Maidstone council under fire at meeting on proposed Lenham new town

Feelings ran high at Lenham Heath during the meeting

Gagging orders on borough councillors and landowners, the threat of compulsory purchase orders, secretive meetings in Ebbsfleet, non-consultation with parish councils and communities… Maidstone Borough Council was accused of all these and more during a heated meeting last night (Tuesday, October 15) on proposals for a Lenham ‘garden town’.
The hall at Lenham Heath was not large enough to accommodate everyone who had come to this first protest meeting against the potential new town. People stood outside and listened to claims of misbehaviour by the council in relation to the plans.
None of the parish councils of Egerton, Charing, Boughton Malherbe, Harrietsham or Lenham had been consulted on the garden-town proposal.
County councillor Shellina Prendergast and a representative for local MP Helen Whateley confirmed they too had only learnt from the media what was ‘planned for’ Lenham.
Tom Sams and Janetta Sams, who had organised the meeting, stated that they could disclose everything they knew on Monday, November 4, but not before.
They and fellow independent councillor Eddy Powell were challenged over supporting the proposals from the council, where the Liberal Democrats rely on the support of the independents for their controlling administration.
Much emphasis was put on whether MBC was within its rights to behave in the way it had done, while it was accused of predetermining a process that should be decided democratically.
Henny Shotter, a CPRE Kent member, said at the meeting: “The whole proposal is bonkers. No roads, no sewage infrastructure, this proposed development is the furthest possible from any employment centre in Maidstone, Ashford, the Medway Towns or Tonbridge and Malling.
“The suggestions to build a high-speed railway station so close to Ashford or a motorway interchange are financially unrealistic. They just cloud the fact that the proposal, as far as we know it, is completely and irredeemably unsustainable.”
If you want to support the action group, please get in touch with Kate Hammond on 07925 607336.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Otterpool Park – the wrong location and concern about water shortages

We have written to Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to express our concerns for the proposed garden town of 10,000 homes in Shepway, Otterpool Park. The following extract from Hilary Newport’s letter sums up our concerns:

Otterpool Park 2

“While we entirely support the principles of high quality, sustainable design and place-making, we strongly disagree that this is the right location for a garden city of this scale. The existing pressures for development in this area are extreme, not least with the region being categorised by the Environment Agency as being under ‘severe water stress’, and we question the wisdom of drawing even more housing in to a county and a region which is already struggling to accommodate the housing  targets being generated in local plans.

Sheep in fields at Otterpool

Everything in this view would be urbanised

“In its submission draft of the Shepway Core Strategy (January 2012), the District Council included a policy which outlined its ambitions for 800+ homes on the former Folkestone Racecourse, immediately adjacent to the land acquired by the District Council for its proposed Otterpool Park. At examination, the inspector comprehensively rejected this policy as unsound, being neither justified nor necessary to meet housing targets. A further policy outlined the concept of a ‘Strategic Corridor’, covering the area proposed for Otterpool Park as well as the urban areas of Hythe and Folkestone, for mixed use development in furtherance of the Council’s growth agenda. This policy too was rejected by the inspector as unsound. Since the adoption of the Shepway Core Strategy (November 2013) it is difficult to see what has changed to suggest that the plans for Otterpool Park are now either sustainable or necessary. I hope that your department will take these issues into account in considering Shepway’s submission.”

June 27th 2016