Proposals for a 2,000-home garden community at Marden have sparked a huge wave of opposition. After almost 2,000 people marched through the village (still!) in protest during the spring, a petition carrying almost 3,000 names was handed to 10 Downing Street on Friday (July 12). The March for Marden, on Saturday, May 18, organised by Marden Planning Opposition, had seen protestors take to the streets wearing yellow and black – the colours that have bedecked much of the village on window posters and hedge banners over recent weeks. Meanwhile, the group has set up a website (see here); drawn national media coverage; and seen its Facebook group attract more than 1,000 members. Chairman Claudine Russell said: “The scale of this proposal is truly shocking and has united the people of Marden in fighting this development. “We simply don’t have the infrastructure or services to support 2,000 more houses and two new schools, and it would mean Marden would cease to be a village and instead become a town. “We are determined to show the council the strength of opposition as early as possible in the process. The scale of this development, which effectively doubles the size of Marden, is unthinkable in terms of traffic congestion on country roads, loss of wildlife habitat and negative impact on both the village’s heritage and the well-being of the people who live here.” The proposals have been submitted to Maidstone Borough Council by three landowners, developer Countryside Properties and consultancy DHA Planning in response to the local authority’s Call for Sites ahead of its Local Plan review in 2022. Countryside Properties has argued that Marden would benefit from the scheme through new facilities and better links to Maidstone town centre; it also says it is speaking with people who live and work in the village. The campaign against the plan is supported by Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, who said: “We need to make sure the homes we need are built in the right places with the required infrastructure, and this proposed development is simply not in keeping with the beautiful rural community of Marden.”
CPRE Kent is delighted that a developer has dropped its appeal against refusal of plans for a housing estate near Marden.
Gladman Developments Ltd had applied for planning permission to build 150 homes at Church Farm, Maidstone Road, on the outskirts of the mid-Kent village, but this was refused by Maidstone Borough Council in October 2016.
Giving reasons for its decision, the local authority noted that the proposed development lay “outside any defined settlement boundary and would consolidate sporadic development in the area, causing unacceptable visual harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”.
Further, it “would result in significant harm to the setting” of the Grade II-listed Church Farm House and The Old Vicarage while being “detrimental to existing social infrastructure”.
Gladman close to appeal this decision, but in October last year (yes, this had gone under the radar) withdrew its appeal, citing “a change of circumstances at Maidstone Borough Council”.
We believe this to be the fact that the site had not been allocated for development in the council’s Local Plan.
Either way, CPRE Kent, which had made written representation against both the original application and the appeal, is happy to see the back of this wholly inappropriate scheme.
We have objected to the high number of inappropriate, unsustainable greenfield sites identified in the Maidstone Local Plan.
Commenting on the council’s latest consultation into additional site allocations, Gary Thomas, Chairman of the Maidstone Committee, said: “It is disappointing that Maidstone has set such a high housing target of 18,560 homes, the consequence of which is the number of inappropriate and unsustainable sites which could change the character of many villages and communities within the borough as well as lead to the loss of beautiful greenfield land and important agricultural land.”
View of valley from Boughton Monchelsea, photo by crocus08, flickr
We particularly object to the concentration of sites in Boughton Monchelsea:
Land at Boughton Lane Loose (75 homes) – grade 2 agricultural land, greenfield, within an area defined as the Loose Landscape of Local Value
Boughton Mount, Boughton Lane (25 homes)- grade 2 agricultural land, greenfield, within an area defined as the Loose Landscape of Local Value
Land at Church Street / Heath Road (40 homes) – loss of woodland, within Landscape Character Area No. 29 Boughton Monchelsea to Chart Sutton Plateau’ lack of school places and impact on pedestrian safety by school
Land at Lywood Farm, Green Lane (25 homes), – unsustainable location and increased traffic