of 5,000 homes - that figure had once been lowered to 4,000.
The proposal for Lenham Heath - to be called Heathlands - is also again talking of a new railway station and new M20 motorway link for the area.
Meanwhile in Marden, Mrs Russell was sounding a note of caution.
She said: "I think this should be a Prosecco celebration at the moment - we will hold onto the Champagne for a while.
"It is still possible that councillors might not agree with their officers, or that there might be changes following the public consultation stage.
"And in any case, whether or not it's in the Local Plan, there's nothing to stop the landowner here in Marden putting in a planning application independently."
But she said: "Nevertheless, at the moment this is the best news we could have had."
Under the council's revised proposals, Marden will be asked to take just an extra 113 homes on top of those already allocated to the village.