Last chance to save Forty Acres: can you help in battle to ward off developer planning to build over a treasured stretch of countryside?

Forty Acres: Developer Wates has applied for planning consent to build 250 properties here

Campaigners have launched a crowdfunding appeal to fund legal representation at a planning appeal and Local Plan inquiry. Trudy Dean takes up the story…

Forty Acres is a beautiful open area of gently rising farmland to the south of the A20 London Road in the parish of East Malling and Larkfield.
Confusingly running to almost 60 acres, it lies between and separates the historic settlements of West Malling, East Malling, Larkfield and Leybourne from the new village of Kings Hill.
It is crossed by two well-used Public Rights of Way, MR 119 and 120, between the villages and serves commuters to West Malling station, shoppers and walkers. They also feed into one of the few areas of nationally designated Quiet Lanes prioritising walkers, riders and cyclists immediately to the south. 
Forty Acres fields have been cultivated for grain for as long as anyone can remember and were part of the extensive estates of the nearby 11th-century Malling Abbey built by Bishop Gundulf for Benedictine nuns.
In 2016, Forty Acres was included within a parcel of land proposed to extend the Metropolitan Green Belt eastward in the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council Draft Local Plan, due to begin its final stage of examination before inspectors in October. 
Extending the Green Belt would not only protect the setting of West Malling with its Conservation Area but also prevent the joining up of East and West Malling with Leybourne and Larkfield to the north and Kings Hill to the south. The network of rural lanes and footpaths would be protected as well as the setting of many listed buildings.
The developer Wates has applied for planning consent to build 250 houses on Forty Acres and now appealed against the borough council’s failure to decide the application within six weeks.
The surrounding parishes of East Malling and Larkfield, Leybourne and West Malling are crowdfunding to raise the £60,000 estimated to be needed for legal representation at the appeal and Local Plan inquiry.  
We are using the team of lawyers who last year successfully fought off Bellway’s plans to build on fields up against the walls of Malling Abbey.
This is probably the last chance we shall have to defend this open space.
Please help if you can.

  • If you would like to contribute to the fund to help save Forty Acres, click here

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

  • CPRE Kent is fighting an almost overwhelming number of development proposals across the county – BUT WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT. If you would like to join us in our efforts to keep Kent beautiful, please click here

Change is afoot in the Ashford committee

Christine Drury, Ashford committee chairman, reports on events, changes and concerns in her area

The site of the proposed Otterpool new town… not good news for many in the Ashford area

CPRE Kent’s Ashford committee, which incorporates the Ashford Rural Trust, held its AGM at the Picturehouse cinema on Wednesday, March 6.
The new cinema marks a milestone in the regeneration of the town centre. There is still much to do before the town can be said to be thriving, but Ashford Borough Council’s commitment to brownfield and delivering on it was well worth celebrating.
We are very sorry that Graham Galpin, who did so much to champion the town-centre big projects, became a high-profile casualty of the elections in May, losing his ward seat by just one vote.
We have also had to make changes in the CPRE Ashford committee as a result of those elections.
The members of the committee are as elected at the AGM, but the honorary officers will now just be chairman Christine Drury and honorary secretary Sandra Dunn. Linda Harman stepped down from her vice-chairman role to commit fully to her new roles as borough and parish councillor. Congratulations, Linda!
We are also pleased to continue working alongside Rural means Rural and the Village Alliance, now both being run by Sharon Swandale, who has joined the committee, along with Samantha Reed of the Limes Land Protection Group in Tenterden.
The speculative proposal by Wates for 250 homes on a highly valued local landscape that defines the green spaces and shape of Tenterden is a disgrace. And to call it windfall development is an outrage.
Tenterden is a jewel in the High Weald AONB. Wates should stop pushing this idea now before its reputation is damaged by it.
The committee is hard at work in and around Ashford, trying to ensure the best possible outcomes and sensible phasing where possible for sites that are in the Local Plan approved in February.
The other huge preoccupation is with the impacts on Ashford, Ashford borough villages and the natural environment that will occur if the Otterpool development goes ahead in Folkestone and Hythe district.
The promoters seem to be focusing entirely on the immediate ‘red line’ area and ignoring the potentially devastating wider impacts on the AONB to the north and Aldington and Ashford villages to the west, as well as the highly sensitive drainage and flood defences of the whole area.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019