Flower-rich grassland is a scarce habitat today following the ‘improvement’ of so much grassland for agriculture. But some residents on the Kent Downs in Lenham were fortunate – they had such a beautiful meadow just next door.
They treasured the meadow and for many years looked after it for the elderly neighbour who owned it. At some stage it was used as grazing for rare livestock and for traditional haymaking.
When a new individual bought the house and the meadow, he wanted to pull down the house and replace it with an ‘eco-house’. The neighbours were supportive. They are people who have the environment in mind.
However, they were not prepared for the beautiful meadow being turned from THIS:
The new owner dumped tons of excavated spoil on the meadow. Such an action is illegal and would require permission from the county council to open a site for the disposal of inert matter. It also is a breach of the planning permission granted by Maidstone Borough Council for the construction of the eco-house.
Sadly, enforcement officers were slow to act.
To add insult to injury, the developer put in a planning application to turn the spoil into a pond. In the opinion of Henny Shotter, of CPRE Kent’s Maidstone committee, who got involved in the matter, the application was an attempt to legalise the status quo of the site.
Fortunately, the borough council acknowledged that a pond on a hillside meadow in the AONB is a feature alien to the character of the landscape and refused planning permission.
CPRE Kent hopes the council now takes enforcement action and asks the developer to restore the meadow. If this does not happen, a dangerous precedent will be set that undermines completely the effectiveness of the planning authority.
Thursday, February 4, 2021