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Council underlines garden policy

MAIDSTONE Council has taken an uncom- promising stance on its policy to preserve agricultural land and refused planning per- mission for two neighbouring garden appli- cations. The residents of 5 and 7 Roundel Way, Marden, lodged retrospective applications to convert parts of the field backing onto their homes into extensions of their gardens. The rectangular parcel of land south-west

of No 5 measures 96 sq m, with the adjoin- ing neighbour’s application related to L- shaped land measuring 460 sq m. Both sections had already been turned into do- mestic gardens, with the owner of No 5 growing fruit and vegetables on his plot. Local ward Cllr John Verrall argued that

this stretch of land was awkwardly posi- tioned and of low agricultural value – char- acterised by stones and remnants of dumped vehicles –making it unsuitable for

farming. However, Maidstone Council policy states

that no development should take place in the open countryside unless there is justifi- cation to warrant an exception. Committee member Cllr Clive English said: “This is completely contrary to policy in every re- spect. The argument that the site is incon- venient is not good enough. “If we are going to overturn policy, we

need justification. Once we start overturn- ing this policy it will be very, very difficult to resist the argument that we should de- velop somewhere else. “Allowing this to happen would extend

the village envelope and open it to a danger of creeping development. This field would gain a higher value and become very attrac- tive to developers.” The committee agreed with officer recom- mendations and refused to grant change of

Grasstrack applicant told to foot bill A MAN who wanted to replace a motorcycle track with an eco home has been ordered to pay costs of a legal appeal to Maidstone Council. In December 2010, applicant Kevin Still’s plan to build a zero- carbon property on the site of a current Grasstrack racing circuit in Longend Lane, near Collier Street, was refused as the council, who refused a similar application inApril 2009, claimed it was an unjustified development in the countryside. Planning inspector Paul Jackson upheld this decision at appeal,

and orderedMr Still to foot the borough’s legal bill. After referring to previous appeal decisions, the inspector re- ported: “While the architectural approach is not without some merit, no proper objective attempt based on the rigorous require- ments of [council policy] PPS7 has been made to justify it, apart from largely intangible supposition and assertion. “Even at appeal stage, important explanations of elements of the design are missing, particularly its impact on setting. The proposal falls far short of the standard necessary to justify a new dwelling in the countryside. “To continue to take the scheme to appeal, in the light of the dis- cussions that had taken place and the council’s reasons for refusal, was unreasonable. I conclude that unreasonable behaviour has been shown to have occurred and an award of costs is justified.”

Industrial refusal A PROPOSAL to replace a scrap yard with two light in- dustrial units in Laddingford has been refused.

TOVIL Parish Council has joined concerned residents in a re- newed fight to prevent a large concrete crushing plant becom- ing established in Straw Mill Hill.

SBS Recycling has appealed

the decision by KCC’s planning committee to refuse permission to convert a disused paper recy- cling centre into a facility that would process 90,000 tonnes of building waste a year. The parish council, Tovil Ac-

tion Group, Valley Conservation Society, North Loose Residents Association and local borough and county councillors are trying to convince a Government plan- ning inspector that the two grounds behind the county coun- cil’s decision, made in January, stand up to scrutiny. They were: The development would un- dermine the character and dis- tinctiveness of the local area and fails to deliver a high quality

6 South

Maidstone Council felt the scheme for Gain Hill Yard, Claygate Road, would have been unjustified development in the countryside.

Renewed fight to stop plant

build environment contrary to the objectives of sustainable de- velopment and urban renais- sance. No case of need for the de- velopment at this particular site has been demonstrated sufficient to override and justify the ad- verse harm being caused to the character and amenity of the area. The parish council is aiming to promote the message thatTovil is now a residential area and such industrial developments are mainly consigned to the past, as well as illustrate the extent of the harm in areas such as increased traffic, pollution and noise. Local borough Cllr Ian Chitten-

den said: “Over many years the character of the area has changed from a commercial manufactur- ing area, primarily related to the paper industry, to a residential area.

“Over 1,500 houses have been

MichaelWalker, owner of one of the plots, has been told that his fruit and vegetable plot is unsuitable to replace existing agri- cultural land

Papermakers plan goes to appeal AN applicant has lost patience with Maidstone Council and de- cided that a plan to redevelop the Papermakers Arms pub in Loose Road should be decided by a planning inspector. Brookheath Ltd applied to demolish the former pub and build

five houses and six apartments in August last year. But because the council had still not reached a verdict, Brookheath has taken the case to appeal. Following this decision, Maidstone Council revealed it would have refused the plan for pro- viding “insufficient” car parking provision, which would pose a safety risk on the main road. The decision notice also criticised the design for a “lack of spa- ciousness and greenery around the buildings”.

Chiropractic use APLAN has been lodged to add a residential element to the Coxheath Chiropractic and Nat- ural Remedy Centre at 43 Stockett Lane. The applicant’s supporting document says: “The site is a former dwelling with tempo- rary planning permission for use as a clinic. The residential use will automatically revert with the termination of the clinic use. The proposed use is residential with an ancillary clinic.”

Alzheimer’s request JOHN Metland has applied to convert a garage/workshop at the Highlands Boarding Ken- nels, Chartway Street, Sutton Valence, into an annexe to pro- vide accommodation for his mother, who suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease.

Cattle housing PERMISSION was granted to erect a new farm building for additional cattle housing at Pinkhorn Green Farm, Tattle- bury Lane, Headcorn.

Opponents to the proposal. Front: Roger Bister and fellow mem- bers of Tovil Action Group, Bryn Cornwell from Valley Conser- vation Society. Back: Borough Cllr Ian Chittenden, parish Cllr Clive English and ex-ward councillor JohnWilson

built in Tovil in the last 10 years, and further housing develop- ments having been given plan- ning permission, including a site with almost 300 homes, which is adjacent to the SBS site. “There is serious concern

about the ability of the opera- tors to prevent noise and dust nuisance, particularly in relation to the crushing of concretemate- rial – which is a fundamental part of the proposal.

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“It is disappointing that KCC Highways felt that highway is- sues were not a problem when the exit to the site is on a blind bend.

“There is already severe con- gestion in the town centre and on the approach to the nearby recy- cling centre and there is a record of serious accidents on nearby roads, the latest being last month at the junction of Straw Mill and Tovil Hill.”

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